Tag Archives: Quebec City

Higher than Niagara Falls!

Canada boasts so many beautiful locations, for tourists and visitors alike.  We are all familiar with Niagara Falls, which borders Canada and the United States.  But in Quebec there is a special gem called Montmorency Falls and is 30 meters higher than Niagara Falls!

It is at the junction of Montmorency River and the St. Lawrence River, about 10 kilometres east of Quebec City.  It has captured people’s fascination and awe since the years of Champlain.  Like most of Canada’s geography, there is a different experience to be had if you visit in the summer or in the winter.  The following videos can show you its beauty more than my words ever could.  Enjoy them.








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Not Cowboys & Indians, Part 3

So for the 3rd post in the Not Cowboys & Indians series, I will focus on the 18th century. I cannot, of course, cover all the battles, but I hope to offer you a view of what it was like in Canada at the time.

Queen Anne's War

A map depicting the state of European occupation of North America at the start of Queen Anne’s War, as the North American theatre of the War of the Spanish Succession is known.

The first war in the 18th century was Queen Anne’s War, also known as the Third Indian War, and it took place between 1702 and 1713. The main issue was the rivalry between France and England in America, which had been left unresolved by the Treaty of Ryswick in 1697.

The War was primarily fought in Europe, in France and England, and later Great Britain. The war also involved many Native tribes allied with each nation.

The war was fought on three fronts:

1. Spanish Florida and the English Province of Carolina were each attacked from the other, and the English engaged the French at Mobile (Alabama), involving allied Indians on both sides. This war had the effect of nearly wiping out the Indian population of Spanish Florida, including parts of present-day southern Georgia, and destroying Spain’s network of missions in the area.

2. The English colonies of New England fought with French and Indian forces based in Acadia and Canada. Quebec City was repeatedly targeted by British expeditions, and the Acadian capital (Port Royal) was taken in 1710. The French and Wabanaki Confederacy fought the New Englanders’ expansion into Acadia.

3. In Newfoundland, English colonists based at St. John’s, disputed control of the island with the French based at Plaisance. Most of the conflict consisted of economically destructive raids against the other side’s settlements. The French successfully captured St. John’s in 1709, but the British quickly reoccupied it after the French abandoned it.

Broad conclusion of this war was: the British received Acadia (now Nova Scotia), Newfoundland and fur trading posts in the Hudson Bay area. France managed to keep several islands in the Saint Lawrence River and Cape Breton Island at the north-eastern end of Nova Scotia.

There were casualties on both sides:
* Spain (50-60); French Indian allies (50); Spanish Indian allies (many).
* Great Britain (900); New England (200); Carolina (150); Indian allies (light).

The 18th century had many other wars in North America. A few are:

1722 – 1725: Father Rale’s War (a series of battles between New England and the Wabanaki Confederacy (specifically the Mi’kmaq, Maliseet, and Abenaki), who were allied with New France.

1744 – 1748: King George’s War (It took place primarily in the British provinces of New York, Massachusetts Bay, New Hampshire, and Nova Scotia. Its most significant action was an expedition organized by Massachusetts Governor William Shirley that besieged and ultimately captured the French fortress of Louisbourg, on Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia, in 1745.)

1749 – 1755: Father Le Loutre’s War. The war began with the British unilaterally establishing Halifax, which was a violation of an earlier treaty with the Mi’kmaq, signed after Father Rale’s War. With the fall of Beausejour, Le Loutre was imprisoned and the Acadian expulsion began. The British forces rounded up French settlers and deported the Acadians and burned their villages at Chignecto to prevent their return. The Acadian Exodus from Nova Scotia during the war spared most of the Acadians who joined it – particularly those who went to Ile St. Jean and Ile Royal – from the British deportation of the Acadians in 1755.

1754 – 1763: Seven Years’ War. The war was fought mostly between the colonies of British America and New France, with both sides supported by military units from their parent countries of Great Britain and France, who declared war on each other in 1756.

1763 – 1766: Pontiac’s War. This war was launched by a loose confederation of Native American tribes, from the Great Lakes region, the Illinois Country, and Ohio Country. More warriors from many tribes joined the uprising. They wished to drive British soldiers and settlers out of the region. The war is named after the Ottawa leader Pontiac, the most prominent of many native leaders in the conflict.

