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Title: A Canadian Manor and Its Seigneurs: The Story of a Hundred Years, 1761-1861

Author: George McKinnon Wrong

Release date: September 25, 2005 [eBook #16747]
Most recently updated: December 12, 2020

Language: English

Original publication: Toronto: The Bryant Press, Limited, 1908

Credits: Produced by Juliet Sutherland, Taavi Kalju and the Online
Distributed Proofreading Team at
Produced from page scans provided by Internet
Archive/Toronto Collection.


Colonel John Nairne
Colonel John Nairne








Copyright, Canada, 1908
by George M. Wrong

Pg iii


In spite of many pleasant summers spent at Murray Bay one had never thought of it as having a history. The place and its people seemed simple, untutored, new. Some of the other summer residents talked complacently even of having discovered it. They had heard of Murray Bay as beautiful and had gone to explore this unknown country. When this bold feat was performed there was abundant recompense. Valley, mountain, river and stream united to make Murray Bay delightful. The little summer community grew. At first visitors lived in the few primitive hotels or in cottages at Pointe au Pic, vacated for the time being by their owners, who found temporary lodgings somewhere,—not infrequently in their own out-buildings. The cottages left something to be desired, and, gradually, the visitors bought land and built houses for themselves: to-day dozens of them dot the western shore of Murray Bay. In due time appeared tennis courts; then a golf links. Murray Bay had become, alas, almost fashionable.

Pg iv

It still seemed to have no past. True, near the village church, a fair-sized house stood, embowered in trees, with a fine view out over the bay and the wide St. Lawrence. A high fence shut in a beautiful old garden, with a few great trees: as one drove past one got a glimpse of shady walks and old-fashioned flowers. The extensive out-buildings near this manor house, stables, carriage-house, dairy, showed that the establishment was fairly large. There were sleek cattle in the farm yard. On one of the out-buildings was a small belfry, with a bell to summon the work-people from afar to meals, and this seemed like the olden times when the seigneur fed his labourers under his own roof. On making a formal call at the manor house one noted that some of the rooms were of fine proportions and that a good many old portraits and miniatures hung on the walls. This all spoke of a past; and yet of it one asked little and knew nothing.

Just across the bay stood another manor house; of stone, too, in this case not concealed by a covering of wood. Thick walls crowned by a mansard roof spoke of a respectable age. This manor house, also looked out on the bay and across the St. Lawrence. One knew that it was namedPg v Mount Murray Manor, while that on the right bank of the river Murray was called Murray Bay Manor. It was said vaguely that a Colonel Fraser had dwelt at Mount Murray and a Colonel Nairne at Murray Bay; but all that one heard was loose tradition and there were no Nairnes or Frasers of whom one might ask questions. One could see that, in both places, something like an old world dignity of life had in the past been kept up.

Making a call at the Murray Bay Manor House, I was told one day of a manuscript volume in which the first seigneur had copied some of his letters. I begged to be allowed to spend an afternoon or two in looking through it. I went and went again. To me the book was absorbing. It told the story of the first people of British origin who went to settle at Malbaie, which they named Murray Bay, just after the British conquest; of the career of a soldier brother of Colonel Nairne who died in India not long after Plassey; of campaigns fought by Colonel Nairne during the period of the American Revolution; of his plans and hopes as the ruler of the little community where he settled. When I had read the book through, I asked if there was not something more. Yes, there were some old letters, preservedPg vi in a lumber room at the top of the house. These I was allowed to see. This task, too, was of great interest and I spent the better part of a summer holiday reading, analyzing, and copying letters. Some of them told of the schoolboy days, in Edinburgh, of the old Colonel's son and heir, the second seigneur, of this son's life at Gibraltar at the time when Trafalgar was fought, of his return to Canada, of campaigns in the war of 1812. Then there were touching letters from others to tell how he fell at the battle of Crysler's Farm. So intimate were the letters that one experienced again the hopes and fears of more than a century ago. In time, out of the dimness in which all had been shrouded, Murray Bay's history became clear. Of course one had to seek some information elsewhere, especially in attempting an analysis of French Canadian village life. But the story told in this volume is based chiefly on the papers read during that holiday. Not only did they enable one to reconstruct the story of a spot made almost sacred by the joys of many a delightful summer; they furnished, besides, an outline of the tragic history of a Canadian family. Here at Murray Bay, a century and a half ago, a brave and distinguished British officer securedPg vii a great estate and made his home. In his letters we read almost from day to day of his plans. He had a strong heart and a deep faith. He reared a large family and built not merely for himself but for his posterity. And yet, just one hundred years after he began his work at Murray Bay, the last of his descendants was laid in the grave and the family became extinct. It is the fashion of our modern fiction to end the tale in sorrow not in joy. Perhaps the fashion has a more real basis in fact than we like to think. At any rate this true story of the seigneur of Murray Bay ends with the closed record of his family history on a granite monument in Quebec. There is no one living for whom the tale has the special interest that attaches to one's ancestors.

I have received help from many but my deepest obligation is to Mr. E.J. Duggan, the present seigneur of Murray Bay, for his great kindness in permitting me to use the letters and papers in the Manor House. I owe much to the Right Honourable Sir Charles Fitzpatrick, who has taught me, in many holiday outings, most of what appreciation I have learned for French Canadian village life, and has corrected errors into which I should otherwise have fallen. SoPg viii also have Mr. W.H. Blake, K.C., of Toronto, a good authority on all that concerns life at Murray Bay, and M. J.-Edmond Roy, Assistant Archivist at Ottawa, whose "Histoire de la Seigneurie de Lauzon" and many other works relating to the Province of Quebec entitle him to the rank of its foremost historical scholar. To another authority on the seigniorial system in Canada, Professor W. Bennett Munro, of Harvard University, I am much indebted for information readily given. My colleagues Professor W.J. Alexander, Ph.D., of University College, and Professor Pelham Edgar, Ph.D., of Victoria College, Toronto, have given me the benefit of their discriminating criticism. Dr. A.G. Doughty, C.M.G., Dominion Archivist, and the Rev. Abbé A.E. Gosselin of Laval University, have responded with unfailing courtesy to my numerous calls upon them, and Mr. John Fraser Reeve, the great-grandson of Colonel Malcolm Fraser, who figures so prominently in the story, has given me invaluable information about the Fraser family. Dr. J.M. Harper and M. P.-B. Casgrain, of Quebec, and Mr. A.C. Casselman, of Toronto, have also aided me on some difficult points. To the Honourable Edward Blake, K.C.,Pg ix of Toronto, I am indebted for reproductions of some of his paintings of scenes at Murray Bay, and to the Honourable Dudley Murray, of London, England, for a photograph of the portrait of General Murray preserved in the General's family.

Toronto, July, 1908.

Pg xi


The Founding of Malbaie
The situation of Malbaie.—The physical features of Malbaie.—Jacques Cartier at Malbaie.—Champlain at Malbaie.—The first seigneur of Malbaie.—A new policy for settling Canada.—The Sieur de Comporté, seigneur of Malbaie, sentenced to death in France.—His career in Canada.—His plans for Malbaie.—Hazeur, Seigneur of Malbaie.—Malbaie becomes a King's Post.—A Jesuit's description of Malbaie in 1750.—The burning of Malbaie by the British in 1759. 1
The Two Highland Seigneurs at Malbaie
Pitt's use of Highlanders in the Seven Years' War.—The origin of Fraser's Highlanders.—The career of Lord Lovat.—Lovat's son Simon Fraser and other Frasers at Quebec.—Malcolm Fraser and John Nairne future seigneurs of Malbaie.—The Highlanders and Wolfe's victory.—The Highlanders in the winter of 1759-60.—Malcolm Fraser on Murray's defeat in April, 1760.—The return of Canadian seigneurs to France.—General Murray buys Canadian seigniories.—Nairne and Fraser at Malbaie.—Their grants from Murray. 22
John Nairne, Seigneur of Murray Bay
Colonel Nairne's portrait.—His letters.—The first Scottish settlers at Malbaie.—Nairne's finance.—His tasks.—The curé's work.—The Scottish settlers and their French wives.—The Church and Education.—Nairne's efforts to makePg xii Malbaie Protestant.—His war on idleness.—The character of the habitant.—Fishing at Malbaie.—Trade at Malbaie.—Farming at Malbaie.—Nairne's marriage,—Career and death in India of Robert Nairne.—The Quebec Act and its consequences for the habitant. 40
John Nairne in the American Revolution
Nairne's work among the French Canadians.—He becomes Major of the Royal Highland Emigrants.—Arnold's march through the wilderness to Quebec.—Quebec during the Siege, 1775-76.—The habitants and the Americans.—Montgomery's plans.—The assault on December 31st, 1775.—Malcolm Fraser gives the alarm in Quebec.—Montgomery's death.—Arnold's attack.—Nairne's heroism.—Arnold's failure.—The American fire-ship.—The arrival of a British fleet.—The retreat of the Americans.—Nairne's later service in the War.—Isle aux Noix and Carleton Island.—Sir John Johnson and the desolation of New York.—Nairne and the American prisoners at Murray Bay.—Their escape and capture.—Nairne and the Loyalists.—The end of the War.—Nairne's retirement to Murray Bay. 62
The Last Days of John Nairne
Nairne's careful education of his children.—His son John enters the army.—Nairne's counsels to his son.—John Nairne goes to India.—His death.—Nairne's declining years.—His activities at Murray Bay.—His income.—His daughter Christine and Quebec society.—The isolation of Murray Bay in Winter.—Signals across the river.—Nairne's reading.—His notes about current events.—The fear of a French invasion of England.—Thoughts of flight from Scotland to Murray Bay.—Nairne's last letter, April 20th, 1802.—His death and burial at Quebec. 93
Thomas Nairne, Seigneur of Murray Bay
His education in Scotland.—His winning character.—He enters the army.—Malcolm Fraser's counsels to a young soldier.—Thomas Nairne's life at Gibraltar.—His desire to retire from the army.—His return to Canada in 1810-11.—His life at Quebec.—His summer at Murray Bay, 1811.—His resolve to remain in the Army.—Beginning of the War of 1812.—Captain Nairne on Lake Ontario.—Quebec Society and the proposed flight from danger to Murray Bay.—Anxiety at Murray Bay.—The progress of the War.—An American attack on Kingston.—Captain Nairne on the Niagara frontier.—Naval War on Lake Ontario.—Nairne's description of a naval engagement.—Sense of impending disaster at Murray Bay.—The American advance on Montreal by the St. Lawrence.—Nairne's regiment a part of the opposing British force.—The Battle of Crysler's Farm.—Nairne's death.—His body taken to Quebec.—The grief of the family at Murray Bay.—The funeral. 124
A French Canadian Village
Life at Murray Bay after Captain Nairne's death.—Letters from Europe.—Death of Malcolm Fraser.—Death of Colonel Nairne's widow and children.—His grandson John Nairne, seigneur.—Village Life.—The Church's Influence.—The Habitant's tenacity.—His cottage.—His labours.—His amusements.—The Church's missionary work in the Village.—The powers of the bishop.—His visitations.—The organization of the Parish.—The powers of the fabrique.—Lay control of Church finance.—The curés' tithe.—The best intellects enter the Church.—A native Canadian clergy.—The curé's social life.—The Church and Temperance Reform.—The diligence of the curés.—The habitant's taste for the supernatural.—The belief inPg xiv goblins.—Prayer in the family.—The habitant as voter.—The office of Churchwarden.—The Church's influence in elections.—The seigneur's position.—The habitant's obligations to him.—Rent day and New Year's Day.—The seigneur's social rank.—The growth of discontent in the villages.—The evils of Seigniorial Tenure.—Agitation against the system.—Its abolition in 1854.—The last of the Nairnes.—The Nairne tomb in Quebec. 168
The Coming of the Pleasure Seekers
Pleasure seeking at Murray Bay.—A fisherman's experience in 1830.—New visitors.—Fishing in a mountain lake.—Camp life.—The Upper Murray.—Canoeing.—Running the rapids.—Walks and drives.—Golf.—A rainy day.—The habitant and his visitors. 222
Appendix A (p. 31) The Journal of Malcolm Fraser, First Seigneur of Mount Murray, Malbaie. 249
Appendix B (p. 38) Title Deed of the Seigniory of Murray Bay, granted to Captain John Nairne. 271
Appendix C (p. 78) The Siege of Quebec in 1775-76. Colonel Nairne's Narrative. 273
Appendix D (p. 98) Memorandum of Colonel Nairne, 5th April, 1795, for his son John Nairne in regard to military duty. 277
Appendix E (p. 104) The "Porpoise" (Beluga or White Whale) Fishery on the St. Lawrence. 279
Appendix F (p. 122) The Prayer of Colonel Nairne. 286
Appendix G (p. 144) The Curés of Malbaie. 287

Pg xv


Colonel John Nairne
(From the Oil Painting in the Manor House at Murray Bay.)
Cap à l'Aigle From the West Shore of Murray Bay
(From the Water Colour by the late L.R. O'Brien, in the possession of the Hon. Edward Blake, K.C.)
View Across Murray Bay From the Cap à l'Aigle Shore
(From an Oil Painting by E. Wyly Grier, in the possession of the Hon. Edward Blake.)
General James Murray
(From an Oil Painting preserved in the General's Family.)
The Manor House at Murray Bay
(From amateur photographs.)
View from Pointe au Pic up Murray Bay
(From a Water Colour by the late L.R. O'Brien in the possession of the Hon. Edward Blake.)
The Golf Links at Murray Bay
(From a Photograph by W. Notman and Son, Montreal.)


The St. Lawrence From Quebec to Murray Bay 1
Sketch Map of Lake Ontario and the River St. Lawrence to Illustrate the War of 1812-14 148


Pg 1

A Canadian Manor and Its Seigneurs


The Founding of Malbaie

The situation of Malbaie.—The physical features of Malbaie.—Jacques Cartier at Malbaie.—Champlain at Malbaie.—The first seigneur of Malbaie.—A new policy for settling Canada.—The Sieur de Comporté, seigneur of Malbaie, sentenced to death in France.—His career in Canada.—His plans for Malbaie.—Hazeur, Seigneur of Malbaie.—Malbaie becomes a King's Post.—A Jesuit's description of Malbaie in 1750.—The burning of Malbaie by the British in 1759.

If one is not in too great a hurry it is wise to take the steamer—not the train—at Quebec and travel by it the eighty miles down the St. Lawrence to Malbaie, or Murray Bay, as the English call it, somewhat arrogantly rejecting the old French name used since the pioneer days of Champlain. This means an early morning start and six or seven hours—the steamers are not swift—on that great river. Only less than a mile apart are its rugged banks at Quebec but, even then, they seem to contract the mighty torrent of water flowing between them. Once past Quebec the river broadens into a great basin, across which we see the head of the beautiful Island of Orleans. We skirt, on the south side, the twenty miles of the island's well wooded shore, dotted with thePg 2 cottages of the habitants, stretched irregularly along the winding road. Church spires rise at intervals; the people are Catholic to a man. Once past this island we begin to note changes. Hardly any longer is the St. Lawrence a river; rather is it now an inlet of the sea; the water has become salt; the air is fresher. So wide apart are the river's shores that the cottages far away to the south seem only white specks.

Hugging the north shore closely we draw in under towering Cap Tourmente, fir-clad, rising nearly two thousand feet above us; a mighty obstacle it has always been to communication by land on this side of the river. Soon comes a great cleft in the mountains, and before us is Baie St. Paul, opening up a wide vista to the interior. We are getting into the Malbaie country for Isle aux Coudres, an island some six miles long, opposite Baie St. Paul, was formerly linked with Malbaie under one missionary priest. The north shore continues high and rugged. After passing Les Eboulements, a picturesque village, far above us on the mountain side, we round Cap aux Oies, in English, unromantically, Goose Cape, and, far in front, lies a great headland, sloping down to the river in bold curves. On this side of the headland we can see nestling in under the cliff what, in the distance, seems only a tiny quay. It is the wharf of Malbaie. The open water beyond it, stretching across to Cap à l'Aigle, marks the mouth ofPg 3 the bay. The great river, now twelve miles broad, with a surging tide, rising sometimes eighteen or twenty feet, has the strength and majesty almost of Old Ocean himself.

As we land we see nothing striking. There is just a long wharf with some cottages clustered at the foot of the cliff. But when we have ascended the short stretch of winding road that leads over the barrier of cliff we discover the real beauties of Malbaie. Before us lies the bay's semi-circle—perhaps five miles in extent; stretching far inland is a broad valley, with sides sloping up to rounded fir-clad mountain tops. It is the break in the mountains and the views up the valley that give the place its peculiar beauty. When the tide is out the bay itself is only a great stretch of brown sand, with many scattered boulders, and gleaming silver pools of water. Looking down upon it, one sees a small river winding across the waste of sand and rocks. It has risen in the far upland three thousand feet above this level and has made an arduous downward way, now by narrow gorges, more rarely across open spaces, where it crawls lazily in the summer sunlight:—les eaux mortes, the French Canadians call such stretches. It bursts at length through the last barrier of mountains, a stream forty or fifty yards wide, and flows noisily, for some ten miles, in successive rapids, down this valley, here at last to mingle its brown waters with the ice-cold, steel-tinted, St. Lawrence.

Pg 4

When the tide is in, the bay becomes a shallow arm of the great river,—the sea, we call it. The French are better off than we; they have the word "fleuve" for the St. Lawrence;—other streams are "rivières." Almost daily, at high water, one may watch small schooners which carry on the St. Lawrence trade head up the bay. They work in close to shore, drop their anchors and wait for the tide to go out. It leaves them high and dry, and tilted sometimes at an angle which suggests that everything within must be topsy-turvy, until the vessel is afloat again. With a strong wind blowing from the north-east the bay is likely to be, at high tide, an extremely lively place for the mariner; a fact which helps perhaps to explain the sinister French name of Malbaie. The huge waves, coming with a sweep of many miles up the broad St. Lawrence, hurl themselves on the west shore with surprising vehemence, and work destruction to anything not well afloat in deep water, or beyond the highest of high water marks. At such a time how many a hapless small craft, left incautiously too near the shore, has been hammered to pieces between waves and rocks!

Tired wayfarers surveying this remote and lovely scene have fancied themselves pioneers in something like a new world. In reality, here is the oldest of old worlds, in which pigmy man is not even of yesterday, but only of to-day. This majestic river, the mountains clothed in perennialPg 5 green, the blue and purple tints so delicate and transient as the light changes, have occupied this scene for thousands of centuries. No other part of our mother earth is more ancient. The Laurentian Mountains reared their heads, it may be, long before life appeared anywhere on this peopled earth; no fossil is found in all their huge mass. In some mighty eruption of fire their strata have been strangely twisted. Since then sea and river, frost and ice, have held high carnival. Huge boulders, alien in formation to the rocks about them, have been dropped high up on the mountain sides by mighty glaciers, and lie to-day, a source of unfailing wonder to the unlearned as to how they came to be there.

Man appeared at last upon the scene; the Indian, and then, long after, the European. In 1535, Jacques Cartier, the first European, as far as we know, to ascend the St. Lawrence, creeping slowly from the Saguenay up towards the Indian village of Stadacona, on the spot where now is Quebec, must have noted the wide gap in the mountains which makes the Malbaie valley. Not far from Malbaie, he saw the so-called "porpoises," or white whales, (beluga, French, marsouin) that still disport themselves in great numbers in these waters, come puffing to the surface and writhe their whole length into view like miniature sea-serpents. They have heads, Cartier says, with no very great accuracy, "of the style of a greyPg 6hound," they are of spotless white and are found, he was told (incorrectly) only here in all the world. He anchored at Isle aux Coudres where he saw "an incalculable number of huge turtles." He admired its great and fair trees, now gone, alas, and gave the island its name—"the Isle of Hazel Nuts"—which we still use. For long years after Cartier, Malbaie remained a resort of its native savages only. Perhaps an occasional trader came to give these primitive people, in exchange for their valuable furs, European commodities, generally of little worth. In time the Europeans learned the great value of this trade and of the land which offered it. So France determined to colonize Canada and in 1608, when Champlain founded a tiny colony at Quebec, the most Christian King had announced a resolution to hold the country. Ere long Malbaie was to have a European owner.

Cap à l'Aigle from the West Shore of Murray Bay
Cap à l'Aigle from the West Shore of Murray Bay
"A great headland sloping down to the river in bold curves."

As Champlain went up from Tadousac to make his settlement of Quebec he noted Malbaie as sufficiently spacious. But its many rocks, he thought, made it unnavigable, except for the canoes of the Indians, whose light craft of bark can surmount all kinds of difficulties. Perhaps Champlain is a little severe on Malbaie which, when one knows how, is navigable enough for coasting schooners, but his observations are natural for a passing traveller. In the years after Quebec was founded no more can be said of MalPg 7baie than that it was on the route from Tadousac to Quebec and must have been visited by many a vessel passing up to New France's small capital on the edge of the wilderness. In the summer of 1629 the occasional savages who haunted Malbaie might have seen an unwonted spectacle. Three English ships, under Lewis Kirke, had passed up the river and to him, Champlain, with a half-starved force of only sixteen men, had been obliged to surrender Quebec. Kirke was taking his captives down to Tadousac when, opposite Malbaie, he met a French ship coming to the rescue. A tremendous cannonade followed, the first those ancient hills had heard. It ended in disaster to France, and Kirke sailed on to Tadousac with the French ship as a prize.

When peace came France began more seriously the task of settling Canada. Though inevitably Malbaie would soon be colonized, it was still very difficult of access. A wide stretch of mountain and forest separated it from Quebec; not for nearly two hundred years after Champlain's time was a road built across this barrier. Moreover France's first years of rule in Canada are marked by conspicuous failure in colonizing work. The trading Company—the Company of New France or of "One Hundred Associates"—to which the country was handed over in 1633, thought of the fur trade, of fisheries, of profits—of anything rather than settlement, and never lived up to its promises toPg 8 bring in colonists. It made huge grants of land with a very light heart. In 1653 a grant was made of the seigniory of Malbaie to Jean Bourdon, Surveyor-General of the Colony. But Bourdon seems not to have thought it worth while to make any attempt to settle his seigniory and, apparently for lack of settlement, the grant lapsed. Even the Company of New France treasured some idea that would-be land owners in a colony had duties to perform.

After thirty years France at length grew tired of the incompetence of the Company and in 1663 made a radical change. The great Colbert was already the guiding spirit in France and colonial plans he made his special care. Louis XIV too was already dreaming of a great over-sea Empire. The first step was to take over from the trading Company the direct government of the colony. The next was to get the right men to do the work in New France. An excellent start was made when, in 1665, Jean Talon was sent out to Canada as Intendant. He had a genius for organization. Though in rank below the Governor he, with the title of Intendant, did the real work of ruling; the Governor discharged its ceremonial functions. Talon had a policy. He wished to colonize, to develop industry, to promote agriculture. In his capacious brain new and progressive ideas were working. He brought in soldiers who became settlers, among them the first real seigneur ofPg 9 Malbaie. An adequate military force, the Carignan regiment, came out from France to awe into submission the aggressive Iroquois, who long had made Montreal, and even Quebec itself, unsafe by their sudden and blood-thirsty attacks. Travelling by canoe and batteau the regiment went from Quebec up the whole length of the St. Lawrence, landed on the south shore of Lake Ontario, and marched into the Iroquois country. With amazement and terror, those arrogant savages saw winding along their forest paths the glittering array of France. Some of their villages were laid low by fire. The French regiment had accomplished its task; with no spirit left the Iroquois made peace.

A good many officers of the Carignan regiment, with but slender prospects in France, decided to stay in Canada and to this day their names—Chambly, Verchères, Longueuil, Sorel, Berthier and others are conspicuous in the geography of the Province of Quebec. Malbaie was granted to a soldier of fortune, the Sieur de Comporté, who came to Canada at this time, but apparently was not an officer of the Carignan Regiment. His outlook at Malbaie cannot have been considered promising, for Pierre Boucher, who in 1664 published an interesting account of New France, declared the whole region between Baie St. Paul and the Saguenay to be so rugged and mountainous as to make it unfit for civilized habiPg 10tation. But Philippe Gaultier, Sieur de Comporté, was of the right material to be a good colonist. Born in 1641 he was twenty-four years of age when he came to Canada. Already he had had some stirring adventures, one of which might well have proved grimly fatal had he not found a refuge across the sea. Comporté, then serving as a volunteer in a Company of Infantry led by his uncle, La Fouille, was involved in one of the bloody brawls of the time that Richelieu had made such stern efforts to suppress. The Company was in garrison at La Motte-Saint-Heray in Poitou. On July 9th, 1665, one of its members, Lanoraye, came in with the tale of an insult offered to the company by a civilian in the town. Lanoraye had been marching through the streets with a drum beating, in order to secure recruits, when one Bonneau, the local judge, attacked him, and took away the drum. Lanoraye rushed to arouse his fellow soldiers. When Comporté and half a dozen other hot-heads had listened to his tale, they cried with one voice, "Let us go and demand the drum. He must give it up." So at eight or nine o'clock at night they set out to look for Bonneau. They came upon him unexpectedly in the streets of the town. He was accompanied by seven or eight persons with whom he had supped and all were armed with swords, pistols or other weapons. When Lanoraye demanded the drum, Bonneau was defiant and told him toPg 11 go away or he should chastise him. The inevitable fight followed. Comporté, whose own account we have, says that it lasted some time and the results were fatal. Comporté declares that he himself struck no blows but the fact remains that two of Bonneau's party were so severely wounded that they died. Comporté and the rest of the Company soon went to Canada. In their absence he and others were sentenced to death.

In Canada he appears to have behaved himself. In France a simple volunteer, in New France he became an important citizen. Talon trusted him and made him Quarter-Master-General. In 1672 Comporté received an enormous grant of land stretching along the St. Lawrence from Cap aux Oies to Cap à l'Aigle, a distance of some eighteen miles, including Malbaie and a good deal more. About the same time he married Marie Bazire, daughter of one of the chief merchants in the colony, by whom he had a numerous family. So eminently respectable was he that we find him churchwarden at Quebec. In time he retired from trade, in which he had engaged, and became a judge of the newly established Court of the Prévôté at Quebec. This was not doing badly for a man under sentence of death. But over him still hung this affair in France and, in 1680, he petitioned the King to have the sentence annulled. For this petition he secured the support of the familiesPg 12 of the men killed in the quarrel fifteen years earlier. In 1681 Louis XIV's pardon was registered with solemn ceremonial at Quebec, and at last Comporté was no longer an outlaw.

He had plans to settle his great fief. Working in his brain no doubt were dreams of a feudal domain, of a seigniorial chateau looking out across the great river, of respectful tenants paying annual dues to their lord in labour, kind, and money, of a parish church in which over the seigniorial pew should be displayed his coat of arms. But if these pictures inspired his fancy and cheered his spirit, they were never to become realities. In 1687 he was, apparently, in need of money, and he resolved to sell two-thirds of his interest in the seigniory of Malbaie. The price was a pitiful 1000 livres, or some $200, and the purchasers were François Hazeur, Pierre Soumande and Louis Marchand of Quebec, who were henceforth to get two-thirds of the profits of the seigniory. Then, in 1687, still young—he was only forty-six—Comporté died, as did also his wife, leaving a young family apparently but ill provided for. His name still survives at Malbaie. The portion of the village on the left bank of the river above the bridge is called Comporté, and a lovely little lake, nestling on the top of a mountain beyond the Grand Fond, and unsurpassed for the excellence of its trout fishing, is called Lac à Comporté; it may be that well-nighPg 13 two and a half centuries ago the first seigneur of Malbaie followed an Indian trail to this lake and wet a line in its brown and rippling waters.

Comporté and his partners in the seigniory had planned great things. They had begun the erection of a mill, an enterprise which Comporté's heirs could not continue. So the guardian of the children determined to sell at auction their third of the seigniory. The sale apparently took place in Quebec in October, 1688. We have the record of the bids made. Hazeur began with 410 livres; one Riverin offered 430 livres; after a few other bids Hazeur raised his to 480 livres; then Riverin offered 490 and finally the property was sold to Hazeur for 500 livres. Malbaie was cheap enough; one third of a property more than one hundred and fifty square miles in extent sold for about $100! In 1700 for a sum of 10,000 livres ($2,000) Hazeur bought out all other interests in the seigniory and became its sole owner. Its value had greatly improved in 22 years.

Of Hazeur we know but little. He was a leading merchant at Quebec and was interested in the fishing for "porpoises" or white whales. When he died in 1708 he left money to the Seminary at Quebec on condition that from this endowment, forever, two boys should be educated; for the intervening two centuries the condition has been faithfully observed; one knows not how many youths owe their start in life to the giftPg 14 of the former seigneur of Malbaie. There, however, no memory or tradition of him survives. In his time some land was cleared. The saw mill and a grist mill, begun by Comporté, were completed and stood, it seems, near the mouth of the little river now known as the Fraser but then as the Ruisseau à la Chute. Civilization had made at Malbaie an inroad on the forest and was struggling to advance.

On Hazeur's death in 1708 his two sons, both of them priests, inherited Malbaie. Meanwhile the government developed a policy for the region. It resolved to set aside, as a reserve, a vast domain stretching from the Mingan seigniory below Tadousac westward to Les Eboulements, and extending northward to Hudson Bay. The wealth of forest, lake, and river, in this tract furnished abundant promise for the fur and other trade of which the government was to have here a complete monopoly. Malbaie was necessary to round out the territory and so the heirs of Hazeur were invited to sell back the seigniory to the government. The sale was completed in October, 1724, when the government of New France, acting through M. Begon, the Intendant, for a sum of 20,000 livres (about $4,000) found itself possessed of Malbaie "as if it had never been granted," of a saw mill and a grist mill, of houses, stables and barns, gardens and farm implements, grain, furniture, live stock, cleared land, cut wood and allPg 15 other products of human industry there in evidence.[1]

Within the reserve, in addition to Malbaie, were a number of trading posts—Tadousac, Chicoutimi, Lake St. John, Mistassini, &c. In this great tract the government expected to reap large profits from its monopoly of trade with the Indians. Some of the fertile land was to be used for farms which should produce food supplies for the posts. The Intendant had sanguine hopes that the profit from trade and agriculture would aid appreciably in meeting the expense of government. It was, we may be well assured, an expectation never realized.

We get a glimpse of Malbaie in 1750 as a King's post. There were two farms, one called La Malbaie, the other La Comporté. The two farmers were both in the King's service and, in the absence of other diversions, quarrelled ceaselessly. The rePg 16gion, wrote the Jesuit Father Claude Godefroi Coquart, who was sent, in 1750, to inspect the posts, is the finest in the world. He reported, in particular, that the farm of Malbaie had good soil, excellent facilities for raising cattle, and other advantages. Only a very little land had been cleared, just enough wheat being raised to supply the needs of the farmer and his assistants. The place should be made more productive, M. Coquart goes on to say, and the present farmer, Joseph Dufour, is just the man to do it. He is able and intelligent and if only—and here we come to the inherent defect in trying to do such pioneer work by paid officials who had no final responsibility—he were offered better pay the farm could be made to produce good results. The old quarrel with the farmer at La Comporté had been settled; now the farmer of Malbaie was the superior officer, rivalry had ceased, and all was peace.

Coquart gives an estimate of the farming operations at Malbaie which is of special interest as showing that, if the old régime in Canada did not produce good results, it was not for lack of criticism. Better cattle should be raised, he says; at Malbaie one does not see oxen as fine as those at Beaupré, near Quebec, or on the south shore. The pigs too are extremely small, the very fattest hardly weighing 180 pounds; in contrast, at La Petite Rivière, above Baie St. Paul, the pigs are huge; one could have good breeds without greatPg 17 expense; it costs no more to feed them and [a truism] there would be more pork! Of sheep too hardly fifty are kept at Malbaie through the winter; there should be two or three hundred. From the two farms come yearly only thirty or forty pairs of chickens.

Father Coquart's census is as rigorous and unsparing of detail as the Doomsday Book of William the Conqueror. He tells exactly what the Malbaie farm can produce in a year; the record for the year of grace 1750 is "4 or 6 oxen; 25 sheep, 2 or 3 cows, 1200 pounds of pork, 1400 to 1500 pounds of butter, one barrel of lard,"—certainly not much to help a paternal government. The salmon fishery should be developed, says Coquart. Now the farmers get their own supply and nothing more. Nets should be used and great quantities of salmon might be salted down in good seasons. Happily, conditions are mending. The previous farmer had let things go to rack and ruin but now one sees neither thistles nor black wheat; all the fences are in place. Joseph Dufour has a special talent for making things profitable. If he can be induced to continue his services, it will be a benefit to his employer. But he is not contented. Last year he could not make it pay and wished to leave. Nearly all his wages are used in the support of his family. He has three grown-up daughters who help in carrying on the establishment, and a boy for the stables. The best paid ofPg 18 these gets only 50 livres (about $10) a year; she should get at least 80 livres, M. Coquart thinks. Dufour has on the farm eight sheep of his own but even of these the King takes the wool, and actually the farmer has had to pay for what wool his family used. Surely he should be allowed to keep at least half the wool of his own sheep! If it was the policy of the Crown to grant lands along the river of Malbaie there are many people who would like those fertile areas, but there is danger that they would trade with the Indians which should be strictly forbidden. So runs M. Coquart's report. It was rendered to one of the greatest rascals in New France, the Intendant Bigot, but he was a rascal who did his official tasks with some considerable degree of thoroughness and insight. He knew what were the conditions at Malbaie even if he did not mend them.

After 1750 the curtain falls again upon Malbaie and we see nothing until, a few years later, the desolation of war has come, war that was to bring to Canada, and, with it, to Malbaie, new masters of British blood. After long mutterings the war broke out openly in 1756. In those days the farmer at Malbaie who looked out, as we look out, upon the mighty river would see great ships passing up and down. Some of them differed from the merchant ships to which his eye was accustomed. They stood high in the water. Ships came near the north shore in those days andPg 19 he could see grim black openings in their sides which meant cannon. Already Britain had almost driven France from the sea and these French ships, which ascended the St. Lawrence, were few. Then, in 1759, happened what had been long-expected and talked about. Signal fires blazed at night on both sides of the St. Lawrence to give the alarm, when not French, but British ships, sailed up the river, a huge fleet. They stopped at Tadousac and then slowly and cautiously filed past Malbaie. On a summer day the crowd of white sails scattered on the surface of the river made an animated scene. In wonder our farmer and his helpers watched the ships silently advance to their goal. There were 39 men-of-war, 10 auxiliaries, 70 transports and a multitude of smaller craft carrying some 27,000 men; it was the mightiest array Britain had ever sent across the ocean. New France was doomed.

The French fought bravely a campaign really hopeless. Montcalm massed his chief force at Quebec and there awaited attack. In vain had he appealed to France for further help; he was left unaided to struggle with a foe who had command of the sea, whose fleet could pass up and down before Quebec with the tide and keep the French guards for twenty miles in constant nervous tension as to where a landing might be made. Wolfe carried on his work relentlessly. He warned the Canadians that he would ravagePg 20 their villages if they did not remain neutral. Neutral it was almost impossible for them to be for the French urged them in the other direction. With stern rigour, Wolfe meted out to them his punishment. He sent parties to burn houses and destroy crops and Malbaie was not spared. On August 15th, 1759, Captain Gorham reported to Wolfe that with 300 men, one half of them Rangers from the English colonies, the other half Highlanders, he had devastated the north shore of the St. Lawrence. The soldiers did their work thoroughly. From Baie St. Paul, the last considerable village east of Quebec, they went on thirty miles to Malbaie where they destroyed almost all of the houses. We do not know whether the competent Dufour was still the farmer at Malbaie. But all the fine pictures of better cattle, better pigs and sheep, better farming, better fishing, ended with the applying of the British soldiers' torch to the wooden buildings: much of the settlement went up in smoke. Some of the cattle, pigs and sheep found their way perhaps to Wolfe's commissariat. But a good many were left and no doubt they are the ancestors of many of the cattle, sheep and pigs we see at Malbaie still. This first visit of Americans and Highlanders to Malbaie has its special interest. A few years later Highlanders came again, not to destroy but to settle, and to become the ancestors of families that to this day show their HighlandPg 21 origin in their names and in their faces, but never a trace of it in their speech or in their customs.[2] The Americans were longer in coming back. But, after more than a hundred years they, too, were to come again, not to destroy but in a very literal sense to build; their many charming cottages now stretch along the shore of the Bay that looks across to Cap à l'Aigle.

View across Murray Bay from the Cap à l'Aigle Shore
View across Murray Bay from the Cap à l'Aigle Shore
(The farther point: Cap aux Oies, the nearer Pointe au Pic)

Pg 22


The Two Highland Seigneurs at Malbaie

Pitt's use of the Highlanders in the Seven Years' War.—The origin of Fraser's Highlanders.—The career of Lord Lovat.—Lovat's son Simon Fraser and other Frasers at Quebec.—Malcolm Fraser and John Nairne, future seigneurs at Malbaie.—The Highlanders and Wolfe's victory.—The Highlanders in the winter of 1759-60.—Malcolm Fraser on Murray's defeat in April, 1760.—The return of Canadian seigneurs to France.—General Murray buys Canadian seigniories.—Nairne and Fraser at Malbaie.—Their grants from Murray.

The great British fleet which has passed up beyond Malbaie to Quebec is important for our tale. It carried men who have since become world famous; not only Wolfe but Jervis, afterward Lord St. Vincent, Cook, the great navigator, Guy Carleton, who saved Canada for Britain during the American Revolution, and many others of lesser though still considerable fame. But for Malbaie the most interesting men in that great array were those connected with the 78th, or Fraser's, Highlanders. On the decks of the British ships were hundreds of these brawny, bare-legged and kilted sons of the north, speaking their native Gaelic, and on occasion harangued by their officers in that tongue. A few years earlier many of them had served under Prince Charles Stuart to overPg 23throw, if possible, King George II, and the house of Hanover; now they were fighting for that King against their old allies the French. Unreal in truth had been the rising in behalf of the Stuarts. Scotland had no grievances: she did not wish to dissolve the union with England, and if the tyranny of any royal house troubled her it was that of the Stuarts, alien from most Scots in both religious and political thought. But when, in 1745, some of the chieftains called out their clansmen, loyalty made these heed the summons, though half-heartedly. The same devotion was now given to the house of Hanover. Years earlier Duncan Forbes of Culloden, one of the noblest and wisest Scots of his age, had urged Walpole to call the Highlanders to fight Britain's battles. The hint was not then taken but later, Pitt, the greatest war minister Britain has ever had, revived Forbes's plan. Some Highland regiments were formed. The Highland dress that had been proscribed after Culloden as the brand of treason was now given its place in Britain's battle array: ever since it has played there its creditable part. Wolfe called his Highland companions in arms the most manly lot of officers he had ever seen.

The Highland regiment that came with Wolfe to Quebec was known as Fraser's Highlanders because recruited chiefly from that ancient and powerful Scottish clan. In the rising of 1745 the Frasers had supported the Stuart cause andPg 24 they suffered when that cause was lost. In 1747 the head of the clan, Simon Fraser, Lord Lovat, an old man of 80, perished on the scaffold for his treason. The details of Lovat's career are amazing. In one aspect he was a wild, half barbarous Highland chieftain, in another one of the polished gentlemen and courtiers of his time. He was devoured by the ambition to be the most powerful man in Scotland. In that age others, more reputable than Fraser, found it wise to stand well with both royal houses, but he surpassed them all in tortuous treachery. In the rising of 1715 he was on the Whig side; in 1745 he was forced at last to come out openly for the Stuarts. For neither side did he really care: he was merely serving his own ends. Considering his deeds it is a wonder that he so long escaped the scaffold. When he was a young man a certain Baroness Lovat stood in the way of his own claims to be the heir to the title of Lovat; so he offered to marry this lady's daughter and thus end the dispute. When his advances were refused he determined to use force and seized Lady Lovat's residence, Castle Dounie, only to find that the young lady had been spirited away. He resolved on the spot to marry her mother who was in the castle. She was a widow of thirty-four, he a man of thirty, so the disparity of age was not great. Stories of what happened vary, but it is said that in the dead of night a clergyman was brought to LadyPg 25 Lovat's chamber and she was forced to go through the form of marriage, the bag-pipes playing in the next room to drown her cries. The lady was connected with the great house of Atholl who warred on Fraser with fire and sword. Outlawed, he escaped to the Continent to survive for half a century of intrigue and treason.

Though profligate, cruel, treacherous and avaricious, so smooth was Lovat's address, so profound his knowledge of Scotland, and so strong his hold upon his own clansmen, that he always remained a man to be reckoned with. Since he served on the Hanoverian side in 1715 George I granted a pardon for his many offences; for his treason in 1745 George II let him go to the block. His last days in London were like those of a dying saint. He wrote to his son Simon Fraser, who led Fraser's Highlanders at Quebec in 1759, a beautiful spiritual letter. To the Major of the Tower he said he was going to Heaven where, he added, "very few Majors go." He was gay on his last morning:—"I hope to be in heaven by one o'clock or I should not be so merry now,"—and expressed his pity for those who "must continue to crawl a little longer in this evil world." He took what he called an eternal farewell from some of those about him: "we shall not meet again in the same place; I am sure of that." He practised kneeling at the block so that he might do it with dignity on the scaffold. A great crowd assembled toPg 26 witness his execution and a platform fell killing several people. "The more mischief, the better sport," said Lord Lovat grimly, but he wondered that so many should come to see the taking off of his "old grey head." He carefully felt the edge of the executioner's axe to make sure that it was sharp.

No doubt there was a touch of madness in Lord Lovat but the Fraser clan was devoted to him. By his treason all his honours and estates were forfeited. At the time his heir, Simon Fraser, only twenty-one years old, was a prisoner in the Castle of Edinburgh, attainted for high treason. But so good was his conduct that in 1750 he received a pardon. Then, a penniless man, he was called to the Scottish Bar. But another career was in store for him. Some years later when Pitt formed his design to use the Highlanders in the Seven Years' War he made Simon Fraser Colonel of a battalion, to be raised on the forfeited estates of his family and from the clan of which he was head. Success was instantaneous. Within a few weeks Fraser was at the head of some 1500 men. They wore the Highland dress, with a sporran of badger's or otter's skin and carried musket and broadsword; some of them wore a dirk at their own cost. Among the officers were no less than five Simon Frasers,[3] three or four eachPg 27 of Alexander Frasers and John Frasers, and a good many other Frasers, among them a young Ensign, Malcolm Fraser, destined to rule one of the seigniories at Malbaie for more than half a century. Other Scottish names also appear, Macnabs, Chisholms, Macleans, and among them John Nairne who, like Malcolm Fraser, spent the best part of his life at Malbaie.

The head of the Nairne clan, a John Nairne, third Baron Nairne, had fought for the Stuarts in 1745. He died an exile in France. Of how close kin to him was the young Highland Officer, John Nairne, who settled later at Malbaie, we do not know. His family was of course Jacobite. In "Waverley" Sir Walter Scott mentions a Miss Nairne with whom he says he was acquainted, and this lady appears to have been one of the sisters of Captain John Nairne. In 1745, as the Highland army rushed into Edinburgh, Miss Nairne was standing with some ladies on a balcony, when a shot, discharged by accident from a Highlander's musket, grazed her forehead. "Thank God," she said, "that the accident happened to me whose principles are known; had it befallen a Whig [the name then identified with the anti-Jacobite party] they would have said it was done on purpose."[4] At Murray Bay there is still a miniature portrait of Prince Charlie given it is said by himself to Miss Nairne.

Pg 28

Before fighting under Wolfe John Nairne had followed the Dutch flag. Just before the rising of 1745, when a youth of only 17, he, like a great many others of his countrymen, is found serving in the well known "Scots Brigade"; many years later at Malbaie, he tells in his letters, of old companions in this service with well known Scottish names—Bruce, Maclean, Seton, Hepburn, Campbell, Dunbar, Dundass, Graham, and so on. In the pay of Holland Nairne remained for some nine years. He made, he says, "long voyages" possibly to the Dutch possessions in the far East. But he was glad of the chance to serve his own land which came when Britain, embarked upon the Seven Years' War, was anxious to recall her banished sons and to find soldiers, Scots or of any other nationality, who would fight her battles. So John Nairne left the Dutch service to join the 78th Highlanders and henceforth his loyalty to the house of Hanover was never questioned. From the first, since Scotland offered only a poor prospect of a career, Nairne may have thought of remaining in the new world when the war should end. The Highlander of that day, like the Irishman, found better chances abroad than at home. Unlike Nairne, Malcolm Fraser, a younger man, had not seen foreign service. The two met for the first time when, in 1757, they both joined the 78th Highlanders. Soon they became fast friends and for nearly half a century they were to live in the closest relations.

