previous page | index | next page


statue cardinal taschereau basilica notre dame catholic cathedral ville de quebec city canada avril april 2012 copyright free photo royalty free photo

So if you turn round and walk 100 metres up the hill, this is what you see. It's the Basilica of Notre Dame, he Catholic Cathedral of Québec.

The original church on this site dates from 1650 but once the Diocese of Québec was created in 1674, a grand and ongoing process of enlargement and embellishment was undertaken, so much so that there was little left of the original building.

There was even less of the original building remaining after the events of 1759. The British used the Cathedral as an aiming point for their artillery and it suffered considerable damage. It was therefore decided to sweep away the ruins, and a new Cathedral was designed by Chaussegros de Léry, who we have met before, and built between 1768 and 1771, with various members of the Baillargé family, whom we have also met before ... "and many times too" - ed ... being responsible for the embellishments and ornaments.

On the 22nd of December 1922 the Cathedral was, as you might expect, devastated by a fire, but was faithfully reconstructed, using the original plans and by reference to old photographs, during the period 1923-1928

The Square in front of the cathedral, the Place de l'Hotel de Ville, was created when the original church was built and for a lengthy period until the construction of the Town Hall, was probably the most important marketplace in the upper town. You saw the Town Hall on the previous page, remember?

It really makes me wonder how it was that back in the 17th Century when they began to give names to the streets and squares and the like, they knew that the Town Hall would be built here 200 years or so later, so that they can give this Square its name.

The person standing on the plinth in the centre by the way is Cardinal Taschereau, whose claim to fame is that he was the first Canadian to be made a Cardinal. His statue was created by André Vermare and erected in 1923.

So what do the city of Quebec and the city of Liverpool have in common?

Yes, they are both important seaports on major rivers with a ferry connection to a town on the other side, but that's not the answer that I want. The answer that I'm looking for is that they both have two cathedrals.

protestant anglican cathedral st trinity ville de quebec city canada avril april 2012 copyright free photo royalty free photo

Probably not 100metres away from the Catholic cathedral, at the back of the Place d'Armes, is the Anglican cathedral - the Cathedral of St Trinity. It's said to have been inspired by the Church of St Martin-in-the-Fields in London and was built in 1804 on land formerly owned by the Order of Recollets. It's also claimed to be the first Anglican cathedral to have been built outside the British Isles.

Incredibly as it might seem today, it was originally built with a flat roof but anyone who knows anything about a more-northerly climate will be fully aware of the weight of a compacted mass of snow, and snow is something that is not in short supply around here. After a few near-misses, in 1816 the design of the roof was changed.

It's pretty much hemmed in here on this site and it isn't possible under any circumstances to take a decent photograph of it. What I'll have to do one of these days when I come back is to blag my way into a third-floor room of the building to my right.

Walking back down the side of the Anglican cathedral, we now find ourselves back in the Place d'Armes, through which we paid a flying visit earlier this morning

palais de justice ministry of finance place d'armes ville de quebec city canada avril april 2012 copyright free photo royalty free photo

If you had been on this spot on the corner of the rue St Louis and the Place d'Armes 250 years ago you would have been looking at the church and convent of the Order of Recollets but at the end of the 18th Century, as I'm sure that you can guess without any help from me, those two buildings were burnt to the ground.

The site was used for the Palais de Justice, which was built between 1883 and 1887 and the design is said to have been inspired by the early-16th Century chateaux on the River Loire in France.

The Palais de Justice is no longer here, and the building is occupied by the Ministry of Finances, which reminds me of an incident from my days back in the Headquarters of the European Commission back in the mid-1990s, at the height of the "Julie and Melissa" scandal

It was at the dinner given by the European Commission to celebrate the accession of Austria to the European Union, and the Austrian President was introducing his Ministers to the assembled Ministers of the other Governments.
"This is ...X..., our Minister of Defence; this is ...Y..., our Minister of the Interior; this is ...Z... our Minister of the Navy ... "
"What do you mean Navy'?" interrupted the British Foreign Secretary. "Austria is a completely land-locked country. You don't have a 'Navy' to be Minister of!"
"Well" replied the Austrian President, "if Belgium can have a Minister of Justice, we are going to have a Minister of the Navy".

old post office musee du fort place d'armes ville de quebec city canada avril april 2012 copyright free photo royalty free photo

From my vantage point for the above photo, if I turn to look over my right shoulder I can see the rear of the Old Post Office, a building which we saw from closer quarters earlier in the day during our walk around the fortifications but the curious white building to the left of centre is the Musée du Fort.

You might think that, given the style of the building, it is one of the oldest buildings in the city but in fact it was built in 1840 and it was during a renovation of 1898 that it acquired its "Neuschwanstein" style.

