Dear readers, I apologize for attempting to update my last post. In fact, an apology is no longer essentiel because the few lines I wrote have disappeared.
I had modified the paragraph that precedes the conclusion. I wrote that, ironically, Cameron of Lochiel’s decision to a refuse a promotion that would not allow him to help the d’Habervilles reinforced James Murray’s conviction that their “sovereign” could not do without the services of so loyal and grateful an officer. Cameron of Lochiel richly deserved a promotion. He is the hero in Aubert de Gaspé‘s Anciens Canadiens.
I also wrote that I would be closing my post in the not-too-distant future. My memory plays tricks on me. I will resume my career as an artist. I do watercolours, sanguine, drawings… Once in a while, I will dip the brush in my coffee instead of the water, but it does not affect the coffee. I really do not know what will happen to me. Nor do doctors. I can still function but I make spelling errors, repeat myself, etc.
Fortunately, scientists have now determined that Covid-19 attacks the brain and they have started to map out the harm inflicted by Covid-19. Forty-five years ago, no one knew. For 15 years, I did not dare tell anyone that I could not attend meetings that took place in the evening, or go out, whatever the event. In 1991, a Spect scan revealed a seriously slow rate of perfusion of blood to the brain and extensive damage. I was not expected to do anything anymore.
I tried to return to work. However, a new Chair, who wanted to avenge the dismissal of a colleague, would not look upon me as a full-time member of the Department. For four years, I taught on a part-time basis. I re-entered the classroom after he resigned. However, once I resumed my duties, my workload kept growing. I was teaching in several areas of learning. I fell ill and made decisions that I regret.
James Murray was a good man and Cameron of Lochiel, the bon Anglais. It seems that the only person who would harm the citizens of New France and the Amerindians who lived among them was Jeffery Amherst.
Monsieur de Saint-Luc arrives at the d’Haberville’s home
He survived the sinking of the Auguste
Jules’s father learns that Cameron de Lochiel is helping the family
Chapter XIV/XIII of Les Anciens Canadiens‘ also spelled Les anciens Canadiens, is very long. However, the superior of the Hospital, Jules’s aunt, allows Cameron de Lochiel to see Jules d’Haberville. The friendship is renewed, but Jules’s father will not accept that Jules’s aunt forgave Cameron de Lochiel. Cameron of Lochiel is Arché, Jules’s best friend, but Arché fought in the British Army when Jules fought in the French army.
In Chapter XV/XIV, entitled Le Naufrage de l’Auguste(The Shipwreck of the Auguste), an exhausted survivor comes to the d’Haberville’s door. At first, no one can recognize this emaciated figure with a long beard, but le capitaine d’Haberville can tell that the voice is that of Monsieur de Saint-Luc. After Monsieur de Saint-Luc says that the Auguste sank, he surprises le capitaine d’Haberville by telling him that the d’Haberville’s return to France was postponed because Arché, Cameron of Lochiel, intervened on behalf of his friends, which is a revelation he can substantiate.
– Sais-tu, d’Haberville, dit M. de Saint-Luc en déjeunant, quel est le puissant protecteur qui a obtenu du général Murray un répit de deux ans pour te faciliter la vente de tes propriétés ? Sais-tu à qui, toi et ta famille, vous devez aujourd’hui la vie, que vous auriez perdue en toute probabilité dans notre naufrage ? Les Anciens Canadiens (XV: p. 357) [“Do you know, D’Haberville,” said M. de Saint-Luc at breakfast, “who was the friend so strong with Murray as to obtain you your two years’ respite? Do you know to whom you owe to-day the life which you would probably have lost in our shipwreck?”] Cameron of Lochiel(XIV: 222-223)
When le capitaine d’Haberville learns he is still furious at Arché.
– Non, dit M. d’Haberville ; j’ignore quel a été le protecteur assez puissant pour m’obtenir cette faveur ; mais, foi de gentilhomme, je lui en conserverai une reconnaissance éternelle. [“No,” said Captain D’Haberville. “I have no idea what friend we can have so powerful. But whoever he is, never shall I forget the debt of gratitude I owe him.”]
– Eh bien ! mon ami, c’est au jeune Écossais Archibald de Locheill que tu dois cette reconnaissance éternelle. [“Well, my friend, it is the young Scotchman Archibald de Lochiel to whom you owe this eternal gratitude.”] – J’ai défendu, s’écria le capitaine, de prononcer en ma présence le nom de cette vipère que j’ai réchauffée dans mon sein! [“I have commanded,” almost shouted Captain D’Haberville, “that the name of this viper, whom I warmed in my bosom, should never be pronounced in my presence.” And the captain’s great black eyes shot fire.] Les Anciens Canadiens (XV: p. 357-358) Cameron of Lochiel (XIV: 222-223)
When all is told, Monsieur de Saint-Luc and le capitaine d’Haberville are soon reconciled. They were childhood friends. and War, the duties of officers, separated the former friends. Jules and Arché have resumed their friendship.
Arché’s men burnt down the d’Haberville’s manoir, and Captain D’Haberville now looks older than his age. He has fought in many conflicts between Amerindians who were friends of the British, the Iroquois confederacy, and the Hurons-Wendats, the Wyandot people, allies of the French. These wars were taxing, but we find confirmation of the wars the French entered when Champlain fought on behalf of Amerindians, the Wyandot people. It began in 1609. In Les Anciens Canadiens. Mon oncle Raoul is running the seigneurie, not his exhausted brother.