Pg 29

Fraser's Highlanders had landed at Halifax in Nova Scotia in June, 1757. Their dress seemed unsuited to both the severe winters and the hot summers of North America and a change of costume was proposed; but officers and men protested vehemently and no change was made. During the campaigns in America the Highlanders boasted, not with entire truth as we shall see, that they with their bare legs enjoyed better health than those who wore breeches and warm clothing. At Louisbourg they did well. At Quebec a Highland officer's knowledge of French proved a great boon. When, in the darkness of the momentous morning of September 13th, 1759, Wolfe's boats were drifting down with the tide close to the north shore near Quebec, intending to land and scale the heights at what is now Wolfe's Cove, a French sentry called out sharply from the bank, "Qui vive?" A Highland officer, who had served in Holland, was able to reply "France!" without betraying his nationality.

"A quel régiment?" demanded the sentry.

"De la reine," answered the Highlander, giving the name of a well-known French regiment commanded by Bougainville; and then he added in a low voice, "Ne faites pas de bruit; ce sont les vivres"—for a convoy with provisions was expected by the French. The Highlanders were at the forefront in the stiff climb up the heights which proved to be Wolfe's master stroke. MalPg 30colm Fraser has left his own account of that morning's work. The troops, he says, had been in the boats since nine o'clock on the previous night. At about twelve they had set out with a falling tide and they landed just as day was breaking. The light infantry struggled up the hill first, the French meanwhile firing on the boats, killing and wounding some of the occupants; but "the main body of our army soon got to the upper ground, after climbing a hill or rather a precipice, of about three hundred yards, very steep and covered with wood and brush." By ten the army was drawn up in order of battle,—"in a masterly manner," John Nairne said later,—on the Plains of Abraham, the bag-pipes of the Highlanders screaming a wild defiance to the foe. Then followed that brief death grapple, fatal to the leader on each side. Fraser and his Highlanders, we are told, rushed at the enemy with their broadswords in such irresistible fury that they were driven with a prodigious slaughter into the town. The Highlanders suffered as much after the battle as in it, for General Murray led them to reconnoitre in the direction of the General Hospital and a good many were shot by the French from bushes and from houses in the suburbs of St. Louis and St. John. To the French the Highlanders seemed especially ferocious, possibly owing to the wild music of their pipes, their waving tartans, their terrible broadswords, and perhaps, also, theirPg 31 partially naked bodies. They were indeed christened "the savages of Europe."

Not many days after Wolfe's victory the Highlanders marched into Quebec with the victorious army. The French garrison was sent away to Europe, the British fleet itself soon followed, and the conquerors, with General Murray in command, settled down to face for the first time the rigours of a winter at Quebec. The Highlanders suffered terribly. One suspects that, in spite of their protests, the Highland costume was ill-suited to meet the severity of the climate; and, in any case, the army was ill-fed, ill-housed, and overworked. Malcolm Fraser kept a journal,[5] but Nairne, the other future seigneur at Malbaie, the most methodical of men, was less ready with the pen and appears to have made no chronicle of those slow but momentous days. The bitter weather was the dread enemy. Fraser tells how men on duty lost fingers and toes and some were even deprived of speech and sensation in a few minutes through "the incredible severity of the frost.... Our regiment in particular is in a pitiful situation having no breeches. Nothing but the last necessity obliged any man to go out of doors." Colonel Simon Fraser is, he adds, doing his best to provide trousers. Pitying nuns observed the need and soon busied themselves knitting longPg 32 hose for the poor strangers. The scurvy carried off a good many. In April, 1760, of 894 men in Fraser's Highlanders not fewer than 580 were on the sick list and it was a wan and woe-begone host that set itself grimly to the task of meeting the assault on Quebec for which the French under Lévis had been preparing throughout the winter.

When it came on April 28th, 1760, the Highlanders were not wanting. Instead of fighting behind Quebec's crazy walls Murray marched his men out to the Plains of Abraham to meet the enemy in the open. On ground half covered by snow, with here and there deep pools of water from the heavy rain of the previous day, the two armies grappled in what was sometimes a hand to hand conflict. Of the British one-third had come from the hospital to take their places in the ranks. The proportion of the Highlanders who did this was even greater; half of them rose on that day from sick beds. It proved a dark day for Britain. Murray was defeated, losing about one-third of his army on the field. Four of the Highland officers were killed, twenty-three were wounded, among them Colonel Simon Fraser himself. Malcolm Fraser was dangerously wounded; but he tells us gleefully that within twenty days he was entirely cured. Nairne seems to have gone through the fight without a hurt. It was surely by a strange turn of fortune that men, some of whom fought against George II in '45Pg 33 and had been condemned as traitors, should fifteen years later shed their blood like water for the same sovereign. Malcolm Fraser was disposed to be critical of Murray's tactics. He ought to have stood like a wall on the rising ground near Quebec, says Fraser; but "his passion for glory getting the better of his reason he ordered the army to march out and attack the enemy ... in a situation the most desired by them and [that] ought to be avoided by us as the Canadians and Savages could be used against us to the greatest advantage in their beloved ... element, woods." Nearly half a century later when Malcolm Fraser was giving advice to a young officer, Nairne's son, he advised him not to be too critical of the actions of his superiors. The confident young diarist of 1760 had meanwhile learned reserve. But he was not alone among the Highlanders in his criticism of Murray. A Murray led at Culloden in April, 1746, as at Quebec in April, 1760. Lieutenant Charles Stewart was wounded in both battles; as he lay in Quebec surrounded by brother officers he said, "From April battles and Murray generals, Good Lord deliver me." It is to General Murray's credit that, when the remark was repeated to him, he called on his subordinate to express the hope for better luck next time.

A little later Quebec was saved by the arrival of a British fleet and the French fell back on Montreal. Murray followed them but the HighPg 34landers remained in garrison at Quebec, apparently because, with half the officers and men invalided, they could make but a poor muster for active campaigning. It thus happened that Nairne and Fraser did not share the glory of being present at the fall of Montreal. There, on a September day in 1760, the Governor of Canada, the Marquis de Vaudreuil, handed over to General Amherst, the Commander-in-Chief in America of the armies of Great Britain, the vast territory which he had ruled. It was not certain, albeit the great Pitt was resolved what to do, that, when the war ended, the country would not be handed back to France. The French officers professed, indeed, to believe that a peace was imminent by which France should save what she held in America. Meanwhile, however, they and their regiments were to be sent to France. The few residents at Malbaie whom Captain Gorham had spared, looking out across the river in October, 1760, saw it dotted with the white sails of many ships outward bound. Though they floated the British flag, their decks were crowded with the soldiers of France now carried home by the triumphant conqueror.

But more than the soldiers went back to France. Rather than live under the sway of the British, many civilians also left Canada, among them some of the seigneurs of Canadian manors. Land was cheap in Canada and it is not to be wondered at that young British officers, seeking their fortune,Pg 35 should have thought of settling in the country. A hundred years earlier French officers of the Carignan Regiment had abandoned their military careers to become Canadian seigneurs. In the end John Nairne and Malcolm Fraser took up this project most warmly and in their plan to get land they had the support of their commanding officer, General Murray. Murrays, Nairnes and Frasers had all fought on the Jacobite side in 1745; and we know how the Scots hold together.

General James Murray
General James Murray

James Murray, son of a Scottish peer, Lord Elibank, was himself still a young man of only a little more than thirty,—a high-spirited, brave, generous and impulsive officer. His family played some considerable part in the life of the time and they were always suspected of Jacobite leanings. Murray's brother, Lord Elibank, was a leader among the Scottish wits of his day. Dr. Johnson's famous quip against the Scots when he defined oatmeal as a food in England for horses and in Scotland for men was met by Elibank's neat retort: "And where will you find such horses and such men?" Another brother, Alexander, was a forerunner of John Wilkes the radical; the cry of "Murray and Liberty" was heard in London long before that of "Wilkes and Liberty." A third brother, George became an admiral. General James Murray sometimes described himself as a soldier of fortune. He was certainly not rich. Yet now when many of the Canadian seigneurs sold their manors,Pg 36 in some way Murray was able to purchase half a dozen of these vast estates. He bought that of Lauzon opposite Quebec on which now stands the town of Levis and half a dozen villages. He bought St. Jean and Sans-Bruit (now Belmont), near Quebec, Rivière du Loup and Madawaska, on the lower St. Lawrence, and Foucault on Lake Champlain.

To Nairne and Fraser, brave young Scots, who had done good service, Murray was specially attracted. Nairne, though only a lieutenant, till 1761, when he purchased a captaincy, was his junior by but a few years; Lieutenant Malcolm Fraser was three years younger than Nairne. The young men were seeking their fortunes but since they had very little money to buy estates, as Murray did, they could not expect to get land in the more settled parts of the country. For them Malbaie was a promising field and in September, 1761, they went down to have a look at it. The property was vested in the government, for which Murray could act. It was not wholly untrodden wilderness, for some land was cleared and a good deal of live stock still remained. The houses too had not been entirely destroyed by Gorham's men. The war had not yet ended. It was still uncertain whether Britain would hold Canada. But, for the moment, there was little to do. It was possible that in Canada further opportunities of military service would not be wanting. AsPg 37 seigneurs in Canada the young officers would retain rank as gentlemen and would not sink to the social level of mere cultivators of the soil. The experience too of founding settlements in the Canadian wilderness had compensations. Good sport was always to be had. They could pay at least annual visits to Quebec for a few weeks, and were, perhaps, hardly more remote from the cultivated world than some of the chieftains in their own Scottish Highlands.

The survey of Malbaie must have proved satisfactory. It is true, as the young officers said, that there was an over-abundance of "mountains and morasses," with good land scattered only here and there. But in their formal proposals to Murray they made this fact the plea for the grant of a larger area. Nairne apparently had greater resources than Fraser and, being now a captain, was his senior in rank. He asked for the more important tract lying west of the little river at Malbaie and stretching to the seigniory of Les Eboulements, Fraser for that lying east of the river and stretching some eighteen miles along the St. Lawrence to the Rivière Noire. The grants were to extend for three leagues into the interior. They were to be held under seigniorial tenure but Nairne asked for 3000 acres of freehold and Fraser for 2000. They thus close their petition to Murray: "This [request], if his Excellency is pleased to grant, will make the proposers extremely happy,Pg 38 and they shall forever retain the most grateful remembrance of his bounty; and [they] hope his Excellency will be pleased in the grant to allow them to give the lands to be granted such a name as may perpetuate their sense of his great kindness to them." They got what they asked for. It may indeed be doubted whether Murray had any right to allot huge areas of land in a country which had not yet been ceded finally to Great Britain, but any defects of title in this respect were corrected long after by new grants under the great seal. As it was, Murray wrote on a sheet of ordinary foolscap, still preserved at Murray Bay, a brief deed of the land[6] and, behold, the two young officers have become landed proprietors! To their request for permission to use Murray's name, in grateful remembrance of his kindness, he also assented. Nairne's seigniory was to be called Murray's Bay and Fraser's Mount Murray. The grants were made because "it is a national advantage and tends to promote the cultivation of lands within the province to encourage His Majesty's natural-born subjects settling within the same"; and the consideration was "the faithful services" rendered by the two officers.

A good deal of stock and farm implements remained at Malbaie and this the new proprietors arranged to buy, giving in payment their promissory notes, Nairne's for £85, 6s. 8d., currency andPg 39 Fraser, who got only one-third, his for £42, 13s. 4d. They seem to have had a good deal for their money. There were a score and a half or so of cattle, four or five horses, (one of them twenty-two years old), twenty sheep, fourteen pigs, besides chickens and other living creatures. In addition there were waggons and other farm appliances, most of them probably old and of little use, though they must have helped to tide over the first difficult days when everything would have to be provided.

On getting his grant Nairne retired from the army on half pay, but Fraser remained on active service for many years still. Thus Nairne was the more continuously resident at Murray Bay and in its development he played the greater part. Fraser's interests were divided, not only between Murray Bay and the army, but also between Murray Bay and another seigniory which he secured on the south side of the river at Rivière du Loup and known as Fraserville. For us therefore the interest at Murray Bay now centres chiefly in Nairne and his family.

Pg 40


John Nairne, Seigneur of Murray Bay

Colonel Nairne's portrait.—His letters.—The first Scottish settlers at Malbaie.—Nairne's finance.—His tasks.—The curé's work.—The Scottish settlers and their French wives.—The Church and Education.—Nairne's efforts to make Malbaie Protestant.—His war on idleness.—The character of the habitant.—Fishing at Malbaie.—Trade at Malbaie.—Farming at Malbaie.—Nairne's marriage.—Career and death in India of Robert Nairne.—The Quebec Act and its consequences for the habitant.

In the dining room of the Manor House at Murray Bay Nairne's portrait still hangs. It was painted, probably in Scotland, when he was an old man, by an artist, to me unknown. The face is refined, showing kindliness and gentleness in the lines of the mouth, and revealing the "friendly honest man" that he aspired to be. His nose is big and in spite of the prevailing gentleness of demeanour the thin lips, pressed together, indicate some vigour of character. He has the watery eye of old age and this takes away somewhat from the impression of energy. It is not a clever face but honest, rather sad, and unmistakeably Scottish in type. Nairne wears the red coat of the British officer and a wig in the fashion of the time. The portrait might be one of a frequenter of court functions in London rather than that ofPg 41 a hardy pioneer at Murray Bay, who had carried on a stern battle with the wilderness.

Nairne was a good letter writer. To his kin in Scotland he sent from the beginning voluminous annual epistles. They are not such as we now write, hurriedly scratched off in a few minutes. With abundant time at his disposal Nairne could write what must have occupied many days. When written, the letters were sometimes copied in a book almost as large as an office ledger. It is well that this was done, for in this book is preserved almost the sole record of the life at Murray Bay of a century and a half ago. The pages are still fresh and the handwriting, while not that of one much accustomed to use the pen, is clear and vigorous. The zeal for copying letters was intermittent. There are gaps, covering many years. Then, for a time, not only the letters sent, but those received, are copied into the book. In the long winter evenings there was not much to do. Malcolm Fraser, it is true, lived just across the river at the neighbouring manor house. But Malcolm was more usually away than not. Besides, as one grows older, there is no place like one's own fireside of a winter evening. So our good seigneur read and dozed and wrote and we are grateful that he has told us so much about past days.

Nairne's first visit to Malbaie was, as we have seen, in the autumn of 1761, when he took posPg 42session of his seigniory. Not until the following year was the formal grant made by Murray. Long afterwards, in 1798, writing to a friend, Hepburn, in Scotland, Nairne recalled his arrival at his future home. "I came here first in 1761 with five soldiers [alas, we do not know their names!] and procured some Canadian servants. One small house contained us all for several years and [we] were separated from every other people for about eighteen miles without any road." He contrasts this with what he sees about him at the time of writing—a parish with more than five hundred inhabitants, with one hundred men capable of bearing arms, grist mills, fisheries, good houses and barns, fertile fields, a priest, a chapel, and so on. The five soldiers of whom Nairne speaks were no doubt men of the 78th Highlanders and ancestors of a goodly portion of the population of Malbaie at the present time. Perhaps some of them had fought at Culloden; certainly all fought at Louisbourg and Quebec.

In the first days at Murray Bay Nairne was in debt. In 1761, probably to purchase his captaincy, he had incurred a considerable obligation to his friend General Murray; where Murray got £400 to lend him is a mystery, for he was himself always pressed for funds. With everything to do at Murray Bay, mills to be built, roads to be opened, a manor house to be constructed, it was not easy to get together any money; for years the debtPg 43 hung like a mill-stone round Nairne's neck. But he had always a certain, if small, revenue in his half pay and, in time, he acquired, chiefly by inheritance, what was, for that period in Canada, a considerable fortune. In 1766, when Nairne was in Scotland, General Murray, who had himself just arrived from Canada, wrote urgently to ask for payment. Murray owed to a Mr. Ross £8,000 and could not borrow one shilling in England on his estates in Canada; so he said "delay will be a very terrible disappointment to me." But this disappointment he had to bear. In 1770 the debt was still unpaid and may have remained so for some years longer. Happily the friendship between the former comrades was not impaired by their financial relations. Murray promised to put Nairne in the way of being "very comfortable and easy" in Canada, if he would follow his advice, but nothing came of his offer. For some years after 1761 Nairne thought of returning to Scotland, whither ties of kin drew him strongly. But his father's death in 1766 or 1767 helped to weaken these ties. In any case Scotland offered no career and he must do something to pay the debt to Murray and to provide for himself.

Nairne's chief task as seigneur was to put settlers on his huge tract. The seigneur, indeed, discharged functions similar to those of a modern colonization company, but with differences that in some respects favour the older system. Now-Pg 44a-days the occupier buys the land and the colonization company gets the best possible price for what it has to sell; it can hold for a rise in value and, if it likes, can refuse to sell at all. Nairne had no such powers. Under the law, if a reputable person applied for land, he must let him have it. Settlers required no capital to buy their land, and, as long as they paid their merely nominal rent, they could not be disturbed in their holdings. The rent amounted to about one cent an acre, and some twenty cents or a live capon for each of the two or three arpents of frontage which a farm would have. The rent charge was uniform and depended not upon the quality of the land or upon the individual seigneur but upon what was usual in the district; moreover, under the French law, no matter how valuable the land became, the rent could not be increased and, though so trifling, it was rarely required until the settler's farm had begun to be productive. Sometimes in a single year Nairne would put as many as twenty brawny young fellows on his land to hew out homes for themselves. Each of them got a tract of about one hundred acres and, as the annual rental received for a dozen farms would be hardly more than twenty dollars, the seigneur reaped no great profit from his tenants. It was only when a tenant sold a holding, that the seigneur secured any considerable sum. To him then went one-twelfth of the price. The other chief source of profit,Pg 45 as settlement increased, was from the seigneur's mill. To it all the occupiers of his land must bring their grain and pay a fixed charge for its grinding. In scattered settlements the mill brought little profit and was a source of expense rather than of income. But, as population increased, this "droit de banalité" became valuable. The mill at Malbaie was, in time, very prosperous.

In Canada the seigneur was not the oppressor of his people but rather their watchful guardian. He planned roads and other improvements, checked abuses, and enforced justice. At his side stood, usually, the priest. The moment a parish was established a curé was entitled to the tithe; near every manor house, the village church was sure to spring up. Even when, as at Malbaie, the priest and the seigneur were not of the same faith they were often fast friends. Nairne's relations were good with the neighbouring curé, when, at length, Malbaie had a resident priest. Each village would thus usually have at least two men of some culture working together for its spiritual and temporal interests. Both remained in touch with the outside world; the priest with his bishop at Quebec, the seigneur with the representative there of the sovereign. Upon each change of governor Nairne was required to appear at Quebec to render fealty and homage. With head uncovered and wearing neither sword nor spur he must kneel before the governor, and take oathPg 46 on the Gospels to be faithful to the king, to be party to nothing against his interests, to perform all the duties required by the terms of his holding, and, especially, to appear in arms to defend the province if attacked. We find Nairne excused by General Haldimand in 1781 from discharging this ceremony, but only because he was away on active service.

When Nairne settled at Murray Bay he was unmarried and so, no doubt, were the soldiers he brought with him. Only after five or six years did he himself find a wife but we may be sure that his men did not wait so long. What more natural than that they should marry the French Canadian servants of whom Nairne speaks? A visitor at Murray Bay is struck with names like McNicol, Harvey, Blackburn, McLean, and one or two others that have a decidedly North British ring. Some, if not all, are names of one or other of the half dozen soldiers who settled at Murray Bay in Nairne's time. There was no disbanding there of a regiment, as tradition has it. In time the 78th Highlanders were disbanded, but certainly not at Murray Bay, and, though hundreds of them remained in Canada, only a few individual soldiers came to Nairne's settlement. Already when he arrived French Canadians were there and from the first the community was prevailingly French and Catholic. In 1784 when joined with Les Eboulements and Isle aux Coudres under a singlePg 47 priest Malbaie already had 65 communicants. As likely as not some even of the Highlanders were Catholics. In any case their children became such and spoke French, the tongue of their mothers; even Nairne's own children spoke only French until they went to Quebec to school.

When, from time to time, a missionary priest visited the place he baptized children of Catholic and Protestant alike, including even the children of the Protestant family in the manor house. The only religious services that the people ever shared in were those of the Roman Catholic Church. Nairne would have wished it otherwise. He held sturdy Protestant views, and wished to bring in Protestant settlers. On one or more of his visits to Scotland he made efforts to induce Scots to move to Canada. But he met with no great success. A Scottish friend, Gilchrist, who had visited Nairne at Murray Bay, writes, in 1775, to express hope that he will not encourage French settlers who will rob him, who have "disingenuous, lying, cheating, detestable dispositions," and are the "banes of society." He adds, "I am glad you give me reason to believe you are to carry over some industrious honest people from hence with you. I am convinced 'twere easy by introducing a few such [to bring about that] the dupes to the most foolish and absurd religion now in the world might be warmed out and your quiet as well as interest established from Point au Pique to the Lake."[7]Pg 48 The Roman Catholic faith had more vitality than Nairne's correspondent supposed. It was Protestantism that should in time be "warmed out" of Murray Bay.

To prevent this Nairne did what he could; for a long time he entertained hopes not only that the Protestants at Murray Bay might be held to their faith but also that the Roman Catholics would be led into the Protestant fold. His chief complaint against the Roman Catholic Church was in regard to education. There was woeful ignorance. Nairne was in command of the local militia and he found that officers of militia, and even a neighbouring seigneur, could not read. When Roman Catholic services were held at Murray Bay, as they were regularly before he died, the tongue was one that the people did not understand. At the services there was nothing "but a few lighted candles, in defyance of the sun, and the priest singing and reading Latin or Greek.... None of us understands a word." He complains of "the greatest deficiency in preaching sentiments of morality and virtue." Indeed, very few of the priests could preach or say anything in public beyond the Latin mass. Nairne tried to secure better means of educating his people. Probably earlier also, but certainly in 1791, he was writing to the Anglican Bishop of Quebec to help him to do something. He lives, he says, in "the most Northerly and, I believe, thePg 49 poorest parish on the Continent of America." The people cannot read and have no literary amusement. Their idle days they spend in drunkenness and debauchery and he wishes something done for them. Ten years later Nairne is returning to the charge. There are five Protestant families in the neighbourhood. They cannot even be baptized except by the curé. They cannot get any Protestant instruction; so the Protestant children are reared Roman Catholics. Nairne wished to have a Protestant clergyman established at Murray Bay; he could make that place his headquarters and carry on missionary work in the neighbouring parishes. But the five Protestant families at Murray Bay soon became three, for Nairne says, in 1801, that his and Colonel Fraser's families and one other man, an Englishman, are the only remaining Protestants. He and Fraser, he adds, are growing old and, in any case, it was doubtful whether the Englishman would attend service.

Yet Nairne still begged for a Protestant missionary. He desired most of all a free school. The teacher should be, he says, French but able also to preach in English; there was now no school at Murray Bay; a free school and a church system which would release the people from paying tithes could work wonders and, probably, most of the people would soon become Protestants. Knowing the tenacity with which the French CanadiansPg 50 have clung to their faith, it seems hardly likely that Nairne's dreams would have been realized. At any rate nothing was done. At that time there were hardly more than a dozen Anglican clergymen in all Canada and the Bishop of Quebec had no one to spare to look after the few scattered sheep at Murray Bay. On the other hand the rival Church did not forget her own. Long before the British conquest occasional services had been held at Malbaie and these were continued, with some regularity, until a resident priest came in 1797. The visiting priests worked hard. They were, Nairne says, "industrious in private to confess the people, especially the women, which branch of their duty is deemed most sacred and necessary." Against this tremendous power of the confessional, Protestantism had nothing that could be called an opposing influence. When a Protestant died he might not, of course, be buried in the Roman Catholic burial ground. For these outcast dead Nairne set aside a plot near his own house, where, still, under a little clump of trees, their bones lie, neglected and forgotten. Not more than half a dozen Protestants were ever buried there and this shows that even the Protestant pioneers were few in number; hardly one of their children remained outside the Roman Church.

Nairne thought the Canadians not too prone to industry and he deplored the multitude of rePg 51ligious holidays that gave an excuse for idleness. In a year there were not less than forty, in addition to Sundays, and on some of the holidays, such as that of the patron saint of the parish, there were scenes of great disorder. Nairne wrote on the subject to the Roman Catholic Bishop of Quebec asking him to take steps to ensure that the people might come to think it not sinful but virtuous to work for six days in the week. The Bishop promised consideration of the matter. Already it had been under debate and in the end the Bishop gave orders that labour might continue on most of the Church's festivals; that of the patron saint of the parish was in time abolished. Nairne thus helped to bring about a considerable industrial reform. But beyond this he achieved little.

The French Canadians, who occupied his vacant acres, have shown both a marvellous tenacity for their own customs and also a fecundity that has enabled people, numbering 60,000 at the time of the British conquest, to multiply now to some 2,500,000, scattered over the United States and Canada. To govern them has never been an easy problem. Nairne says that the French officer, Bougainville, who had known the Canadians in many campaigns, called them at Murray's table a brave and submissive people; he thought they needed the strong hand of authority and added that he was sure the British method of governPg 52ment would soon spoil them. Under the French régime they had had no gleam of political liberty. For twenty years before the conquest France had exacted from them the fullest possible measure of military service. The British ended this and brought liberty. Its growth is sometimes so rapid as to be noxious, and, no doubt, some of those who came to Nairne's domain gave him much trouble. "No people," Nairne said of them, "stand more in awe of punishment when convinced that there is power to inflict it, as none are so easily spoiled as to be mutinous by indulgences." Some of them showed striking intelligence: in 1784 we find Nairne recommending for appointment as Notary one Malteste (no doubt the well-known name Maltais is a later form) as a "remarkable honest, well-behaved countryman with more education than is commonly to be found with one in his station." The dwellers at Malbaie were for the most part a quiet people entirely untouched by the movements of the outside world. "Nothing here," wrote Nairne in 1798, "is considered of importance but producing food to satisfy craving Stomachs, which the people of this cold and healthy country remarkably possess, and to feed numbers of children.... They have no other ambition or consideration whatever but simply to procure food and raiment for themselves and their numerous families."

Pg 53

They had a very clear idea of their rights. Nairne's grant conferred upon him those of fishing and hunting. But the inhabitants declared that when land was once granted, the seigneur lost all control over the adjoining waters. Nairne wished, for instance, to prohibit the spearing of salmon at night by the Canadians, with the aid of torches or lanterns. But they had never been hampered by such restrictions and, when Nairne tried to check them, they said that they would not be hindered. It was in vain that he said "I had rather have no power at all and no seigneurie at all [than] not to be able to keep up the rights of it." When, in 1797, he ordered one Joseph Villeneuve to cease the "flambeau" fishing at night, the fellow "roared and bellowed" and set him at defiance; no less than twenty companions joined him in the fishing. They would acknowledge no law nor restraint and seem to have had force majeure on their side. It was not until long after that the legislature at Quebec passed strict laws regulating the modes of fishing.

Whatever the limitations on the seigneur's authority he had the undoubted right of control over fishing in rivers and lakes until the adjacent lands were conceded to occupiers. It was important, therefore, not to grant lands which carried with them the best fishing and Nairne's ardent friend Gilchrist kept exhorting him from Scotland on this point. "There is no place ... I wouldPg 54 so willingly and happily pass life in," he wrote, in 1775, "as in your Neighbourhood and often have I been seized with the memory of your easy and uncontrolled way of rising, lying, dancing, drinking, &c., at your habitation.... One hope ... I wish to be well founded and that is that your Stewart, Factor or Attorney, has not conceded any lands with the River in front from the Rapides du Vieux Moulin. If otherwise, you have lost more than the profits [which] all above Brassar's will yield in our lifetime. The fishing in that part of the River is alone worth crossing the Atlantic."

Over trade Nairne and Fraser tried to exercise some real control. Their grants gave them no right to trade with the Indians and in reality no authority over trade. But they were guardians of the law and took steps to check traders from violating it. One Brassard, who lived up the Murray River, seems to have been a frequent offender. It was easy to debauch the Indians with drink and then to get their furs for very little and the seigneurs needed always to be alert. In 1778 we find Malcolm Fraser making with one Hugh Blackburn a bargain which outlines what the seigneurs tried to do in regard to trade. Blackburn binds himself in the sum of £200 to obey certain restrictions: he will not attempt to debauch the Indians belonging to the King's Posts; in no circumstances will he sell them liquor; norPg 55 will he sell liquor on credit to anyone. He will obey the lawful orders of Nairne and Fraser relative to the carrying on of his trade; he will pay his debts, and will make others pay what they owe him, refusing them credit if accounts are not paid within six months. In consideration of these pledges by Blackburn Fraser guarantees his credit with the Quebec merchants. The difficulty in regard to trade with the Indians settled itself by the tragic remedy of their gradual extinction. In 1800 Nairne says that the Micmacs, once a great nuisance, are now rarely seen.

Nairne was a good farmer and his letters contain many references to farming operations. At Murray Bay, he says, plowing goes on for seven months in the year, from the middle of April to the middle of November. But the Canadians do not plough well; they do not understand how to preserve the crops when cut; and, on the whole, are backward in agriculture. He himself preserved for a domain more land than he could ever get cleared, for this clearing was heavy work. Some of the soil at Murray Bay is very good. Gilchrist writes indeed to say that he has been talking in Scotland about Nairne's land. "On my mentioning that you had lime, without digging for it, it was acknowledged that you possessed all the advantages possible and that anything might be done with ground such as yours which is dry; and I verily believe would you thoroughlyPg 56 lime your land you may keep it in crops as long as you please and have prodigious returns." Good farming, he says, Nairne may have and he should preserve good fishing; then Murray Bay will be perfect. "If I have the pleasure of seeing your sisters, I'll represent Mal Bay as the counterpart of Paradise before the fall." He adds some local characterizations. "Catish will do for Eve, La Grange for Adam, and Dufour for the Devil."

Nairne was married in 1766 to Christiana Emery. Of her history I know nothing, except that she was born in Edinburgh and married in Canada. Soon after marriage Nairne paid a long visit to Scotland and there in 1767 the freedom of the borough of Sterling was conferred upon him. Mrs. Nairne must have been considerably younger than her husband, for though he lived to ripe old age, she survived him by twenty-six years, dying at Murray Bay in 1828. Whether she brought any dowry I do not know; Nairne certainly had had in mind the improvement of his position by marrying. Nine children were born to them but three died in childhood of an epidemic fever that broke out at Murray Bay in 1773 while Nairne was in Scotland. A fourth child, Anne, died of consumption. Five children lived to grow up—three daughters and two sons.

Canada seemed so remote that it was not easy for Nairne to keep in touch with his kin. The scattering of families, one of the penalties ImperialPg 57 Britain, with a world wide domain, imposes upon her sons, had taken Nairne's brother Robert to India. At a time only ten years later than Clive's great victory of Plassey, Britain's grasp on the country was, as yet, by no means certain and India was amazingly remote; five years usually elapsed between the sending of a letter to India from Canada and the receipt of a reply! On January 5th, 1770, Robert Nairne writes from Marlborough, India, acknowledging a letter from his brother John, only recently received, dated April 21, 1767. The brothers discuss family news and family plans, their old father's health, the desirability of settling down at home in Scotland, the life each is living, remote from that home. Though an officer, Robert engaged in trade and made some money. "The Company's pay is hardly subsistence," he says, "and here we have not, as on t'other side of India the spoils of plundered provinces to grow fat on. I keep my health very well and if I want the satisfaction, I am also free from many Anxietys, people are subject to who are more in the glare of life." He was in a retired place, where there were few people and perennial summer, with "no variety of seasons nor of anything else." Time passes insensibly, he says; "in India years are like months in Europe ... I write, read, walk and go in company the same round nearly throughout the year. Here we have little company; yet everyone wants toPg 58 go to out settlements where they are quite alone. I cannot account for it. Mal Bay is your out settlement. Do you like that as well as Quebec?"

Robert Nairne was something of a philosopher. "Have you ever so much philosophy," he writes to the seigneur of Murray Bay in 1767, "as to think everything that happens is for the best? I am so far of that mind that content and discontent I think arises [sic] rather from the cast of our own thoughts than from outward accidents and that there is nearly an equal distribution of the means of happiness to all men, and that they are the happiest that improve their means the most." He felt the weariness of exile, the Scot's longing for his own land. "Certainly to a person of a right tone of mind if there are enjoyments in life, it must be in our own country amongst our friends and relations. With such conditions the bare necessaries of life are better than riches without them.... Death is but a limited absence and you and I are much in that state with regard to our friends at home."

It was not long before Robert Nairne's letters ceased altogether. In 1776, John Nairne received at Murray Bay the sad news that, in November or December, 1774, his brother had been killed in a petty expedition against some local tribesmen. A native chieftain had murdered, cooked and eaten a rival who was friendly to the East India Company and Robert Nairne with some natives, andPg 59 only three Europeans, went up country, through woods and bogs, to seize the offender. When there was fighting his natives fled, and he was shot through the body. It was a pity, says John Nairne's correspondent, Hepburn, to lose his life "in so silly a manner." He would soon have been governor of Bencoolen and was in a way to make "a great figure in life." Of his fortune of £6,000 John Nairne received a part. Twenty-five years after his brother's death Nairne was to get at Murray Bay similar news of the loss of his own son in distant India. It has levied a heavy tribute of Britain's best blood.

In 1774 Nairne again revisited Scotland. Though no politician, he must have heard much about the Quebec Act, then before the Imperial Parliament. The Governor of Canada, Sir Guy Carleton, after careful consideration of the whole question, had reached the conclusion, not belied by subsequent history, as far as the Province of Quebec is concerned, that Canada would always be French and that, with some slight modifications, the French system found there by Britain should be given final and legal status under British supremacy. So the Quebec Act was passed in 1774. While the British criminal law was introduced, the French civil law, including the land system under which Nairne held Murray Bay, was left unchanged. The Bill gave the Church the same privileged position that it had enjoyed underPg 60 Catholic sovereigns. The tithe could be collected by legal process; taxation for church purposes voted by the parochial authority called the fabrique was as compulsory as civil taxes, unless the person taxed declared that he was not a Roman Catholic; and the whole ecclesiastical system of New France was supported and encouraged. The Bill caused much irritation in Protestant New England, which saw some malicious design in the establishment of Roman Catholicism on its borders. The Continental Congress of 1775 denounced the Quebec Act, and even the Declaration of Independence has something to say about it.

It is obvious that Nairne disliked the Bill. His irrepressible friend, Gilchrist, wrote giving a picture of its probable dire social results, upsetting all domestic relations between the two races. The Bill, says Gilchrist, "is the most pernicious [that] could have been devised. Judge of the Fêtes now that the fools have got the sanction of the British Parliament to their beggaring principles. It is not clear that your Protestant servants will [even] be allowed to work upon their [the Roman Catholic] idle days. What would you and I think on being told by these black rascals [the priests are meant of course] that our people, I mean Protestants, durst not obey our orders without a dispensation from them?"

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The social consequences of the Quebec Act did not prove as revolutionary as Nairne's animated correspondent feared. Less than is usually supposed did the habitant like it since it placed him again under the priest's and the seigneur's authority, suspended since the British conquest. To the English colonies it added one to other causes of friction that boded trouble to the British Empire. In the previous year the people of Boston had defied Britain, by throwing into their harbour cargoes of tea upon which the owners proposed to pay a hated duty, levied by outside authority. The Quebec Act brought a final rupture a step nearer and at last there was open war. "The colonists have brought things to a crisis now, indeed;" wrote Gilchrist; "the consequences must be dreadful to them soon and I am afraid in the end to our country." To Great Britain indeed disastrous they were to be and soon the seigneur of Murray Bay was busy with his share in preparing for the conflict.

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John Nairne in the American Revolution

Nairne's work among the French Canadians.—He becomes Major of the Royal Highland Emigrants.—Arnold's march through the wilderness to Quebec.—Quebec during the Siege, 1775-76.—The habitants and the Americans.—Montgomery's plans.—The assault on December 31st, 1775.—Malcolm Fraser gives the alarm in Quebec.—Montgomery's death.—Arnold's attack.—Nairne's heroism.—Arnold's failure.—The American fire-ship.—The arrival of a British fleet.—The retreat of the Americans.—Nairne's later service in the War.—Isle aux Noix and Carleton Island.—Sir John Johnson and the desolation of New York.—Nairne and the American prisoners at Murray Bay.—Their escape and capture.—Nairne and the Loyalists.—The end of the War.—Nairne's retirement to Murray Bay.

When war with the revolted colonies grew imminent, it was obvious that a man of Nairne's experience in military matters would soon be needed. One aim of the government was to keep the French Canadians quiet by disarming their prejudices and impressing upon them their duty to George III. From Quebec, on July 13th, 1775, Nairne was given instructions to undertake this work for his district. Self-control and cool persuasiveness fitted him for his task, he was told; his work would be to visit all the parishes on the north shore,Pg 63 with the aim of winning the loyal support of the French Canadians during the coming struggle. Though fifteen years of tranquility under the mild British sway had made the habitants prosperous and averse to war, it was still possible to get from them useful military service, under the leadership of British officers. Nairne was to tell them that the Americans would borrow their dollars, take their provisions, pay for them only in worthless letters of credit upon the Congress, and even make free with their lands. He was to show, also, how bitterly the Protestant English colonies hated the Roman Catholic faith of the Canadians. A British fleet, he was to add, would soon arrive and, if the Canadians joined the revolt, the second British conquest would be shorter and not quite so gentle as the first; for "a fair and open enemy is a different thing from a rebel and a traitor."

Fifteen years earlier the Canadians had borne a heavy part in defending their country against the British assailant; now they were to fight in his interests. Whenever possible Nairne was to employ the same old Captains of militia who had fought the battles of France against the British; he was to make a roll of those fit to bear arms, and to report the number of discharged soldiers in his district. To him were entrusted commissions for Captains whom he might select; the inferior officers he might also name. The Church aided his work as much as possible, the Vicar-Pg 64General sending to the priests instructions to this effect.

On taking up his task Nairne found that at Murray Bay there were thirty-two men between the ages of 16 and 55. When summoned to meet him they were respectful, but showed fear of having to serve in the army and pleaded that they were only a new settlement. Had there been, as is so generally supposed, many disbanded soldiers among them we should have had a different tale but, already, in 1775, most of the people at Murray Bay were French. Neither they nor their neighbours showed any zeal for the upholding of British rule in Canada. At Les Eboulements and Baie St. Paul, whither Nairne went, the inhabitants were respectful, as at Murray Bay, but also objected to military service. At Isle aux Coudres they disregarded Nairne's summons to meet him, while at St. Anne de Beaupré they made open manifestations of hostility.

In the actual fighting, now imminent, Nairne was eager to take part, and, on August 12th, he wrote to Sir Guy Carleton offering himself for any service and applying for a vacant captaincy. On the 9th of September he received an urgent summons to Quebec, and, from that time, for six or seven years, he was engaged in the great fratricidal struggle.

Again, in a time of crisis, Great Britain made special use of the Highlanders. Many of thosePg 65 who had served during the conquest of Canada had become settlers in the New World. Now at the call to arms some of them—between one and two hundred—rallied again to fight Britain's battles. They were formed into a regiment known as the Royal Highland Emigrants. It was not a regular corps but was organized for this special campaign only. Nairne's rank in the regular army was that of Captain; now he was given the duty of Major, though this promotion was not yet permanent. Malcolm Fraser served in the same corps as Captain and Paymaster. The commanding officer, Colonel Allan McLean, was brave and indefatigable and he and his Highlanders played a creditable part in the work of saving Canada for Britain.

When the American colonies saw that the war was inevitable they saw too that Quebec was the key of the situation. Washington himself declared that in favour of the holders of Quebec would the balance turn in the great conflict. From the outset there was an eager desire to attack the Canadian capital. Washington believed—with some truth, indeed,—that its defences were ridiculous. He thought, too, that the Governor, Sir Guy Carleton, had no money to buy even provisions, that the Canadians were eager to throw off the yoke of Great Britain and to co-operate with the revolted colonies, and that some even of the few regulars to be found in QuebecPg 66 would join the colonial army. To take Quebec seemed, therefore, comparatively easy, and the task was undertaken by a man with a sinister name for posterity as a traitor to the young republic, but a vigorous and able officer,—Colonel Benedict Arnold. Wolfe's rôle Arnold essayed to play and Wolfe's fame he fondly hoped would be his.

A fundamental difference existed, however, between Arnold's task and that of Wolfe. Wolfe's army had been carried to Quebec in ships; Arnold's was to advance by land. He chose the shortest route to Quebec from the New England seaboard. It lay through the untrodden wilderness and its difficulties were terrible. Half of it was up the Kennebec river along whose shallow upper reaches the men would have to drag their boats on chill autumn days in water sometimes to their waists; then they must take them over the steep watershed dividing the waters flowing northward to the St. Lawrence from those flowing southward to the Atlantic. Even when they embarked on the upper waters of the Chaudière, which flows into the St. Lawrence near Quebec, the hardships were killing. The numerous rapids and falls on that swift and turbulent river would wreck their boats. At the time no fleet defended Quebec. If, instead of advancing by this land route, the Americans had been able to bring, by sea, an adequate force as Wolfe had done, the laterPg 67 history of Canada might indeed have been different.

Arnold set out in the middle of September with 1100 or 1200 men,—"the very flower of the colonial youth" they have been called. Many were hardy frontier men trained in Indian wars, who knew well the difficulties of the wilderness. But now they were face to face with something more difficult than they had ever before encountered. When one Parson Emerson had committed the enterprise to the divine care in a prayer that, tradition says, lasted for one hour and three-quarters, the army began its struggle across the dreadful three hundred miles of forest. The swollen rivers swept away much ammunition and food, until upon the army settled down the horror of starvation. The boats proved to be badly built; their crews were always wet and shivering. At night the men had sometimes to gather on a narrow footing of dry land in the midst of a swamp and huddled over a fire that at any moment rain might extinguish. The cold became terrible. Many lay down by the trail to die. When the journey was half over, Colonel Enos, deeming it useless to lead the force farther amid such conditions, turned back. With him went some hundreds of men; but Arnold held on grimly. He pushed ahead to get succour for his starving force from the Canadian settlements near Quebec. With a few boats and canoes his party committedPg 68 themselves to the Chaudière river. In two hours Arnold was swept down twenty miles, steering as best he could through the rapids, and avoiding the rocks, in the angry river. At one place all his boats and canoes were carried over a fall and capsized, the occupants struggling to land. But this reckless courage did wonders. By October 30th, after more than a month of unspeakable hardship, Arnold had reached the borderland of civilization in Canada, and was sending back provisions to his men. It is little short of marvellous that at Point Levi on November 9th he could muster six hundred men, five hundred of whom were fit for duty.

The Canadians and Indians had been very friendly; without their aid the greater part of Arnold's force would have perished. Even before Quebec he was dependent on their kindly offices. Its defenders, among whom were Nairne and Fraser, moved every boat to the north side of the St. Lawrence; the frigate Lizard and the sloop-of-war Hunter, pigmy representatives at Quebec of Britain's might upon the sea, lay near Wolfe's Cove ready to attack him if he tried to cross. But the Indians brought canoes and on the night of November 13th, silently and unobserved, they carried Arnold's force across the river almost under the bows of the ships watching for them. The Americans landed where Wolfe had landed sixteen years earlier. On the morning of thePg 69 14th, to the surprise of Quebec's garrison, a body of Americans appeared on the Plains of Abraham, not eight hundred yards from the walls, and gave three loud huzzas. The British answered with three cheers and with the more effective retort of cannon, loaded with grape and canister shot, and the hardy pioneers of Arnold's attacking force retired.

