J.M. Le Moine.

Picturesque Quebec : a sequel to Quebec past and present online

. (page 41 of 59)
Online LibraryJ.M. Le MoinePicturesque Quebec : a sequel to Quebec past and present → online text (page 41 of 59)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

apprised of the massacre, he took vigorous measures for putting a stop to
it. Within a comparatively narrow space nearly 2,500 men had been struck
by bullets. The patches of snow and icy puddles on the ground were so
reddened with the blood shed, that the frozen ground refused to absorb,
and the wounded survivors of the battle were immersed in pools of gore and
filth, ankle deep."

Such _was_ the deadly strife in April, 1760, on the identical spot on
which, reader, you and we now stand on the St. Foye heights. Such is
_now_ the smiling aspect of things as you see them at Bijou, which
crowns the heights over the great Bijou marsh, etc., the dwelling of
Andrew Thomson, Esq., (now President of the Union Bank of Quebec.) Some
natural springs in the flower garden, in rear of the dwelling, and slopes
of the ground, when turned to advantage, in the way of terraces and
fountains, bid fair to enhance materially the beauty of this rustic spot.


By a volunteer (J. T.).

"At the Battle of the Plains of Abraham we had but one Piper, and
because he was not provided with Arms and the usual other means of
defence, like the rest of the men, he was made to keep aloof for
safety: - When our line advanced to the charge, General Townshend
observing that the Piper was missing, and knowing well the value of
one on such occasions, he sent in all directions for him, and he was
heard to say aloud. "Where's the Highland Piper?" and "Five pounds for
a Piper;" but devil a bit did the Piper come forward the sooner.
However, the charge, by good chance, was pretty well effected without
him, as all those that escaped could testify. For this business the
Piper was disgraced by the whole of the Regiment, and the men would
not speak to him, neither would they suffer his rations to be drawn
with theirs, but had them serv'd out by the Commissary separately, and
he was obliged to shift for himself as well as he could.

The next spring, in the month of April, when the Garrison of Quebec
was so madly march'd out, to meet the French, who had come down again
to attack us, and while we were on the retreat back to the Town, the
Highlanders, who were a raw undisciplin'd set, were got into great
disorder, and had become more like a mob than regular soldiers. On the
way I fell in with a captain Moses Hazen, [278] a Jew, who commanded a
company of Rangers, and who was so badly wounded, that his servant,
who had to carry him away, was obliged to rest him on the grounds at
every twenty or thirty yards, owing to the great pain he endured. This
intrepid fellow, observing that there was a solid column of the French
coming on over that high ground where Commissary General Craigie [279]
built his house, and headed by an Officer who was at some distance in
advance of the column, he ask'd his servant if his fuzee was stil
loaded? (The servant opened the pan, and found it is still prim'd).
"Do you see," says Captain Hazen, "that fellow there, waving his sword
to encourage those other fellows to come forward?" - Yes, says the
servant, I do Sir; - Then, says the Captain again, "just place your
back against mine for one moment, 'till I see if I can bring him
down." He accordingly stretch'd himself on the ground, and, resting
the muzzle of his fuzee on his toes, he let drive at the French
Officer. I was standing close behind him, and I thought it perfect
madness to attempt it. However, away went the charge after him, and
faith down he was in an instant. Both the Captain and myself were
watching for some minutes, under an idea that altho' he _had_ laid
down, he might perhaps take it into his head to get up again. But no.
And the moment that he fell, the whole column that he was leading on,
turn'd about and decamp'd off leaving him to follow as well as he
might! I could'nt help telling the Captain that he had made a capital
shot, and I related to him the affair of the foolish fellow of our
grenadiers who shot the savage at the landing at Louisbourg, altho'
the distance was great, and the rolling of the boat so much against
his taking a steady aim. "Oh! yes, says Captain Hazen, you know that a
_chance shot_ will kill the Devil himself."

But, to return to the Highlanders: so soon as the Piper had discovered
that his men had scatter'd and were in disorder, he as soon
recollected the disgrace that still hung upon him, and he likely
bethought to give them a blast of his Pipes. By the Lord Harry! this
had the effect of stopping them short, and they allow'd themselves to
be formed into a sort of order. For this opportune blast of his
chanters, the Piper gain'd back the forgiveness of the Regiment, and
was allow'd to take his meals with his old messmates, as if nothing-
at-all had happened.