Cameron of Lochiel and James Murray
Arché is offered a promotion by James Murray
Arché will resign
Monsieur de Saint-Luc and James Murray
In fact, Arché would have resigned had James Murray not allowed him to help his friends. During the Battle of Sainte-Foy, Arché demonstrated to James Murray that he was an extraordinary Highlander. Arché knew the terrain, the lay of the land, and he spoke French.
But to save his friends from a hasty departure, Arché has told James Murray that he would resign unless he could protect his friends. Those who had to sell their belongings hurriedly lost nearly everything.
Capitaine de Locheill, lui dit alors Murray en lui présentant le brevet de ce nouveau grade, j’allais vous envoyer chercher. Témoin de vos exploits sur notre glorieux champ de bataille de 1759, je m’étais empressé de solliciter pour vous le commandement d’une compagnie ; et je dois ajouter que votre conduite subséquente m’a aussi prouvé que vous étiez digne des faveurs du gouvernement britannique, et de tout ce que je puis faire individuellement pour vous les faire obtenir. 359 Les Anciens Canadiens(XV: p. 359) [“‘Captain de Lochiel,’ said Murray, handing him the brevet of his new rank, ‘I was going to look for you. Having witnessed your exploits on the glorious field of 1759, I hastened to ask for your promotion; and I may add that your subsequent conduct has proved you worthy of the favor of His Majesty’s Government, and of my utmost efforts on your behalf.’]
Votre Excellence sait que je dois beaucoup de reconnaissance à cette famille, qui m’a comblé de bienfaits pendant un séjour de dix ans dans cette colonie. C’est moi qui, pour obéir aux ordres de mon supérieur, ai complété sa ruine en incendiant ses immeubles de Saint-Jean-Port-Joli. De grâce, général, 360 un répit de deux ans, et vous soulagerez mon âme d’un pesant fardeau ! Les Anciens Canadiens(XV: p. 360) [Your Excellency is aware how much I owe to this family, which loaded me with kindness during my ten years’ sojourn in the colony. It was I who, obeying the orders of my superior officer, completed their ruin by burning their manor and mill at St. Jean-Port-Joli. For the love of Heaven, general, grant them two years, and you will lift a terrible burden from my soul!’] Cameron of Locheil(XIV: 224-225)
– Je suis heureux, monsieur le général, répondit de Locheill, que votre recommandation m’ait fait obtenir un avancement au-dessus de mes faibles services, et je vous prie d’agréer mes remerciements pour cette faveur qui m’enhardit à vous demander une grâce de plus, puisque vous m’assurez de votre bienveillance. Oh ! oui, général, c’est une grâce bien précieuse pour moi que j’ai à solliciter. Les Anciens Canadiens (XV: p. 360) [“‘I am most glad, sir,’ answered Lochiel, ‘that your recommendation has obtained me a reward far beyond anything my poor services could entitle me to expect; and I beg you will accept my grateful thanks for the favor, which emboldens me to ask yet one more. General, it is a great, an inestimable favor which I would ask of you.’] Cameron of Lochiel(XIV: 223-224)
– Capitaine de Locheill, fit le général Murray d’un ton sévère, je suis surpris de vous entendre intercéder pour les d’Haberville, qui se sont montrés nos ennemis les plus acharnés. Les Anciens Canadiens(XV: p. 360) [“‘Captain de Lochiel,’ said Murray severely, ‘I am surprised to hear you interceding for the D’Habervilles, who have shown themselves our most implacable enemies.’] Cameron of Lochiel(XIV: 224-225)
– Que Votre Excellence, reprit de Locheill avec le plus grand sang-froid, daigne accepter ma résignation, et qu’elle me permette de servir comme simple soldat : ceux qui chercheront, pour le montrer du doigt, le monstre d’ingratitude qui, après avoir été comblé de bienfaits par toute une famille étrangère à son origine, a complété sa ruine sans pouvoir adoucir ses maux, auront plus de peine à le reconnaître dans les rangs, sous l’uniforme d’un simple soldat, qu’à la tête d’hommes irréprochables. Les Anciens Canadiens (XV: p. 362) [“‘Will Your Excellency,’ repeated Archie coldly, ‘be so good as to accept my resignation, and permit me to serve as a common soldier? They who will seek to225 point the finger at me as the monster of ingratitude, who, after being loaded with benefits by a family to whom he came a stranger, achieved the final ruin of that family without working any alleviation of their lot—they who would hold me up to scorn for this will find it harder to discover me when buried in the ranks than when I am at the head of men who have no such stain upon them.’ Once more he offered his commission to the general.] Cameron of Lochiel(XIV: 224-226)
This is an exceptional exchange: brief, to the point, and polite.
« Quel est celui qui n’a jamais commis de faute à la guerre ? » Vae victis ! Les Anciens Canadiens(XIV: p. 314) [“Who is he that has never made a mistake in battle?” Vae victis!] Cameron of Lochiel(XIII: 198-199)
Dear readers, I had to rearrange my post on the Battle of Jumonville Glen. I added quotations I could no longer find when I finished writing on the Jumonville Skirmish, and I deleted repetitions. I did not rewrite my post.
