Québec, 4 – 6 Oct 06
Québec City is the only place we have ordered take-away pizza with escargot (snails)! It is also the only walled city north of Mexico.
Jacques Cartier arrived in 1535 but it wasn’t until Samuel de Champlain’s arrival in 1608 to establish a fur trading post that European settlement prospered. The site is obvious since the wide Gulf of St. Lawrence narrows to the St. Lawrence River and the cliffs provided natural defence.
Stone fortifications were built in 1720 but they weren’t enough to keep out the British whose troops scaled the cliff just west of town and taking the defenders by surprise, captured the town in 20 minutes. The Treaty of Paris formalized the arrangement in 1763.
However, the walls came in handy when the Americans attacked in 1775. The Canadian War Museum site notes that although the British had lost control of everything outside the city walls, the Americans were "unable to harm, or even seriously inconvenience" those inside. Time was against the Americans as winter’s grip tightened and even if they could hold out till spring, the Royal Navy would be able to bring reinforcements. In a desperate move, 300 troops led by Richard Montgomery attacked the Lower Town at 4am on December 31st, 1775 through heavy snow and ice but they were ambushed. Montgomery was killed and his men fled.
Meanwhile, Benedict Arnold, later to become famous as a traitor, led 600 men into battle a little to the north in blinding snow. Arnold was wounded early and though many of his men got lost in the narrow streets, some pressed forward. Again, the defenders were ready and soon the Americans were forced to surrender with between 60 to 100 killed or wounded and 426 taken prisoner. Only 5 British/Canadian men were killed.
Eventually peace brought prosperity and the city became a center of shipbuilding, wheat and lumber trading.