J.M. Le Moine.

Picturesque Quebec : a sequel to Quebec past and present online

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shrubs, so far as I can recollect, with a background of elms, white birch,
spruce, &c. Its vaulted, lofty and well-proportioned dining-room, with
antique, morocco-covered chairs, and carved _buffets_ to store massive
plate, its spacious hall and graceful winding staircase, its commanding
position on the crest of the Beauport ridge, affording a striking view of
Quebec, its well-stocked orchard, umbrageous plantations, and ample
stables, from which issued, among other choice bits of blood, in 1842, the
celebrated racer "Emigrant": several circumstances, in fact, conspired to
impress it favorably on my youthful mind. On that occasion, I found _le
milord anglais_ (as a waggish Canadian peasant called him) under his
ancestral roof.

Recalling our parish annals of early times, I used then to think that
should England ever (which God forbid) hand back to its ancient masters
"these fifteen thousand acres of snow," satirized by Voltaire, ridiculed
by Madame de Pompadour, cruelly and basely deserted by Louis XV, in their
hour of trial, here existed a ready-made manor for the Giffards and
Duchesnays of the future, where their descendants could becomingly receive
fealty and homage. (_foi et homage_) from their feudal retainers. There
was, however, nothing here to remind one of the lordly pageantry of other
times - the days of absolutism - of the dark era, the age of _lettres de
cachet_, _corvées_, _lods et ventes_, and other feudal burthens, when the
flag of the Bourbons floated over the fortress of New France. In 1846, at
the time of my visit, in vain would you have sought in the farm yard for a
live seigniorial capon (_un chapon vif et en plumes_) though possibly in
the larder, at Christmas, you might have discovered some fat, tender
turkeys, or a juicy haunch of venison. Of _vin ordinaire_ ne'er a trace,
but judging from the samples on the table, perhaps much mellow Madeira,
and "London Stout" might have been stored in the cellars. Everywhere, in
fact, was apparent English comfort, English cheer. On the walls of the
banqueting apartment, or within the antique red-leathered portfolios
strewn round, you would have run a greater chance of meeting face to face
with the portraits of Lord Dorchester, Genl. Prescott, Sir Robert Shore
Milnes, Sir James Craig, the Duke of Richmond, and other English
Governors, the cherished friends of the Rylands than with the powdered
head of his most sacred Majesty, the Great Louis, or the ruffled bust and
sensual countenance of the voluptuous Louis XV.... But let us see more of
Mount Lilac and its present belongings.

Facing the glittering cupolas of Quebec, there is a fertile area of meadow
and cornfield stretching from Dorchester bridge to the deep ravine and
Falls over which the Montmorency, _La Vache_, hangs its milk-white
curtain of spray. On the river shore, in 1759, stood Montcalm's earth and
field works of defence. Parallel to them and distant about half a mile,
the highway, over which H.R.H. Prince Edward's equipage pranced daily,
during the summers of 1791-3, now a macadamized road, ascends by a gentle
rise, through a double row of whitewashed cottages, about seven miles, to
the brow of the roaring cataract spanned over by a substantial bridge,
half way, looms out the Roman Catholic temple of worship - a stately
edifice, filled to overflowing on Sundays, the parochial charge in 1841 of
the Rev. Charles Chiniquy, under whose auspices was built the Temperance
Monument on the main road, a little past the Beauport Asylum. This
constitutes the parish of Beauport, one of the first settled in the
Province. It was conceded by the Company of New France, on the 31st
December, 1635, to a French surgeon of some note, "le sieur Robert
Giffard." Surgeon Giffard had not only skill as a chirurgeon to recommend
him, he could plead services, nay captivity undergone in the colonial
cause. An important man in his day was this feudal magnate Giffard, to
whom fealty and homage were rendered with becoming pomp, by his
_consitaires_, the Bellangers - Guions - Langlois - Parents - Marcoux, of
1635, whose descendents, still bearing the old Perche or Norman name,
occupy to this day the white cottages to be seen on all sides.

On the highest site of this limestone ridge, a clever, influential,
refined, and wealthy Briton, the Hon. Henry Wistius Ryland, for years
Civil Secretary, Clerk of the Executive Council, a member of the
Legislative Council, with other appointments, purchased from Col.
Johnston, a lot, then a wilderness, for a country seat in 1805. Mr. Ryland
had come out to Canada with Lord Dorchester in 1795, as his secretary, at
the instance, we believe, of Lord Liverpool, his protector, at the age of
21 he was acting as Paymaster of two army corps, during the War of
Independence in America.