After the action, Washington retreated to Fort Necessity, where Canadien forces from Fort Duquesnecompelled his surrender. The terms of Washington’s surrender included a statement (written in French, a language Washington did not read) admitting that Jumonville was assassinated. This document and others were used by the French and Canadiens to level accusations that Washington had ordered Jumonville’s slaying.
The Battle of Jumonville Glen, Wikipedia
We will never know whether Washington admitted Jumonville was assassinated. Coulon the Villiers, Coulon de Jumonville’s half brother may have written the confession.
There is information that may never be disclosed. Monceau, the man who escaped, did not see the assassination. So, we do not have a witness. Monceau ran to newly-built Fort Duquesne. However, I found quotations I could no longer locate when fatigue “hit.” I have now retrieved the information I required.
We will continue to read Aubert de Gaspé’s Anciens Canadiens. The backdrop of Aubert de Gaspé’s novel is the defeat of New France, but it happened in a multifaceted conflict. For instance, what was George Washington doing at the battle of Jumonville Glen, the first battle of the French and Indian War? Moreover, although the Royal Proclamation of 1763 and the Quebec Act of 1774 miffed future Americans, why would anyone attack Quebec City at the end of December, when it was much too cold. Canadians could protect themselves, but soldiers living in a warmer land were much too vulnerable.
Paul Lemire consider aspects of Les Anciens Canadiens as “discordant.” Aubert de Gaspé‘s Anciens Canadiens tells “stories,” the first of which is La Corriveau. La Corriveau is described as a legend, but a real Marie-Josephte Corriveau was hanged on 18 April 1763, shortly after the Treaty of Paris was signed (10 February 1763). Therefore, the Corriveau’s demise happened after Arché visited the d’Haberville. In his Notes et avertissements to Les Anciens Canadiens (p. 318). Paul Lemire sees the Corriveau episode as an anachronism, but anachronisms are paradox literature. As the author of a historical novel, Aubert de Gaspé depicts New France, but Aubert de Gaspé also knew the aftermath. By virtue of George III’s Royal Proclamation of 1763, Amerindians were protected, but the Royal Proclamation
introduced policies meant to assimilate the French population to British rule. These policies ultimately failed and were replaced by the Quebec Act of 1774.
Although, Les Anciens Canadiens is a historical novel, it is also autobiographical. Le Bon Gentilhomme is monsieur d’Egmont, a Frenchman who carelessly loans money and endorses loans. In fact, he loaned money he did not have and found out was accused of défalcation, embezzlement and moved to Canada with his valet, André Francœur. The two live in a cottage on the Trois Saumons River. Jules visits with him before leaving for Europe to join the French military.
According to monsieur d’Egmont, Jules, a seigneur‘s son, resembles him. In Chapter Two, Jules d’Haberville gives money he does not have to a classmate named Dubuc who fears his father’s anger. Dubuc has kicked Jules, yet Jules does not want Dubuc to reimburse him. As for the money Jules gives Dubuc, it has been given to him by a woman who is grateful to the d’Haberville. It is this kind of behaviour that destroys monsieur d’Egmont’s life and he recognizes in Jules his blind generosity:
Je t’ai vu naître, d’Haberville ; j’ai suivi, d’un œil attentif, toutes les phases de ta jeune existence ; j’ai étudié avec soin ton caractère, et c’est ce qui me fait désirer l’entretien que nous avons aujourd’hui ; car jamais ressemblance n’a été plus parfaite qu’entre ton caractère et le mien.
I have watched you from child-hood up; I have studied your character minutely, and that is what has caused me to seek this conversation. Between your character and mine I have found the closest resemblance.
Le bon gentilhomme was born to a well-to-do family and received a fine education. He then entered a promising career. However, his generosity destroyed his life. He loaned money to anyone who asked and also endorsed loans. He also loaned money that was not his. So, he was accused of défalcation (embezzlement) and he was jailed.
Mes affaires privées étaient tellement mêlées avec celles de mon bureau que je fus assez longtemps sans m’apercevoir de leur état alarmant. Lorsque je découvris la vérité, après un examen de mes comptes, je fus frappé comme d’un coup de foudre. Non seulement j’étais ruiné, mais aussi sous le poids d’une défalcation considérable !
My private affairs were so mingled with those of my office that it was long before I discovered how deeply I was involved. The revelation came upon me like a thunderbolt. Not only was I ruined, but I was on the verge of a serious defalcation.
So, Les Anciens Canadiens is both a historical and biographical novel. Jules gives money he does not have by borrowing it from Madeleine who is grateful do the d’Haberville. However, the d’Haberville provided help or “money” they could provide.
It took years for authorities to determine whether or not Aubert de Gaspé should be jailed. Meanwhile, he had found a refuge at his mother’s seigneurie. At that time, he had nine children. During his imprisonment, the family resided near Aubert de Gaspé’s prison. He was jailed from 29 May 1838 until 18 September 1841. (See Aubert de Gaspé, Dictionary of Canadian Biography)
The NoBle Savage
Monsieur d’Edmont would have liked to be able to earn the money he owed. This, in 19th-century France, was not possible. Nor was it possible in 19th-Lower Canada. Imprisonment tied his hands. Moreover, Aubert de Gaspé could see from his cell two of his children fall ill, and could not help.
To an Amerindian, earning money to pay one’s debts is acceptable. An Amerindian cannot hunt for beavers if he is incarcerated. He tells about an Amerindian who sees a large building in New York inside which Amerindians who have not paid a debt are confined.
