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J.M. Le Moine.

Picturesque Quebec : a sequel to Quebec past and present online

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the quaint old style of that day, furnishes us curious descriptions of the
locality where he wintered, and of the adjoining Indian town,
_Stadaconé_, the residence of the Chief Donacona. The Abbé Ferland
and other contemporary writers have assigned as the probable site of
Stadacona that part of Quebec which is now covered by a portion of the
suburbs of St. John, and by that part of St. Roch looking towards the St.
Charles. How graphically Jacques Cartier writes of that portion of the
River St. Lawrence opposite the Lower Town, less than a mile in width,
"deep and swift running," and also of the "goodly, fair and delectable bay
or creek convenient and fit to harbour ships," the St. Charles (St. Croix
or Holy Cross) river! and again of the spot wherein, he says, "we stayed
from the 15th of September, 1535, to the 6th May, 1536, and there our
ships remained dry." Cartier mentions the area of ground adjoining to
where he wintered "as goodly a plot of ground as possible may be seen,
and, wherewithal, very fruitful, full of goodly trees even as in France,
such as oak, elm, ash, walnut trees, white-thorns and vines that bring
forth fruit as big as any damsons, and many other sort of trees; tall hemp
as any in France, without any seed or any man's work or labor at all."
There are yet some noble specimens of elm, the survivors of a thick clump,
that once stood on the edge of the hornwork. The precise spot in the St.
Charles where Cartier moored his vessels and where his people built the
fort [286] in which they wintered may have been, for aught that could be
advanced to the contrary, where the French government in 1759 built the
hornwork or earth redoubt, so plainly visible to this day, near the Lairet
stream. It may also have been at the mouth of the St. Michel stream which
here empties itself into the St. Charles, on the Jesuits' farm. The
hornwork or circular meadow, as the peasantry call it, is in a line with
the General Hospital, Mount Pleasant, St. Bridget's Asylum and the
corporation lots recently acquired by the Quebec Seminary for a botanical
garden and seminary, adjoining Abraham's Plains. Jacques Cartier's fort,
we know to a certainty, must have been on the north bank of the river,
[287] from the fact that the natives coming from Stadacona to visit their
French guests had to cross the river, and did so frequently. It does seem
strange that Champlain does not appear to have known the exact locality
where, seventy years previously, Stadacona had stood; the cause may lie in
the exterminating wars carried on between the several savage tribes,
leaving, occasionally, no vestige of once powerful nations and villages.
Have we not seen in our day a once warlike and princely race - the Hurons -
dwindle down, through successive decay, to what _now_ remains of them?

A drawing exists, copied from an engraving executed at Paris, the subject
of which, furnished by G. B. Faribault, Esquire, retraced the departure of
the St. Malo mariner for France on the 6th of May, 1536. To the right may
be seen, Jacques Cartier's fort, [288] built with stockades, mounted with
artillery, and subsequently made stronger still, we are told, with ditches
and solid timber, with drawbridge, and fifty men to watch night and day.

Next comes the _Grande Hermine_, his largest vessel, of about one
hundred and twenty tons, in which Donacona, the interpreter, and two other
Indians of note, treacherously seized, are to be conveyed to France, to be
presented to the French monarch, Francis I. Close by, the reader will
observe _l'Emerillon_, of about forty tons in size, the third of his
ships; and higher up, the hull of a stranded and dismantled vessel, the
_Petite Hermine_, of about sixty tons, intended to represent the one
whose timbers were dug up at the mouth of the St. Michel in 1843, and
created such excitement amongst the antiquaries of that day. On the
opposite side of the river, at Hare Point, the reader will notice on the
plate, a cross, intended to represent the one erected by Cartier's party
on the 3rd May, 1536, in honour of the festival of the Holy Cross; at the
foot a number of Indians and some French in the old costume of the time of
Francis I. So much for Jacques Cartier and his winter quarters, in 1535-
36.