On the 6th May, 1760, which was after we had been driven back to the
town by the French, and while they yet lay in their trenches across
that high ground where the martello tower now stands, there came a
ship of war in sight, and she was for some considerable time tacking
across and across between Pointe Lévis and the opposing shore. We were
at a loss to know the meaning of all this, when the commanding Officer
of Artillery bethought himself to go and acquaint General Murray (who
had taken up his Quarters in Saint Louis Street, now (1828) the
Officer's Barracks) of the circumstance: He found the General in a
meditative mood, sitting before the fire in the chimney place. On the
Officer acquainting him that there was a ship of war in sight, the
General was quite electrified! He instantly got up, and, in the
greatest fury, order'd the Officer to have the colours immediately
hoisted on the citadel! Away he went, but dev'l a bit could the
halliards be made to go free until at last, a sailor was got hold of,
who soon scrambl'd up the flagstaff, and, put all to rights in a

All this time the ship of war did not show her own colours, not
knowing whether the town was in the hands of the French or the
English, but as soon as she perceived our flag, she hoisted English
colours, and shaped her course towards the town, and was soon safe at
anchor opposite to the King's Wharf. Our men had been all the winter
in bad spirits from coughs and colds, and, their having been obliged
to retreat from the French, did'nt help much to mend the matter.
However, when they heard that an English man-o-war was come, it was
astonishing how soon they became stout-hearted; faith, they were like
lions, and just as bold! The man-o-war prov'd to be the "Lowestoffe,"
which had been detached from the main fleet below, with orders to make
the best of time through the ice, and take up the earliest
intelligence of the approach of the fleet. Her sides were very much
torn by the floating ice. Our having hoisted colours for the first
time since the conquest, and a ship of war having made her appearance,
led the French to imagine that there was something strange going on.
Indeed they expected a fleet as well as ourselves, and this arrival
brought them out of their trenches, as thick as midges; they appeared
to us like so many pigeons upon a roost! whilst they were gaping at us
in such an exposed position, they received a salute from the whole
line of our guns, extending from Cape Diamond down to the Barrack
Bastion, and yet they went off almost like a single volley. It was
fearful enough to see how they tumbled down in their intrenchments,
like so many sacks of wool! Their seeing soldiers passing ashore from
our frigate, they thought that we were about to receive powerful
reinforcements, and they scamper'd away, their killed and wounded men
along with them. Our men soon were allow'd to go out, and they regaled
themselves upon the soup and pork which the French had left cooking on
the fires. That single discharge disabled so many of our guns, that we
had to get others then in the lower town, and our men were so weak
that they could not drag them up, but which was at last done with the
help of the sailors just arrived in the Fleet.

In about three days after the arrival of the "Lowestoffe" the
remainder of the Fleet came up to Quebec, and finding that the French
had some ships lying above Wolfe's Cove, they went up to look after
them. As soon as the French had seen them coming on, they slipp'd
their cables, and endeavor'd to get out of the way with the help of
the flood-tide, but the Commodore's ship got upon a ledge of rocks,
and stuck fast, and the crew took to the boats, and got ashore,
leaving the ship to take care of itself. There was found, on board of
this ship, one Mons. Cugnet and an Englishman call'd Davis, both of
whom had their hands tied behind their back, and a rope about their
neck, and they were inform'd that they both were to be hang'd at the
yard-arm so soon as the ship's company had finish'd their breakfast!

Monsieur Cugnet was the person who, at the Island of Orleans, gave
General Wolfe the information where would be the best place to get up
the bank above the Town, and Davis, who had been taken prisoner by the
French, some years before, had given some other kind of information,
and they both were to be punish'd as spies. However, they not only got
off with their lives, but were afterwards, well rewarded by our
Government. The former was appointed French-Translator to the
Government Offices, and something more, which enabled him to live
respectably; and Davis, who had been a grenadier-soldier, got a
pension of twenty five pounds a year: they both lived a long time in
the enjoyment of it."