Un Iroquois contemplait, il y a quelques années, à New-York, un vaste édifice d’assez sinistre apparence ; ses hauts murs, ses fenêtres grillées l’intriguaient beaucoup : c’était une prison. Arrive un magistrat. (…)
– Mais sauvages pas capables de prendre castors ici !
The Iroquois examined the structure with ever-increasing interest, walked around it, and asked to see the inside of this marvelous wigwam. The magistrate, who was himself a merchant, was glad to grant his request, in the hope of inspiring with wholesome dread the other savages, to whom this one would not fail to recount the effective and ingenious methods employed by the pale faces to make the red-skins pay their debts.
“The Iroquois went over the whole building with the minutest care, descended into the dungeons, tried the depth of the wells, listened attentively to the smallest sounds, and at last burst out laughing.
‘Why,’ exclaimed he, ‘no Indian could catch any beaver here.’
Only one of monsieur d’Egmont’s debtors repays him, for which he is immensily grateful. Aubert de Gaspé was compassionate and understanding, in which he stood above others, but not above the law.
Aubert de Gaspé fictionalizes himself as Jules, Chapter II, and as the Good Gentleman in Chapter IX/X. Aubert de Gaspé graces a fall that leads to imprisonment with the naïve but morally correct and natural justice of the Noble Savage. Yet, both the good gentleman and Aubert de Gaspé break the law.
Mon frère pas capable de prendre castors, si le visage pâle lui ôte l’esprit, et lui lie les mains.
Lève la tête bien haut dans ta superbe, ô maître de la création ! tu en as le droit. Lève la tête altière vers le ciel, ô homme ! dont le cœur est aussi froid que l’or que tu palpes jour et nuit. Jette la boue à pleines mains à l’homme au cœur chaud, aux passions ardentes, au sang brûlant comme le vitriol, qui a failli dans sa jeunesse. Lève la tête bien haut, orgueilleux Pharisien, et dis : Moi, je n’ai jamais failli.
Lift up your head in your pride, lord of creation! You have the right to do so. Lift your haughty head to heaven, O man whose heart is as cold as the gold you grasp at day and night! Heap your slanders with both hands on the man of eager heart, of ardent passions, of blood burning like fire, who has fallen in his youth! Hold high your head, proud Pharisee, and say,151 ‘As for me, I have never fallen!’
The image at the top of this post features Job, but The Woman caught in adultery and The Prodigal Son demonstrate the same charity. Le bon gentilhomme/Aubert the Gaspé may have fallen unconsciously, but he/they broke the law, just or unjust.
Mary has been a leader in the North for the last four decades. She served as president of Makivik Corp., the Nunavik land-claim body, and Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, the national Inuit organization. She was Canada’s first ambassador for Circumpolar Affairs and also served as the country’s ambassador to Denmark.
Madame Simon is an Anglophone Inuit, and she has promised to learn French during her tenure as Governor General. But the truth is that Madame Simon has a mother tongue of her own, which she must keep. The era and mindset that led to the creation of Residential schools is a by-gone era, never to return.
I hope Madame Simon’s appointment will help consolidate the position of Amerindians in Canada. Europeans intruded on their land but if anyone belongs to a country, it is its indigenous population. Canadians must realize fully that Amerindians were its first inhabitants.
Simon is well known for her role in negotiating the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement between the Cree and Inuit of northern Quebec, the provincial government and Hydro-Quebec in 1975. The deal affirmed Inuit and Cree hunting and trapping rights in the area and established $225 million in compensation over 20 years in exchange for construction of hydroelectric dams.
Canada’s new Governor General is married to Whit Fraser, a former CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) producer. They have three children.
Canadians are removing or vandalizing statues, including a statue of Queen Victoria and one of Elizabeth II. That is destruction and it will not help. Nor will it help to burn churches. Let us go forward together and make Canada a better country.
I wish Mary Simon a happy tenure as Governor General. Her appointment as Governor General is genuine progress. Mary Simon is a very accomplished person whose achievements have been recognized.
“The native depicted in the image at the top of this post does not look powerless. As for Benjamin West’s native, he is a ‘Noble savage.’ Did Canada need the Indian Act? Canada Day, a celebration of Confederation, is fast approaching. But Confederation led to the creation of Indian Reserves and Residential Schools. Moreover, Quebec became the only Canadian province where the language of instruction could be French or English. The British Empire was at its zenith.”
Imperialism is very much to blame. Cecil Rhodes wanted to paint the world red, the colour of the British Empire. So, I suspect the architects of Confederation also wished to paint Canada red. Besides, they feared Manifest Destiny, an American form of imperialism. Manifest Destiny alone invited the federation of Canadian provinces and the purchase of Rupert’s Land. Unfortunately, unity dictated uniformity. To this end, Amerindians were to be stripped of their identity. The events that followed Confederation were brutal and genocidal. The French could not leave Quebec. Why?
I suspect more bodies will be found. However, the comforting thought is that other Canadians will help pull Amerindians out of this nightmare. They are in schock, but so are other Canadians. As you know, I have Amerindian ancestry. In the early years of New France’s history, its motherland was slow in sending women across the Atlantic. “Survival” is the keyword in Canadian literature, in both French and English. Margaret Atwood‘s book, entitled Survival (1972), is insightful and it has remained popular and informative reading.
