J.M. Le Moine.

Picturesque Quebec : a sequel to Quebec past and present online

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(_Saracenia Purpurea_). Next we hit on a flower not to be forgotten, the
_Myosotis palustris_ or Forget-me-not. Cast a glance as you hurry onwards
on the _Oenothera pumila_, a kind of evening primrose, on the false
Hellebore - the one-sided Pyrola, the Bladder Campion - _silene inflata_,
the sweet-scented yellow Mellilot, the white Yarran, the Prunella with
blue labrate flowers the Yellow Rattle, so called from the rattling of the
seeds. The perforated St. John's Wort is now coming into flower
everywhere, and will continue until late in August; it is an upright
plant, from one to two feet high, with clusters of yellow flowers. The
Germans have a custom for maidens to gather this herb on the eve of St.
John, and from its withering or retaining its freshness to draw an augury
of death or marriage in the coming year. This is well told in the
following lines: -

"The young maid stole through the cottage door,
And blushed as she sought the plant of power;
Then silver glow-worm, O lend me thy light,
I must gather the mystic St. John's Wort to-night,
The wonderful herb whose leaf must decide
If the coming year shall make me a bride.
And the glow-worm came
With its silvery flame,
And sparkled and shone
Through the night of St. John;
While it shone on the plant as it bloomed in its pride,
And soon has the young maid her love-knot tied.
With noiseless tread
To her chamber she sped,
Where the spectral moon her white beams shed.

"Bloom here, bloom here, thou plant of power,
To deck the young bride in her bridal hour;
But it dropped its head, the plant of power,
And died the mute death of the voiceless flower
And a withered wreath on the ground it lay,
And when a year had passed away,
All pale on her bier the young maid lay;
And the glow-worm came,
With its silvery flame,
And sparkled and shone
Through the night of St. John;
And they closed the cold grave o'er the maid's cold clay,
On the day that was meant for her bridal day."

Let us see what flowers sultry July has in store for us in her bountiful
cornucopia. "In July," says a fervent lover of nature, "bogs and swamps
are glorious indeed," so look out for Calopogons, Pogonias, rose-colored
and white and purple-fringed Orchises, Ferns, some thirty varieties, of
exquisite texture,

"In the cool and quiet nooks,
By the side of running brooks;
In the forest's green retreat,
With the branches overhead,
Nestling at the old trees' feet,
Choose we there our mossy bed.

On tall cliffs that won the breeze,
Where no human footstep presses,
And no eye our beauty sees,
There we wave our maiden tresses,"

the Willow-herb, the true Partridge-berry, the Chimaphila, Yellow Lily,
Mullein, Ghost Flower, Indian Pipe, Lysimacha Stricta, Wild Chamomile.
August will bring forth a variety of other plants, amongst others the
Spirantes, or Ladies' Tresses, a very sweet-scented Orchis, with white
flowers placed as a spiral round the flower stalk, the purple Eupatorium,
the Snake's head, and crowds of most beautiful wild flowers, too numerous
to be named here. [244] (From _Maple Leaves_, 1865).


"The merchant has his snug retreat in the vicinity of the metropolis,
where he often displays as much pride and zeal in the cultivation of
his flower garden, and the maturing of his fruits, as he does in the
conduct of his business, and the success of a commercial enterprise."
- _Rural Life in England - Washington Irving_.

Situated on the left bank of the River St. Lawrence, about four miles from
the city, on the Sillery heights, and overlooking the river. The site was
selected about half a century back by the late Hon. A. N. Cochrane, who
acquired the property in September, 1830, and after holding it for
nineteen years sold it to the Hon. John Stewart, who built the residence,
which was occupied for a number of years by the late Henry LeMesurier,
Esq., and was finally destroyed by fire in 1866. It was subsequently
rebuilt, and afterwards purchased by the present occupant R. R. Dobell,
Esq., who has since added considerably to the building and extended the
property by the addition of about twelve acres purchased from the Graddon
estate, and about the same quantity purchased from Mr. McHugh, the whole
now comprising about thirty-five acres. The grounds are beautifully wooded
and descend by a series of natural terraces to the river, on the banks of
which are the extensive timber coves and wharves known as Sillery Cove,
with the workmen's cottages, offices, &c., fringing the side. There is
also telegraphic communication between this cove and the city. Here too is
the site of the ancient church of the Récollet Fathers, within the
precincts of which lie buried the remains of Rev. Ed. Massé, one of the
earliest missionaries sent from France to Canada by the Jesuits, the
expense of the mission was chiefly borne by the Chevalier Brulart de
Sillery. Here also is the old MANSION HOUSE, and a little higher up the
cliff is the ancient burial ground of the Huron Indians, where the remains
of many of this tribe can still be found. The property is bounded on the
west by the historical stream of St. Michaels brook, so often mentioned in
the narratives of the siege of Quebec in 1759. This stream used to be well
stocked with trout, and promises to regain its former character in this
respect, as the present proprietor intends to re-stock it.

