Frontenac

The only son of Anne Phélypeaux de Pontcharterain, the daughter of one Secretary of State and the niece of another, Louis de Buade de Frontenac, godson of Louis XIII was possessed of a vanity matched only by his debts and was a man who could only exist in the orbit of seventeenth-century Versailles. In 1648 […]

Montmorency

Quebec’s Catholic heritage is inescapable. As Mark Twain noted when he visited Montreal, “This is the first time I was ever in a city where you couldn’t throw a brick without breaking a church window”. Like the censer’s heady fragrances, the contradictions of this heritage fill the air, and if sometimes the odour is repugnant, it […]

Longueuil-Université de Sherbrooke

When the fifteen year old Charles Le Moyne left his father’s inn at Dieppe for New France in 1641 he was heading for a war zone. In 1535 Jacques Cartier found a palisaded town of some three thousand Huron below Mont Royal. By the time Champlain visited in 1611, the town was gone, abandoned with […]

Mont-Royal

Often assumed to be an extinct volcano, Mount Royal is in fact an attempted volcano formed 125 million years ago when the lava in the earth’s core tried to burst through the Canadian Shield. The resulting bubble is neither part of the Laurentian Mountains to the northwest nor the Adirondacks  to the south, but one of […]

From the Centre of the Universe, Sherbrooke

In the course of this project it is inevitable that I come across the worst prejudices. Often this is depressing because the victims of prejudice are very clearly also the victims of the brutal injustice of colonial might. Sometimes though, when it is directed between equally powerful groups whose differences have largely been resolved, prejudice […]

At Mont-Royal, Jacques Cartier

On Sunday 3 October 1535, Jacques Cartier, having been guided down the St Lawrence River by the Iroquois, arrived at the settlement of Hochelaga. Below is his account of the settlement and his naming of the hill he found there. By the time Champlain arrived on what is now the island of Montreal in 1611, […]

Approaching St Laurent, The Immortality of Big Business

Bite Size Canada has a great post on Sir Humphrey Gilbert, who, in August 1583, claimed Newfoundland for England. Great because it gives an insight into the mentality of the explorers who headed up the ventures as well as one of their major problems. As the post tells it, Sir Humphrey’s ship went down on […]

Acadie

Acadie was the name used by the French to refer to the Atlantic coastal area which now includes Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and parts of Quebec and Maine. Inhabited by the Mi’kmaq and Algonquin, the first European settlement was established in 1604 on the Ile Ste Croix, now Dochet Island in Maine. […]

Before St Laurent, News of the Cape Breton Landfall

On 24 June 1497, the feast day of John the Baptist, John Cabot made landfall on Cape Breton and planted two flags: one, a banner for his patron, Henry VII of England, the other for St Mark and his native Venice. To read the accounts of Cabot’s voyages from Bristol and the reactions to his […]

From Cartier, Happy Canada Day!

[I’m back from my holidays in Europe, and just in time for Canada’s birthday and Montreal’s moving day too so please excuse the repost, while I unpack, recover, and join the fray. Hope you’re having fun too!]  “Canada,” Pierre Elliott Trudeau is supposed to have said, “is a country built against any common, geographic or […]

At Montmorency, Corruption and Secret Deals

With the city of Laval currently basking in provincial tutelage and the title of most corrupt city in the province, one might ask if the mayor had been reading from the life of the man whose name his city takes. Not that François de Laval de Montmorency was himself corrupt. No, it seems that he […]

From Laurier, A Gilded Age, and Its Unravelling

With the news that in preparation for the G8 summit later this month, the small town of Fermanagh in Northern Ireland has been decked out in the image of a sadly lacking prosperity, it is worth recalling a similar event from the nineteenth century, albeit at a different stage of the economic cycle. The 1897 […]

At Lionel Groulx, the Delirium of the Nation

Reading Esther Delisle’s account against the French Canadian nationalist and anti-semite, Lionel Groulx, the case against him seems overwhelming. But Groulx was neither the first anti-semite nor the first person to create a national myth. In the hardships of the Depression, Groulx was hardly in original looking for scapegoats, and finding them. As Delisle, herself […]

At Laurier, Between the Klondike, London and Washington

In 1896, the year Wilfred Laurier became Prime Minister, Canada didn’t have a foreign policy. There was no need; most English speakers rejoiced in being imperial subjects and thought of themselves as British and while French Canadians felt no love for the empire, they were content for their imperial masters to respond to the threat […]

From Lionel Groulx, The Death of a Race

The stations of the Montreal Metro system are not named after people. They are named after streets and places, which themselves may or may not be named after people. So when people call for Lionel-Groulx to be renamed after Oscar Peterson, they are actually calling for the street to be renamed. There is no Peterson […]