I have been very busy putting together my blogs that deal with the history of Canada. If there is an * after the title, I am speaking about a novel, but a novel that has historical value. If there are two **, the post deals with a battle, one of the battles that lead to the Battle of the Plains of Abraham.
My blogs are now protected by an official copyright, which indicates that they are my intellectual property. They may be quoted, but the source has to be given.
Yet, it is important for me to provide information to people who are not in a position to seek that information. The Internet is becoming an important source of information, information one can rely on. For people who are not able to get out and find this information in libraries, this is marvellous.
I often think of people whose mobility is impaired. Why should they be deprived of informative yet entertaining posts? They need a presence in their lives as I need the presence of others in my life.
So here is my Canada list, but it may not be complete. I may have forgotten a few posts. But we now have a little bundle, all wrapped up. However, voyageurs posts are missing, but they will be compiled. It’s a matter of time.
The order of this list goes from the more recent post to the oldest. There is a chronology.
* * *Gabrielle Roy’s Tin Flute* Parliament to the Rescue: the Hidden Solution (modified title) La Capricieuse & Crémazie’s Old Soldier* The Rebellion in Upper Canada: Wikipedia’s Gallery The Act of Union: the Aftermath The Act of Union 1840-41 Upper & Lower Canada The Aftermath: Krieghoff’s Quintessential Quebec The Canadian & his Terroir* Maria Chapdelaine* Évangéline & the Literary Homeland (cont’d)* Évangéline & the Literary Homeland* La Corriveau: A Legend* The Aftermath cont’d: Aubert de Gaspé’s Anciens Canadiens* Nouvelle-France’s Last and Lost Battle: The Battle of the Plains of Abraham** The Battle of Fort William Henry & Cooper’s Last of the Mohicans** Louis-Joseph de Montcalm-Gozon, Marquis de Saint-Veran** Nouvelle-France’s Seigneurial System Jacques Cartier, the Mariner Pierre du Gua: a mostly Forgotten Founder of Canada Richelieu & Nouvelle-France Une Éminence grise: Armand Jean du Plessis, Cardinal-Duc de Richelieu et de Fonsac THE BATTLES Nouvelle-France’s Last and Lost Battle: The Battle of the Plains of Abraham The Battle of Fort William Henry & Cooper’s Last of the Mohicans Louis-Joseph de Montcalm-Gozon, Marquis de Saint-Veran A. J. Casson, The White Pine Johannes Brahms – Lullaby (please click on the title to hear the music) April 29, 2012 Micheline Walker©
Marc-Aurèle de Foy Suzor-Coté (1869 – 1937)
The Battle of the Plains of Abraham (13 September 1759), is a battle that takes its name, Abraham, from the fact that it was fought on a piece of land belonging to Abraham Martin (1589-1664), a fisherman and a river pilot (Wikipedia), nicknamed The Scot. The Battle of the Plains of Abraham killed both General Wolfe and General Montcalm and I suspect that, as he was nearing death, at the age of 47, General Louis-Joseph de Montcalm knew that the colony he had been sent to protect would be ceded to Britain.
In my last post, I wrote that, as he lay dying, Montcalm was not told that Major-General James P Wolfe had died. I was puzzled, but let us read the testimonial of the American historian Reverend Francis Parkman (16 September 1823 – 8 November 1893), the author of the seven-volume France and England in North America. The sixth volume is entitled Montcalm and Wolfe (1884).
Parkman is quoted in Wikipedia:
He (Montcalm) then asked how long he might survive, and was told that he had not many hours remaining. “So much the better,” he said; “I am happy that I shall not live to see the surrender of Quebec.”
Officers from the garrison came to his bedside to ask his orders and instructions “I will give no more orders,” replied the defeated soldier; “I have much business that must be attended to, of greater moment than your ruined garrison and this wretched country. My time is very short; therefore, pray leave me.”
The officer withdrew, and none remained in the chamber but his confessor and the Bishop of Quebec. To the latter, he expressed his contempt for his own mutinous and half famished troops, and his admiration for the disciplined valour of his opponents. He died at midnight, and was buried at his own desire in a cavity of the earth formed by the bursting of a bombshell.
As indicated above, Montcalm used the word “wretched,” referring to the colony. He had been short-changed by Vaudreuil who was not a military tactician and opposed Montcalm’s use of European warfare on North-American soil. The two feuded from the moment Montcalm arrived in New France, in May 1756 .