Mr. Dobell has collected here some very fine specimens of Canadian Game,
which the art of the taxidermist has rendered very life-like. His oil
paintings are deserving of notice and attracted attention at a recent
exhibition of art, &c., at the Morrin College, they appear in the printed
catalogue as follows: -

A Scene in Wales, (Morning).............. by Marcham.
A Scene in Wales, (Evening).............. "
Reading the Bible, ...................... "
Our Saviour, - an old painting on copper..
Dead Canary,............................. S. M. Martin.
Fox and Ducks,........................... "
Prairie Hen,............................. "
View of Quebec,.......................... Creswell.
Egyptian Interior,....................... Kornan.
Dead Game,............................... "
Two Oil Paintings,....................... after Guido Reni.
Girl and Birdcage, - a Dutch painting.....
Prisoners,............................... by Jacobi.
Flower Piece,............................ Victor
Pandora and Casket, - old painting........

The chief charm of Beauvoir is in its beautiful level lawn and deep
overhanging woods, recalling vividly to mind the many beautiful homes of
merry England. Mr. Dobell the proprietor is largely engaged in mercantile
operations, and for many years past has carried on the most extensive
business in the lumber trade.

In 1865 we alluded as follows to this bright Canadian Home, which the
shadow of death was soon to darken:

"Crowning a sloping lawn, intersected by a small stream, and facing the
Etchemin Mills, you notice on the south side of the St. Lewis road, next
to Clermont, a neat dwelling hid amongst huge pines and other forest
trees; that is one of our oldest English country seats. Family memories of
three generations consecrate the spot. Would you like a glimpse of
domestic life as enjoyed at Sillery? then follow that bevy of noisy, rosy-
cheeked boys in Lennoxville caps, with gun and rod in hand, hurrying down
those steep, narrow steps leading from the bank to the Cove below. How
they scamper along, eager to walk the deck of that trim little craft, the
_Falcon_, anchored in the stream, and sitting like a bird on the bosom of
the famed river. Wait a minute and you will see the mainsail flutter in
the breeze. Now our rollicking young friends have marched past ruins of
"chapel, convent, hospital," &c., on the beach; you surely did not expect
them to look glum and melancholy. Of course they knew all about "Monsieur
Puiseaux," "le Chevalier de Sillery," "the house where dwelt Emily
Montague"; but do not, if you have any respect for that thrice happy age,
the halcyon days of jackets and frills, befog their brains with the musty
records of departed years. Let the lads enjoy their summer vacation,
radiant, happy, heedless of the future. Alas! it may yet overtake them
soon enough! What care could contract their brow? Have they not fed for
the day their rabbits, their pigeons, their guinea-pigs? Is not that
faithful Newfoundland dog "Boatswain," who saved from drowning one of
their school-mates, is he not as usual their companion on ship-board or
ashore? There, now, they drop down the stream for a long day's cruise
round the Island of Orleans. Next week, peradventure, you may hear of the
_Falcon_ and its jolly crew having sailed for Portneuf, Murray Bay, the
Saguenay or Bersimis, to throw a cast for salmon, sea-trout or mackerel,
in some sequestered pool or sheltered bay.

"There we'll drop our lines, and gather
Old Ocean's treasures in."

Are they not glorious, handsome, manly fellows, our Sillery boys? No
wonder we are all proud of them, of the twins as much as the rest, and
more so perhaps. "Our Parish" you must know, is renowned for the
proportion in which it contributes to the census: twins - a common
occurrence; occasionally, triplets.

Such we knew this Canadian home in the days of the late Henry Lemesurier.


