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JOTTINGS PROM A TRAVELLER'S JOURNAL., Ashburton Guardian, Volume IV, Issue 827, 27 December 1882
JOTTINGS PROM A TRAVELLER'S JOURNAL.
Montreal— Something About the City —The Church op “ Notre Dame ” A Big Bell—The Commerce op the City—An Excursion to Ottawa —A Progressive City- Public Buildings —A Monster Timber Trade —Toilers by Night —Six Million Feet' of Sawn Timber Turned Out at One Mill in the 24 Hours—Off to Quebec The Gibraltar of North America —The Sights of the City— Montmorency Falls—Mount Royal —A Tremendous Bridge Platsburgh ; “ And so to Bed.” In my last I brought those of your
readers who have had patience to accompany me, to Montreal, and I presume they will expect me to tell them something about the city that claims to be the commercial capital of Canada. Originally the settlement was called Yille Marie. It is situated on an island formed by the Ottawa river, debouching into the St. Lawrence. Jaques Cartier is said to have been the founder of Montreal. He first visited the locality in 1535, landing at a point called by the Indians “ Hochelaga,” and a village not far from the present city still retains the name. Cartier was conducted by Donnecona, a friendly chief, to the high land that forms the background of Montreal, and the Frenchman were so delighted with the view he obtained from the elevation on which he stood, that he called the place Mount Royal—lienee the name of the city, Montreal. Some of the streets axe narrow, and the buildings primitive and oldfashioned. But this only applies to the ancient quarters of the city. St. Paul street is the commercial centre, and stands along the river side. Another principal thoroughfare, called St. James street, contains some very handsome buildings; and Great St. James street, and Notre Dame street are fashionable promenades. It would occupy too much of your space if I attempted to describe minutely the various public and private edifices that attracted my attention. I can but mention Nelson’s monument, the Court House, Molson’s Bank, the City Hall, Bonscour’s Market, Place d’Armes, and the new Post Office. These are all noble structures, and would adorn any city. But I must make an exception in favor of the parish church of Notre Dame. It is worthy of particular description. The early French colonists did not neglect to provide temporary buildings for the worship of God. But it was not until the year 1823 that the foundation stone of the present church of Notre Dame was laid, and in 1829 it was completed. Two lofty towers form prominent features in the front elevation ; these are connected by a handsome portico sixty feet in height, and adorned with colossal statues of the Virgin Mary, St. John the Baptist, and St. Joseph. An architect, in technical language, would probably describe Notre Dame as belonging to the Gothic Pointed Arch School—a style hallowed by time, as calculated to elevate the mind of man, and considered to be most in harmony with Ohristain thought and Biblical tradition. I ascended one of the towers, and from its summit, 227 feet above the level, obtained a good bird’seye view of the city and its surroundings. On my way up, I paused in a chamber about midway, to examine “Le Gros Bourdon,” an enormous bell, weighing 24,7891b5, six feet high, and measuring eight feet seven inches across its mouth. It bears a Latin inscription, which reads :
I was cast in the year of the Christian era 1847, the 202nd since the foundation of Montreal, the first of Pius the Ninth’s Pontificate, and the 10th of the reign of Victoria, Queen of England. I am the gift of the merchants, the farmers, and the mechanics of “ Ville Marie.” I was cast in London by Charles and George Mears. The body of the bell is adorned by images of the Virgin and St. John the Baptist, and emblematical representations of commerce, agriculture, and industry. Its sonorous voice is only heard on great occasions, and its tone is worthy of its size—grand and loud, and full. A peal of ten smaller bells hangs in the eastern towers, and when “Le Gros Bourdon ” joins in concert with the juniors on festival days, the effect is very striking.