Expertise should override uninformed opinion
Canadian-born Pierre de Rigaud de Vaudreuil de Cavagnal, Marquis de Vaudreuil (22 November 1698 – 4 August 1778), Governor of New France, had been in the military, but his second-guessing Montcalm was not very judicious. Between Montcalm and Vaudreuil, Montcalm was the better soldier and, as a rule, one must defer to greater expertise.
The Battle of Fort Oswego
Although Montcalm was not familiar with the hit-and-run type of warfare Vaudreuil favoured, the siege and Battle of Fort Oswego, fought between 10 – 14 August 1756, three months after Montcalm arrived in New France, was proof positive that there was merit to European warfare. As happens in wars, Colonel James Mercer, the British leader, lost his life at Fort Oswego. The battle was then fought under the command of James Littlehales. At Oswego, the French were well prepared, which was not the case at the Battle of the Plains of Abraham.
The Battle of Fort William Henry
The Siege of Fort William Henry (click on the above picture to enlarge it), conducted between 3 and 9 August 1757, seems an inglorious victory. The British forces, led by Lieutenant-Colonel George Monro (1700–1757) were defeated by Montcalm’s troops which included 1,800 Amerindians of different tribes and 6,200 “regulars” and militia. The British were outnumbered and lost, but suddenly disorderly and blood-thirsty Amerindians, who had fought under Montcalm’s command, started to kill British soldiers and civilians.
Monro and Montcalm were not able to subdue the Amerindians, so infamy is attached to this siege or battle of Fort William Henry. However, the Amerindians made the mistake of unearthing the corpses of individuals who had recently died of smallpox. They wanted trophies. As a result, they went back to their various encampments carrying the seeds of a disease that would be more costly than their rampage.
British General Jeffery Amherst would remember the massacre. This was not European warfare. Lieutenant-Colonel George Monro died suddenly a few months after the battle.
The Battle of Carillon
The Battle of Carillon, also known as the 1758 Battle of Ticonderoga, took place between 6 July and 8 July 1758. Once again, Montcalm, ably assisted by the Chevalier de Lévis, his second in command, was victorious under troops led by James Abercombie and George Howe. Fort Carillon was a French Fort built on the shores of Lake Champlain. How the French won that battle is difficult to explain. They were outnumbered because Vaudreuil had sent half of New France’s troops to Louisbourg, against the advice of Montcalm.
Rhodes Scholar and Pulitzer-prize laureate American historian Lawrence Henry Gipson (1880–1971) has faulted Abercombie for the disaster at Carillon. Just how did the French win this battle? (click on the picture below to enlarge it)
The Battle of Beauport and the Battle of Montmorency
The Battle of Beauport or Battle of Montmorency was Montcalm’s last victory on North-American soil. It was fought a short distance away from Quebec City by British troops under the command of Major-General James P. Wolfe. It was fought on 31 July 1759, six weeks before the Battle of the Plains of Abraham, a final battle for Major-General Wolfe and General Montcalm, and two weeks after the British had succeeded in passing seven ships, including the HMS Sutherland and two frigates, the HMS Diana and HMS Squirrel to the west of Quebec-city. My question is the expected: how could this have happened unnoticed?
Beauport, located near the Montmorency Falls, was a French redoubt. So, General Wolfe’s 6,000 regulars were outnumbered by Montcalm’s 10,000 regulars and militia. General Wolfe lost more than 211 men and 233 soldiers were wounded, however and, ironically, British ships having passed through the narrow strait between Lévis, to the south, and Québec-city, to the north, the British were in a very good position to attack the French. Six weeks later, Montcalm’s troops were defeated at the Battle of the Plains of Abraham.
Montcalm lost one of his five battles in North America. He was a good soldier. Yet, he lost not only this one battle, but his life, as did Wolfe. Wolfe was only 32 and he was also a good soldier. As is quoted above, Montcalm praised General Wolfe on his death-bed, which is not insignificant. On the contrary!
There would be another battle: the Battle of Sainte-Foy, sometimes called the Battle of Quebec, fought on 28 April 1760. It opposed the French under the Chevalier de Lévis, and the British under General James Murray. The French won that battle, but Lévis was not able to retake Quebec City. The British retrenched and waited for reinforcement. It had been a difficult winter and scurvy had taken British lives. Lévis also waited for reinforcement, but it came too late. In 1763 France chose to keep Martinique and Guadeloupe.
In the end, it seems all was decided in the corridors of power. So let Montcalm’s final words be my final words: this “wretched country.”
© Micheline Walker
25 February 2012
France in the Eighteenth Century
During the eighteenth century, France was not as vigilant as it could or should have been regarding the management of its North-American colonies. The motherland had considerable problems of its own that culminated in the French Revolution (1789 – 1794).
