The Picture Gallery of Canadian History Vol. I
Notes on Part Four
The Richelieu River, with Lake Champlain and the Hudson Valley, formed a waterway leading directly to the heart of French Canada. Again and again by this route the Iroquois raided the settlements from the Mohawk country. To stem this continuous menace a chain of forts was built along the Richelieu.
Fort Chambly was situated on a projecting point where shallow rapids obstructed the river. It was a square of 144 feet on each side, surrounded by a palisade of logs fifteen feet high. It was built by Jacques de Chambly, a captain of the Carignans, who was its commandant for some years. This first wooden fort gradually fell into decay, was abandoned in 1702, and burned by the Indians.
But the growing power of the British colonies and the danger from their allies, the Iroquois, made it necessary to maintain a strong fortress here as an outpost to protect Montreal. The colonists themselves undertook the work of rebuilding, and in 1710 began the construction of the existing fort of massive masonry.
In 1760, after the fall of Quebec, three British armies converged upon Montreal from east, west and south. Fort Chambly, which was feebly garrisoned and short of provisions, was compelled to surrender to the force advancing from Lake Champlain.
In 1921 the Fort was placed under the charge of the Dominion National Parks Bureau, and today is carefully preserved as a historical memorial. For details of its history see the Guide to Fort Chambly, published by the Canadian National Parks Bureau, Ottawa, and Le Fort de Chambly, by Benjamin Suite and Gerard Malchelosse, published by G. Ducharme, Montreal.
In the summer of 1701 La Mothe Cadillac was sent to found apost at Detroit. He took with him one hundred men, his young son, and two missionaries, a Recollet and a Jesuit. Next year his wife made the long journey from Montreal to join him. She was the first white woman to enter that territory.
Jean Paul Mascarene was born of Huguenot parents in the south of France in 1684. He went to England, was naturalized, and entered the army. He took part in the expedition that captured Port Royal in 1710. Thereafter he served for many years as commander of the garrison of Annapolis Royal and as councillor and administrator of Nova Scotia, striving to secure the loyalty of the Acadians and to counteract the influence of the French agents among them. In 1751 he retired to Boston where he died in 1760.
The Chateau de Ramesay is situated on Notre Dame Street East, opposite the City Hall. It was built by Claude de Ramesay for his residence as Governor of Montreal, in 1705. He was descended from a noble family of old France, possibly related to the Ramsays of Scotland, as seems indicated by his coat of arms which bears the figure of a ram. After his death his family sold the Chateau to the Company of the Indies, which controlled the fur trade and the wholesale commerce of the country. The building which had been the centre of social and administrative life became an office and warehouse.
After the British conquest it passed into private ownership until 1773, when it was leased to the Government, and became the Montreal residence of Governor Sir Guy Carleton until the invasion of the American revolutionists in 1775.
During their possession of Montreal the Chateau was the headquarters of the American army. Here were held the councils-of-war and receptions of Generals Montgomery, Arnold and Wooster, and the conferences of the commissioners, Benjamin Franklin, Chase and Carroll, who had been sent by Congress to try to win over the French-Canadians to the Revolutionary cause. Franklin brought with him a printer, Mesplet, a Frenchman, to print their proclamations, and it is said that the first printing press in Montreal was set up by him in the vaulted basement of the Chateau.
In 1778, after the British had recovered Montreal, the Chateau was bought by Governor Haldimand, the successor of Carleton, and served for seventy years as the headquarters of civil and military administration. In 1895 it was bought by the city to be converted into a historical museum, and was leased to the Antiquarian and Numismatic Society of Montreal for this purpose.
The Chateau is one of the few buildings surviving from the French regime in Montreal. It gives a good idea of the solid building construction of the period. Its basement with walls three and a half feet thick, its vaulted ceilings and huge fireplaces and ovens, and its other rooms are as interesting as their contents, which include old furniture, vehicles, implements, historical portraits, views and documents, French-Canadian handicrafts and Indian relics.
See Les Ramezay et leur Chateau, by Victor Morin.
It was the custom in old France as well as in Canada, on the first of May, to plant a tree before the house of the Seigneur, or of the local captain of militia. The tree, generally a spruce, was stripped of its branches except a few at the top, where a circle of wood was fastened, from which hung garlands and streamers.
