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 […]