Quebec was not in a happy situation. Montreal had already fallen to the Americans advancing by Lake Champlain, and to force the final surrender of Canada General Montgomery was hurrying to join Arnold at Quebec. For a time its defenders were uncertain whether Carleton himself, absent at Montreal, had not fallen into the hands of the enemy. A miraculous escape he indeed had. Leaving Montreal on a dark night, when the Americans were already within the town, Carleton went in a skiff down the river, both shores of which were already occupied by the enemy for fifty miles below Montreal. At the narrows at Berthier their blazing camp fires sent light far out over the surface of the water. Carleton's party could hear the sentry's shout of "All's Well," and the barking of dogs. But they let the boat float down with the current so that it might look like drifting timber, and, when they could, impelled it silently with their hands. At Three Rivers they thought themselves safe and Carleton lay down in a house to sleep. But, while he wasPg 70 resting, some American soldiers entered the house. His disguise as a peasant saved him; he passed out unchecked. The skiff soon carried him to an armed brig, the Fell, which lay at the foot of the Richelieu Rapids. He hastened on to Quebec, which showed joy unspeakable when he arrived on November 19th. Meanwhile Montgomery pursued his rival down the river and on December 1st he joined Arnold before Quebec.

Now the siege began in earnest. Carleton had 1800 men; Arnold and Montgomery can hardly have had more than a thousand, and these were badly equipped. For the Americans the prospects of success were, at no time, very great, unless they could secure help from the Canadians. This, indeed, was not wholly wanting. Montgomery's march along the north shore of the St. Lawrence to Quebec was a veritable triumph. He promised to the habitants liberty, freedom from heavy taxes, the abolition of the seigneurs' rights and other good things. Some of the Canadians hoped that, in joining the Americans, they were hastening the restoration of France's power in Canada—an argument however of little weight with many, who remembered grim days of hard service and starvation when, without appreciation or reward, they had fought France's battle. The habitants were, in truth, friendly enough to the Americans; but they would not fight for them. The invaders tried to arouse the fear of the peasantryPg 71 by a tale that when the British caught sixty rebel Canadians, they had hanged them over the ramparts of Quebec, without time even to say "Lord, have mercy upon me," and had thrown their bodies to the dogs. But this only made the habitants think it as well perhaps not to take arms openly against such stern masters. The Church's weight was wholly on the British side. Canadians who joined the rebel Americans died without her last rites. Only one priest, M. de Lotbinière, a man, it is said, of profligate character, espoused the cause of the invaders. For doing so he was promised a bishopric: to see Puritan New Englanders offering a bishopric in the Roman Catholic Church as a reward for service, is not without its humour.

As December wore on Montgomery grew eager to seize his prey. Carleton sat unmoved behind his walls and allowed the enemy to invest the town. He would hold no communication with the rebel army. When Montgomery sent messengers to the gates, under a flag of truce, Carleton would not receive them; the only message he would take, he said, would be an appeal to the mercy of the King, against whom they were in rebellion. Montgomery, too, showed for his foe lofty scorn, in words at least. On December 15th in General Orders he spoke of "the wretched garrison" posted behind the walls of Quebec, "consisting of sailors unacquainted with the use of arms, ofPg 72 citizens incapable of the soldier's duty and [a gibe at the corps in which Nairne served] a few miserable emigrants." He went on to promise his troops that when they took Quebec "the effects of the Governor, garrison, and of such as have been active in misleading the inhabitants and distressing the friends of liberty" should be equally divided among the victors. The opposing sides showed, in truth, the bitterness and exasperation of family quarrels and abandoned the usual courtesies of war. The Americans lay in wait to shoot sentries; they fired on single persons walking on the ramparts. It was reported to the British that Montgomery had said "he would dine in Quebec or in Hell on Christmas"—gossip probably untrue, as a British diarist of the time is fair enough to note, since it is not in accord with the dignity and sobriety of Montgomery's character.

He did what he could to make possible this Christmas festivity within Quebec's walls. His men got together some five hundred scaling ladders. Then heavy snow came and the defenders jeered at such preparations: "Can they think it possible that they can approach the walls laden with ladders, sinking to the middle every step in snow? Where shall we be then? Shall we be looking on cross-armed?" The clear and inconceivably cold weather was also one of Quebec's defences for, as one diarist puts it, no man, after being exposed to it for ten minutes, could hold arms in his half-Pg 73frozen hands firmly enough to do any execution. But by nothing short of death itself was Montgomery to be daunted; steadily he made his plans to assault the town.

Meanwhile Quebec was ready. Carleton ordered out of the town all who could not assist to the best of their power in the defence. Some shammed illness to escape their tasks. But this was the exception. Well-to-do citizens worked zealously, took their share of sentry duty on the bitterly cold nights, and submitted to the commands of officers in the militia, their inferiors in education and fortune. On the loftiest point of Cape Diamond Carleton erected a mast, thirty feet high, with a sentry box at its top. From this he could command a bird's eye view of the enemy's operations, to a point as distant as Ste. Foy Church. When one of the besiegers asked a loyalist Canadian what the queer-looking object on the pole really was he answered, "It is a wooden horse with a bundle of hay before him." A second remark capped this one: "General Carleton has said that he will not give up the town till the horse has ate all the hay; and the General is a man of his word."

Although Montgomery did not eat his Christmas dinner in Quebec a few days later he was ready for an assault. The crisis came on the last day of the year 1775. Early on that day, between four and five in the morning, Captain MalcolmPg 74 Fraser, in command of the main guard, was going his rounds in Quebec when he saw a signal thrown by the enemy from the heights outside the walls near Cape Diamond. Fraser knew at once that it meant an attack. He sent word to the other guards in Quebec and ordered the ringing of the alarm bell, and the drum-beat to arms. He himself ran down St. Louis street, shouting to the guards to "Turn out" as loudly and often as he could, and with such effect that he was heard even by General Carleton, lodged at the Recollet convent. It was a boisterous night and the elements themselves raged so fiercely that some of the alarms were not heard. But, in time, all Quebec was aroused and the guards stood at their posts.

The alarm was completed when to its din was added the menacing sound of cannon. The besiegers began to ply the town with shells, and those who looked out over the ramparts could see in the darkness the flash of guns. Soon began from behind ridges of snow, within eighty yards of the walls of Cape Diamond, the patter of musketry. The Americans were seeking to lead the defenders of Quebec to believe that an assault on the walls of the Upper Town on the side of the Plains of Abraham was imminent and to hold the defence to this point. In fact the real danger was far away.

The Manor House at Murray Bay (from the West)
The Manor House at Murray Bay (from the East)
The Manor House at Murray Bay
(The upper view from the West, the lower from the East)

Montgomery's was a hazardous plan. He had resolved to try to seize the Lower Town first andPg 75 then to get his troops into the Upper Town by way of the steep Mountain Street, thus taking the defenders of the walls in the rear. It was a desperate venture, depending for its success largely upon the surprise of the garrison which Malcolm Fraser's thorough-going alarm had prevented. Montgomery himself, with a force of several hundred men, marched to the Lower Town from Wolfe's Cove along the narrow path under the cliffs, a distance of nearly two miles, with progress impeded by darkness, by heavy snow-drifts, and by blocks of ice which the tide had strewn along the shore. His men struggled on in the dark hoping to surprise the post which guarded the road below Cape Diamond at a point called Près de Ville. Here were some fifty defenders and the tale of what happened is soon told. The guardians of the post were on the alert, for at it, too, Malcolm Fraser's warning had been effective. As Montgomery bravely advanced, at the head of his men, there was a flash and a roar in the darkness and the blinding snow storm, and, a moment after, Montgomery lay dead in the snow with a bullet through his head. Two or three other officers were struck down. The British heard groans and then there was silence. As daylight came they saw hands and arms protruding from the snow, but only slowly did they realize that the chief of their foes was killed.

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Nairne was on duty elsewhere but he did not miss severe fighting. Arnold was to advance on the Lower Town from the north-eastern suburb, St. Roch's, to meet at the foot of Mountain Street Montgomery coming from the west. At first he was more fortunate than Montgomery. When the rocket from Cape Diamond went up he set out. The storm was frightful but it served to conceal Arnold's force from Quebec's sentries. The Americans passed under the height where stands the Hôtel Dieu. Here Nairne was stationed with a small guard. They spied the Americans in the darkness and kept up as effective a fire as the dim light permitted. But the assailants were able to advance along the whole east side of Quebec and to reach the entrance to the Sault au Matelot, a short and narrow street opening into the steep Mountain Street, by which alone the Upper Town could be reached. Here fortune favoured them for, apparently, in spite of Fraser's alarm, they surprised the guard at the first barrier by which the street was closed. The street itself they secured but when they reached the second barrier at its farther end, commanding the road to the Upper Town, it was well defended by an alert garrison. Arnold had already been wounded and taken to the rear and Morgan, an intrepid leader, was in command of the assailing force. Every moment he expected that Montgomery would arrive to attack the second barrier on the Sault au Matelot from the West as he attacked it fromPg 77 the East. But Montgomery was dead and Morgan waited in vain.

While the Americans were checked by the second barrier, Carleton was not idle. There was an excellent chance to send a force out of the Palace Gate near the Hôtel Dieu, by which the assailants had passed, and to attack them in the rear. For this duty Colonel Caldwell was told off and he took with him Nairne and his picket of about thirty men. The force plodded through the deep snow in the tracks of the enemy who, about daybreak, were astonished to find themselves shut in by British forces at each end of the Sault au Matelot. A hand to hand fight followed. The Americans took refuge in the houses of the street and it was the task of the British to drive them out. In this Nairne distinguished himself. "Major Nairne of the Royal Emigrants and M. Dambourges of the same corps by their gallant behaviour attracted the attention of every body," writes an English officer.[8] By ladders, taken from the enemy, they mounted to a window of one of the houses, from which came a destructive fire, and at the point of the bayonet drove the foe out by the door into the street. In the end, to the number of more than four hundred, the Americans were forced to surrender. The casualties included thirty killed and forty-two wounded. By eight o'clock allPg 78 was over. "It was the first time I ever happened to be so closely engaged," Nairne wrote to his sister on May 14th, 1776, "as we were obliged to push our bayonets. It is certainly a disagreeable necessity to be obliged to put one another to death, especially those speaking the same language and dressed in the same manner with ourselves.... These mad people had a large piece of white linen or paper upon their foreheads with the words "Liberty or Death" wrote upon it." Nairne's account is modest enough. One would not gather from it that his own conspicuous courage had obtained general recognition.[9]

Even with Montgomery killed, Arnold wounded, and quite one-quarter of their force dead or captured, those grim men who wished "Liberty or Death" had no thought of raising the siege. Ere long Arnold was again active and, for four months longer, the Americans kept Carleton shut up within Quebec. So deep lay the snow that to walk into the ditch from the embrasures in the walls was easy; buried in the snow were the muzzles of guns thirty feet from the bottom of the ditch. Sometimes Nairne was actively engaged in scouting work. In February we find him leading a party to take possession of the English burying ground in the suburbs; on March 19th, he went out into the open from Cape Diamond to the heightPg 79 overlooking the Anse de Mer. But nothing happened; a diarist expresses, on April 21st, his contempt for the American attack by writing: "Hitherto they have killed a boy, wounded a soldier, and broke the leg of a turkey."[10]

The assailants were, in truth, impotent before the masterly inactivity of Carleton, who waited patiently behind his walls for the arrival in the spring of a British fleet. Counting upon this expectancy the Americans tried an old-time ruse. Between nine and ten o'clock in the evening of May 3rd, with the moon shining brightly and the tide flowing in and nearly high, a ship under full sail came into view from the direction of the Island of Orleans. With the wind behind her she swung in at a good rate of speed. Those who watched were, for a moment, sure that the long expected rescue had come. But, as she bore down to the cul de sac where lay the shipping at Quebec, she made no response to signals. At last, the British, after three vain efforts to draw a response, warned her to reply or they should fire. When this threat was carried out she was only some two hundred yards away. Then suddenly flames burst out on the ship, followed by random explosions; a boat left her side rowed very swiftly, and it was now apparent that she was sent to burn, if possible, the British shipping. It must have beenPg 80 an anxious moment when she was so near and heading straight for her prey. But, showing a natural prudence, those who steered left her too soon and, with no hand at the helm, her head came up quickly in the wind. By this time all Quebec had been alarmed and, as attack from the landward side was also expected, every man was soon at his post. The ship was a striking sight as, with sails and rigging on fire, she drifted helplessly before the town. When the tide turned she floated down, a mass of fire, with explosions shaking her from time to time, to the shallows off Beauport where she soon lay stranded, a blackened ruin of half-burnt timbers.

Quebec still waited for rescue, and not in vain. At day break, on the 6th of May, a frigate appeared round Point Levi. Again went forth the cry of "A ship," "A ship." "The news," we are told, "soon reached every pillow in town." Men half dressed rushed to the Grand Battery, which was quickly crowded with spectators, who indulged in much shaking of hands, and in the exchange of compliments, as the character of the ship became clear. She was the British frigate Surprise, and, with much difficulty, had forced her way, under full sail, through the great fields of ice which still blocked the river. Following her closely were the Isis and a sloop the Martin. Quebec went wild with joy. But there was still serious business on hand. The Surprise brought a part of thePg 81 29th regiment and a good many marines. They were landed at once. Carleton lost not a moment and, by twelve o'clock of the same day, the gates of Quebec were thrown open and he marched out to attack the Americans.

It was only a thin red line that stretched across the Plains of Abraham. But the Americans dared not face it. The newly arrived ships might, they feared, carry a force up the river and cut off retreat; so, after some desultory skirmishing, the investing army fled. It was now commanded by General Wooster, for Arnold had gone to Montreal. The flight soon became a panic. Arms, clothes, food, private letters and papers were thrown away. Nairne was in command of a portion of the Highland Emigrants, who were the vanguard of the British pursuing force, and was among the first to occupy the American batteries. On that very ground he had fought, victorious in 1759, woefully beaten in 1760; now, a victor again, he helped to drive back a force, some of whose members had been his companions in those earlier campaigns. That night the relieved British slept secure in Quebec, while the bedraggled American force was making its distressful way towards Montreal.

Though the American army soon withdrew from Montreal and from Canada, the war was still to drag on for many weary years. Throughout the whole of it Nairne remained on active service.Pg 82 In September, 1776, we find him in command of the garrison at Montreal. In 1777 he was sent to command the post at Isle aux Noix which guarded the route into Canada by way of Lake Champlain. Here Fraser was serving under him as Captain; the two friends were usually together throughout the war. At Isle aux Noix Nairne remained until June, 1779. We get glimpses from his letters of the defects in the service at this time. There were involuntary evils, such as scurvy, caused by want of fresh meat and vegetables, but relieved by drinking a decoction of hemlock spruce. Moral evils there were too, such as gambling and drunkenness; in 1778 the commanding officer gave warning that he had heard of losses at play, and that those taking part in such practises would be excluded from promotion.

The British officers showed sometimes a fool-hardy recklessness. On March 9th, 1778, one Lieutenant Mackinnon, with forty-five volunteers, set out from Pointe au Fer, near Isle aux Noix, to surprise an American post at Parsons' House, no less than sixty miles distant, and in the heart of the enemy's country. A few days later two of the volunteers returned with news that the attack had wholly failed, that six of the party were killed and six wounded, and that Lieutenant Mackinnon and four others were missing. So reckless an attack was bad enough and, in the General Orders,Pg 83 it was condemned as "a presumptuous disregard of military discipline"; only vigilance and watchfulness were required of the picket at Pointe au Fer, so that the enemy might not invade the province. At the incident the Commander-in-Chief was very angry. "I never saw the General in such a passion in my life," wrote an officer to Nairne. Mackinnon had surrounded the house in the darkness and both he and his men, as far as is known, had done their best. Though wounded and for a time missing, in the end Mackinnon got back crippled to Isle aux Noix. But he had failed, and whispers soon began that he showed cowardice in the attack; an absurd charge, as Nairne said, for he had given proof of rather too much, than of too little, courage. The accusation gave Nairne infinite trouble. The subalterns in the Royal Highland Emigrants refused to do duty with Mackinnon, and General Haldimand, who succeeded Carleton in the summer of 1778, would not take the matter seriously enough to grant a Court Martial, that Mackinnon might clear himself. For quite a year and a half the affair dragged on. In the end, at a Court of Enquiry, Mackinnon was acquitted. Haldimand told Nairne to rebuke the officers sternly for combining to subvert authority, for disrespect to their superiors, and for refusing, on the basis of futile reports and hearsays, to serve with Mackinnon. "I much mistake his character," wrote Nairne of Mackinnon, "ifPg 84 he can ... be prevented from calling one or two of those gentlemen to a severe account."

A part of Nairne's duty was to watch the French Canadians and check sedition. In spite of the failure of Arnold's expedition many of them were still favourable to the American cause. They harboured deserters in the remoter parishes, gave protection and assistance to rebels, and threw as many difficulties as possible in the path of loyalists. Nairne found two men issuing papers from a printing press to foment sedition and sent them down to Quebec to stand their trial for treason.

From Isle aux Noix Nairne was sent, in the summer of 1779, with fifty of his Royal Highland Emigrants, to command at Carleton Island, near Kingston where Lake Ontario flows into the St. Lawrence; some thirty-five years later his only surviving son held a military command at the same place. Here there was much to do in strengthening the fortifications and in keeping up communications with Niagara and other points in the interior. The situation was not without its embarrassments. Prisoners were sent in from Niagara and he had no prison in which to keep them. For want of fresh meat and vegetables there was much sickness. But the Indians were his greatest trial. Through him came their supplies and, to hold them at all, he had sometimes to serve out the rum for which such savages arePg 85 always greedy. On July 4th, Nairne made a speech to these Mississaga Indians and said pretty plainly what he thought of them. Against the American scouts they had proved no defence; at night they fired off guns in the neighbouring woods and created false alarms, which prevented Nairne's men from getting their proper sleep. "My men work hard in the day," he said, "and I will have them to sleep sound at night," and he warned the Indians that he would fire upon them if their noise disturbed him further. The savages, he wrote to Haldimand, are "almost unbearable, greedy and importunate." They behaved more like rebels than friends and their talk ended always in the demand for rum, "the cause of all bad behaviour in Indians."

On the remoter frontiers the war was ruthless beyond measure. Sir John Johnson devastated the Mohawk valley, in the present State of New York, and some of his prisoners were received at Carleton Island. Of this inglorious warfare Haldimand's secretary, Captain Matthews, wrote to Nairne a little later [17th June, 1780], "You will have heard that Sir John Johnson has executed the purpose of his enterprise without the loss of a man, having destroyed upwards of an hundred dwelling houses, barns, mills, stock, &c., and brought off 150 Loyalists, besides Women and Children." The worst outrages came from the Indian allies, of whom Nairne thought so badly.Pg 86 From Niagara, on March 1st, 1779, Captain John MacDonnell wrote to Nairne of the terrible massacre at Cherry Valley, on the New York frontier, which excited horror throughout the colonies, and did much to inflame the hatred of the Americans for England. Not, however, the English but the Indians were really guilty. "There has nothing appeared," wrote Captain MacDonnell, "on the theatre of the war of near so tragical or rather barbarous a hue; the reflection never represents itself to my view but when accompanyed with the greatest horrors; both Sexes, young and old Tomahawked, Speared and Scalped indiscriminately in the most inhuman and cruel manner. But that there was all possible care and precaution taken to prevent them is undenyable. Captain Butler, who had command of the expedition, was indefatigable in his endeavours and exertions to restrain and mitigate the fury and ferocity of the savages often at the risk of the Tomahawk being made use of against himself as well as the Indian officers.... Out of a hundred and seventy scalps three-fourths were those of Women and Children." Butler's name is still looked upon in the United States as that of a fiend incarnate, but the testimony of his fellow officer seems to free him from blame for the worst of the horrors. Both sides were bitter, but Nairne himself never shows any vehemence of passion.Pg 87 In his view the war was a painful necessity, to be fought to the end without anger.

Late in 1779, Nairne was recalled from Carleton Island. He reached Montreal on the 5th of December, and, two days later, secured leave of absence to look after his private affairs. At this time General Haldimand had matured a plan to take advantage of the remote position of Murray Bay to confine there some of his American prisoners. At Murray Bay they seemed particularly safe. There was as yet no road over Cap Tourmente; in any case to go in the direction of Quebec would mean seizure sooner or later; to go in the opposite direction would be to perish in the wilderness; and the only outlet was by water across a wintry river some twelve miles broad. On the 26th of January, 1780, Haldimand wrote to Nairne at Murray Bay that he was to erect buildings for rebel and other prisoners, and that, to do the work, some men were being sent down; he was to employ in addition as many of the inhabitants as he might think necessary.

Nairne stayed on at Murray Bay in 1780 much longer than the two months for which he had originally asked. A part of his duty was to watch that American colony, so different in station and situation from the many Americans who now visit the spot. As yet there were no barracks in which to confine the poor fellows, and the climate of Murray Bay is not too hospitable in winter.Pg 88 Some kind of rough quarters must have been prepared for the prisoners, in the winter of 1779-80, and they were kept busy in helping to build the houses intended for their occupation. They seemed contented. One of them Nairne kept about his person. He knew where everything was placed and all the men were used, Nairne says, in the best manner he could think of. But liberty is sweet and they longed for their own land. So, early in May, 1780, when the ice was out of the river and there was a chance to get away, eight of them made a dash for liberty.[11] No doubt under cover of night, they stole a boat and put out boldly into the great river across which, in so small a craft, few ever venture, even in mild summer weather. Almost wonderful to relate, they reached the south shore in safety. Nairne was uncertain whether they had gone up, down, or across the river. He hurried to Tadousac, crossed to Cacouna and then went up the south shore. At St. Roch he found that the men, rowing a boat, had been seen to pass. On May 14th this boat was found abandoned. On the 15th the men were seen on the highway carrying their packs. We are almost sorry to learn that the poor fellows were in the end captured and taken to Quebec. Nairne reported the flight of these men on the 14th of May. Their example was contagious for,Pg 89 on the 18th, while he was absent in their pursuit, four others made off, found a small boat on the shore some nine miles from Malbaie, and put out into the river, where their tiny craft was seen heading for Kamouraska on the south shore. A few days later two others also escaped. These had not courage to strike out into the river, and one of them was caught at Baie St. Paul. Nairne offered a reward of four dollars for each of the prisoners and probably all were taken. A sequel of the incident was that a non-commissioned officer and eight men of the Anhalt-Zerbst Regiment were sent to guard the remaining prisoners at Murray Bay—a task apparently beyond Nairne's local militia. This guard was, no doubt, composed of Germans; one wonders to what extent they fraternized with the French Canadians. It is amusing to read that, when one of them deserted, he was brought back by a habitant.

In 1781 we find Nairne stationed at Verchères on the south side of the St. Lawrence, nearly opposite Montreal. He was now in charge of the expatriated Loyalists who had found refuge in that part of Canada. A whole corps of them were billeted in the two parishes of Verchères and Contrecœur—the officers chiefly at Contrecœur. They lived, of course, in the cottages with the habitants. On December 16th, 1781, Nairne writes to General Riedesel, a German officer who played a conspicuous part on the British side inPg 90 the Revolutionary war and was now in command at Sorel, that the Canadians do not mind supplying firewood for the loyalist officers but that they rather object to having the same people quartered upon them for two years at a time. Though an occasional officer had said that the Loyalists were not obedient, he adds that they were quiet and orderly people. Some of them had large families and must have crowded uncomfortably their involuntary hosts. These colonial English living in the households of their old-time enemies, the French Canadians, make a somewhat pathetic picture. We see what domestic suffering the Revolutionary War involved. Some were very old; one "genteel sort of woman," a widow, had four children, the youngest but four months old; there was another whose husband had been hanged at Saratoga as a spy. Very large sums passed through Nairne's hands in behalf of the Loyalists. One account which he renders amounts to about £20,000.[12]

Nairne's regiment, the Royal Highland Emigrants, had been put upon the permanent establishment in 1779. Sometimes he complained that his own promotion was slow; not until the spring of 1783 was he given the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel. Having reached this goal he intended, as soon as he decently could, to sell out and retire.Pg 91 Late in 1782 we find him again in command at Isle aux Noix and not sure but that he may at any time be surprised by the Americans. It seems odd that, though Cornwallis had already surrendered at Yorktown, and the war was really over, Nairne was still hoping for final victory for Great Britain; on February 8th, 1783, he writes: "It is to be hoped that affairs will at last take a favourable turn to Great Britain; her cause is really a just one." In fact preliminary articles of the most disastrous peace Great Britain has ever made had already been signed.

Nairne was now anxious to go home. But even in June, 1783, he could not get leave of absence from Isle aux Noix for even a fortnight. Conditions were still unsettled. American traders were now pressing into Canada but Nairne sent back any that he caught; the cessation of arms was, he said, no warrant as yet for commercial intercourse and many suspicious characters were about. The troops from Europe were returning home. General Riedesel, about to leave for Germany, wrote from Sorel on July 6th, 1783, a warm letter of thanks to Nairne for the attention, readiness, and punctuality of his services. Not long after, in the same year, Nairne was at last free. He now sold his commission, receiving for it £3,000. With the sale he renounced all claim to half-pay, pension, or other consideration for past services and the sum he received was, therefore,Pg 92 no very great final reward for his long services. There had been some competition for this commission and its final disposal throws some light on promotion in the army under the purchase system. General Haldimand insisted that Captain Matthews, who appears to have been his relative, should get it, since the General "must provide for his own family." At this time Malcolm Fraser too thought of selling out but he made difficulties about terms and the opportunity passed; Fraser was, indeed, to live to see recruiting service in the war of 1812. When the war was over, Nairne hurried to Murray Bay and to the country life in which he delighted, and in his correspondence we soon find him discussing not high questions of national defence but the qualities of "a well-bred bull calf" and of an improved plough. "I have more satisfaction," he says, perhaps with a touch of irony, "in a country life and [in] cultivating a farm than even [in] being employed as first major of the Quebec militia." Henceforth his heart is wholly at Murray Bay and in his interests there.

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The Last Days of John Nairne

Nairne's careful education of his children.—His son John enters the army.—Nairne's counsels to his son.—John Nairne goes to India.—His death.—Nairne's declining years.—His activities at Murray Bay.—His income.—His daughter Christine and Quebec society.—The isolation of Murray Bay in Winter.—Signals across the river.—Nairne's reading.—His notes about current events.—The fear of a French invasion of England.—Thoughts of flight from Scotland to Murray Bay.—Nairne's last letter, April 20th, 1802.—His death and burial at Quebec.

Colonel Nairne's life was troubled with many sorrows. In 1773, when he was on a visit to Scotland, Malcolm Fraser had had the painful duty of writing to tell him of the death of three of his infant children at Murray Bay from a prevailing epidemic. His daughter, Anne, born in 1784, was sent to Scotland to be educated. She contracted consumption and after a prolonged illness died there in 1796. "This event gave me great affliction," wrote Nairne, "she was always a most amiable child." There now remained two sons and three daughters,[13] and Nairne may wellPg 94 have been certain that his name would go down to an abundant posterity. One of the chief interests of his life was their training and education. All in turn were sent to Scotland for their chief schooling. The eldest son, John, born in 1777, and his sister Christine, some three years older, lived in Edinburgh with aunts who showed exhaustless kindness and interest. Nairne was grateful, and writing from Malbaie on August 27th, 1791, he says: "[I] am glad of an opportunity, my dear Christine and Jack, to remind you both in the strongest manner I am able of the gratitude and assiduous Duty you owe to your Aunts and other Relations for admitting you into their family and also for the attention they are pleased to bestow on your education." Upon his children he imposes indeed counsels of perfection not easy to fulfil; "Remember it's my injunctions and absolute orders to you both to have always an obedient temper to your superiors ... to receive every reprimand with submission and attention as it can only be intended for your benefit in order to give you a valuable character which of all things is the greatest blessing both for this world and the next; besides you must consider that you are never to indulge yourselves in any sort of indolence or laziness but to rise early in the morning to be the more able to fulfil your Duty.... As to you, Jack, I expect to see you a Gallant and honourable fellow that will always scorn to tellPg 95 the least lie in your life. It was well done to answer Captain Fraser [Malcolm Fraser, a Lieutenant in 1762, is still only a Captain in 1791!] with which he was well pleased.... Both of you have I think improved in your writing which gives me pleasure." He adds regretfully to Christine: "I cannot send you a muff this year but perhaps I may do so next year." The letter closes with a modest list of purchases to be sent out from Edinburgh for Malbaie: "one piece of Calico for two gowns; one piece of calico for children; three pieces of linen (for shirts), two of which coarse and the other a little finer; one yard of cambrick; five yards of muslin (for caps and Handkerchiefs); six yards of lace (for caps); twelve yards of different ribbons, three pairs of worsted stockings and three pairs of cotton stockings for myself."

Jack was to follow a military career, and he entered the army when a youth of sixteen or seventeen. His first active service was in the West Indies, after war with revolutionary France broke out, and the dangers of that climate gave his father some anxiety; all will be well, he hopes, if Jack continues to take a certain "powder of the Jesuits' Bark"; above all "the best rules are temperance and sobriety"; then "the same gracious Power who protected me in many dangers through the course of three Wars will also vouchsafe protection to you through this one." InPg 96 1795, when Jack was only eighteen, his corps was back in England and, through the influence of a distant relative, General Graeme, with the Duke of York, Commander in Chief of the Army and all powerful in days when promotion went avowedly by favour and purchase rather than by merit, Jack secured a Lieutenancy in the 19th Regiment. His father was delighted: "I wish you much joy with all my heart of your quick rise in being at your age already a Lieutenant in an old Regiment whereas I was past twenty-six years of age before I obtained a Lieutenancy in the British service and that only in a young corps." At the time, with Britain warring on the French Directory, service in Europe for Jack was not unlikely, and was desired by Nairne. But in the end Jack's regiment was ordered to India. Nairne was sorely disappointed, but writing to Jack he laid down a great guiding principle: "we must suppose that Providence orders everything aright and that, provided we are always active and diligent in doing our duty, there is reason to be satisfied." In view of what was to happen, his anxiety for the success of his son is pathetic. He exhorts him in regard to every detail of conduct. He is to avoid drink and gambling; to pay his accounts promptly; to be punctual and scrupulously exact whenever duty or business is concerned. The father is particularly anxious about his son's capacity to express himself in good English andPg 97 lays down the sound maxim that "writing a correct and easy style is undoubtedly of all education the most necessary and requisite." To acquire this he "ought to write and read a great deal with intense labour, attention and application"; to write several hours a day is not too much and to get time he must go to bed early and rise early. It is wise to keep a grammar and dictionary always at hand to correct possible errors. He should also translate from French into English. The father himself undertakes the duty of the complete letter writer, drawing up for Jack a model on which his letters may be based. "In writing ordinary letters (as in conversation) a large scope may be taken, as of News, all sorts of information, adventures, descriptions, remarks, enquirys, compliments, &c., &c., but in a letter upon business one is commonly confined only to what is necessary to be said on the subject and to civilitys and politeness." Certainly Jack did not lack admonition and when he does well his father writes that it makes him "very happy." When in one letter Jack mentions the practise of smoking his father is severe: "All our family have ever been temperate not [practising] even the Debauchery of smoking tobacco, a nasty Dutch, Damn'd custom, a forerunner of idleness and drunkenness; therefore Jack, my lad, let us hear no more of your handling your Pipe, but handle well your fuzee, your sword, your pen and your Books."

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Certainly the pictures sometimes drawn of the brutality, violent manners and ignorance of the British officer at this period find no confirmation in Nairne's monitions to his son, or in the account of his own military experience which dates from the mid-eighteenth century. He says to Jack: "Say your Prayers regularly to God Almighty and trust entirely to His Will and Pleasure for your own preservation.... If you should happen to be in an engagement attend to your men, encourage them to act with spirit in such a manner as most effectually to destroy their enemy's."[14] When Jack is a little too free in his demands for money the Colonel, writing on Nov. 22nd, 1795, tells him of his own experience:

I have done wrong in having given you so much money since you went into the Army which might have served you almost without any pay from the King and which by the bye I can little afford. You obtained it easily; for which reason I suppose you have spent it easily: you have no right to expect more than I had at your age yet you seem to regard twenty pounds as I would have done twenty shillings. But you must now understand that twenty pounds is a considerable sum to my circumstances they being straitened for the Rank and the family which I have to support; therefore I have to inform you that you are to draw no more Bills upon Mr. Ker nor upon me without first obtaining his or my consent in writing for so doing. It is no disgrace nor does it hurt the service (but quite the contrary) for every officer and soldier toPg 99 live within the limits of the pay which Government has thought proper to allow them. They are thereby more led to temperance, to improve themselves by study, to mind their duty and how best to promote the service of their country. I served sixteen years as a subaltern officer in the army, made long sea voyages with the Regiment, furnished myself with sea stores, camp equipage and every other necessary equipments [and] my Father nor any Relation during that time was never [put to] one farthing's expense upon my account. Altho' I sometimes lost money in the Recruiting service I repayed it by stoppages from my pay, was always present with the men whether in camp or in Garrison and punctually attending on my Duty. I endeavoured to be in a good mess for my Dinner, drank small Beer or Water when it was good; when the Water was bad qualified it with a mixture of Wine or Ginger or Milk or Vinegar but no grog or smoking tobacco. I was always an enemy to suppers, never engaged myself in the Evenings, but on particular occasions or to be Complaisant to Strangers. Nor [did I] ask Company to see me when on Guard; nor show a Vanity to treat people. By which means I had a great deal of quiet and sober time to myself, to read and to write, &c., &c., especially as I always rose early in the Mornings. You may believe also that I was always far from being concerned in any sort of Gaming so as to risk losing any of my money or to have a desire to gain any from others. By such a Conduct I received more favour and regard sometimes from my Commanding officers even than I thought I was entitled to.

These monitions to Jack were written while his father was in Scotland in 1795. There they separated, the father to return to Canada with Christine whose schooldays were now ended, Jack to go with his regiment to India. In partingPg 100 from his son the father pronounced a solemn benediction: "that God may preserve you and assist you in following always that which is good and virtuous shall ever be my most earnest prayer." They never met again. Jack continued to draw rather freely upon his father for funds, and Nairne wrote to the Colonel of the regiment to ask for information about the young man. Before an answer came Scottish relatives learned in 1800 of Jack's fate and wrote of it to Murray Bay. A friend of the family in India had noticed in the newspaper that some one was promoted to John Nairne's place. This led to enquiry, when it was found that he had died in August, 1799. Not until six months after his death, and then only in reply to the enquiry as to Jack's demands for money, did his commanding officer write the following letter to Colonel Nairne:

Colonel Dalrymple to Colonel Nairne

From Columbo [India], 1st Feb., 1800.

I received your letter dated October, 1798, but a short time ago but too late, had there been any occasion to have spoken to your son upon the subject it contained for, Poor fellow, it is with pain I'm to inform you of his death. He died upon the 7th of August, 1799, in the Coimbalore country upon the return from the capture of Seringapatam. Never did a young man die more regretted nor never was an officer more beloved by his corps. He was an honour to his profession. An involuntary tear starts in my eye on thus being obliged to give you this painful information.

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The cause of his having drawn for so much money from Bombay was unfortunately his ship parted from us and they did not join at Columbo for some months, where I understand he had been induced to play by some designing people. But I assure you, from the moment he joined here, his life was exemplary for all young men. He was beloved by every description of people. From the very sudden way he took the field and the very expensive mode of campaigning in this country he was in debt to the paymaster. He was not singular; they were all in the same predicament. The first division of the prize money which was one thousand ster. Pagodas, about your hundred pounds, will only clear him with the Regiment.

Long before this letter arrived the news was known at Murray Bay. Malcolm Fraser, the tried family friend, writes on September 1st, 1800, that he has just discharged the most painful task of telling the sad news to Jack's sister and companion, Christine, who was visiting in Quebec. In his grief Nairne gives an exceeding bitter cry, "Lord, help me. I shall lose all my children before I go myself." His sister Magdalen wrote from Edinburgh on March 17th, 1800, to offer comfort and to hope that he bears the trial "with Christian fortitude, and that God will reward him by sparing those that remain to be a blessing to him," Nairne's sisters now had with them in Edinburgh the two remaining children, Tom and Mary, called "Polly." John is gone but Tom is left, says the fond aunt, and to console Nairne she tells of Tom's virtues: "Never was father blessed with a more promisingPg 102 son than our little Tom, and though I used to dread he was too faultless and too good to live, I would now persuade myself he is intended by Providence to compensate you for the losses you have sustained." On Tom now centred the hopes of the Nairne family.

View from Pointe au Pic up Murray Bay
View from Pointe au Pic up Murray Bay

The sands of Nairne's own life were running out. As he looked around him he could see much to make his heart content. He was never unmindful of the singular beauty of the place. "I wish I could send you a landscape of this place," he wrote to a friend, John Clark, in 1798; "Was you here your pencil might be employed in drawing a beautiful one which this Bay affords, as the views and different objects are remarkably various and entertaining." This is, no doubt, a mild account of the beauties of a very striking scene, but the 18th century had not developed our appreciation for nature. Nairne tells of his delight in tramping through the woods, and over the mountains, with a gun on his shoulder. The increase of settlement, and the burning of the woods, had driven the wild animals farther back into the wilderness, but partridges and water fowl were still abundant. There was salmon fishing almost at his door and "Lake Nairne," the present Grand Lac, had famous trout fishing. The thick woods, which at his coming extended all round the bay, were now cleared away. Much land had been enclosed and brought under cultivation and to do this had beenPg 103 a laborious and expensive task. Now he had three farms of his own, each with a hundred acres of arable land and with proper buildings. There was also a smaller farm for hay and pasture. "I have been employed lately," he writes in 1798, "making paths into our woods and marking the trees in straight lines thro' tracts of pretty good land in order to encourage the young men to take lots of land." He tells how the successive ridges, representing, no doubt, different water levels in remote ages, were numbered. In the highest, Number 7, the lakes are all situated; the elevated land was generally the best but as yet settlement was chiefly in Flats 1, 2, and 3. His great aim had always been to get people on the land and he denounced obstacles put in their way. "For God's sake let them pitch away, and if they have not good titles give them better." The Manor House had become a warm and comfortable residence well finished and well furnished. In 1801 Nairne wrote to his sister, with some natural exultation, that where he had at first found an untrodden wilderness were now order, neatness, good buildings, a garden and plenty of flowers, fruits and humming birds. In the winter one might often say "O, it's cold," but means of warming oneself were always available. His wife had proved always a useful helper and was indeed a motherly, practical woman, beloved by the people. These came to pay their compliments on the firstPg 104 day of the year, when there was much drinking of whiskey and eating of cakes, all costing a pretty penny. There were 100 young men in the parish composing a complete company of militia. The children grew up so fast that he could not distinguish the half of them.

On the commercial side also Murray Bay was developing. In 1800 a man came through the district buying up wheat at "9 livers a Bushel," but since the population was increasing very rapidly, and the people were accustomed to eat a great deal of bread, there was not much wheat for export. The total exports of all commodities amounted in 1800 to £1500:—oil, timber, grain, oxen and a few furs being the chief items. Oil was the most important product; it came from the "porpoise" fishery. What Nairne calls a porpoise, is really the beluga, a small white whale. The fishery is an ancient industry on the St. Lawrence.[15] The creature has become timid and is now not readily caught so that the industry survives at only a few points. At Malbaie it has wholly ceased; but in the summer of 1796 sixty-two porpoises were killed at "Pointe au Pique." In the summer of 1800, which was hot and dry, no less than three hundred were "catched." Malbaie must have had bustling activity on its shores when such numbers of these huge creaturesPg 105 were taken in a single season. We can picture the many fires necessary for boiling the blubber. The oil of each beluga was worth £5 and the skin £1. Nairne's own share in a single year from this source of revenue was £70, but even then the industry was declining.

We have Nairne's statement of income in 1798 and it indicates simple living at Malbaie. We must remember that in addition, he had received a number of bequests which brought in a considerable income and that he had sold out of the army for £3000. Perhaps, too, 1798 was a bad year.

"Porpoise" fishery £20
Income from four farms at £20 each 80
Profits from mills 20

The rent from the land granted to the habitants was scarcely worth reckoning, as the people paid nothing until the land was productive, a condition that could apparently be postponed indefinitely. Since under the seigniorial tenure, the farmers must use the seigneur's grist mill, Nairne had his mill in operation and Fraser was building one in 1798. Nairne had also one or more mills for sawing timber. "I hope there are a great many loggs brought and to be brought to your and my saw mills," Fraser wrote in 1797, but an income of only £20 a year from the millsPg 106 does not indicate any extortionate exercise of seigniorial rights.

Already some of the city people were beginning to find Murray Bay a delightful place in which to spend the summer. In 1799 Nairne writes to a friend, Richard Dobie, in Montreal, that it is the best place in the world for the recovery of strength. "You shall drink the best of wheys and breathe the purest sea air in the world and, although luxuries will be wanting, our friendship and the best things the place can afford to you, I know, will make ample amends:"—a simple standard of living that subsequent generations would do well to remember. In 1801 the manor house must have been the scene of some gaiety for there and at Malcolm Fraser's were half a score of visitors. Christine, Nairne's second daughter, who preferred Quebec to the paternal roof, had come home for a visit and other visitors were the Hon. G. Taschereau and his son, Mr. Usburn, Mr. Masson, Mrs. Langan and Mrs. Bleakley, Fraser's daughters, described as "rich ladies from Montreal," the last with three children. No doubt they drove and walked, rowed and fished, much as people from New York and Baltimore and Boston and Toronto and Montreal do still on the same scene, when they are not pursuing golf balls. The coming of people with more luxurious habits made improvements necessary and also, Nairne says, increased the expense ofPg 107 living—a complaint that successive generations have continued with justice to make.

With Tom and Mary Nairne absent at school in Edinburgh, the family at Murray Bay during Nairne's last days consisted of but four persons—of himself and his wife and the two daughters Magdalen and Christine. Christine, a fashionable young lady, disliked Murray Bay as a place of residence, tolerated Quebec, but preferred Scotland where she had been educated. "Christine does not like to stay at Murray Bay and Madie her sister does not like to stay anywhere else," wrote Nairne in 1800. In the manner of the eighteenth century he was extremely anxious that his children should be "genteel". Christine's Quebec friends pleased him. "I saw her dance at a ball at the Lieutenant-Governor's and she seemed at no loss for Genteel partners but does not prepare to find one for life. I am well pleased with her and do not in the least grudge her so long as she is esteemed by the best company in the place." It was not easy to find at Quebec proper accommodation for unmarried young women living away from home. Nairne writes in August, 1797, that he and Christine each paid $1.00 a day in Quebec where they lodged, although they mostly dined and drank tea abroad. "The town gentry of Quebec are vastly hospitable Civil and well-bred but no such a thing as an invitation to stay in any of their houses." At length a Mr. StewartPg 108 opened his doors. He must, Nairne wrote, be paid tactfully for the accommodation he furnishes. Things went better when later Miss Mabane, the daughter of a high official of the Government, kept Christine with her at Quebec all the winter of 1799-1800; no doubt Christine was pleased when Miss Mabane would not allow her to go to Murray Bay even for the summer. Her elder sister, Madie, appears to have been hoydenish and somewhat uncongenial to a young lady so determined to be "genteel."