Early in the morning, the habitants brought the "Mai," as the tree was called, accompanied by a drummer and a trumpeter, if there was either in the community. The butt of the tree was placed in a hole and the trunk raised by pushing it up with long spiked poles, in the same way as a modern telegraph pole is raised. When the tree was planted firmly, those among the inhabitants who had brought their guns, fired several charges of powder at the tree until it was well blackened, to the accompaniment of the drum and trumpet and the loud cheers of those assembled. The seigneur or captain then invited the company to partake of a breakfast, which taxed the accommodation of the house to the uttermost, and generally lasted throughout the morning. The health of the host was drunk and the old chansons of France were sung. The custom continued for many years after the British conquest.
A graphic description of the ceremony may be read in Chapter 8 of De Gaspe's romance, The Canadians of Old.
La Verendrye tells us that the Indians near the Missouri had large numbers of horses, mules and asses. This information is of great interest, since it shows us how far north the horse had reached at this date. The Spaniards had brought the first horses to this continent, and from their settlements in Mexico and California, from time to time, horses escaped, or were purchased or stolen by the Indians. They passed from tribe to tribe by capture or trade. The possession of these animals made an entire change in the life of the Indians, and gave the tribes who used them an enormous advantage in hunting, in travel and in warfare. The buffalo, on which they depended for their food, clothing and shelter, now could be surrounded, or ridden down by hunters on horseback. Formerly all journeys were made on foot; the dog was their only beast of burden, and these could carry only small loads. Now they could travel rapidly, and heavy loads could be transported easily by means of the travois. The Indians never developed the wheel.
Under the French regime in Canada money was counted in livres, sols and deniers. Until 1717, the livre, equivalent to the franc, was worth 15 sols in Canada and 20 sols in France, while the sol consisted of 12 deniers. Old French accounts often use the signs L, s and d, these, of course, refer to the livres, sols and deniers, and it is only a coincidence that they should be the same as those which indicate the English pounds, shillings and pence.
There was always a scarcity of coinage in New France. The Intendants, who had charge of the finances of the colony, in order to provide a medium of currency, issued card or paper money at various times until the conquest. The first issues were put into circulation in 1685 by the Intendant, Meulles, and since there was neither press nor paper mill in Canada he used playing cards, writing the denomination and his signature on their plain backs and stamping them with his seal. This was the first paper money issued in America. Card money was suppressed in 1717, but twelve years later the need for currency compelled the authorities to resume its use; henceforth it was made from plain cardboard, and bore the royal arms. In the last years of the French regime, Bigot, the corrupt Intendant, adopted the form of ordonnances, orders on the Quebec Treasury, which were printed in France in blank form on ordinary writing paper, and filled in by him in Canada. He flooded the country with over eighty million Iivres of this paper money.
The denominations of card money ranged from 7 sols to 100 Iivres. Of several issues no specimens have survived; but of others a number are to be found in various public and private collections.
Interest in the natural sciences was stimulated greatly in Canada by the Count de Ia Galisonniere, during his short term of office as Governor, 1747-1749. He was himself an associate member of the Academy, and he sent instructions to the commanding officers of posts throughout the west and north, urging them to collect and transport specimens of the natural products of the country. While he was Governor, the celebrated Swedish botanist, Peter Kalm, visited Canada in the course of his travels in North America, and was cordially welcomed by Galisonniere. Kalm speaks with admiration of the scientific knowledge of the Governor, and remarks on the keen interest in literature and natural history shown by the leading people of the colony.
Jacques Pierre de Taffanel, Marquis de la Jonquiere, served in both the French army and navy, attaining the rank of Admiral. Appointed Governor of Canada, the fleet in which he sailed in 1747 was defeated and Jonquiere was captured and held prisoner in England for two years. Galisonniere was sent to Canada as Administrator during his imprisonment. On his release, Jonquiere proceeded to Canada and took up his government, which he held until his death at Quebec in 1752.
Dr. Percy Robinson has shown in his Toronto during the French Regime that a trading post was established at Toronto thirty years earlier than the date generally given for its foundation. The map shows the location of the three successive positions occupied by the French in relation to the topography today.