We are returning to Les Anciens Canadiens where the myth of the Noble savage is well and alive. We will read The Good Gentleman, Chapter IX, Le Bon Gentilhomme, Chapitre X. In Les Anciens Canadiens, monsieur d’Egmont depicts Amerindians as more civilized than the white.
The picture above is not related to Les Anciens Canadiens, except indirectly. Aubert de Gaspé refers to noble savages in his chapter entitled The Good Gentleman.
I published this photograph in a post about Alexis de Tocqueville and Gustave de Beaumont‘s visit to Lower Canada (1831). We may be looking at an Amerindian selling fur to an habitant. Amerindians loved blankets and, as we can see, haut-de-forme (high) hats. These were made of beaver skin. In Nouvelle-France, Amerindians often wanted alcohol in exchange for their pelts, which quickly led to addiction. Amerindians could not tolerate alcohol. François de Laval (1623-1807), the Bishop of Quebec, threatened to excommunicate persons giving alcohol in return for pelts. This picture is entitled Habitantand Winter Sleigh, which suggests art produced after the “conquest.” Is our habitant holding a bottle?
Residential Schools for Amerindians
A few weeks ago, the remains of 215 Amerindian children were found outside a residential school (un pensionnat) in Kamloops, British Columbia. At Marieval Residential School, in Saskatchewan, 751 bodies have now been found in unmarked graves. These children cannot be identified. Canadians will continue to dig and investigate. Both the Kamloops and Marieval residential schools were operated by Catholic orders.
This happened at a time in history when Amerindians were not considered “civilized.” A Gradual Civilization Act was passed in 1857, but it was not active until the passage of the Indian Act in 1876. Would that we could say that viewing Amerindians as uncivilized has ended.
The native depicted in the image at the top of this post does not look powerless. As for Benjamin West’s native, he is a “Noble Savage.” Did Canada need the Indian Act? We are nearing Canada Day, a celebration of Confederation. But Confederation led to the creation of Indian Reserves and Residential Schools. Moreover, Quebec became the only Canadian province where the language of instruction could be French or English. The British Empire was at its zenith.
“To brighten the atmosphere and foster the esprit de corps amongst the sieur de Poutrincourt, lord of Port-Royal’s staff members, Samuel de Champlain had the idea to create “the order of Good-Cheer” during the winter 1606-1607. In turn, the members of the small elite of Port-Royal were to prepare a gastronomical meal for their fellow-members, with the fruit of their hunting and fishing in the rich Acadian natural environment plentiful with game and fish of various kinds. From time to time, the sagamo Membertou and its close relations were also invited to share the feast during which the person in charge of the eve entered ceremoniously in the main room of the Habitation wearing around his neck the collar of the Order that he would tend to the future host of the next evening. In the current rebuilt Habitation, today a national historical place of Canada, one can easily imagine the atmosphere of these evenings. The government of the province of Nova Scotia reestablished the order of the Good Cheer and it is possible to become join it.” (H. P. Biggar in The Works of Samuel de Champlain) (See Order of Good Cheer, Wikipedia)
The Order of Good Cheer
The Order of Good Cheer was founded by Champlain in 1606. Champlain thought that scurvy was caused by idleness. L’Ordre de Bon Temps was chartered by Jean de Biencourt de Poutrincourt et de Saint-Just and Pierre Dugua, Sieur de Mons. In its earliest days, Huguenots came to Acadie and then Quebec City, but mostly to Acadie. They were fishing and had been fishing for a long time off the coast of the current Maritime Provinces of Canada. Acadie was founded in 1604 by Dugua de Mons, four years before Samuel de Champlain founded Quebec city. L’Ordre de bon temps could not cure scurvy, but a happy social life lessens stress. But it may have created the “race” John Neilson (1776-1848), an acquaintance of Aubert de Gaspé (1786-1871), describes to Alexis de Tocqueville (1805-1859). John Neilson depicts The French in Canada as “remarquablement sociables,” which they had to be, among themselves, and, also, in their relationship with the British. They were a conquered nation.
In an earlier post, I compared a seigneur’s dining table to Carl Larsson‘s depiction of a Christmas dinner at his house. To be more accurate, the Order of Good Cheer is the ancestor to merriment in New France, both in Seigneuries and in the humbler homes of the habitants. In fact, it characterizes the behaviour of voyageurs. Voyageurs had to have a strong upper body and a good voice. They sang as they paddled their canoe. Dissatisfied with his American canoemen, John Jacob Astor asked that an exemption be made to the Embargo Act of 1807 so he could recruit Canadiens as canoemen for the American Fur Company and its subsidiary, the Pacific Fur Company. (See the Voyageurs Posts)
A Supper at the House of a French-Canadian Seigneur
After Dumais is rescued and a doctor has been sent for, everyone thanks providence and eight persons repair to the seigneur d’Haberville’s dining-room to eat supper. Traditionally, meals in Canada were le déjeuner (breakfast), le dîner (dinner) and le souper (supper). In Cameron of Lochiel (1905), Sir Charles G. D. Roberts uses the word supper to translate le souper. In earlier days, the people of Britain used the word supper, but in provinces outside Quebec, French-speaking Canadians may say dîner-souper because people could be confused.
Aubert de Gaspé describes une armoire, a large cabinet, containing blue dishes from Marseille. So, there is a degree of opulence on the shores of the St Lawrence.
