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Friday, January 16, 2009

Refighting the Plains of Abraham

Py7700On the 250th anniversary of the Battle of the Plains of Abraham hundreds of history nerds will gather together and re-enact the battle. It is an exciting idea for people that spend their days reading historical works or even if they just read historical fiction. It will be like living a piece of the past.

People from Britain, United States and Canada are all gathering to participate in this re-enactment. Some of them likely have met each other before at similar gatherings. Many of them will be making new friends and enjoying the company of people that share their hobby. It sounds like a total blast.

To the separatists it sounds like an insult. According to the Globe & Mail several separatist groups and commentators are up in arms about the re-enactment of the battle.

"You don't commemorate the defeat of a people, and you don't celebrate the defeat of a people," said Ms. Maltais...

"It's closer to vulgar propaganda than an honest interpretation of the conquest," Mr. Bourgeois said.

"We are probably the only people who mark defeat. It's like recalling your first spanking," Mr. Lacoursière said. The French wouldn't celebrate their defeat at Waterloo, he said.

They should all take a chill pill. Re-enacting a battle is not exactly the same thing as celebrating a battle. But even if it was, I still think they should shut up. This battle was perhaps the most important battle ever fought on what is now Canadian soil. To ignore the battle would be like ignoring Canada’s past, something that we already do much too often.

I ask myself, “why are they making such a big deal out of this?” The answer comes all too quickly. Separatists are experts on making a big deal out of nothing. It is their primary tool for intimidation. They hope that by raising stink about stupid stuff like this they can force any Quebecer who is proud to be Canadian into silence.

I truly hope that the re-enactors don’t back down and bow to separatist intimidation.

*historical note*

The actual importance of the Battle of the Plains of Abraham is being exaggerated. It was by no means a decisive victory. If the French navy had shown up before the English navy than New France would have survived.

Posted by Hugh MacIntyre on January 16, 2009 in Canadian Provincial Politics | Permalink

Comments

I have to disagree with your comment "The actual importance of the Battle of the Plains of Abraham is being exaggerated."

It ended the Seven Years War and Prussia was able to defeat France and her allies in Europe. Spain gained Louisiana, Britain gained Spanish Florida and all of New France (except two small islands)and other French overseas territories.

If the French had won, would there have been an American Revolution? Probably not.

Posted by: Shawn | 2009-01-16 11:25:11 AM


.. who gets to play British Commander Wolfe and French Commander Montcalm..? as in the real life battle they both were killed..

maybe a modified re enactment where they met and hug and call off the whole battle and kickstart this multicultural , bi lingual, socialist monarchy we call Canada.. oh and somebody hug the Indians and hand out these "special" blankets.aka smallpox impregnated bloopers...hisssss

BTW the fall of Quebec was one aspect of the three prong orchestrated attack on French Canada in 1759- the other successful targets taken by the British in pre Republican USA that year were ** Montreal and ** Niagara..

collect all three, PS- bring your own blanket

Posted by: Tom Teriffic | 2009-01-16 11:26:52 AM


Shawn in no way did the Plains of Abraham end the 7 Year War. North America was a side show in what was just another of the great European wars of the 18th Century.

I don't dispute the importance of New France being handed over to the British. And I can see an arguement for the American Revolution not having taken place if New France had existed.

But the true counquest did not take place in Quebec City but on the negotiation table. France was not interested in what was an unprofitable colony and Britian wanted to secure their NA holdings. And so they made an exchange. I believe that France ended up with Waterloo, but I could be wrong about that.

Posted by: hughmacintyre | 2009-01-16 11:36:49 AM


Maybe, instead of a re-enactment, we should do it for real. It might be just what Canada needs to tie us back together. A good dustup, just like my brothers used to do every once in a while.

Posted by: dp | 2009-01-16 11:49:15 AM


In a way one cannot blame the separatists, since they must have observed how most of our history has been revised by PC liberals. When a particular group found historical facts offensive, no problem just revise the history. How long before this battle will be revised, at least in Quebec, showing how the French actually won?

Posted by: Alain | 2009-01-16 12:15:09 PM


Wolfe was also at Culloden, (recently reenacted) a sad day for the Royal Stuarts and the Jacobite's ( Mr. MacIntyre's people?) Apparently, the British wished to return Quebec to the French in exchange for Guadaloupe, but the Jamaica sugar barons put the nix on that deal. Too much competition. Rumor has it that Wolfe was high on laudanam at Quebec. Not that you can blame him.

Posted by: DJ | 2009-01-16 12:36:33 PM


Six companies of American colonial troops, called rangers, fought at Quebec. Indeed, there were more Americans at Quebec than Canadians.

Posted by: Zebulon Pike | 2009-01-16 12:59:13 PM


More Americans than Canadians? Not surprising since the migration of the Loyalists didn't happen until after the after the Revolutionary War. WTF?

Posted by: DJ | 2009-01-16 1:10:29 PM


Pike, there was no such thing as American or Canadian at the time. They were all subjects of the King.

Speaking of the King...Long live the Bonnie Prince Charlie!

Posted by: hughmacintyre | 2009-01-16 1:11:36 PM


For the record "re enactments" in the past were called
" dramatizations" .. that let everybody know it was one version of events, It was art: all about feelings with a minimum of feeling, and in no way to be confused with history which was all about facts with a minimum of feeling

Personally, I can hardly wait till somebody re enacts Trudeaus War Measures Act.. then I can see how many American Rangers were actually involved

Posted by: Tom Teriffic | 2009-01-16 1:17:10 PM


Correction:

It was art: all about feelings with a minimum of FACTS, and in no way to be confused with history which was all about facts with a minimum of feeling

Posted by: Tom Teriffic | 2009-01-16 1:19:08 PM


As an indépendantiste myself, I am all in favour of re-enacting these events.
In fact and for that reason, I encourage more historic re-enactments so that people draw their own conclusions.