Two hundred and twenty-three years after this date we find this locality
again the arena of memorable events. In the disorderly retreat of the
French army on the 13th of September, 1759, from the heights of Abraham,
the panic-stricken squadrons came pouring down Côte d'Abraham and Côte à
Cotton, hotly pursued by the Highlanders and the 58th Regiment, hurrying
towards the bridge of boats and following the shores of the River St.
Charles until the fire of the hulks anchored in the river stopped the
pursuit. On the north side of the bridge of boats was a _tête de
pont_, redoubt or hornwork, a strong work of pentagonal shape, well
portrayed in Tiffeny's plan of the Siege Operations before Quebec. This
hornwork was-partly wood, defended by palisades, and towards Beauport, an
earthwork - covering about twelve acres, the remains (the round or ring
field), standing more than fifteen feet above the ground, may be seen to
this day surrounded by a ditch, three thousand [289] men at least must
have been required to construct, in a few weeks, this extensive
entrenchment. In the centre stood a house, visible on a plan of Mr.
Parke's, in which, about noon on that memorable day, a pretty lively
debate was taking place. Vaudreuil and some of the French officers were at
that moment and in this spot debating the surrender of the whole colony.
Let us hear an eye-witness, Chevalier Johnstone, General de Lévis' aide-
de-camp, one of the Scotchmen fighting in Canada for the French king,
against some of his own countrymen under Wolfe, after the disaster of
Culloden. It was our good fortune to publish the recently-discovered
journal of this Scotch officer for the first time in 1864. Chevalier
Johnstone's description will strike every one from its singular
accuracy: -

"The French army in flight, scattered and entirely dispersed, rushed
towards the town. Few of them entered Quebec; they went down the
heights of Abraham opposite the Intendant's Palace (past St. John's
gate) directing their course to the hornwork, and following the
borders of the River St. Charles. Seeing the impossibility of rallying
our troops I determined myself to go down the hill at the windmill
near the bake house [290] and from thence across over the meadows to
the hornwork resolved not to approach Quebec from my apprehension of
being shut up there with a part of our army which might have been the
case if the victors had drawn all the advantage they could have reaped
from our defeat. It is true the death of the General-in-chief - an
event which never fails to create the greatest disorder and confusion
in an army - may plead as an excuse for the English neglecting so easy
an operation as to take all our army prisoners.

The hornwork had the River St. Charles before it about seventy paces
broad which served it better than an artificial ditch; its front
facing the river and the heights was composed of strong thick and high
palisades planted perpendicularly with gunholes pierced for several
pieces of large cannon in it, the river is deep and only fordable at
low water at a musket shot before the fort: this made it more
difficult to be forced on that side than on its other side of
earthworks facing Beauport which had a more formidable appearance and
the hornwork certainly on that side was not in the least danger of
being taken by the English by an assault from the other side of the
river. On the appearance of the English troops on the plain of the
lake house Montguet and La Motte, two old captains in the Regiment of
Béarn, cried out with vehemence to M. de Vaudreuil, that the hornwork
would be taken in an instant, by an assault sword in hand, that we
would all be cut to pieces without quarter and nothing else would save
us but an immediate and general capitulation of Canada giving it up to
the English.

Montreul told them that a fortification such as the hornwork was not
to be taken so easily. In short there arose a general cry in the
hornwork to cut the bridge of boats. [291] It is worth of remark that
not a fourth part of our army had yet arrived at it and the remainder
by cutting the bridge would have been left on the other side of the
river as victims to the victors. The regiment Royal Roussillon was at
that moment at the distance of a musket shot from the hornwork
approaching to pass the bridge. As I had already been in such
adventures, I did not lose my presence of mind, and having still a
shadow remaining of that regard which the army accorded me on account
of the esteem and confidence which M. de Lévis and M. de Montcalm had
always shewn me publicly, I called to M. Hugon, who commanded, for a
pass in the hornwork and begged of him to accompany me to the bridge.
We ran there and without asking who had given the order to cut it, we
chased away the soldiers with their uplifted axes ready to execute
that extravagant and wicked operation.

"M. Vaudreuil was closeted in a house in the inside of the hornwork
with the Intendant and some other persons. I suspected they were busy
drafting the articles for a general capitulation and I entered the
house, where I had only time to see the Intendant with a pen in his
hand writing on a sheet of paper, when M. Vaudreuil told me I had no
business there. Having answered him that what he said was true, I
retired immediately, in wrath to see them intent on giving up so
scandalously a dependancy for the preservation of which so much blood
and treasure had been expended. On leaving the house, I met M.
Dalquier, an old, brave, downright honest man, commander of the
regiment of Béarn, with the true character of a good officer - the
marks of Mars all over his body. I told him it was being debated
within the house to give up Canada to the English by a capitulation,
and I hurried him in, to stand up for the King's cause, and advocate
the welfare of his country. I then quitted the hornwork to join
Poulanes at the Ravine [292] of Beauport, but having met him about
three or four hundred paces from the hornwork, on his way to it, I
told him what was being discussed there. He answered me, that sooner
than consent to a capitulation, he would shed the last drop of his
blood. He told me to look on his table and house as my own, advised me
to go there directly to repose myself, and clapping spurs to his
horse, he flew like lightning to the hornwork."

