My second Sunday here in Quebec was spent at the Musée de l’Amérique-Francophone. I took the bus into Vieux-Québec and got off at Station D’Youville. On my way to the museum, I stopped at the McDonalds I’ve been trying to find for lunch.
At 12:45, I took the French language tour of the Séminaire de Québec, which was the germ of what is now Laval University. The first stop was the Chapelle du Musée de l’Amérique-Francophone. Our guide pointed out details of the chapel such as that the delicate wood and pillars are covered in a metal shell convincingly painted to look like marble and gilt and the reliquary contains a piece of the True Cross. The seminary was destroyed in a fire during the nineteenth century and was restored between 1888 and 1900. It is now used by Laval’s school of architecture. We were shown the courtyard of the seminary and some of its private chapels.
When the tour was finished, I went into the Musée de l’Amérique. I explored an exhibit called “Une Colonie Retrouvée/ A Colony Found Again,” which is a multimedia presentation on a short-lived French colony in Quebec at what is now Cap-Rouge.
Jacques Cartier, the explorer who claimed Canada for the French, and the soldier and courtier Jean-François de la Rocque de Roberval were sent by Francis I to form a colony in North America during the 1540s. The colony fell apart in 1543 due to disease, bad weather, hostile Indians, and lack of supplies. Part of the reason why Francis I wanted a colony was to gain mineral wealth. Cartier and Roberval found what they thought was diamonds and gold but was later revealed to quartz and fool’s gold leading to a saying “faux comme les diamants du Canada/ fake as Canadian diamonds.” An interesting story I learned about was that of Marguerite de la Rocque, Roberval’s unmarried niece who had an affair with a young man during the voyage over to Canada. She and her lover were punished for their immorality by being marooned on a remote island, where they had a child. Her lover and their child died of disease and she was eventually rescued by fishermen.
It had been a beautiful day when I left Laval, so I put on a cute summer outfit only to get caught in the rain on my back.
Tuesday night was the third of the excursions I had booked: a ghost tour in Vieux-Québec. We left Laval at eight o’clock at night and we met the tour guide at Le Marrin which was a jail back in colonial times.
Our guide was Jean Rattier, a servant who was convicted of killing a young woman in the Seventeenth Century and sentenced to hang. Luckily for him, Rattier was sentenced to hang around the time that the executioner of Quebec died and he escaped execution by taking the job for himself.
He lead us through Vieux-Québec and we ran into a number of Quebec’s other ghostly residents including Docteur l’Indienne, who is believed to have been Canada’s first serial killers; Jean Hautecoeur, a man who was hung for murder by none other than Jean Rattier; Marie Maréchal, a haunted and hysterical woman out for revenge for the slaughter of her family; La Carriveau, who was put to death for killing her second husband and her dead body was displayed in an iron cage; and Marie Rivière, a fille du roi (a young woman who was sent to the colonies to marry a settler) and the wife of Jean Rattier, who put her in the stocks for theft.
Along the way, we were told facts about colonial Quebec’s judicial system such as that you got your lower lip branded for being caught blaspheming six times and that you could be banished (if you were a man) or sent to a convent (if you were a woman) for adultery. We made it back to Laval around midnight.
After class on Wednesday, I joined a group heading Chateau St. Louis and we took the bus into Vieux-Québec. I started talking to these two girls named Ann and Anastasia during the trip after they noticed the Hamilton pins on my backpack.
Chateau St. Louis was the home of the colonial governors of Quebec. Its ruins are in a museum underneath Chateau Frontenac. We walked through rooms filled with old stone walls and cases filled with cracked dishes and rusted flatware.
In what was once the kitchen, there was a wide oven with a spit roast. The guide explained that in the early nineteenth century, there would have been a wheel powered by a small dog which turned the spit for roasting meat.
One of the items we were shown was a glass bottle for smelling salts and the guide gave us the old story about how women used to wear such tight corsets that they fainted all the time. I’ve worn corsets before; I was out of breath but it was because I am out of shape.
On the way back to catch the bus, Ann, Anastasia, and I stopped at a Chocolat Favoris to get ice cream. Ann and I chatted on the bus about the Hamilton and Percy Jackson and the Olympians/ Heroes of Olympus fandoms. We got back to Laval and exchanged Facebook pages.
I had wanted to return to the Musée des Beaux-Arts on Thursday but the trip was full before I could I could sign up for it. So I decided to sign up for the trip to the Plains of Abraham, which I had planned to do on Friday.
The Plains of Abraham were the sight of the battle a battle during the Seven Years War which handed over control of Canada from the French to the British. On the first floor of the museum are a series of displays teaching about life in Quebec during the battles such as camp tent with information on the women who did the cooking and laundry in the army camps, as well as providing other services.
The second floor has reproductions of uniforms from the different regiments who fought in the battle and dioramas which I took pictures of to share with my dad.
He is a military history buff and my childhood family vacations were spent at places like this. I plan on taking my parents to the Plains of Abraham when they come to visit. There were copies of some of the uniform coats which people could put on and pose for pictures in. For some reason, the coats were weighed down with 30kg worth of weights. The only reason I could think of why they did this is so people wouldn’t steal them.
After the Plains of Abraham, we went to see a Martello tower, one of the British Army fortifications built in Quebec during the 19th Century.
Inside, we were told about what life was like for a soldier living in the fort, learned to drill, and played a word jumble game involving items found around the fort such as fusil “musket” and biscuit. The Martello tower is a place that I am considering taking my parents.