The interior of the church is even more imposing than the exterior. The decorations, I was told, are not yet complete in every detail, and visitors are reminded that contributions are needed and will be thankfully received. But in its present state the sacred edifice is very grand. As I stood and gazed I seemed to sympathise in some degree with those who think that art and beauty are aids to devotion. I could easily imagine that the vast nave of Notre Dame, its spacious two-storied galleries, the paintings, the sculptures, the richly-stained windows, admitting a “ dim religious light,” a id the lavish embellishments everywhere apparent, might have the effect of impressing certain orders of mind and tend to lift the thoughts of some from earth towards heaven. While I was in the church many devotees came in, and with real reverence bowed before the altar, or made obeisance at the shrine of the Virgin, repe iting their prayers, altogether unconscious of, or utterly disregarding the presence of strangers who came merely to gratify curiosity. I could not help saying to myself, “ There may be ignorance and superstition mixed up with this devotional fervor, but still the fact remains—these people, unlike the masses outside who are absorbed in the pursuits of the hour, have withdrawn from the world, and come into the sanctuary influenced by a desire to worship. Who dare say that their motives are not understood and appreciated by Him who knows the secrets of all hearts?” In the western aisle there is a white marble baptismal font of elaborate workmanship and design, supported bv four angels in graceful attitudes. Close by is a painting representing the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist, copied from the original picture by Maratta that adorns the baptismal chapel in St Peter’s at Rome. Further on are the chapels of St. Amable, St. Joseph, and the Blessed Virgin, all highly ornamental. In the eastern aisle is the chapel of the Sacred Heart, of St. '-mi, and of the Souls in Purgatory. Every morning during the month of November, and occasionally at other times, masses are celebrated here for the purpose, as it is supposed, of obtaining the pardon and release of suffering souls. The walls over the second gallery are adorned with twelve exquisitelywrought frescoes, illustrative of as many incidents in the life of the Virgin Mary. The main altar and sanctuary are very grand. Groups of sculpture represent the atoning work of the Lord Jes is Christ as foreshadowed in the prophecies of the Old T. stament : Abraham ready to offer up his son Isaac. Aaron in the act of offering the lamb, ’vlolcbisedek offering bread and wine, Mosesbofore the Ark of the covenant, Christ hanging on the Cross. In the centre is the altar and Tabernacle and a crucifix surrounded by a host of adoring angels, and above all a group representing the coronation of Mary as Queen of Heaven. The tout ensemble is very fine. Notre Dame presents to the visitor a spectacle of solemn magnificence not often to be seen.
The commerce of Montreal ia extensive. Though the city is distant from the sea five hundred miles, its position at the head of the navigable waters cf the St Lawrence and at the foot of the chain of improved inland water communication extending to Lake Superior, secures for it the advantages and entitles it to be considered the first shipping port of the Dominion of Canada. From Montreal I made an excursion to Ottawa, the seat of Government. Your readers may perhaps be aware that Ottawa was selected by Her Majesty Queen Victoria to be capital of the dominion. Prior to this selection the functions of Government were carried on alternately at Montreal, Toronto, and Quebec. Endless rivalries and jealousies grew out of this itinerant system To put an end to this it was necessary to choose some permanent sito for the Governmental establishments, and Ottawa was fixed upon as in every respect a suitable locality. Originally the settlement was called Bytown, in honor of the surveyor who laid it out. By whom or at what period the name was changed I cannot say. Ottawa cannot yet be compared with Montreal, Toronto, and other cities in size, appearance, and population ; but being the seat of Government
it is rapidly progressing. The public buildings are exceptionally superior and costly. The Houses of Parliament and Departmental offices occupy three sides of a square, on an eminence overlooking the river. The Senate House was closed and I could not see it; but judging from f ’"' hall appropriated to the Commons, if it. be superior, it must be grand indeed, for the chamber of the Lower House is very elegant. The floor is composed of inlaid ornamental woods of different color and grain, and highly polished. A wide space divides the Ministerial from the Opposition benches. Each member’s seat is provided with a convenient desk with drawers. A gallery for ladies, the Speaker’s gallery, and galleries to accommodate the public and representatives of the press, run round the sides of the chamber. It is lighted from the roof at night, and during the daj' from u row of gorgeously stained windows. The library is a splendid apartment, circular in shape with two tiers of galleries and eight projecting alcoves,’all filled with books. Upwards of 80,000 volumes are here collected, and they relate to almost every branch of literature and science. The floor of the library is occupied by a variety of ornamental tables, on which are displayed many natural cariosities and articles of vertu, busts of eminent men, and in the centre is a large statue of the Queen. The exterior of the buildings is in every way worthy of the interior. They are s