For more than thirty years, Mr. Ryland enjoyed the favour, nay the
intimacy of every ruler (except Sir George Prevost) which this then mis-
ruled colony owed to Downing Street.

Antipathies of race had been on the increase at Quebec, ever since the
parliamentary era of 1791; there was the French party, [300] led by fiery
and able politicians, and the English oligarchy occupying nearly all the
offices, and avenues to power. French armies under Napoleon I. swayed the
destinies of continental Europe, their victories occasionally must have
awakened here a responsive echo among their down-trodden fellow-countrymen
cowardly deserted by France in 1759, whilst Nelson's victories of the
Nile, of Trafalgar, of Copenhagen, and finally the field of Waterloo, had
buoyed up to an extravagant pitch the spirits of the English minority of
Quebec, which a French parliamentary majority had so often trammelled. It
was during the major part of that stormy period that Hon. Herman Wistius
Ryland, advised by the able Chief Justice Jonathan Sewell, - was in reality
entrusted with the helm of state. He was, as Christie the historian
observes, considered the "Fountain head of power." This subtle _diplomat_
(for such will be his title in history), however hostile in his attitude
he might have appeared towards the French Canadian nationality, succeeded
in retaining to the last the respect of the French Canadian peasantry who
surrounded him.

Probably never at any time did he wield more power than under the
administration of Sir James H. Craig. His views were so much in unison
with those of Sir James, that His Excellency deputed him to England with a
public mission threefold in its scope, the ostensible object of which was
first "to endeavor to get the Imperial Government to amend or suspend the
Constitution; secondly, to render the Government independent of the
people, by appropriating towards it the revenues accruing from the estates
of the Sulpicians [301] of Montreal, and of the Order of the Jesuits;
thirdly to seize the patronage exercised by the Roman Catholic Bishop of
Quebec, - the _cures_ or church livings in his diocese; contending that no
Roman Catholic Bishop really existed in Canada, (but merely a
superintendent of _curés_), none having been recognized by the Crown.

It has been stated that he had a fair chance of succeeding on two points,
had not the great Lord Chancellor, Eldon, intervened to thwart his scheme.
The correspondence exchanged between Mr. Ryland and His Excellency, Sir
James H. Craig, preserved in the sixth volume of Christie's _History of
Canada_, exhibits Mr. Ryland at his best, and has led some to infer
that, had he been cast in a different sphere, where his talents and
attainments would have been more properly appreciated and directed, he
would have played a very conspicuous part. "We find the Beauport statesman
in 1810, in London, [302] consulted on Canadian affairs by the leading
English politicians and some of the proudest peers. The honored guest of
English noblemen, [303] he appears at no disadvantage, sips their old port
unawed, cosily seated at their mahogany. It must be borne in mind that, in
1810, Lord Castlereagh and Lord Liverpool had their hands pretty full with
continental politics, perhaps too much so, to heed poor distant Canada.

Shortly after the arrival, at Quebec, of the Earl of Durham, viz., on the
29th July, 1838, the Hon. H. W. Ryland expired at his country seat at
Beauport, aged 78 years. He was born in 1760 at Northampton in England, of
a very ancient Saxon family, dating back to Edward the Confessor. Wm.
Ryland his great grandfather having successfully defended Oxford against
Oliver Cromwell, while his sons fought on the other side.

Mount Lilac then reverted to his son, George Herman Ryland, Esq., now
Registrar at Montreal, who added much to the charms of the spot. It was
offered to Lord Metcalfe subsequently as a country seat, but for reasons
which it is unnecessary to enter into, the negotiations fell through. Mr.
Ryland occupied it till his removal from the Quebec to the Montreal
Registry, Office. Some years back the property was purchased by Mr. James
Dinning, Quebec, who reserved for himself the farm, one hundred and five
acres in extent, and sold in 1856, the house and twenty-three acres
thereunto attached to a wealthy and whimsical old ironfounder of Quebec,
Mr. John H. Galbraith. This thrifty tradesman, in order to keep his hand
in order, like Thackeray's hero, continued the pursuit of his former
occupation, the smelting of ore, even under the perfumed groves of Mount
Lilac, and erected there an extensive grapery and conservatory, and a
foundry as well; the same furnace blast thus served to produce, under
glass, fragrant flowers - exquisite grapes - melting peaches, as well as
solid pig iron and first class stove plates.

