J.M. Le Moine.

Picturesque Quebec : a sequel to Quebec past and present online

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during the attack of Quebec by the Americans in 1775, it is extremely
probable that here are to be found the interesting site and remains of the
ancient fort in question.

"On his return to the fort of Charlesbourg Royal, the suspicions of
Cartier as to the unfriendly disposition of the Indians were confirmed. He
was informed that the natives now kept aloof from the fort, and had ceased
to bring them fish and provisions as before. He also learned from some of
the men who had been at Stadacona, that an unusual number of Indians had
assembled there - and associating, as he always seems to have done, the
idea of danger with any concourse of the natives, he resolved to take all
necessary precautions, causing everything in the fortress to be set in

"At this crisis, to the regret of all who feel an interest in the local
history of the time the relation of Cartier's third voyage abruptly breaks
off. Of the proceedings during the winter which he spent at Cap Rouge,
nothing is known. It is probable that it passed over without any collision
with the natives, although the position of the French, from their
numerical weakness, must have been attended with great anxiety.

"It has been seen that Roberval, notwithstanding his lofty titles, and
really enterprising character, did not fulfil his engagement to follow
Cartier with supplies sufficient for the settlement of a colony, until the
year following. By that time the Lieutenant General had furnished three
large vessels chiefly at the King's cost, having on board two hundred
persons, several gentlemen of quality, and settlers, both men and women.
He sailed from La Rochelle on the 16th of April, 1542, under the direction
of an experienced pilot, by name John Alphonse, of Xaintonge. The
prevalence of westerly winds prevented their reaching Newfoundland until
7th June. On the 8th they entered the road of St. John, where they found
seventeen vessels engaged in the fisheries. During his stay in this road,
he was surprised and disappointed by the appearance of Jacques Cartier, on
his return from Canada, whither he had been sent the year before with five
ships. Cartier had passed the winter in the fortress described above, and
gave as a reason for the abandonment of the settlement, 'that he could not
with his small company withstand the savages which went about daily to
annoy him.' He continued, nevertheless, to speak of the country as very
rich and fruitful. Cartier is said, in the relation, of Roberval's voyage
in Hakluyt, to have produced some gold ore found in the country, which on
being tried in a furnace, proved to be good. He had with him also some
_diamonds_, the natural production of the promontory of Quebec, from
which the Cape derived its name. The Lieutenant General having brought so
strong a reinforcement of men and necessaries for the settlement, was
extremely urgent with Cartier to go back again to Cap Rouge, but without
success. It is most probable that the French, who had recently passed a
winter of hardship in Canada, would not permit their Captain to attach
himself to the fortunes and particular views of Roberval. Perhaps, the
fond regret of home prevailed over the love of adventure, and like men who
conceived that they had performed their part of the contract into which
they had entered, they were not disposed to encounter new hardships under
a new leader. In order, therefore, to prevent any open disagreement,
Cartier weighed anchor in the course of the night without taking leave of
Roberval, and made all sail for France. It is impossible not to regret
this somewhat inglorious termination of a distinguished career. Had he
returned to his fort, with the additional strength of Roberval, guided by
his own skill and experience, it is most probable that the colony would
have been destined to a permanent existence. Cartier undertook no other
voyage to Canada; but he afterwards completed a sea chart, drawn by his
own hand, which was extant in the possession of one of his nephews,
Jacques Noël, of St. Malo, in 1587, who seems to have taken great interest
in the further development of the vast country discovered by his deceased
uncle. Two letters of his have been preserved, relating to the maps and
writings of Cartier: the first written in 1587, and the others a year or
two latter, in which he mentions that his two sons, Michael and John Noël,
were then in Canada, and that he was in expectation of their return.
Cartier himself died soon after his return to France, having sacrificed
his fortune in the case of discovery. As an indemnification for the losses
their uncle had sustained, this Jacques Noel and another nephew, De la
Launay Chaton, received in 1588, an exclusive privilege to trade to Canada
during, twelve years, but this was revoked four months after it was