The extensive green pastures which General James Murray owned, in 1768, on
the St. Foy road, under the name of _Sans bruit_, [280] form at present
several minor estates. One of the handsomest residences of this well
wooded region was Morton Lodge, on the south side of the highway, and
bounded by the Belvidère road, - about thirty-two acres in extent. It was
honored with this name by one of its former owners, the builder of the
lodge, some sixty years ago - the late James Black, Esquire. Morton Lodge
is built in the cottage style, with a suite of roomy apartments forming a
spacious wing in rear; the lawns in front of the house, with a grove of
trees, add much to its beauty; a handsome conservatory to the east opens
on the drawing room; it is located in the centre of a flower garden. The
additional attraction of this residence, when owned by the late David
Douglas Young was an extensive collection of paintings, purchased at
various times by the owner both in Canada and in Europe: the French,
Flemish and Italian schools were well represented, as well as Kreighoff's
winter scenery in Canada.

Morton Lodge, for many years was the residence of David Douglass Young,
Esquire, once President of the Quebec Bank, and formerly a partner of the
late George B. Symes, Esquire. Mr. Young claimed, on the maternal side, as
ancestor, Donald Fraser, one of Fraser's (78th) Highlanders, a regiment
which distinguished itself at the taking of Quebec, whilst fighting under
Wolfe, on these same grounds.

Forming a portion of this estate, to the west, may be noticed a cosy
little nest, _Bruce's Cottage_, as it was formerly called - now
Bannockburn - surrounded on all sides by trees, lawns and flowers.


"What, sir, said I," cut down Goldsmith's hawthorn bush, that supplies
so beautiful an image in the DESERTED VILLAGE! 'Ma foy,' exclaimed the
bishop (of Ardagh,) 'is that the hawthorn bush? then ever let it be
saved from the edge of the axe, and evil to him that would cut from it
a branch." - _Howitt's Homes and Haunts of British Poets_.

At Mount Pleasant, about one mile from St. John's Gate, a number of
agreeable suburban residences have sprung up, as if by enchantment, within
a few years. This locality, from the splendid view it affords of the
valley of St. Charles, the basin of the St. Lawrence and surrounding
country, has ever been appreciated. The most noticeable residence is a
commodious cut-stone structure, inside of the toll, erected there a few
years back by the late G. H. Simard, Esq., member for Quebec, and later,
purchased by the late Fred. Vannovous, Esq., Barrister. Its mate in size
and appearance a few acres to the west, on the St. Foye road, is owned by
the Hon. Eugene Chinic, Senator. In the vicinity, under the veil of a
dense grove of trees, your eyes gather as you drive past, the outlines of
a massive, roomy homestead, on the north side of the heights, on a site
which falls off considerably; groups of birch, maple, and some mountain
ash and chesnut trees, flourish in the garden which surrounds the house;
in rear, flower beds slope down in an enclosure, whose surface is
ornamented with two tiny reservoirs of crystal water, which gushes from
some perennial stream, susceptible of great embellishment at little cost,
by adding _Jets d'eau_. The declivities in rear seem as if intended
by nature to be laid out into lovely terraces, with flowers or verdure to
fringe their summits.

In the eastern section of the domain stands,

"The hawthorne bush, with seats beneath the shade,
For talking age and whispering lovers made."

Whether it blossoms on Christmas Day, like the legendary White Thorn of
Glastonbury, "which sprang from Joseph of Arimathea's dry staff, stuck by
him in the ground when he rested there" deponent sayeth not. This majestic
and venerable tree, branching out like a diminutive cedar of Lebanon, is
indeed the pride of Westfield. It is evidently of very great age, though
each summer as green, as fruitful as ever; the oldest inhabitant cannot
recall when it was smaller. If trees could reveal what has passed under
their boughs, would not the veteran hawthorn tell of wounded men resting
beneath it; of the strange garb and cries of combatants, English, French,
Celts, Canadians and Indians, on that luckless 28th April, 1760, when
Murray's soldiers, were retreating in hot haste from St. Foye and placing
the city walls between them and Levi's victorious legions; of shot, shell
and bullets, [281.] whistling through its hoary branches, on that
memorable 13th of September, 1759, when the _Sauvages d'Ecosse_, with
their reeking claymores, were slashing at, and pursuing the French, flying
from the battle field, over the St. Foye heights, to the French Camp on
the north bank of the St. Charles, in a line with the Marine Hospital.
Various indeed for as are the attractions of stately trees; we can
understand why this one is the pride of Westfield. To us, an old denizen
of the country, a stately tree has ever been a companionable; in fact, a
reverential object. In our eyes 'tis not only rich in its own native
beauty; it may perchance also borrow interest from associations and become
a part of our home - of ourselves: it may have overshadowed the rustic
seat, where, in our infant years, one dear to us and now departed, read
the Sunday hymn or taught us with a mother's sanctifying love to become a
good citizen, in every respect worthy of our sire. Perchance it may have
been planted on the day of our birth; it may also commemorate the natal
hour of our first-born, and may it not like ourselves, in our early days,
have required the fostering care of a guardian spirit, - the dews from
heaven to refresh it and encourage its growth. Yes, like the proprietor of
Westfield, we dearly love the old trees of our home.

