Sherbrooke: “Forming a Government of Their Own”

The immense requirements of the Napoleonic Wars entailed more than Britain could furnish itself. To meet the deficit it turned, unasked and unwanted, to  the press-ganging of delinquent subjects, so it thought, now declared American citizens, so they thought. Inevitably President Madison found this most provoking and declared war with Britain on 18 June 1812. It took […]

Mont-Royal

Mont-Royal. Opened 1966. Architect: Victor Prus. Artworks: vertical bands by Charles Daudelin and mural by Les Industries perdues. The Time and Place The Archive Summer 1535 – Hochelaga – Jacques Cartier visits the Huron village of Hochelaga and names the mountain nearby “Mont-Royal”  [In] the middle of these fields is situated and stands the village […]

Papineau receives a flawed argument

In 1835, Lord Glenelg, Secretary of State for War and the Colonies, offered perhaps the most hilarious argument for not reforming the constitution of Lower Canada. 69. It must be recollected that the form of Provincial Constitution in question is no modern experiment or plan of government, in favor of which nothing better than doubtful theory […]

Plamondon Updates His Status and the First Fête du Saint Jean-Baptiste

On 10 June 1836, Le Canadien published what might be considered the nineteenth-century equivalent of a status update. “M. Plamondon, artist, respectfully informs the public and his friends, that at the request of the many of the finest citizens of Montreal, he must leave Québec to practice in that city for for several weeks.” Of […]

Crémazie

The bookstore is dead, or so we are told, displaced by Amazon, and hollowed out by the parasitic succubi of the coffeeshop and the home accessory. The bookstore is reborn, or so we are told, its managers displaced by passionate hipsters, curators of ideas in print, gatherers of writers, and hosts of events. Some bookstores […]

Plamondon

It often seems that art in Canada did not begin until the early twentieth century, as if the innovations of Tom Thomson and the Group of Seven were painting itself and that before their depiction of Algonquin forests, wealthy Montrealers and Quebec’s devout lived in colonial or forgotten exile surrounded by walls as white as […]

Berri-UQAM, formerly Berri-de Montigny

Originally opened as Berri-de Montigny, this station had its feet firmly planted in New France, until in 1988, it took in the university which is one of the products and symbols of the Quiet Revolution of the 1960s. For all this though, the origins of Berri is unclear. In 1989 the Tour toponymique noted that […]

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 […]

Jean Talon, his ambitions and his orders

Jean Talon arrived in Quebec as Intendant of New France on 12 September 1665. His ambitions were to expand the glory of France and as far south as Mexico “to Florida, New Sweden, New Holland and New England”. Louis XIV and his Minister of Finance, Jean Baptiste Colbert, had different ideas about how Talon should […]

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, […]

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 […]