Friday, April 8, 2016

G is for Gaspe

Today we travel to Gaspe at the tip of the Gaspe Pennisula, at the far eastern tip of the province of Quebec, a land of heavy snowfall and gusty winds. A little bit of history...

Gaspé claims the title of "Cradle of French America", because on June 24, 1534, Jacques Cartier halted in the bay after losing an anchor during a storm and officially took possession of the area by planting a wooden cross with the king's coat of arms and the sentence Vive le Roi de France (meaning "Long live the King of France"). Cartier met there an indigenous tribe that referred to the territory as Honguedo, probably a Mi'kmaq word meaning "meeting place".

Following the Treaty of Paris in 1763, British officers and soldiers acquired free land in Gaspé. And in 1784, they were joined by many Loyalist settlers. From then on, Gaspé became an important commercial fishing centre, especially of cod. In 1804, its post office opened.

In 1833 in Gaspé County there were only ten farmers, all in the Gaspé Bay area (of whom seven were also involved in the fishery), four whalers in Gaspé Bay, five shipbuilders (one a Jersey firm), one blacksmith, two lumber merchants, five shipowners (all Jerseymen), eighteen fish merchants (of whom all but five were Jerseymen) and thirty-two major fishing establishments (of which sixteen were Jersey owned).

Gaspé was first incorporated as a village municipality in 1855. From 1861 to 1866, the port of Gaspé was a duty-free port, making shipping the primary economic activity. With some 40 to 50 European ships docking annually, many countries opened consulates in Gaspé, including Italy, United States, Brasil, Portugal, and Norway. By 1911, the railroad reached Gaspé. But the town's ambition to become an international shipping and transportation hub ended with the growing importance of the Montreal and Halifax harbours.

During World War II, some 3000 soldiers were stationed at a naval base built at Sandy Beach, in order to patrol the Gulf of Saint Lawrence against German submarines.

Granite Cross at Gaspe

This cross of Gaspé was commissioned by the federal government at a cost of $7,000 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the French explorer Jacques Cartier in the Bay of Gaspé on July 24, 1534. It was unveiled on Aug. 25, 1934.

The granite cross was carved in 1934 from a block of gray granite, extracted from the Auguste Dumas quarry in Rivière-à-Pierre, Quebec. The cross weighs more than 42 tons and was transported to Quebec City on two cars by rail from Rivière-à-Pierre. The cross was then carried on a coaster to the Gaspé dock. From the dock, the cross was drawn on rollers using hoists by one of the first tractors to be used in Gaspé. It was erected in 1934 on its first base using a rail system of pulleys and cables, driven by the strength of many horses and a tractor.

A commemorative plaque located at the foot of the cross of Gaspé was inaugurated on August 23, 2009 (75 years after the erection of the granite cross), in memory of artisans of Rivière-à-Pierre, Quebec who extracted and cut this block of granite which become a monolithic cross.

The cross has been located at three sites in Gaspé. From 1934 to 1979 the Cross of Gaspé was located on Queen Street, facing the current "Place Jacques-Cartier" business center, on the same site of a memorial to the Second World War.

From 1979 to Fall 2012 it was located on the grounds of the Cathedral of Christ-Roi. In October 2012, the cross was moved to a new site "Gaspé, Berceau du Canada" (Gaspé, Cradle of Canada), located on the water near the Gaspé bridge.

Gaspe is 861 km (9 hrs.) from St. Hyacinthe and 693 km (7 hrs. 43 min ) from Quebec City.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

F is for Farnham

In the 1940's my maternal grandparents would take vacations in the summer to the town of Farnham. They rented a little house in the country and enjoyed family time, it was a much needed break from work, school, and the endless bustle of Montreal.

The city of Farnham takes its name from the historic Township of Farnham. The latter is one of the few townships established before 1800, and was named in remembrance of Farnham, UK. The first "Farnhamiens", mostly Loyalists from the United States, arrived in 1800.

1847 - Église de Saint-Romuald established at Farnham

1876 - Farnham incorporated as a town

1916 - Hospital fire fatal to eleven. St. Elizabeth's Hospital at Farnham, Quebec, destroyed. Fire escapes inadequate.

1949 - Canadian Pacific Railway station at Farnham destroyed by fire.

Farham is 45 km (40 min.) from St. Hyacinthe and 238 km 2 hr. 36 min.) from Quebec City.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

E is for Elgin

Elgin Township - One of the smallest municipalities in Québec.
Bounded by the Trout and Chateauguay rivers and the Quebec - United States border, Elgin is a totally rural community of less than 500 people. Its small fields and many stone houses attest to the first Scottish settlers who began arriving in the early 1800s.