Want of space precludes us from adding more from this very interesting
journal of the Chevalier Johnstone, replete with curious particulars of
the disorderly retreat of the French regiments from their Beauport camp,
after dark, on that eventful 13th September, how they assembled first at
the hornwork, and then filed off by detachments on the Charlesbourg road,
then to Ancient Lorette, until they arrived, worn out and disheartened
without commanders, at day break at Cap Rouge.

On viewing the memorable scenes witnessed at Ringfield, - the spot where
the French discoverer wintered in 1535-36, and also the locality, where it
was decided to surrender the colony to England in 1759 - are we not
justified in considering it as both the _cradle_ and the _tomb_ of French
Dominion in the new world?

Ringfield has, for many years, been the family mansion of George Holmes
Parke, Esquire.


CASTOR VILLE

"In woods or glens I love to roam,
* * * *
Or by the woodland pool to rest."

In the deepest recesses of the Lorette woods, amongst the most shady
meanders of the sinuous Cahire Coubat, some five miles due north from
Castel-Coucy, we know a bank, not precisely where

"The wild thyme grows,"

but where you are sure, in spring and summer, to pluck handfuls of
trilliums, wild violets, ferns of rare beauty, columbines, kalmias,
ladies' slippers, ladies' tresses (we mean of course the floral subjects).
In this beauteous region, sacred to Pan, the Naiades, Dryades, and the
daughters of Mnemosyne, you might possibly, dear reader, were you
privileged with a pass from one of our most respected friends, be allowed
to wander; or perchance in your downward voyage from Lake Charles to the
Lorette Falls, in that _vade mecum_ of a forester's existence - a birch
canoe - you might, we repeat, possibly be allowed to pitch your camp
on one of the mossy headlands of Castor Ville, and enjoy your luncheon, in
this sylvan spot, that is, always presuming you were deemed competent to
fully appreciate nature's wildest charms, and rejoice, like a true lover,
in her coyest and most furtive glances.

Castor Ville, a forest wild, where many generations of beavers, otters,
caribou, boars, foxes and hares once roamed, loved and died, covers an
area of more than one hundred acres. Through it glides the placid course
of the St. Charles - overhung by hoary fir trees - from the parent lake to
the pretty Indian Lorette Falls, a distance of about eight miles of fairy
scenery, which every man of taste, visiting Lake St. Charles, ought to
enjoy at least once in his life. It is all through mantled over by a dense
second growth of spruce and fir trees, intersected by a maze of avenues.
The lodge sits gracefully, with its verandah and artillery, on a peninsula
formed by the _Grand Desert_ and St. Charles streams. You can cross
over in a canoe to that portion of the domain beyond the river: along the
banks, a number of resting places - tiny bowers of birch bark - dingies and
canoes anchored all round - here and there a _portage_ - close by, a
veritable Indian wigwam - _Oda Sio_ [293] by name. On a bright morning
in early spring, you may chance to meet, in one of the paths, or in his
canoe, a white-haired hunter, the Master of Castor Ville, returning home
after visiting his hare, fox, or otter traps, proudly bearing _Lepus_
in his game bag, next to which you may discover a volume of _Molière_,
_Montaigne_ or _Montesquieu_. On selling Castle-Coucy, its loyal-hearted
old proprietor, taking with him the guns of the fort, retired to the
present wild demesne, in which occasionally he passes, with his family,
many pleasant hours, amidst books, friends and rural amusements, far from
city noises and city excitement.

Castor Ville belongs to the Hon. Louis Panet, member of the Legislative
Council of Canada." (Written in 1865.)

Since this little sketch was penned, sixteen years ago, the unwelcome
shadow of years has crept over our old friend, eighty-six winters and then
frost has cooled the ardor of the _Chasseur_, Castor Ville for Mr. Panet
has lost much of its sunshine.