In the winter time communication with the outside world was almost entirely suspended. In case of emergency it was possible indeed to pass on snow shoes by Cap Tourmente, over which there was still no road, and so reach Quebec by the north shore. But this was a severe journey to be undertaken only for grave cause. Partly frozen over, and often with great floes of ice sweeping up and down with the tide, the river was dangerous; the south shore, lying so well in sight, was really very remote. Yet news passed across the river. On February 12th, 1797, Malcolm Fraser, who was on the south shore, found some means of sending a letter to Nairne. Anxious to get word in return he planned a signal. He said that on March 6th he would go to Kamouraska, just opposite Murray Bay, and build a fire. If Nairne answered by one fire Fraser would be satisfied that nothing unusual had hapPg 109pened; if two fires were made he would understand that there was serious news and would wish as soon as possible to learn details. Signalling across the St. Lawrence attained a much higher development than is found in Fraser's crude plan. Philippe Aubert de Gaspé tells how the people on the south shore could read what had happened on the north shore from Cap Tourmente to Malbaie. On St. John's eve, December 26th, the season of Christmas festivities, there was a general illumination. Looking then across the river to a line of blazing fires the news was easily understood. "At Les Eboulements eleven adults have died since the autumn, three of whom were in one house, that of Dufour. All are well at the Tremblays; but at Bonneau's some one is ill. At Belairs a child is dead,"—and so on. The key is simple enough. The situation of the fire would indicate the family to which it related. A fire lighted and kept burning for a long time meant good news; when a fire burned with a half smothered flame it meant sickness; the sudden extinguishing of the fire was a sign of death; as many times as it was extinguished so many were the deaths; a large blaze meant an adult, a small one a child. Before the days of post and telegraph these signals were used winter and summer; so great an obstacle to communication was the mighty tide of the St. Lawrence.[16]

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At all seasons but especially in winter the news that reached Malbaie was of a very fragmentary character. With his kin in Scotland Nairne exchanged only an annual letter but since each side took time and pains to prepare it, the letter told more, probably, than would a year's bulk of our hurried epistles. Newspapers were few and dear and only at intervals did any come. Books too were scarce. Occasionally Nairne notes those that he thought of buying—St. Simon's "Memoirs;" an account of the Court of Louis XIV; "A Comparative View of the State and Facultys of Man with those of the Animal World;" "Elegant Extracts or Useful and Entertaining passages in prose," a companion volume to a similar one in poetry, and so on. He writes gratefully, in 1799, to a friend in Quebec, who had sent newspapers and sermons, both of which remotely different classes of literature had furnished "great entertainment." From Europe he is receiving the volumes of the new edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica, still on the shelves at Murray Bay, and is thankful that they were not captured by the French. "The older I grow the fonder I am of reading and that book is a great resource." Our degenerate age gets little "entertainment" out of sermons and usually keeps an encyclopædia strictly for "reference"; obviously Nairne read it.

The old soldier watched and commented upon developments which were the fruit of seed hePg 111 himself had helped to sow. He had fought to win Canada for Britain; he had fought to crush the American Revolution. By 1800 he sees how great Canada may become and is convinced that yielding independence to the United States has not proved very injurious to Great Britain. Though, in a short time, the United States was to secure the great West by purchasing Louisiana from France, when Nairne died it had not done so and in 1800 he could say that the United States "are small in comparison of the whole of North America. They are bounded upon all sides and will be filled up with people in no very great number of years. Our share of North America is yet unknown in its extent. Enterprising people in quest of furs travel for years towards the north and towards the west through vast countries of good soil uninhabited as yet ... [except] for hunting, and watered with innumerable lakes and rivers, stored with fish, besides every other convenience for the use of man, and certainly destined to be filled with people in some future time. We have only [now] heard of one named Mackenzie[17] who is reported to have been as far as the Southern Ocean (from Canada) across this continent to the West."Pg 112 Long before Canada stretched from the Atlantic to the Pacific Nairne was thus dreaming of what we now see.

Of war, then raging, Nairne took a philosophic view. "War may be necessary," he writes in 1798, "for some very Populous countrys as any crop when too thick is the better of being thinned." But it occurred to him that the problem of over-population in Europe might have been solved in a less crude manner. "It is strange," he says, "that there should be so much of the best part of the globe still unoccupied, where the foot of man never trod, and in Europe such destruction of people. It is however for some purpose we do not, as yet, comprehend." Those were the days when Napoleon Bonaparte's star was rising and when, in defiance of England, led by Pitt, he smote state after state which stood in the path of his ambition. Nairne's friend and business agent James Ker, an Edinburgh banker, was obviously no admirer of Pitt, for he writes on July 20th, 1797, of the struggle with revolutionary France which, though it was to endure for more than twenty years, had already, he thought, lasted too long:

After a four years' war undertaken for the attainment of objects which were unattainable, in which we have been gradually deserted by every one of our allies except Portugal, ... too weak to leave us; and after a most shameless extravagance and Waste of the public money whichPg 113 all feel severely by the imposition of new and unthought of taxes, we have again sent an ambassador to France to try to procure us Peace.... If our next crop be as bad as our two last ones God knows what will become of us. If it were not for the unexampled Bounty and Charity of the richer classes the Poor must have literally starved, but we have been favoured with a very mild winter.

In 1798 when Napoleon led his forces to Egypt and disappeared from the ken of Europe, Nairne hopes devoutly that "he has gone to the Devil, or, which is much the same thing, among the Turks and Tartars where he and his army may be destroyed." After Nelson succeeded in his attack on the French fleet at the Battle of the Nile Nairne rejoices that his country is supreme on the sea, "By ruling the waves she will rule the wealth of the world not by plunder and conquest but by wisdom and commerce and increasing riches everywhere to the happiness of mankind." On March 20th, 1801, when Austria had just made with France the Peace of Lunéville, Ker writes again to Nairne:

We live in the age of wonders, sudden changes and Revolutions. The French have now completely turned the tables on us. They have forced Austria to a disastrous peace and Russia, Prussia, Denmark and Sweden from being our friends and Allies are now uniting with our bitter foes for our destruction, so that from having almost all Europe on our side against France we have now the contest to support alone against her and almost all Europe and nothing prevents the ambitious French Republic from being conquerors of the world but our little Islands and ourPg 114 invincible fleets. Notwithstanding all this we do not seem afraid of invasion and a large fleet under Sir Hide Parker and Lord Nelson is preparing to sail for the Baltic to bring the northern powers to a sense of their duty, and to break in pieces the unnatural coalition with our inveterate foes, the foes of Religion, Property, true Liberty, which but for our strenuous efforts would soon nowhere exist on this Globe.

In spite of what Ker says as to no fear of invasion, such a fear grew really very strong in 1801, and, for a brief period, it seemed as if Murray Bay might become a refuge for Nairne's kindred in the distressed mother land. One of his sisters writes in an undated letter:

We are much obliged to you for the kind of reception you say we should have met with at Mal Bay had we fled there from the French and I do assure you ... it was for some time a very great comfort and relief to think we had resources to trust to. I for one, I am sure, was almost frightened out of my wits, for a visit from these monsters, even the attempt, tho' they had been subdued after landing, was fearsome. I suspect you might have had more of your friends than your own family to have provided for. The Hepburns I know turned their thoughts toward you and all of us determined to work for our bread the best way we could. But you might have no small addition to your settlers; some of us poor old creatures would have settled heavy enough I fear upon yourself and family. It is a fine place Mal Bay turned by your account. What a deal of respectable company. I am glad of it on your account. A very great piece of good fortune to get Col. Fraser so near; I wonder he does not marry Maidy, but she will think him too old. I think Christine may do a greatPg 115 deal worse than spend the summer if not more at Mal Bay. You are most amazingly indulgent to her. I wish she would make a grateful return by bestowing more of her company on her friends at home in a situation it would appear so pleasant. But she is a good kind-hearted Lassie after all and I suppose when she has got her full swing of Quebec she will be very well pleased to return home.

A legislature now sat at Quebec, the result of the new Constitutional Act passed in 1791, and Nairne might have become a member. Murray Bay then formed a part of what, with little fitness, had been called by the English conquerors the County of Northumberland, no doubt because it lay in the far north of Canada as Northumberland lies in the far north of England. Two members sat in the legislature for this county. "I never had any idea of trying to be one of them," writes Nairne in 1800, "but succeeded in procuring that honour for a friend Dr. Fisher, who resides in Quebec. He is rich and much flattered with it and is ready on all occasions to speak."

To Nairne, contrary to a general impression, the climate of Canada did not seem to grow milder as the land was cleared. In any case the blood of old age runs less hotly. Formerly the winter had its delights of hunting excursions but now, he writes, these are all over. "The passion I had formerly for hunting and fishing and wandering through the woods is abated.... What with the cold hand of old age my former Winter excursionsPg 116 into the woods seem impossible and no more now of fishing and hunting which formerly I esteemed so interesting a business." He writes again: "My employment is more in the sedentary way than formerly and what from calls in my own affairs and calls from people here in theirs, accounts to settle, &c., [I have] ... plenty of occupation. Besides being a Justice of the Peace and Colonel of Militia ... I employ myself without doors in farming, gardening, clearing and manuring land." If we may credit the words of Bishop Hubert of Quebec written just at this time (in 1794) the new liberties gained by the habitants did not make the seigneur's task easier. The good bishop makes sweeping charges of general dishonesty; of attempts to defraud the church of her tithe and the seigneurs of their dues; of bitter feuds between families and innumerable law suits. In such conditions Nairne, as a justice of the peace, would have his hands full.

His end was drawing very near. One of his sisters died in 1798. This brought sad thoughts but he wrote: "I am very thankful to have found in the world connexions who have produced such regards and sympathys. Time seems not to be going slowly now-a-days but running fast. I hope we are to have other times and to know one another hereafter." "I must make haste now," he wrote later, in 1801, "to finish all improvements here that may be possible as I will soon be finishedPg 117 myself. Crushed already under a load of years of 7 times 10 really I find the last 2 years ... heavier than 20 before that time." "The scenes of this life," he had written to his old friend and neighbour Malcolm Fraser "are continually varying like the elements, sometimes cloudy, sometimes sun shine; [it] never lasts long one way or the other till night soon comes and we must then lie down and die. Therefore all is vanity and vexation of spirit, but God will help us and most certainly some time or other bless and reward the friendly honest man."

His last letter to his Scottish relations was intended to be a farewell:

Colonel Nairne to his Sister Miss M. Nairne From Murray Bay, 20th April, 1802.

My Dear Madie,—

I shall see our friends in the world of spirits probably before any of you; whatever darkness we are in here I have always convinced myself that we shall meet again in a better place hereafter.

Although I have enjoyed good health till past 70 years of age, the agues of Holland and sometimes excessive fatigue have probably weakened parts of my inward machinery that they are now wore out and must soon finish their functions. I can have no reason to expect to live longer than our father; I am chiefly uneasy that the event may occasion grief to my sisters, yet it ought to be less felt my being at a distance; a poor affair to grieve when it must be all your fates to follow. I am happy that Mr. Ker understands my circumstances and my last will, and that he will be so good and so able to assist in settling itPg 118 properly; I wish to follow his ideas therein in case of any difficulty, and I am likewise perfectly satisfied with all Mr. Ker's accounts with me. I write this letter to you to go by the first ship in case I should not be able to write later; I do not expect to be able to write to Robie Hepburn nor to Mr. Ker; nothing I can tell now from this country can entertain them; my mind is taken up with nothing but the Friendship, which they know.... So soon as the weather is warmer I intend to go to Quebec in order to obtain the best advice: I shall not personally be so conveniently situated there, as here. I am able yet to go out as far as a bank before the Door and to walk through the rooms; indeed the arrangements and conveniences of this house with the attendance and attention I receive are all in the best manner I can possibly desire; ... it's enough to say that were you here I think you would approve of them. Industry and neatness prevail and everything nesessary [is] foreseen and provided for. No wonder my wife and I agree so well now these thirty-five years as she happens to be equal in every moral attribute which I pretend to.... We are in friendship with everybody, because we do justice impartially and really without vanity have assisted many persons in forming farms and providing for the support of familys; although thereby not in the way of enriching ourselves it affords perhaps as much Satisfaction.

This place certainly thrives exceedingly; although we may by such exertions be recommending ourselves to the Father of all things, how poor they appear in my eyes having read lately the Newspapers. Most unreasonable are some men in Parliament to find fault with the ministry of Pitt and Dundass who have steered the Vessel of the State so successfully through such dangerous times and threatening appearances. Every Briton I think has reason to be proud of his Country which is raised higher than ever before not only in national Character but in its prospects ofPg 119 Commerce and Wealth by the Peace [the brief Peace of Amiens signed in March, 1802]. What prodigious honour and glory has been acquired and bestowed upon our Army of Egypt, exertions indeed on the most conspicuous theatre of the World and at the most conspicuous period of the world. We formerly thought ourselves sort of heroes by conquering Louisbourg and Quebec but nothing must be compared to that of Egypt.... The French troops have fought much better under their D^iacal Republican government than under their King's and our troops not only fight equally well as formerly, but our Generals and Officers are much better writers; never have I read better wrote letters than those describing these renown'd events.

But pray allow me to sink into poetry to help to fill up this paper; ... let me transcribe a letter in verse which is handed me now by an old Soldier residing near us.[18] He received it from an acquaintance of his who is only a private soldier in the 26th Regiment. That Regt. is now gone home; ... should it be at Edinburgh pray invite James Stevenson to a dram of Whiskey for my sake; though I do not know the man we had served together in the American War and he shows the idea the private men had of me and how a man of a slender education (I believe from Glasgow) can make verses. The Canadians here, I believe, have the same opinion though they are very far from making verses upon any subject whatever; it is much more useful here to cut down trees which they can do with great dexterity.

Quebec, 25th April, 1800.

My worthy conty, gude Jock Warren,
Thou's still jocose and ay auld farren,
Gentle and kind, blythe, frank and free,
And always unco' gude to me.

Pg 120

And now thou's sold thy country ware
And towards hame mean to repair.[19]
Accept these lines although but weak
And read them for thy Comrade's sake.
May plenty still around thee smile
And God's great help thy foes beguile,
In Wisdom's path be sure to tread
And her fair daughter Virtue wed.
My compliments and love sincere
To all our friends both here and there,
But in particular to him
That's tall in body, long in limb,
Auld faithful Loyal, Johny Nairne,
Lang may he count you his ain bairne;
By his example still be sway'd;
Be his good precepts still obeyed;
Revere this good and worthy man
And always do the best you can.
This is my wish and expectation,
God granting you and me salvation.
We ance were young but now we're auld,
Oour blood from heat commences cauld,
A drop of whiskey warms the whole,
Renews the body, cheers the soul;
Observing still due moderation,
In order to prevent vexation,
Proceeding on with cautious care
Till Death with his grim face appear;
Then with a conscience, just and true
See Heaven's Glory, in your View.

My neighbour, Mr. Fraser, tells me that by my looks and speaking he cannot think me so ill as imagined. YouPg 121 will think the same by my writing the above. My distemper is owing to Gravelly Ulcers and it is a great chance at my time of life to recover, so [we] should be prepared for the worst.

It is a satisfaction to me to have been able to write this letter, such as it is. My thoughts are every day and every night with my sisters and [I] figure myself frequently at your fireside. Remember I am not to write any more unless I get a great deal better. [I] shall refer you to Christine to correspond and to tell you all you would wish to know from this country. And now I have nothing but Compts. and love to send to all my friends—to Robie Hepburn as my oldest and nearest my heart—my blessings to his family, as to the Kers and Congaltons. And once more to Anny you and Mary and Mrs. Ker and my Polly and Tom. God bless you all. I am truly my dear Madie with much affection,

Yours for aye,

John Nairne.

Nairne was not mistaken in his view that the end was near. He writes about this time to his physician at Quebec (there was no practitioner at Murray Bay) describing his symptoms and ends: "Now, dear Doctor, I dare say you think some apologies necessary for my troubling you so particularly with the complaints of an old man of 71, as his inward machinery is probably wore out and irreparable." In a last vain hope they took him to Quebec for medical care. But the machinery was, indeed, "wore out," and at Quebec, on July 14th, 1802, he closed his eyes on a world which, though it brought him labour and sorrow, he thought to be very good.

Pg 122

Among his own letters is preserved the printed invitation to his funeral:

Quebec, Wednesday, 14th July, 1802.


The favour of your company is requested to attend the Funeral of the late Colonel Nairne, from No. 1 Grison Street, on Cape Diamond, to the place of interment, on Friday next at one o'clock in the afternoon.

All that was most worthy in Quebec attended to do honour to his memory. He was buried in the Protestant cemetery; long after his body was removed to Mount Hermon Cemetery, to lie beside his son and grandson—the last of his race.

Nairne played his part with high purpose and integrity. Among his papers at Murray Bay is a prayer, intended apparently for daily use, in which he asks that he may be vigilant in conduct and immovable in all good purposes; that he may show courage in danger, patience in adversity, humility in prosperity. He asks, too, to be made sensible "how little is this world, how great [are] thy Heavens, and how long will be thy blessed eternity." It is the prayer of a strong soul facing humbly and reverently the tasks of life.[20] He would have wished to found a community English speaking and Protestant. But the forces of nature were against him. The few English speaking people who came in (and they were but a few scattered individuals) for the mostPg 123 part married French wives. The children held the faith and spoke the tongue which they learned at their mothers' knees. It was the course of nature, and always we are foolish to quarrel with nature. A granite monument marks the resting place where the good old man sleeps in the cemetery at Quebec, but some memorial might well stand at Murray Bay, that those who look out upon the majestic river, the blue mountains, the smiling valley should have before them a reminder of the "friendly, honest man" who, a century and a half ago, began to win their heritage from the wilderness.[21]

Pg 124


Thomas Nairne, Seigneur of Murray Bay

His Education in Scotland.—His winning character.—He enters the army.—Malcolm Fraser's counsels to a young soldier.—Thomas Nairne's life at Gibraltar.—His desire to retire from the army.—His return to Canada in 1810-11.—His life at Quebec.—His summer at Murray Bay, 1811.—His resolve to remain in the army.—Beginning of the War of 1812.—Captain Nairne on Lake Ontario.—Quebec Society and the proposed flight from danger to Murray Bay.—Anxiety at Murray Bay.—The progress of the War.—An American attack on Kingston.—Captain Nairne on the Niagara frontier.—Naval War on Lake Ontario.—Nairne's description of a naval engagement.—Sense of impending disaster at Murray Bay.—The American advance on Montreal by the St. Lawrence.—Nairne's regiment a part of the opposing British force.—The Battle of Crysler's Farm.—Nairne's death.—His body taken to Quebec.—The grief of the family at Murray Bay.—The funeral.

At his father's death Thomas Nairne was the only surviving son. In 1791 the father had written of this boy, born in 1787 and thus only four years old: "Tom continues very stout but not easy to manage and [I] am afraid it will be difficult to separate [him] from his mother. He does not speak a word of English; neither do your sisters Mary (now called Polly) or Anny speak any other language than French; but IPg 125 intend to send them all to Quebec next summer, where it's to be hoped they will soon learn to understand a little English." So to Quebec Tom was sent to begin his education. By 1798, when only eleven years old, he had gone to the relatives in Scotland and Nairne's friend, Ker, writes of him: "I think Tommie one of the sweetest tempered fine boys I ever saw and he will, I doubt not, be the comfort and delight of you all." Polly was there too—"a very good girl ... of great use to her Aunts to whom she pays every attention." Tom, like his brother John, was carefully instructed by his father. He must look after himself, dress, care for his clothes, and keep clean, without troubling others. Especially must he try to think clearly and speak distinctly—truly a sound beginning of education. His brother's death in 1799 made him an important person, the pride of his house. "There are many Tams now in this parish," wrote his father in 1801, "even a part of it is named St. Thomas, all in compliment to our Tom." At the time of his father's death in 1802, a boy of fifteen, Tom was attending the Edinburgh High School. Before me lies a coverless account book of octavo size in which are written by some careful person, in clear round-hand, recipes, scraps of poetry, problems in arithmetic and geometry, and among other things, "Tom's Expenses, 1796." A quarter at the High School costs 10/6, "Lattin books," 4/-, school money isPg 126 3/-, a ferret 3d., and so on. His sister Polly's expenses are entered in the same book and that young lady's outlay was more formidable. Items for the milliner such as "making up a Bonnet. 3/6," (young ladies still wore bonnets) are frequent. Miss Polly spent 6/- on ear-rings. Once when she took a "Shaise" it cost her 2/-, while "Chair Hire" is sometimes 1/6 and sometimes reduced to the modest proportions of 9d. No doubt for her health's sake she bought for 1/- a "Sacred Tincture" which, we may hope, did her good.

Thomas Nairne was an attractive boy. He lived with his father's executor and friend, James Ker, an Edinburgh banker, a wise, prudent, far-seeing, man. Mr. Ker was married to Colonel Nairne's niece and he received Tom as his own child. The boy was the inseparable companion of Ker's son Alick. Tom won praises on all sides. An Aunt wrote seriously that she had feared he was too good to live; and she comforted Nairne's grief at his son John's death by the thought of what Tom will be to him. He is "a happy chearful pleased little fellow always quiet at home"—but also "happy and at home wherever he goes." So thoughtful, she adds, is he that, entirely on his own motion, he deems it proper to write to his mother; one of these letters is before me—beautifully written in a large but well-formed schoolboy hand. "A very promising sweet young man,"Pg 127 was the renewed judgment of his business-like guardian upon Tom in 1803, when he was a boy of only sixteen. By that time, it was thought that Tom had exhausted the advantages of the Edinburgh High School. The Edinburgh accent of the day did not suit the taste of his fastidious guardian, who hoped that in an English school a better manner of speech might be acquired. Tom's cousin and companion, Alick Ker, a boy a few years older, was going to school at Durham and thither also went Tom. The lads "are the greatest friends in the world," wrote his watchful aunt; "Alick does not know how to exist without Tom but Tom is more independent of Alick, for he is not so shy." In an aunt's, perhaps partial, view Tom was quicker and showed more application than Alick. "Tom advances with great deliberation in his height," she writes, which was very convenient, for, since Alick was older, Tom came in for Alick's out-grown clothes and this saved expense.

When the boy's school days were drawing to an end his future course was the topic of much discussion. Tom's father had wished him to study law, though not to practice it: in Canada, he thought, there was no lucrative opening for any one trained in the law unless he was made a judge. Old Malcolm Fraser, Tom's adviser after his father's death, would have had him, for safety's sake, adopt a civilian life; he was the last male ofPg 128 his house and therefore ought not to be exposed to a soldier's dangers. Tom's Edinburgh friends wished him to become a Writer to the Signet or, at any rate, to learn something about business since, as a landed proprietor, he must be a man of affairs. But the youth took the matter in his own hands. For his father's character and career he had always a great reverence; soldier's blood was in his veins, and nature had her way. Tom became a soldier and, when the school days are ended, we find the boy, not yet eighteen, Lieutenant in the 10th Regiment of Foot. Fraser wrote to Tom protesting against what he had done and from Maldon Barracks, in Essex, on April 5th, 1805, Tom answers his godfather's objections. Perhaps to add solemnity to his argument the old man had assumed the tone of a valetudinarian and Tom replies: "I would fain hope you had no reason for saying you would soon follow my dear Father. I hope God will spare you to us since he has thought proper to take my Father to Himself. Your loss would be irreparable, I having no other person to protect my mother and sisters as I have chosen a line of life in which I may never have the fortune of being near them." In spite of Fraser's appeal, Tom's resolution to remain in the army was unshaken.

It was an amazing era in Europe and well may Fraser have feared for the young Lieutenant'sPg 129 safety. While the boy was writing, Napoleon Bonaparte, with the lustre fresh upon him of a recent gorgeous coronation at Paris as Emperor of the French, was gathering at Boulogne a great army and hundreds of small boats with which this army might, he hoped, be thrown across into England within twenty-four hours. That country was very nervous but, for some reason, Tom's regiment, instead of being kept at home to meet the invader, was sent to Gibraltar. Here he remained inactive while world-shaking events were happening, while Trafalgar and Austerlitz and Jena were fought, and Pitt stricken with "the noblest of all sorrows," grief for the seeming ruin of his country, told those about him to "roll up the map of Europe," and died heartbroken. Not unnaturally at such a time Gibraltar seemed dull; a miserable place, Tom thought, a prison on a large scale. His friends wrote him letters containing an abundance of good advice, all of which he took with becoming modesty. A letter from Fraser of this character is still excellent reading; his counsels to the young soldier have added weight when we remember that the author was with Wolfe at Louisbourg and Quebec and now, nearly fifty years later, was still active in the militia forces of Canada.

Pg 130

Malcolm Fraser to Lieut. Thomas Nairne

From Murray Bay, 7th October, 1805.

My Dear Godson,—

I had the very great pleasure of receiving yours of the 5th April last at this place on the 15th September and as your sister Miss Christine has wrote you I must refer you to her for the news of Murray Bay. She left this for Quebec a few days ago and every thing continues to go well here and I hope will do so. Your mother improves your estate daily and if she lives ten years I am convinced that she will make it worth double what it was ten years ago and if after a peace, when I hope you will have a company, you can get exchanged into a Regiment serving in this Country without losing rank, you will by that means have an opportunity of examining your own affairs here and it will give the greatest pleasure to your mother and other relations and friends within your native country, and particularly to me, should I happen to live so long. Christine has I suppose wrote that you are now an uncle, your sister Madie having been delivered of a fine boy about two months ago, and I have the pleasure to tell you that she and her husband seem to be very happy and, tho' I did not at first approve of the match, that I am now quite reconciled to it as are all her friends here, as well as those in Scotland as far as I can learn.

Now as to yourself: tho' I had some objections to your going into the army so very young, yet now that you have become a soldier, I hope you will continue to follow the military life with ardour and Emulation as far as lays in your power and that you will endeavour to employ your spare time in acquiring the various accomplishments necessary to become a good officer. I would by no means advise you to avoid such innocent pleasures and amusements as are suitable to your age and rank. But I prayPg 131 you beware of being led astray or going into any excess. I am very glad to find that the army is now in general much less addicted to (what was falsely called) the pleasures of the bottle than in former times, but you may still meet with temptations in that way which I hope you'll guard against. Try to resemble your late worthy father in temperance and moderation as well as in punctuality and exactness in doing your duty with strict subordination to your superiors, particularly to the commanding officer of your corps, as it is by his recommendation, commonly, that those under his immediate command may expect promotion. You must by all means avoid getting into any parties or factions against him, which I have known sometimes to have unfortunately happened to others; but there can be hardly anything more detrimental to the service as well as dishonourable to the corps wherein it takes place. I would also recommend to you ..., in case you are engaged in any action, to beware of passing judgment on the conduct of your Commanders, till at least you are of an age and have acquired experience to entitle you to give your opinion, as it is very common for a young man to be mistaken. You must also avoid any dispute or difference with your brother officers, for tho' there are unhappily some cases where a gentleman must vindicate his honour yet where I have known such things happen they might have been prevented with honour if the parties had not allowed their passions to get the better of their reason; and you must remember there is never honour to be acquired by being quarrelsome, but the reverse, and that your life ought now to be devoted to the service of your King and country. I know you will not be sparing of it when occasion requires.

I would also recommend to you to read useful books when you have time and to acquire a competent knowledge of History, both Ancient and Modern, especially that of thePg 132 country in whose service you are engaged, as also such books as treat of your profession; and to pay particular attention to the lives and actions of those who have distinguished themselves in its service, who you will find to have been in general as remarkable for their moral, as for their military characters; and I hope you will endeavour to imitate them and, tho' you may not acquire the rank, you must remember that you cannot become a good general or even a good officer without first acquiring a competent knowledge of your profession. For this purpose (tho' I never had any proper knowledge of those matters myself yet I am sensible of my deficiency) I would have you study and read such books as treat of fortification and encampments; and as you are still very young I imagine you may soon acquire a competent knowledge by such reading, suitable to avail yourself of it on any emergency.

I must now recommend you to keep those who may be under your command in that degree of subordination and obedience which the service requires. But you must never forget that your inferiors, even the Private Man who serves in the ranks, is your fellow soldier and fellow-man, and that you are bound to show him every attention and humanity in your power. This was one of the many good qualities for which your father was remarkable, for which he was beloved by all ranks; and I hope you will imitate him. I must now conclude by recommending to you to let me hear from you once a year, at least, or oftener if an opportunity offers. Nothing can give more pleasure than to hear good accounts of you to

Your affectionate godfather,

Malcolm ffraser.

In short you must never forget that you may at times become responsible for the lives and honour of those under your command as well as for your own, and, it may evenPg 133 happen, for that of your King and Country, in some degree, and that you are to act accordingly. All this with more and much better you may read or hear from others; but I flatter myself that you will not think the less of it as coming from me.

It must be admitted that the soldier's ideal in that age for the British army was as high as our own. We are accustomed to think that a hundred years ago drunkenness was hardly accounted a vice. Perhaps it was not in civil life, but in the army, in young Nairne's time, sobriety was the rule. Writing on May 20th, 1807, he says that few in the army resort to drink, as a pleasure, even at Gibraltar, where wine is cheap and plentiful; the allowance in the regiment after dinner is but one-third of a bottle, and only now and then when there are guests is it usual to depart from this allowance. The deadly dullness and idleness of Gibraltar were its chief defects, the young officer thought.

There had been futile talk of peace. On August 13th, 1806, Ker wrote to Murray Bay from Edinburgh: "We expect to hear of Peace between this country and France. The Earl of Lauderdale has been sent to Paris to treat. But what sort of peace can we make with Bona Parte?" What sort indeed? Peace was not to come during Tom Nairne's lifetime. He was getting ready meanwhile for an enlarged career. At Gibraltar he pressed his guardian to purchase him a captaincy.Pg 134 Those were the bad old days when promotion in the army went largely by purchase and Tom had been Lieutenant for little more than a year when, at a cost of £1,000, Ker bought for him the desired rank; he attained to this dignity at the age of nineteen. The purchase strained his resources severely but his family got some comfort out of the thought that he was advancing. There was an excellent library at Gibraltar and he had good opportunities for self-improvement of which he promised to avail himself. But the promise was hardly realized. At any rate Tom gave a very poor account of his own doings for, after he had returned to England, he wrote to his mother (from Chelmsford Barracks on March 19th, 1808) a not very flattering account of himself at Gibraltar:

Only figure to yourself a rock, about two miles and a half in length and scarcely the fifth part of that in breadth, and then most likely you will not be so much astonished at my making the above comparison [of Gibraltar to a prison], from which you may wisely suppose that those unfortunate beings who had the misfortune of being shut up in it led a most inactive and stupid life.... However, to give the Devil his due, I must not omit to observe that it contained a most excellent Library, by which means officers might improve themselves greatly and spend their leisure hours to their credit, provided they were desirous of doing so; particularly as nothing existed in that place to take off their attention from study; and I make no doubt but some young men had the sense to profit by that favourable opportunity. At the same time [I] am extremely sorry to inform you your promising son did not, in anyPg 135 shape whatever, and am much concerned to add that he spent a very idle life whilst there, doing nothing else the live-long day than riding or lounging; which I presume you will think was a complete disgrace to any man of a liberal education, in which I perfectly agree with you.... I sincerely hope and trust that he [your son] will mend as he becomes older and wiser.

Tom confesses himself at this time "a complete idle, good for nothing fellow," but he disarms his mother's reproaches when he adds that he is chiefly occupied in thinking of her and of his large estate in Canada where he longs to be. It had for him a new attraction, since his cousin Alick Ker was just going out to Canada, a Captain on the staff of Sir James Craig, the new Governor, who was related to the Kers. For the time Tom's family was content that he should be at Gibraltar, where he was safe, and where, too, as Ker prudently says, "he lives cheaper than he could in England, has a genteel [how the age loved that word!] society and the use of a large Library." He rode on the sandy beach; sometimes, until the coming of the French troops, the British officers were allowed to ride into Spain.

These diversions all came to an end on August 26th, 1807, when Tom turned his back on Gibraltar for good. Incredible as it may now seem, the voyage to England took nearly a month; he arrived on the 24th of September. The young man had been turning over seriously his future prospects. In a letter to his mother he makes somePg 136 enquiry about his own probable income from his estate. While protesting that he is himself "a Devilish ugly fellow" he has some thought of getting his mother to choose a "rib" for him and, presumptuous as it may seem, she must be handsome. He was thinking now of a civilian career. At Gibraltar he had found that he was short-sighted, and long sight seemed a necessity to a soldier. But Fraser, to whom he poured out his woe, answered that short-sightedness need not interfere with his efficiency; Colonel Nairne had been short-sighted and yet, withal, a successful officer; the question of sight would matter only if he was in command, in face of the enemy, and, even then, he could get assistance. Fraser advised him to stay in the army until he attained the rank of a field officer, when he might retire on half pay to his estate at Murray Bay, "extensive but not valuable in proportion." In truth Tom, tired of the army, was home-sick. He says to Fraser that he is "feeling an indescribable degree of anxiety to see my dearest mother, sisters, and yourself, not forgetting to include my estate, where I often figure myself, strutting about like unto a mighty Bashaw; which peaceful idea I sincerely hope will be realized, some day or other, if it pleases God to spare me so long; ... my only desire is now that blessed time may be near at hand or even that I could afford to set out to Murray Bay without any further delay.Pg 137 However it is proper to drown that wish, for the present, amongst the noise of arms, as the whole world is up against us, and my assistance, though little enough, God knows, may be of some use. At all events it would be tasting the sweets of this life before I had ever felt the miseries of it." He ends by asking that nothing of which he is possessed may be spared "towards making Alick Ker pass a pleasant time in Canada."

The fear which the old aunt had ingenuously expressed that Tom might prove too good to live was happily belied, for he appears to have been a sufficiently idle young fellow, though, as his watchful guardian wrote, "a good economist"; the same guardian thought this extremely opportune, since "Bona Parte," with all Europe under his heel, was making it lively for the fortunate islands, and forcing them to levy a tax of 10% on incomes. "This tax," writes the indignant banker, "is one of the many blessed fruits of the French Revolution, and of the horrible tyranny and perfidy of their rascally Emperor."

Not long did Tom remain in England. Soon he was off with his regiment to Sicily, at this period garrisoned by British troops, and saved by a strip of inviolate sea from the grasp of the master of Italy. The sojourn in Sicily must have been dull. He was stationed at Syracuse, but his school training had not gone deep enough to interest him in Thucydides's marvellous storyPg 138 of the siege of that place or in the antiquities of Sicily. The chief surviving record of his sojourn in Sicily is an account from his washerwoman, "Mrs. De Lass," dated at Syracuse the 8th of March, 1809. His distaste for the army was now complete. His sister Polly had ended her school days and, by a fortunate circumstance, had gone out to Canada "under the protection of Sir William Johnstone's lady" and to Canada Tom was himself resolved to go. Early in 1810, he was back in Edinburgh, taking a few weeks' holiday with the Kers, resolved to go on half pay at once, if possible, or, failing this, to sell out, and after a delay of fourteen or fifteen months, to go home to Murray Bay. The intervening time he intended to spend in the study of farming; he had almost completed a plan for going into Berwickshire to reside with a farmer and thus equip himself as a land owner. His friends thought him changeable. "The Captain," wrote Ker on the 30th of March, 1810, "is a sweet tempered good young man but he wants steadiness.... I fear that after trying to be a farmer at Murray Bay he may tire and want to return to the army." So serious was Tom about his future bucolic life that he wrote to his sister Christine, as he had written before to his mother, to ask whether she did not think he should look round for a wife; such a companion would be necessary, he thought, if he settled down as a farmer in Canada. We can imagine that thePg 139 proposition, from a youth of twenty-three, caused some dismay among the occupants of the Manor House at Murray Bay; but Tom was soon professing himself something of a woman hater and he never married.

His return to Murray Bay followed quickly. By a fortunate, or perhaps, in view of the tragic fate awaiting poor Tom, unfortunate, chance, instead of going on half-pay, he was able to exchange from the 10th Regiment of Foot to the Newfoundland Regiment. The chief reason for the exchange was that the Newfoundland Regiment was ordered to Canada, where Tom could get leave of absence to pay a long visit to Murray Bay and learn how its life would suit him. So, in the autumn of 1810, the young man was in Canada, which he had not seen since childhood. To Murray Bay he soon paid a flying visit; the longer leave of absence would come later. His competent, busy, prudent and affectionate old mother welcomed him with open arms. He had thought of himself as a young Bashaw strutting round among the people of his seigniory. No doubt they were much interested to see the young Captain; but his duties soon called him back to Quebec, from which place on December 3rd, 1810, he writes to his mother:

I have this moment finished drinking tea, all alone.... You have totally spoiled my relish for anything except for Murray Bay; my notions of things in general appear toPg 140 be entirely changed. Murray Bay while viewed only in perspective afforded me a sort of pleasing reflection; but now that I have a nearer view and enjoyed its comforts my ideas have experienced a complete revolution. So you see what your society and most kind loving treatment have effected. You may therefore rest assured that no stone will be left unturned to try to get back in order that we may remain together in this world as long as it may please the Almighty to permit us. On my arrival here at 2 o'clock p.m. I proceeded to the Upper Town in order to look out for a bed, concerning the getting of which I had entertained my doubts being, tout ensemble, a queer figure, having on my covered handkerchief, thick great coat, Canadian boots, and round hat; in short at the first essay I was refused by a "No room in the house, Sir," a common reply given to those whose unfortunate appearance happens not exactly to please the harsh and scrutinizing eye of the lord of the mansion. I then turned my frozen steps towards this house of hospitality where after explaining mon besoin to the waiter he scrupulously and critically eyed me from top to toe, from head to foot, then turned on his heel to go to his master and report accordingly. During his absence I commenced a serious inspection of self to find if possible what had attracted his attention so pointedly towards my toes, when I observed the cause to be the silver chain of my over-alls peeping out from under my great-coat; which, no doubt, was the reason of having received a favourable answer; for on his re-entrance he asked me to sit down and I finally engaged a room.

On January 9th, 1811, Tom wrote to say that a man had arrived from Murray Bay but without letters:

"What the Devil has come over those sisters of mine? Pray are they still behind the stove patching their oldPg 141 stockings? No time forsooth—Rediculous—Could not the lazy wretches have only wrote me the scratch of a pen merely to wish me a good New Year? Mr. McCord to be sure mumbles something about time; it is highly diverting to have country lasses talk about want of time, particularly those I am now speaking of, unless they have greatly altered for the better since I saw them last, and turned their hands to cow-keeping, tending of poultry, or something of that description; but I'll be bound for it they still employ themselves with nothing else except perching behind the stove, growling, and driving carriols."

He exhorts his sisters to take long walks in the fine cold weather. Then he dips into politics. There is to be an election at Murray Bay for the county of Northumberland and Mr. Bouchette, a Canadian, had asked for the interest of Tom as seigneur. He regrets that he cannot himself offer to stand since he is unsettled in plans, "and totally unacquainted with the language of the country"; a strange comment on the fact that in early youth he had known only French. The habitant had recently secured the right to vote but already pleased himself in exercising it. Though, as Tom says, "Dr. La Terrière of the adjacent seigniory of Les Eboulements, the Curés, and the Devil knows who" all wished Bouchette elected and Tom was himself anxious that a habitant should not be chosen, Bouchette failed and a habitant was sent to Quebec to represent the district in the Legislature.

Tom's letters written during the winter of 1810-1811 are full of the gossip and events of the timePg 142 in Quebec. He is now obviously keen for self-improvement, and, in the manner of his father, for the improvement of others also; while congratulating Polly on the better style of her letters which are now "sprightly", he corrects her spelling. Among other things he is trying to complete a proper inscription for his father's tomb. He sends for the title deeds of his property in order that he may do homage to the governor Sir James Craig, and shows a lively interest in the management of his estate. His father's old friend, Colonel Fraser, was visiting Quebec which, more than fifty years earlier, he had helped to win for Britain but where now, it is somewhat sad to think, he has, as Tom says, very few acquaintances. So the young Captain spends two or three hours daily with the Colonel and finds that he has many interesting subjects to talk with him about. He drives with him into the country. He enquires about a house in Quebec which his mother had some thought of buying and talks of a trip to Montreal to buy a horse to send to Murray Bay. In the letters home Christine, "Rusty" is the special object of his teasing. She has been accustomed to spend the winters at Quebec, but is now at Murray Bay, and he asks how she likes the dull country at this season. "She never says anything about it, which is in her favour.... I trust that through the means of Picquet you contrive to keep her rusty dollars moving." Tom's abPg 143sence from Murray Bay was soon to end. On March, 23rd, 1811, he wrote joyously that he has got leave of absence for six months, and is coming "to my own dear Murray Bay." Christine had been dangerously ill and he is naturally anxious to be at home.

So behold the young seigneur disporting himself at Murray Bay in the spring of 1811. Old Malcolm Fraser, at the manor of Mount Murray just across the bay, kept a watchful eye on the godson who, he had begun to fear, was not proving wholly satisfactory. The cause of Fraser's misgiving is not clear but he lectured Tom with tactful insight. Of his own career the young officer was now beginning to take a new view. During the long holiday at Murray Bay he had time to taste its pleasures and to learn its chief interests. He went out fishing and shooting; he sailed and rowed on the river; he occupied himself in the daily business of the seigniory, for which his competent mother had so long cared; she was now building a mill which would probably add to Tom's revenues. He made friends with the curé Mr. Le Courtois. This gentleman, a French émigré, who found a refuge in Canada, had thrown himself with great devotion into the rough life of a missionary among the scattered peoples, Canadians and Indians alike, of his remote parish. He was a man of culture and remained always a valued counsellor of the Protestant family in the ManorPg 144 House.[22] But, in spite of all the interests and friendships at Murray Bay, Tom soon found that the little community hardly needed him. Every thing was well looked after, prosperous and promising. He would be only a fifth wheel to the coach and, before long, he had made up his mind that he had better stick to his military career.

Without doubt Tom was a young man of winning character. Malcolm Fraser, having studied him and lectured him, reconsidered his unfavourable estimate, and wrote to Ker on the 10th of October, 1811: "I think him incapable of any immoral or mean action; ... he seems to hearken to the lectures of his old Godfather tho' not perhaps always delivered in the most delicate Style." To his mother he was a tender son, and for his father's memory he showed a filial reverence. One of his first acts on arriving in Canada had been to arrange for the erection in Quebec of a proper monument in his memory—something that others had long talked about and which Tom brought to completion, but which has, alas, long since disappeared. Tom was in truth a man of action, and to action in the larger world he now turned. Towards the end of September, 1811, at the time when, to-day, Murray Bay's summer sojourners turn reluctantly homeward from the crisp autumn air and from the mountain sides beginning to show the season's glowing tints,Pg 145 Captain Nairne set out from the Manor House to join his regiment at Quebec. He had in mind a plan to go back to Europe and to get to Spain or Portugal for a share in the Peninsular War then raging. Fraser, now in his 79th year, writes on October 10th, 1811, his advice that the young man "should continue on full pay till he attains the rank of Major, by brevet or otherwise, and then, if he chooses, he may exchange and retire on the half of whatever full pay he holds at the time, and as soon as such exchange can be accomplished with decency and propriety." War with the United States was now impending, hardly a fitting time for a young man to withdraw from the army, and Fraser points out that "in the present situation of public affairs and at his age and fitness for service" Tom's retirement would be hardly decent. "Next to my own nearest connections," he continues, "my chief attention will be paid to Captain Nairne and the other connections of his late Father with whom I had the happiness to live in Friendship and intimacy from our first meeting (1757) till his Decease (1802) and I trust we shall meet again in a future state."

The young man thus returned to his military duties with his old friend's benediction and restored confidence. But to the family the plan for a military career was a sore disappointment. His sister Christine, its woman of the world, and the one most in touch with the Canadian societyPg 146 of the time, was keen that Tom should live at Murray Bay. To her entreaties he answers on October 6th, 1811, that there is no earthly use for him at Murray Bay where everything is so well looked after that his presence would do more harm than good. Time would hang heavy on his hands if he were always employed in fishing, shooting and navigating the river. It is better, he says, that he should continue in his present position and he intends to withdraw his application for half pay. When Christine returns to the charge and urges that Murray Bay is not to be despised the young man retorts that he never said it was and answers her with some dignity:

It will ill become me to despise the favourite residence of a person for whom I have at all times testified the greatest love esteem and respect. Indeed I think my behaviour hitherto might have spared me such a severe remark.... You charge me with being inconsistent and changeable, in which opinion you are not, I believe, singular; but until you point out to me where I have been so, I shall till then, plead not guilty in my own mind.