1775 – 1776: the American Revolutionary War. The war initially began in the resistance of many Americans to taxes imposed by the British parliament, which they held to be unlawful. In the end, the Americans received their independence, and British recognition of the United States of America. The territorial changes at the end of the war were that Britain lost the area east of Mississippi River and south of Great Lakes & St. Lawrence River to independent United States & to Spain; Spain gained East Florida, West Florida and Minorca; Britain ceded Tobago and Senegal to France. And the Dutch Republic ceded Negapatnam to Britain.

1789, the Nootka Crisis. The Pacific Northwest was little explored by European ships before the mid-18th century. But by the end of the century, several nations were vying for control of the region, including Britain, Spain, Russia, and the United States.

1792, the destruction of Opitsaht. American merchant and maritime fur trader Captain Robert Gray built the establishment on Meares Island in (present day British Columbia). In 1792, a newly constructed ship was launched, making it the first American-built vessel in the Pacific Northwest. Just before launching the ship, the fort was abandoned. However, Gray desired to leave nothing of use to the natives because of a foiled attack against his men conceived by the Tla-o-qui-aht people. So he ordered the destruction of 200 homes in the local village of Opitsaht. This is known in part because of entry in his own ship’s log, admitting he let his passions go too far.

1796, the Newfoundland expedition. This war was a series of fleet manoeuvres and amphibious landings in the coasts of Newfoundland, Labrador and Saint Pierre and Miquelon, carried out by the joint French and Spanish fleets against the British in North America. When they landed at Bay Bulls, they found that there wasn’t much of a force there to protect Newfoundland. And so they took dozens of British prisoners. The combined fleet then sailed toward Saint Pierre and Miquelon, which were held by the British at that time. The combined expedition destroyed over 100 fishing vessels from the Newfoundland fleet and burned fishing stations along the Newfoundland coast, including the base of the English garrison at Placentia Bay.

In my next post in this series, I will focus on the 19th century.


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A Child Saved Because of Bishop’s Arthritis

François de Laval, first bishop of New France ...

François de Laval, first bishop of New France (1659-1684). François de Laval. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Visitors to Quebec City are always intrigued by the huge statue of Bishop Laval, standing with arms outstretched in welcome and blessing on top of the cliff.  He was officially named Bishop of Quebec on October 1, 1674, by Pope Clement X, although he had acted as such since June 1659.

François de Laval was a part of a great and wealthy family, but he gave his share of the family estate to his brother and joined an order that went through the country barefoot and lived on food supplied by the people.  He was in the thick of dispute from the beginning – when he was appointed there was a struggle for power between his order, the Jesuits, and the Sulpicians.  His appointment was a triumph for the Jesuits.

The Pope appointed Laval “vicar-apostolic” of Canada and not Bishop, because he would have come under the king if he had been bishop of Canada, while a vicar-apostolic came under the Pope.  So Laval was in the middle of another controversy between Church and State.

Laval insisted on absolute equality between the governor and himself.  On one occasion the governor and the bishop were present at a catechism in a school.  When the governor entered, resplendent in plumed hat, velvet doublet and jewelled sword, two boys stood up and saluted, which they did not do for Laval.  They were whipped the next morning.

However, on the other side of the ledger, when Laval was in his eighties he was suffering from arthritis and could not sleep.  One cold, winter night he hobbled out for a walk and found a small boy who had been turned out of his home.  The youngster was shivering, not being dressed for cold weather.  Laval took him back to his own quarters, gave him a warm bath, put him in his own bed and sat there watching him while he slept.  The next day he made arrangements for his permanent care.

During his career at Quebec, from 1659 to 1706, Laval was given crown lands that became very valuable.  He made arrangements secretly that when he died the revenue from them was to be used for education.  Laval University is one of the many memorials to his service.

For more details about Bishop Laval, I would recommend the Corporation du patrimoine et du tourisme religieux de Québec (English), and then the Dictionary of Canadian Biography, then the Val de l’Indre Brenne (here you will find many articles about different histories). You might want to extend your reading at the Francois de Laval where you will find a .pdf copy of a booklet about his life.


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“We May Destroy Our Happiness …”

English: 35th Annual Trades and Labour Congres...

35th Annual Trades and Labour Congress of Canada (probably in Hamilton) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Labour Day was celebrated for the first time in Canada on September 3, 1894, but the birthday of the labour movement was September 23, 1873.  It was then that forty-five delegates from unions in Toronto, Hamilton and Ottawa formed the Canadian Labour Union. The first known trades-union in Canada was formed by printers in Quebec City in 1827.

