Quebec City

First, two honeymoon-type photos.

Quebec is a walled city, built to keep the damned English out. Now the damned English come to Quebec to celebrate their honeymoons.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Sitting on a park bench, somewhere over the moon. (“Over the moon” is located somewhere in Quebec City, I guess.) A nice shot, considering that it was taken with a timer.
 
 
 
 
 
 

Now on to the city of Quebec.

The St. Lawrence River. Or fleuve Saint-Laurent … same river, other official language. I suppose you could say that this is Canada’s equivalent of the Mississippi, in terms of its historic significance. It was the original highway which brought European explorers inland from the Atlantic Ocean.
 
New France tried and failed to defend its territory against the English. General Wolfe’s victory on the Plains of Abraham (which is where this photo was taken), in September 1759, is generally regarded as marking the birth of Canada. (At least, that’s how anglophones remember the history.)
 
 

As I said above, Quebec is a walled city.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

The Jeanne d’Arc garden (jardin) is quite beautiful … my photo doesn’t do it justice. It was built by an anonymous American benefactor who loved France. He was delighted to discover that Quebec was a bit of France transported to North America. Joan of Arc had nothing to do with Quebec, of course.

Perhaps an allusion to a notorious incident in Canadian history: "On July 24, 1967, French President Charles de Gaulle causes a political uproar when he exclaims, ‘Vive le Québec libre’ to an ecstatic crowd in front of Montreal City Hall. De Gaulle was one of many world leaders invited to Expo 67 to help celebrate Canada’s 100th birthday. Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson is outraged by the comment and issues an official rebuke saying, ‘Canadians do not need to be liberated.’ De Gaulle cuts short his trip and returns to France."

The Quebec legislature, which the residents of Quebec refer to as the "National Assembly". I thought the national legislature was in Ottawa. It’s so confusing being Canadian!
 
 
 
 
 
 

It amused me to see this statue in honour of former Quebec Premier Maurice Duplessis. He was an utterly dominant figure during that era of Quebec history, but he came to represent everything that was backward about Quebec:

"Quebec, under the Duplessis era, was supposed to be characterised by traditionalism, conservatism and, generally, a rejection of contemporary ways and values. In consequence, the province had fallen behind, had acquired increasingly negative characteristics and had had to live through ‘les années noires’, a sort of a Quebec equivalent to the ‘Dark Ages’. This perception is broadly challenged by many social scientists today. However, there is no doubt that the death of Duplessis, and the subsequent election of the Liberal Party of Jean Lesage [in 1960], ushered a period of intense changes and activities, the sum total of which seemed to amount to a Revolution" (the “Quiet Revolution”).

Oh well, I guess Duplessis merits a statue, even if he did plunge Quebec into its own Dark Ages!

This statue also amused me. The francophone population of Quebec values history far more than the anglophone population anywhere in Canada. Here we have a very prominent statue in honour of a historian(!), Francois Xavier Garneau.

Garneau "wrote a three volume history of the French Canadian nation entitled Histoire du Canada between 1845 and 1848. … He argued that Conquest was a tragedy, the consequence of which was a perpetual struggle against the forces of English Canada for the French Canadian nation [a prediction which has certainly turned out to be accurate]. … The book was originally written as a response to the [notorious] Durham report, which claimed that French Canadian culture was stagnant and that it would be best served through Anglophone assimilation."

Anglophones hardly know who Lord Durham was. But Francophones … they remember. (Je me souviens)

In other words, Garneau continues to be celebrated because he was an ardent anti-English nationalist.

The Ursulines are a religious order (Roman Catholic, of course) which originated in Italy. The Ursulines of Quebec started a school (founded by Mother Marie de l’Incarnation, depicted in the statue):  it is regarded as the oldest school for women in North America.

The school was founded in the 1640s! The great pleasure of visiting Quebec City is that we have very little history of such vintage elsewhere in Canada. (And 1640 is yesterday by comparison to Europe, I know.)

This painting was part of an exhibit at the Musée nationale des beaux-arts du Québec. It depicts Vashti, a Persian queen who, according to the Bible, refused to obey a command of the king. The king wanted to show Vashti off to some visiting dignitaries, which presumably offended her dignity.

The 1878 painting, by English painter Edwin Long, depicts Vashti just after she had disobeyed the king. She knows she is in a perilous position. Long isn’t regarded as an outstanding artist, but the picture has real pathos, and Long was quite popular during his lifetime.

Finally, a video of some mobiles, spinning in a shop window in lowertown. (“Lowertown” refers to the area along the banks of the St. Lawrence River, outside the city walls).

So that’s our honeymoon. We didn’t spend all of our time in the hotel room, you know … you people have dirty minds.

Actually there’s more! MaryP has some other photos up on her blog. And the complete set is available on my Flickr site.

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6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Jack
    Sep 03, 2007 @ 11:11:16

    It looks like you guys had a very nice time. I wish you continued joy.

    Reply

  2. Jamie
    Sep 03, 2007 @ 12:11:13

    Looks like fun! Quebec City is very beautiful, and seems like it would be a good place for a honeymoon.

    Reply

  3. Stephen
    Sep 04, 2007 @ 06:43:51

    • Jack:
    Thanks for the good wishes.

    • Jamie:
    Quebec City is both beautiful and romantic, so it was a good choice for a honeymoon destination. We’re both very drawn to European culture, and Quebec City is like an echo of Europe.

    Reply

  4. Arlene
    Sep 05, 2007 @ 14:50:58

    Stephen:

    Thanks for the info and pictures. I have never toured the city, but would like to some day.

    Need to brush up on my French first.

    Reply

  5. mike (a.k.a snaars)
    Sep 05, 2007 @ 22:59:26

    I like those mobiles – but I like the photo of you and ‘Mary P.’ even better … quite heartwarming … Best wishes!

    This post makes me want to visit Quebec. You certainly have a rich history.

    Reply

  6. Stephen
    Sep 06, 2007 @ 12:31:36

    Arlene:
    You don’t need to worry about French overly much. Ilona speaks a little French, but she didn’t need to use it.

    They get lots of tourists in Quebec City, at least in old Quebec City where we were. All I had to say was “Bonjour” and they were like, “Oh, an anglophone” and they immediately switched to English.

    Snaars:
    The photos of us as a couple make MaryP and me very happy!

    Reply

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