"Roberval, notwithstanding his mortification at the loss of Cartier's
experience and aid in his undertaking, determined to proceed, and sailing
from Newfoundland, about the end of June, 1543, he arrived at Cap Rouge,
'four leagues westward of the Isle of Orleans,' towards the end of July.
Here the French immediately fortified themselves, 'in a place fit to
command the main river, and of strong situation against all manner of
enemies.' The position was, no doubt, that chosen by Jacques Cartier the
year previous. The following is the description given in Hakluyt of the
buildings erected by Roberval: 'The said General on his first arrival
built a fair fort, near and somewhat westward above Canada, which is very
beautiful to behold, and of great force, situated upon a high mountain,
wherein there were two courts of buildings, a great tower, and another of
forty or fifty feet long, wherein there were divers chambers, a hall, a
kitchen, cellars high and low, and near unto it were an oven and mills,
and a stove to warm men in, and a well before the house. And the building
was situated upon the great River of Canada called _France-Prime_ by
Monsieur Roberval. There was also at the foot of the mountain another
lodging, where at the first all our victuals, and whatsoever was brought
with us, were sent to be kept, and near unto that tower there is another
small river. In these two places above and beneath, all the meaner sort
was lodged.' This fort was called _France-Roy_, but of these extensive
buildings, erected most probably in a hasty and inartificial manner, no
traces now remain, unless we consider as such the mound above mentioned,
near the residence of Mr. Atkinson, at Cap Rouge.

"On the 14th September, Roberval sent back to France two of his vessels,
with two gentlemen, bearers of letters to the King; who had instructions
to return the following year with supplies for the settlement. The natives
do not appear, by the relation given, to have evinced any hostility to the
new settlers. Unfortunately, the scurvy again made its appearance among
the French and carried off no less than sixty during the winter. The
morality of this little colony was not very rigid - perhaps they were
pressed by hunger, and induced to plunder from each other - at all events
the severity of the Viceroy towards his handful of subjects appears not to
have been restricted to the male sex. The method adopted by the Governor
to secure a quiet life will raise a smile; 'Monsieur Roberval used very
good justice, and punished every man according to his offence. One whose
name was Michael Gaillon, was hanged for his theft. John of Nantes was
laid in irons, and kept prisoner for his offence; and others also were put
in irons, and divers whipped, as well men as women, by which means they
lived quiet.'

"We have no record extant of the other proceedings of Roberval during the
winter of 1543. The ice broke up in the month of April; and on the 5th
June, the Lieutenant General departed from the winter quarters on an
exploring expedition to the Province of Saguenay, as Cartier had done on a
former occasion. Thirty persons were left behind in the fort under the
command of an officer, with instructions to return to France, if he had
not returned by the 1st of July. There are no particulars of this
expedition, on which, however, Roberval employed a considerable time. For
we find that on the 14th June, four of the gentlemen belonging to the
expedition returned to the fort, having left Roberval on the way to
Saguenay; and on the 19th, some others came back, bringing with them some
six score weight of Indian corn; and directions for the rest to wait for
the return of the Viceroy, until the 22nd July. An incident happened in
this expedition, which seems to have escaped the notice of the author of
the treaties on the _canon de bronze_ (Amable Barthelot), which we
have noticed in a former chapter. It certainly gives an authentic account
of a ship wreck having been suffered in the St. Lawrence, to which,
perhaps, the finding of the cannon, and the tradition about Jacques
Cartier, may with some possibility be referred. The following is the
extract in question: 'Eight men and one bark drowned and lost, among whom
were Monsieur de Noire Fontaine, and one named La Vasseur of Constance.'
The error as to the name might easily arise, Jacques Cartier having been
there so short a time before, and his celebrity in the country being so
much greater than that of Roberval, or of any of his companions."

Cap Rouge Cottage is now owned by James Bowen, Esq.


Flooded in sunny silence sleep the kine,
In languid murmurs brooklets float and flow,
The quaint farm-gables in rich light shine
And round them jasmined honeysuckles twine,
And close beside them sun-flowers burn and blow.

About one mile beyond the St. Foye Church, there is a fertile farm of one,
hundred acres, lying chiefly on the north side of the road. The dwelling,
a roomy, one story cottage, stands about two acres from the highway, from
which a copse of trees interrupts the view.