"I knew by the smoke which so gracefully curled,
Above the green wood that a cottage was near."
- _Moore's Woodpecker._

Facing Sillery hill, on the north side of "Sans Bruit," formerly the
estate of Lieut.-Col. the Hon. Henry Caldwell, Mr. Alfred P. Wheeler,
[245] the Tide Surveyor of H. M. Customs, Quebec, built in 1880, a
comfortable and pleasing little cottage. He has called it Montague Cottage
[246] in memory of Wolfe's brave assistant Quarter Master General Col.
Caldwell, of Sans Bruit, the Col. Rivers of "The Novel and the preferred
suitor of Emily Montague who addressed her romantic 'Sillery letters to
Col. Rivers from a house not far from the Hill of Sillery.

It is stated in all the old Quebec Guide Books that the house in which the
'divine Emily then dwelt stood on the foot of Sillery Hill, close to Mrs.
Graddon's property at Kilmarnock, her friend Bella Fermor probably lived
near her. Vol. I of the Work, page 61, states; "I am at present at an
extremely pretty farm on the banks of the River St. Lawrence, the house
stands as the foot of a steep mountain covered with a variety of trees
forming a verdant sloping wall, which rises in a kind of regular
confusion, shade above shade a woody theatre, and has in front this noble
river, on which ships continually passing present to the delighted eye the
most charming picture imaginable. I never saw a place so formed to inspire
that pleasing lassitude, that divine inclination to saunter, which may not
improperly be called the luxurious indolence of the country. I intend to
build a temple here to the charming goddess of laziness. A gentleman is
coming down the winding path on the side of the hill, whom by his air I
take to be your brother. Adieu. I must receive him, my father is in
Quebec. Yours,



On the 22nd March 1769, a novelist of some standing Mrs. Frances
Brooks an officer's lady, [247] author of _Lady Julia Mandeville_
published in London a work in four volumes, which she dedicated to His
Excellency the Governor of Canada, Guy Carleton afterwards Lord
Dorchester, under the title of the _History of Emily Montague_ being a
series of letters addressed from Sillery by Emily Montague the heroine
of the tale, to her lively and witty friend Bella Fermor - to some
military admirers in Quebec, Montreal, and New York - to some British
noblemen, friends of her father.

This novel, whether it was through the writer's _entourage_ in
the world or her _entrée_ to fashionable circles, or whether on
account of its own intrinsic literary worth, had an immense success in
its day. The racy description it contains of Canadian scenery, and
colonial life, mixed with the fashionable gossip of our Belgravians of
1766, seven years after the conquest, caused several English families
to emigrate to Canada. Some settled in the neighborhood of Quebec, at
Sillery, it is said. Whether they found all things _couleur-de-
rose_, as the clever Mrs. Brooke had described them, - whether they
enjoyed as much Arcadian bliss as the Letters of _Emily Montague_
had promised - it would be very ungallant for us to gainsay, seeing
that Mrs. Brooke is not present to vindicate herself. As to the
literary merit of the novel, this much we will venture to assert, that
setting aside the charm of association, we doubt that _Emily
Montague_ if republished at present, would make the fortune of her
publisher. Novel writing, like other things, has considerably changed
since 1766, and however much the florid Richardson style may have
pleased the great grandfathers of the present generation, it would
scarcely chime in with the taste of readers in our sensational times.
In Mrs. Brooke's day Quebecers appear to have amused themselves pretty
much as they do now, a century later. In the summer, riding, driving
boating, pic-nics at Lake St. Charles, the Falls of Montmorenci, &c.
In winter tandems, sleigh drives, toboganing at the ice cone, tomycod
fishing on the St. Charles, Château balls; the formation of a
_pont_ or ice-bridge and its breaking up in the spring - two events of
paramount importance. The military, later on, the promoters of
conviviality, sport and social amusements; in return obtaining the
_entrée_ to the houses of the chief citizens; toying with every
English rosebud or Gallic-lily, which might strew their path in spite
of paternal and maternal admonitions from the other side of the
Atlantic; occasionally leading to the hymeneal altar a Canadian bride,
and next introducing her to their horror-stricken London relatives,
astounded to find out that our Canadian belles, were neither the
colour of copper, nor of ebony; in education and accomplishments,
their equals - sometimes their superiors when class is compared to
class. Would you like a few extracts from this curious old Sillery
novel? Bella Fermor, one of Emily Montague's familiars, and a most
ingrained _coquette_, thus writes from Sillery in favour of a
military protégé on the 16th September, 1766, to the "divine" Emily,
who had just been packed oft to Montreal to recover from a love fit.
"Sir George is handsome as an Adonis ... you allow him to be of an
amiable character; he is rich, young, well-born, and he loves you..."

