Maisonneuve Carries a Cross to the Summit of Mount Royal
C.W. Jefferys' notes about this picture from Canada's Past in Pictures
Montreal, to-day the largest city in the Dominion, was founded as a mission station in 1642, by a little band of pious settlers who planted this outpost of the Christian faith in the heart of a savage heathen world. It lay right across the path of the Iroquois who harried the infant colony of New France unceasingly, and the early days of the little post were perilous with Indian raids and massacres. But the governor, Paul de Chomedy, Sieur de Maisonneuve, was an ideal leader for the crusading colonists of Ville Marie, as they called Montreal then. He was a soldier, in the prime of life, pious, brave, cautious and self-sacrificing.
Near the shore a small fort was built, surrounded by tall palisades. To-day, its site is in the heart of what is now the wholesale and shipping district of the present great city. Then, all was forest, broken only by the small clearing around the fort.
The spring floods came next year, and the river rose, piling ice high on the shore and threatening the fort with destruction. Maisonneuve made a vow that if Heaven would stay the waters and save the fort, he would carry a cross to the summit of Mount Royal. The flood abated and Maisonneuve fulfilled his vow. Staggering under the weight of the heavy wooden cross, he climbed through the snow that still lay deep on the mountain side, and planted it on the highest point. Here mass was celebrated, and the colonists gave thanks for their preservation. To-day, on the same spot, an enormous cross, erected in pious memory of Maisonneuve's feat, lifts itself against the sky above the widespread city, conspicuous for miles, not only by day, but flaming with electric light all night long.
In the picture, Maisonneuve is seen on his way, preceded by the priest and the members of his company. Behind him is his servant, carrying his master's cloak, on which may be seen embroidered a white Maltese Cross, the emblem of the Knights of Malta, the religious and military order to which Maisonneuve belonged.
Pierce, Lorne. Sieur de Maissonneuve. Toronto, Ryerson Press, 1926. 24 p. Illus. p.3 “Maisonneuve carries the cross to the summit of Mount Royal”
- Jefferys, Charles W. 1934 Canada's Past in Pictures, p.38
- Jefferys, Charles W. 1942 The Picture Gallery of Canadian History Volume 1, p. 133
- Bowman, Bob. 1973 Dateline: Canada, Jan. 6
- Begbie Contest Society. “Canadian primary sources in the classroom: New France.” July 2017, 109 p. Illus. http://www.begbiecontestsociety.org/NewFrance.htm Accessed July 27, 2017.