Mount Lilac owed a divided allegiance to Vulcan and Flora. Which of the
home products pleased, the most the worthy Mr. Galbraith? is still an open
question. [304]


Of the many attractive sites in the environs of the city, few contain in a
greater degree than the Huron village of Lorette during the leafy months
of June, July and September, picturesque scenery, combined with a wealth
of historical associations. The nine miles intervening between Quebec and
the rustic _auberge_ of the village, thanks to an excellent turnpike,
can be spanned in little more than an hour. I shall now attempt to
recapitulate some of the sights and incidents of travel which recently
befell me, whilst escorting to Lorette an Old World tourist, of very high
literary estate.

With a mellow autumnal sun, just sufficient to bronze the sombre tints,
lingering at the close of the Indian summer, we left the St. Louis Hotel,
the headquarters of tourists, and rapidly drove through _Fabrique_ and
Palace streets, towards the unsightly gap in our city walls, of yore
yclept Palace Gate, which all Lord Dufferin's _prestige_ failed to protect
against vandalism, but which, thanks to his initiative, we expect yet to
see _bridged over_ with, graceful turrets and Norman towers.

A turn to the west brought us opposite to the scarcely perceptible ruins
of the Palace [305] of the French Intendants, destroyed by the English
shells in 1775, to dislodge Arnold and Montgomery's New England soldiery.

The park which intervened formerly between it and the St. Charles was many
years back converted into a wood yard to store the fuel for the garrison,
a portion now is used as a cattle market, opposite, stands the station and
freight sheds of the Q. M. O. & O. Railway, the road skirts the park
towards the populous St. Roch suburbs, rebuilt and transformed since the
great fire of the 28th May, 1845, which destroyed 1,600 houses, occupying
the site of former spacious pasture grounds for the city cows, styled by
the early French _La Vacherie_. In a trice we reach Dorchester bridge, the
second one, built there in 1822, the first, opened with great pomp by His
Excellency Lord Dorchester in 1789, having been constructed a few acres to
the west, and called after him. The bridge, as a means of crossing from
one shore to the other, is an undoubted improvement on the scow used up to

One of the first objects on quitting the bridge and diverging westward to
the Charlesbourg road, on the river bank, is the stately, solid, antique
mansion of the late C. Smith, Esq, who at one time owned nearly all the
broad acres intervening between the house and _Gros Pin_. It took for
a time the name of Smithville and was inherited by several members of his
family, who built cosy houses round it. These green fields, fringed with
white birch and spruce plantations, are watered by the St. Charles, the
_Kahir-Koubat_ [306] of ancient days. In rear of one of the first villas
_Ringfield_, owned by Geo. Holmes Parke, Esq., runs the diminutive stream,
the _Lairet_, at the confluence of which Jacques Cartier wintered in 1535-
6, leaving, there one of his ships, the _Petite-Hermine_, of 60 tons,
whose decayed oak timbers were exhumed in 1843, by Jos. Hamel, City
Surveyor of Quebec. A very remarkable vestige of French domination exists
behind the villa of Mr. Parke - a circular field (hence the name Ring-
field) covering about twelve acres, surrounded by a ditch, with an earth
work about twenty feet high, to the east, to shield its inmates from the
shot of Wolfe's fleet lying at the entrance of the St. Charles, before
Quebec. A minute description has been given by General Levi's aide-de-
camp, the _Chevalier_ Johnstone, [307] of what was going on in this
earthwork, where at noon, on the 13th Sept., 1759, were mustered the
disorganized French squadrons in full retreat from the Plains of Abraham
toward their camp at Beauport. Here, on that fatal day, was debated the
surrender of the colony - the close of French rule: here also, close by, in
1535-6, was the cradle of French power, the first settlement and winter
quarters of the French pioneers - Jacques Cartier's hardy little band.

From this spot, at eight o'clock that night (13th Sept.), began the French
retreat towards the Charlesbourg church; at 4 a.m. next day the army was
at Cap Rouge, disordered, panic-stricken! Oh! where was the heroic Levi!

On ascending a hill (Clearihue's) to the north, the eye gathers in the
contour of a dense grove, hiding in its drooping folds "Auvergne," the
former secluded country seat of Chief Justice Jonathan Sewell, now owned
by George Alford, Esq.

A mile to the north, in the deep recesses of Bourg-Royal, rest the fast
crumbling and now insignificant ruins of the only rural _Château_ of
French origin round Quebec. Was it built by Talon, or by Bigot? an
unfathomable mystery. Silence and desertion reign supreme, where of yore
Bigot's heartless wassailers used to meet and gamble away King Louis's
card money and _piastres_.

"And sunk are the voices that sounded in mirth.
And empty the goblets and dreary the hearth!"

The tower or boudoir, where was immured the Algonquin maid Caroline, the
beautiful, that too has crumbled to dust.

We are now at Lorette.


