Register Wednesday | June 7 | 2023

Neither Celebrated Nor Forgotten

The sovereigntist protests over a planned re-enactment of the pivotal 1759 Battle of the Plains of Abraham offer an opportunity for Quebecers to forge a new relationship with their own history.

The letters of British General James Wolfe, who stationed his army of almost 40,000 men across from Quebec City on June 23, 1759, show a man dreaming of revenge. “I must admit, I’d be delighted to see the Canadian vermin pillaged, plundered and repaid for its cruel actions,” he wrote. If the Canadian fighters did not surrender, he promised in his June 27 Proclamation, their families in the backcountry would perish “in the most severe famine this winter.” Wolfe’s threats fell on deaf ears: the eleven thousand Canadian militiamen—one in seven residents—held their ground. This mobilization impressed the governor general of New France, who was convinced right to the end that the English would be defeated.

British Lieutenant-Colonel Robert Monckton’s men, stationed at Pointe-Lévy, began bombarding Quebec City on the night of July 12. After a two-month-long offensive, more than 535 houses had ...

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