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J.M. Le Moine.

Picturesque Quebec : a sequel to Quebec past and present online

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selected library, surrounded by a few congenial friends, the toils of the
day over - the dust of St. Peter Street shaken off. Mr. Porter was a fair
type of the well-informed English country gentleman, well read in Debrett,
with a pedigree reaching as far back as William the Norman. At his demise,
he bequeathed this splendid farm to the son of a valued old friend. Andrew
Chs. Stuart, Esq., of the law firm of Ross, Stuart & Stuart, Quebec, now
Lt.-Col. Andrew Charles Stuart, of the 8th Batt. "Royal Rifles," Quebec.

Col. Stuart, the possessor of ample means, having a taste for agricultural
pursuits, has lately become an active member of the Quebec Turf Club, as
well as a successful breeder of prize cattle. His stud is renowned all
over Canada. Col. Stuart lately took up his residence at Meadowbank, since
which time a transformation seems to have come over the land; sprightly
parterres of flowers, dainty pavilions, trim hedges, rustic seats, hanging
baskets of ferns, are conspicuous, where formerly hay alone flourished. A
neighboring rill has been skilfully enlisted to do duty, dammed up,
bridged over, gently coaxed to meander, whimple and bubble, like
Tennyson's brook, here and there rippling over and rushing into cool trout
ponds, under the shade of moss and trees, until it leaps down to the St.
Lawrence.

A small race-course has been laid out, south of the house, in a declivity
towards the St. Lawrence to exercise the thoroughbreds and keep healthy
the pet charger for parade days, as well as ladies' palfreys, which are
not forgotten at Meadowbank.

In an enclosure protected by stone pillars and chains, under the shade of
a handsome tree, may be read on a board, the following name, recently
inscribed,

"ASTREA"

This marks the spot where a favourite saddle-horse, who died prematurely,
now rests. All now wanting to perfect this scene of rustic beauty is a
cottage _orné_ or a _Chalet Suisse_.


A RAID ON MEADOWBANK IN 1775, AND HOW KING GEORGE'S FRIENDS, THE
"QUEBEC TORIES" WERE THEN PLUNDERED.

The following extract from Judge Henry's Diary seems to refer to the
country seat, now known as Meadowbank:

Arnold's little army had retreated to Pointe aux Trembles on the 15th
Nov. On the 2nd December, 1775, they retraced their steps to Quebec
and in the evening arrived at St. Foy. On the 12th of December, Henry
[253] says "The officers and men still wore nothing else than the
remains of the summer clothing, which being on their back, had escaped
destruction in the disaster of the wilderness." At this time the snow
lay three feet deep over the whole country. One fine morning a fellow
addressed Simpson who was the only officer in quarters and said "that
about two miles up the St. Lawrence lay a country seat of Governor
Cromie's (Cramahé?) stocked with many things they wanted and he would
be our guide. Carioles were immediately procured. The house, a neat
box, was romantically situated on the steep bank of the river, not
very distant from a chapel. [254] Though in the midst of winter the
spot displayed the elegant taste and abundant wealth of the owner. The
house was closed; knocking, the hall door was opened to us by an
Irishwoman who, of the fair sex, was the largest and most brawny that
ever came under my notice. She was the stewardess of the house. Our
questions were answered with an apparent affability and frankness. She
introduced us into the kitchen, a large apartment, well filled with
these articles which good livers think necessary to the happy
enjoyment of life. Here we observed five or six Canadian servants
huddled into a corner of the kitchen trembling with fear. Our prying
eyes soon discovered a trap door leading into the cellar. The men
entered it; firken after firken of butter, - lard, tallow, beef, pork,
fish and salt, all became a prey. While the men were rummaging below
the lieutenant descended to cause more despatch. My duty was to remain
at the end of the trap door with my back to the wall, and rifle cocked
as a sentry, keeping a strict eye on the servants. My good Irishwoman
frequently beckoned to me to descend; her drift was to catch us all in
the trap. Luckily she was comprehended. The cellar and kitchen being
thoroughly gutted, and the spoil borne to the carriages, the party
dispersed into the other apartments. Here was elegancy. The walls and
partitions were beautifully papered, and decorated with large
engravings, maps, &c., and of the most celebrated artists. A noble
view of the City of Philadelphia upon a large scale taken from the
neighborhood of Cooper's Ferry drew my attention and raised some
compunctive ideas; but war and the sciences always stand at arms
length in the contests of mankind. The latter must succumb in the
tumult. Our attention was much more attracted by the costly feather
beds, counterpanes, and charming rose blankets, which the house
afforded. Of these there was a good store and we left not a jot behind
us. The nooks and crevices in the carioles were filled with smaller
articles; several dozen of admirably finished case knives and forks;
even a set of dessert knives obtained the notice of our cupidity.
Articles of a lesser moment nor a thousandth part so useful, did not
escape the all-grasping hands of the soldiery. In a back apartment
there stood a mahogany couch or settee in a highly finished style. The
woodwork of the couch was raised on all sides by cushioning, and
costly covered by a rich figured silk. This to us was lumber, besides
our carioles were full. However, we grabbed the mattrass and pallets
all equally elegant as the couch. Having, as we thought, divested his
Excellency of all the articles of prime necessity, we departed,
ostensibly and even audibly accompanied by the pious blessings of the
stewardess for our moderation. No doubt she had her mental
reservations; on such business as this we regarded neither. Near the
chapel we met a party of Morgan's men coming to do that which we had
already done. The officer appeared chagrined when he saw the extent of
our plunder. He went on, and finally ransacked the house, and yet a
little more the stables. The joy of our men, among whom the plunder
was distributed in nearly equal portions was extravagant. Now an
operation of the human mind, which often takes place in society, and
is every day discernable by persons of observation, became clearly
obvious. Let a man once with impunity desert the strict rule of rules,
all subsequent aggression is not only increased in atrocity, but is
done without a qualm of conscience. Though our company was composed
principally of freeholders, or the sons of such, bred at home under
the strictures of religion and morality, yet when the reins of decorum
were loosed and the honorable feeling weakened, it became impossible
to administer restraint. The person of a Tory or his property became
fair game, and this at the denunciation of some base domestic villain.

