J.M. Le Moine.

Picturesque Quebec : a sequel to Quebec past and present online

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were seen the sharp intellectual face of Laval, its first bishop, who
organized the church and education in the colony; and of Talon, wisest
of Intendants, who devoted himself to the improvement of agriculture,
the increase of trade, and the well being of all the King's subjects
in New France. And one more portrait was there, worthy to rank among
the statesmen and rulers of New France - the pale, calm, intellectual
features of Mère Marie de l'Incarnation - the first superior of the
Ursulines of Quebec, who in obedience to heavenly visions, as she
believed, left France to found schools for the children of the new
colonists, and who taught her own womanly graces to her own sex, who
were destined to become the future mothers of New France." (Page 109.)

It were difficult to group on a smaller and brighter canvass, so many of
the glorious figures of our storied past.

In the days of de Montmagny and later, the _Jesuits' Journal_ retraces gay
scenes at the Château in connection with the festivals of the patron
saints, of St. Joseph, whose anniversary occurred on the 19th March, and
of St. John the Baptist, whose _fête_ happened on the 24th June.

For a long time the old Château, was the meeting place of the Superior

"On any Monday morning one would have found the Superior Council in
session in the antechamber of the Governor's apartment, at the Château
St. Louis. The members sat at a round table, at the head was the
Governor, with the Bishop on his right and the Intendant on his left.
The councillors sat in the order of their appointment, and the
attorney-general also had his place at the board. As La Hontan says,
they were not in judicial robes, but in their ordinary dress and all
but the Bishop wore swords. The want of the cap and the gown greatly
disturbed the Intendant Meules, and he begs the Minister to consider
how important it is that the councillors, in order to inspire respect,
should appear in public in long black robes, which on occasions of
ceremony they should exchange for robes of red. He thinks that the
principal persons of the colony should thus be induced to train up
their children to so enviable a dignity; "and" he concludes, "as none
of the councillors can afford to buy red robes, I hope that the King
will vouchsafe to send out nine such; as for the black robes, they can
furnish those themselves."

"The King did not respond, and the nine robes never arrived. The
official dignity of the Council was sometimes exposed to trials
against which even red gowns might have proven an insufficient
protection. The same Intendant urges that the tribunal ought to be
provided immediately with a house _of its own_."

"It is not decent," he says, "that it should sit in the Governor's
antechamber any longer. His guards and valets make such a noise, that
we cannot hear each other speak. I have continually to tell them to
keep quiet, which causes them to make a thousand jokes at the
councillors as they pass in and out. As the Governor and the council
were often on ill terms, the official head of the colony could not
always be trusted to keep his attendants on their good behaviour."
(Parkman's _Old Regime_, p. 273.)

At other times, startling incidents threw a pall over the old pile. Thus
in August 1666, we are told of the melancholy end of a famous Indian
warrior: "Tracy invited the Flemish Bastard and a Mohawk chief named
Agariata to his table, when allusion was made to the murder of Chasy. On
this the Mohawk, stretching out his arm, exclaimed in a Braggart tone,
"This is the hand that split the head of that young man." The indignation
of the company may be imagined. Tracy told his insolent guest that he
should never kill anybody else; and he was led out and hanged in presence
of the Bastard. [33]

Varied in language and nationality were the guests of the Château in days
of yore: thus in 1693, the proud old Governor Frontenac had at one and the
same time Baron Saint Castin's Indian father-in-law, Madocawando, from
Acadia, and "a gentleman of Boston, John Nelson, captured by Villebon, the
nephew and heir of Sir Thomas Temple, in whose right he claimed the
proprietorship of Acadia, under an old grant of Oliver Cromwell."
(Parkman's _Frontenac_, p. 357.)


Ere one of the last vestiges of the _ancien régime_, Haldimand Castle,
disappears, a few details culled from reliable sources may not be
unacceptable, especially as by fire, repairs and the vicissitudes of time,
the changes are so great, as to render difficult the delineation of what
it originally formed part of in the past.