We were invited to ascend to the loftiest point of this dwelling, and
contemplate from the platform on the roof the majestic spectacle at our
feet. Far below us waved the nodding pinnacles of countless forest trees;
beyond and around us, the site of the old battle-fields of 1759 and 1760,
to the east, the white expanse of the St. Lawrence sleeping between the
Beauport, Orleans and Point Levi shores; to the northwest, the snake-like
course of the St. Charles, stealing through fertile meadows, copses of
evergreens - until, by a supreme effort, it veers round the compass at the
Marine Hospital; there, at sunset, it appears as if gamboling in the light
of the departing luminary, whose rays anon linger in fitful glances on the
spires of Lorette, Charlesbourg and St. Sauveur, until they fade away, far
away in the cerulean distance, over the sublime crags of

- "of these our hills
the last that parleys with the setting sun."

or else gild in amber tints, the wooded slopes of the lofty ridges to the

Westfield, forms part of a larger expanse of land, formerly known as the
"Upper Bijou," crowning the heights, overhanging the valley of the St.
Charles, where existed the "Lower Bijou," marshy and green meadows, once
sacred to snipe, and on which the populous suburb St. Sauveur has recently
sprung up. It was granted in free and common soccage, to the late Charles
Grey Stewart, Esq., in 18 - ; he resided there many years.

In 1870, this lovely old homestead, became the property of the Hon. David
Alex. Ross, Barrister, M.P.P. for the county of Quebec, its present
occupant. Several embellishments have been added to it by this gentleman
and his lady; at present, the views, groves, parterres of Westfield during
the summer months are more attractive than ever.


"Sol Canadien, terre chérie
Par des braves tu fus peuplé,
Ils cherchaient, loin de leur patrie,
Une terre de liberté,
Qu'elles sont belles, nos campagnes,
Au Canada qu'on vit content!

About the year 1830 that portion of the environs of Quebec watered by the
River St. Charles, in the vicinity of Scott's bridge, had especially
attracted the attention of several of our leading citizens as pleasant and
healthy abodes for their families. Two well known gentlemen in particular,
the bearers of old and respected names, the late Honorable Mr. Justice
Philippe Panet, and his brother the Honorable Louis Panet, "Senator
selected two adjoining lots covering close on eighty acres, on the banks
of the St. Charles, the Cahire-Coubat of ancient days. The main road to
the east intervenes between the Hon. Judge Panet's seat and the mossy old
dwelling in which Col. Arnold had his head-quarters during the winter of
1775-76, now the residence of the Langlois family. Judge Panet built there
an elegant villa on an Italian design, brought home after returning from
the sunny clime of Naples, the rooms are lofty and all are oval. Several
hundred sombre old pines surround the house on all sides.