On the morning following December 13, the same audacious scoundrel
again returned, and another marauding expedition started under his
guidance to a farm "said to belong to Gov. Cromie (Cramahé?) or some
other inhabitant of Quebec. It was further than the former scene." The
farm-house, though low, being but one story, was capacious and
tolerably neat. The barn built of logs, with a thrashing floor in the
centre, was from 70 to 80 feet in length. The tenant, his wife and
children shuddered upon our approach. Assurances that they should be
unharmed relieved their fears. The tenant pointed out to us the horned
cattle, pigs and poultry of his landlord. These were shot down without
mercy or drove before us to our quarters. Thus we obtained a tolerable
load for our caravan, which consisted of five or six carioles. "With
this disreputable exploit marauding ceased. A returning sense of
decency and order emanating from ourselves produced a sense of
contrition. It is a solemn truth that we plundered none but those who
were notoriously Tories and then within the walls of Quebec."


_THE HIGHLANDS._

The range of heights extends from Spencer Wood, west, to the black bridge
over the stream at Kilmarnock, gradually recedes from the road, leaving at
its foot a spacious area interspersed with green pastures, lawns, ploughed
fields and plantations. On the most elevated plateau of this range stands
"The Highlands," a large substantial fire-brick dwelling, with an ample
verandah, erected a few years back by Michael Stevenson, Esquire,
merchant, of Quebec. The site is recommended by a fine view of the river
St. Lawrence, an airy and healthy position, and the luxuriant foliage of
the spruce, pine and maple in the background. The internal arrangements of
the dwelling, whether regard be had to ventilation in summer or heating in
winter, are on the most modern and improved plan. "The Highlands" lie
above St. Michael's Cove teeming with historical recollections, a little
to the west thereof, in front of St. Lewis road of historic renown, over
which pranced, in 1663, the Marquis of Tracy's gaudy equipage and splendid
body-guard wearing, as history tells, the uniform of the _Gardes de la
Reine_. In Sept., 1759, [255] the Rochbeaucourt Cavalry, with their
"blue uniforms and neat light horses of different colours," scoured the
heights in all directions, watching the motions of the English fleet,
which may be seen in the plate of the siege operations, lying at anchor at
Sillery, ready, the huge black leviathans, to hurl destruction on the
devoted city. In 1838, we remember well noticing Lord Durham's showy
equipage with outriders, thundering daily over this same road: the Earl
being a particular admirer of the Cap Rouge scenery. This seat has passed
over, by purchase, to Chas. Temple, Esq., son of our late respected
fellow-townsman, Major Temple, who for a series of years served in that
15th regiment, to whose prowess the Plains of Abraham bore witness during
the war of the conquest. "The Highlands" are now occupied by J. W.
Stockwell, Esquire.


