Hélène Boullé Signs a Pre-Nup: Ile-Sainte-Hélène (now Jean-Drapeau)

On 27 December 1610, Hélène Boullé unexpectedly signed a pre-nuptial agreement with the explorer and inveterate gardener, Samuel de Champlain. She was twelve and in the confusion following the assassination of Henri IV she and the other Protestants of France were without a royal protector. So too were Champlain’s ventures in Canada. The marriage was completed in […]

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 […]

Verdun

When I set out for Canada in December 2011, my friend Charlotte, hungover from a ‘Spurs victory the day before, asked me over a diet coke in a London pub, where I would be living in Montreal. “Verdun,” I replied, which led to brief but uninformed remarks about Canadian involvement in World War I. Uninformed […]

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 […]

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 […]

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. […]

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 Jean Talon, New France

Among the traitors to French Canada identified by Lionel Groulx were the young men, Radisson and Grosselliers among them, who in the seventeenth century did not hesitate “between the sedentary life of the pioneer and the seductive existence of the coureur de bois”. Attracted by the land’s  “vast prospect, its immensity, served by the most […]

LaSalle

In the history of New France there is perhaps no figure more colorful than René-Robert Cavalier de La Salle. Born in Rouen, France, in 1643, he was educated by the Jesuits and temperamentally unsuited to religious or indeed any other settled life. In 1667 joined the Compagnie de Cent Associés and headed to Quebec. So great was […]