The Falls of Quebec

The Sault de Montmorency

Quebec City, Quebec, Canada

August 3rd, 2001

Quebec is an adventurous and diverse Province. Its French speaking people are full of life. As we wandered around its oldest city (and Capital) by the same name we found ourselves east of the city. Here we found a wonder of nature reminiscent of the great Niagara Falls. In 1603, the French explorer, Samuel de Champlain, after viewing the torrent of water, named the falls "The Sault de Montmorency" after the Viceroy of New France, Admiral Henry de Montmorency. The land on either side of the falls was ceded to Frenchmen who supported the King and thus the recorded history of the falls was started. The land passed from person to person until 1759 when James Wolfe led an English expedition force to capture Quebec City. This required him to cross the Falls river. It proved more than his men were capable of and after a short but bloody encounter, Wolfe retreated leaving some 200 of his men dead on the battlefield. Quebec was safe for the moment. It proved to be a short respite as England would be relentless in its intention to make the New America a British colony only. Time and that relentlessness would prevail and in time Quebec would become a British Colony of French speaking people. The next notable event involving the falls was the arrival of Sir Frederick Haldimand, third governor of the British Province of Quebec in 1778. He built a beautiful chalet at the rim of the falls. Many gala balls and social events were conceived and enjoyed in this charming villa by the falls. The land would pass to relatives and then, around 1790, a renter would be found. King George III's forth son Prince Edward Augustus, a rather unpopular member of the family would be assigned to command the 7th Regiment at Quebec. Rejected by family and lonely, he sent an emissary to France that year to find a young lady to keep him company. Theresa-Bernardine Mongenet joined the prince and spent some 27 years with him during which time they became a beloved and cherished couple in this French speaking land. Unfortunately in 1818, bowing to the demands of State, and following his father's orders, Prince Edward left his beloved Theresa to return to England to marry, by arrangement, a German princess in order to give an heir to the Throne. In 1819 he would father a girl, only to die a year later. The girl would grow up to become Queen Victoria. Today the great chalet has been replaced by a Inn which is accessed by a chair lift over the rushing waters of the Falls river. There is a walk bridge over the top of the falls which allows for a most spectacular view of the head of the falls. From the start of development of the falls, there has always been a bridge over the water. Not all such bridges were successful. On April 30, 1856, five days after it was opened, the suspension bridge over the Falls collapsed, sending a farmer, his wife and a friend to their deaths in the waters below. For years after, trials and hearings would be conducted to determine what caused the catastrophe. The engineer would subsequently be charged with incompetence for failure to follow the bridge plans. Granted it is not more than a beautiful Inn at the top of a gondola-type ride to the top of a gigantic waterfall. For me that was more than enough. If you need more there is always the long arduous walk up the stairway to the top of the falls. Many people do it every day, I think?

*** THE END ***