There are at present in this spot, several embellishments - such as trout
ponds - which bid fair to render it worthy of the notice of men of taste.
It was merely necessary to assist nature in order to obtain here most
gratifying results. Between the road fence and the dwelling, a small brook
has worn its bed, at the bottom of a deep ravine, sweeping past the house
lawn westward, and then changing its course to due north-west the boundary
in that direction between that and the adjoining property. The banks of
the ravine are enclosed in a belt of every imaginable forest shrub, - wild
cherry, mountain ash, raspberry, blueberry, interspersed here and there
with superb specimens of oak, spruce, fir and pine. A second avenue has
been laid out amongst the trees between the road fence and the brook, to
connect with the lawn at the west of the house, by a neat little bridge,
resting on two square piers about twenty-five feet high: on either side of
the bridge a solid dam being constructed of the boulders and stones
removed from the lower portion of the property, intended to form two trout
ponds of a couple of acres in length each, a passage in the dam is left
for the water-fall, which is in full view of the bridge. On the edge of
the bank, overhanging the ravine, nature seems to have pointed out the
spot for a pavilion, from which the disciples of Isaac Walton can throw a
cast below. The green fringe of the mountain shrubs in bud, blossom or
fruit, encircling the farm, materially enhances the beauty of this sylvan
landscape, - the eye resting with particular pleasure on the vast expanse
of meadow of vivid green, clothed in most luxuriant grass, some 10,000
bundles of hay for the mower, in due time. About two acres from the house,
to the west, is placed a rustic seat, under two weather-beaten, though
still verdant oaks, which stretch their boughs across the river: closer
again to the cottage, the eye meets two pavilions. The new avenue, rustic
bridges, ponds and pavilions, are due to the good taste of the present
owner, Louis Bilodeau, Esq. This rural home was for several years occupied
in summer by Stephen Sewell, Esq., and does not belie its name -


Owners - Intendant Talon, 1670; General James Murray, 1765; Sir John
Caldwell, 1810; J. W. Dunscomb. Esquire, 1854-81.

That genial old joker, Sir Jonas Barrington, in his _Sketches_, has
invested the Irish homes and Irish gentry with features certainly very
original - at times so singular as to be difficult of acceptance. True, he
lived in an age and amongst a people proverbial for generous hospitality,
for conviviality carried to its extreme limit. Gargantuan banquets he
describes, pending which the bowls of punch and claret imbibed appear to
us something fabulous. Irish squires, roystering Irish barristers,
toddling home in pairs after having stowed away under their belts as many
as twelve bottles of claret a piece, during a prolonged sitting, _i.e._,
from 6 P.M. to 6 A.M. Such intrepid diners-out were known as "Twelve
bottle men;" and verily, if the old Judge is to be credited, they might
have been advantageously pitted even against such a Homeric guzzler as
history depicts Aurora Konigsmark's sturdy son, Maréchal de Saxe, who, in
his youth, 'tis said, tossed off, at one draught and without experiencing
any ill-effects, one whole gallon of wine.

The first time our eye scanned the silent and deserted banquetting halls
of Belmont, with their lofty ceilings, and recalling the traditional
accounts of the hospitable gentlemen, whose joviality had once lit up the
scene, visions of social Ireland of Barrington's day floated uppermost in
our mind. We could fancy we saw the gay roysterers of times by-gone - first
a fête champêtre of lively French officers from Quebec, making merry over
their Bordeaux or Burgundy, and celebrating the news of their recent
victories at Fontenoy, [259] Lauffeld or Carillon, to the jocund sound of
_Vive la France! Vive le Maréchal de Saxe! à la Claire Fontaine_, &c
then Governor Murray, surrounded by his veterans, Guy Carleton, Col.
Caldwell, Majors Hale, Holland, and some of the new subjects, such as the
brave Chs. De Lanaudière, [260] complimenting one another all around over
the feats of the respective armies at the two memorable battles of the
Plains, and all joining loyally in repeating the favorite toast in Wolfe's
fleet, _British colours on every French fort, port and garrison in
America_! Later on, at the beginning of the present century, a gathering
of those Canadian Barons, so graphically delineated by John Lambert in his
_Travels in Canada_, in 1808 - one week surrounding the festive board of
this jolly Receiver General of Canada at Belmont, the next at
Charlesbourg, making the romantic echoes of the Hermitage ring again with
old English cheers and loyal toasts to "George the King," or else
installing a "Baron" at the Union Hotel, Place d'Armes, - possibly in
the very Council-room in which the State secrets of Canada were in 1865
daily canvassed - and flinging down to the landlord as Lambert says, "250
guineas for the entertainement." Where are now the choice spirits of that
comparatively modern day, the rank and fashion who used to go and sip
claret or eat ice-cream with Sir James Craig, at Powell Place? Where gone
the Mures, Paynters, Munros, Matthew Bells, de Lanaudières, Lymburners,
Smiths, Finlays, Caldwells, Percevals, Jonathan Sewells? Alas! like the
glories of Belmont, departed, or living in the realms of memory only!