Yes, there were battles, the most significant being the Battle of the Plains of Abraham, in Quebec City. It took place on 13 September 1759. The British won, but the battle claimed the life of Major-General James P. Wolfe (2 January 1727 – 13 September 1759). As for Louis-Joseph de Montcalm-Gozon, Marquis de Saint-Veran (28 February 1712 [O.S. 17 February 1712] – 14 September 1759), he was mortally wounded. There were sufficient men on both sides, but “many of the French were ill-trained militia,” not “regulars.” In other words, the French were not in a position to fight Major-General Wolfe’s professional soldiers.[i]C. W. Jefferys (1869 – 1951)
The Death of General Montcalm depicts the Marquis de Montcalm mortally wounded in 1759. He died on 14 September 1759.
The Treaty of Paris, 10 February 1763
Signed on 10 February 1763, the Treaty of Paris brought to a close both a European conflict, not to say the first world war, the Seven Years’ War, and the North-American French and Indian War. Nouvelle-France was ceded to Great Britain on 10 February 1763.
Under the terms of the Treaty of Paris, the King of Great Britain
- granted “the liberty of the Catholick [sic] religion to the inhabitants of Canada,”
- agreed that the French inhabitants of Canada might withdraw from Canada without hindrance, and
- gave to French fishermen “the liberty of fishing in the gulph [sic] of St. Lawrence” and “the liberty of fishing and drying on a part of the coasts of the island of Newfoundland”, as well as
- the ownership of the islands of St. Pierre and Miquelon, “to serve as a shelter to the French fishermen.”[ii]
For the Canadiens (French-speaking Canadians), the loss of New France was a devastating blow. The Canadien felt he had aband oned by the motherland, in which he was mostly correct. The shores of the St Lawrence had become his country. He could not return to France. According to the Treaty of Paris, the Canadiens would be free to practice their religion and farmers did not lose their farms, nor did city dwellers lose their home. However, aristocrats working in Nouvelle-France returned to France. This was also a stipulation of the Treaty of Paris.
However, as I wrote in an arlier post the voyageurs may not have learned they had become British subjects immediately. But they learned. Certain fur-trading posts were no longer French, but British or American. Under the terms of the Treaty of Ghent, signed on 24 December 1814, ending the War of 1812 between the United States of America and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, a border would have to be drawn between British and American territories in the Northern limits of the continental United States of America.
For one thing, many voyageurs would work for John Jacob Astor (17 July 1763 – 29 March 1848), the owner of the American Fur Trade Company, established in 1808. Ramsay Crooks urged John Jacob Astor to hire Canadiens as boatmen. Americans, who had first been hired, lacked the ability to work as a team and could not respect Amerindians.
In theory, Joan Jacob Astor’s American Fur Trade Company could not hire Canadiens who were British subjects. However, during the Presidency of Thomas Jefferson, an exception was made to the Embargo Act of 1897. Here is a link to a narrative of these events: https://michelinewalker.com/2012/01/14/john-jacob-astor-the-voyageur-as-settler-and-explorer/In a famous council on 27 April 1763, Pontiac urged listeners to rise up against the British. (19th century engraving by Alfred Bobbet) (please click on picture to enlarge it)
The Pontiac Rebellion
The Treaty of Paris had not made provisions for North-American natives, the Amerindians. Somehow and regretfully, the negotiators had not thought of them. This shameful oversight led to the Pontiac Rebellion which lasted from 1763 to 1766 and opposed the British and Chief Pontiac’s forces. Chief Pontiac was the leader of the Ottawas. On 25 July 1766, Pontiac met with the British superintendent of Indian affairs, Sir William Johnson, at Fort Oswego, New York. Hostilities ended on that day. As for Chief Pontiac, he was murdered on 20 April 1769. His assassination was not investigated.
I will end this blog here, but it will be followed by an account of the battles that took place during the French and Indian War (or the Seven Years’ War). All I will say for now is that Montcalm died on 14 September 1760. When he learned that his wound would take his life, he is reported to have said that his death was a blessing. The Battle of the Plains of Abraham had also claimed the life of General James P. Wolfe. (please click on picture to enlarge it)____________________ [i] I am quoting the Quebec Encyclopedia (Marianopolis College) and the Canadian Encyclopedia. <http://faculty.marianopolis.edu/c.belanger/quebechistory/encyclopedia/TreatyofParis1763-QuebecHistory.htm> W. Stewart Wallace, ed., The Encyclopedia of Canada, Vol. V, Toronto, University Associates of Canada 1948, p. 87 [ii] C. P. Stacey (revised by Norman Hillmer), “Battle of the Plains of Abraham” http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/articles/battle-of-the-plains-of-abraham © Micheline Walker
24 March 2012
Classification of Canadian Literature in French
Until recently, Canadian Literature in French was divided into four periods. This has changed.
