Charlevoix

Remembered by Voltaire his former student at the Collège Louis-le-Grand for being a “bit longwinded”, the great philosophe bought all the books of Pierre-François-Xavier Charlevoix, not least his Histoire et description de la Nouvelle France. Coming in at 3 substantial volumes, it is the journey and observations of a teacher, editor, and priest venturing into […]

Cadillac

History has been kind to Antoine Laumet de La Mothe, sieur de Cadillac, his fame and crest borne on the high-end cars built in the city he founded. It has no reason to be; Cadillac had no respect for history, faked his noble origins, and ensured that whatever scraps may be found about him before […]

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 […]