_WINTER FOX HUNTING IN CANADA._

From time immemorial, Merry England has been renowned for her field
sports; prominent amongst which may be reckoned her exciting pastime
of Fox-hunting, the pride, the glory, _par excellence_ of the
roystering English squire. Many may not be aware that we also, in our
far-off Canada, have a method of Fox-hunting peculiarly our own - in
harmony with the nature of the country - adapted to the rigors of our
arctic winter season - the successful prosecution of which calls forth
more endurance, a keener sight, a more thorough knowledge of the
habits of the animal, a deeper self-control and greater sagacity, than
does the English sport; for, as the proverb truly says, "_Pour
attraper la bête, faut être plus fin qu'elle._" [256]

A short sketch [257] of a Canadian Fox-hunt may not, therefore, prove
uninteresting. At the outset, let the reader bear in mind that Sir
Reynard _Canadensis_ is rather a rakish, dissipated gentleman,
constantly turning night into day, in the habit of perambulating
through the forests, the fields, and homesteads, at most improper
hours, to ascertain whether, perchance, some old dame Partlett, some
hoary gobbler, some thoughtless mother-goose, allured to wander over
the farm-yard by the jocund rays of a returning March sun, may not
have been outside of the barn, when the negligent stable-boy closed up
for the night; or else, whether some gay Lothario of a hare in yonder
thicket may not, by the silent and discreet rays of the moon, be
whispering some soft nonsense in the willing ear of some guileless
doe, escaped from a parent's vigilant eye. For on such has the
midnight marauder set his heart: after such does noiselessly prowl,
favoured by darkness - the dissipated rascal - _querens quem devoret_ -
determined to make up, on the morrow, by a long meridian _siesta_ on
the highest pinacle of a snow-drift, for the loss of his night's-rest.
Should fortune refuse the sly prowler the coveted hen, turkey, goose,
or hare, warmly clad in his fur coat and leggings, with tail
horizontal, he sallies forth over the snow-wreathed fields, on the
skirts of woods, in search of ground mice, his ordinary provender.
But, you will say, how can he discover them under the snow? By that
wonderful instinct with which nature has endowed the brute creation to
provide for their sustenance, each according to its nature, to its
wants. By his marvellously acute ear, the fox detects the ground mouse
under the snow, though he should utter a noise scarcely audible to a
human ear. Mr. Fox sets instantly to work, digs down the earth, and in
a trice gobbles up _mus_, his wife, and young family. Should nothing
occur to disturb his arrangements, he devotes each day in winter, from
ten or half-past ten in the forenoon, to repose; selecting the
loftiest snow-bank he can find, or else a large rock, or perchance any
other eminence from which -