War was now brooding over Canada—the fratricidal War of 1812. But for the time Quebec was gay. There was hardly a week without a private ball, Tom wrote in February, 1812; and the assemblies, dinners and suppers were innumerable. He chaffs his sister Christine, whose rheumatic pains had apparently become a kind of family joke, and says that, since they are thePg 147 enemies of high kicking, her inability longer for this pastime "is partly the cause of her sounding a retreat to the peaceful shades and grottoes of Murray Bay." Polly, the other unmarried sister, was more content to be at Murray Bay, with results that led to a family tragedy as we shall see later. Her brother pictures her driving his nag with her carriole through the country; so reckless is she that she is sure to run down some one. "Does she, proud and high, still continue hopping away to the country weddings?" His request that Pope's Works and The Spectator be sent to him seems to indicate a serious turn of mind. He is sending to Murray Bay The Lady of the Lake and The Lay of the Last Minstrel whose middle-aged author was just turning from poetry to win unprecedented success as a writer of fiction. In the spring he goes out shooting for snipe nearly every day; and he sends to Murray Bay for his fishing tackle. When a fellow officer falls ill he sends him down to Murray Bay for a month.

Soon came a more active life. War with the United States was near and Canada was getting ready. In May, 1812, Malcolm Fraser, led to Quebec from Murray Bay and the intervening parishes what militia he could muster. At the same time, he was made a commissioner to administer the oaths of allegiance: in extreme old age the veteran was ready again to do what he could. The Newfoundland regiment, to whichPg 148 Tom belonged, was ordered to the interior. The storm cloud drew near and burst on June 19th, 1812, in the form of a declaration of war by the United States on Great Britain. The Americans intended to pour troops into Upper Canada, but sparsely settled at that time, and quickly to occupy it. The frontier on the Niagara River was the chief danger point and the Newfoundland Regiment was sent up to Lake Ontario to aid in the defence. On July 3rd, 1812, Tom writes from Kingston in Upper Canada. The news has reached him that war has been declared; and already, busy with the task of placing men and supplies where they will be most needed, he has been the length of Lake Ontario in the Royal George; staying two days at York, now Toronto; going thence to Niagara and then sailing back to Kingston. At Kingston there are 1,000 militia and Carleton Island, (where Tom's father had commanded in the War of the American Revolution) has been taken by the British—an inglorious success for its garrison consisted of but three veterans and some women. The adjacent Indians, says the young Captain, "are anxious to be at the Yankees with their Toma-hawks." Altogether some exciting campaigns were in prospect and Tom was glad that his family was "snug at Murray Bay."


There, remote and isolated, they seemed indeed safe—so safe that, to share the security, a general descent of their friends seemed imminent. AtPg 149 Quebec there was, for a time, something like a panic. "Every one here," wrote Mrs. Hale to Miss Nairne "is in a complete state of anxiety and suspense, not at all knowing whether we shall be attacked, or what may become of us. I have just now seen Colonel Fraser, who assures me I shall be welcome at your mother's house, in case we should be obliged to leave Quebec. [He] advised my writing for fear you should have applications from other quarters.... Many ladies are going to England.... My spirits are so depressed that I cannot pretend to amuse you with any anecdotes." Murray Bay offered its hospitality with great heartiness and Mr. Hale wrote, "I believe all Quebec mean to move towards you if necessary, so you must prepare."

Quebec was in a flutter of successive excitements, now certain that it was invulnerable, now fearing an immediate descent of the enemy, and always longing for peace. In England the Orders in Council which provoked the war were now revoked, and Malcolm Fraser wrote that this must soon bring peace in America, especially since New England and New York were against the war. Miss Nairne's friend in Quebec, Judge Bowen[23], wrote to her in November, 1812, announcing the armistice for six months, arranged some time before, and assuring the ladies at Murray Bay thatPg 150 all cause for anxiety was now past,—an illusive hope for the armistice was not ratified by President Madison and the war went on. We get echoes of social jealousies that may now amuse us. Sir James Craig, the late Governor, had repressed sternly the aspirations of the French element and had been specially friendly with the Nairne circle; he was indeed a cousin of the Nairnes' relative by marriage, James Ker. But now with Sir George Prevost as Governor things were changed. Sir George came from Halifax and Quebec society looked with green-eyed jealousy upon his "Halifax people." "They are not the right sort," Judge Bowen wrote to Christine Nairne:

It will be long before we meet a staff like Sir James Craig's gentlemanly men.... The castle affords no delight but to the Halifax people. They are all Gods, the Quebecers all Devils. As for me I have no desire to be deified.... Would you believe it Pierre Bedard [a French Canadian leader whom Sir James Craig had clapped into prison] is now Judge of the Court of King's Bench at Three Rivers. Would that poor Sir James[24] could raise his head to take a view of the strange scenes daily occurring here; but it is better he should be spared the Loathsome sight. What it will end in I dare scarcely express.

In these days there was ceaseless anxiety at Murray Bay. "We are all here in a complete state of suspense," wrote Christine Nairne, "...Pg 151 My brother is now in Upper Canada doing duty as a marine officer on board the Royal George. We are in the utmost anxiety about him but on the Almighty we rely for preservation in these horrid times." Echoes came of stirring events. Tom wrote of General Brock's succeeds in capturing Detroit and with it the American General Hull and his whole army. A little later the Detroit garrison was sent to Montreal and Captain Nairne, doing duty on the Royal George, carried General Hull—"the extirpating General" he called him in view of dire threats that Hull had made as to what he should do—with 200 prisoners from Niagara to Kingston and then in batteaux down the River St. Lawrence on the way to Montreal, through whose streets the Canadian militia marched their prisoners to the strains of "Yankee Doodle." Elated with the success against General Hull, Tom now expected to hear any day that the American fort at the mouth of the Niagara River had been taken by General Brock. He heard a much sadder tale. Instead of awaiting attack the Americans became the aggressors and crossed the river into Canada. In a successful attempt to dislodge them from Queenston Heights the gallant Brock was slain. The invaders were driven back; but all Canada mourned for Brock. Mrs. Bowen wrote to Christine Nairne, "I am sure you will have deeply felt the loss of poor General Brock. He was alPg 152ways a great favourite of yours as well as mine. Salter Mountain spoke in the highest terms of him in his sermon last Sunday."

As the war became more grim in character Captain Nairne formed a fixed resolve to see it through to the end. On October 5th, 1812, he writes from Kingston that in response to his former request he had just received notice of having been put on half pay. With this release he might now have retired to the serenity of Murray Bay. But, even though he had not changed his mind, this would have been to turn his back on fighting when men were most needed. So when Captain Wall of the 49th Regiment broke his leg, and was thus rendered unfit for service, with him Nairne effected an exchange. "I could not reconcile myself to the idea of sneaking down to Murray Bay and forsaking my post at the present critical period," he wrote to Fraser. That old soldier was delighted at Tom's spirit and made this note at the foot of the letter which announced this action:

Point Fraser, [Murray Bay], Oct. 23rd, 1812: I do hereby certify that my Godson Captain Thomas Nairne has, as I think, acted as becomes him and very much to my satisfaction—Malcolm ffraser.

From Prescott on the 29th of October, 1812, Tom wrote to his mother of his delight at being once more a regular "in that distinguished old corps the 49th." It was indeed a fine regiment.Pg 153 Brock had led it in North Holland and in 1801 it had been on board the fleet at Copenhagen with Hyde Parker and Nelson; it is now the Berkshire Regiment and the name "Queenston" where its commander, Brock, fell, is on its flag. Though a soldier not a sailor, Tom had now one gunboat and three armed batteaux under his command, and, when writing, he had just arrived at Prescott with the American prisoners taken in the gallant action at Queenston where Brock was killed. His tone is serious and tender. "When the war is over I trust in God we shall all have a happy meeting again at Murray Bay, perhaps never more to part during our stay in this world." It was now his plan that if he should outlive the war he would go to Edinburgh, find a wife and settle himself on his property without loss of time. A few days later, on November 15th, he writes from Kingston of a lively incident in which he has taken part. With six schooners and an armed tug, the Oneida, of 18 guns, all full of troops, the Americans had appeared before the place. At 4 o'clock on the morning of the 10th the adjutant of the 49th came into Tom's barrack room to arouse him with the news that the enemy was thought to be landing a force five or six miles above the town. "He lit my candle," says Tom, "and left. I immediately jumped out of bed, dressed myself in a devil of a hurry and sallied forth to the Barrack yard where I found threePg 154 Companies of the 49th under arms, Gunners preparing matches and artillery horses scampering out of the yards with field pieces." He was soon sent to hold a bridge about three miles west of the town. The ships kept up a fierce cannonade for some time but it was so briskly returned that in the end they drew away having lost four men. But they had command of the lake, a supremacy not to be challenged until a British Commodore, Sir James Yeo, arrived in the following summer.

In his letters at this time Nairne speaks of his heavy expenses and says that even if the opportunity came to visit Murray Bay he could not go for lack of money. So he begs his mother to build all the mills and houses she can, and thus to make the profits which he sorely needs. He complains of hearing from home so rarely: "You have only wrote once, I believe, since I came to the Upper Country. What in the name of wonder are you all about? I hope Yankey Doodle has not run off with you. I am sure there can be no complaints of my being negligent in this way."

The scene changed rapidly. Early in February, 1813, Nairne was sent to Niagara. Here for a time he was stationed at Fort George. The Americans were now menacing Fort Erie on the Canadian side of the Niagara River. But things were looking well for the British. On January 22nd the British Colonel Procter defeated the American General Winchester at FrenchtownPg 155 near Detroit and made him and 500 of his men prisoners. Now young Nairne talked even of "extirpating" General Harrison whom the English were attacking in what is now the state of Ohio. But again high hopes were dashed. General Harrison succeeded in forcing the British to evacuate Detroit; then he invaded Canada, and before the campaign of 1813 was over he defeated the British badly at the river Thames in what is now Western Ontario. Meanwhile about Niagara there was some lively campaigning. In March Nairne describes an exciting night journey in sleighs from Fort George to Chippewa near Niagara Falls where an American landing was feared. Echoes of more distant wars reach this remote frontier. This was the winter of Napoleon's terrible retreat from Moscow and word comes, "glorious news certainly if true," that 140,000 French have been captured by the Russians.

Nearer home the chronicle was less glorious. The American fleet appeared before York (Toronto), burned the Parliament Buildings and public records, and carried off even the church plate, and the books from the library, of Upper Canada's capital, acts avenged by the burning of Washington later in the war. Flushed with success, the Americans now prepared to attack Fort George in overwhelming force. The 49th, Nairne's regiment, were the chief defenders. The attack came on May 27th, 1813. There was sharp and bloodyPg 156 fighting. Greatly outnumbered, the British were beaten; so hastily did they evacuate the fort that Nairne and others lost their personal effects. He writes, somewhat ruefully, that he has now only the clothes on his back and his watch, a purse, a family ring, and some trinkets. But this had its compensations; now he could carry everything in a haversack and blanket. Even paper, pens and ink are hardly to be got; he is writing on the last bit of paper he is likely to have for some time.

For many weeks the young man took his share in this campaigning in the Niagara peninsula. The British headquarters were by this time at Burlington Heights at the head of Lake Ontario, half way between Fort George and York, the ruined capital. By June the British had turned on the foe with vigour. On June 6th they rather stumbled into victory at Stoney Creek, capturing two American Generals, Winder and Chandler. On June 7th a British squadron, under Sir James Yeo, appeared off Burlington Heights, bombarded the American camp on the shore at Forty Mile Creek and compelled a retreat towards Fort George. Soon the British were menacing the enemy in Fort George itself. Nairne's letters, watched for, we may be sure, at Murray Bay with breathless interest, recount the incidents of the campaign. At Beaver Dam, only a dozen miles or so from Fort George, Lieutenant Fitzgibbon of Nairne's regiment, the 49th, entrapped an advancing partyPg 157 of Americans and, by the clever use of 200 Indian allies, filled them with such dread of being surrounded and massacred by the savages that nearly 600 Americans surrendered to little more than one-third of their number. These same wild Indians in their war paint were enough, Nairne thought, "to frighten the Black Deil himsel'," and their proximity in the campaign is one of many causes for which he thanks Heaven that the plague of war is so far removed from Murray Bay; even if it lasted for years, it would still not reach that remote haven, he says. Meanwhile Murray Bay can help him. Two pairs of socks, one flannel and one linen shirt, have been the modest increases to his wardrobe since the hasty exit from Fort George many weeks before. He begs his sisters to make him some shirts and socks, but not many, since on the marches, usually made at night, he has to carry all his belongings on his own back. The charge of a too elaborate transport service sometimes brought against the British army in modern campaigns seems to have no place in the War of 1812. The British, few in number and defending an immense area, had to do killing work. Nairne says that his men were able only rarely even to take off their accoutrements.

With the arrival of Yeo's squadron the war was again half military, half naval. Yeo was a brilliant young officer and the remote waters ofPg 158 Lake Ontario witnessed some clever naval tactics. The small fleets were evenly matched. Chauncey, the American commander, was very cautious and would not fight unless he could get the advantage of his longer range of guns, while Yeo, if he fought at all, preferred to fight at close quarters; so they manœuvred for position, each declaring that the other could not be brought to bay. On August 3rd, 1813, Nairne wrote from Burlington Heights to Malcolm Fraser. In an earlier letter that veteran had expressed the desire of dancing at Tom's wedding and Tom had told him, with the prophetic saving clause "should I outlive this war," that to see his friend of eighty years dancing would be a considerable inducement to marry. He hopes that they may soon discuss the war "over a good bottle of your Madeira at Mount Murray."

He calls Burlington Heights the stronghold of Upper Canada. "The situation we have chosen is by nature a strong position being bounded on the east by Burlington bay, on the south by a commanding battery, ditch and parapet, this being the only side bounded by the mainland; on the west by a morass and creek; on the north by the continuation of this same creek, which here discharges itself into Burlington bay. The height of the land above the level of the water all round is upwards of 100 feet and the only side therefore necessary to fortify is the south, which I assure you is pretty strongly so." Here was the chiefPg 159 British supply depôt and Nairne had just been sent thither to aid in repelling a menace from the American fleet. He had brought his force from Ten Mile Creek, in boats, on the open lake, and the journey, lasting all day, was ticklish enough. All the time the American fleet was in pursuit and it reached the narrow gateway to Burlington Bay only an hour and a half after Captain Nairne entered. The enemy intended to storm the heights, and landed 800 men for that purpose; but finding the position too strong, they re-embarked their force at daylight on August 1st, and bore away for York (Toronto) where they wrought new havoc in that undefended and "much to be pitied town."

On August 20th Nairne writes, still from Burlington Heights. This, his last letter, gives a dramatic account of a running fight between the rival fleets, in the dark, illuminated, however, by the flashes from their cannon:

It was a moment of great anxiety with us when the two fleets lay in sight of each other, the one wishing to avoid coming to hard knocks and the other straining every nerve to be at it. I rode 20 miles to see the hostile squadrons, and, for nearly two days, had the pleasure of observing their movements from the mountain at Forty Mile Creek, and I must confess I never saw a more gratifying or more interesting sight. At 11 o'clock on the night of the last day that I was there (the 10th inst.) Sir James Yeo contrived to bring them [the Americans] to a partial engagement and for an hour and a half the Lake opposite the Leo apPg 160peared to be in a continual blaze. I remained in a state of uncertainty as to the result till daylight when I observed the Yanky fleet steering for Fort George with two Schooners less than they had the evening before, and our fleet steering towards York with two additional sail. [They were the Julia and the Growler.] The Americans have besides lost two of their largest Schooners, which upset from carrying a press of sail, when our fleet was in chase of them.

While this dramatic fighting is going on before his eyes Nairne's one regret is that his present quarters are "completely out of the way of broken heads."

Meanwhile at Murray Bay events were happening. Colonel Fraser was kept busy. Some of the French Canadians already showed a restiveness that ended in open rebellion in 1837 and these misguided people now dreamed of using the war with the United States as an opportunity for throwing off the British yoke. At Murray Bay traitorous meetings were held. Fraser watched them closely and caused a number of the habitants to be imprisoned for a time on a charge of treason. For an old man of eighty he showed amazing vigour. His neighbours of the Nairne household were now in great trouble. Tom's elder sister by five years, Mary, the sprightly "Polly" of his letters, had brought grief to her family. She made a clandestine marriage with a habitant, the news of which, the young man, in his last letter preserved to us, wrote, "nearly bereft me of my senses." In those anxious days of domestic difficulty and of war the old mother and her twoPg 161 remaining daughters at the Manor House had assuredly enough to think of. Then came Fate's sharpest blow. The tradition is still preserved at Murray Bay that on November 11th, 1813, Mrs. Nairne, the Captain's mother, was in the kitchen at Murray Bay, when suddenly a sound like the report of a gun came up as it were from the cellar. She put her hands to her head, cried "Tom is killed," and sank fainting into a chair. The day and the hour were, it is said, noted by those about her.

By this time Thomas Nairne's regiment had passed from Burlington Heights to Kingston, at the opposite end of Lake Ontario, some two hundred miles away. The St. Lawrence River had now become the chief danger point for Canada. On October 21st the American General Wilkinson, with 8,000 men, left Sackett's Harbour near the east end of Lake Ontario, opposite Kingston, in boats, to descend the St. Lawrence and attack Montreal—the identical plan that the British had found so successful in 1760. In addition, as fifty years earlier, another American force was to advance through the country bordering on Lake Champlain so that the two armies might unite before Montreal. From the first the American plans went ill. The more easterly force met with ignominious defeat by a handful of French Canadians at Chateauguay. Wilkinson did little better. British troops, among them Nairne'sPg 162 regiment, were hurried down the river under Colonel Morrison to harass, if possible, Wilkinson's rear and to fire upon his 300 boats from the points of vantage on the shore. After a slow descent, day after day, on the night of November 10th the rear of the American force, under General Boyd, landed and encamped near Crysler's farm, a short distance above the beginning of the Long Sault Rapids on the St. Lawrence, to descend which needed caution. As the American rear was some distance from the vanguard, the British, though much inferior in numbers, thought the time favourable for attack. On the morning of the 11th when General Boyd was about to begin his day's march forward, the British, some 800 against a force of 1800, advanced in line. Their right was on the river and the line extended to a wood about 700 yards to the left. The American general did not refuse the gage of battle and a sharp fight followed. Boyd tried to outflank the British left and Nairne's company was sent forward to charge for one of the enemy's guns. When well in advance it was checked by a deep ravine lying between the two armies and the American cavalry made a movement to cut off the advancing party. The pause was fatal to Thomas Nairne. A musket ball entered his head just above the left ear; he died instantly and without pain. The British won the day. After a fierce fight the enemy fled to their boats, embarked in greatPg 163 disorder and fled down the river. Their generals, when they could hold a council, decided that the attack on Montreal must be abandoned.

Meanwhile dead on the field of battle lay Thomas Nairne. When the action was over and the enemy had retired, his fellow officers bethought them of the body of their companion lying stark where he fell. Already some sinister visitor had been upon the spot for his watch was stolen—"as was not unusual on such occasions," wrote Nairne's Commanding-officer, Colonel Plenderleath, grimly. They dug a grave; Colonel Plenderleath stooped over the body to cut off for those who loved him a lock of hair falling over the dead face, and then, without a coffin, they laid him in the earth. But before the grave was filled a member of the Canadian militia stepped forward. He said that he had known Nairne's father, and begged that, for the esteem and veneration which he bore that gallant soldier, he might be allowed time to provide a coffin for his son. A rough box was hastily prepared. In this the body was placed and once more lowered into the grave and there, a few yards from where he fell, the mortal remains of Thomas Nairne were committed to the earth with the solemn rites of the Anglican Church.

The next day Colonel Plenderleath, who was not two yards away when Captain Nairne fell, wrote to Judge Bowen what words of comfort he could for Nairne's friends:

Pg 164

He was a gallant officer of most amiable Manners and Disposition.... It may be of some comfort to his family that he has fallen in the honourable service of his country. We obtained a complete victory, having beaten a force greatly superior to ours, driven him from the field of battle, and captured one Gun and several Prisoners.

If Nairne fell Canada was saved and the gallant young officer did not die in vain.

News travelled slowly in those days but bad news has swifter wings than good; a week after Thomas Nairne fell the particulars of his death had reached Quebec. It was Judge Bowen's painful duty to send to Murray Bay the intelligence he had received from Nairne's Colonel. He wrote to Mr. Le Courtois, the curé, giving the sad news and adding "I understand that the enemy have since crossed over to their own side.... Would to God their visit had fallen upon any other head than that of our poor friends." He begged Mr. Le Courtois, who, himself an exile from France because of the Revolution, had witnessed many sad days, to be the minister of consolation at this time. "You will, I am sure be the friend of the distressed and instil into their bosoms that peace which, I am afraid, nothing but your assistance and time can restore to them." Mr. Le Courtois was to hand to Miss Nairne a touching and wise letter from Bowen. "Do not, my dear Miss Nairne," he wrote, "give way to feelings but too natural upon a trying moment like this but ratherPg 165 exert yourself to speak comfort and consolation to your dear Mother. Recall to her that we are all but sojourners here on earth and that he is but gone before to those blessed mansions of eternal peace and happiness where she will one day meet him never to part again." Old Malcolm Fraser sent the sad news to Tom's friends in Scotland. "I am not fit to write much," he said, but he found comfort in the thought that the young Captain died gallantly and that the enemy "must have suffered great loss of men, as they were entirely drove off the Field and they lost a piece of cannon. But, alas! all this can afford little consolation to his good and afflicted mother."

Nairne's body was not allowed to remain where he had fallen. Judge Bowen thought he ought to lie at Quebec beside his soldier father and this was also in accord with Mrs. Nairne's wishes. Colonel Morrison, the officer in command on the field where Nairne fell, had already been transferred to the garrison at Quebec and every attention was paid to the task. Bowen ordered a strong oak coffin, large enough to contain that in which Nairne was buried, and with this itself in an outer box a man was sent to bring back the body. He bore a letter from the Bishop of Quebec to the clergyman who had buried Nairne. All was carried out as arranged. A second time Nairne's body was taken from the grave where it had been laid and its bearer began his longPg 166 winter journey to Quebec. The sleigh with its sad burden, a moving dark speck on a white background, made its slow way along the wintry roads and by the shores of the ice bound St. Lawrence. We can picture the awed solemnity with which the French Canadian peasants heard the story of Nairne's fall as his body rested for the night in inn or farm yard. On January 20th, 1814, Bowen wrote to Mr. Le Courtois that the body would arrive by Saturday as it was at Berthier on the previous day when the stage passed.

The funeral took place at one o'clock on the 26th of January, 1814. Of the people of Murray Bay a single unnamed habitant was present, a man detained by Bowen in Quebec that he might witness the ceremony and carry back an account of it to his home. "I examined the body," wrote Bowen briefly of what must have been a grim task, "with the assistance of my friend Buchanan and there cannot now be the smallest doubt as to the identity of it. He was buried poor Fellow in the Cloathes he wore when killed. His Regimental Jackit and shoes which were put into his coffin I found in it upon opening it and have taken them out and will preserve them for his poor friends if so melancholy a Remembrance of him should be desired by them." The lock of hair cut off by Colonel Plenderleath at the funeral was brought to Quebec by young Sewell, one of Nairne's companions; the remainder of his effects, sentPg 167 forward in a box, seem to have been lost on the way. At the funeral the six senior Captains in Quebec were his pall bearers and the mourners were fellow officers of the 49th and Quebec friends of his family—well-known names—Caldwell, McCord, Stewart, Hale, Mountain, Dunn and Bowen himself. A great crowd was present. "Never," wrote Bowen to Miss Nairne, "was a funeral at Quebec more generally attended." The death of the young officer was too tragic not to call forth the sympathy of a wide circle. Eulogies were pronounced upon him and they said only what was true—that a soldier, brave, lovable and promising had fallen on the field of honour.

Pg 168


A French Canadian Village

Life at Murray Bay after Captain Nairne's death.—Letters from Europe.—Death of Malcolm Fraser.—Death of Colonel Nairne's widow and children.—His grandson John Nairne, seigneur.—Village life.—The Church's influence.—The habitant's tenacity.—His cottage.—His labours.—His amusements.—The Church's missionary work in the villages.—The powers of the bishop.—His visitations.—The organization of the parish.—The powers of the fabrique.—Lay control of Church finance.—The curé's tithe.—The best intellects enter the Church.—A native Canadian clergy.—The curé's social life.—The Church and Temperance Reform.—The diligence of the curés.—The habitant's taste for the supernatural.—The belief in goblins.—Prayer in the family.—The habitant as voter.—The office of Churchwarden.—The Church's influence in elections.—The seigneur's position,—The habitant's obligations to him.—Rent day and New Year's Day.—The seigneur's social rank.—The growth of discontent in the villages.—The evils of Seigniorial Tenure.—Agitation against the system.—Its abolition in 1854.—The last of the Nairnes.—The Nairne tomb in Quebec.

With the death of Thomas Nairne almost end the dramatic events in the history of the family. It remains briefly to bring this to its conclusion, and to add to it some general account of a village of French Canada in the past and in the present. Captain Nairne's mother was now the owner ofPg 169 the property and it continued in her competent hands until her death in 1828. "Polly's" marriage had taken that daughter away and, though there was a reconciliation, no longer was the Manor House her home. Mrs. McNicol (with her husband and children) and Christine Nairne still lived there with the widow of Colonel Nairne, and life went on much as before, save that its interests were now narrowed to Murray Bay; no more was there an outside career, such as the young Captain's, to watch.

When Thomas Nairne was killed the struggle against Napoleon in Europe had reached a supreme crisis. Occasional letters to Murray Bay give glimpses of great events. On March 16th, 1814, an Edinburgh friend writes to Christine: "The Castle was fired to-day in honour of the successes of our allies in France who have again routed Bonaparte, who has retreated to Paris. His enemies are within twenty-five miles of that capital so we must hope that the Tyrant's fate is at the Crisis and that we shall soon enjoy the blessings of a permanent peace; much has Bony to answer for." Ker wrote a little later from Edinburgh to say that Bonaparte "is now a prisoner on board of one of our 74 gun ships," and to express the hope that by his fall Britons will soon get quit of the property tax.

On March 17th, 1815, we hear from another correspondent of the renewed firing of the CastlePg 170 guns at Edinburgh, this time to announce the arrival from America of the ratification of Peace with the United States. "We only regret this had not been settled before the disastrous affair at New Orleans where we have lost so many brave men and able generals, but such are the horrors of war." Just as this peace came in America renewed war broke out in Europe. "That monster Bonaparte a fortnight since landed and raised the standard of rebellion in the south of France. The accounts from there are very contradictory." On March 22nd the news seems better. "Troops are assembling in defence of France and the traitor does not seem to have any adherents, so we would fain hope all may go well." The writer, a Miss Beck, sends, for the amusement of Murray Bay, the book "Guy Mannering," which is "in very high repute ... the author unknown, but very generally thought to be Walter Scott, the Poet."

The hope that all would go well in regard to Bonaparte was soon dissipated. Ker wrote on April 10th, 1815, a bitter letter:

We were flattering ourselves with being at Peace with the whole world when like a thunderbolt, the tremendous news of the monster Buonaparte's Escape from Elba, his landing and rapid progress through France, and the second Expulsion of the unhappy Bourbons burst upon us!... We have the immediate prospect of being involved in a bloody and interminable war, the consequences of which no man can foretell. The French army, Marshalls, and Generals have covered themselves with indelible DisPg 171grace and shewn themselves, what I always thought them, the most perfidious and perjured traitors and miscreants that the world ever produced, and the rest of the French Nation are a set of the most unprincipled Knaves and Cowards that ever were recorded in history. I trust however that their punishment is at hand and that the Almighty will speedily hurl vengeance on their guilty heads. Among other evils, a new tax on Property, with additions, is said to be in immediate contemplation and God knows how we shall bear all the accumulating Burdens to which this Country must be subjected.

Just at this time came old Malcolm Fraser's end. At the age of 82 he died on June 17th, 1815, the day before the battle of Waterloo. He had entered the army in 1757 and apparently was still serving in the Canadian militia at the time of his death so that his military career covered well nigh sixty years. One instruction given in his will is characteristic; it is that his body might "be committed to the earth or water, as it may happen, and with as little ceremony and expense as may be consistent with decency." His removal was a heavy blow to the family at the Manor House. It was Christine who kept most in touch with the outside world and to her the letters of the period are nearly all addressed. They contained the gossip of Quebec,—how in December, 1814, a Mr. Lyman—"a bad name for a true story to come from,"—had brought word of peace negotiations at Ghent; news of General Procter's Court Martial and of a fee of £500 paid to AndrewPg 172 Stuart, one of the lawyers in the case. The letters are few and in 1817 they cease altogether. During the spring of the year Christine had been ailing. On a June day she drove out for an airing and, as she alighted from the carriage, expired instantly. The feeling of the Protestant family towards the Roman Catholic Church is shown in the fact that she left a small legacy to the curé, Mr. Le Courtois.

There now remained but two daughters. In May, 1821, "Polly" died in Quebec at Judge Bowen's house. Her old mother followed in 1828. Of Colonel Nairne's large family but one child remained, Mrs. McNicol. Her husband, Peter McNicol, appears to have been a quiet and retiring man and of him we hear little. He was an officer in the local militia and, in 1830, became a Captain in the second Battalion of the County of Saguenay. There were two sons, Thomas and John. Thomas, the elder, was to get the estate at Murray Bay; for John India was talked of; but his mother could not let him go—"our family has been too unlucky by going there." In 1826, when a youth of twenty, Thomas made a tour in Europe. Then, or later, the young man fell into dissipated habits and he died in early manhood. There remained only John. When he came of age in 1829 he too travelled in Europe; in April he was at Rome and there saw the newly-elected Pope, Pius VIII. He returned to Canada quite a man of the world and for a time lived inPg 173 Quebec, engaged in business. But in 1834 when his father Peter McNicol died[25] John's prospects changed. The seigniory belonged to his mother, during her lifetime, but he was the heir. It seemed desirable that the name of the first seigneur should be continued and, in 1834, by royal warrant, John McNicol adopted the name and arms of Nairne. Once more was there a John Nairne. In 1837 we find him empowered to take the oath of allegiance from the habitants—to show that they were not in sympathy with the rebel Papineau. His mother, the old Colonel's last surviving child, died in 1839. She was a kindly woman, of genial temper, with a fine faculty for friendship; so intimate was she with Malcolm Fraser's daughter that she wrote "I do believe, nay am sure, she has not a thought with which I am not made acquainted." She never lost her sympathy with young people and her delight in their "innocent gaiety."

As in 1762, so now again in 1839, a John Nairne ruled at Murray Bay. The young seigneur soon took a wife. In 1841 he married Miss Catherine Leslie, of a well known Canadian family, a bride of only seventeen, and then settled down at Murray Bay to live the life of a country gentleman. He became Colonel in the militia, took some part in politics on the Conservative side, and studiedPg 174 agriculture. He was resolved to keep up the dignity of his position and set about rebuilding the manor house. The work was begun in 1845 and completed by the autumn of 1847; the new structure with little change is the present Manor. It is of stone covered with wood, a capacious dwelling with some fine rooms, and admirably suited to its purpose. To John Nairne an heir was born in 1842 and named John Leslie Nairne and the prospect seemed excellent for the final establishment of a Nairne dynasty in the seigniory. But, alas, this was not to be. The child died in his third year and the last of the Nairnes ruled at Murray Bay knowing that with himself the family should become extinct.

We must turn now to study the type of community of which he was the chief. A singular type it is, French in speech, Roman Catholic in faith, half feudal in organization, in a land British in allegiance, if not in origin. Long the determined rival of the Briton in America the French Canadian, though worsted in the struggle, remains still unconquered in his determination to live his own separate life and pursue his own separate ideals. When the British took Canada they fondly imagined that in a few years a little pressure would bring the French Canadians into the Protestant fold.[26] Immediately after the conquest preparPg 175ations for this gradual absorption were made. The Roman Catholics were to be undisturbed but, as soon as a majority in any parish was Protestant, a clergyman of that faith would be appointed and the parish church would be given over to the Protestant worship. The minority would, it was hoped, acquiesce, and, in time, adopt the creed of the majority. The most illuminating comment upon these expectations is the fact that, during the half century after the conquest, Protestantism made probably not more than half a dozen converts among the Canadians, while of Protestants coming to the country during that time hundreds went over to the Church of Rome. In other ways too the type in French Canada has proved curiously persistent. A Lowland Scot of twenty-five married an Irish woman of twenty-three and went to live in a French Canadian parish. Hitherto they had spoken only English but after twenty-five years they could not even understand it when heard. They explained that at first they spoke English to each other but when the children went to school they used only French. So the parents yielded "C'était les enfants, M'sieu!"

A modern critic of France[27] has announced, as a sounding paradox, that the French, even of present-day anti-clerical France, are a profoundly religious people. Certainly this appears in France's efforts in Canada. When the Roman Catholic faith wasPg 176 first planted there the ground was watered with the blood of martyrs, done to death by brutal savages. At the very time when in France Pascal's satire and scorn were making the spiritual sincerity of the Jesuits more than doubtful, in Canada these same Jesuits were dying for their faith almost with a light heart. They and others, like-minded, won New France for the Catholic Church and to that Church the conquered habitant has since clung with a tenacity really heroic. He accepts its creed, he believes in its clergy. Whatever license of conduct marked the clergy of France in the bad days before the Revolution, the clergy in Canada during the 300 years of its history have been notable for a severity in morals so austere that hardly once in that long period has there been a whisper of scandal. In consequence, they have always retained the respect of the people and to-day, in every village, the curé commands extraordinary influence.

It may be that to the Church chiefly does the habitant owe the preservation of his identity. Inferior to the heretic conqueror in social status, the habitant yet retained in religion the sense of his own superiority. Was he not a member of an ancient body, in the presence of which Protestantism represented a mushroom growth of yesterday? The Church taught him that wealth, honour, and worldly power were not always given to the faithful; they had the truer riches of spirPg 177itual privileges and spiritual hopes. What mattered the pride of life in the face of these eternal treasures? So the habitant went his way. Led by his teachers he showed striking tenacity of character. He would not follow the customs of the English. He looked with suspicion upon their methods. Even in agriculture, where he had everything to learn, he would not imitate him. Their language he would not learn, their religion he abhorred; so he remained, and he remains still, true to his own traditions, a Gallic island in the vast Anglo-Saxon sea of North America.

The habitant has not proved a pliable person. The very name shows his sense of his own dignity. Though he held his land under feudal tenure he would not accept a designation that carried with it some sense of the servile status of the feudal vassal in old France. So the Canadian peasant, a feudal tenant en censive or en roture, yet wished not to be called censitaire or roturier, names which he thought degrading; he preferred to be called a habitant, an inhabitant of the country, a free man, not a vassal. The designation obtained official recognition in New France and has come to be the characteristic word for the French Canadian farmer among English-speaking people.

In other respects too the Canadian has been hardly less assertive. Earlier writers, while they call him obliging, honest and courteous, speak also of his self-conceit, boastfulness, fondness forPg 178 drink. At Malbaie Nairne found him defiant when his spirit was aroused. Not less tenacious than the men were the women. Malcolm Fraser tells how when he was stationed at Beaumont, near Quebec, in January, 1761, he sent one of his men to cut wood on the property of a certain habitant, the man himself consenting. But Madame, his wife, was not pleased. She abused Fraser, called him opprobrious names, and, in a war of words, remained, he admits, mistress of the field. The wrathful virago carried her appeal to Murray in Quebec, who, she said, had passed many officers under the rod and Fraser found himself called upon to explain the matter. In a petition he humbly begs that some "recompence" (of punishment of course) may be made to the woman for "the insolent expressions used by her as well against the general, as the officers, who have the honour to serve under His Excellency."

Even when he knows only rude frontier life the French Canadian often retains something of the politeness and deference in manner of the nation from which he springs. But, unlike them, he has retained little sense of what is artistic. No thought of beauty of situation seems to determine his choice of the site for his dwelling. What he has in mind is protection from the prevailing wind, if this is possible, and, for the rest, convenience. So he puts his house close to the highway, in many cases even abutting upon it.Pg 179 He shows no taste in grouping his farm buildings. He plants few trees and his house stands bare and unattractive by the road side. The absence of trees near his dwelling is sometimes accounted for by the need, in earlier times, of clearing away everything that might offer a chance of ambush to his Indian enemies. If this is the true origin of the habit, an instinct survives long after the need which developed it has disappeared. The houses are persistent in type and nearly always of wood. The principle doorway opens into the living room, usually of a good size. It is kitchen, diningroom, parlour, often even workshop. In this chamber cooking, sewing, repairing of tools, all the varied family activities, take place. One large guest chamber or two small bedrooms open off it. In the corner there is a rude staircase and up under the sloping roof are two more rooms; one a bed-room probably with three or four beds, the other a general lumber room. Often there are two families in a household. As always with the French, family feeling is very strong. As soon as they are old enough the elder sons may go out into the world; it is usually a younger son whom the father selects to remain with him on the family property. This son is free to marry and to him, when the old father dies, the land goes on condition that he will always keep the door open to members of the family who may seek its refuge. It is not easy to see how so small a cottage can disPg 180charge these hospitable functions; in addition to adults there are often, in a French Canadian family, from ten to fifteen, sometimes twenty or twenty-five children. Through the long winters, doors and windows remain closed. The family gets on without fresh air and it gets on also without baths.

Since there are often many hands to do the work habitant farming is greatly diversified. But improvements come only slowly. Some of the most fertile areas in Quebec have been half ruined because the habitant would not learn the proper rotation of crops. Of the value of fertilizing he has had only a slight idea. His domestic animals are usually of an inferior breed, except perhaps the horses. Of these he is proud and, no matter how poor, usually keeps two, an extravagance for which he was rebuked by successive Intendants under the French régime. In recent times the French Canadian farmer has been making great progress. He is pre-eminently a handy man. Though his versatility is lessening, to this day, in some of the remoter villages, he buys almost nothing; he is carpenter, farmer, blacksmith, shoemaker; and, if not he, his wife is weaver and tailor. The waggon he drives is his handiwork; so is the harness; the home-spun cloth of his suit is made by his wife from the wool of his own sheep: it is an excellent fabric but, alas, the young people now prefer the machine-made cottons and clothsPg 181 of commerce and will no longer wear homespun. Sometimes the habitant makes his own boots, the excellent bottes sauvages of the country. The women make not only home-spun cloth, but linen, straw hats, gloves, candles, soap. When there are maple trees, the habitant provides his own sugar; he makes even the buckets in which the sap of the maple tree is caught. Tobacco grows in his garden, for the habitant is an inveterate smoker: sometimes the boys begin when only five years old or less. The women and the girls, indeed, do not smoke and an American visitor, who declares that he saw pretty French Canadian brunettes of sixteen puffing clouds of smoke as they worked in the harvest field, is solemnly rebuked by a French Canadian writer; the brunettes must have been Indian women.[28]

Though nearly all the children now go to school, yet reading can hardly be considered one of the amusements of the habitant. In the neighbourhood of Malbaie, at least, rarely does one see other than books of devotion in a habitant household; the book-shelf is conspicuous by its absence. Of course newspapers are read but many of the habitants are still illiterate, or nearly so, and read nothing. Not less gay are they for this deprivation. They are endless talkers, good story tellers, and fond of song and dance. They have preserved some of the popular songs of France,—Pg 182Malbrouck s'en va-t-en guerre, En roulant ma Boule roulant, A la Claire Fontaine, and others—and these airs simple, pleasing, a little sad, have become characteristic of French Canada. Nearly every house has its violin, often home-made, and though this music is rude it suffices for dancing. But some of the bishops are as severe in regard to dancing as is the Methodist "Book of Discipline" and in their dioceses the practise is allowed only under narrow restrictions. The short Canadian summer makes that season for the habitant one of severe labour. Winter, though it has its own labours, such as cutting wood, is the great season of social intercourse. For a long time the habitant would not consider a mechanic his social equal; perhaps, still, the daughters of a farmer would spurn the advances of the village carpenter. But whatever the social distinctions, baptisms, marriages, anniversaries, are made the occasions for festivity. There are corvées récreatives, such as parties gathered for taking the husks off Indian corn, when there is apt to be a good deal of kissing as part of the game. At New Year, the jour de l'an, the feasting lasts for three days. Hospitality is universal and it is almost a slight not to call at this time upon any acquaintance living within a distance of twenty miles. Every habitant has his horse and sleigh and thinks little of a long drive.

Pg 183

Often in the foreground of the habitant's life, always in the background at least, stand the Church and the priest. Malbaie, like a hundred other populous, present-day Roman Catholic parishes, was nursed in the first instance by the travelling missionary. In winter he could go on snow shoes but his usual means of travel in a country, covered by forests, but with a net-work of lakes and rivers, was by canoe. Malbaie could be reached either from Tadousac, at the mouth of the Saguenay, one of the earliest mission stations in Canada, or from Baie St. Paul in the other direction. The St. Lawrence was oftentimes a perilous route. Its waves rise at times huge as those of Ocean itself; a frail canoe could only hug the shore and at times would be storm bound for days. The missionary travelled usually with an attendant. They carried a portable chapel with the vessels necessary for the celebration of the mass. We have a description of the arrival of one of these missionaries, the Abbé Morel, as long ago as in 1683, at Rivière Ouelle where one now takes the ferry to cross to Murray Bay. A group of people stand on the shore watching a small black object round a distant point. As it comes nearer they see it is a birch bark canoe, paddled by two men. In a short time the bow of the canoe has touched the sandy beach where stands the waiting group. As the figure in the bow rises a long black cassock falls down to hisPg 184 feet; he is the long expected missionary come to celebrate mass. With the sun sinking behind the mountains of the north shore, a kind of triumphal procession escorts the missionary to one of the neighbouring houses. The evening is spent in preparation for the service of the morrow. The priest hears confessions and imposes penances. At daybreak on the following morning the people begin to gather, some coming by land from the neighbouring clearings, others, in birch bark canoes, from points more distant. Perhaps fifty persons gather before the house. Meanwhile in its best room the portable altar has been arranged. Silence falls upon the people as they enter the door. The mass begins; after the gospel the priest preaches a practical sermon with impressive solemnity. The mass over, a second service, vespers, soon follows. Then the people separate. Before the priest leaves he says the office of the dead over a grave made, it may be, many weeks ago, he baptizes children born since his last visit, and perhaps marries one or more bashful couples. "How beautiful upon the mountains," says a Canadian historian of the work of these devoted men, "are the feet of those who bring the gospel of peace."[29] Such a scene we may be sure was enacted many a time for the benefit of the scattered sheep at Malbaie before and after the arrival of Colonel Nairne.

Pg 185

It was not until 1797 that these occasional services ceased and Murray Bay secured a resident priest. Then was fully established in the parish the imposing church system that to-day probably retains its original vigour more completely in the Province of Quebec than in any other country in the world. At its head is the diocesan bishop. Subject only to the distant authority of the Pope he reigns supreme. With one or two exceptions, such as that of the curé of Quebec, he appoints and he can remove any and every priest in his diocese, a right, it is said, almost never exercised arbitrarily. He fixes the tariff to be paid for masses. It is he who determines whether such a practise as, for instance, dancing shall be permitted in the diocese. He watches over the Church's rights and gives the alarm when a political leader proposes anything that seems to menace them. If a newspaper adopts a course dangerous to the Church it has often happened that the bishop gives it one or two warnings; in case of continued obstinacy his last act is to forbid the faithful to read the paper; and since most of them will obey, this involves ruin for the recalcitrant journal.

The bishop visits each parish at least every third year and sometimes even annually. A mounted cavalcade will probably meet him as he crosses its boundary. A procession is formed. The roads have been cleared and decorated with boughs ofPg 186 ever-green trees stuck in the ground. The people watch the cavalcade from their doors and all kneel as the procession passes. The bishop goes at once to the church where he gives his benediction and holds confirmation. He remains for some days. There is daily communion and spiritual instruction. He inspects everything—the church and its furnishings, the registers, the accounts, the inventory of effects, the cemetery. He has already given notice that he is ready to hear any complaints or grievances even against the curé. We may be sure that when he comes there is a general clearing up of parochial difficulties. A wise bishop is a great peacemaker; an arbitrary one commands an authority not lightly to be disregarded.