In 1855, the Municipality of the Township of Elgin was formed with the present town hall being built in 1869. The councillors and people of Elgin continue to value and protect their 'forgotten corner of Quebec, with its history, quiet roads, forests and rivers.

The first settlers of Elgin were of Scottish origin and this may have accounted for the thrift which has always been exercised in this municipality's affairs. Among the settlers was Joseph Scriver, who provided the first sawmill for the early community.

Later, an American named Buck provided for gristing facilities and saved the people from a long trek to have their grain ground into flour.

Elgin started in 1821 with an American named "Buck", and we've been careful with the "buck" ever since!

Powerscourt Covered Bridge
courtesy -  Percy

The townships of Elgin and Hinchinbrooke are joined by the Powerscourt Covered Bridge as it crosses the Chateauguay River on the First Concession. The Powerscourt Bridge is the only remaining covered bridge in south-western Québec. Of the one hundred and fifteen throughout the province of Québec, the vast majority, some fifty-five, are found within the original Eastern Townships.
The Powercourt Bridge, built in 1861, is the oldest covered bridge in Québec, and the only one in the world built using the McCallum inflexible arched truss.

Elgin is 149 km (2 hrs.) from St. Hyacinthe and 344 km ( 3 hrs. 43 min.) from Quebec City.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

D is for Drummondville

Drummondville is a city in the Centre-du-Québec region of Quebec, located east of Montreal on the Saint-François River.

Drummondville was founded in June 1815 by Lieutenant-Colonel Frederick George Heriot. The purpose of the town was to provide a home for British soldiers in the War of 1812, and to guard the Saint-François River against American attacks. The town was named after Sir Gordon Drummond, the Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada between 1813 and 1816.

1816 - The settlement of Drummondville was commenced in 1816, during the administration of Sir George Drummond.

1826 - Drummondville destroyed by fire June 22, 1826.

1837 - December 11 - Upper Canada Rebellion

Militiaman Thomas Runchey raises a corps of Africans out of the 400 black residents of Niagara; a company of 50 men is in arms by December 15, 1837, under the command of James Sears. A second African company is later raised in Niagara under Hugh Eccles, and the two will be joined to together to form the Coloured Corps with a combined strength of about 130 men. The unit will guard the frontier from Chippewa, Ontario to Drummondville, Québec during that winter. In the summer of 1838, Runchey runs off with the money due to his men and flees to the US.

1856 - Église de Saint-François-d’Assise established at Drummondville.

Butterfly Hosiery Company - c. 1919

The building was built in 1923;
it is used for the dyeing of fabrics. It evokes the 1920s during which manufacturing companies associated with textile are implanted in Drummondville. The main call the Butterfly Hosiery (1919), the Canadian Tire Jenkes Fabrics (1920), the Dominion Silk Dyeing and Finishing (1923), Louis Roessel and Co (1924) and the Canadian Celanese (1926). In 1930, these companies employ some 3,000 people, or 90 percent of the industrial workforce in the city. The factory-Dominion-Silk Dyeing-Printing-and evokes a time when economic activity related to the textile sector is in Drummondville its nickname "City of Silk".

1936 - Église de Saint-Jean-de-Brébeuf established at Drummondville.

1945 - February 24, 1945 - World War II - Mob in Drummondville attacks Royal Canadian Mounted Police and Canadian Provost Corps.

Drummondville is 53 km (41 min.) from St. Hyacinthe and 154 km (1 hr. 49 min.) from Quebec City.

Monday, April 4, 2016

C is for Cote-des-Neiges

Since I was born on the Island of Montreal very close to Cote-des-Neiges I thought a little history was in order.

Historically, the original settlement, the Village of Côte-des-Neiges, was founded in 1862 and annexed by Montreal in two parts in 1908 and 1910. In 1876, land owner and farmer James Swail began residential subdivisions on the eastern side of Decelles Avenue. In 1906, a large housing development was started in the area, called Northmount Heights, built by developer Northmount Land Company. Much of this area has been expropriated by the Université de Montréal.