Le couvert était mis dans une chambre basse, mais spacieuse, dont les meubles, sans annoncer le luxe, ne laissaient rien à désirer de ce que les Anglais appellent confort.(VI: p.110) [The table was spread in a low but spacious room, whose furniture, though not luxurious, lacked nothing of what an Englishman calls comfort.](V: 76-77)
By comparing the chambre basse to English comfort, one senses that Philippe Aubert de Gaspé is seeking validation. The novel is historical and, to a large extent, biographical. Historically, New France was defeated in 1759, but Aubert de Gaspé’s novel is part of a collective effort to rebuild New France, albeit in books. The French lived comfortably. In fact, Aubert de Gaspé is a descendant of Charles Aubert de la Chesnaye (1632-1702), reportedly the richest man in New France. Aubert de la Chesnaye owned several seigneuries and he was also a fur trader. Fur traders, called bourgeois, were mostly individuals who could afford to hire voyageurs.
Louis XIV did found the Compagnie des Indes occidentales in 1664. He wanted to take the fur trade away from bourgeois, many of whom were not French. The Company closed in 1674. It had lasted a mere ten years. (See Compagnie des Indes occidentales, Canadian Encyclopedia.) The Hudson’s Bay Company, a British company, was chartered in 1670. Fur trading is no longer its main mission, but it has yet to close. Fur trading was extremely lucrative, but the North West Company, headquartered in Montreal, was not established until 1779, after the conquest, by Scottish immigrants. It closed in 1821 when it was merged with the Hudson’s Bay Company. One would presume that Charles Aubert de la Chesnaye was a bourgeois fur trader.
As for the Seigneur d’Haberville (Aubert de Gaspé himself), the jewel of his manoir‘s dining-room is its armoire. The French in Nouvelle-France had armoires as did their European ancestors. In Les Anciens Canadiens, the D’Haberville’s armoire is also called a “sideboard” or buffet, a more common piece of furniture in the dining-room of other nations.
Un immense buffet, touchant presque au plafond, étalait, sur chacune des barres transversales dont il était amplement muni, un service en vaisselle bleue de Marseille semblant, par son épaisseur, jeter un défi à la maladresse des domestiques qui en auraient laissé tomber quelques pièces.(VI: pp. 110-111) [A great sideboard, reaching almost to the ceiling, displayed on its many shelves a service of blue Marseilles china, of a thickness to defy the awkwardness of the servants.] (V: 76-77)
On a lower part of this side board, one finds a box (une cassette) filled with silverware.
Au-dessus de la partie inférieure de ce buffet, qui servait d’armoire, et que l’on pourrait appeler le rez-de-chaussée de ce solide édifice, projetait une tablette d’au moins un pied et demi de largeur, sur laquelle était une espèce de cassette, beaucoup plus haute que large, dont les petits compartiments, bordés de drap vert, étaient garnis de couteaux et de fourchettes à manches d’argent, à l’usage du dessert.(VI: p. 111) [Over the lower part of this sideboard, which served the purpose of a cupboard and which might be called the ground floor of the structure, projected a shelf a foot and a half wide, on which stood a sort of tall narrow cabinet, whose drawers, lined with green cloth, held the silver spoons and forks.](V: 76-77)
Later, Aubert de Gaspé mentions silver goblets.
Eight persons were at table, which is a small number. The French faced a major difficulty: finding supplies. As for the food, Brillat-Savarin would envy the pâté :
Ce pâté, qu’aurait envié Brillat-Savarin, était composé d’une dinde, de deux poulets, de deux perdrix, de deux pigeons, du râble et des cuisses de deux lièvres : le tout recouvert de bardes de lard gras.(VI: p. 113) [This pasty, which would have aroused the envy of Brillat-Savarin, consisted of one turkey, two chickens, two partridges, two pigeons, the backs and thighs of two rabbits, all larded with slices of fat pork.](V: 78-79)
Aubert de Gaspé was well informed. He had read the best authors. Each chapter of Les Anciens Canadiens begins with a learned quotation, Latin is used frequently and the Seigneur d’Haberville knows about Brillat-Savarin, the author of The Physiology of Taste (Physiologie du Goût). (See Brillat-Savarin, Wikipedia.) Every chapter of his book begins with a learned quotation from writers who are not necessarily French or French Canadians. Alfred Lord Tennyson (1809-1892) is quoted in chapter VI/V. Tennyson lived in the 19th century, which reveals that Les Anciens Canadienswas written in 1863.
A seigneur, le Seigneur deBeaumont will propose a toast to Arché.
– Remplissez vos gobelets ; feu partout, s’écria M. de Beaumont : je vais porter une santé qui, j’en suis sûr, sera bien accueillie.(VI: p. 118) [“Fill your glasses! Attention, everybody,” cried the Seigneur de Beaumont. “I am going to propose a health which will, I am very sure, be received with acclamation.”](V: 80-81) (Beaumont)
Monsieur de Beaumont praises Archie:
“Votre conduite est au-dessus de tout éloge.” (VI: p. 118) [“What you have done is beyong all praise.”] (V: 81-82) (Beaumont)
Of special interest to us, Scots in Canada, is a reference to the Scotch reel. (p. 126) In footnote 9, we learn that the Scots brought reels to Canada shortly after the conquest. This footnote refers to the past, but events in Les Anciens Canadiens occur from 1757 until the conquest.