While it tried to regulate wages, it was more of a mutual aid society to care for the sick, and to offer social and recreational opportunities for its members.  Labour unions had a hard time in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries because they were held down legally; they were judged to be “in restraint of trade.”

However, labour began to make progress in Britain after the 1820’s, and in 1871 the British Parliament adopted a “Magna Carta of Trades Unionism” which had an immediate effect in Canada and the States.

In July 1872, the Trades Assembly in Toronto began a campaign for shorter hours and printers went on strike for seventeen weeks, demanding a nine-hour day.  Twenty-four of them were thrown into jail, but public indignation led to their release.

Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald introduced an act repealing such harsh measures.  It was passed quickly by Parliament, and shortly afterwards the Canadian Labour Union was formed, representing fourteen unions in Toronto, and five in both Hamilton and Ottawa.  Its members were assessed five cents every three months!

The Trades and Labour Congress of Canada was formed in 1886, but it cannot be said that the labour union movement grew quickly.  In 1914, out of a labour force of 850,000, only 166,000 were union members.  Industrialists organized more quickly.  Between 1909 and 1911 nearly 200 manufacturing companies were united in 41 combinations.  Their capital rose from $125 million to $335 million.  Interlocking directorates put great power into the hands of a few people, although Parliament passed a Combines Investigation Act in 1910 to regulate monopolies and price-fixing.

As early as 1907, there was also legislation to deal with industrial disputes.  The Lemieux Act prohibited strikes and lockouts until disputes had been examined by a mediation board.

To read more about today’s post, I suggest first an interesting 34-page article at erudit, and then the Digital Resources on Manitoba History for this and much more!

“It is in obedience to foreign agitation carried on by paid agents who have nothing to lose as the result of their mischievous counsels that the printers of this city have succumbed.” – Toronto Globe, 1872.

“We may destroy our happiness by inoculating our industrial system with the maladies of a distant country [England] and an alien state of society.” – Toronto Globe, 1872

“Never in the history of Canada have labour unions shown so much activity; never have they been so well organized, and never has that organization made such determined, and in many cases unreasonable, efforts to secure for labour the domination of Canadian factories, and to wrest from the employer his inherent rights, to control the policy of his business and manage it as he thinks best.” – Canadian Manufacturer’s Association, 1903.

“Labour can do nothing without capital, capital nothing without labour, and neither labour or capital can do anything without the guiding genius of management: and management, however wise its genius may be, can do nothing without the privileges which the community affords.” – W.L. Mackenzie King, 1919


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Hillary Clinton and Angelina Jolie both?

Illustration of Jean Talon, first intendant of...

Illustration of Jean Talon, first intendant of New France. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


This post is especially written for today, International Women’s Day.

In New France (now Quebec), there was a severe population imbalance between single men and women during the mid-17th century. Officials were concerned. The Intendant of New France, Jean Talon, proposed a solution: that the king sponsor passage of at least 500 women from France. King Louis XIV agreed, and eventually nearly twice the numbers were recruited, between 1663 and 1673.

They were mostly between the ages of 12 and 25, and many had to supply a letter of reference from their parish priest before they were considered for emigration to New France. These girls and women were known as filles du roi or filles du roy (French for The King’s Daughters).

The King paid East India Company for their passage, and he also paid their dowry. Those who were chosen to be among the King’s Daughters and allowed to emigrate to New France were held to scrupulous standards. Among other considerations, they needed to be physically fit, to survive life as a colonist. In fact, several of the King’s Daughters were sent back to France because they did not satisfy the King’s standards. They were poor, and their level of literacy was relatively low. Some had been from an élite family that had lost its fortune, and some from a large family,  Those women of higher birth status were usually matched with officers or gentlemen living in the colony, in the hopes that it would be incentive enough that they would not return to France.

The women disembarked in Quebec City, Trois-Rivières, and Montreal. When the women arrived, the amount of time it took them to find husbands varied greatly. For some, it was as short as a few months, while others took two or three years. Also, marriage contracts were written to protect the women, both for financial security and for having the freedom to call off the promise of marriage if they proved to be incompatible.

An early problem was the women’s adjustment to the new agricultural life. They were mostly urban girls, and only a few knew how to do farm work. In later years, more rural girls were recruited.

There were about 300 more recruits who did not marry. This was either because some had changed their minds before disembarking, or had died during the journey.