The Literary Homeland (1837-1865): Un Pèlerinage au pays d’Évangéline, 1855
A few years ago, the period of French-Canadian literature during which l’abbé Casgrain’s books were published was called la “Patrie littéraire” or the “Literary Homeland” and it took us from 1760 (the battle of the Plains of Abraham)[i] to 1895.
That period is still called the “Literary Homeland,” but it begins in 1837 and ends in 1865. It has been shortened by seventy-seven (77) years now labelled “Canadian Origins” (1760-1836).
The “Messianic Survival” (1866-1895)
Henri-Raymond Casgrain‘s Pèlerinage au pays d’Évangéline was published in 1855. It was therefore written eleven years before the start of the next period currentled called: “Messianic Survival” (1866-1895). However, Un Pèlerinage au pays d’Évangéline does underline the importance of the priest as leader in the organisation of a territory, in our case, Acadie under l’abbé Sigogne and other French émigrés priests sent by England to the seminary in Quebec city (Lower Canana).
Exile and the Establishment of Roots (1896-1938): Maria Chapdelaine, 1914
As for Maria Chapdelaine, it is now classified in a period of French-Canadian literature called “Exile and the Establishment of Roots (1896-1938).” Where Maria Chapdelaine (1916) is concerned this classification is accurate, but only to the extent that classifications can be correct. Formerly it was included in a period called: “Vaisseau d’or [the title of a poem] et Croix du chemin [road side crosses]” (1895-1938)
What may be good to remember about Maria Chapdelaine is
that Maria’s choice is the choice of a patriot, and
that her choice is also the choice the Church advocates.
Not that Maria is a nationalist. The poor girl would not know anything about nationalism or any “ism,” but she nevertheless makes the patriotic choice in deciding to marry a settler. Colonisation was a way of keeping French Canadians in their province, in their parish, and farming.
Priests feared that once a French Canadian settled in the United States, he and members of his family would cease to be good Catholics and would no longer speak French. In all likelihood, this is what motivated the colourful Curé Labelle (November 24, 1833 – January 4, 1891) to urge people to go north and to create land: faire de la terre, faire du pays.
New France: farming as a priority
I should note moreover that even in the earliest days of New France, France saw its colony as a colony of farmers. Pierre Dugua de Mons or Champlain had managed to convince Henri IV, le bon roi Henri, to move the colony from Port-Royal in Acadie (in the current Nova Scotia) to what is now the province of Quebec. As well, Champlain explored the great lakes. Moreover, he engaged in fur trading, but Louis XIII, no doubt acting on the advice of Richelieu and Marie de Médicis, Henri IV’s widow, ordered Champlain to stop exploring and to govern instead. So Champlain was Governor of New France and New France was a nation of farmers.
In short, Maria Chapdelaine, 1916, is a “roman du terroir,” a regionalist novel, extolling the virtues of farming. There would be other such novels, the last of which was published in 1938: Ringuet’s Trente Arpents.
So far, we have examined works belonging to two periods of Canadian Literature in French:
1. The Literary Homeland or Patrie Littéraire (1837-1865): Un pèlerinage au pays d’Évangéline (1855) and
2. Exile and the Establishment of Roots (1896-1938): Maria Chapdelaine, 1913. During this period French-speaking Canadians were either leaving Canada or settling in new areas, the North mainly. For instance some sons became voyageurs. The family farm could no longer be divided, so they had to find other means of making a living. Yet farming remained the mission of French-speaking Canadians and his only means of earning a living.
3. But, I have also touched on a third period: The Messianic Survival (1866-1895). Priests are organizing a new Acadie.
But, for the time being, our plate is full. We pause. I am including an Ave Maria because as Maria Chapdelaine senses her François is in danger, she recites a thousand Ave Marias.
This is not a new post, but it is a clearer one. I cannot presume you already knew about the mythic, yet very real Évangéline, or Maria Chapdelaine.
[i] The Battle of the Plains of Abraham, 1759, opposed the French, under the Marquis de Montcalm and the English, under General Wolfe. The English won and four years later, in 1763, Nouvelle-France became a British colony.© Micheline Walker 27 January 2012 WordPress