Université de Montréal

The tower of the of the Univerisité de Montréal’s Pavillion Roger Gaudry is one of the more imposing structures on the north side of Mount-Royal, an ivory tower in all but substance. This week, thanks to William Ralliant Clark of the university’s press office, and Diane Baillargeon and Monique Voyer, both of the university’s archives, I […]

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 […]

Atwater

At first glance, Atwater seems to tell the dullest history on the metro system. Edwin Atwater emigrated from Vermont in 1830; established himself with his brother, Albert, as a painter and varnisher in Montreal; went on to establish factories and and telegraph companies as well as managing banks through various financial crises (yes, they had […]

D’Iberville

After the predations of Frontenac and Cadillac, New France could be forgiven for looking for an honest man; in Pierre Le Moyne d’Iberville et d’Ardillères it almost found one. In career characterized by ruthlessness and fleeing Englishmen, Iberville’s military success in the Hudson Bay, New York, Newfoundland, Louisiana, and the West Indies covered a multitude […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]