The church that towers over the humble cottages of a French Canadian village invariably seems huge. But we need to remember how large are the parishes and how few in number relatively are the churches; it is probable that in English-speaking Canada there are half a dozen churches, or more, to every one in the Province of Quebec. In all Canada, rural and urban, there is probably not a Protestant parish to which are attached as many, or perhaps half as many, people as the five thousand who dwell in the parish of St. Etienne de la Malbaie, one of secondary importance in the Province of Quebec. In a whole diocese there are often not more than forty orPg 187 fifty parishes. In the country the churches are usually built at intervals of not more than three leagues (nine miles) so that no one may have to travel more than a league and a half to mass. The life of the people centres in the Church. In its registers, kept with great accuracy, is to be found the chief record of the village drama, the story of its births, marriages and deaths. True to the tastes of old France the French Canadian has an amazing interest in family history, and genealogies, based upon these ample records, are closely studied. In the olden days the habitant brought his savings to be kept in the Church's strong chest. The church edifice, its pictures and its other furnishings, are things in which to take pride. Each village aspires to have its own chime of bells. To chronicle baptisms, marriages, burials, anniversaries, the chimes are rung for a longer or shorter time according to the fee paid. Every day one hears them often and a considerable revenue must come from this source. Whatever the habitant knows of art, painting, sculpture, music, he learns from the Church and it is all associated with religious hopes and fears. "Dwellers in cities," says a French Canadian writer, "have concerts, theatres, museums; in the rural communities it is the Church that provides all this. During her services the most fervent among the faithful taste by anticipation the joys of heaven and murmur, enchanted: 'Since here allPg 188 is so beautiful in the house of the Lord how much more so will it be in his paradise!'"[30]

Thus it happens that here the parish and its church have a significance not felt where, as now in practically all English speaking countries, each community represents a variety of religious beliefs. At Malbaie, as in dozens of other parishes, there is not, except in summer, a single Protestant. So strong is the pressure of religious and social opinion, that even persons with no belief in Christianity are constrained to join outwardly at least in the church services. In the villages, at least, nearly every one confesses and partakes of the communion many times in the year; at Easter there are practically no abstentions from the sacrament. With this unanimity it has been possible to establish by legislation a most elaborate system providing for the support of the priests, for keeping up cemeteries and other parish needs. Elsewhere left largely to voluntary action, in Quebec such duties become a tax on the community as a whole. Whether a parishioner likes it or not, he must, if the taxpayers so determine, pay his share for building a church or for other similar expenditure decided upon.

We will suppose that a new residence for the priest is desired. A majority of ratepayers must address to the bishop of the diocese a petition with a plan of what is proposed. The commissionPg 189 of five members which exists in every diocese then gives ten days' public notice in order that objectors may have every opportunity to express their views. When, in the end, a decision to build is reached, the commissioners announce this by public proclamation. The next step is for the ratepayers of the parish to meet and vote the necessary money. Trustees are then appointed to carry out the work with power to collect the required funds from the Catholic ratepayers. This assessment is a first charge on the land; it must be divided into at least twelve equal instalments and the payments are spread over not less than three, or more than eight, years. To be quite safe the trustees levy fifteen per cent. more than the estimated cost. If ready money is not on hand for the work the church property may be mortgaged. When the building is completed the trustees render their accounts with vouchers and take oath that they are correct. All is precise, clearly defined, business-like.

No expenditure of money can be made for building without the consent of the people. Always in French Canada a trace of old Gallican liberties has remained, in the power over Church finances left in the hands of churchwardens (marguillers) elected by the people. But in the old days when the habitant was more ignorant and less alert than now he is, no doubt the voice in this respect might be the voice of the churchwarden, but the handPg 190 was the hand of the curé. No doubt, also, it is still true that any project upon which the curé sets his heart he will in the end probably get a majority of the parishioners to adopt. But he must persuade the people. Sometimes they oppose his plan strenuously and feeling runs high. Then when a churchwarden is elected, as one is annually, the curé may have his candidate, the opposing party theirs. At Malbaie recently there was a sharp difference of opinion between the curé and the people on a question relating to the cemetery. The parties divided on the choice of a churchwarden and the curé's candidate was defeated.

Yet the curé's position is one of great strength and authority. He has his own income uncontrolled by the fabrique, which is master of the rest of the church finances. The curé's tithe consists of one twenty-sixth of the cereals produced by the parishioners. A further tithe he has: the twenty-sixth child born to any pair of his parishioners is by custom brought to the priest and he rears it; sometimes, strange to say, this tithe is offered! From his tithe on cereals the income is not large; at Malbaie it is probably never more than from $1000 to $1200 a year; sometimes much less. The average income of a curé is not more than $600. It is the custom for the parishioner to deliver duly at the priest's house one twenty-sixth of his grain and in the autumn a greatPg 191 array of vehicles may be seen making their way thither. Usually there is considerable variety in the grain thus brought but sometimes the curé is almost overwhelmed by a single product such as peas; one of their number, thus paid, the neighbouring clergy christened the "curé des pois." The French Canadian farmer is often narrowly penurious and if he will not pay, as sometimes happens, the curé rarely presses him or takes steps to recover what the law would allow. In any case a bad harvest is likely to leave the curé poor. Changes in the type of farming may also curtail his income. Of the products of dairy farming he gets no share, yet it is a creditable fact that many priests have urged their people to adopt this kind of farming. Fees for weddings which, in Protestant Churches, go usually to the minister, are in the Province of Quebec handed over to the general church fund. Of course the priest has sources of income other than the tithe. He receives fees for masses but the sums chargeable for these ceremonies are determined by the bishop; the priest himself has no power of undue exaction. There is indeed no evidence of a desire for such exaction. Whatever personal differences may arise, the French Canadian curé is usually one in thought and aim with his people. Wherever he goes he is always respectfully saluted. To him the needy turn and there are heavy calls upon his charity. Few curés have any surplus income. They keep upPg 192 a large house and have constant need of one or more horses. Most curés, it is said, die poor.

It is the complaint in Great Britain and the United States that, rather than enter the Christian ministry, the best intellects are seeking secular pursuits. This is not the case in the Province of Quebec. The curés watch the promising boys in the schools. The Church has many boarding schools where boys are led on step by step to the final one of entering the priesthood. A promising boy, if he needs it, is given a scholarship. When the time comes he is sent to complete his education at Rome or elsewhere. The Church has selected him, trained him in her service, and, for the rest of his life, his best powers are at her call. Every family is ambitious to have a representative in the priesthood and this becomes the most notable thing not merely in the family but also in the parish. The Province of Quebec has many parish histories. These volumes are rather dreary reading, it must be admitted, consisting chiefly of the record of the building or improvement of the church and of the coming and the going of the curés. But one chief record is always found—that of the sons of the parish who have entered the priesthood. They are its glory. Not merely pride in the success of their offspring leads parents to wish for a son in the priesthood. He may bring to them more substantial benefits. He is the interpreter of sacred mysteries, the intercessor in some rePg 193spects between God and man, and he will plead for them in the court of Heaven.

This ambition to get sons into the priesthood has made it possible now for the Church to rely wholly upon priests Canadian in origin. Not always was this the case. After the British conquest it was not easy to get priests. The British government frowned upon the introduction of priests from France, still Britain's arch-enemy. Irish priests were thought of, but they could not speak French and, besides, the Bishop of Quebec did not find in them the submissive obedience of the Canadian priest. For a time it was seriously proposed to supply Canada with priests from Savoy, since of them Britain could have no political fears. But for the time the French Revolution solved the question. Emigré priests, driven from France, could be in Canada no political danger to Great Britain since, like her, they desired the overthrow of the existing French government. So a good many emigré priests were brought out, among them Mr. Le Courtois, so long the curé of Malbaie. This movement soon spent itself. In time the Church in Canada had a number of seminaries for training priests and it now levies a heavy tithe upon the best intellects of the country. Recently a new emigration of French priests to Canada has taken place. But they have not been wholly welcome; their tone is not quite that of the Canadian priesthood; sometimes theyPg 194 assume patronizing airs and they are felt to be foreigners. I have even heard a French Canadian priest say in broken English to a Protestant from the Province of Ontario: "I feel that I have more in common with you than I have with the French priests who are flocking into this country."

The Canadian curé is the priest always. Unlike the clergy in other parts of Canada he wears his cassock even when he goes abroad; one sees dozens of these black robes in the streets, on the steamers and trains. He does not share in the amusement of other people. In Quebec Anglican clergymen play golf and tennis; probably if a curé did so he might be called to account by the bishop. Occasionally priests ride bicycles, but even this is looked upon with some suspicion. Into general society the priests go but little. They come together in each other's presbyteries for mutual counsel and to celebrate anniversaries, such as the 25th year of the ordination of one of their number. The large presbyteries, which one sees even in remote parishes, are necessary to house the visiting clergy on such occasions. They assist each other when their parishes have special fêtes. But their social intercourse is chiefly with each other. The courtly abbé of old France, a universal guest in salons and at dinner tables, is hardly found at all in the Province of Quebec. Nor is the scholar usual. Even in small parishes there are rarely less than 500 or 600 communicants and the callsPg 195 upon the curé's time are heavy. There are, of course, priests of literary tastes; as there are those with a taste for art, to whom are due the occasional good pictures found in the parish churches. Some priests interest themselves in agriculture and give wise guidance to their people. But behind everything is the solemn, severe, exacting, conception of the priest's high function as the medium of God's speech to man. He is almost sexless—a being apart consecrated to an awe-inspiring office. A mother will sometimes quiet an unruly child by threatening the portentous intervention of the curé.

Yet he is the universal friend. His relation to his people is not merely official; it is affectionate, personal. The confessional makes him familiar with the intimate details of nearly every one's life. On all the joyous and sad crises, at births, marriages, and deaths, he is at hand with sympathy, comfort and support. When he goes on a journey he looks up not merely his own but his parishioners' friends and is welcome everywhere. He is the general counsellor, the reconciler of family quarrels, the arbitrator in differences, the guardian of morals. The seigneur at Malbaie found the priest enquiring as to the manner in which the male and female servants of the Manor were lodged.

Colonel Nairne thought that the Church was too willing to see the people remain ignorant; withPg 196 her the primary virtue is obedience. But it is not less true that on moral questions, such as sobriety and purity, the Church has always shown great vigilance and zeal. In the old days there was a mighty struggle between the Bishop of Quebec and the governor Frontenac as to the sale of intoxicating liquors, and the Church is still keen for temperance. It is due to her that public drinking places are unknown in most Canadian villages. At Murray Bay it happened recently that, by some lapse in vigilance, the party favourable to the granting of licenses got the upper hand. The results were immediate and deplorable. Summer visitors frequently found their drivers under the influence of liquor and the habitant, usually courteous and respectful, was now often rude and quarrelsome. The sudden fall made one realize how slight might be the strength of virtue due merely to the absence of temptation. The Church saw the danger. In the following winter she began a systematic temperance campaign. For some ten days daily services were held at which eloquent denunciations of intemperance roused the people. Every effort was made to ensure attendance at these services and the parish church, a great structure, was well filled daily. Hundreds signed the pledge and by the next summer all was changed. No one was licensed to sell liquor and the community wasPg 197 sober. If the relapse had been rapid it must be admitted that the recovery was not less so.

The curé and his assistants do their work with the precision and regularity of a business man in his office. They watch education, and have their own educational ideals. In the public schools of the English-speaking world in America, manners and religion receive, alas, but slight attention. But in Quebec one need only pass along a country road to see that the children are taught respect and courtesy. The chief subject of instruction is religion and to prepare the children for the first communion seems to be the main aim of education. In the parish the priest is never far away. Nearly always one or other of the clergy is at the presbytery to answer calls of urgency, and their duties begin at an early hour. "I am very busy until nine o'clock in the morning," a curé once said to me. My comment was that most of us are only beginning the serious duties of the day at that hour. "But I am tired by that time," he said, rather sadly, "for already, so early in the day, I have heard much of human sin." The people come early in the morning to confess and by nine o'clock the curé was weary of the tale of man's frailty. Thursday is his day of recreation. Only on that day usually does he leave his parish and then he always arranges that a neighbouring priest shall be within call. This oversight is not spasmodic; it is persistent, alert, universal, andPg 198 hardly varies with the individual curé. In human society there is no institution more perfectly organized than the Roman Catholic Church and in Quebec her traditions have a vitality and vigour lost perhaps in communities more initiated. Of course not every one accepts or heeds the curé's ministry. Many a mauvais sujet is careless or even defiant but, when his last moments come, at his bedside stands the priest to show to the repentant sinner the path of blessedness, and, when he is gone, his wayward course will give ground to call the living to earlier obedience.

In the Canadian parishes faith is simple, with a pronounced taste for the supernatural. In the year 1907 a Jesuit priest, M. Hudon, published at Montreal the life of Marie Catherine de Saint Augustin, 1632-1668, a Quebec nun. This devout lady lived in an atmosphere charged always with the supernatural. She knew of events before they happened; with demons who tempted her she had terrific combats; she read the thoughts of others with divine insight. Perhaps the climax of her experiences is found when she has regularly, as confessor and mentor, the Jesuit father and martyr Brébœuf, dead for some years. M. Hudon declared that he had submitted the evidence for these wonders to all the tests that modern scientific canons could require and that they were undoubtedly true. The Archbishop of Quebec, Mgr. Begin, wrote a prefatory note approvingPg 199 of the teaching of the book, and adding that Mother Marie Catherine's life could not fail to be an inspiration to young girls to live nobly. This simple belief in the constant occurrence of the supernatural is not found only in the remoter parishes of the Province of Quebec as a French Canadian writer seems to indicate;[31] it appears everywhere. All Christians believe in a God who shapes human events and hears and answers prayer. But many, Catholic and Protestant alike, believe that the energy of God, in response to man's appeal, is applied through the ordinary machinery of nature's laws. Modern thought is pervaded with the conception of nature's rigour. I have seen good Catholics shrug their shoulders at the wonders narrated by Marie Catherine de Saint Augustin. But others, and these not only the ignorant, think that this attitude shows the lack of a deeper faith. Must God and his saints, they ask, be confined within the narrow framework of nature's laws? Cannot He do all things?

So it is not strange that the Canadian peasant dwells in a world charged with the supernatural. Night furnishes the opportunity for goblins to be abroad; the flickering lights on the marshes are goblin fires. Then, too, the vagrant dead wander about restlessly, sinful souls refused entrance to Heaven until they have sought and secured adequate prayers for their pardon andPg 200 relief. To cross a cemetery at night might attract the fatal vengeance of the dead thus disturbed. The grumbling mendicant at the door may really be an evil spirit bent on mischief. With a few, magic and the gift of the evil eye are still dreaded forces and it is well to know some charm by which evil may be averted. Since night is the time of danger, if abroad then be watchful; if at home close doors and windows, ere you go to sleep. I was once on a fishing expedition with habitant guides when we had to share the same cabane. The air becoming insufferable, I got up quietly, opened the door and went back to bed. Presently I heard one of the guides steal softly to the door and close it. When I thought he was asleep I opened it again. But in vain; once more it was closed. In the morning nothing was said about it. Certainly not cold was what he feared, for the weather was hot. I do not think it was the mosquitoes. Was it the goblins?

A simpler and touching faith is common. Every one has noticed in the Province of Quebec the numerous crosses by the way side. These Calvaires are of rough wood, usually eight or ten feet high; sometimes with the cross are the dread implements of Christ's pain—the crown of thorns, the hammer and nails, the executioner's ladder, the Roman soldier's spear. Often at the foot is a box for alms to help the forgotten dead who are inPg 201 purgatory. As the habitant passes them he usually lifts his hat. The Calvaires are a kind of domestic altar to which the people come. In the summer evenings one may see a family grouped about them in prayer. When there is need for special prayers, several families will come across the fields to meet at the Calvaire. Dr. Henry, of whom more later, tells how at Malbaie some eighty years ago he found in the cottages social family worship night and morning. It is to be feared that the present generation at Malbaie is less devout, corrupted it may be by the heretic visitors' bad influence and example. But still the guide with whom one goes camping rarely neglects his evening devotions. In some families prayer sanctifies all the actions of the day. There is prayer at rising, prayer at going to bed. Though here, as in France, women are spoken of as only créatures, the mother is usually better educated than the father and often leads these devotions, the others joining in the responses. Before meals is recited a prayer, usually the Benedicite. There is often a family oratory and here at the appropriate seasons, in the month consecrated to the special family saint and guardian, in May, the Virgin's month, in June, that of the Sacred Heart, in November, "the month of the dead," special prayers are said. On Sunday evenings the family chant the Canticles. The Church's feasts are marked by festal signs such as the laying of thePg 202 best rugs on the floor. If there is drought groups gather frequently at the Calvaires to pray for rain. Occasionally such supplications have a curiously commercial basis in frugal minds. A habitant's wife, learning that a near neighbour had made an offering to the curé for prayers for rain, declared that she would give nothing, since if rain fell on the neighbour's farm it would not stop there: "S'il mouille chez les Pierrot Benjamin, il mouillera ben icitte."[32]

In each year, if he chooses, the habitant has a good many chances to cast his vote. The Church, the greatest institution of the village has its annual election—that for a churchwarden; of the three churchwardens one retires every year. An annual election there is also for the municipal council, two or three of whose members retire each year. This body looks after the highways, the granting of licenses to sell spirituous liquors and so on. Annually also are elected school commissioners, who have charge of education. The municipal council and the school commission are comparatively new institutions in the Province of Quebec. They have been borrowed from the Anglo-Saxon world, but the habitant takes kindly to the elector's privileges and struggles are sometimes keen. The innovation of the ballot not having been adopted, as yet, in municipal elections, the voting is open. Every voter must thusPg 203 show his preferences and when a moral question, such as the licensing of drinking places, is before the electors this open voting aids the Church's influence. Usually the curé is an ardent temperance man and to vote for a license against his wishes, made known perhaps from the pulpit, needs great strength of conviction. It thus happens that a very large number of parishes in the Province of Quebec have no licensed drinking places.

Of offices in the gift of the village voter those in the Church are the most highly esteemed. To be a municipal councillor or a school commissioner is indeed all very well. But the village council is not really very important. It spends only a few hundred dollars a year and to keep up the roads is not an exciting task. The village council rarely has even the "town hall" usual in other communities; it meets in the "salle publique," or the vestry, of the Church, or in the school house. The school commissioners too have no very dazzling work to do. The curé is sometimes their chairman and thus in some degree they come under the control of the Church. The commissioners appoint the teachers in the schools and keep up the school buildings, but their outlay is also very small, for the salaries of teachers, usually women, are appallingly low. The really important elective office in the parish is that of churchwarden (marguiller). In the churchPg 204 the churchwardens have a special seat of honour assigned to them. They control the temporalities and may beard even the curé himself. Large sums of money pass through their hands. They receive the pew rents,—and every habitant has a pew; they receive the voluntary offerings. It often happens that the Church accumulates large sums of money and that, if the building of a presbytère or parish church is decided upon, there is enough on hand to pay for it outright. The municipal council and the schoolboard, on the other hand, are always poor. The habitant watches their taxation with a parsimonious scrutiny and it is a thankless task to carry on their work.

Municipal interests represent of course only a part of the village's political thought. In provincial politics, federal politics, there is often in Quebec an interest keener even than in other parts of Canada. It would be too much to say that the habitant has a wide outlook on public questions; but the village notary and the village doctor are likely to have political ambitions and rivalry becomes acute; often indeed the curse of the village is the professional politician. At times in Quebec politics have been closely associated with religion and always the bishops are persons to be reckoned with. Their attitude has ever been that, if the policy of one or the other party seems to be inimical to the Church, they have the right to direct Catholic electors to vote againstPg 205 such a party. From the point of view of British supremacy in French Canada it would be a mistake to say that the bishops in a political rôle have always been mischievous. After the conquest they soon became the most staunch supporters of the authority of George III and through the Church the British conqueror was able to reach the people. When the American Revolution began, the bishops were strenuous for British connection and from the pulpits came solemn warnings against the Americans. Again in Britain's war on Revolutionary France the Canadian bishops were with her, heart and soul. They ordered Te Deums when Nelson destroyed the French fleet at the battle of the Nile, and over Trafalgar there were great rejoicings. After Waterloo we find in French Canada perhaps the most curious of all the thanksgivings; at Malbaie, as elsewhere, a Te Deum was sung and the people were told in glowing terms of the victory of the "immortal Wellington" which had covered "our army" with glory and ended a cruel war. Later, in the days of Papineau, the Church opposed rebellion; she has since opposed annexation to the United States. She has also helped to preserve order. If a crime was to be detected, the curé read from the pulpit a demand that any one, who could give information to further this end, should do so. Solemn excommunication was pronounced against offenders; to make the warning impressive thePg 206 priest would drop to the ground a lighted candle and put it out with his foot; so would God extinguish the offenders thus denounced, and those who abetted their crimes.

Since the Church has aided the state, not unnaturally she expected some special favours in return. She got them in the days of the early British governors of Canada. Sir Guy Carleton, afterwards Lord Dorchester, secured for the Church the legal power to levy the tithe on Catholics and practically all the other privileges she had enjoyed under the old régime. The bishops tended to become more and more active in politics and this reached a climax in 1896. With great heat the bishops threw themselves into the attack on the Liberal party, because it would not support the Church's demands for her own separate schools in Manitoba, supported by taxes levied on Roman Catholics by the state. Some of the bishops went too far in denunciation; an appeal against their action was carried by Catholics to the Pope and the offenders were rebuked. The incident showed that in politics the habitant knows his own mind, for he gave an overwhelming support to the party on which the bishops were warring. Since then many a habitant draws a sharp distinction between the spiritual and the political claims of the bishops. Their full spiritual authority he does not doubt; in politics he thinks his own opinion as good as theirs.

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If in spiritual matters the Church led it was intended that in temporal affairs too the habitants should always have guidance. An old world flavour seems to pervade the relations between seigneur and vassal in a French Canadian parish. The seigneur was himself the vassal of the crown, bound to do humble homage at the capital when he received his grant. We have a detailed account of the ceremony as performed, perhaps for the first time under British rule. On December 23rd, 1760, in the morning one Jacques Noël, a seigneur, accompanied by royal notaries, proceeded to the government house in Quebec. He knocked at the principal entrance and, when a servant appeared, Noël asked if His Excellency James Murray, the Governor, was at home. The servant replied that His Excellency was within and that he would give him notice. On being admitted to the presence of the Governor, Noël with head uncovered, and, to symbolize his humble obedience, wearing neither sword nor spur, fell on his knees before him and declared that he performed faith and homage for the seigniory to which, on his father's death, he had become the heir. He then took an oath on the gospels to be faithful to the king and to be no party to anything against his interests; to hold his own vassals to the same obedience; and to perform all other duties required by the terms of his holding.

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The Crown required very little of the seigneur and so, in truth, did the seigneur of his tenants. Their annual payment of cens et rentes rarely amounted to more than a very few dollars. When it fell due in the autumn they were given abundant notice. Still in the Canadian parishes, when the Sunday morning mass is over, the crier stands on a raised platform near the church door, the people gather round, and the announcement is made of tithes and taxes due, of articles lost or found, of anything indeed of general interest to the community. It was in this way that as St. Martin's day, November 11th, approached the people were reminded of the falling due of the cens et rentes. The meaning of the two terms is somewhat obscure. The cens was a trifling payment by the censitaire in recognition of the seigneur's position and rights as landowner; while the rentes represented a real rental based in some degree on the supposed value of the land. But the rate was usually conventional and very small. In early Canada the river was the highway and upon it therefore every settler desired to have a frontage. There was, also, greater safety from Indian attacks in having the houses close together at the front of the farms. So these became long narrow strips, with the houses built so close together that the country side often seems like a continuous village. The habitant paid usually in cens et rentes twenty sols (about twenty cents) for eachPg 209 arpent (192 feet) of frontage; instead of cash usually he might pay in kind—a live capon or a small measure (demi-minot) of grain for each arpent. He paid also about one cent of rent for each superficial acre. Thus for a farm of 100 acres, with two arpents of frontage, a habitant might pay $1.00 in cash and two capons. If each of 400 such tenants paid for their frontage in capons, 800 of these fowls would he brought to the seigneur's barn-yard each autumn!

Though payment was due on November 11th, the habitants usually waited for the first winter days when the sleighing had become good. In many of the sleighs, hastening with the merry sound of bells over the wintry roads to the manor house, there would be one or two captive capons or a bag or two of grain. M. de Gaspé has described how on such an occasion the seigneur, or some member of his family for him, would be found by the tenant "seated majestically in a large arm chair, near a table covered with green baize cloth." Here he received the payments, or in many cases only excuses for non-payment. The scene outside was often animated, for the fowls brought in payment of the rent, with legs tied but throats free, would not bear their captivity in silence. Rent day was a festal occasion, but the great day in the year at the manor house was New Year's Day. Then the people came to offer their respects to the seigneur and Nairne speaksPg 210 of the prodigious consumption of whiskey and cakes at such a time. The seigneur was usually god-father to the first-born of the children of his tenants. It is a pretty custom among French Canadians for the children to go on New Year's Day, which is a great festival, to the chamber of their parents in the early morning and kneel before the bed for their benediction. To the seigneur as to a parent came on this day his god-children and we have it from M. de Gaspé, an eye witness, that on one occasion he saw no less than one hundred of these come to call upon the seigneur at the manor house! In the old days the people came also on the first day of May to plant the May-pole before his door and to dance round it.

Some of the seigneurs were as poor as their own censitaires and, like them, toiled with their hands. But usually there was a social gulf between the cottage and the manor house. Even the Church marked this. The seigneur had the right to a special pew; he was censed first; he received the wafer first at the communion; he took precedence in processions, and was specially recommended from the pulpit to the prayers of the congregation. Caldwell, who was seigneur of Lauzon opposite Quebec, used to drive through his great seigniory in state, half reclining on the cushions of his carriage and with a numerous following. If on a long drive he stopped at a farm house, even for the light refreshment of a drink of milk, he neverPg 211 paid the habitant with anything less than a gold coin. I once asked a habitant, who remembered the old days, whether the seigneur really was such a very great man in the village. He replied, with something like awe in his voice, "Monsieur, il était le roi, l'empereur, du village."

The ministrations of the manor house were often patriarchical and beneficent; the seigneur's wife was like the squire's wife in an English village. In time this relation aroused resentment. Some villager's son with a taste for business or letters made his way in the world, got into touch with more advanced thought, and when he came back to the village was not so willing as formerly to touch his hat to the seigneur and accept an inferior social status as a matter of course. M. de Gaspé tells how he often accompanied Madame Taché, in her own right co-seigneuress of Kamouraska, opposite Malbaie, in her visits to the people on the seigniory. She took alms to the poor, and wine, cordials, delicacies to the sick and convalescent. "She reigned as sovereign in the seigniory," he says, "by the very tender ties of love and of gratitude." When she left the village church after mass on Sunday the habitants, most of whom drove to church in their own vehicles, would wait respectfully for her to start and then follow her in a long procession, none of them venturing to pass her on the road. At the point where she turned from the high-way up the avenuePg 212 leading to the manor house, each habitant, as he passed, would raise his hat, although only her back was in view disappearing in the direction of the house.

But early in the 19th century this spirit was changing:

One day I was myself witness, says M. de Gaspé, of a violation of this universal deference. It was St. Louis's day, the festival of the parish of Kamouraska. As usual Madame Taché, at the close of mass, was leading the long escort of her censitaires, when a young man, excited by the frequent libations of which in the country many are accustomed to partake during the parish fêtes,—a young man, I say, breaking from the procession passed the carriage of the seigneuress as fast as his horse would go. Madame Taché stopped her carriage and turning round towards those who followed her cried in a loud voice:

"What insolent person is this who has passed before me?"

An old man went up to her, hat in hand, and said with tears in his voice:

"Madame, it is my son who unfortunately is tipsy, but be sure that I shall bring him to make his apologies and meanwhile I beg you to accept mine for his boorishness."

I ought to add that the whole parish spoke with indignation of the conduct of the young man. The delinquent had committed a double offence. He had been rude to their benefactress, and besides, violating a French Canadian custom, he had passed a carriage without asking permission.[33]

This must have been before 1813 for in that year this good Madame Taché died: even so earlyPg 213 was youth restive under the old traditions of deference and subordination. Already some even of the seigneurs were saying that the system retarded settlement. It would have suited the seigneurs to have their holdings converted into freehold, for then they could have held the unsettled land as their own property instead of being under obligation to grant it for a nominal rental to censitaires. But to make this conversion would have been too kind to the seigneurs; so the matter dragged on for a long time.

The grievances of the habitant against the seigneurs were numerous, some of them real, some fanciful. It seemed anomalous that, in a British colony in the nineteenth century, there should be men holding great tracts of land with rights over their tenants, as some authors have seriously claimed, extending from the power of trying them for petty offences to that of inflicting the death penalty. This last right was, in any case, only nominal and was never exercised by any seigneur in Canada; but even the claim that it existed shows how high were the authority and privilege of the seigneur. A right like the corvée had a sinister meaning. One of the greatest hardships of the old régime, in France it meant that, on demand, the peasant must drop his own work to join in making highways, in carrying from one place to another the effects of a regiment, and other unwelcome tasks, all without pay.Pg 214 In Canada it was milder. The seigneur levied a corvée of so many days' labour, which he employed on the useful task of improving the highway. Some seigneurs required that at the times they chose, the habitants should work for them a certain number of days, usually six, in each year. They could even make the habitants work without pay at building a manor house; a few of the massive stone mansions still fairly numerous in the Province of Quebec were constructed by such labour. Not unnaturally the habitant came to feel it odious and humiliating to be obliged thus to give his labour at another's order.

The seigneuries too were often broken up. In Canada there is no law of primogeniture and, at a seigneur's death, the land went to daughters as well as to sons. Few of the old seigniorial families remained on their original estates. In time those who held the property came to think that a rental of about a cent an acre was not enough. In the days of French rule they could not have increased it; but the old custom, they claimed, did not apply under British sovereignty. So these charges were often increased; in time instead of a penny the habitant had to pay three-pence, six-pence, and even eight-pence, an acre; the seigneurs, as a judge put it, showed an excellent knowledge of arithmetical progression. Thus the cens et rentes began to bring in a real income. So did the lods et ventes, the tax of one-Pg 215twelfth of the price of whatever land the habitant sold. In early days land was rarely sold. But when towns and villages had grown up on seigniorial estates, a good deal of buying and selling took place and there stood always the seigneur demanding in every transaction his share of the selling price. If the land was sold two or three times in a year, as might well happen, each time the seigneur got his share of one-twelfth. If the occupier had built on the land a house at his own cost, none the less did the seigneur, who had done nothing, get his large percentage on the selling value of these improvements. This was a real grievance. To avoid paying the seigneur's claim a price, lower than that really paid, was sometimes named in the deed, and this led to perjury. To protect themselves the seigneur used his droit de retrait the right for forty days of himself taking the property at the price named. This involved vexation and delay and increased discontent. Moreover the seigneur's right to lods et ventes stood in the way of a ready transfer of property between members of the same family.

There were other causes of discontent. The seigneur had the droit de banalité, the banal rights, under which in France the habitant must use the seigneur's wine-press, his oven and his mill. In Canada no wine was made, so the seigneur's winepress did not exist. Some attempts were made to force the habitant to bake his bread inPg 216 the seigneur's oven but what would do in a compact French village, where fuel was scarce, became absurd in Canada; the picture is ludicrous of a habitant carrying a dozen miles, over rough roads, to the seigneur's oven, unbaked dough which might be hard frozen en route. Moreover new inventions made ovens common and cheap so that the habitant could afford to have his own. The seigneur's oven thus caused no grievance. Not so however the seigneur's mill. In the early days when the seigneur had the sole right to build a mill this became for him, in truth, a duty sometimes burdensome; for, whether it would pay or not, the government forced him to build a mill or else abandon the right. But in time the mill proved profitable and to it the peasant must bring his wheat. There might be a good mill near his house, while the seigneur's mill might be a dozen miles away and even then might give poor service; yet to the seigneur's mill he must go. If it was a wind-mill, nature, by denying wind, might cause a long delay before the flour should be ready. As time went on, some seigneurs claimed or reserved a monopoly in regard to all mills; grist mills, saw mills, carding mills, factories of every kind. Canada in time exported flour, but the seigneur's rights stood in the way of the free grinding of the wheat for this trade. The habitant might have on his land an excellent mill site with water power convenient, but hePg 217 could not use it without the seigneur's consent. More than this the seigneur often reserved the right to take such a site to the extent of six arpents for his own use without any compensation to the habitant.

In many cases the seigneur might freely cut timber on the habitant's land to erect buildings for public use,—church, presbytery, mill, and even a manor house. The rights to base metals on the property he also retained. The eleventh fish caught in the rivers was his. He might change the course of streams or rivers for manufacturing purposes; he alone could establish a ferry; his will determined where roads should be opened. Some seigneurs were even able to force villages and towns to pay a bonus for the right to carry on the ordinary business of buying and selling. So it turned out that if the habitant's crop failed he had little chance to do anything else without the seigneur's consent; he is, says the report of a Commission of Enquiry in 1843, "kept in a perpetual state of feebleness and dependence. He can never escape from the tie that forever binds to the soil him and his progeny; a cultivator he is born, a mere cultivator he is doomed to die." No doubt this plaint is pitched in a rather high key. But in time the burden of grievances was generally felt and then the seigniorial system was doomed.

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In the days of the last John Nairne political agitation became an old story at Malbaie. We get echoes of meetings held in the village to support the cause of the idol of habitant radicalism, Louis Joseph Papineau; in 1836 ninety-two resolutions drawn up by him and attacking the whole system of government in Canada appear to have met with clamorous approval from the assembled villagers. Papineau was himself a seigneur and did not assail the system. But after his unsuccessful rebellion in 1837-38 the attack on the seigneurs intensified. We know little of what happened at Malbaie but the end came suddenly. In 1854, after an election fought largely on this issue, the Parliament of Canada swept away the seigniorial system. The habitants then became tenants paying as rent the old cens et rentes. They could not be disturbed as long as this trifling rent was paid. Moreover at any time they might become simple freeholders by paying to the seigneur a sum of money representing their annual rent capitalized on a six per cent, basis. The term seigneur is still used but is now a mere honorary title. No longer does his position give him the authority of a magistrate; no longer must the habitants grind their corn at his mill; no longer can he claim lods et ventes when land is sold. For the loss of these rights he was paid compensation out of the public treasury.[34]

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With the abolition of the seigniorial system ends too the story of the Nairne family. In 1861, exactly one hundred years after Colonel Nairne first visited Malbaie, died his grandson and the last of his descendants, John McNicol Nairne, son of Colonel Nairne's eldest daughter Magdalen. This last Nairne left the property absolutely to his widow, tied only by the condition that it was to go to her male issue if she had such, even by a second marriage. In 1884, she too died childless, and bequeathed the property to an old friend, both of herself and of her husband, Mr. W.E. Duggan. Had Mr. Duggan not survived Mrs. Nairne the property was to go to St. Matthew's Church, Quebec. Mr. Duggan occupied it, until his death in 1898, when it passed by will to his half-brother, Mr. E.J. Duggan, the present seigneur.[35]

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It is a sad story this of the extinction of a family. Both Thomas Nairne and his father were buried at first in the Protestant cemetery at Quebec. But not there permanently were they to lie, and many years ago they found a resting-place in a new tomb in Mount Hermon Cemetery. On a lovely autumn day in 1907 I made my way in Quebec to the spot where the Nairnes are interred. In the fresh cool air it was a pleasure to walk briskly the three miles of the St. Louis road to the cemetery. One crossed the battle field of the Plains of Abraham where, within a few months, a century and a half ago, Britain and France grappled in deadly strife. The elder Nairne saw that field with its harvest of dead on September 13th, 1759, and, in the following April, he saw its snow stained with the blood of brave men who fell in Murray's battle with Lévis. In May, 1776, he marched across it in victorious pursuit of the fleeing American army. At Mount Hermon I readily found the Nairne tomb. It lies on the slope of the hill towards the river. Through the noble trees gleamed the mighty tide of the St. Lawrence. A great pine tree stands near the block of granite that marks the Nairne graves and a gentle breeze through its countless needles caused that mysterious sighing which is perhaps nature's softest and saddest note. One's thoughts went back to the brave old Colonel who wrought so well and had such high hopes for his posterityPg 221 to the soldier son, remembered here, who died in far distant India; and to the other soldier son who fell in Canada upon the field of battle. He was the last male heir of his line. The name and the family are now well-nigh forgotten. The inscriptions on the tomb, reared by a friend, connected with the Nairnes by ties of friendship only, not of blood, are themselves the memorial of the rise and extinction of a Canadian family.[36]

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The Coming of the Pleasure Seekers

Pleasure seeking at Murray Bay.—A fisherman's experience in 1830.—New visitors.—Fishing in a mountain lake.—Camp life.—The Upper Murray.—Canoeing.—Running the rapids.—Walks and drives.—Golf.—A rainy day.—The habitant and his visitors.

In the Middle Ages mankind in pursuit of change of air and scene and of bodily and spiritual health went on pilgrimage to some famous shrine; in modern times dwellers in cities, in a similar pursuit, go in summer to some beautiful spot by sea, or lake, or mountain. To many these places then become as sacred as was the saint's shrine of an earlier age. Busy men have leisure there to be idle, to read, to enjoy companionship, to pursue wholesome pleasures. Such a spot has Murray Bay become to many. Their intrusion was not looked upon with favour by those who wished to preserve the old simplicity, but it could not be resisted. More than a hundred years ago Colonel Nairne and Colonel Fraser had parties of guests in the summer that must have made the two manor houses lively enough. The beauty of the place, its coolness when Quebec and Montreal suffered from sweltering heat in the short Canadian summer, the simplicity and charm of its life, proved alluring. There was also excellentPg 223 sport. Salmon and trout abounded. Though time has brought changes, in some seasons the salmon fishing is still excellent and, in all the world, probably, there is no better trout fishing than in the upper waters of the Murray and in some of the lakes.

Thus it happened that the earliest annals of pleasure seeking at Murray Bay relate to fishing. It is at least possible that more than two hundred years ago the Sieur de Comporté tried his fortune as a fisherman in the lake that bears his name. A hundred and fifty years ago, as we have seen, Captain Nairne and his guest Gilchrist had such excellent salmon fishing that Gilchrist thought this sport alone worth a trip across the Atlantic. Many other fishing expeditions to Malbaie there must have been and, fortunately, a detailed narrative of one of them, made in 1830, has been preserved. The fishermen were Major Wingfield and Dr. Henry—attached to the 66th regiment at Montreal.

They went by steamer from Montreal to Quebec and an American General on board jeered at them for travelling three hundred miles to catch fish which they could buy in the market at their door! When they reached Quebec they found no steamer for Murray Bay,—hardly strange as then the steamboat was comparatively new. Three days they waited at Quebec until at length they bargained with the captain of a coasting schoonerPg 224 bound for Kamouraska, on the south shore of the St. Lawrence, to land them at Malbaie. The weather was stormy, the ship nearly foundered, and the eighty miles of the journey occupied no less than four days and nights. The fishermen had brought with them a quarter of cold lamb, a loaf, and a bottle of wine, but, before the journey was over, sheer hunger drove them to the ship's salt pork and to sausages stuffed with garlic. Rather than take refuge below among "thirty or forty dirty habitants from Kamouraska" they stuck to the deck and encamped under the great sail, but the rain fell so heavily that they could not even keep their cigars alight. At length "with beards like Jews," cold, wet, half-starved and miserable, they reached their destination. As they landed at Murray Bay they saw a salmon floundering in a net, bought it, and carried it with them to the house of a man named Chaperon where they had engaged lodgings. Here, says Dr. Henry, the sensation of being clean and comfortable in their host's "pleasant parlour" was delicious. The tea, the toast, the dainty prints of fresh butter were all exquisite "after rancid pork and garlic," and he declares that they ate for two hours and consumed "some half gallon of thick cream and half a bushel of new laid eggs." Under their window bloomed a rose bush in full flower. Murray Bay was at its best.

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On Monday morning, July 5th, 1830, the two fishermen engaged a calèche, and a boy named Louis Panet drove them up the Murray River. The present village church was already standing, "a respectable church," says Dr. Henry, "with its long roof and glittering spire and a tall elm or two"; the elms, alas, have disappeared and now there are only willows. A wooden bridge crossed the Murray and its large abutments loaded with great boulders told of formidable spring floods sweeping down the valley. A recent "éboulement" or land slide had blocked the road along the river and men were still busy clearing away the rubbish. Eight or ten miles up the river at the fall known as the Chute, still a favourite spot for salmon fishing, they had magnificent sport. One Jean Gros, in a crazy canoe, took them to the best places for casting the fly. The first salmon weighed twenty-five pounds and they had to play it for three-quarters of an hour. That evening when they returned to M. Chaperon's, to feast once more, they had five salmon weighing in all one hundred and five pounds and forty-five sea trout averaging three pounds each. No wonder Gilchrist has said such fishing was worth a trip across the Atlantic! The blot on the day's enjoyment was that in the July weather they were pestered with flies.

Excellent sport continued from day to day. Once Jean Gros lost his hold of the pole byPg 226 which he controlled the canoe and it drifted helplessly towards a rapid, Henry all the time playing a salmon. The man was alarmed and knelt to mumble prayers but Henry caught up a board thrown from the shore, gave him a whack with it on the back and shouted: "Ramez! Sacré! Ramez!" The effect was electrical. The old fellow seized the board, paddled with it like mad, steered down the rapid, and Henry finally landed his salmon. Day after day the two fishermen drove up to the Chute to fish until, after a fortnight, the river fell and the salmon ceased to rise; then they went down in a large boat to Rivière Noire, said never yet to have been fished with a rod, slept at night on the sandy beach, but had no luck. Henry tells of an annoyance at Malbaie that still continues; mongrel dogs ran after their calèche; sometimes one would try to seize the horse by the nose and nearly cause a run-away. Each cur pursued the vehicle and barked himself hoarse, and then, when he retired, his neighbour would take up the task. At length, after this experience had been frequently renewed, they decided to retaliate. One black shaggy beast had made himself specially obnoxious; with his thick wooly fur he did not mind in the least being struck by the whip. So one day Dr. Henry got ready the salmon gaff and, as the brute darted out at them, skilfully hooked him by the side. The driver whipped up his horse, which seemedPg 227 to enjoy the punishment of his enemy, and the vehicle went tearing along the road, the dog yelling hideously as he was dragged by the hook. The people ran to the doors holding up their hands in astonishment. The Doctor soon shook off the dog and he trotted home little the worse. Next day when he saw the fisherman's calèche coming he limped into the house "as mute as a fish" with his tail between his legs.

Dr. Henry thought Murray Bay an earthly paradise. The people in this "secluded valley" were the most virtuous he had ever seen. Flagrant crime was unknown,—doors were never locked at night. There was no need of temperance reform; "whole families pass their lives without any individual ever having tasted intoxicating fluids." The devout people, he says, had social family worship, morning and evening; the families were huge, fifteen to twenty children being not uncommon; when a young couple married the relations united to build a house for them; and so on. Unfortunately we know from other sources that conditions were not as idyllic at Murray Bay as Dr. Henry describes; but it was, no doubt, a simple and virtuous community.

In time its isolation was to disappear before invaders like Dr. Henry, in pursuit of pleasure. So gradual was the change that we hardly know when it came. By 1850 there was a little summer colony mostly from Quebec and Montreal. SoonPg 228 a few came from points more distant. As means of transport on the St. Lawrence improved a great many travellers passed Murray Bay on their way to the Saguenay. Tadousac, at its mouth, was already well known and an occasional stray visitor stopped off at Murray Bay to see what it was like. The accommodation offered was rude enough, no doubt, but perhaps less rude than one might suppose. At Pointe au Pic stood a substantial stone house. This was turned into a hotel and known some fifty years ago as Duberger's house. There were besides a few other houses for summer visitors. Thus, long ago, was there tolerable comfort at Murray Bay. In any case visitors soon found that the place had abundant compensations even for discomfort. They came and came again. Friends came to visit them and they too learned to love the spot. Some Americans from New York chanced to find it out and others of their countrymen followed; by 1885 already well established was the now dominant American colony.