Les scotch reels, que les habitants appellent cosreels, étaient, à ma connaissance, dansés dans les campagnes, il y a soixante et dix ans. Les montagnards écossais, passionnés pour la danse comme nos Canadiens, les avaient sans doute introduits peu de temps après la conquête. (VI: p. 146) [Scottish reels, which habitants call cosreels, were, to my knowledge, danced in the countryside, seventy years ago. Scottish Highlanders, who were as fond of dancing as our Canadiens, had introduced the reels shortly after the conquest.]
Chapter V/VI features a stranger who does not seem altogether human.
Une longue chevelure blonde lui flottait sur les épaules ; ses beaux yeux bleus avaient une douceur angélique, et toute sa figure, sans être positivement triste, était d’une mélancolie empreinte de compassion. Il portait une longue robe bleue nouée avec une ceinture. Larouche disait n’avoir jamais rien vu de si beau que cet étranger ; que la plus belle créature était laide en comparaison.(VI: p. 133) [“This stranger was a tall, handsome man of about thirty. Long fair hair fell about his shoulders, his blue eyes were as sweet as an angel’s, and his countenance wore a sort of tender sadness. His dress was a long blue robe tied at the waist. Larouche said he had never seen any one so beautiful as this stranger, and that the loveliest woman was ugly in comparison.”] (V: 90-94)
David Larouche meets the stranger when he is taking his tithe to his parish priest. David, also called Davi, has so much to give that he needs a sled to carry his tithe. The stranger congratulates him, but David says there could have been more. If the weather had been better, his tithe would be larger.
The following year, he is carrying his thite because the bundle is so small. But the weather was as he wished, but too much so, as in the proverb.
– Jamais souhait ne vint plus à propos, répondit Larouche, car je crois que le diable est entré dans ma maison, où il tient son sabbat jour et nuit ; ma femme me dévore depuis le matin jusqu’au soir, mes enfants me boudent, quand ils ne font pas pis ; et tous mes voisins sont déchaînés contre moi.(VI: p. 136) [“‘Never was wish more appropriate,’ answered Larouche, ‘for I believe the devil himself has got into my house, and is kicking up his pranks there day and night. My wife scolds me to death from morn till eve, my children sulk when they are not doing worse, and all my neighbors are set against me.'”](V: 93-94) (David Larouche)
The French in North America had to trust in Providence. Hostile Iroquois could kidnap children, but they could also listen to Dumais and release Arché. Moreover, colonies were at the mercy of victories and defeats between colonial powers.
This character, the stranger, is a bit of an archetype. He may be the stranger who comes to the door and whom one believes is Jesus. (Notre Seigneur en pauvre). Novelist Germaine Guèvremont introduces a stranger in her 1945 Le Survenant (The Outlander). (See RELATED ARTILES) This novel, a trilogy, was made into a very popular television serial and is the subject of two films. Aubert de Gaspé, however, depicts a stranger who can predict the future and, in 1757, the future is ominous. We are two years away from the conquest. Montcalm will lose the Battle of the Plains of Abraham on 13 September 1759.
Les Anciens Canadiens also has it sorceress, other than la Corriveau. When the sorceress sees Archie, she knows that he will harm the family.
Va-t’en ! va-t’en ! c’est toi qui amènes l’Anglais pour dévorer le Français !(IX: p. 208) [“Avaunt! Avaunt!” continued the witch with the same gestures, “you that are bringing the English to eat up the French.”](VIII: 134) (Marie, the sorceress)
Between Christmas and Lent
On the shores of the St Lawrence, there are very few stores. Preparing a meal is difficult. As well, habitants are scattered over a large territory. Consequently, there are good months and bad months. But winter comes bringing “lavish abundance.” Between Christmas time and Lent, there are gatherings and one feasts.
– Nos habitants, dispersés à distance les uns des autres sur toute l’étendue de la Nouvelle-France, et partant privés de marchés, ne vivent, pendant le printemps, l’été et l’automne que de salaisons, pain et laitage (…) Il se fait, en revanche, pendant l’hiver, une grande consommation de viandes fraîches de toutes espèces ; c’est bombance générale : l’hospitalité est poussée jusqu’à ses dernières limites, depuis Noël jusqu’au carême. C’est un va-et-vient de visites continuelles pendant ce temps. Quatre ou cinq carrioles contenant une douzaine de personnes arrivent ; on dételle aussitôt les voitures, après avoir prié les amis de se dégrayer (dégréer); la table se dresse, et, à l’expiration d’une heure tout au plus, cette même table est chargée de viandes fumantes. (VII: p.169) [“Our habitants, scattered wide apart over all New France, and consequently deprived of markets during spring, summer, and autumn, live then on nothing but salt meat, bread, and milk, and, except in the infrequent case of a wedding, they rarely give a feast at either of those seasons. In winter, on the other hand, there is a lavish abundance of fresh meats of all kinds; there is a universal feasting, and hospitality is carried to an extreme from Christmas time to Lent; there is a perpetual interchange of visits. Four or five carrioles, containing a dozen people, drive up; the horses are unhitched, the visitors take off their wraps, the table is set, and in an hour or so it is loaded down with smoking dishes.”](VI: 113-114)
Jules and Archie are about to leave for Europe. Archie will return as a British soldier and will set ablaze his friend’s manoir. But the Order of Good Cheer still inhabits the mind of a people who have otherwise lost everything. One rebuilds. Blanche will not marry Archie, but he will live nearby and never marry. A humbler manoir has been rebuilt and Aubert de Gaspé remembers the dinners of old. It seems a duty to share meals, not so lavish as before, but generous. The Order of Good Cheer, myrth, is a constant in the literature of the conquered Canadiens.