This estate, which, until lately, consisted of four hundred and fifty
acres, extending from the line of the Grande Allée down to the Bijou wood,
was _conceded_ in 1649 by the Jesuit Fathers to M. Godfroy. It passed
over, in 1670, to the celebrated Intendant Talon, by deed of sale executed
on the 28th of September, 1670, before Romain Becquet, Notaire Royal.
Messire Jean Talon is described in that instrument as "Conseiller du roi
en ses conseils d'état et premier Intendant de justice, police et finance
de la Nouvelle France, Isle de Terreneuve, Acadie et pays de l'Amérique
Septentrionale." Shortly after the conquest it was occupied by Chief
Justice Wm. Gregory. In 1765 it was sold for £500 by David Alves of
Montreal, to General James Murray, who, after the first battle of the
Plains, had remained Governor of Quebec, whilst his immediate superior,
Brigadier Geo. Townshend, had hurried to England to cull the laurels of
victory. In 1775, we find that one of the first operations of the American
General Montgomery was to take possession of "General Murray's house, on
the St. Foy road." General Murray also, probably, then owned the property
subsequently known as Holland's farm, where Montgomery had his
headquarters. All through our history the incidents, actors and results of
battles are tolerably well indicated, but the domestic history of
individuals and exact descriptions of localities are scarcely ever
furnished, so that the reader will not be surprised should several
_lacunae_ occur in the description of Belmont, one of the most interesting
Canadian country seats in the neighbourhood of Quebec. The history of
Holland House might also, of itself, furnish quite a small epic; and,
doubtless, from the exalted social position of many of the past owners of
Belmont, its old walls, could they obtain utterance, might reveal
interesting incidents of our past history, which will otherwise ever be
buried in oblivion.

In the memory of Quebecers, Belmont must always remain more particularly
connected with the name of the Caldwells, three generations of whom
occupied its spacious halls. The founder of this old family, who played a
conspicuous part in Canadian politics for half a century, was the Hon.
Col. Henry Caldwell, for many years Receiver General of the Province, by
royal appointment, and member of the Legislative Council. He came first to
Canada in 1759, says Knox, [261] as Assistant Quartermaster General to
Wolfe, under whom he served. When appointed Receiver General, the salary
attached to that high office [262] was £400 per annum, with the
understanding that he might _account_ at his convenience, he never
accounted at all, probably as it was anything but _convenient_ to do
so, having followed the traditional policy of high officials under French
rule, and speculated largely in milk, &c. The fault was more the
consequences of the system than that of the individual, and had his
ventures turned out well, no doubt the high-minded Colonel and Receiver
General would have made matters right before dying. In 1801 Col. Caldwell
was returned member for Dorchester, where he owned the rich Seigniory of
Lauzon, and most extensive mill at the Etchemin river, the same
subsequently owned by J. Thomson, Esq., and now by Hy. Atkinson, Esq. The
colonel was re-elected by the same constituency in 1805, and again in
1809, lived in splendor at Belmont, as a polished gentleman of that age
knew how to live, and died there in 1810. Belmont is situated on the St.
Foye road, on its north side, at the end of a long avenue of trees,
distant three miles from Quebec. The original mansion, which was burnt
down in 1798, was rebuilt by the Colonel in 1800 on plans furnished by an
Engineer Officer of the name of Brabazon. It stood in the garden between
the present house and main or St. Foye road. The cellar forms the spacious
root house, at present in the garden. Col Caldwell's exquisite
entertainments soon drew around his table some of the best men of Quebec,
of the time, such as the gallant Gen. Brock, John Colt man, William
Coltman, the Hales, Foy, Haldimand, Dr. Beeby of Powell Place, J. Lester,
John Blackwood. In 1810 Mr. John Caldwell, son of the Colonel, accepted
the succession with its liabilities, not then known. He however made the
Lauzon manor his residence in summer, and was also appointed Receiver
General. In 1817 Belmont was sold to the Hon. J. Irvine, M.P.P., the
grandfather of the present member for Megantic, Hon. George J. Irvine.
Hon. Mr. Irvine resided there until 1833. The beautiful row of trees which
line the house avenue and other embellishments, are due to his good taste.
In 1838 the property reverted to the late Sir Henry Caldwell, the son of
Sir John Caldwell, who in 1827, had inherited the title by the death of an
Irish relative, Sir James Caldwell, the third Baronet (who was made a
Count of Milan by the Empress Maria Theresa, descended by his mothers'
side from the 20th Lord Kerry). John Caldwell of Lauzon, having become Sir
John Caldwell, _menait un grain train_, as the old peasants of Etchemin
repeat to this day. His house, stud and amusements were those of a baron
of old, and of a hospitable Irish gentleman, spreading money and progress
over the length and breadth of the land. At his death, which happened at
Boston in 1842, the insignificant Etchemin settlement, through his
efforts, had materially increased in wealth, size and population. There
was, however, at his demise, an _error_ in his Government balance sheet of
£100,000 on the wrong side!