By giving way too much credit and power to Indépendantistes on this issue, Hugh MacIntyre is clearly demonstrating his fear, lack of knowledge and understanding of who he calls, à la Canadienne Anglaise, Separatisssssss.

A lot of proud Canadians who happens to speak French and many Anglos are against this re-enactment for obvious reasons, but I don't.

Posted by: Marc | 2009-01-16 1:31:39 PM


A bunch of Newfoundlanders conquered the city of Quebec in 1629?, if memory serves. Possibly two "dramatizations" are in order. :)

Posted by: DJ | 2009-01-16 1:35:18 PM


I have a French musket for sale: Never fired; Dropped only once. (To be honest, it was issued in 1914 and is now under consideration as a model by the UK Labor government.)

Posted by: James Pawlak | 2009-01-16 1:42:02 PM


American historian Samuel Eliot Morrison wrote decades ago that if Wolfe had survived Quebec, he would have come to the 13 Colonies 20 years later and defeated Washington. This is unlikely because Washington was an excellent general who had the right strategy - keeping the army together and prolonging the war - to win, later with French help.

I wonder what would have happened if Montcalm had lived too. Would he have come to help Washington? Imagine the two at Yorktown in 1781 accepting Wolfe's surrender.

Someone earlier asked what would have happened if the French had won at Quebec in 1759-60. I suggest that it would have delayed but not prevented the American colonies from rebelling. One of the colonists' major complaints was the cost of maintaining British troops long after 1763. Had the war continued into the 1760s or 1770s, the same complaints would have emerged later because the war had to come to an end sometime. This is, of course, counterfactual and speculative.

Posted by: Zebulon Pike | 2009-01-16 1:55:58 PM


American historian Samuel Eliot Morrison wrote decades ago that if Wolfe had survived Quebec, he would have come to the 13 Colonies 20 years later and defeated Washington. This is unlikely because Washington was an excellent general who had the right strategy - keeping the army together and prolonging the war - to win, later with French help.

I wonder what would have happened if Montcalm had lived too. Would he have come to help Washington? Imagine the two at Yorktown in 1781 accepting Wolfe's surrender.

Someone earlier asked what would have happened if the French had won at Quebec in 1759-60. I suggest that it would have delayed but not prevented the American colonies from rebelling. One of the colonists' major complaints was the cost of maintaining British troops long after 1763. Had the war continued into the 1760s or 1770s, the same complaints would have emerged later because the war had to come to an end sometime. This is, of course, counterfactual and speculative.

Posted by: Zebulon Pike | 2009-01-16 1:56:03 PM


Correct DJ-

these New Found landsmen arrested Mr Champlain and beamed him up to England .. under orders from their own Capt Kirke

Posted by: Tom Teriffic | 2009-01-16 1:57:07 PM


Pike, there was no such thing as American or Canadian at the time. They were all subjects of the King.

Posted by: hughmacintyre | 2009-01-16 1:11:36 PM

Not to be a nit-picker, Hugh, but the term Canadian, already at the end of the 17th Century, referred to the people of French descent established in the land called Canada, along the St. Lawrence River. Only after the conquest was there a distinction made: French Canadians and English Canadians.
On the subject of reenactment or dramatization of the battle, I don't see what the problem is. The Plains of Abraham, or the Battlefields Park, has existed for more than 100 years. The name of the place itself is a reminder that a battle was effectively fought there. I haven't heard of anyone requesting that the place be renamed because it offends them.

Posted by: Nothing New Under the Sun | 2009-01-16 3:39:06 PM


Actually not to be a nitpicker the term was Canadien. But whatever, obviously I meant that there was no American nationals or Canadian nationals.

Posted by: hughmacintyre | 2009-01-16 3:45:14 PM


The Battle of Quebec helped make the American Revolution possible. So for all of you "Canadian nationalists" - a contradiction in terms if ever there was one - who think Canada developed in isolation from the US, THINK AGAIN!

Posted by: Zebulon Pike | 2009-01-16 10:42:55 PM


Fast forward to the Quebec Act of 1774 and see what effect that had on the thirst for American Independence and for that matter, on the maintenance of French language and culture in Canada.

Posted by: DML | 2009-01-16 10:54:51 PM


The vocal few in Quebec protesting the reenactment completely miss the point of what reenactors do. Reenactors do not ‘celebrate’ defeats of either army in any battle or war, nor do we (reenactors) ever rub the noses of the defeated in their loss. That would be ridiculous, since we do this many times during the year, and on any given weekend can end up on either side of the win/loss column. The comment I keep reading that “the French wouldn’t dream of reenacting the Battle of Waterloo” illustrates my point – in fact, the Battle of Waterloo is reenacted every year by history buffs from Britain, France, Belgium, Germany, Holland and elsewhere.

We honor and remember those who fought in all of these battles, and teach the public about something important that happened several lifetimes ago. Last summer, at Fort Ticonderoga (French Fort Carillon), we reenacted a humiliating English defeat, where the English outnumbered the French about four to one. In the evening, in the rain, British and French marched side by side to the mass graves of both armies, and there, speeches were made and music was played to honor the war dead.

In the 250th anniversary cycle, the Quebec event is the chance for the soldiers, British and French, who lived and died in this area and this battle back in 1759 to have the story of their hardships and sacrifices told, and to be honored and remembered. They are the ones who will be cheated the most by a modification or cancellation of this event.

Posted by: Karen Jackson | 2009-02-16 7:39:18 AM



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