As Philippe Aubert de Gaspé chronicles the past, building a literary homeland, he also creates Cameron of Lochiel, an intriguing figure, bridging a past and a future.
Although France and Scotland had joined forces under the Auld Alliance, the relationship between the French in Canada and Canadians of Scottish descent could not be as cordial as the bonds uniting France and Scotland. The French in Canada were a conquered nation. They had lost the battle. But let us look at the Scots.
The Fur Trade
Scots as Fur Traders
the North West Company
Montreal as centre of the fur trade in Canada
It is as fur traders that the Scots in Canada gained prominence.
The North West Company, founded in 1779, was a Montreal-based Company that competed with the Hudson’s Bay Company, chartered in 1670. Most partners, or shareholders, were Scots. They had mansions built in Montreal’s Golden Square Mile. Sir Hugh Allan, a shipping magnate, whose mansion is shown at the top of this post, was not associated with the North West Company. He brought immigrants to Canada and lived at Ravenscrag, located in Montreal’s Golden Square Mile. Ravenscrag was donated to McGill University in 1940. In fact, James McGill endowed McGill University in his will. Nor’Westers later moved to Westmount, in Montreal. They socialized at the Beaver Club, a Gentleman’s Club, founded in 1785. French-Canadians who had remained in the fur trade after New France fell to England were senior members at the Beaver Club (see Beaver Club, Wikipedia).
The most prosperous shareholders of the North West Company were not French-speaking Canadians. In the first half of the 19th century, very few, if any, French-speaking Canadians lived in the Golden Square Mile or Westmount, except the French-Canadian wives of fur traders. James McGill (1744-1813) married Charlotte Trottier Desrivières, née Guillimin, a widow, and Simon McTavish (1750-1804) married Marguerite Chaboillez, but these marriages did not reflect a political choice. Partners were Englishmen and English Canadians. Benjamin Frobisher (1742-1787) was English and Joseph Frobisher (1748-1810) was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia. He was an English Canadian. The main shareholders of the North West Company(la Compagnie du Nord-Ouest), were Scots.
Several North West Company shareholders or partners were members of Lower Canada’s Château Clique. La Clique du Château was un Parti bureaucrate, a bureaucracy, also known as the British Party or the Tory Party. The Château Clique had its counterpart in Upper Canada, called the Family Compact. A few Seigneurs and French-speaking Canadians were members of the Château Clique. Denis Monière refers to an idéologie de la collaboration. The French who were not returning to France were cutting their personal losses. So was the Clergy.
Il faut dire aussi que les rapports entre ces deux groupes sont facilités par une origine de classe identique.
Denis Monière 
[One must also say that the relationship between these two groups is made easier because they originate from identical classes.]
So, how could these threatened classes oppose strongly and visibly a group promoting the assimilation of French-speaking Canadians (union acts) and frowned upon a responsible government. One suspects that many saw clear and present danger, and went into hiding. In fact, James McGill (1744-1813) opposed the Quebec Act of 1774. (See James McGill, Dictionary of Canadian Biography.) The Quebec Act can be viewed as a wish to protect the British in Canada from an alliance between the defeated French and the rebellious colonies to the south. But it may also have earned Guy Carleton and the British in Canada decades of peaceful coexistence in the country Guy Carleton had governed. The Quebec Act was conciliatory. French-speaking Canadians were allowed to keep their language, their religion, their Seigneuries and their Code civil. Although the dreaded Act of Union was passed in 1840, it failed to assimilate French Canadians. There was compatibility between French-speaking and English-speaking Canadians.
Other Scots, the landless crofters, found homes in Thomas Douglas, 5th Earl of Selkirk‘s Red River Settlement. Crofters also settled in Nova Scotia and elsewhere in Canada. The Red River Settlement is inextricably linked to the fur trade. The competition between the North West Company and the Hudson’s Bay Company led to the Seven Oaks Massacre (1816) and to the merger of the North West Company and the Hudson’s Bay Company (1821).
Montreal as fur-trade capital in Canada
a conquered people
the Seigneurial system is abolished
In short, after the Conquest, Montreal became the centre of the fur trade in Canada. Scots were the main shareholders of the North West Company, but the fur trade declined for lack of beavers. Canada’s voyageurs and Amerindians would then become the explorers’ guides. These were mostly Scots. and all wanted to find a passage to the Pacific, by land.
The story of the fur trade chronicles an early chapter in Canadian history, the years following the defeat of France. Nouvelle-France was ceded to Britain in 1763. English-speaking immigrants were brought to Canada and United Empire Loyalists were given land in the Eastern Townships. Yet, in 1854, when the Seigneurial System was abolished, habitants who could not afford their thirty acres had to pay rente perpetually. The French had been conquered.
On 26 August 1831, Alexis de Tocqueville visited a tribunal and said afterwards:
Je n’ai jamais été plus convaincu qu’en sortant [de ce tribunal] que le plus grand et le plus irrémédiable malheur pour un peuple c’est d’être conquis.
“I have never been more convinced than after I left the courthouse that the greatest and most irreversible tragedy for a people is to be conquered.” (SeeAlexis de Tocqueville on Lower Canada, 1 January 2014)