Richard Short, who drew these views of early Halifax, was purser of H.M.S. The Prince of Orange, belonging to the fleet of Admiral Saunders. From these sketches Dominic Serres, marine painter to George III, made six paintings which were reproduced in line engravings and published in 1764 and in 1777.
All of Short's drawings show careful attention to details, and may be relied upon as authentic representations of the aspect of the places depicted at the time. They are among the best pictorial records of the early days of Canada. Especially valuable are his views of Quebec after the siege of Quebec. These were "drawn on the spot by the command of Admiral Saunders," and show with great accuracy the effect of the British bombardment. See pages 243 and 244.
Hon. Edward Cornwallis, born London, 1713. Son of Baron Cornwallis. Entered the army and fought at Fontenoy and in the Jacobite rebellion of 1745 in Scotland. In 1749 he was given charge of a body of settlers sent to establish a colony at Chebuctou Harbour, designed as a naval station to checkmate the French stronghold at Louisbourg. Here he laid out the town of Halifax. He was Governor of Nova Scotia until 1752 when he returned to England. He served in various campaigns, attained the rank of Lieutenant-General, and was appointed Governor of Gibraltar in 1762, where he died in 1776.
John Winslow, born Massachusetts, 1702. Great-grandson of Edward Winslow, first Governor of the Plymouth colony. Served in the Provincial troops, and was a Lieutenant-Colonel at the siege and capture of Fort Beausejour in 1755. Acting under the orders of Governor Lawrence, he took a prominent part in the deportation of the Acadians. Later he held various military and judicial positions in New England, where he died in 1774.
Several members of the de Lery family became distinguished military engineers. The first of them connected with the history of Canada was Gaspard Chaussegros de Lery, born in Toulon in 1682. He was trained as a military engineer under his father, and after serving for some years in Europe, was sent to Canada in 1716 to make plans for the fortifications of Quebec and Montreal. Thenceforward until 1751 all of the forts and public buildings in New France were made after his plans and under his direction. He worked on Forts Chambly and Niagara, on the Chateau St. Louis at Quebec, and at the St. Maurice Forges. He was made a Chevalier of St. Louis in 1741 and died ten years later.
His eldest son, Joseph-Gaspard, was born in Quebec in 1721, was educated under his father and employed on numerous fortified places from Acadia to Detroit. In 1751 he built Fort Beausejour. He also took part in the fight at Grand Pre in 1747, the capture of Oswego, the battle of Ticonderoga and the battle of the Plains of Abraham, where he was wounded. After the surrender of Montreal he went to France, but finding no employment there he returned to Canada. Governor Guy Carleton gave him the post of Grand Voyer (Superintendent of Highways), and later he was appointed to the Legislative and Executive Councils. He had been given the order of St. Louis, and while serving faithfully under the British Crown, continued to receive his French pension. He died at Quebec in 1797. Shortly after the conquest of Canada he and his wife, who was very handsome, were presented at the court of George Ill. The king gallantly remarked, "If all the ladies of Canada are as beautiful as you, Madame, I have indeed made a conquest."
One of his sons, Francois-Joseph, whom he left in France to be educated for the army, achieved high distinction as an officer in the army of Napoleon, who made him Commander-in-Chief of Engineers of the Grand Army. De Lery's name is included among those of Napoleon's generals inscribed on the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.
Charles des Champs de Boishebert, born in Quebec in 1727, served principally in Acadia, where he became known as an enterprising partisan leader, and was engaged in protecting Acadian refugees. He led a force of Indians and French to the relief of Louisbourg during its siege by the British, but was unable to accomplish anything. He fought at Quebec under Montcalm, and next year commanded the Grenadiers at the battle of Ste. Foye. After the conquest he went to France, where he was imprisoned in the Bastille on the charge of being involved in the peculations of the Intendant Bigot, but was exonerated and released. He married a cousin and retired to an estate near Rouen, and died some time after 1783.