Probably one of the most memorable sights you will visit is Saint Joseph's Oratory nestled in the slope of Mount Royal.

courtesy- Paola Costa Baldi

In 1904, Saint André Bessette, C.S.C., began the construction of St. Joseph, a small chapel on the slopes of Mont Royal near Notre Dame College. Soon the growing number of the congregation made it too small. In 1917 a larger church was completed that had a seating capacity of 1,000. In 1924, the construction of the basilica of Saint Joseph's Oratory was commenced; it was finally completed in 1967.
Father Paul Bellot, an architect, completed the dome of Saint Joseph's Oratory between 1937-39. The dome is the third-largest of its kind in the world after the Basilica of Our Lady of Peace of Yamoussoukro in Côte d'Ivoire and Saint Peter's Basilica in Rome.
In 1949-1951, architect Gilbert Moreau carried out alterations and improvements to the interior of Saint Joseph's Oratory, as well as to the adjacent monastery, and rearranged the sacristy in the basilica.
The basilica is dedicated to Saint Joseph, to whom Brother André credited all his reported miracles. These were mostly related to some kind of healing power, and many pilgrims (handicapped, blind, ill, etc.) poured into his Basilica, including numerous non-Catholics. On display in the basilica is a wall covered with thousands of crutches from those who came to the basilica and were purportedly healed. Pope John Paul II deemed the miracles to be authentic and beatified Brother André in 1982. In October 2010 Pope Benedict XVI canonized the saint.
A reliquary in the church museum contains Brother André's heart, which he requested as a protection for the basilica. More than 2 million visitors and pilgrims visit the Oratory every year. It is located at 3800 Queen Mary Road, at Côte-des-Neiges (near the Côte-des-Neiges metro station).
Composer Émilien Allard notably served as the church's carillonneur from 1955 to 1975. For RCA Victor he released the LP album Carols at the Carillon of Saint Joseph's Oratory for which he wrote the arrangements.

Cote-des-Neiges is 63 km (1hr)  from St. Hyacinthe and 263 km (3hrs.) from Quebec City.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

B is for Boucherville

I chose Boucherville for the letter B because right before Christmas I met a second cousin on my paternal grandfather's side that resides in the town of Boucherville about 15 minutes from Montreal on the south side of the St. Lawrence River. We now correspond regularly, exchange photographs of our family and have become great friends. Finding him was a gift.

Boucherville is one of the oldest municipalities in Québec. In 1668, Pierre Boucher began farming in the area and 4 years later received his seigneury, consisting of Îles-Percées and the adjacent islands.
Boucher secured the community against Iroquois attack by constructing a palisade. In 1843 a tragic fire destroyed almost the entire village. In 1856, Boucherville divided into 2 distinct municipalities: village and parish. In 1956, the parish lots with frontage on the St Lawrence River rejoined the village and a year later Boucherville was incorporated as a city. In 1963, the remaining territory of the municipality of the parish and the city of Boucherville merged. In 2002, Boucherville lost its municipal status when it was amalgamated into the new city of Longueuil.

courtesy - Bernard Gagnon

Old Boucherville is the original section of the city that contains the former village and Sainte-Famille Church. The neighbourhood is located between Saint-Lawrence River, the boulevards du Fort Saint-Louis, de Montarville et de Montbrun. Many of the buildings there are officially classified as historic monuments.

Iles-de-Boucherville National Park
courtesy - Stephane Batigne

Friday, April 1, 2016

A is for Acton Vale

Since I was born in Montreal, QC my theme for the Blogging A to Z Challenge will be place names and their history within the province of Quebec. I will alternate between St. Hyacinthe and Quebec City as this is where my ancestors lived.

A is for Acton Vale

Acton Vale is a small manufacturing center on the Rivière Le Renne, about 25 km southwest of Drummondville. The first settlers of the township of Acton were either United Empire loyalists or British, especially Scots, who homesteaded the area in the 1830s.
Acton Vale benefited from the building of the St Lawrence and Atlantic Railroad line to Portland in the early 1850s and from the discovery, in 1857, of a rich copper deposit located less than 1 km from the railway station. Even though the various mining operations lasted less than 6 years, they had a tremendous impact on the early development of the community. In 1861 it was incorporated as a village.

1859 - Église de Saint-André established at Acton Vale

1900 - Acton Vale railway station, built by the Grand Trunk Railway, opened in 1900.


The Acton Vale Railway Station (Grand Trunk) expresses the development of the Grand Trunk Company railway in Quebec. The design of this building is based on a standard plan used by the Grand Trunk Railway Company to build several stations between 1895 and 1905 on the line connecting Montréal to Portland Maine. Formed in 1853, the Grand Trunk Railway Company became part of the Canadian National Railway Company after the latter was created in 1919.

It is listed on the National Historic sites of Canada.

Acton Vale is 38.3 km (30 min.) from Saint-Hyacinthe and 190 km (2hrs.) from Quebec City