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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

From Laurier, Canada

Canadian Confederation was a marriage of convenience performed under the shotgun of the U.S. Civil War. The country created by Macdonald and Cartier existed on paper but was one dominated by English imperialists often hostile to a suspicious French-speaking minority, themselves more dominated by a local Catholic clergy than their English neighbours. Ten years after […]

From Cartier, Pax Canadiana, or Confederation

“Canada,” Pierre Elliott Trudeau is supposed to have said, “is a country built against any common, geographic or historical sense”. Prime Minister from 1968 to 1979 and again from 1980 to 1984, Trudeau was a smart man: he did not to say that it made no political sense. He also had the good sense not […]

At McGill, Cholera’s Death Carnival

A big welcome to all my new readers and followers since Marian Scott’s piece in the Gazette. I hope you’ll feel free to ask questions, give advice, offer corrections, and above all enjoy the posts. And with posts in mind, here’s this weeks. In recent years fears of global pandemic have hardly been out of the […]

From Place d’Armes, a Picture of Awful and Thrilling Beauty

On 25th April 1849, a group of Montrealers set out from Place d’Armes and burnt their country’s parliament to the ground. The army and police did little, despite warnings. Afterwards, among those arrested was the editor and owner of the Gazette. In 1849, the effects of the previous decade’s Rebellions were still vividly felt, and […]