Grave misconceptions exist as to what constituted the stately residence of
our former Governors. Many imagine that the famous _Château St. Louis_,
was but one structure, whilst in reality, it was composed at one time of
three, viz: - Fort St. Louis, Château St. Louis and Haldimand Castle, the
present Normal School. The writer has succeeded in collecting together
nine views of the Fort and Château St. Louis since the days of Champlain
down to modern times. Champlain's "brass bell" is conspicuous in more than
one of the designs.

According to Father DuCreux, the first fort erected by Champlain on the
crest of the promontory, _arx aedificata in promontarii cuspidine_,
was not placed on the site of Dufferin Terrace, but at the south-east
point of the area, which is now occupied by the Grand Battery, north-east
of the present Parliament building and looking down on Sault-au-Matelot
street. Champlain subsequently removed it to a still more elevated site;
its bastions, towers and ramparts surrounded the space on which the former
Governor's residence, soldier's barracks, magazine, &c., were constructed.

"The fortress, says Bouchette, (Fort) of St. Louis covered about four
acres of ground, and formed nearly a parallelogram; on the western
side two strong bastions on each angle were connected by a curtain, in
the centre of which was a sallyport: the other faces presented works
of nearly a similar description, but of less dimensions." [34]

We may add that Fort St. Louis, shown on the plan of Quebec of 1660,
published by Abbé Faillon, and more plainly exhibited on Jeffery's map of
Quebec, published in London in 1760, disappears after the conquest. No
mention is made of it in 1775, and still less in 1784, as a fortress.

Champlain, in his deposition, [35] sworn to, on the 9th Nov. 1629, in
London, before the Right Worshipful Sir Henry Martin, Knight, Judge of the
High Court of Admiralty, describes minutely, the armament and belongings
of Fort St. Louis, on the 9th August 1629, when he surrendered it to the
Kirkes: cannon such as they were, and ammunition he seems to have had in
abundance, without forgetting what he styles "the murderers with their
double boxes or charges," a not excessively deadly kind of
_mitrailleuse_ or Gatling gun, we should imagine; the Fort also contained
a smith's forge, carpenter's tools, machinery for a windmill, and a
handmill to grind corn, a brass bell - probably to sound the tocsin, or
alarm, at the approach of the marauding savages of Stadacona, the array
of muskets - (thirteen complete) - is not formidable. Who was the maker of
his pistol-proof coats-of-mail?


"Such dusky grandeur clothed the height
Where the huge castle holds its state,
And all the steep slope down
Whose ridgy back heaves to the sky,
Piled deep and massy, close and high
Mine own romantic town."
(Scott's _Marmion_.)

"Few circumstances of discussion and enquiry, says Hawkins, are more
interesting than the history and fate of ancient buildings, especially
if we direct our attention to the fortunes and vicissitudes of those
who were connected with them. The temper, genius and pursuits of an
historical era are frequently delineated in the features of remarkable
edifices, nor can any one contemplate them without expressing
curiosity, concerning those who first formed the plan, and afterwards
created and tenanted the structure. These observations apply
particularly to the subject of this chapter.