"I'm the chieftain of this mountain,
Times and seasons found me here,
My drink has been the crystal fountain,
My fare the wild moose or the deer."
(_The_ HURON CHIEF, _by Adam Kidd_).

There exists a faithful portrait of this noble savage, such as drawn by
himself and presented, we believe, to the Laval University at Quebec; for
glimpses of his origin, home and surroundings, we are indebted to an
honorary chief of the tribe, Ahatsistari. [308]

Paul _Tahourenché_ (François Xavier Picard), Great Chief of the Lorette
Hurons, was born at Indian Lorette in 1810; he is consequently at present
71 years of age. He is tall, erect, well proportioned, dignified in face
and deportment; when habited in his Indian regalia: blue frock coat, with
bright buttons and medals, plumed fur cap, leggings of colored cloth,
bright sash and armlets, with war axe, he looks the _beau ideal_ of a
respectable Huron warrior, shorn of the ferocity of other days. Of the
line of Huron chiefs which proceeded him we can furnish but a very meagre
history. Adam Kidd, who wrote a poem entitled the _Huron Chief_ in 1829,
and who paid that year a visit to the Lorette Indians and saw their oldest
chief, _Oui-a-ra-lih-to_, having unfortunately failed to fulfil the
promise he then made of publishing the traditions and legends of the tribe
furnished him on that occasion, an omission which, we hope, will yet be
supplied by an educated Huron; the Revd. Mr. Vincent. Of _Oui-a-ra-lih-
to_, we learn from Mr. Kidd: "This venerable patriarch, who is now (in
1829) approaching the precincts of a century, is the grandson of _Tsa-a-
ra-lih-to_, head chief of the Hurons during the war of 1759. _Oui-a-ra-
lih-to_, with about thirty-five warriors of the Indian village of Lorette
in conjunction with the Iroquois and Algonquins, was actually engaged in
the army of Burgoyne, a name unworthy to be associated with the noble
spirit of Indian heroism. During my visit to this old chief - May, 1829 - he
willingly furnished me with an account of the distinguished warriors, and
the traditions of different tribes, which are still fresh in his memory,
and are handed from father to son, with the precision, interest and
admiration that the tales and exploits of Ossian and his heroes are
circulated in their original purity to this day among the Irish." Mr. Kidd
alludes also to another great chief, _Atsistari_, who flourished in 1637,
and who may have been the same as the Huron Saul _Ahatsistari_, who lived
in 1642.

Of the powerful tribes of the aborigines who, in remote periods, infested
the forests, lakes and streams of Canada, none by their prowess in war,
wisdom in council, success as tillers of the soil, intelligent and lofty
bearing, surpassed the Wyandats, or Hurons. [309] They numbered 15,000
souls, according to the historian Ferland, 40,000 according to Bouchette,
and chiefly inhabited the country bordering on Lake Huron and Simcoe; they
might, says Sagard, have been styled the "nobles" among savages in
contradistinction to that other powerful confederacy, more democratic in
their ways, also speaking the Huron language, and known as the Five
Nations (Mohawks,[310] Oneydoes, Onondagas, Cayugas and Senecas), styled
by the French the Iroquois, or Hiroquois, from the habit of their orators
of closing their orations with the word "Hiro" - _I have said_.

'Tis a curious fact that the aborigines whom Jacques Cartier had found
masters of the soil, at Hochelaga (Montreal,) and Stadacona (Quebec,) in
1535, sixty-eight years later on, in 1603, when Champlain visited these
Indian towns, had disappeared: a different race had succeeded them. Though
it opens a wide field to conjecture, recent investigations seem to
indicate that it was the Huron-Iroquois nation who, in 1535, were the
_enfants du sol_ at both places, and that in the interim the Algonquins
had, after bloody wars, dispersed and expelled the Huron-Iroquois. The
savages with whom the early French settlers held intercourse can be
comprised under two specific heads - the Algonquins and the Huron-Iroquois
- the language of each differing as much, observes the learned Abbé
Faillon, as French does from Chinese.

It would take us beyond the limit of this sketch to recapitulate the
series of massacres which reduced these warlike savages, the Hurons, from
their high estate to that of a dispersed, nomadic tribe, and placed the
Iroquois or Mohawks, at one time nearly destroyed by the Hurons, in the

Their final overthrow may be said to date back to the great Indian
massacres of 1648-9, at their towns, or missions, on the shores of Lakes
Simcoe, the first mission being founded in 1615 by the Friar LeCaron,
accompanied by twelve soldiers sent by Champlain in advance of his own
party. The Jesuit mission was attacked by the Iroquois in 1648; St. Louis,
St. Joseph [311], St. Ignace [312], Ste. Marie [313], St. Jean [314],
successively fell, or were threatened; all the inmates who escaped sought
safety in flight; the protracted sufferings of the missionaries Bréboeuf
and Gabriel Lallemant have furnished one of the brightest pages of
Christian heroism in New France. Bréboeuf expired on the 16th March and
Lallemant on 17th March, 1649. A party of Hurons sought Manitoulin Island,
then called Ekaentoton, a few fled to Virginia; others succeeded in
obtaining protection on the south shore of Lake Erie, from the Erie tribe,
only to share, later on, the dire fate of the nation who had dared to
incorporate them in its sparse ranks.