_THE JOYS OF WINTER._

"Oh! the snow, the beautiful snow,
Filling the earth and sky below,
Over the house-tops, over the street,
Over the heads of the people you meet,
Dancing,
Flirting,
Skimming along,
Beautiful snow, it can do no wrong,
Flying to kiss a lady's cheek,
Clinging to lips in a frolicsome freak,
Beautiful snow from the heaven above,
Pure as an angel, gentle as love!

Oh! the snow, the beautiful snow
How the flakes gather and laugh as they go,
Whirling about in the maddening fun,
It plays in its glee with every one,
Chasing,
Laughing,
Hurrying by,
It lights on the face and sparkles the eye!
And even the dogs, with a bark and a bound,
Snap at the crystals that eddy around,
The town is alive, and its heart is aglow!
To welcome the coming of the beautiful snow

How the wild crowds go swaying along,
Hailing each other with humour and song,
How the gay sledges, like meteors, pass by,
Bright for the moment, then lost to the eye,
Ringing,
Swinging,
Dashing they go,
Over the crust of this beautiful snow,
Snow so pure when it falls from the sky,
To he trampled and tracked by the crowd rushing by,
To be trampled and tracked by the thousands of feet,
Till it blends with the filth in the horrible street."

Has it ever been your fortune, kind reader, to enjoy, in the depth of
winter, a ramble in a Canadian forest, at the mystic hour when the Queen
of Night asserts her silent sway? Have you ever revelled in this feast of
soul, fresh from the busy hum of city life - perchance strolling up a
mountain path with undulating plains of spotless whiteness behind you, or
else canopied by the leafy dome of odorous pines or green hemlock, with no
other companion but your trusty rifle, nor other sound but the hoot of the
Great Horned Owl, disturbed by the glare of your camp fire - or the rustle
of the passing hare, skulking fox, or browsing cariboo? Have you ever been
compelled, venturesome hunter as you are, with the lengthening shades of
evening, after a twenty miles' run, to abandon the blood-stained trail,
reserving for the morrow the slaying of the stricken cariboo? Can you
recall the sense of weariness, with which you retraced your heavy steps to
the camp - perspiring at every pore, - panting with thirst - famished -
perhaps bewildered with the flakes of the gathering storm - yea, so
exhausted, that the crackling of the pine faggots of your mountain hut -
watched over in your absence by your faithful Indian "Gabriel" [294] -
struck on your quickened senses amidst the winter gloom like heavenly
music - sounds as soft, as welcome as the first April sunbeam? Have you
ever had the hardiness to venture with an Indian guide and toboggin on an
angling tour far north in the Laurentian chain, to that _Ultima Thule_
sacred to the disciples of old Isaac. Snow Lake, over chasm, dale,
mountain, pending that month dear above all others to King Hiems -
inexorable January? If so, you can indeed boast of having held communion
with the grim God of Winter in some of his stern, though captivating,
moods. Nor are these the only charms which the capricious monarch has in
store.

Never shall I forget, one balmy March morning, sauntering along the green
uplands of Sillery, towards the city, while the "sun god" was pouring
overhead, waves of soft, purple light. The day previous, one of our
annual, equinoctial storms had careered over the country; first, wind and
snow; then wind and sleet, the latter dissolving into icy tears,
encircling captive Nature in thousands of weird, glossy crystals; every
tree of the forest, according to its instinct, its nature, writhing in the
conqueror's cold embrace - rigid, creaking, ready to snap in twain rather
than bend, as the red oak or sugar maple, or else meekly, submissively
curving to the earth its tapering, frosted limbs, like the silver birch -
elegant, though fragile, ornament of the Canadian park, or else, rearing
amid air a graceful net-work - waving, transparent sapphire-tinted
arabesques, stretched on amber pillars; witness the Golden Willow. Each
gleam of sunshine investing this gorgeous tapestry with all the glories of
Iris; here, rising above his compeers, a stately lord of the grove, hoary
with frost and years, whose outspreading boughs are burnished, as if every
twig had been touched by the hand of an enchanter, whilst there, under his
shade, bends a mountain ash, smeared with the crimsoned berries of the
preceding summer, now ice-coated _bon-bons_ eagerly plucked by troops
of roseate grosbeaks resting on the whitened branches. How lovely the
contrasts!