The influx has limited and restricted but has not destroyed the old diversion of fishing. There are still many hundreds of lakes in the neighbourhood on which no fisherman has ever yet cast a fly. But nearly all the good spots within easy range are now leased or owned by private persons and clubs; no longer may the transient tourist fish almost where he pleases. All the better for thisPg 229 restriction is the quality of the fishing. What magnificent sport there is in some of those tiny lakes on the mountain side and what glorious views as one drives thither! To reach Lac à Comporté, for instance, one crosses the brawling Murray, drives up its left bank for a mile or so and then heads straight up the mountain side. Turning back one can see the silver gleam of the small river winding through its narrow valley until lost in the enveloping mountains. From points still higher one looks northwestward upon the mountain crests worn round ages ago, some of them probably never yet trodden by the foot of man. Most are wooded to the top but there are bare crags, a glowing purple sometimes in the afternoon light; but the prevailing tone is the deep, deep blue, the richest surely that nature can show anywhere. Along the road where we are driving stretch the houses of the habitants and sometimes, to survey the passing strangers, the whole family stands on the rude door-step. They rarely fail in a courteous greeting, with a touch still of the manners of France.

Two or three days spent on one of these wild mountain lakes, such as Lac à Comporté, is as pleasant an experience as any one can have. The walk is beautiful from the last cottage where the vehicles are left and the two or three men are secured who shoulder the packs with the necessary provisions. At first the forest path is hewnPg 230 broadly in a straight line but it soon narrows to a trail winding up the mountain side. The way is rough; one must clamber over occasional boulders and turn aside to avoid fallen trees. The white stems of birches are conspicuous in the forest thicket. After a stiff climb we have passed over the shoulder of the mountain; the path is now trending downward and at length through the arch of green over the pathway one catches the gleam of the lake. The pace quickens and in a few minutes we stand upon the shore of a lovely little sheet of water with a shore line perhaps three miles long, lying in the mountain hollow. Evening is near and, half an hour later, each fisherman is in a boat paddled softly by a habitant companion. In a thousand places the calm water is disturbed by the trout feeding busily; they often throw themselves quite clear of the water and, when the sport has well begun, at a single cast one occasionally takes a trout on each of his three flies. Before it is dark the whole circuit of the lake has been made and a goodly basket of trout is the result.

A camp at evening is always delightful. The tired fishermen lie by the cheery fire while the men prepare the evening meal, to consist chiefly of the trout just caught. They have the vivacity and readiness of their race: rough habitants though they are their courtesy is inborn, inalienable. After the meal is over silence often fallsPg 231 on the group of three or four by the fire. Every one is tired and at barely nine o'clock it is time for bed. Before each of the two or three small tents standing some distance apart by the water's edge the men have built a blazing fire which throws its light far out over the tiny lake. All round rise the mountains, now dark and sombre; a sharp wind is blowing and as one stands alone looking out over the water there comes a sense of chill; for a moment the mountain solitude seems remote, melancholy and friendless: with something like a shiver one turns to the cheerful fire before the tent. Here blankets are spread on sweet scented boughs of sapin; the bed is hard, but not too hard for a tired man and one quickly falls asleep.

Other fishing expeditions at Murray Bay take one farther afield and into more varied scenes. In its upper stretches, three thousand feet above the sea, the Murray River flows through a level country before it plunges into mountain fastnesses, almost impregnable in summer, for a long and troubled détour, to emerge at length into this last valley. To reach this flat upland one must drive through a beautiful mountain pass with great heights towering on either side of the winding roadway. In the upper river the fishing is still unsurpassed. Of small trout there are vast numbers, excellent for the table, but in the deep pools are also huge trout, ranging in weight from threePg 232 to eight pounds. The surrounding country is open; there are only clumps of scrubby timber; and the plain is covered with deep moss readily beaten into a hard path upon which the foot treads silently. Here the bears come to feed upon the berries and the Canadians have called the plain prettily the "Jardin des Ours." Other sport than trout fishing there is. In season the caribou and the moose are abundant—but that is a sportsman's tale by itself.

Fishing and hunting are not the sole diversions. As long ago as in 1811, when young Captain Nairne came here fresh from Europe, the boating attracted him and he spent much time on the bay and the river. No doubt the young seigneur was soon skilful in the art of paddling a canoe. In those days there were real Indians and no other canoes than those of birch bark; now these have well-nigh disappeared and, indeed, few visitors at Murray Bay, use any kind of a canoe. The pastime is thought too dangerous for all but the initiated. Amid these mountains, winds rise quickly and beat up a sea, and it is well to keep near the shore. The rising tide sweeps like a mill race over the bar at the mouth of the bay and when one has passed out to the great river it is like being afloat on the open sea. On perfectly calm days we may go far out to be swept up with the tide; but it is both safer and pleasanter to glide along close to shore under the shadow of the cliffs, around sharpPg 233 corners, dodging in and out among boulders submerged, or now being submerged, by the rising tide. The successive sandy beaches are each backed by high cliffs. The river is a shining, spangled, surface of light blue and white, reflecting the sky sprinkled with fleecy clouds. Here a chattering stream, the Petit Ruisseau, falls over white rocks to lose itself in the sand. Far ahead now one can see the Church of Ste. Irénée perched on a level table-land, two or three hundred feet above the river. Soon a dark green line on the high birch-clad shore marks the gorge by which the Grand Ruisseau flows to the St. Lawrence. At its mouth is a good place to land and make tea. The canoes are drawn up on a sandy beach under the shadow of cliffs, a medley of red and grey and brown. Near by, the Grand Ruisseau, a fair sized brook, babbles in its bed crowded with great boulders. A wild path, part of it including steps from rock to rock in the bed of the stream itself, leads to a lovely little cascade where, in white foam, the water falls into a deep dark pool. One hurries to visit it and then, with the evening shadows falling and the narrow gorge becoming sombre, it is wise to hasten back. As one steps out from the wooded path to the shore of the great river the scene is enchanting. The river's shining surface is perfectly smooth. Far across it is a dark-blue serried line of mountains. Houses, twenty miles distant, stand out whitePg 234 in the last light of the sun. From the tin-covered spire of a church far away, the flash of the rays comes back like the glow of fire. Standing in shadow we look out on a realm of light:

"As when the sun prepared for rest
Hath gained the precincts of the West,
Though his departing radiance fail
To illuminate the hollow vale,
A lingering light he fondly throws
On the fair hills, where first he rose."

The shore is strangely silent; one hears only the occasional puffing of the white whale or the sad cry of the loon.

A thrilling diversion is that of running the rapids in the Murray River. The canoe is sent up by charette and after luncheon it is a walk or drive of eight or nine miles up the river to the starting point—a deep, dark-brown pool, which soon narrows into a swift rapid, the worst in all the stretches to the river's mouth. Formerly a procession of half a dozen canoes would go through the rapid with light hearts, but, long ago, when the river was very high, a canoe upset here and one of its occupants was never seen alive again. As one paddles out into the pool and is drawn into the dark current moving silently and swiftly to the rapid the heart certainly beats a little faster. The water's surface is an inclined plane as it flows over the ledge of rock. Straight ahead the current breaks on a huge black rock in a cloud ofPg 235 white foam. One must sweep off to the right, with the great volume of the water, and need catch only a little spray in swinging safely past the danger point. Then, in the waves caused by the current, before the canoe is quite turned "head-on" a wave may curl over the bow and leave the occupants kneeling in half an inch of water. In such a case it is wise to land and empty the canoe. In the next rapid, a tangled maze, the water is shallow and skill is required to wind in and out among the rocks and find water enough to keep afloat. Then the canoe slips over a ledge with plenty of water and the only care is to curve sharply to the left with the current before it strikes the bank straight ahead. The whole trip down the river occupies two glorious hours. There are short stretches of smooth and deep water; then the river contracts and pours with impetuous swiftness down a rocky slope. Sometimes trees stand close to the river; then there are bare grey banks of clay; then smiling fields sloping gently up to the high land; at times the canoe is in shade, then in the flashing sunlight. The river grows milder as it nears its mouth but the excitement does not end until we float under the bridge at Malbaie village and lift the canoe over the boom fastened there to catch logs in their descent. To paddle home in calm water across the bay seems tame after dancing for two hours on that tossing current.

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Of course there are many walks and drives—on the whole the most delightful of Malbaie's diversions. The favourite walk is to "Beulah." A generation that does not read its Bible as it should may need to be told that Beulah is the name of the land no more desolate in which the Lord delighteth; some Bible reader so named a spot on the mountain where one looks out far, far, afield in every direction for immense distances. It may be reached by a forest path straight up the mountain side from Pointe au Pic. We go through spruce and birch woods till we reach an opening where we look out northward on rounded mountain tops blue, silent, immeasurable, spreading away, one might almost fancy to the North Pole itself, so endless seems their mass. On beautiful turf through woods, then by a cow path across a bog, the path leads until a bare hill top lies full in view. This is Beulah. Standing there one seems to have the whole world at one's feet. When Petrarch had climbed Mount Ventoux, near Avignon, the first man for half a century to do so, the scene overwhelmed him; thoughts of the deeper meaning of life rose before his mind; he drew from his pocket St. Augustine and read: "Men go about to wonder at the height of the mountains and the mighty waves of the sea, and the wide sweep of rivers and the circuit of the ocean and the revolution of the stars, but themselves they consider not." I never stand onPg 237 "Beulah" without thinking of this passage. Far away to the distant south shore, and up and down the river we can survey a stretch of eighty or ninety miles. We stand in the midst of a sea of mountains and look landward across deep valleys in all directions with the ranges rising tier on tier beyond.

The Golf Links at Murray Bay
The Golf Links at Murray Bay

Among diversions for men golf, in spite of a certain reaction, has still the chief place. The club house is on the west shore of the bay. One plays out northward. The players zigzag here and there among curious earth mounds formed by the eddying swirl of water when the river's current held high carnival over these level stretches. Then the course leads up to the higher slope and mounts steadily, until, at the farthest hole, a considerable height has been reached. As one turns back towards the river he faces a wonder scene of changing grey and blue and green and white. The smoke of passing steamers floats lazily in the air; they take the deep channel by the south shore and are a dozen miles away. It is usually a silent world that one looks out upon; but when there is a north-east wind great green waves come rolling in upon the sandy shore of the bay and fill the air with their undertone.

Even the rainy days have their own pleasures. One is glad of its excuse to sit before a crackling fire of birch wood and read. When the rain has ceased and the sun comes out, looking across toPg 238 Cap à l'Aigle and up the river valley one sees new beauties. The mist disperses slowly. First it leaves bare the rounded mountain tops; they stand out dark, massive, with bases shrouded still in fleecy white. When the sun grows strong, river and valley are soon clear again, though the outlines are still a little softened. Up over the sand and boulders of the bay comes the rising tide changing sombre brown to shining blue. It rushes noisily across the bar at the bay's mouth a few hundred yards away.

The visitors to this beautiful scene gather year by year from places widely separated and form in this remote village a society singularly cosmopolitan. English, French, Americans, Canadians, all mingle here with leisure to meet and play together. For a time far away seems the hard world of competition. Rarely do newspapers arrive until at least the day after publication; the telegraph is used only under urgent necessity; as far as possible business is excluded. The cottages are spacious enough but quite simple, with rooms usually divided off only by boards of pine or spruce. Very little decoration makes them pretty. Gardening has a good many devotees; the long day of sunshine and in some seasons the abundant rain of this northern region help to make vegetation luxurious. If one drives he may take a planche—the convenient serviceable "buck-board,"—still unsurpassed for a countryPg 239 of hills and rough roads. But to me at least the calèche is the more enjoyable. It comes here from old France, a two-wheeled vehicle, with the seat hung on stout leather straps reaching from front to back on each side of the wooden frame. It is not a vehicle for those sensitive to slight jars. The driver sits in a tiny seat in front and one is amazed at the agility with which even old men spring from this perch to walk up and down the steep hills. Their ponies are beautiful little animals, specially fitted by a long development for work in this hilly country. So well do they mount its heights that travellers repeat an unconfirmed tradition of their having been known to climb trees!

It is not strange that in our happy summer days we acquire a deep affection for this northern region, its brilliant colouring, its crisp air. Not its least charm is in the cheerful and kindly people. One would not have them speak any other tongue than their French, preserving here archaic usages, with new words for new things, influenced of course by English, but still the beautiful language of an older France than the France of to-day. The people have their own tragedies. One sees pale women, over-worked. The physician's skill is too little sought; the country ranges are very remote; it is difficult and expensive to get medical aid; and there are deformed cripples who might have been made whole by skill applied in time.Pg 240 Consumption too is here a dread scourge, though against it a strenuous campaign has now begun. Many children are born but too many die. Still, most of the people live in comfort and they enjoy life—enjoy it probably much more than would an Anglo-Saxon community of the same type.

We who are among them in the summer are citizens of another and an unknown world. New York and Chicago, Boston and Washington, Toronto and Montreal are to us realities with one or other of which, in some way, each of us is linked. To this simple people they are all merely that outer world whence come their fleeting visitors of summer, as out of the unknown come the migrant birds to pause and rest awhile. We bring with us substantial material benefits; but it is not clear that our moral influence is good. Leaving his farm the habitant brings to the village his horse and calèche to become a hired charretier. He often gets good fares but there is much idle waiting. Bad habits are formed and regular industry is discouraged. The curé finds Malbaie a difficult sphere. We alone get unmixed benefit from this fair scene, its days of glad serenity, and of almost solemn stillness, when even a bird's note is heard but rarely.

Because all that concerns it interests us I have tried to put together from scattered fragments the story long forgotten of the past of Malbaie. In it there is abundance of the tragedy neverPg 241 remote from man's life: if the telling of the tale has been a pleasure it has proved not less a sad pleasure. But the story adds only a deeper meaning to our beautiful playground. After all it is man and his activities which give to nature's scenes their deepest interest; Quebec's chief charm is due to Wolfe and Montcalm, St. Helena's to Napoleon. The shaggy mountain crests which we view from our valley, the glistening blue river, the strong north-east wind which clouds the sky, turns the river to grey, and sprinkles its surface with white caps,—all are full for us of joyous beauty. But how much less of interest would there be did the white spire of the village church not peep out above the green trees up the bay to tell of man's weakness and his hopes! The story of the brave old soldier who peopled this valley, the pathetic tragedy of his successor's fate, add something here to the bloom of nature. It may be that the chief service of the chequered and half-forgotten past when it speaks is to show how vain and transient is all we think and plan,—"what shadows we are and what shadows we pursue." But be it so. One would not miss from life this last joy of knowing what it really means.

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Chapter I.—For Jacques Cartier see his Voyages of 1535-36, in French (Ed. D'Avezac) Paris, 1863, translated into English (Ed. Baxter), New York, 1906. For Champlain see his Œuvres (Ed. Laverdière) Quebec, 1870. Bourdon's Act of Faith and Homage is in Canadian Archives, Series M., Vol. I, p. 387. M. B. Sulte gives an account of the Carignan Regiment in the Proc. and Trans. of the Royal Society of Canada for 1902. The account of the Sieur de Comporté in France is in Canadian Archives Series B., F., 213, p. 46; that of the auction sale of his property is in a MS. preserved at Murray Bay, while a record of the sale of Malbaie to the government is in Canadian Archives, Series M., Vol. LXV, p. 75. "The Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents" (Ed. Thwaites) (Cleveland, 1900), Vol. LXIX., pp. 80 sqq. contains the account of Malbaie in 1750. The authority for the burning of Malbaie in 1759 is Sir James M. Le Moine, "The Explorations of Jonathan Oldbuck," Quebec, 1889, based upon documents printed by "T.C." in L'Abeille, Nov. and Dec., 1859. Standard histories of the time such as Parkman's "Montcalm and Wolfe" give references to authorities for the events of the Seven Years' War.

Chapter II.—The "Dictionary of National Biography" contains good articles on Lord Lovat, General Murray, &c., with references to authorities. Alexander Mackenzie's "History of the Frasers of Lovat" (Inverness, 1896) is the most recent detailed history of the family. MacLean, "An Historical Account of the Settlement of Scotch Highlanders in America," (Cleveland, 1900), contains valuable information. The portion of the chapter relating to Malbaie is based upon MSS. preserved there in the Murray Bay Manor House.

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Chapter III.—MS. material preserved at Murray Bay.

Chapter IV.—Much original material relating to the Siege of Quebec in 1775-76 has been published by the Literary and Historical Society of Quebec. To be specially noted are the two volumes of documents on the "Blockade of Quebec in 1775-76 by the American Revolutionists, (Les Bostonnais)" Edited by F.C. Würtele (Quebec, 1905 and 1906). Two or three works have been written recently on the episode from the American point of view: Codman, "Arnold's Expedition to Quebec" (New York, 1901); Justin H. Smith, "Arnold's March from Cambridge to Quebec, a critical study, together with a reprint of Arnold's Journal," (New York, 1903); Justin H. Smith, "Our Struggle for the Fourteenth Colony," 2 Vols. (New York, 1907). The story of Nairne's part in the war is based chiefly upon MS. material preserved at Murray Bay. The incident of the escaped prisoners is told in Nairne's reports; to Captain Matthews, Secretary to Haldimand, on the 14th of May, 1780, and to Major Le Maistre, on the 5th of June. These are at Murray Bay. A further report to Matthews on the 3rd of June is preserved at Ottawa; Canadian Archives, Series B, Vol. 73, p. 130. Mr. James Thompson was in charge of the building of the houses for the prisoners and tells of their escape in his MS. Diary.

Chapter V. and Chapter VI. are based upon MSS. at Murray Bay.

Chapter VII.—M. Léon Gérin has given an exhaustive analysis of the life of the habitant in "L'Habitant de Saint Justin," published in the Proc. and Trans, of the Royal Society of Canada for 1898 (Ottawa, 1898). M. J.-E. Roy's "Histoire de la Seigneurie de Lauzon," of which five volumes have been published (the last, Levis, Quebec, 1904) is the most detailed and authoritative account of a Canadian Seigniory. Vol. IV deals especially with the life of thePg 245 habitants. Philippe Aubert de Gaspé's "Les anciens Canadiens," (Quebec, 1863), and his "Mémoires" (Ottawa, 1866), contain much that is interesting on the life of a Canadian manor. So also do H.R. Casgrain's "Une Paroisse Canadienne au XVIIe Siècle," Œuvres Completes, Vol. I (Montreal, 1884), and Parkman's "The Old Régime in Canada," (Boston, 1893). W. Bennett Munro's "The Seigniorial System in Canada," (New York, 1907), and his "Documents relating to Seigniorial Tenure in Canada," (Toronto, 1908), cover adequately the whole subject, and contain, in addition, abundant references to further authorities. The "Mandements des Evêques de Québec," (Ed. Têtu and Gagnon), in six volumes, the first published in 1887, contain much of interest in regard to the attitude of the Church to the people. The Second Part of "The Report of the Commission charged with revising and consolidating the General Statutes of the Province of Quebec," (Quebec, 1907), outlines the legal aspects of the school and Church systems. M. André Seigfried's "Le Canada, Les Deux Races," (Paris, 1906), translated into English under the title of "The Race Question in Canada," (London, 1907), is a passionless analysis of religious and political thought in the Province of Quebec.

Chapter VIII.—The account of fishing at Murray Bay in 1830 is by Walter Henry; "Events of a Military Life," 2 Vols. (London, 1843). The chapter is based chiefly upon personal observation.

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Pg 249

APPENDIX A (p. 31)

The Journal of Malcom Fraser, First Seigneur of Mount Murray, Malbaie

Malcolm Fraser was a young man of about twenty-six when he kept his diary of Wolfe's campaign against Quebec. It shows that already he had considerable powers of observation and very definite opinions. No doubt Fraser preserved a record of events in the campaign earlier than those of 1759; and it seems likely that the habit of recording his experiences would also have been kept up in later life. When, some time before 1860, were made the extracts from Fraser's Journal upon which the present notes are based, the original remained in the possession of his son the Hon. John Malcolm Fraser. The extracts were published by the Literary and Historical Society of Quebec in 1868 and have been used by Parkman and other historians, who usually, however, confuse Fraser with his commanding officer Colonel Simon Fraser. The extracts have long been out of print. I have not been able to trace the original MS. or any other Journal of Fraser, except a brief and quite valueless one preserved at Mount Murray. In one of his later letters, written fifty years after this Journal, Fraser speaks of his reluctance to handle the pen. But this did not keep him from writing in a beautiful round hand many long letters and making also copies for his own use.

Early in the spring of 1859 a great British fleet had arrived in America from England and a squadron under Admiral Holmes had gone to New York to embark the Highlanders and other regiments wintering there to proPg 250ceed to Quebec. The place of rendezvous was Louisbourg. Fraser's Journal begins on May 8th, 1759, with the departure of the regiments from Sandy Hook, the fleet consisting of about twenty-eight sail. The Highlanders had taken part in the siege and capture of Louisbourg in the previous year but had gone to New York for the winter. On May 17th the fleet sailed into Louisbourg Harbour after "a very agreeable and quick passage" of nine days. Patches of snow lay still on the ground and on the 29th of May Louisbourg Harbour was so full of ice that boats could not pass from the ships to shore. "I suppose," says Fraser, "the ice comes from the Gulf and river of St. Lawrence," regions he was in time to be very familiar with. He hears that a Lieutenant has shot himself on one of the men of war "for fear I suppose the French should do it. If he was wearied of life, he might soon get out of it in a more honourable way."

On Monday, June 4th, after much bustle of preparation, the fleet set sail for Quebec. "I take it to consist of about 150 sail," says Fraser; so great was the array that to count the ships was almost impossible. They numbered in fact nearly 300, a huge force. On June 13th the fleet anchored at Bic in the St. Lawrence River. As they came up the river Fraser noted that the north shore was but little inhabited, a defect which, within a few years, he was himself to try to remedy in part. On June 23rd a whole division of the fleet anchored near Isle aux Coudres as Jacques Cartier had done more than two hundred years earlier.

Arrived before Quebec the Highlanders were sent to Point Levi where, on July 1st, they pitched their tents. The next day Fraser's company established itself in the Church of St. Joseph there. The Canadians were carrying on guerilla warfare, firing on the British from the woods and Fraser was shocked at the horrid practise of scalping. He writes on July 2nd:

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"While we were out, I observed several dead bodies on the road, not far from our Camp; they were all scalped and mangled in a shocking manner. I dare say no human creature but an Indian or Canadian could be guilty of such inhumanity as to insult a dead body."

He was to see worse atrocities committed on his own side. On July 10th, still at Point Levi, he writes of the doings of a company of the colonial scouting force, the Rangers, commanded by Captain Gorham, who soon after desolated Malbaie.

"A party of our Rangers having been sent out on this side of the river (the south), on the 9th they took one man prisoner and two boys (his children) having followed him a little way, making a great noise, were in a most inhuman manner murdered by those worse than savage Rangers, for fear, as they pretend, they should be discovered by the noise of the children. I wish this story was not fact, but I'm afraid there is little reason to doubt it:—the wretches having boasted of it on their return, tho' they now pretend to vindicate themselves by the necessity they were under; but, I believe, this barbarous action proceeded from that cowardice and barbarity which seems so natural to a native of America, whether of Indian or European extraction. In other instances, those Rangers have hitherto been of some use, and showed in general a better spirit than usual. They are for the most part raised in New England."

On Friday, July 13th, the scene changed. Wolfe was planning an attack on Montcalm's camp and Fraser writes: "I was sent orderly officer to the Camp, at Montmorency, where I had an opportunity of seeing our own, and the French posts nigh the Fall. The river is fordable below the Fall at low water." On July 24th, 350 of the Highlanders under Col. Simon Fraser were sent down the river to bring in prisoners and cattle. The Highland leader metPg 252 with misfortune. On July 26th Fraser writes: "Lieut. Alexander Fraser, Junior, returned to camp from the detachment which marched with the Col. on the 24th. He brings news of the Colonel's having been wounded in the thigh, by an unlucky shot from a small party of Canadians who lay in ambush and fired on the detachment out of a bush, and then retired. In the evening, the Col. came to camp with Capt. McPherson, who was wounded by the same shot, and the ball lodged in his thigh; but it is thought neither of their wounds are (sic) dangerous. There was not another man of the detachment touched." Next day the rest of the detachment "returned with three women and one man prisoners, and above two hundred head of cattle."

On the following night July 28th, the French tried to destroy the British fleet by a fire ship. "This night the French sent down a large fire raft which they did not set fire to till they were fired on by some of the boats who are every night on the watch for them above the shipping. Our boats immediately grappled it, and tho' it burnt with great violence, they towed it past all the shipping without any damage." We know from other sources that one of the sailors engaged in dragging away the fireship likened it to having "hell-fire in tow."

Fraser records on Tuesday, July 31st, the disastrous attempt by the British to carry by a frontal attack Montcalm's entrenchments along the Beauport shore. The attack failed partly through the rashness of the Grenadiers who dashed forward prematurely. For this Wolfe rebuked them but he commended the cool steadiness of the Highlanders. Some 700 British casualties were the results of the attack. When the British drew off they left many of their men fallen on the shore. Fraser says: "I observed some men coming down from the trenches where some of our people lay killed; we imagined they were Indians who were sent to scalp them, after the whole had retreated."

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At once after the disaster, the Highlanders were moved back to their old camp at Point Levi. Some idle days followed. But, on August 15th, a detachment which included Fraser was sent to the Island of Orleans. It was bent on the work of desolating the Canadian parishes, the people of which still persisted in warring on the British. On Thursday, August 16th, the detachment, consisting of about 170 officers and men, marched the length of the Island of Orleans and on the 17th it crossed to St. Joachim—the fertile flats lying almost under the shadow of Cap Tourmente: Fraser was drawing near to the Malbaie country. He writes: "Friday, 17th August.—Crossed from the Isle of Orleans to St. Joachim. Before we landed we observed some men walking along the fences, as if they intended to oppose us and on our march up to the Church of St. Joachim, we were fired on by some party's of the Enemy from behind the houses and fences, but upon our advancing they betook themselves to the woods, from whence they continued popping at us, till towards evening, when they thought proper to retire, and we kept possession of the Priest's house, which we set about fortifying in the best manner we could." They remained quietly at St. Joachim for some days. But they were getting ready for the grim task of desolating the parishes lying between St. Joachim and Montmorency. Fraser tells the story with soldier-like brevity, but obviously he hated the work.

"Thursday, 23rd.—We were reinforced by a party of about one hundred and forty Light Infantry, and a Company of Rangers, under the command of Captain Montgomery of Kennedy's or forty-third Regiment, who likewise took the command of our detachment, and we all marched to attack the village to the west of St. Joachim, which was occupied by a party of the enemy to the number of about two hundred, as we supposed, Canadians and Indians. When we came pretty near the village, they firedPg 254 on us from the houses pretty smartly; we were ordered to lie behind the fences till the Rangers, who were detached to attack the Enemy from the woods, began firing on their left flank, when we advanc^d briskly without great order; and the French abandoned the houses and endeavoured to get into the woods, our men pursuing close at their heels. There were several of the enemy killed, and wounded, and a few prisoners taken, all of whom the barbarous Captain Montgomery, who commanded us, ordered to be butchered in a most inhuman and cruel manner; particularly two, who I sent prisoners by a sergeant, after giving them quarter, and engaging that they should not be killed, were one shot, and the other knocked down with a Tomahawk (a little hatchet) and both scalped in my absence, by the rascally sergeant neglecting to acquaint Montgomery that I wanted them saved, as he, Montgomery, pretended when I questioned him about it; but even that was no excuse for such an unparalleled piece of barbarity. However, as the affair could not be remedied, I was obliged to let it drop. After this skirmish we set about burning the houses with great success, setting all in flames till we came to the church of St. Anne's, [the now famous shrine of St. Anne de Beaupré], where we put up for this night, and were joined by Captain Ross, with about one hundred and twenty men of his company.

"Friday, 24th August.—Began to march and burn as yesterday, till we came to Ange Gardien where our detachment and Captain Ross, who had been posted for some days at Chateau Richer, joined Colonel Murray with the three companies of Grenadiers of the 22nd, 40th and 45th Regiments, where we are posted in four houses which we have fortified so as to be able, we hope, to stand any attack which we can expect with small arms.

"Saturday, 25th.—Busy felling the fruit trees, and cutting the wheat to clear round us.

Pg 255

"Sunday, 26th.—The same.

"Monday, 27th August.—I hear Brigadier Murray has returned with his detachment, having had all the success expected of the detachment. We received orders to march to-morrow to Chateau Richer. Some men were observed skulking in the corn, round the houses we possessed; upon which, some of our people fired from one of the houses, when the whole took the alarm and continued firing from the windows and loopholes for about ten minutes. For my own part I can't say I could observe any of the Enemy, but as we had one man killed, and most of the men affirmed they saw men in the Corn, I can't doubt but there were a few of the Enemy near us."

So the record goes on. On August 30th the detachment was busy fortifying itself in the Church at Château Richer near Quebec. On the next day orders came to burn the houses there but not the church and return at once to Montmorency. At Ange Gardien, on the way, General Murray, after whom Murray Bay is named, joined them with his detachment. As they marched along the force burned all the houses and was soon back in camp at Montmorency. They had left a trail black with desolation between that point and Cap Tourmente. Captain Gorham completed the tale of woe by destroying Baie St. Paul and Malbaie. Hardly a house was left between Montmorency and the Saguenay.

But all this was only side-play. The crisis of the campaign was now near. On September 3rd Wolfe abandoned the camp at Montmorency. Fraser writes: "The Army at Montmorency decamped this day, and crossed to the Island of Orleans, and from thence to Point Levy, without molestation from the French, tho' they must have known some time ago that we intended to abandon that post."

Pg 256

Wolfe was now massing as many troops as possible above Quebec on the south side of the river. On September 6th, 600 of the Highlanders, together with the 15th and the 43rd, marched six miles above Point Levi and there embarked on board the ships. Fraser says: "We are much crowded; the ship I am in has about six hundred on board, being only about two hundred and fifty tons." On the 7th and 8th it rained and the men must have been very uncomfortable in their narrow quarters. For some days still they remained in this condition. Meanwhile were issued to the men careful instructions as to what they should do. The army was to drop down the river in small boats, and to attempt to make a landing on the north shore.

On the evening of September 12th came the final effort so carefully planned. "About nine o'clock, the night of the 12th, we went into the Boats as ordered." Fraser says that a shore battery began to fire on the British boats about 4.0 A.M. before they landed and that the landing at the Foulon to climb to the Heights was made at daybreak.

"Thursday, 13th September, 1759.—The Light Infantry under the command of Colonel Howe, immediately landed and mounted the hill. We were fired on in the Boats by the Enemy who killed and wounded a few. In a short time, the whole army was landed at a place called 'Le Foulon,' (now Wolfe's Cove) about a mile and a half above the Town of Quebec, and immediately followed the Light Infantry up the hill. There was a few tents and a Picket of the French on the top of the hill whom the Light Infantry engaged, and took some of their Officers and men prisoners. The main body of our Army soon got to the upper ground after climbing a hill or rather a precipice, of about three hundred yards, very steep and covered with wood and brush. We had several skirmishes with thePg 257 Canadians and Savages, till about ten o'clock, when the army was formed in line of battle, having the great River St. Lawrence on the right with the precipice which we mounted in the morning; on the left, a few houses, and at some distance the low ground and wood above the General Hospital with the River St. Charles; in front, the Town of Quebec, about a mile distant; in the rear, a wood occupied by the Light Infantry ... and the third Battalion of the Royal Americans.... The Army was ordered to march on slowly in line of battle, and halt several times, till about half an hour after ten, when the French began to appear in great numbers on the rising ground between us and the Town, and [they] having advanced several parties to skirmish with us, we did the like. They then got two Iron field pieces to play against our line. Before eleven o'clock, we got one brass field piece up the Hill, which being placed in the proper interval began to play very smartly on the Enemy while forming on the little eminence. Their advanced parties continued to annoy us and wounded a great many men. About this time, we observed the Enemy formed, having a bush of short brush wood on their right, which straitened them in room, and obliged them to form in columns. About eleven o'clock, the French Army advanced in columns till they had got past the bush of wood into the plain, when they endeavoured to form in line of Battle, but being much galled by our Artillery, which consisted of only one field piece, very well served, we observed them in some confusion. However they advanced at a brisk pace till within about thirty or forty yards of our front, when they gave us their first fire, which did little execution. We returned it, and continued firing very hot for about six, or (as some say) eight minutes, when the fire slackening, and the smoke of the powder vanishing, we observed the main body of the Enemy retreating in great confusion towards the Town, and the rest towardsPg 258 the River St. Charles. Our Regiment were then ordered by Brigadier General Murray to draw their swords and pursue them, which I dare say increased their panic but saved many of their lives, whereas if the artillery had been allowed to play, and the army advanced regularly there would have been many more of the Enemy killed and wounded, as we never came up with the main body. In advancing, we passed over a great many dead and wounded, (french regulars mostly) lying in the front of our Regiment, who,—I mean the Highlanders,—to do them justice, behaved extremely well all day, as did the whole of the army. After pursuing the French to the very gates of the Town, our Regiment was ordered to form fronting the Town, on the ground whereon the French formed first. At this time the rest of the Army came up in good order. General Murray having then put himself at the head of our Regiment, ordered them to face to the left and march thro' the bush of wood, towards the General Hospital, when they got a great gun or two to play upon us from the Town, which however did no damage, but we had a few men killed and Officers wounded by some skulking fellows with small arms, from the bushes and behind the houses in the suburbs of St. Louis and St. John's. After marching a short way through the bush, Brigadier Murray thought proper to order us to return again to the high road leading from Porte St. Louis, to the heights of Abraham, where the battle was fought, and after marching till we got clear of the bushes, we were ordered to turn to the right, and go along the edge of them towards the bank, at the descent between us and the General Hospital, under which we understood there was a body of the Enemy who no sooner saw us than they began firing on us from the bushes and from the bank; we soon dispossessed them from the bushes and from thence kept firing for about a quarter of an hour on those under cover of the bank; but as they exceeded us greatly in numPg 259bers, they killed and wounded a great many of our men, and killed two Officers, which obliged us to retire a little, and form again, when the 58th Regiment with the 2nd Battalion of Royal Americans having come up to our assistance, all three making about five hundred men, advanced against the Enemy and drove them first down to the great meadow between the Hospital and town and afterwards over the River St. Charles. It was at this time and while in the bushes that our Regiment suffered most: Lieutenant Roderick, Mr. Neill of Bana, and Alexander McDonell, and John McDonell, and John McPherson, volunteer, with many of our men, were killed before we were reinforced; and Captain Thomas Ross having gone down with about one hundred men of the 3rd Regiment to the meadow, after the Enemy, when they were out of reach, ordered me up to desire those on the height would wait till he would come up and join them, which I did, but before Mr. Ross could get up, he unfortunately was mortally wounded in the body, by a cannon ball from the hulks, in the mouth of the River St. Charles, of which he died in great torment, but with great resolution, in about two hours thereafter.

"In the afternoon, Mons. Bougainville, with the French Grenadiers and some Canadians, to the number of two thousand who had been detached to oppose our landing at Cap Rouge, appeared between our rear and the village St. Foy, formed in a line as if he intended to attack us; but the 48th Regiment with the Light Infantry and 3rd Battalion Royal Americans being ordered against him, with some field pieces, they fired a few cannon shot at him when he thought proper to retire.

"Thus ended the battle of Quebec, the first regular engagement that we ... fought in North America, which has made the king of Great Britain master of the capital of Canada, and it is hoped ere long will be the means of subPg 260jecting the whole country to the British Dominion; and if so, this has been a greater acquisition to the British Empire than all that England has acquired by Conquest since it was a nation, if I may except the conquest of Ireland, in the reign of Henry the 2nd.

"The Enemy's numbers I have never been able to get an exact account of. We imagined them seven or eight thousand: this has been disputed since. However, I am certain they were greatly superior to us in numbers, as their line was equal to ours in length, tho' they were in some places nine deep, whereas ours was no more than three deep. Add to this, their advanced parties and those in the bushes, on all hands, I think they must exceed five thousand.

"Our strength at the utmost did not exceed the thousand men in the line, exclusive of the 15th Regiment and 2nd Battalion Royal Americans, who were drawn up on our left, fronting the River St. Charles, with the 3rd Battalion Royal Americans and Light Infantry in the rear, and the 48th Regiment, who were drawn up between our main body and the Light Infantry as a Corps of Reserve. So that I am pretty certain our numbers did not exceed four thousand men, the Regiments being very weak, most of them under three hundred men each.

"We had only about five hundred men of our Army killed and wounded, but we suffered an irreparable loss in the death of our commander the brave Major General James Wolfe, who was killed in the beginning of the general action; we had the good fortune not to hear of it till all was over.

"The French were supposed to have about one thousand men killed and wounded, of whom five hundred killed during the whole day, and amongst these Monsieur le Lieutenant Général Montcalm, the commander in chief of the French Army in Canada, one Brigadier General, one Colonel and several other Officers. I imagined there hadPg 261 been many more killed and wounded on both sides, as there was a heavy fire for some minutes, especially from us.

"We had of our Regiment three officers killed and ten wounded, one of whom Captain Simon Fraser, afterwards died. Lieutenant Archibald Campbell was thought to have been mortally wounded, but to the surprise of most people recovered; Captain John McDonell thro' both thighs; Lieut. Ronald McDonell thro' the knee; Lieutenant Alexander Campbell thro' the leg; Lieutenant Douglas thro' the arm, who died of this wound soon afterwards; Ensign Gregorson, Ensign McKenzie and Lieutenant Alexander Fraser, all slightly. I received a contusion in the right shoulder or rather breast, before the action became general, which pained me a good deal, but it did not disable me from my duty then, or afterwards.

"The detachment of our Regiment consisted, at our marching from Point Levi, of six hundred men, besides commissioned and non-commissioned Officers; but of these, two Officers and about sixty men were left on board for want of boats, and an Officer and about thirty men left at the landing place; besides a few left sick on board, so that we had about five hundred men in the action. We suffered in men and Officers more than any three Regiments in the field. We were commanded by Captain John Campbell; the Colonel and Captain McPherson having been unfortunately wounded on the 25th July, of which they were not yet fully recovered.

"We lay on our Arms all the night of the 13th September.

"Friday, 14th September.—We got ashore our tents and encamped our Regiment on the ground where they fought the battle yesterday. He[re] we are within reach of the guns of the town.

Pg 262

"Saturday, 15th September.—We were ordered to move our Camp nigh the wood, at a greater distance from the Town. We are making advanced redoubts within five hundred yards of the town."

Such is Fraser's account of the struggle on the Plains of Abraham and of the conduct of the Highlanders in their first pitched battle in North America. The resolute preparations to attack Quebec produced their effect. On September 18th the fortress surrendered. A little later the army broke up the camp outside the walls and marched into the town. The outlook was certainly not cheerful: "Most of the houses are destroyed and we have but a very dismal prospect for seven or eight months, as fresh provisions are very scarce, and every other thing exorbitantly dear." A little later the fleet sailed away and General Murray with a small force was left in a hostile country to hold Quebec through a long and bitterly cold winter. He established two out-posts, one at Ste. Foy, the other at Lorette, and then the army bent all its energies to meet the foes, cold, disease and the French. Fighting the cold was terrible work. Fraser writes:

"December 1st.—The Governor ordered two weeks wood to be issued to the Garrison. It is thought we shall have a great deal of difficulty in supplying ourselves with fuel this winter. The winter is now very severe.

"December 20th.—The winter is become almost insupportably cold. The men are notwithstanding obliged to drag all the wood used in the Garrison on sledges from St. Foy, about four miles distance. This is a very severe duty; the poor fellows do it however with great spirit, tho' several of them have already lost the use of their fingers and toes by the incredible severity of the frost, and the country people tell us it is not yet at the worst. Some men on sentry have been deprived of speech and sensation in a few minutes, but hitherto, no person has lost his life, asPg 263 care is taken to relieve them every half hour or oftener when the weather is very severe. The Garrison in general are but indifferently cloathed, but our regiment in particular is in a pitiful situation having no breeches, and the Philibeg is not all calculated for this terrible climate. Colonel Fraser is doing all in his power to provide trowsers for them, and we hope soon to be on a footing with other Regiments in that respect.

"January, 1760.—Nothing remarkable during this month. The duty is very severe on the poor men; we mount every day a guard of about one hundred men, and the whole off duty with a subaltern officer from each Regiment are employed in dragging fire wood; tho' the weather is such that they are obliged to have all covered but their eyes, and nothing but the last necessity obliged any men to go out of doors."

Early in February the St. Lawrence froze over. On February 13th the British established a force in the Church at St. Joseph at Point Levi but it was attacked by the French and then, on February 24th, Murray sent a rescue party. The Highlanders and the 28th went across on the ice and nearly intercepted the retreat of the French force, which was driven off. The kilted Highlanders marching on the ice in the bitter winter weather make an interesting picture. But by this time, no doubt, they were not bare-legged!

Towards the end of March there was much illness and Fraser writes: "The Scurvy, occasioned by salt provisions and cold, has begun to make fierce havock in the garrison, and it becomes every day more general. In short, I believe there is scarce a man of the Army entirely free from it." On the 24th of April he writes again: "Great havock amongst the Garrison occasioned by the Scurvy, &c.; this is the more alarming, as the General seems certain that the French are preparing to come and attack the place, and will he says, be here in a very few days."

Pg 264

Of the garrison of 5653 no less than 2312 were on the sick list, when, on the 26th, came the great crisis of the defence of Quebec:

"On the night of the 26th April, a man of the French army who, with some others had been cast away in a boat that night, came down the river on a piece of ice, and being taken up next morning at the Town, gave the General information that the chevalier de Levi [Lévis] was within twenty miles of us, with an army of about twelve thousand men, made up of regulars, Canadians and savages.

"27th April, 1760.—The Governor marched out, with the Grenadiers and Piquets of the garrison, to support the Light Infantry which had taken post some days before near Cap Rouge. By the time he got out, the vanguard of the French army appeared; upon which, he thought it adviseable to withdraw the Light Infantry, and all the other outposts, and retire to Town; and for that purpose he sent orders to the 28th, 47th and 58th and Colonel Fraser's Regiment to march out to St. Foy and cover his retreat; the 35th Regiment, 2nd Battalion Royal Americans having been detached in the morning to prevent the enemy, in case they attempted to land at Sillery or any other place near the Town. The retreat was accordingly effected without any loss, tho' the enemy were so nigh as to skirmish with our rear till we got within half a league of the Ramparts.

"On the 28th April, 1760, about eight o'clock in the morning, the whole Garrison, exclusive of the Guards, was drawn up on the parade, and about nine o'clock we marched out of Town with twenty pieces of Field Artillery, that is, two to each Regiment. The men were likewise ordered to carry a pick axe or spade each. When we had marched a little way out of Town, we saw the advanced parties of the Enemy nigh the woods, about half a league distant from us. When we were about three-quarters of a mile out of Town,Pg 265 the General ordered the whole to draw up in line of Battle, two deep, and take up as much room as possible. Soon thereafter, he ordered the men to throw down the intrenching tools, and the whole Army to advance slowly, dressing by the right, having drawn up the 35th Regiment and 3rd Battalion Royal Americans in our rear as a corps of reserve, with one hundred men (in a redoubt which was begun by us a few days preceding) to cover our retreat in case of necessity. In this order, we advanced, about one hundred paces, when the canonading began on our side, and we observed the French advanced parties retiring, and their main body forming in order of Battle at the edge of the wood, about three hundred paces distant we continued canonading and advancing for some minutes. The enemy, on their side, played against the left of our army, where our Regiment happened to be, with two pieces of cannon and killed and wounded us some men. The affair begun now to turn serious, when the General ordered the Light Infantry, who were posted on the right of our army, to attack five companies of French Grenadiers who they obliged to retire, but they being supported by a large column of the enemy, the Light Infantry were in their turn obliged to give way, which they doing along the front of our line on the right (as I am told) hindered our men on the right from firing for some minutes which gave the enemy full time to form. On the left, matters were in a worse situation. The company of Volunteers of the garrison, commanded by Captain Donald McDonald of our Regiment, and Captain Hazen's company of Rangers who covered the left flank of our army having been almost entirely destroyed, were obliged to give way; by this means the left of the 28th Regiment was exposed, and this obliged them to give ground after an obstinate resistance; Colonel Fraser's Regiment was next them to the right, and being in danger of being surrounded, and at the same time exPg 266tremely galled by a fire from the Bushes in front and flank, were under a necessity of falling back instantly, when Colonel Fraser who commanded the Left Brigade consisting of the 28th, 47th and his own Regiment, sent orders to the 47th to retire; they were drawn up with a small rising ground in their front, which till then covered them pretty much from the enemy's fire, but as most of the Regiment to the right, as well as the two Regiments to the left of them, had by this time retired, it was absolutely necessary for the 47th to quit that ground, otherwise they must inevitably have been surrounded in a few minutes. Most of the Regiments attempted to carry off their artillery, but the ground was so bad with wreaths of snow in the hollows, that they were obliged to abandon them, after nailing them up, as well as the intrenching tools. Every Regiment made the best of their way to Town, but retired however in such a manner that the enemy did not think proper to pursue very briskly, otherwise they must have killed or made prisoners many more than they did. Our loss was about three hundred killed, and about seven hundred wounded, and a few Officers and men made prisoners. We had about three thousand in the field, one-third of whom had that very day, come voluntarily out of the Hospitals; of these, about five hundred were employed in dragging the cannon, and five hundred more in reserve, so that we could have no more than two thousand in the line of battle, whereas the enemy must have had at least four times as many, beside a large body in reserve, and notwithstanding their great superiority we suffered very little in the retreat; some Regiments attempted to rally, but it was impossible to form in any sort of order with the whole, till we got within the walls.

