Today’s papers are full of information on Quebec City’s four-hundredth birthday. And so I’m going historical on my blog for today. Nothing like a $80-million party to start a fight amongst Canadians. With Quebec Nationalists not exactly pleased with the Anglo’s involvement. There’s also the military march occurring that has ruffled some feathers. #1 Irony of the event? Paul McCartney Doing a concert on the plains of Abraham where the British defeated France and thus secured Quebec in 1759.But, this is not the first time controversy has been stirred up for Quebec’s birthday. H.V. Nelles wrote a history of the Tercentenary of Quebec or the 1908 Celebrations. In it he describes the federal, provincial and municipal attempts to find accommodation on how to celebrate this delicate (to Quebec nationalists) celebration. Lets remember that back then Laurier was not only Prime Minister but also represented the riding of Quebec City, so a big party (and budget, ours is $80 million, theirs about $800,000) was definitley going to happen. Just how do you celebrate the history of a city that had essentially been conquered, and was now loyal subjects of a non-catholic King? Back in March, Nelles wrote an excellent article in the National Post on Quebec’s last big party and I’ve clipped some of the more interesting tidbits:
Yet even though the Tercentenary celebrations were historical in theme, it was a peculiar kind of history — one that was selectively remembered to serve multiple present needs. In the case of the historical pageants, Quebec history turned out to be more royalist, pious and aristocratic than one would have expected. The representation of the battle of 1759 became a grand mingling of armies under joint British and French command marching together in peace. And if the British victory on the Plains were to be celebrated, so too the French victory at Sainte-Foy the next spring had to be elevated to historical equivalence.This was history modified to meet present requirements, toned down or changed to assuage sensibilities, or selectively represented to counteract one form of imperial grandeur with another. This was history as people wished it to be.
Funny how some things just don’t change. It’ll be interesting when someone decides to write the inside story of this years events.