All in vain thus to plead Sir. George's cause, a dashing Col. Rivers
(meant, we were told, by the Hon. W. Sheppard, to personify Col. Henry
Caldwell, of Belmont) had won the heart of Emily, who preferred true
love to a coronet. Let us treasure up a few more sentences fallen from
Emily's light-hearted confidante. A postscript to a letter runs thus -
"Adieu, Emily, I am going to ramble in the woods and pick berries with
a little smiling civil captain [we can just fancy we see some of our
fair acquaintances' mouths water at such a prospect], who is enamoured
of me. A pretty rural amusement for lovers." Decidedly; all this in
the romantic woodlands of Sillery, a sad place it must be confessed,
when even boarding school misses, were they to ramble thus, could
scarcely escape contracting the _scarlet_ fever. Here goes another
extract: -


"Sillery, Sept. 20th, (1766) - 10 o'clock.

"Ah! we are vastly to be pitied; no beaux at all at the general's,
only about six to one; a pretty proportion, and what I hope always to
see. We - the ladies I mean - drink chocolate with the general to-
morrow, and he gives us a ball on Thursday; you would not know Quebec
again. Nothing but smiling faces now: all gay as never was - the
sweetest country in the world. Never expect to see me in England
again; one is really somebody here. I have been asked to dance by only
twenty-seven. ..."

Ah! who would not forgive the frolicsome Bella all her flirtations?
But before we dismiss this pleasant record of other days, yet another
extract, and we have done.


"Sillery - Eight in the evening.

"Absolutely, Lucy, I will marry a savage and turn squaw (a pretty soft
name for an Indian Princess!) Never was anything so delightful as
their lives. They talk of French husbands, but commend me to an Indian
one, who lets his wife ramble five hundred miles without asking where
she is going.

"I was sitting after dinner, with a book, in a thicket of hawthorn
near the beach, when a loud laugh called my attention to the river,
when I saw a canoe of savages making to the shore. There were six
women and two or three children, without one man amongst them. They
landed and tied the canoe to the root of a tree, and finding out the
most agreeable shady spot amongst the bushes with which the beach was
covered, (which happened to be very near me) made a fire, on which
they laid some fish to broil, and fetching water from the river, sat
down on the grass to their frugal repast. I stole softly to the house,
and ordering a servant to bring some wine and cold provisions,
returned to my squaws. I asked them in French if they were of Lorette,
they shook their heads - I repeated the question in English, when the
eldest of the women told me they were not, that their country was on
the borders of New England, that their husbands being on a hunting
party in the woods, curiosity and the desire to see their brethren,
the English, who had conquered Quebec, had brought them up the great
river, down which they should return as soon as they had seen
Montreal. She courteously asked me to sit down and eat with them,
which I complied with and produced my part of the feast. We soon
became good company, and brightened the chain of friendship with two
bottles of wine, which put them in such spirits that they danced,
sung, shook me by the hand, and grew so fond of me that I began to be
afraid I should not easily get rid of them.

"Adieu! my father is just come in and has brought some company with
him from Quebec to supper.