By 1672, the population of New France had risen to 6,700, from 3,200 in 1663. Out of 835 marriages of immigrants in the colony, 774 involved King’s Daughters.

There were rumours that the King’s Daughters were prostitutes ever since the inception of the program. Yet, out of nearly 800 King’s Daughters, only one, Catherine Guichelin, was charged with prostitution while living in Canada. She appeared before the Sovereign Council of New France and charged with “carrying out a scandalous life and prostitution” on August 19, 1675. She had two children who were “adopted” by friends, and she was banished from Quebec City. She was reported to have turned to prostitution after her husband, Nichols Buteau, abandoned the family and returned to France.

An interesting bit of trivia is that among other notable French-Canadian descendants, there are two that stand out for me: Hillary Clinton (descendant of King’s Daughter Jeanne Ducorpsdite Leduc), and Angelina Jolie (descendant of King’s Daughter Denise Colin).

To read more specifics about Hillary Clinton, go to French-Canadian Heritage Society of Michigan; and more about Angelina Jolie, go to

To learn more about the King’s Daughters, I suggest Wikipedia; (an archived page written by André Therriault); A Scattering of Seeds – the Creation of Canada (White Pine Pictures’ website, a Canadian film and television production company); The King’s Daughters (an article written by Thomas J. Laforest in Heritage Quest [Magazine], issue #22 May/June 1989; another place to look is at; and Acadian Home (Canadian and French-Canadian Ancestral Home). Lastly, there’s always


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The Mounties Always Gets Their Man

English: Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Regi...

Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

February 1 is a busy day, historically speaking. For instance, February is now Black History Month (read more at Citizenship and Immigration Canada).

1663 – Quebec City was rocked by an earthquake. (see U.S. Geological site).
1796 – Lieutenant Governor John Graves Simcoe transferred the capital of Upper Canada from Niagara to York (now Toronto); he wanted greater security in case of an American invasion. (For more about Simcoe, look at Dictionary of Canadian Biography)
1849 – William Lyon Mackenzie returned to Canada from his exile in the United States.( see the Canadian Encyclopedia)
1854 – Fire destroyed the Parliament Buildings in Quebec. (see Encyclopedia of French Cultural Heritage in North America)
1878 Quebecer Cyrille Duquet patents an improvement version of the telephone. (see Library of Archives Canada)
1893 – Prince Albert, Saskatchewan records a temperature at 56.7 C (that’s -70 F). ( see Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan)
… and oh so many more events.

But today, I want to concentrate on February 1, 1920. That’s when the RCMP was founded.

If people around the world were asked what they knew about Canada, chances are that the Mounties would get the most mention. On February 1, 1920 the original force, the Royal Northwest Mounted Police, was amalgamated with the Dominion Police, and its name was changed to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police — RCMP. The official motto is Maintiens le Droit, meaning Uphold the Right; but most people are more familiar with the saying, “the Mounties always get their man.”

Some form of protection was needed for the settlers moving onto the prairies, and for the Indians, who were being victimized by illicit whiskey peddlers from the United States. The federal government formed a civil organization under military discipline and planned to call it the Northwest Mounted Rifles. The United States objected to having what appeared to be an armed force along the border, so Sir John A. Macdonald changed the name to Northwest Mounted Police to prevent any misunderstanding. The men were recruited in Eastern Canada and assembled at Collingwood on Lake Huron in July 1874. They trekked 800 miles west, and set up their headquarters in the heart of the Blackfoot country, with detachments at Forts Walsh, Calgary, McLeod, Saskatchewan, and Carlton, covering what are now Saskatchewan and Alberta.

The Mounties’ control of the Indians attracted world-wide attention in 1877 when Sitting Bull and his Sioux poured into Saskatchewan after annihilating the U.S. Seventh Calvary under General Custer at Little Big Horn River, Montana. The Indians set up camp at Wood Mountain near Cypress Hills, and refused to return to the United States.

Later in the year, a conference was arranged between Sitting Bull and General Terry, a representative of the American Government, who was accompanied by newspaper correspondents from Washington and New York. They were amazed to see how Commissioner McLeod and 150 Mounties controlled Sitting Bull and his 4,000 highly-excited followers, many of whom were armed with rifles.

Sitting Bull rejected the American proposals and stayed in Canada until 1881, when starvation compelled the Sioux to return to their reservations in the United States.

The Mounties kept control over many other equally dangerous situations, including the Klondike gold rush.

For more information, I highly suggest visiting the Royal Canadian Mounted Police site.


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