Élisabeth was married exactly 350 years ago today, on October 26, 1671. It was a Monday. Was it a cool and blustery day, as late-October days are wont to be in Québec? Or was it unseasonably warm? What did she wear? Was there a celebratory meal afterwards? But most importantly, how did she feel about […]

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The Augustines

When the first three Augustine nuns sailed up the St. Lawrence in 1639, Québec City was no more than a fur-trading post. There were a handful of rustic commercial buildings by the river and, up on the hill, a small fort, a chapel, and a scattering of isolated dwellings. Part of a religious community from

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Mary Ann

Mary Ann was a slave who worked in her master’s house near Québec City’s Place Royale. In August of 1777, she left his house without permission and, presumably, fled the city forever. Where did she come from? How did she get there in the first place? There is really no way to know. In the

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Neighborhood Names, Part I

In the spring of 1756, the port city of Brest, France, hosted a handful of senior French army officers: Lévis, Senezergues, Bougainville, Bourlamaque, Montcalm. They were there to organize and accompany the massive force being sent to North America. War was on again with the British, and they were needed across the ocean for the

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Krieghoff’s Québec

Cornelius Krieghoff lived a peripatetic existence. Born in Amsterdam in 1815, he spent his formative years all over Europe: Germany, Austria, Italy, France. He studied music and art, bathing in the currents of nineteenth-century romanticism. By the middle of the century, he had made his way to North America, first to the United States, then

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Bernini and Louis XIV

In the spring of 1665, Gian Lorenzo Bernini arrived in Paris having been summoned by the court of Louis XIV. The Louvre was to be remodeled so as to better reflect the magnificence of Louis le Grand, and the great Italian master was just the man they needed for the job. Painter, poet, architect, and

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The Duke of Richmond

Charles Lennox, Duke of Richmond, was 53 when he came to Québec City and nearing the end of a career that, though prestigious, was remarkable for being…unremarkable. As a military man, he had attained the rank of general, but had authored no heroics. He was elected four times to the House of Commons, where he

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Le Jardin Jeanne d’Arc

Joan of Arc was long dead by the time the idea of a new France was sparking the imagination of sixteenth-century monarchs. And she was ancient history by the enlightened eighteenth century, when the French and English were fighting on the Plains of Abraham. By the early twentieth century, however, Joan was prominent again in

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From the Ashes

In 2008, a fire broke out at Québec City’s Drill Hall, known to locals as the Manège Militaire. As it burned overnight from the 4th to the 5th of April, Québecers turned out by the thousands to watch firefighters’ efforts to stem the inferno. The neighborhood was illuminated by the high flames and dark smoke

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