The history of the ancient Castle of St. Louis, or Fort of Quebec, for
above two centuries the seat of Government in the Province (of
Quebec), affords subjects of great and stirring interest during its
several periods. The hall of the old Fort during the weakness of the
colony was often a scene of terror and despair at the inroads of the
persevering and ferocious Iroquois, who, having passed or overthrown
all the French outposts, more than once threatened the fort itself and
massacred some friendly Indians within sight of its walls. Here, too,
in intervals of peace, were laid those benevolent plans for the
religious instruction and conversion of the savages which at one time
distinguished the policy of the ancient governors. At a later era,
when, under the protection of the French kings, the province had
acquired the rudiments of military strength and power, the Castle of
St. Louis was remarkable as having been the site whence the French
governors exercised an immense sovereignty, extending from the Gulf of
St. Lawrence, along the shores of that noble river, its magnificent
lakes, and down the course of the Mississippi to its outlet below New
Orleans. The banner which first streamed from the battlements of
Quebec was displayed from a chain of forts which protected the
settlements throughout this vast extent of country, keeping the
English colonies in constant alarm, and securing the fidelity of the
Indian nations. During this period the council-chamber of the castle
was the scene of many a midnight vigil [36] - many a long deliberation
and deep-laid project to free the continent from the intrusion of the
ancient rival of France and assert the supremacy of the Gallic lily.
At another era, subsequent to the surrender of Quebec to the British
armies, and until the recognition of the independence of the United
States, the extent of empire of the government of which the Castle of
Quebec was the principal seat, comprehended the whole American
continent north of Mexico. It is astonishing to reflect for a moment,
to how small, and, as to size, comparatively insignificant an island
in the Atlantic ocean this gigantic territory was once subject. Here
also was rendered to the representative of the French king, with all
its ancient forms, the fealty and homage of the noblesse and military
retainers, who held possessions in the province under the crown. A
feudal ceremony, suited to early times, which imposed a real and
substantial obligation on those who performed it, not to be violated
without forfeiture and dishonour. The king of Great Britain having
succeeded to the rights of the French crown, this ceremony is still

"Fealty and homage is rendered at this day (1834) by the seigniors to
the Governor, as the representative of the sovereign, in the following
form: His Excellency being in full dress and seated in a state chair,
surrounded by his staff, and attended by the Attorney-General, the
seignior, in an evening dress and wearing a sword, is introduced into
his presence by the Inspector General of the Royal Domain and Clerk of
the Land Roll, and having delivered up his sword, and kneeling upon
one knee before the Governor, places his right hand between his and
repeats the ancient oath of fidelity; after which a solemn act is
drawn up in a register kept for that purpose, which is signed by the
Governor and the seignior, and countersigned by the proper officers."
- (Hawkin's _Picture of Quebec_.)

The historian, Ferland, _Notes sur les Registres de Notre Dame de
Quebec_, relates one of the earliest instances (1634) of the manner
the _foi et hommage_ was rendered. It is that of Jean Guion (Dion?)
vassal of Robert Giffard, seignior of Beauport: "Guion presents
himself in the presence of a notary, at the principal door of the
manor-house of Beauport; having knocked, one Boulle, farmer of
Giffard, opened the door and in reply to Guion's question, if the
seignior was at home, replied that he was not, but that he, Boulle,
was empowered to receive acknowledgments and homage for the vassals in
his name. After the which reply, the said Guion, being at the
principal door, placed himself on his knees, on the ground, with bare
head and without sword or spurs, and said three times these words:
'Monsieur de Beauport, Monsieur de Beauport, Monsieur de Beauport, I
bring you the faith and homage which I am bound to bring you on
account of my _fief_ Du Buisson, which I hold as a man of faith
of your seigniory of Beauport, declaring that I offer to pay my
seigniorial and feudal dues in their season, and demanding of you to
accept me in faith and homage as aforesaid.'" (Parkman's _Old
Regime_, p 246.)

"Of these buildings (says Bouchette), the Castle of St. Louis being
the most prominent object on the summit of the rock - will obtain the
first notice.

"It is a handsome stone building seated near the edge of a precipice,
* * and supported towards the steep by a solid work of masonry, rising
nearly half the height of the edifice, and surmounted by a spacious
gallery, * * * The whole pile is 162 feet long by 45 feet broad, and
three stories high * * * Each extremity is terminated by a small wing,
giving to the whole an easy and regular character.

"It was built shortly after the city was fortified with solid works,
* * * - for a long series of years it was neglected, so much as to be
suffered to go to decay, and ceasing to be the residence of the
Commander-in-Chief, was used only for the offices of Government until
the year 1808, when a resolution passed the Provincial Parliament for
repairing and beautifying it; the sum of £1,000 was at the same time
voted, and the work forthwith commenced.

"The money applied was inadequate to defray the expenses - upon the
grand scale the improvements were commenced, but an additional grant
was made to cover the whole charge, * * *

"Sir James Craig took possession of it, etc.