"Our Regiment had about four hundred men in the field near one half of whom had that day come out of the Hospital, out of their own accord. We had about sixty killedPg 267 and forty wounded, and of thirty-nine officers, Captain Donald McDonald who commanded the volunteer company of the army, and Lieutenant Cosmo Gordon who commanded the Light Infantry company of our Regiment, were both killed in the field; Lieutenant Hector McDonald and Ensign Malcolm Fraser died of their wounds, all very much regretted by every one who knew them. We had twenty-three more Officers wounded; of this number was Colonel [Simon] Fraser, who commanded the left wing of the army, and it was with great pleasure we observed his behaviour during the action, when he gave his orders with great coolness and deliberation. He was touched at two different times; the first took him in the right breast but having his cartouche box slung, it luckily struck against the star of it and did not penetrate tho', otherways, must infallibly have done his business. The second, he got in the retreat, but striking against the cue of his hair, he received no other damage than a stiffness in his neck for some days. [Fraser then adds this tribute to Lord Lovat's son:] Here I cannot help observing that if any unlucky accident had befallen our Colonel, not only his Regiment must have suffered an irreparable loss, but I think I can, without any partiality say, it would be a loss to his Country. His behaviour this winter in particular to his Regiment has been such, as to make him not only esteemed by them, but by the Garrison in general. Captain Alexander Fraser of our Regiment, was wounded in the right temple, and thought very dangerous, the rest are mostly flesh wounds. I received a musket ball in the right groin, which was thought dangerous for three or four days, as the ball was supposed to be lodged, but whether it has wrought out in walking into Town, or did not penetrate far enough at first to lodge, or is still in, I cannot say, but in twenty days I was entirely cured, and the wound which was at first but small was entirely closed up.

Pg 268

"When we marched out, we thought the General did not intend to give the French battle; and as he ordered the Army to carry out intrenching tools, we thought he meant to throw up works on the rising ground, before the Town, if the Enemy should not choose to attack him that day; but, it seems he changed his mind on seeing their situation, which gave him all the advantage he could desire with such an inferior Army and where, if the Enemy ventured to attack him, he could use his Artillery, on which was his chief dependence, to the best purpose: having a rising ground, whereon he might form his Army and plant his Cannon, so as to play on the Enemy as they advanced for about four hundred or five hundred yards, with round shot, and when they came within a proper distance the grape shot must have cut them to pieces. However, it seems he observed the enemy, some formed at the edge of the wood, some forming, and the rest marching from St. Foy. The bait was too tempting, and his passion for glory getting the better of his reason he ordered the Army to march and attack the enemy, as he thought, before they could form, in a situation the most desired by them and ought to be avoided by us, as the Canadians and Savages could be used against us to the greatest advantage in their beloved (if I may say element) woods. It would give me great pleasure to relate something more to the advantage of this gentleman who is, in many respects, possessed of several virtues, and particularly all the military ones, except prudence, and entirely free of all mercenary principles; but, as his conduct on this occasion is universally condemned by all those who are not immediately dependent on him, truth obliges me to state matters as I believe, they really stood; more especially as it is not said he advised with any of those who had a right to be consulted before such a step should be taken. Nay, it is said: that the preceding night, at a meeting with the different CommandPg 269ants of the Corps, he declared his intention of fortifying himself on the heights and not to attack the Enemy, unless he should be forced to it, which we were persuaded of by his orders to carry out intrenching tools. We had very little chance of beating an Army four times our number [an exaggeration: they were not twice as numerous] in a situation where we could scarce act; and if the Enemy had made a proper use of their advantage, the consequences must have proved fatal to us, as they might have got betwixt us and the Town, cut off our retreat, and by that means ruined us to all intents." [It will hardly be denied that the young officer is rather severe upon his future friend and patron, General Murray.]

"Our situation became now extremely critical: we were beat in the field, by an army greatly superior in numbers, and obliged to rely on what defence we could make within the walls of Quebec, which were hitherto reckoned of very little consequence against a superior army.

"The French that very night after the Battle opened trenches within six hundred yards of the walls, and went on next, 29th April, with their works pretty briskly. For the first two days after the battle there was very little done by us; and on the 1st of May, the largest of our block houses (small square redoubts of Logs musquet proof) was blown up by accident, and Captain Cameron of our Regiment and a subaltern of the 48th with several men, dangerously burnt and bruised. On the 3rd day after the battle, the General set about to strengthen or (I may say) fortify the Town, and the men worked with the greatest alacrity. In a few days there were about one hundred additional guns mounted, with which our people kept an incessant fire on the enemy, and retarded their works very much.

"On the 9th May, the Leostaff Frigate, Captain Dean, arrived from England, and brought us news from thence,Pg 270 and informed us that there was a squadron in the River, which might be expected every tide to our assistance. This added greatly to the spirits of the Garrison, and our works were carried on briskly. The General seemed resolved from the first to defend the place to the last. This, nobody doubted, and every one seemed to forget their late misfortune, and to place entire confidence in the General's conduct, which all must acknowledge very resolute, when reduced almost to an extremity.

"On the 11th May, the French opened two Batteries mounting thirteen guns, and one or two mortars. Their heavy metal consisted of one twenty-four and two eighteen pounders, the rest were all light. They did not seem to confine their fire entirely to any particular part of the Walls, otherwise I believe they might in time have made a breach, and their fire was not very smart. We were masters of a much superior fire, and annoyed the besiegers at their batteries very much. Their fire became every day more and more faint, and it was generally believed they intended to raise the seige.

"On the 16th May, in the evening the Vanguard, commodore Swanton, and Diana Frigate, Captain Schomberg, arrived from England, and next morning, 17th May, 1760, they and the Leostaff attacked the two French Frigates that lay at anchor in the Bay, above Cape Diamond; which when they first observed, they made as if they intended to engage, but on our ships approaching nearer, they set sail up the river; but one of them ran ashore immediately, and our Frigates soon got up with theirs, and obliged them also to run aground and thereafter destroyed them. One ship however escaped out of their reach, and unluckily, the Leostaff, after all was over, ran on a rock, sunk and was entirely lost.

"That very night several deserters came into the Town, and informed that most part of the French army hadPg 271 marched, the Trenches being guarded by their Grenadiers only. About twelve o'clock at night, the General sent out a party who found the Trenches entirely abandoned and next morning, 18th May, 1760, we found ourselves entirely freed of very disagreeable neighbours, having left behind all their artillery, with a great part of their ammunition, Camp equipage and baggage. What made them retreat with such precipitation we could not guess; but, it seems they were seized with a panic. It appears they allowed the savages to scalp all the killed and most part of the wounded, as we found a great many scalps on the bushes.

"I have been since informed by Lieutenant McGregor, of our Regiment, who was left on the field wounded, and narrowly escaped being killed, having received two stabs of a bayonet from two French Regulars, that he saw the savages murdering the wounded and scalping them on all sides, and expected every moment to share the same fate, but was saved by a French Officer, who luckily spoke a little English."

Thus ends Fraser's narrative of the two sieges of Quebec. He served in the third siege, that of 1775-76, and was still alive in 1812-15 to give counsel when Quebec was again menaced by the Americans.

APPENDIX B (p. 38)

Title-deed of the Seigniory of Murray Bay Granted To Captain John Nairne of the 78th Regiment, April 27th, 1762

By the Honourable James Murray, Esquire, Governor of Quebec, &c.

Whereas it is a national advantage and tends to promote the cultivation of lands within the province to enPg 272courage His Majesty's natural-born subjects settling within the same:

For these purposes, and in consideration of the faithful services rendered by John Nairne, Esquire, Captain in the 78th Regiment of Foot, unto His Majesty, I do hereby give, grant, and concede unto the said Captain John Nairne, his heirs, executors, and administrators for ever, all that extent of land lying on the north side of the river St. Lawrence from the Cap aux Oyes, limit of the parish of Eboulemens, to the south side of the river of Malbaie, and for three leagues back, to be known hereafter, at the special request of said John Nairne, by the name of Murray's Bay; firmly to hold the same to himself, his heirs, executors, and administrators for ever, or until His Majesty's pleasure is further known, for and in consideration of the possessor's paying liege homage to His Majesty, his heirs and successors, at his castle of St. Lewis in Quebec on each mutation of property, and, by way of acknowledgment, a piece of gold of the value of ten shillings, with one year's rent of the domain reserved, as customary in this country, together with the woods and rivers, or other appurtenances within the said extent, right of fishing or fowling on the same therein included without hindrance or molestation; all kind of traffic with the Indians of the back country hereby specially excepted.

Given under my hand and seal at Quebec, this 27th day of April, 1762.

(Signed) Jas. Murray.

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APPENDIX C (p. 78)

The Siege of Quebec in 1775-76

colonel nairne to miss m. nairne

Quebec, 14th May, 1776.

The New England rebels were very successful on their first arrival in this Province having got most of the Canadians in their interest. They took the two Regiments (which were all the regular troops in the Province) prisoners, made themselves masters of the Town of Montreal and all the Forts and the whole open country. Flushed with this success they came before our Capital (Quebec) where their main army was joined by a reinforcement of six hundred men who had marched straight through the Woods from Boston where scarcely any body had ever passed before and thought utterly impracticable for a body of men. The suburbs about Quebec which were extensive (now in ruins) were not all destroyed at the first arrival of the enemy so that in two places they annoyed us with their Riflemen though they only killed a very few. They also (though in the Winter) got a Battery of five guns against the Town but [it] was silenced by a superior fire from our Ramparts. They also bombarded the Town in the night with small shell till the 31st December when about two hours before day they made a general attack with their whole force upon the Ramparts, their two principal attacks being against the two extremitys of the low Town. Their General (Montgomery) an Irish gentleman who had been a Captain in our army possessing extraordinary qualifications fitting him for such a Command led the attack against a very strong post in the low town. Our Cannon (six pieces) loaded with grape shot, did not begin to fire till the enemy was within the distance of twenty yards, which with the musketry of the guard at the same time made terrible havoc. Their General withPg 274 four of his officers lay slain in one heap within twenty and others within ten yards of our fortifications by which that attack was wholly frustrated and all that part of their army retired in confusion. The attack upon the other extremity of the low Town was made with six hundred men. At first they had success though that turned out at last to their ruin. They forced our advanced post where we had four pieces of cannon, afterward got possession of another barrier and forced their way through a narrow street to the last barrier, which if they had gained they would have been in the low Town. At the same time the Governor ordered a sally out at a Gate they had passed to follow their track in the snow (that was then deep) and fall upon them behind. That we should open a Gate and attack them when attacked ourselves was a thing very unexpected so that finding they were stopped at the last barrier and thus attacked behind they were obliged to take shelter in the houses of the narrow street and at last gave themselves up prisoners to the number of about four hundred and fifty amongst whom were thirty-two officers of all ranks from Colonels to Ensigns. The morning of the attack I happened to have the Piquet and guessing by the flashes in the air (in the dark) that it was musketry at the other side of the town, tho' we heard no report, had the Piquet drawn out upon the Ramparts at our alarm post, before the firing came round that length, which it soon did and we fired away upon these people as they passed along that way, which they were obliged to do to get to the low Town. About break of day Major Caldwell came round with some men, and took me with part of the Piquet along with him to the low Town. When we got there the enemy had got on as far as the inner Barrier and [had] a Ladder on both sides of it. There the Battle raged till the Enemy falling back got into Houses. Some time after the Sorti coming behind them put an end to the affair.Pg 275 It was the first time I ever happened to be so closely engaged as we were obliged to push our bayonets. It is certainly a disagreeable necessity to be obliged to put one another to death especially those speaking the same language and dressed in the same manner with ourselves. Only these mad people had a large piece of white linen or paper upon their foreheads with the words "Liberty or Death" wrote upon it. The Garrison in general behaved remarkably well consisting in all of about 1400 men, mostly the town Militia and sailors with 200 of Maclean's corps which were only raised last summer. They certainly did their duty with much patience during a severe winter of six months. In the day time we wrought a great deal at the fortifications and shovelling the snow and in the night even those not upon duty durst not sleep but with Clothes and accoutrements on and by whole Companys in one House to be the more ready, for, upon our vigilance, everything depended. For the last month the Enemy had two Batterys of four Guns each, playing on the Town with red hot Balls, in hope to set it on fire but luckily did very little harm. They also made use of a fire ship in order to burn our shipping in the Harbour, which would have communicated the flames to the Town, at the same time intending to escalade the Walls, for which purpose they laid numbers of ladders all round in our sight which had the effect to keep us more upon our Guard. This fire ship got very near the Harbour but a Cannon being fired that was well directed the men that were in her left her a little too soon so that the tide carried her clear past the town without doing the least harm and disappointed them of their attack for which their whole army was prepared. Thus from the 14th of November last we passed one dreary night after another either watching or making Rounds and Patrole upon an extent of works of upwards of three miles round, till the 6th of May when we had the agreeablePg 276 sight of Commodore Douglass with a Ship of War and two Frigates arriving in the Bason with part of the 29th Regiment on board. And the same day with only the reinforcement of about 300 Regular Troops the Gates were thrown open and the whole garrison (except those on Guard) poured out, drove off the Enemy's advanced Guards and marched forward near two miles clear out upon the plain (our former field of Battles last war) with three pieces of cannon in our front that fired away at some partys of men at a distance. This Sally, so unexpected and the two Frigates [being] under sail at the same time up the River; [and the enemy] being ignorant of our numbers and suspecting probably that there was a force on board the Frigates which might by taking possession of a strong post above cut off their retreat, their whole army took to their heels (it is said about 3000 men) leaving all their Artillery stores, baggage and provisions which fell into our hands. I suppose they will retreat to Montreal where they expect strong reinforcements from New England. We will probably soon follow them though our Corps may possibly be left to garrison Quebec. General Carleton has gained honour by his behaviour this winter. He showed himself a brave steady officer careful not to expose rashly the lives of his men, in short a chief whom we esteem and cheerfully obey. Lieut. Colonel Maclean has likewise great merit in having contributed much to the preservation of this place by his forwarding the reparations of the fortifications and his indefatigable care and trouble in the directing the duty of the Garrison, together with his management in every shape as a good officer. He was here the second in Command and seemed the fittest man in the world for the place he occupied. There were also several old Officers who happened to be here and were of great service as Major Caldwell who distinguished himself very much, Major Cox, two Captain Frasers and several others.

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Mr. Wauchope who you will wish to hear of is very well. He has done Lieutenant's duty this winter in Maclean's Regiment, is a good officer and went through some severe Duty with great perseverance.

Yours, &c., &c.,


APPENDIX D (p. 98)

Memorandum For Ensign John Nairne, 5th April, 1795

1st. You ought to read the Articles of War.

2nd. To pay the greatest attention to all orders from your Superior Officers.

3rd. Take care to have your own Orders strictly obeyed by those who are under your Command but before you give any Order, be sure it is right and necessary.

4th. Attend the Parades, and learn without delay the different motions and words of Command and every part of the Duty of a Subaltern officer when upon guard; also when under Arms with the whole Battalion, or otherwise.

5th. Be always ready and willing to go upon every military duty that may be ordered. Never think you do too much in that way; the more the better and the more honourable.

6th. Be careful in doing the Company Duty, in such a manner, that the Soldiers may be kept in excellent Order and everything belonging to them; as their Arms, Accoutrements, Ammunition, Necessarys, Dress, Messing, etc., according as may be regulated by the standing Orders of the Regiment, or that may be most agreeable to your Captain or Lieutenant Commanding the Company; also not only to know every man of the Company by Name,Pg 278 but, as soon as possible, to know their several Characters and Dispositions that each may be encouraged, cherished, or punished, as he deserves. You ought every day, or very frequently to wait on your Captain, or Lieutenant Commanding the Company, in order to report to him upon these matters, and to know if he has any directions or Commands for you.

7th. Endeavour all you can to learn the Adjutant's Duty: To be able to Exercise the Company (or even the Battalion) in the Manual, their Manoeuvres and the firings.

8th. Make yourself fit for paying the Company, and to be exact in keeping Accounts, so that you may be capable of even being paymaster to a Regiment.

9th. You ought to practice writing Court-Martials, Returns, and Reports of all sorts, Acquittance Rolls, Muster Rolls, and Letter Writing; taking always great pains to have a good hand of writ and to spell well.

10th. It is also recommended to you to study Engineering and Drawing; To read Military Books, The occurrences and news of the time and History, etc.; Never to leave anything undone which you think ought to be done; in short, not to lose or misspend time, but constantly [to] endeavour to gain knowledge, and improvement, and to exert yourself in being always steady and diligent in the Execution of every part of your Duty.

11th. No doubt you will soon get Acquainted with all the officers of the Regiment, and to know the Companys the Subaltern Officers belong to, likewise to know the Names and Characters of all the non-Commissioned officers, and the Companys they belong to, even most of the private men and what Companys they are in. You ought to have a Book of Quarters (or List of the Army) and learn the Number, and any thing else Remarkable of each Regiment; also concerning the Generals, and Field Officers, and the Rules and Regulations of the Army.

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N.B.—Never be ashamed to ask questions at any of your Brother Officers in order to gain information. The Sergeants of your Company will furnish you with any Rolls, Lists or Returns you may have occasion for respecting the Regt.

APPENDIX E (p. 104)

The "Porpoise" (Beluga or White Whale) Fishery on the St. Lawrence

The so-called "porpoise" of the St. Lawrence is in reality the French marsouin, the English beluga, a word of Russian origin, signifying white. The Beluga (Delphinapterus leucas), is a real whale with its most striking characteristic the white, or rather cream-coloured, skin described by some writers as very beautiful. Like the narwhal it has no dorsal fin. Though the smallest member of the whale family it is sometimes more than twenty feet long; but usually ranges from thirteen to sixteen feet. The young are bluish black in colour and may be seen swimming beside their mother who feeds them with a very thick milk. These young grow rapidly and become mottled and then white as they grow older. The beluga is peculiar to northern regions where the water is cold: when one is seen at the mouth of an English river it is a subject of special note. There are numbers in Hudson Bay and they have been found in the Yukon River, it is said, 700 miles from its mouth, whither they went no doubt after salmon or other fish.

Jacques Cartier saw the beluga disporting itself off Malbaie nearly 400 years ago and in summer it is still to be seen there almost daily. It is never alone. One sees the creatures swimming rapidly in single file. They comePg 280 to the surface with a prolonged sigh accompanied by the throwing of a small jet of water; the perfectly white bodies writhe into view as the small round heads disappear. Sometimes the beluga makes a noise like the half suppressed lowing of oxen and, since the aquatic world is so silent, sailors have christened the beluga, for this slender achievement, the "sea canary." It is a playful creature and is apparently attracted by man's presence. Before its confidence in him was shaken it used to linger about wharves and ships. But, in spite of the extremely small aperture of its ear, it is very sensitive to sound and modern man with his fire arms and clatter of machinery frightens it away. In 1752 the Intendant Bigot issued special instructions to check the use of firearms on the point at Rivière Ouelle, in order that the beluga might not be frightened, to the ruin of the extensive fishery that has existed there for more than two hundred years. Its sight, touch and taste are also well developed but it has no olfactory nerve and is apparently without the sense of smell. The creature has qualities that we should hardly expect. It has been tamed and almost domesticated. The enterprising Barnum exhibited in New York a beluga which drew a boat about in his aquarium. At Boston another beluga from the St. Lawrence drew about a floating car carrying a woman performer. It knew its keeper and at the proper time would appear and put its head from the water to be harnessed or to take food. This beluga would take in its mouth a sturgeon and a small shark confined in the same tank, play with them and allow them to go unharmed. It would also pick up and toss stones with its mouth.

The beluga is greedy. In the early spring, when he is thin and half starved, capelin and smelt in great numbers come to spawn along the north and south shores of the St. Lawrence. With high tide comes the beluga's chance to feed on the spawning fish and he will rush in quite nearPg 281 to shore for his favourite food. So voracious is he that with the fish he takes quantities of sand into his stomach. In eight or ten days he will eat enough to form from five to eight inches of fat over his whole body. "The facility with which he thus grows fat is explained," says the Abbé Casgrain, "by the easy assimilation of such food and by the considerable development of his digestive apparatus."

No doubt the beluga enjoys himself hugely. But Nemesis awaits him. His fish diet has a soporific effect; gorged with food he becomes stupid and is easily taken. Man's trap for him is simple and ingenious. A century and a half ago it was to be seen at Pointe au Pic and to-day it is in operation at Rivière Ouelle on the south side of the river. The weir or fishery for the beluga must be on a large scale and is expensive to keep up; it is for this reason that when the number of these creatures declined it was no longer possible to maintain the fishery at Pointe au Pic. At Rivière Ouelle annually more than 7000 stakes, from 18 to 20 feet long, are necessary to keep in repair the fishery which is almost entirely destroyed each year by ice. Beginning at the shore a line of stakes is carried out into the river placed perhaps a foot apart to form a rough semi-circle about a mile and a third long. The stakes curve back to the shore leaving however a passage of perhaps 1000 feet open between the farther end and the shore. This outer end of the weir is completed by a smaller circle of stakes, so arranged as to make entrance easy by following within the line of stakes, but exit difficult. The distance between high and low water mark at Rivière Ouelle is about a mile and a half and along this great stretch of beach the small fish come in great numbers to spawn. There is a considerable point at the mouth of the little Rivière Ouelle. The wide beach, bare at low water, and this point furnish an admirable combination for the beluga fishery. At high tide the beluga comes rushing in near toPg 282 shore after his prey, sometimes in water so shallow that his whole body comes into view. In his progress along the shore he is checked by the stakes reaching out from the point, so close together that he cannot get through. The stakes sway with the current and sometimes strike together making considerable noise. Early whalers thought the beluga would try to pass by squeezing between the stakes and to prevent this they fastened the stakes together with ropes. But this was not necessary. Frightened by the noise the timid beluga's instinct leads him to make for the open water. He dashes across the semi-circle of the fishery only to be checked by the line of stakes on its outer edge. The line like a wall he follows, looking for an opening, and may be led insensibly into the labyrinthine circle at its end from which he will hardly escape. If he heads back towards shore where he came in, he is frightened by the shallow water which he disregarded only when in pursuit of his prey. Where was shallow water indeed he may now find dry land for the tide is running out. So the creature becomes bewildered. He swims about slowly, as it were feeling his way, or disappears at the bottom, to be stranded when the tide goes out and thus becomes the prey of his enemy, man.

Some old belugas are very cunning; they are called by the French Canadian the savants, the knowing ones, and seem to understand the wiles of the fisherman. They warn off the others and so foil the design against them. But greediness proves often their destruction. From over-feeding year after year they become fat and stupid and they too are likely in time to be taken. The less knowing beluga has usually slight chance of escape when once he encounters the line of stakes stretching out from the point and, since they follow each other blindly, if one is taken a whole troop is likely to meet the same fate.

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The Abbé Casgrain, who, since his childhood was spent at the Manor House at Rivière Ouelle, was long familiar with the "porpoise" fishery, describes the scene witnessed there by him on May 1st, 1873. It was a glorious day and the belugas appeared in greater numbers than for many years. They swarmed off the mouth of the Rivière Ouelle. At high tide they came in, skirting the rocks within a stone's throw of shore and devouring greedily the innumerable small fish. The surface of the shallow water in which they swam was white with their gleaming bodies. When they puffed they spurted jets of water into the air which fell in spray that sparkled in the sunlight. The Abbé then describes how the creatures became entrapped in the fishery. Instances of the mother's devotion are recorded. They have been known to wait outside the stakes for their young, caught within, and to allow themselves to be stranded and killed rather than leave their offspring.

When the tide is low the slaughter begins. In the season of the spring tide the water at Rivière Ouelle retreats so far that the entrapped "porpoises" are left high and dry in the fishery and are readily killed. But in the season of neap tides enough water is left for them to swim about within the semi-circle of stakes. Boats are taken into the fishery through the outer line of stakes and then begins a regular whale hunt within a very circumscribed area. If the belugas are numerous their captors have not a moment to lose for the creatures may escape with the next tide. And numerous they sometimes are; 500 have been taken in a single tide; at Rivière Ouelle, about 1870, 101 were killed in one night by only four men. They had not expected such a host and had no time to send for help before the tide should rise again.

The captors are armed with barbed harpoons and with spears. The harpoon is sometimes thrown at the belugaPg 284 from a considerable distance. When struck the creature rushes to the surface, plunges and rolls to get free. He never defends himself but thinks only of flight. It is an accident if a boat is upset by the stroke of its tail; such accidents sometimes happen but the victim gets little more than a soaking, much to the merriment of his companions. The harpooned beluga will make off at full speed dragging in his wake the assailant's boat which flies over the face of the water, boiling with the mighty strokes of the monster's tail. Soon the water is red for each beluga sheds eight or ten gallons of blood. When he is tired the boat is drawn in closer by the rope fastened to the animal. As opportunity offers the spear is used and, driven home by a strong hand, it sometimes goes clear through the body. A skilful man will quickly strike some vital spot; otherwise the beluga struggles long.

"Picture if possible," says the Abbé, "the animation of the beluga hunt when a hundred of them are in the weir, when twenty-five or thirty men are pursuing them, when five or six boats dragged by the creatures are ploughing the enclosed waters in every direction, when the spears are hurled from all sides and the men are covered with the blood which gushes out in streams. Some years ago the passengers of a passing steamer from Europe were witnesses of such a scene and showed their keen interest by firing a salvo of cannon."

When the belugas have been killed the next task is to get them to shore. The work must be done quickly for the next tide will stop all work and may sweep the animals away. Horses are brought and the bodies are dragged ashore or partly floated with the aid of the rising tide. The task of cutting up and boiling follows immediately. Workmen with long knives take off the skin and separate the blubber from the flesh. The Abbé Casgrain describes the process in detail. In the end the blubber is cut upPg 285 into small pieces and boiled in huge caldrons. The poor never fail to come for their share of the catch and, with proverbial charity, the Company carrying on the operations never send them away empty. "The share-holders" says the Abbé Casgrain, "are convinced that the success of their labours depends upon the gifts which they make to God, and their generosity merits His benediction," Many a habitant goes home with a mass of blubber in his pot or hooked to the end of a stout branch.

The fishery is old and has been very profitable. La Potherie describes the industry as it existed at Kamouraska in 1701: that at Rivière Ouelle is found in 1707 and it remained in the hands of the heirs of the original promoters until, in 1870, it was found necessary to form them into an incorporated company. The oil is highly valued. It is very clear and has good lubricating qualities. Before the universal sway of petroleum it was much used for lighting purposes; an ordinary lamp would burn for 72 hours without going out. The Abbé Casgrain says that a barrel of the oil is worth from 100 to 200 dollars and since each beluga would yield not less than a barrel the value of the fishery in a good season is evident. The skin is very thick and of extraordinary strength. It has no grain and will take a beautiful polish.

[Beddard, "A Book of Whales" (London, 1900), pp. 244 sqq.

Sir Harry Johnston, "British Mammals," (London, 1903), pp. 22 sqq.

La Potherie, "Histoire de l'Amérique Septentrionale," (Paris, 1703), Vol. 1, Lettre X., pp. 273 sqq.

Casgrain, "Une Paroisse Canadienne au XVIIe Siècle," Œuvres, Vol. 1, pp. 530 sqq.

Casgrain, "Eclaircissements sur La Pêche aux Marsouins," Ib. p. 563 sqq.]

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APPENDIX F (p. 122)

The Prayer of Colonel Nairne

(There are several versions of parts of the Prayer. It is, I think, partly copied from some other source, partly Nairne's own composition.)

We believe in Thee our God; do thou strengthen our faith; We hope in thee; confirm our hope; we repent of all our Sins; but do thou increase our repentance. As our first beginning we worship thee; as our benefactor we praise thee; and as our supreme protector we pray unto thee that it may please thee, O God, to guide and lead us by thy Providence, to keep us in obedience to thy justice, to comfort us by thy mercie, and to protect us by thy Almighty power. We submit to thee all our thoughts, words, and deeds, as well as our afflictions, pains, and sufferings, and in thy name and for thy sake [we desire] to bear all adversity with patience. We will nothing but what thou Willest, because it is agreeable to thee. Give us grace that we may be attentive in prayer, vigilant in our Conduct, and immovable in all good purposes. Grant, most merciful Lord, that we may be true and just to those who put their trust in us, that we may be Courteous and kind to all men, and that in both our words and actions we may show them a good example. Dispose our hearts to admire and adore thy goodness, to hate all errours and evil ways. Assist us, most gracious God, in subduing our passions, covetousness by liberality, anger by mildness, and lukewarmness by zeal and fervency. Enable us to Conduct ourselves with prudence in all transactions, to show courage in danger, patience in adversity, in prosperity an humble will. Let thy Grace illuminate our understanding. Direct our will and bless our souls. Make us diligent in curbing all irregular affections and Zealous in imploring thy Grace, careful in keeping thy CommandPg 287ments and constant in working out our own salvation.

We humbly beseech thee, O Lord, to assist us in keeping our temper and passions under due restraint to reason and to virtue, so as not only to contribute to our internal peace of mind, honour, and reputation in this life, but also to our eternal Comfort and happiness in the life to come; and to defend us, O Lord, from the arts and subtilties which designing men may work against us in order to lead us into evil or idle purposes. Finally, O God, make us sensible how little is this world, how great thy Heavens and how long will be thy blessed eternity. O! that we may well prepare ourselves for Death and obtain of thee, O God, eternal life through the merits of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

APPENDIX G (p. 144)

The Curés of Malbaie

Of the early missionaries I have found no record, though no doubt one could be compiled from the episcopal archives. The registers at Malbaie do not begin until 1790 but I find a note that in 1784 there were sixty-five communicants. Isle aux Coudres, Les Eboulements and Malbaie were then united under one curé, M. Compain, who lived at Isle aux Coudres. He served Malbaie from 1775 to 1788. This curé has a share in the legend of Père de La Brosse, which, since it is characteristic of the region, is worth repeating.

Père de La Brosse was a much loved and saintly missionary priest, dwelling in his later years at Tadousac. On the evening of April 11th, 1872, he played cards at Tadousac at the house of one of the officers of the post. Rising to go at about nine o'clock he said to the company:

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"I wish you good night, my dear friends, for the last time; for at midnight I shall be a dead man. At that hour you will hear the bell of my chapel ring. I beg you not to touch my body. To-morrow you will send for M. Compain at Isle aux Coudres. He will be waiting for you at the lower end of the island. Do not be afraid if a storm comes. I will answer for those whom you shall send."

At first the company thought the good father was joking. None the less did they become anxious to see what should happen. Watch in hand they waited for the hour named. Exactly at midnight the bell of the chapel rang three times. They ran to the chapel and there found Père de La Brosse upon his prie-dieu dead.

The next day, Sunday, a south-east wind blew with violence. Huge white-capped waves made the great river so dangerous that the employés of the post refused to undertake the journey to Isle aux Coudres of forty or fifty miles in a canoe over a raging sea. But the chief clerk at the post said to them: "You know well that the Father never deceived you. You ought to have confidence in his word. Is there no one among you who will carry out his last wish?"

Then three or four men agreed to go. When they put their canoe in the water, behold a wonder! To the great surprise of every one the sea subsided so that before them lay a pathway of calm water. To their further amazement, they made the journey to Isle aux Coudres with incredible rapidity. As they neared the shore they could see M. Compain walking up and down, a book in his hand. When they were within hearing distance he called out "Père de La Brosse is dead. You come to get me to bury him. I have been waiting an hour for you." When the canoe touched the shore M. Compain embarked and they carried him to Tadousac. At Isle aux Coudres the bell of the chapel had distinctly sounded three timesPg 289 at midnight as at Tadousac. M. Compain knew what it meant for Père de La Brosse had told him what he told his friends at Tadousac. Other church bells in the neighbourhood also rang miraculously on that night. Père de La Brosse had said while curé at Isle Verte, "If I die elsewhere than here, you will have certain knowledge of the fact at the moment of my death."

The legend, the rather obscure motive of which is to emphasize the saintly virtues of Père de La Brosse, is believed even to this day by many simple people, hundreds of whom know it by heart. But some are skeptical. "I should have been able to give more certainty to this tradition," says M. Mailloux, the historian of Isle aux Coudres and also its curé, "had I been able to make more extended investigation. Meanwhile," he adds naïvely, "my investigations suffice to give a high idea of the virtues of this admirable missionary."

There is little to record of the careers of curés at Malbaie subsequent to M. Compain. Often the annals of the good are not exciting and this is eminently true of these virtuous teachers. M. Charles Duchouquet was curé of Isle aux Coudres and served Malbaie in 1790. In 1791 he was succeeded by M. Raphael Paquet who lived at Les Eboulements. The first curé resident at Malbaie was M. Keller who came in 1797. When he went away in 1799 M. J.-B.-A. Marcheteau who was curé of Les Eboulements and lived there, served Malbaie. In 1807 M. Marcheteau was succeeded by M. Le Courtois, the second resident curé, a French émigré who remained at Malbaie until 1822 and was, as we have seen, an intimate friend of the Nairne family. For a long time M. Le Courtois carried on missionary work among the Indians. In 1822 M. Duguay became curé; he went to Malbaie after being curé at Isle aux Coudres. In 1832 he was succeeded by M. Zephérin Lévêque who, in 1840, was followed by M.Pg 290 Alexis Bourret. This curé was something of a scholar. He read the Greek fathers in the original which is, I fancy, very unusual among the priests of Canada. In 1847 M. Beaudry became curé and in 1862 he was followed by M. Narcisse Doucet. It was under M. Doucet that the great influx of summer visitors began. Naturally they desired to have their own Protestant service on Sunday and M. Doucet did all he could to prevent their getting a place of worship. Protestantism having disappeared from Malbaie the curé was not anxious to see it revived. But the last Mrs. Nairne, a Protestant, then ruled at the Manor House, and she gave for the purpose of Protestant worship the admirable site of the present Union Church. M. Doucet was a man of considerable culture. The parish church, first built in 1806, was remodelled in his time as also was the presbytère; he built, too, the convent for girls. In 1891 M. B.-E. Leclercq became curé—a good man of the peasant type, who retired in 1906 and died at Malbaie in the following year. The present energetic curé is M. Hudon.

[For Père de La Brosse, see Casgrain, Œuvres, Vol. 1, "Une Excursion a L'Ile aux Coudres"; Mailloux, "Histoire de L'Isle aux Coudres" (Montreal, 1879). M. Mailloux has particulars about some of the curés named above. The dates for the successive curés are found in the registers at Malbaie.]

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[1] Exact information in regard to the brothers Hazeur, who have a place in this story merely because they held the seigniory of Malbaie, may be found in articles by Mgr. H. Têtu, in the Bulletin des Recherches Historiques (Lévis, Quebec) for August, 1907, and the following numbers. They were the Canon Joseph Thierry Hazeur, born in 1680, and Pierre Hazeur de L'Orme, born in 1682, both apparently at Quebec. The younger brother took the name de L'Orme from his mother's family. He was for many years the representative in France of the Chapter of the Cathedral at Quebec, which held, from the Pope and the King, four or five abbeys in France. His copious letters published by Mgr. Têtu illustrate with some vividness details of the ecclesiastical life of the time. For several years after the British conquest of Canada the Quebec Chapter continued to receive the revenues of the Abbey of Meaubec. The elder Hazeur, less able than his brother, was Curé at Point aux Trembles. An invalid, he spent his later years chiefly in Quebec.

[2] Malcolm Fraser, an officer in the 78th Highlanders and afterwards first seigneur of Mount Murray, one of the two seigniories into which Malbaie was divided, was sent out on these ravaging expeditions. Years after, some of Fraser's neighbours of French origin rallied him on his capacity for devastation as shown at this time. See Fraser's Journal, Appendix A, p. 253, and the Mémoires of Philippe Aubert de Gaspé, 1866, Ch. II.

[3] The name Simon Fraser appears with credit more than once in Canadian history. It was a Simon Fraser who crossed the Rocky Mountains and first followed for its whole course the Fraser River named after him.

[4] Waverley, Chapter II.

[5] See Appendix A., p. 249. "Journal of Malcolm Fraser, First Seigneur of Mount Murray, Malbaie."

[6] See copy of the grant in Appendix B., p. 271.

[7] The Lake is no doubt Lake Nairne, the present Grand Lac.

[8] Diary of an English Officer. Proceedings of the Literary and Historical Society of Quebec, 1871-72, p. 61.

[9] See Appendix C., p. 273, for the text of his letter to his sister describing the operations of the winter at Quebec. It is an able review of the campaign.

[10] Proceedings of the Literary and Historical Society of Quebec, 7th Series, 1905, p. 75; "Blockade of Quebec," etc.

[11] The men's names were Peter Ferris, Squir Ferris, Claudius Brittle (Sr.), Claudius Brittle (Jr.), Nathan Smith, Marshal Smith, Justice Sturdevant, John Ward.

[12] The book in which Nairne kept the accounts, with the names of the recipients of the king's bounty, is still at Murray Bay.

[13] It may be convenient to state at once the dates of the births and deaths of each of these children:

Magdalen (Madie) (Mrs. McNicol) born 1767 died 1839.
Christine Nairne " 1774 " 1817.
John Nairne " 1777 " 1799.
Mary (Polly) Nairne " 1782 " 1821.
Thomas Nairne " 1787 " 1813.

[14] See Appendix D., p. 277., for a formal memorandum drawn up by Nairne for his son's guidance.

[15] See Appendix E., p. 279. "The 'Porpoise' (Beluga or White Whale) Fishery on the St. Lawrence."

[16] "Les Anciens Canadiens," Chapter IV.

[17] Sir Alexander Mackenzie who accomplished in 1793 what was then the astonishing feat of crossing the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Ocean and whose book, "Voyages from Montreal on the River St. Lawrence, through the Continent of North America, to the Frozen and Pacific Oceans," first published in 1801, attracted general attention, including even that of Napoleon Bonaparte.

[18] John Warren, the ancestor of the numerous family at Murray Bay of that name.

[19] Warren, Nairne's neighbour, had been visiting Quebec apparently for business reasons.

[20] See Appendix F., p. 286, for this Prayer of Colonel Nairne.

[21] The inscription to be placed on Nairne's tomb was long a subject of debate in the family. Two drafts remain at Murray Bay, both copious in length, and neither like the inscription now to be found at Mount Hermon Cemetery. (See p. 221.) In the taste of the time inscriptions were expected to give a full account of the career of the dead man. One of these inscriptions speaks of Nairne's "enjoying as a reward of his services a gift of Land on the River St. Lawrence. He had alike the merit and the happiness of converting a wild and uninhabited desert into a flourishing colony of above 1000 inhabitants, who regarded him as their Tender Friend and Patriarch. He died honoured with the esteem of all who knew him." The other inscription mentions what, otherwise, we should not have known, that Nairne received a wound on the Plains of Abraham. It goes on in verse:

"Though 'gainst the Foe a dauntless Front he reared,
Ne'er from his lips was aught assuming heard;
Modest, though brave; though firm, in manners mild,
Strong in resolve, though guileless as a child;
To honor true, in probity correct;
To falsehood [stern] and urgent to detect;
To party strange, to calumny a foe;
The good Samaritan to sons of woe;
At a late hour he heard the fatal call,
Obeyed and died, wept and deplored by all."

[22] See Appendix G., p. 287. "The Curés of Malbaie".

[23] Bowen's career was remarkable. He continued on the bench until 1866, having held the office of a Judge in Canada for well nigh sixty years.

[24] He had recently died, and it did not diminish the Nairnes' interest in him that he left £5,000 to their relative Ker.

[25] He must have been a Roman Catholic for he was buried in the churchyard at Murray Bay.

[26] We have seen (ante p. 49) how at Malbaie Colonel Nairne expected that a Protestant missionary would soon make the community Protestant.

[27] Professor Barrett Wendell, France of To-day, New York, 1907.

[28] Roy, Histoire de la Seigneurie de Lauzon, IV: 169, 170.

[29] The Abbé H.R. Casgrain: Une Paroisse Canadienne au XVII. Siècle. Œuvres, Vol. I, pp. 483 sqq.

[30] Roy, La Seigneurie de Lauzon, IV: 247.

[31] M. Léon Gérin in "L'Habitant de Saint-Justin", p. 202.

[32] Roy, La Seigneurie de Lauzon IV: 245.

[33] De Gaspé, Mémoires, p. 533, 4.

[34] Mr. Nairne claimed as compensation for his lods et ventes £4,560, 9s. 6d., (Halifax currency) and for the banal rights £3,400. He probably received considerably less. More than 400 dwellers in the seigniory still pay the annual cens et rentes.

[35] Malcolm Fraser's seigniory, Mount Murray, remained somewhat longer in the family of its original owner. On Fraser's death in 1815 his eldest son William, who had become a medical practitioner and a Roman Catholic, succeeded. He died without issue in 1830 and his brother, John Malcolm Fraser, then fell heir to the seigniory. When he died in 1860 the property passed by will to his two daughters, both married to British officers. The elder, Mrs. Reeve, succeeded to the manor house. The younger, Mrs. Higham, soon sold her share to the Cimon family who became prominent in the district and one of whose members sat in Parliament at Ottawa on the Conservative side. Mrs. Reeve died in 1879 leaving the use of the property to her husband, Colonel Reeve, for his life. When he died in 1888, his son Mr. John Fraser Reeve, Malcolm Fraser's great-grandson, became seigneur. In 1902 he sold the property to the present seigneur, Mr. George T. Bonner, of New York, a Canadian by birth. Though there are numerous living descendants of Malcolm Fraser, Murray Bay knows them no more.

[36] Sacred to the memory of Lieutenant Colonel John Nairne, First Seigneur of Murray Bay. This Gallant Officer during 38 years distinguished himself as an able and brave Soldier. For simplicity of manners as a man, for Intrepidity and humanity as a Soldier, and for the virtues of a Gentleman, his memory will long be respected and cherished. Born in Scotland, March 1, 1731. Died at Quebec, July 14, 1802.

Lieutenant Colonel Nairne first entered the Dutch Service where he belonged to that distinguished Corps, the Scotch Brigade. He afterwards entered the British Service where under Wolfe he was present at the taking of Louisbourg and Quebec. He also served under Murray and Carleton and distinguished himself in a most gallant manner when Quebec was attacked by the Americans in the years 1775 and 1776.

And of his eldest son, Lieutenant John Nairne of the 19th Regiment of Foot, who fell a victim to the climate of India when returning with the victorious troops from the capture of Seringapatam in the 21st year of his age; also of his youngest son, Captain Thomas Nairne, of the 49th Regiment of Foot who bravely fell at the head of his Company in the Battle at Chrysler's Farm in Upper Canada November 11, 1813, aged 26 years.

Also of John Leslie Nairne, great grandson of Colonel Nairne, born July 23, 1842, died March 18, 1845; and of John Nairne, Esq., Grandson of Colonel Nairne, born at Murray Bay, March 22nd, 1808, died at Quebec June 8, 1861; and of his Widow, Maria Katherine Leslie, died at Quebec, August 25, 1884, deeply regretted by her friends and by the poor of whom she was the constant benefactress.

This monument is erected in affectionate remembrance of much kindness by one who was privileged to enjoy their friendship during the best part of his life.