"Monarch of all _he surveys_" -

he can command a good view of the neighborhod, and readily scent
approaching danger. Nor does he drop off immediately in a sound sleep,
like a turtle-fed alderman; but rather, like a suspicious, blood-
thirsty land pirate, as he is, he first snatches hastily "forty
winks," then starts up nervously, for several times, scanning all
around with his cruel, cunning eye - snuffing the air. Should he be
satisfied that no cause of alarm exists, he scrapes himself a bed, if
in the snow and, warmly wrapped in his soft fur cloak, he coils
himself up, cat-fashion, in the sun, with his brushy tail brought over
his head, but careful to keep his nose to the direction from which the
wind blows, so as to catch the first notice of and scent the lurking
enemy. On a stormy, blustery day, the fox will, however, usually seek
the shelter of some bushes or trees, and on such occasion is usually
found under the _lee_ of some little wooded point, where, steeped
in sweetest sleep, he can at leisure dream of clucking hens, fat
turkeys, and tender leverets - sheltered from the storm, and still
having an uninterrupted view before him. The hunter, when bent on a
fox hunt, is careful to wear garments whose colour blends with the
prevailing hue of frosted nature: a white cotton _capot_, and
_capuchon_ to match, is slipped over his great coat; pants also
white - everything to harmonize with the snow; a pair of snow-shoes and
a short gun complete his equipment. Once arrived at the post where he
expects to meet reynard, he looks carefully about for signs of tracks,
and having discovered fresh ones, he follows them, keeping a very
sharp look-out. Should he perceive a fox, and that animal be not
asleep, it is then that he has need of all his wits and of all the
knowledge of the animal's habits he may possess. As previously stated,
the fox depends principally on his scent, to discover danger; but his
eye is also good, and to succeed in approaching within gun shot of him
in the open country, the gunner must watch every motion most
carefully, moving only when the animal's gaze is averted, and stopping
instantly the moment he looks towards him, no matter what position the
sportman's may be at that time. No matter how uncomfortable he may
feel; move he dare not, foot nor limb; the eye of the fox is on him,
and the least movement would betray him and alarm his watchful quarry.
It will be easily conceived that to succesfully carry out this
programme, it requires nerves of steel and a patience _à toute
épreuve_. It has been the good luck of one of our friends once to
approach thus a fox, within twenty feet, without his detecting him;
needless to say, it was done moving against the wind. Some few hunters
can so exactly imitate the cry of the ground mouse, as to bring the
fox to them, especially if he is very hungry; but it is not always
that this plan succeeds. The animal's ear is keen; the slightest
defect in the imitation betrays the trap, and away canters alarmed
reynard at railroad speed. Some sportsmen prefer to watch the fox, and
wait until he falls asleep which they know he will surely do, if not
disturbed, and then they can approach him easily enough against the
wind. It is not unusual for them to get within fifteen feet of the
animal, before the noise of their footsteps causes him to wake. - As
may readily be supposed in such cases, his awakening and death are
generally simultaneous.

It is a fact worthy of note, that the fox, if undisturbed, will every
day return to the same place to sleep, and about the same hour. These
animals are not as abundant as they were a few years back.

The extent of country travelled by a fox by moonlight, each night, is
very great. Not many years ago, a Quebec hunter [258] who is in the
habit of enjoying his daily walk at peep of day, informed the writer
that on many occasions he has seen the sly wanderer, on being
disturbed from the neighborhood of the tanneries in St. Vallier
street, hieing away at a gallop towards the Lorette and Charlesbourg
mountains, a distance of nine miles each way.


_CAPE ROUGE COTTAGE._

With its rear facing St. Augustin parish, eight miles from the city a
commodious dwelling graces the summit of the lofty cape or promontory,
which terminates westward the elevated _plateau_, on the eastern extremity
of which, Champlain, in 1608, raised the lily-spangled banner of the
Bourbons. Unquestionably the environs of Quebec are rich in scenery,
revelling one half of the year in rural loveliness, the other half
enjoying that solid comfort, which successful enterprise, taste and free
institutions communicate to whatever they touch; but no where, not even at
Spencer Wood, or Woodfield, has nature lavished such beautiful landscapes,
such enchanting views. Three centuries ago, Europeans had pitched here
their tents, until the return of spring, attracted by the charms of the
spot; three hundred years after that, a man of taste - to whom we may now
without fear, give his due, as he is where neither praise nor censure can
be suspected, - an English merchant had selected this site for its rare
attractiveness; here he resided for many summers. In 1833 he removed to
Spencer Wood. We allude to the late Henry Atkinson, who was succeeded at
the Cap Rouge Cottage by William Atkinson, Esq., merchant of London,
England. Mr. William Atkinson lived in affluence and happiness at Cap
Rouge, several years. There are yet at Quebec those who remember the kind-
heartedness and hospitality of this English gentleman of the old school.