Such, the scene in the winsome light of day. But of those objects, viewed
by moonlight, who would have dared becomingly depict the wild beauty? The
same incomparable landscape, with Diana's silver rays softly sleeping on
the virgin snow; on each side, an avenue of oak, spruce and fir trees, the
latter with their emerald boughs wreathed in solid ice, and to the earth
gracefully bending in festoons - now and again kissed by the night wind; at
each wavy motion disclosing their dark trunks, under the frozen foliage,
like old Ocean's billows breaking on dark rocks; the burnished gold of the
morn changed into silver floss, twinkling with a mild radiance, under the
eye of night, like diamond tiaras - a vista fit for Queen Mab! Of such,
mayhap dreamed Moorish maid, under the portals of the Alhambra. Were
Armida's enchanted forests brighter?

Who can describe all thy witchery? Thy nameless graces, who can compass,
serene majesty of Winter in the North? And yet all these glories of frost
and moon-lit snows we once did see round our Canadian Home.

Wouldst thou fancy another view of winter less serene; a contrast such as
glorious old KIT NORTH would have revelled in? Step forward, my witty, my
sarcastic friend of the _Evènement_ newspaper - by name Henri Fabre!

"The true season of Canada is winter; winter with its bright skies by day
and its brighter stars by night. Of spring we have none. April is nothing
better than a protracted thaw, with scenes of mud and melting snow. May,
the month dear to poets, is frequently but an uninterrupted succession of
showers to fecundate the earth; its symbol, an array of outspread
umbrellas in our streets. As to our summer, it is but the epitome of the
lovely summer of France and Italy for the use of new countries. Autumn is
a shade better; but anon, the first frost hurries on to blanch and
disperse the leaves and dim the hues of mellowed nature. When the fields
slumber under ten feet of snow; when human noses freeze before their
sneezing owners have time to utter a cry for help, then is the _beau
ideal_ of our climate. He who on such an occasion dares to sigh for the
boasted shade of trees and the murmur of gushing waters, that man is no
true Canadian. The searching wind, the cold, the northern blast, [295] are
part and parcel of our country; one is bound to love them. Should they
increase in intensity, rub your hands, first to keep yourself warm, nest
to denote your patriotic joy!"

But all this won't prevent us from exclaiming with a Canadian son of song:

"Oh! dear is the Northern forest home,
Where the great pine shoots on high;
And the maple spreads its soft, green leaves
In the clear, blue, taintless sky;
Though the summer mantle paleth fast
Into winter's virgin veil—
There is health in the fierce, quick lightning blast,
And strength in the icy gale;
And life glides on in a quiet calm,
Like our own great river's flow;
And dear to the hearts of her children all
Is our own FAIR LAND OF SNOW!"

SILLERY, near Quebec, 1881.


_THE MANOR HOUSE, BEAUPORT_.

Let us view a remnant of feudal times.

On the Beauport road, four miles from the city and about forty feet from
the late Colonel B. C. A. Gugy's habitation, stood until 1879 an
antiquated high-gabled French stone dwelling, very substantially put
together. About thirty years back there was still existing close to and
connected with it, a pavilion or tower, used in early days as a fort to
protect the inmates against Indian raids. It contained the boudoir and
sleeping apartments of some of the fair _seignieuresses_ [296] of Beauport
in the house which Robert Giffard, the first seignor built there more than
two centuries ago; it is the oldest seignorial manor in Canada. Robert
Giffard's house - or, more properly, his shooting box - is thought to have
stood closer to the little stream to the west. The first seignior of
Beauport had two daughters who married two brothers, Juchereau, the
ancestors of the Duchesnays; and the manor has been in the possession of,
and occupied by, the Duchesnays for more than two hundred years.

Robert Giffard had visited Canada, for the first time, in 1627, in the
capacity of a surgeon; and being a great sportsman, he built himself a
small house on the banks of the Beauport stream, to enjoy to perfection,
his favorite amusements - shooting and fishing. No authentic data exist of
the capacity of Beauport for game in former days; we merely read in the
_Relations des Jésuites_ that in the year 1648. 1200 ptarmigan were
shot there, we also know that the quantities of ducks congregating on the
adjoining _flats_ caused the place to be called _La Canardière_. There is
a curious old record in connection with this manor, exhumed by the Abbé
Ferland; it is the exact formula used by one of the tenants or
_censitaires_ in rendering _foi et hommage_ to the Lord of the Manor.



Online LibraryJ.M. Le MoinePicturesque Quebec : a sequel to Quebec past and present → online text (page 42 of 59)