"The part properly called the Château occupies one side of the square
or court-yard; on the opposite side stands an extensive building
(Haldimand Castle) divided among the offices of Government, both civil
and military, that are under the immediate control of the Governor, it
contains also a handsome suite of apartments where the balls and other
public entertainments of the court are always given. During the
dilapidated state of the Château, this building was occupied by the
family of the Governors. Both the exterior and the interior are in a
very plain style, it forms part of the curtain that ran between the
two exterior bastions of the old fortress of St. Louis, adjoining it
are several other buildings of smaller size, appropriated to similar
uses, a guard house, stables, and extensive riding house, of these
works only a few vestiges remain, except the eastern wall, which is
kept in solid repair. The new guard house and stables, both fronting
the parade, have a very neat exterior, the first forms the arc of a
circle and has a colonnade before it, the stables are attached to the
riding house, which is spacious, and in every way well adapted to its
intended purpose, it is also used for drilling the city militia" -
(Bouchette's _Topography of Lower Canada_, 1815, p. 431-4.)

The brilliant biographer of "Frontenac" and author of the, "Old Regime,"
thus sums up from the official correspondence of the French Governors and
Intendants the foundation, reconstructions and alterations in the Fort and

"This structure," says Francis Parkman, "destined to be famous in
Canadian history, was originally built by Samuel de Champlain. The
cellar still remains under the wooden platform of the present Durham
(now Dufferin) Terrace. Behind the château was the area of the fort,
now an open square. In the most famous epoch of its history, the time
of Frontenac, the château was old and dilapidated, and the fort was in
sad condition." "The walls are all down," writes Frontenac in 1681,
"there are neither gates nor guard-houses, the whole place is open."
On this the new Intendant Meules was ordered to report what repairs
were needed. Meanwhile la Barre had come to replace Frontenac, whose
complaints he repeats. He says that the wall is in ruins for a
distance of a hundred and eighty _toises_. "The workmen ask 6,000
francs to repair it. I could get it done in France for 2,000. The cost
frightens me. I have done nothing." - (_La Barre au Ministre_, 1682).
Meules, however, received orders to do what was necessary, and, two
years later, he reports that he had rebuilt the wall, repaired the
fort, and erected a building, intended at first for the council,
within the area. This building stood near the entrance of the present
St. Louis street, and was enclosed by an extension of the fort wall.

Denonville next appears on the scene, with his usual disposition to
fault-finding. "The so-called château," he says (1685), "is built of
wood, and is dry as a match. There is a place where with a bundle of
straw it could be set on fire at any time,... some of the gates will
not close, there is no watchtower, and no place to shoot from." -
(_Denonville au Ministre_, 20 _Août_, 1685).

When Frontenac resumed the Government, he was much disturbed at the
condition of the château, and begged for slate to cover the roof, as
the rain was coming in everywhere. At the same time the Intendant
Champigny reports it to be rotten and ruinous. This was in the year
made famous by the English attack, and the dramatic scene in the hall
of the old building when Frontenac defied the envoy of Admiral Phipps,
whose fleet lay in the river below. In the next summer, 1691,
Frontenac again asks for slate to cover the roof, and for 15,000 or
20,000 francs to repair his mansion.

In the next year the king promised to send him 12,000 francs, in
instalments. Frontenac acknowledges the favour, and says that he will
erect a new building, and try in the meantime not to be buried under
the old one, as he expects to be every time the wind blows hard. -
(_Frontenac au Ministre_, 15 _Septembre_, 1692). A misunderstanding
with the Intendant, who had control of the money, interrupted the
work. Frontenac writes the next year that he had been "obliged to send
for carpenters during the night, to prop up the château, lest he
should be crushed under the ruins." The wall of the fort was, however,
strengthened, and partly rebuilt to the height of sixteen feet, at a
cost of 13,629 francs. It was a time of war, and a fresh attack was
expected from the English. - (_Frontenac et Champigny au Ministre_, 4
_Nov_, 1693). In the year 1854, the workmen employed in demolishing a
part of this wall, adjoining the garden of the château, found a copper
plate bearing an inscription in Latin as follows -