Father P. Ragueneau (the first writer, by the by, who makes mention of
Niagara Falls - _Relations de_ 1648,) escorted three or four hundred
of these terror-stricken people to Quebec on the 26th July, 1650, and
lodged them in the Island of Orleans, at a spot since called _L'Anse du
Fort_, where they were joined, in 1651, by a party of Hurons, who in
1649, on hearing of the massacre of their western brethren, had asked to
winter at Quebec. For ten years past a group of Algonquins, Montagnais and
Hurons, amidst incessant alarms, had been located in the picturesque
parish of Sillery; they, too, were in quest of a more secure asylum.
Negotiations were soon entered into between them and their persecuted
friends of the West; a plan was put forth to combine. On the 29th March,
1651, the Sillery Indians, many of whom were Hurons united with the
western brethren, sought a shelter, though a very insecure one, in a
fortified nook, adjoining their missionary's house, on the land of
Eléonore de Grandmaison, purchased for them at _l'Anse du Fort_, in
the Island of Orleans, on the south side of the point opposite Quebec.
Here they set to tilling the soil with some success, cultivating chiefly
Indian corn, their numbers being occasionally increased during the year
1650, by their fugitive brethren of the West, until they counted above 600
souls. Even under the guns of the picket Fort of Orleans, which had
changed its name to Ile St. Marie, in remembrance of their former
residency, the tomahawk and scalping-knife reached them; on the 20th May,
1656, eighty-six of their number were carried away captives, and six
killed, by the ferocious Iroquois; and on the 4th June, 1656, again they
had to fly before their merciless tormentors. The big guns of Fort St.
Louis, which then stood at the north-west extremity of the spot on which
the Dufferin Terrace has lately been erected, seemed to the Hurons a more
effectual protection than the howitzers of _Anse du Fort_, so they
begged from Governor d'Aillebout for leave to nestle under them in 1658.
'Twas granted. When the Marquis de Tracy had arranged a truce with the
Iroquois in 1665, the Huron refugees prepared to bid adieu to city life
and to city dust. Two years later we find them ensconced at Beauport,
where others had squatted on land belonging to the Jesuits; they stopped
there one year, and suddenly left, in 1669, to pitch their wigwams for a
few years at Côte St. Michel, four and a half miles from Quebec, at the
Mission of Notre Dame de Foye, now called St. Foye. On the 29th December,
1673, restless and alarmed, the helpless sons of the forest sought the
seclusion, leafy shades and green fields _Ancienne Lorette_. [315]
Here they dwelled nearly twenty-five years. The youths had grown up to
manhood, with the terrible memories of the past still fresh on their
minds. One fine day, allured by hopes of more abundant game, they packed
up their household gods, and finally, in 1697, they went and settled on
the elevated _plateau_, close to the foaming rapids of St. Ambroise,
now known as Indian, or _Jeune_, Lorette.

"Tis here we shall now find them, 336 souls all told, [316] living in
comparative ease, successful traders, exemplary Christians, but fast
decaying Hurons.

"The Hurons," says Ahatsistari, [317] "are divided into four families:
that of the _Deer_; of the _Tortoise_; of the _Bear_; of the _Wolf_. Thus,
the great Chief François Xavier Picard - Tahourenché - is a _Deer_, and his
son Paul is a _Tortoise_, because (Her Highness) Madame _Tahourenché_ is a
_Tortoise_; a lithe, handsome woman for all that.

"Each family has its chief, or war captain; he is elected by choice. The
four war captains chose two council chiefs, the six united select a grand
chief, either from among themselves or from among the honorary chiefs, if
they think proper."

We append a letter, from Sister Ste. Helene, descriptive of Indian
customs, in 1730. Civilization and Christianity have sensibly modified,
some will say, improved the Red Skins since then.


From a MS. Letter of _Soeur Ste. Hélène_, published by Abbé Verrault.

Online LibraryJ.M. Le MoinePicturesque Quebec : a sequel to Quebec past and present → online text (page 44 of 59)