Frontenac had been asked to return to Canada in 1689 and serve as governor for the second time. His instructions were to regain the respect of the Indians and to drive the British from New England and New York. He did succeed with most of the Indians, but Frontenac was unable to take New England and New York for France.
After eight years of war, Britain and France signed the Treaty of Ryswick on September 20, 1697. Actually, Ryswick meant little, and war was resumed five years later. As there was supposed to be peace, however, Frontenac exchanged messages with the Governor of New York, and Captain John Schuyler arrived at Quebec as a peace emissary. He had led the raid on La Prairie, near Montreal, after the massacre at Schenectady, but old wounds were forgotten. Schuyler was honoured at a banquet in the château at which he proposed a toast to King Louis, while Frontenac toasted King William.
Not long afterwards winter began to close in, and the streets of Quebec were covered in snow. It was noticed that Frontenac seemed to be staying in his château. Then Bishop St. Vallier began paying visits there. This was strange because Frontenac and the Bishop had been at odds ever since the governor returned. Shortly after the candles were lighted in the late afternoon of November 28, 1698, the reason for the visits became known. The old soldier had died, eyes bright and mind alert to the last.
In his will, he had asked that his heart be cut out, encased and sent to his wife, who had never accompanied him to Canada.
The casket containing the heart did not arrive in France until shipping opened in the spring, but Madame Frontenac, a proud and beautiful woman, would not accept it. She said that she did not want a heart in death that had not been hers in life.
So the heart was returned to Quebec and replaced in Frontenac’s body, where it lay in the church of the Recollets.
To all my readers, I swear I did not make this up!
- Quebec City: Chateau Frontenac (alainsojourner.com)
- Quebec City Tourism: Quebec City Tourist Information (fairmont.com)