"Yours ever,



"This villa, erected in 1850 on the north side of the St. Lewis road,
facing Cataracoui, affords a striking exemplification of how soon taste
and capital can transform a wilderness into a habitation combining every
appliance of modern refinement and rustic adornment. It covers about
eighty-two acres, two thirds of which are green meadows, wheat fields,
&c., the remainder, plantations, gardens and lawn. The cottage itself is a
plain, unpretending structure, made more roomy by the recent addition of a
dining room, &c., in rear. On emerging from the leafy avenue, the visitor
notices two _parterres_ of wild flowers - kalmias, trilliums, etc., -
transplanted from the neighboring wood, with the rank, moist soil of the
Gomin marsh to derive nourishment from, they appear to thrive. In rear of
these _parterres_ a granite rockery, festooned with ferns, wild
violets, &c., raises its green gritty, rugged outline. This pretty
European embellishment we would much like to see more generally introduced
in our Canadian landscape; it is strikingly picturesque. The next object
which catches the eye is the conservatory in which are displayed the most
extensive collection of exotics in Sillery. In the centre of some fifty
large camellia shrubs there is a magnificent specimen of the fimbriata
variety - white leaves with a fringed border; it stands twelve feet high
with corresponding breadth. When it is loaded with blossoms in the winter
the spectacle is exquisitely beautiful. In the rear of the conservatory
are a vinery, a peach and apricot house; like the conservatory, all span-
roofed and divided off in several compartments, heated by steam-pipes and
furnaces, with stop-cocks to retard or accelerate vegetation at will. On
the 31st May, when we visited the establishment, we found the black
Hamburg grapes the size of cherries; the peaches and apricots
correspondingly advanced; the cherries under glass quite over. One of the
latest improvements is a second flower garden to the west of the house, in
the English landscape style. In rear of this garden to the north, there
existed formerly a cedar swamp, which deep subsoil draining with tiles has
converted into a grass meadow of great beauty; a belt of pine, spruce,
tamarack, and some deciduous trees, thinned towards the south-west, let in
a glimpse of the St. Lawrence and the high-wooded Point Levi shores,
shutting out the view of the St. Lewis road, and completely overshadowing
the porter's lodge; out-houses, stables, root-house, paddocks and barns
are all on a correspondingly extensive scale. We have here another
instance of the love of country life which our successful Canadian
merchant likes to indulge in; and we can fancy, judging from our own case,
with what zest Mr. Burstall the portly laird of Kirk Ella, after a
toilsome day in his St. Peter street counting-house, hurried home to revel
in the rustic beauty which surrounds his dwelling." Such was Kirk Ella in

Mr. Burstall having withdrawn from business, removed to England and died
there a few years back. Kirk Ella has now become the property of Charles
Ernest Levey, Esq., only son of the late Charles E. Levey, Esq., formerly
of Cataracoui. The dwelling having been destroyed by fire in 1879, the new
owner decided on erecting a handsome roomy mansion on the same site. The
visitor at Kirk Ella, after paying his devoirs to the youthful Chatelain
and Chatelaine, can admire at leisure Mr. Levey's numerous and expensive
stud: "Lollypop", "Bismark," "Joker," "Jovial," "Tichborne," "Burgundy,"
"Catch-him-alivo," a crowd of fleet steeds, racing and trotting stock,
surrounded by a yelping and frisky pack of "Peppers," "Mustards,"
"Carlos," "Guys," "Josephines," "Fidlers;" Mastiffs, French Poodles, Fox
Terriers, Bulldogs, - Kirk Ella is a perfect Elysium for that faithful
though noisy friend of man, the dog.


The conflagration of Spencer Wood, on the 12th March, 1860, made it
incumbent on the Provincial Government to provide for His Excellency Sir
Edmund Head a suitable residence. After examining several places,
Cataracoui, the residence of Henry Burstall, Esquire, opposite to Kirk
Ella was selected, and additions made, and still greater decorations and
improvements ordered when it became known that the First Gentleman in
England, our Sovereign's eldest son, was soon to pay a flying visit to Her
Majesty's Canadian lieges. Cataracoui can boast of having harbored two
princes of the blood royal, the prince of Wales, and his brother Alfred; a
circumstance which no doubt much enhanced its prestige in the eyes of its
owner. It was laid out about 1836 by Jas. B. Forsyth, Esq., the first
proprietor, and reflects credit on his taste.

This seat, without possessing the extensive grounds, vast river frontage,
and long shady walks of Spencer Wood, or Woodfield, is an eminently
picturesque residence. A new grapery with a lean-to roof, about ninety
feet in length, has just been completed: the choicest [248] varieties of
the grape vine are here cultivated. Several tasty additions have, also,
recently been made to the conservatory, under the superintendence of a
Scotch landscape gardener, Mr. P. Lowe, formerly in charge of the Spencer
Wood conservatories, &c. We had the pleasure on one occasion to view, on a
piercing winter day, from the drawing room of Cataracoui, through the
glass door which opens on the conservatory, the rare collections of
exotics it contains, - a perfect grove of verdure and blossoms, - the whole
lit up by the mellow light of the setting sun, whose rays scintillated in
every fantastic form amongst this gorgeous tropical vegetation, whilst the
snow-wreathed evergreens, surrounding the conservatory waved their palms
to the orb of day in our clear, bracing Canadian atmosphere - summer and

Online LibraryJ.M. Le MoinePicturesque Quebec : a sequel to Quebec past and present → online text (page 36 of 59)