Geo. Usborne, Esq., was the next occupant of the cottage. The estate
consisted formerly of close on one hundred acres of land, extending north
across the king's highway, with a river frontage of about twenty acres,
the lot on the south side of the road is laid out, one half in a park, the
remainder in two or three fruit and flower gardens, divided by brick walls
to trail vines and ripen fruit. It lies quite sheltered with a southerly
exposure, bounded by the lofty, perpendicular river banks; the base, some
two hundred feet below, skirted by a narrow road, washed by the waves of
the St. Lawrence. A magnificent avenue extends along the high bank under
ancient, ever-verdant pines, whose far outspreading branches, under the
influence of winds, sigh a plaintive but soothing music, blending their
soft rustle to the roar of the Etchemin or the Chaudière rivers before
easterly gales; how well Pickering has it: -

"The overshadowing pines alone, through which I roam,
Their verdure keep, although it darker looks;
And hark! as it comes sighing through the grove,
The exhausted gale, a spirit there awakes
That wild and melancholy music makes."

From the house verandah, the eye plunges westward down the high cape,
following the capricious windings of the Cap Rouge stream far to the
north, or else scans the green uplands of St. Augustin, its white cottages
rising in soft undulations as far as the sight can reach. Over the extreme
point of the southwestern cape hangs a fairy pavilion, like an eagle's
eyrie amongst alpine crags, just a degree more secure than that pensile
old fir tree which you notice at your feet stretching over the chasm;
beneath you the majestic flood, Canada's pride, with a hundred merchantmen
sleeping on its placid waters, and the orb of day dancing blithely over
every ripple. Oh! for a few hours to roam with those we love under these
old pines, to listen to the voices of other years, and cull a fragrant
wreath of those wild flowers which everywhere strew our path.

Is there not enough of nature's charm around this sunny, truly Canadian
home? And how much of the precious metal would many an English duke give
to possess, in his own famed isle, a site of such exquisite beauty? We
confess, we denizens of Quebec, we do feel proud of our Quebec scenery;
not that on comparison we think the less of other localities, but that on
looking round we get to think more of our own.

Cap Rouge, from it having been the location of Europeans, early in the
sixteenth century, must claim the attention of every man of cultivated
mind who takes a pleasure in scrutinizing the past, and in tracing the
advent on our shores of the various races of European descent, now
identified with this land of the West, yearning for the bright destinies
the future has in store.

At the foot of the Cape, on which the Cape Rouge Cottage now stands,
Jacques Cartier and Roberval wintered, the first in 1541-2; the second in
1543-4. Recent discoveries have merely added to the interest which these
historical incidents awaken. The new _Historical Picture of Quebec_,
published in 1834, thus alludes to these circumstances: -

"We now come to another highly interesting portion of local history. It
has been stated that the old historians were apparently ignorant of this
last voyage of Cartier. Some place the establishment of the fort at Cape
Breton, and confound his proceedings with those of Roberval. The exact
spot where Cartier passed his second winter in Canada is not mentioned in
any publication that we have seen. The following is the description given
of the station in Hakluyt: 'After which things the said captain went, with
two of his boats, up the river, beyond Canada' - the promontory of Quebec
is meant - 'and the port of St. Croix, to view a haven and a small river
which is about four leagues higher, which he found better and more
commodious to ride in, and lay his ships, than the former. * * * The said
river is small, not passing fifty paces broad, and ships drawing three
fathoms water may enter in at full sea; and at low water there is nothing
but a channel of a foot deep or thereabouts. * * * The mouth of the river
is towards the south, and it windeth northward like a snake; and at the
mouth of it, towards the east, there is a high and steep cliff, where we
made a way in manner of a pair of stairs, and aloft we made a fort to keep
the nether fort and the ships, and all things that might pass as well by
the great as by the small river." Who that reads the above accurate
description will doubt that the mouth of the little river Cap Rouge was
the station chosen by Jacques Cartier for his second wintering place in
Canada? The original description of the grounds and scenery on both sides
of the river Cap Rouge is equally faithful with that which we have
extracted above. The precise spot on which the upper fort of Jacques
Cartier was built, afterwards enlarged by Roberval, has been fixed by an
ingenious gentleman of Quebec, at the top of Cap Rouge height, a short
distance from the handsome villa and establishment of H. Atkinson (now of
James Bowen) There is, at the distance of about an acre to the north of
Mr. Atkinson's house, a hillock of artificial construction, upon which are
trees indicating great antiquity, and as it does not appear that any
fortifications were erected on this spot, either in the war of 1759, or



Online LibraryJ.M. Le MoinePicturesque Quebec : a sequel to Quebec past and present → online text (page 38 of 59)