arcely inferior in size, and in some respects are similar in design, to the Imperial Houses of Parliament at Westminster. The grounds around these noble structures are large and beautifully laid out in lawns and parterres of flowers, and command a fine view of the river and adjacent country. Ottawa is the centre of a great trade in lumber. There are ‘everal sawmills on the banka of the river, some of them on a vast scale. Logs of timber, lyin > in the water by.thousands, are drawn up to the mills on an inclined plane by machinery working an endless chain armed at intervals with timber hooka. Thus grappled, the logs are brought into contact with saws that cut them into square form. They then go on until they meet revolving circular saws, set according to the size reouired, and almost before you can say “ Jack Robinson,” the logs are cut into scantling or boards or battens as the case may be In some mills the work goes on day and night without cessation. Electric lamps illumine the premises and enable the workmen to carry on their business when deprived of the light of the sun. I was told that it is a common practice at one establishment to turn out six mi lion feet of sawn timber in twenty-four hours 1 , From Ottawa I returned to Montreal by steamer. The scenery on the river above its junction with the St Lawrence reminded me, in places, of the scenery on the Wairoa in the Kaipara district, about Tokotoko. On this trip I enjoyed the novel feat of' shooting the rapids. The first of these is at a part of the St Lawrence called Long Sault. ‘For nearly nine miles the steamer c»roers alone through broken water at a rate of speed of which the passenger is hardly conscious. It is an exciting race, but still tame in comparison with the iisky navigation of the more turbulent though shorter rapids of La Chine Here the channel is scarcely broader that twice the breadth of the ship. Rocks are visible on either hand as the swirling waves that foam around and overflow them at times retire and leave their threatening sides all bare. Steam is shut; off, and under the silent but significant gestures of the pilot, and the watchful manipulations of four pairs of hands at the wheel, the vessel’s head is kept in a line with the roaring current, and rushes along at the rate of twenty miles an hour. Though the waters of La Chine “ roar and are troubled," the steamer does not roll and pitch as in a tempestuous sea ; but there is a peculiar motion causing one to feel as if she were about to settle down in the seething vortex. The unaccustomed passenger almost involuntarily holds his breath, expecting every moment either to be dashed against the rocks or engulphed in the resistless current. But long practice has given such skill and confidence to the commanders of steamers navigating the river and shooting the rapids that accidents are of very rare occurrence. On reaching Montreal I jumped into a cab, ho iing to catch another steamer, lying at a distant wharf, about to start for Quebec. I was just in time. It was growing dark when we got under weigh, and, consequently, I obtained but a very imperfect idea of the scenery on the St. Lawrence between Montreal and Quebec. It was quite dark when we reached the point where the river widens into a lake called St. Peter’s shallow on all sides except in the channel, which has been ( excavated for steamers and coasting vessels. When the wind is strong a nasty cross sea is raised on the shallow waters, and the lake is dreaded by lumber men as the scene of many a disaster to their cumbrous rafts.
I had engaged a cabin for the night, but I might have spared myself the trouble and my pocket the extra expense, for sleep was out of the question. At short intervals the steamer stopped at places on the river to land or take in ergo. The rattle of the steam winches and the shouts and songs of the lumpers created a din sufficient to keep anybody awake, if not to awaken the seven sleepers themselves. At early dawn I was up on deck. As we neared th'e city the banks of the river became higher and more abrupt. Villages and hamlets came more frequently into view. In most cases the houses are painted white, the roofs being constructed of some material of a bright red color—this gives a pleasing and picturesque appearance to the settlements seen against the background of bright green foliage. Tin-covered spires of churches, rising above the level, add a peculiar feature to the scene. As wo advanced the river became more lively. Numerous rafts of timber were being towed to their destinations by small steamers. Not un f requently several rafts were linked together, forming as it were quite an island of floating logs. On the cen re of each raft a tent or shed was erected for the shelter and accommodation of the lumber men ; and various gay flags and streamers fluttered from the tops of the poles. Occasionally the voices of the hardy sons of the forest wore borne towards us on the morning breeze, and we caught the refrain of some wild song, reminding ua of—- ‘ ‘ Row brothers, row, the stream runs fast,