The story of Brook Watson reminds us of the legend of Dick Whittington. Born in 1735, Watson was left a penniless orphan when ten years old. He was sent to a distant relative at Boston, Massachusetts, who got him employment on a vessel trading to the West Indies. While swimming in the harbour of Havana, he was attacked by a shark that bit off his right leg. On his recovery and return to Boston, he got work with a trader who sold supplies to the British garrison of Fort Lawrence at Chignecto. While there, in April, 1755, Watson swam the Missiguash River through the floating ice, naked and with only one leg, to rescue a number of cattle which had strayed across to the opposite French shore. His exploit was watched by some of the French, who, in admiration of his plucky action, reftained from molesting him. Later in life a painting of the incident was made in London, a reproduction of which is here given.
Watson's diligence, his ability in business and his obliging manners attracted the attention of the officials, and he was employed to help in keeping the books of the Commissary.
In 1758 he started in business in partnership with a Halifax merchant and next year went to London, and thenceforward was engaged for many years in trade with Nova Scotia. He prospered, became a prominent citizen and filled many important positions.
When Sir Guy Carleton became Commander-in-Chief in North America, Watson was appointed Commissary-General and assisted in the evacuation of the Loyalists, and it was largely on his suggestion that many of them were taken to Nova Scotia. On his return to England he continued to act as their steady friend, strongly supported their claims for compensation by the Government for their losses, and was appointed agent in London for the new colony of New Brunswick.
He was elected a Member of Parliament in 1784. He acted as Commissary-General to the Army, and was a Director of the Bank of England. In 1796 he became Lord Mayor of London, and in 1805 was made a baronet.
The story of John Singleton Copley and his son bears some resemblance to that of Watson. Copley was born in Boston in 1737, became an artist and attained considerable reputation in New England as a portrait painter. On the eve of the Revolution he sailed for England. On the vessel he met Watson returning from a government mission, and the two formed a life-long friendship. Copley later painted a large picture representing Watson's encounter with the shark, and the portrait of him as Lord Mayor which is here reproduced. Copley executed many portraits and historical pictures. His work in general shows marked artistic quality.
His son, also named John Singleton, had a long and successful career. His ability and eloquence made him a distinguished figure in Parliament for many years. He was a cabinet minister, was raised to the peerage as Lord Lyndhurst, and though the Boston painter did not live to see the attainment of these honours, his son became Lord Chancellor of England.
There are fewer contemporary portraits of Montcalm than of Wolfe. The most familiar portrait of Montcalm is that by an unknown artist, showing him wearing a cuirass. Both the portrait and the cuirass are in the possession of his descendants. Reproductions of them are included in this collection. The other portrait here reproduced is less well known; it is from an engraving which depicts him as a younger man, and probably was made before his appointment as Commander in America.
The day on which the battle of Ticonderoga was fought was extremely hot, and it is recorded that Montcalm threw off his coat and directed the combat in his shirt sleeves, as shown in the picture.
The portrait of Amherst shows h1m wearing armour, while in front of him is seen a helmet. Armour such as this had been discarded for over a hundred years before Amherst's time, with the exception of a cuirass or breastplate, which French officers sometimes wore in battle, as did Montcalm.
It was an artistic convention of the time to paint the portraits of military men in armour, as symbolical of their profession. Such representations are apt to be misleading to those ignorant of the history of arms and armour, and must not be taken as evidence that it was actually worn by the person so depicted. Sir Joshua Reynolds followed this practice also in his portrait of Brigadier-General Townshend.
It will be seen also that there is considerable variety in the costume of officers when they are pictured wearing the dress of their time. Military and naval uniforms, especially in the higher ranks, were not so standardized as they were later, and much individual caprice in cut and trimmings was shown.
The three-cornered cocked hat was worn by officers of both the army and the navy; but it should be observed that naval officers wore it broadside in front, and with the peak behind, while in the army it was worn with the peak or point in front. See the picture of the Departure of the Troops from Louisbourg, where the officer standing beside Wolfe belongs to the navy.
The view made during the siege was drawn on the spot by Captain Ince of the 35th Regiment. Many officers of the army and navy were capable, trained draughtsmen, and it is to their skill that we owe many of the most authentic early views of places connected with the history of Canada. See, for other examples drawn by an officer, the views of the Chignecto Forts, on page 225.
For portraits of Wolfe consult Wolfe and the Artists, by Dr. ]. Clarence Webster, and The Siege of Quebec, by A. C. Doughty and G. W. Parmalee.