D. O. M.
Anno reparatae salutis
Millesimo sexcentesimo nonagesimo tertio
Regnante Augustissimo Invictissimo ac
Christianissimo Galliae Rege
Rege Ludovico Magno XIIII
Excellentissimus ac Illustrissimus Dnûs Dnux
Ludovicus de Buade
Comes de Frontenac, totius Novae Franciae
Semel et iterum Provex,
Ab ipsomet, triennio ante rebellibus Novae
Angliae incolis, hanc civitatem Quebecensem,
Obsidentibus, pulsis, fusis ac penitus
Et iterum hocce supradicto anno obsidionem
Hanc arcem cum adjectis munimentis
In totius patriae tutelam populi salutem
Nec non in perfidae, tum Deo, tum suo Regi
Legitimo, gentis iterandum confusionem
Sumptibus regies oedificari
Ac primarium hunc lapidem



"In the year of Redemption, 1693, under the reign of the Most August,
Most Invincible, and Most Christian King of France, Louis the Great,
fourteenth of that name, the Most Excellent Louis de Buade, Count of
Frontenac, Governor for the second time of all New France, seeing that
the rebellious inhabitants of New England, who three years ago were
repulsed, routed, and completely vanquished by him, when they besieged
this town of Quebec, are threatening to renew the siege this very
year, has caused to be built, at the expense of the King, this
Citadel, with the fortifications adjoining thereto, for the defence of
the country, for the security of the people, and for confounding again
that nation perfidious alike towards its God and its lawful King, and
he (_Frontenac_) has placed here this first stone."

A year later, the rebuilding of the château was begun in earnest.
Frontenac says that nothing but a miracle has saved him from being
buried under its ruins, that he has pulled everything down, and begun
again from the foundation, but that the money has given out. -
(_Frontenac au Ministre_, 4 _Nov._, 1694) Accordingly, he and the
Intendant sold six licenses for the fur trade, but at a rate unusually
low, for they brought only 4,400 francs.

The King hearing of this sent 6,000 more. Frontenac is profuse in
thanks, and at the same time begs for another 6,000 francs, "to
complete a work which is the ornament and beauty of the city" (1696).
The Minister sent 8,000 more, which was soon gone; and Frontenac drew
on the royal treasurer for 5,047 in addition. The Intendant complains
of his extravagance, and says that he will have nothing but
perfection; and that besides the château, he has insisted on building
two guard-houses, with mansard roofs, at the two sides of the gate. "I
must do as he says," adds the Intendant, "or there will be a quarrel."
(_Champigny au Ministre_, 13 _Oct._, 1697). In a letter written two
days after, Frontenac speaks with great complacency of his château,
and asks for another 6,000 francs to finish it. As the case was urgent
he sold six more licenses at 1,000 francs each, but he died too soon
to see the completion of his favorite work (1698). The new château was
not finished before 1700, and even then it had no cistern. In a pen
sketch of Quebec, on a manuscript map of 1699, preserved in the Dépôt
de Cartes de la Marine, the new château is distinctly represented. In
front is a gallery or balcony resting on a wall and buttresses at the
edge of the cliff. Above the gallery is a range of high windows, along
the face of the building, and over these a range of small windows and
a mansard roof. In the middle is a porch opening on the gallery, and
on the left extends a battery, on the ground now occupied by a garden
along the brink of the cliff. A water-colour sketch of the château
taken in 1804, from the land side, by William Morrison, Jr., is in my
possession. [37] The building appears to have been completely
remodelled in the interval. It is two stories in height, the mansard
roof is gone, and a row of attic windows surmount the second story. In
1809 it was again remodelled at a cost of ten thousand pounds
sterling, a third story was added, and the building, resting on the
buttresses which still remain under the balustrade of Durham
(Dufferin) Terrace, had an imposing effect when seen from the river.
It was destroyed by fire in 1834. - (Parkman's _Old Regime_.)

Online LibraryJ.M. Le MoinePicturesque Quebec : a sequel to Quebec past and present → online text (page 8 of 59)