The rapids are near, and the daylight past. ” We touched first at Point Levi to land some passengers, and then crossed the river, and were soon alongside one of the wharves of the quaint old city of Quebec. Quebec has been called the Gibraltar of North America. The Indian village of Stadacona once occupied the site. The city consists of two parts, the upper and the lower. The former is fortified, and but few tourist! fail to visit the citadel on Gape Diamond. The lower town is built on the slips of land on the side of the c’iffs, and the suburbs extend along the river St. Charles—a branch of the St. Lawrence—to the Plains of Abraham, where stands the monument erected in memory of the gallant Wolfe. The terrace at the toot of the citadel affords a fine view, and is a favorite promenade. It would be tedious and take up too much space if I attempted to describe the windings, turnings, steep ascents and descents of the streets of this unique city. It has a character and history peculiar to itself. I shall best convey a general idea of Quebec to the minds of your readers by saying that it is a city whose principal portions crown the summit of a lofty capo, and are somewhat difficult of access ; and as the primitive paths of the Indians who walked,
about Stadacona have now become, without much change or improvement in width or direction, the streets and thoroughfares of the city, it will at bnce be understood that the visitor may look in vain for the regularity, breadth, and beauty which he has been accustomed to find in other cities. It must not be supposed, however, that Quebec is destitute of handsome, imposing appearance. There are many such, both private and public structures. . I can only make particular mention of one—the Roman Catholic Cathedral. I single out this edifice, not on account of its architectural pre-eminence, but because of the interest attaching to some of its belongings. It is neither so ornate nor so grand as Notre Dame at Montreal, but it contains some fine paintings, mostly originals, with one or two copies of the old masters. The Holy : Family, by Blanchard ; Our Saviour insulted by the soldiers, by Fleurat ; The Birth of Christ, by Annibale Carracci ; The Flight into Egypt, by Yanloo ; After the Temptation, by Restorat; The Immaculate Conception, by Lebrun ; St Paul's Eostacy, by Carlo Marratta ; Miracles of St. Ann, by Plamindon ; On the Cross, by Vandyk ; The Pentecost, by Vignoni.; The Annunciation, by Restoret ; The In-' terment, after Huton ; and the Baptism of Jesus, by Claude Huy Halid. 'Round the lateral chapels of the Cathedral there is a series of smaller paintings representing various “stations” of the Saviour’s passion. Besides the paintings there are vestments, not only exceptionally,splen-,, did in fabric but of historic interest. 1 special request the sexton allowed mb to see them. I am afraid I am not sufii* ciently well up in “ Church Millinery” to describe these gorgeous robes artistically. There is a suit in silver and' gold material ' composed of 29 pieces. It was manufactured at Lyons in 1850. Another Of purple, exceedingly rich, consisting of 26 separate pieces, from the same celebrated looms ; a black set of 20 pieces ; and yet another, the chef d’ceuvre, of cloth of gold, studded over with precious stones. ; This' last was the gift of Louis the XIV. to tha : Bishop' of the period, and is more than 200 years old. These splendid, what shall I call them, robes or rags? are kept under look and key, only used on special occasions, and exhibited to strangers as a special favour. Within easy distance of Quebec there are several fine lakes abounding with fish. It is no uncommon thing at. Snow Lake dr Lake St. Joseph for the anglers to catch trout weighing from 121bs to 201bs.
I drove out to the Falls of Montmor--ency. The body of water rolling over' the rocky brook which forms the locality of this cascade is vastly inferiur to Niagara, but the height of the fall is greater. Iu the winter season the spray freezes and forms cones of varying size and altitude, and ladies and gentlemen, in want of amusement, bring hither their “ Toboggins,” and find gratification iu sliding from the top to the. bottom of the icy incline with perilous; velocity. On my way to the falls I passed the Parish Church in which Father Chiniquy officiated before he abjured the Roman Catholic fauh. His name will be familiar to many of your readers who recollect his visit to New Zealand. I found opinions very much divided in Canada on the question of the utility of Father Chiniquy’s labors, and the genuineness of his aims. I venture no opinion myself. I merely say that in Canada and the States, where he is best known, he is not universally admired, nor considered worthy of unlimited confidence.
Returning from Quebec to Montreal 1 took the opportunity of driving out to Mount Royal. The summit of the tower of Notre Dame afforded me a fine proa* pect, but when I tell you that on the top of Mount Royal I was four hundred and twenty-six feet higheV than when I stood on the tower, you may imagine the view I obtained. It was indeed a glorious panorama. It would be vain to attempt a verbal description. After this I bade farewell to Montreal, and resumed my journey. I crossed the stupendous bridge that spaas the St. Lawrence—a marvel of engineering skill. This great structure rests on 23 piers of' solid masonry, and is nearly two miles long. Trains pass through an iron tube 22 feet in height and 16 feet in width. The bridge, with its approaches, cost 6,300,000 dollars. It was opened with great pomp and ceremony by the Prince of Wales daring his visit to America in the year 1860.
On arriving at Rouse Point—the dividing line between Canada and the United States—my baggage was subject to examination by Custom-house officers. But they were very complaisant, and gave roe but little trouble. After a brief detention we started again and reached Platsburgh, on the borders of Lake Champlain, about 6.30 p. m. I found my way to .Wetherill House, a quiet comfortable hotel, and after a gooi supper v ry soon retired, and so for the present, good night. Viator.
JOTTINGS PROM A TRAVELLER'S JOURNAL., Ashburton Guardian, Volume IV, Issue 827, 27 December 1882
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