The neighboring villa, to the west, was planted by the Honorable Louis
Panet, about 1830; also the grounds tastefully laid out in meadows,
plantations and gardens, symmetrically divided off by neat spruce, thorn,
and snowball hedges, which improve very much their aspect. One fir hedge,
in particular, is of uncommon beauty. To the west an ancient pine, a
veritable monarch of the forest, rears his hoary trunk, and amidst most
luxuriant foliage looks down proudly on the young plantation beneath him,
lending his hospitable shades to a semi-circular rustic seat - a grateful
retreat during the heat of a summer's day. Next to this old tree runs a
small rill, once dammed up for a fish-pond, but a colony of muskrats
having "unduly elected domicile thereat," the finny denizens disappeared
as if by magic; and next, the voracious _rodents_ made so many raids
into the vegetable garden that the legal gentleman, who was lord of the
manor, served on them _a notice to quit_, by removing the dam. The
ejected amphibii crossed the river in a body and "elected domicile" in the
roots of an elm tree at Poplar Grove, opposite and in full view of the
castle, probably by way of a threat. On the high river banks is a twelve-
pounder used formerly to crown a miniature fort erected over there. We
remember on certain occasions hearing at a distance its loud _boom_.
Coucy-le-Castel is surrounded on two sides by a spacious piazza, and
stands on an elevated position close to the river bank. From the drawing-
room windows is visible the even course of the fairy Cahire-Coubat,
hurrying past in dark eddies, under the pendulous foliage of some graceful
elms which overhang the bank at Poplar Grove, the mansion of the late L.
T. McPherson, Esq. Now and again from the small fort, amidst the murmur of
rapids not far distant, you may catch the shrill note of the king-fisher
in his hasty flight over the limpid stream, or see a lively trout leap in
yonder deep pool; or else, in the midsummer vacation, see a birch canoe
lazily floating down from _la mer Pacifique_, impelled by the arm of
a pensive law student, dreaming perchance of Pothier or Blackstone, -
perchance of his lady love, whilst paddling to the air: -

"Il y a longtemps que je t'aime
Jamais je ne t'oublierai."

The neighborhood of running water; the warbling of the birds; the distant
lowing of kine in the green meadows; the variety and beauty of the
landscape, especially when the descending orb of day gilds the dark woods
to the west, furnish a strikingly rural spectacle at Coucy-le-Castel, thus
named from a French estate in Picardy, owned by the Badelarts, ancestors,
on the maternal side, of the Panets.

In 1861 Coucy-le-Castel was purchased by Judge Jean Thomas Taschereau, of
Quebec, under whose care it is acquiring each year new charms. A
plantation of deciduous trees and evergreens has taken the place of the
row of poplars which formerly lined the avenue. The Judge's _Château_
stands conspicuous amongst the pretty but less extensive surrounding
country seats, such as the old mansion of Fred. Andrews, Esq., Q. C., the
neat cottage of Fred. W. Andrews, Esq., Barrister, festooned with wild


Inscription on cross erected 3d May, 1536, by Jacques Cartier.

We will be pardoned for devoting a larger space than for other country
seats, in describing Ringfield, on account of the important events of
which it was the theatre.

Close to the Dorchester Bridge to the west, on the Charlesbourg road,
there was once an extensive estate known as Smithville - five or six
hundred acres of table land owned by the late Charles Smith, Esq., who for
many years resided in the substantial large stone dwelling subsequently
occupied by A. Laurie, Esq., at present by Owen Murphy, Esq., opposite the
Marine Hospital. Some hundred acres, comprising the land on the west of
the _ruisseau_ Lairet, known as _Ferme des Anges_, [282] were detached
from it and now form Ringfield, whose handsome villa is scarcely visible
from the Charlesbourg road in summer on account of the plantation of
evergreens and other forest trees which, with white-thorn hedge, line
its semicircular avenue on both sides. One might be inclined to regret
that this plantation has grown up so luxuriantly, as it interferes with
the striking view to be had here of the Island of Orleans, St. Lawrence,
and surrounding parishes. Before the trees assume their vernal honours
there can be counted, irrespective of the city spires, no less than
thirteen steeples of churches in so many parishes. Ringfield takes its
name from its circular meadow (Montcalm's hornwork). In rear it is bounded
to the west by the little stream called Lairet, with the _ruisseau_ St.
Michel in view; to the south, its natural boundary is the meandering
Cahire-Coubat. [283]

Ringfield has even more to recommend it than the rural beauty common to
the majority of our country seats; here were enacted scenes calculated to
awaken the deepest interest in every student of Canadian history. On the
banks of the River St. Charles, 1535-36, during his second voyage of
discovery, Jacques Cartier, the intrepid navigator of St. Malo, more than
three centuries back, it is now generally supposed, wintered. We have
Champlain's [284] authority for this historical fact, though, Charlevoix
erroneously asserts that the great discoverer wintered on the banks of the
River Jacques Cartier, twenty-seven miles higher up than Quebec. A careful
examination of _Lescarbot's Journal of Cartier's Second Voyage_, and
the investigations of subsequent historians leave little room to doubt
Champlain's statement. [285] Jacques Cartier in his journal, written in

Online LibraryJ.M. Le MoinePicturesque Quebec : a sequel to Quebec past and present → online text (page 41 of 59)