I'm told that it hosts a giant model of the city as it appeared during the 18th Century and which displays some detailed descriptions and scenes of the various battles that have taken place in and around the city. I might well have gone for a wander around in there had I had the time.

You might, by the way, have noticed a dramatic deterioration in the weather during a couple of these more recent photographs. In fact the deterioration is nothing like as dramatic as you might think because I came around the square twice - once in mid-morning when we really did have some glorious weather, and then again in early evening, and I've merged the two groups of photographs.

rue st anne place d'armes statue samuel champlain hotel union tourist information ville de quebec city canada avril april 2012 copyright free photo royalty free photo

So back to mid-morning again and I'm here on the boardwalk looking across the Place d'Armes towards the rue St Anne.

Now I can understand them dumping a cage around a set of works on the deck, after all, crazy Health and Safety rules have started to arrive over here. Dumping a set of pallets right up against a statue however - that's just gratuitous and unaesthetic. It made me wonder if it is a statue of General Wolfe and we were preparing for a "burning in effigy" after the 5th September 2012.

Much to my surprise however, it turns out to be a statue of Samuel Champlain, erected in 1898 "in homage to the Father of Nouvelle France". Well, well, well!

Over there on the other side of the square is the old Hotel Union, built between 1805 and 1812 and in its day was the leading hotel in the city.

Today it houses the Tourist Information Office and so I wandered over there to pick up a street map of the city (which I subsequently lost). To my credit, because I'm always a great believer in people admitting that they have a trumpet and being prepared to blow it - after all, no-one else will blow my trumpet for me, not even the much-maligned Percy Penguin, who doesn't appear in these pages half as often as she ought - when the girl at the counter filled in her survey form after she had served me with brochures and I gave my nationality as British, she went all of a fluster and a panic
"would you like our literature in English then?".
She hadn't realised that I wasn't French until I said that. Mind you, anyone who can understand the Québecois accent should have no difficulty understanding my French accent.

place d'armes monument de la foi faith ville de quebec city canada avril april 2012 copyright free photo royalty free photo

This is the centre of the Place d'Armes, and luckily a conveniently-placed urn hides a dark blue portacabin. However there is nothing to hide the grey one and so I'll have to resort to Paint Shop Pro to edit it out when I find a free five minutes.

In the centre of the square is a statue - the Monument de la Foi, or "Monument to Faith". Designed by David Ouellet, who we shall meet again on our travels, it was erected in 1916 to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the arrival of Father Dolbeau, the first priest to come to Québec, as well as the subsequent evangelical work of the Order of the Recollets.

We're now going to head for the Casse-cou stairs, because the next stage of our journey is going to be in the lower town.

place d'armes chateau frontenac ville de quebec city canada avril april 2012 copyright free photo royalty free photo

On our way down the hill, there's a good view of the magnificent Chateau Frontenac from yet another angle. We can't resist including symbolic shots of the city's iconic masterpiece as it towers over the Musee du Fort in the Place d'Armes.

And while you contemplate its magnificence, I'll just nip off up the street to the right of here because it's almost lunchtime. A coffee and a sandwich will go down well right now. I've earned them, I reckon.

While I was sitting quietly drinking my coffee and eating my butty, I was reading the local newspaper. In goal for the Montreal Whatsits during their assault on the North American Soccer League is a certain Donovan Ricketts. He's the goalkeeper for the Jamaican national side and I remember him from the World Cup whenever it was that Jamaica qualified for the final stages.

I also noticed that out at Baie St Paul the previous day a circus lorry caught fire and in the confusion, an elephant, a lion and a tiger escaped and were wandering all over the road. It was a shame that I hadn't come here a couple of days earlier (although maybe it isn't, given the dreadful weather of the last couple of days).

If you were with me 18 months earlier on the Trans-Labrador Highway you will recall that I was encountering all kinds of wildlife on my way around. An elephant, a lion and a tiger caught on camera in the wilderness would have certainly topped all of that.

But that wasn't all the excitement either. Some youth, clearly having been too close to the barmaid's apron, came over to me and accused me of stealing something of his that he had left behind on a table.

Calmly, I allowed him to search through my jacket and my backpack, and once he had finished I told him that it was now my turn to take the initiative and that I would like to discuss the matter further with him outside.

I propelled him towards to the door but once it was opened, he slipped out of my grasp and was off up the street like a ferret up a trouser leg.

That was the last that I saw of him.

How extraordinary! I shook my head and went to continue my walk.

back to top

next page



**** NEW ****


AND ...


page last modified 10:24 - 3rd April 2014
site last modified