Belmont lines the St. Foye heights, in a most picturesque situation. The
view from the east and north-western windows is magnificently grand;
probably one might count more than a dozen church spires glittering in the
distance - peeping out of every happy village which dots the base of the
blue mountains to the north. In 1854 this fine property was purchased by
J. W. Dunscomb, Esq., Collector of Customs, Quebec, who resided there
several years, and sold the garden for a cemetery to the Roman Catholic
Church authorities of Quebec, reserving 400 acres for himself. The old
house, within a few years, was purchased by Mr. Wakeham, the late manager
of the Beauport Asylum. His successful treatment of diseases of the mind
induced him to open, at this healthy and secluded spot, under the name of
the "Belmont Retreat," a private _Maison de Santé_, where, wealthy
patients are treated with that delicate care which they could not expect
in a crowded asylum. The same success has attended Mr. Wakeham's
enterprise at Belmont which crowned it at Beauport.


Among the old stories handed down in Canadian homes

"In the long nights of winter,
When the cold north winds blow,"

of the merry gatherings and copious feasts of other days, one is told
of a memorable entertainment at Belmont, given a crowd of friends.

Some assert it was the Belmont anniversary dinner of the battle of
Waterloo and bring in of course Blucher, Hougomont! Belle-Alliance and
what not. It is, however, more generally believed among the aged,
judging from the copious libations and kindly toasts drank, that it
partook of a more intimate character and was merely a _fête de
famille_, to commemorate the safe return of sir John Caldwell's
only son from Ireland, where he had just completed his collegiate
course at Dublin, be that as it may, it unquestionably was meant to
solemnise an important family or national event.

As was wont, in those hospitable times, the "landlord's flowing bowl,"
alas! had been emptied too often. Some of the "Barons of the round
table" were in fact preparing for a timely retreat, before the city
gates should be closed, [263] the genial host soon put a stop to such
a treasonable practice, exclaiming that the sentry would let them pass
at any hour, so they need only follow the Commandant, their fellow
guest, who of course had the countersign, closing his well timed
remarks, by raising his voice and proclaiming in an authoritative tone
"no heel taps here," the stately banquet hall re-echoed with cheers "a
bumper, a bumper," resounded on all sides, "to the future Sir Harry,
who has just completed his Irish education." The future Sir Harry was
soon on his legs, and in a voice mellow with old port, youth and fun,
responded "Friends, fellow countrymen, brothers, (this last expression
was challenged as he was an only son) I am indeed proud of my Dublin
education, we have something, however better before us than a
disquisition on the excellence of the various systems of continental
courses, to be brief, I now challenge any here present to meet me on
the classics, astronomy, the cubic root or glass to glass, you have
your choice." "Glass to glass," they one and all replied. Toasts,
songs, healths of every member of the Royal family, were gone through
with amazing zest as time advanced towards the small hours of the
morning, the guests, one by one disappeared from the banqueting room,
some, alas! under the mahogany, more with the genial commander of the

Online LibraryJ.M. Le MoinePicturesque Quebec : a sequel to Quebec past and present → online text (page 39 of 59)