The sketch of Wolfe by Brigadier-General Townshend is little known. It is interesting as being one of the last portraits made of him, and as showing Townshend's ability as an artist. For the most part he displayed his skill in caricatures of Wolfe's lank figure and pointed profile. These, while clever and amusing, were often malicious, for Townshend had no respect for his commander.
Other noteworthy portraits of Wolfe are those by Captain John Montresor, and by Hervey Smythe, his aide-de-camp, both made during the Quebec campaign. The original mezzotint plate, engraved by R. Houston, after the Smythe portrait, is in the Sigmund Samuel Collection in The Royal Ontario Museum. His earliest known portrait was painted in 1749 by Highmore.
In contrast with the custom of most men of his time, Wolfe apparently wore his own hair which was red in colour, instead of a wig. It was dressed in somewhat the same fashion, and was tied in a tail at the back with a ribbon or buckle, as was a wig.
Wolfe took a miniature of his fiancee, Miss Lowther, with him to Canada. In his will he left five hundred guineas to provide a jewelled frame for it, with instructions that if he died, it should be given to her. After his death, his friend, John Jervis, later Admiral, took it back to England and delivered it to Miss Lowther. It is now in Lowther Castle.
Sir William Johnson (1715-1774), born in Ireland, came to Province of New York, to manage the estates of his uncle on the upper Hudson. He gained great influence over the Indians, and defeated the French under Dieskau at Lake George, 1755. At the siege of Fort Niagara, 1759, when Prideaux was killed he succeeded to the command and received the surrender of the fort.
Wolfe wrote his last despatch to England on a dreary wet Sunday, four days before he fell in battle. His concluding words reflect his state of mind: "My constitution is entirely shattered, without the consolation of having done any considerable service to the state, and without any prospect of it."
On September 1Oth, 1759, Wolfe made an observation from the south shore of the French position across the river, in the hope of finding a spot where a landing might be made, and the Heights of Abraham could be climbed. He and the officers who accompanied him wore private soldiers' coats, to deceive any of the French on the opposite shore who might see his party, and would suppose it to be only a passing patrol.
From his point of observation Wolfe perceived through his glass the narrow path leading from a cove on the river beach up the cliff to the open ground above, and noticed that only a small guard was stationed there. With this knowledge he decided to make a landing there, and three days later succeeded in placing his army on the Plains of Abraham in position to give battle.
The British troops at the Battle of the Plains consisted of six battalions. They were drawn up in a line two men deep, each man rubbed shoulders with his comrades, and the rear rank was a pace behind the front. By this arrangement the rear rank could fire over the shoulders of the man in front of him. This two deep formation was Wolfe's own invention, and is the first "thin red line" in British military history, the previous disposition being a three-deep line.
Four of the battalions were clothed in the uniform common to regular line regiments of the army. One company in each battalion was composed of the tallest and heaviest men. This was known as the Grenadier Company. They wore high conical yellow caps with a tuft at the peak, and decorated in front with a crown and the royal monogram, G.R., beneath it, and immediately above the brow the figure of a running white horse on a red ground, the arms of Hanover. In addition to the usual infantry weapons, they carried stiff black leather pouches in front of their belts, containing grenades, small cannon balls, or bombs, with fuses attached, which they lighted and threw by hand as they advanced. Wolfe, on this occasion, grouped the Grenadier companies of the various regiments into one separate battalion. Another distinctive battalion was the Fraser Highlanders, wearing kilts and Scotch bonnets, and armed with basket-hilted swords as well as muskets. The line regiments wore black three-cornered hats, white knee breeches and stiff pipe-clayed belts and gaiters. All six battalions had red coats, distinguished by yellow, buff or blue facings.
Wolfe himself wore a sharply-cocked black hat, laced with gold braid, a bright new red coat with long skirts tucked back showing the inner lining of blue satin, and white knee breeches, over which were drawn gaiters reaching to mid-thigh and gartered below the knee. He carried a short, straight, cross-hilted sword without a guard, called a hanger. Such swords were more convenient than the longer parade sword for travel in boats or in rough bush-tangled country. The hanger carried by him in the battle is preserved in an English military museum.
The windmill shown in the picture was on the Ste. Foye Road, not far from St.John's Gate. The principal fighting in the battle took place around it.