The British Library Homepage
home Home  >   Online Gallery  >  Online exhibitions  >   Features  >   Quebec 400  >   Lower Canada
 
print

Quebec 400

Discovery Nouvelle France Siege and war Lower Canada Tercentenary Early 1900s decorative thumbnail images

Lower Canada

The British were the first to use the name 'Quebec' to indicate the wider area beyond the city itself, and this was how the Province was known from the Quebec Act of 1774 until the Constitutional Act of 1791, which replaced it with Lower and Upper Canada (present day Quebec and Ontario, respectively).

British supremacy in North America after 1763 was short-lived, however, and conflict with Napoleonic France and increasingly a newly-independent America continued to threaten British interests.

In this turbulent environment, the heavily-fortified stronghold of Quebec remained strategically important. From here, British authorities sought to assimilate the population of New France within their regime, while mobilising against restive First Nations communities, a militant French colony in the Midwest, and the growing threat from American colonists to the south.

Many of the images included in this section derive from the work of King George III's surveyors, engineers, and cartographers. The renewed zeal for mapping and surveying coincided with both the King's own enthusiasms as an armchair traveler and with the wider European preoccupation with collecting geographical knowledge which characterised the Age of Enlightenment.

The King's Topographical Collection, from which many of these images derive, is one of the finest of its kind in the world, and is especially rich for areas of British possession or activity during the 18th Century, such as North America. The collection contains atlases, maps, plans, and views, topographical drawings, watercolours and prints, letters and reports, and some very rare locally printed ephemera. The collection numbers some 50,000 items in all, dating back from 1824 to around 1500.

'K. Top.' came to the British Museum in 1828 along with other collections from the library of King George III. Like other items within K.Top., the images of Lower Canada were compiled for the king to browse, and to survey areas of his empire; they were commonly found scattered on shelves and tucked away in drawers of the royal palaces.

The range, detail, and sheer aesthetic accomplishment of work produced in Lower Canada reflects the huge strategic importance and prestige attached to this North American colony. Many of the images evoke scenes of everyday life in the fortress city, and its iconic buildings, some of them – like the Church of the Recollect Friars – still partly in ruins after years of siege and war.

Also included is Jean-Baptiste de la Brosse's Jesuit prayer-book and catechism for the use of the Montagnais people north of the St. Lawrence River. This was the very first book published at the first print shop in the province, Brown and Gilmore in Quebec City.

C.52.b.8. Jean Baptiste De La Brosse. Nehiro-iriniui aiamihe massinahigan. [Prayer-book and catechism, compiled for the use of the Montagnais tribe, on the northern shore of the St. Lawrence River] Quebec: Broun & Girmor, 1767.
C.52.b.8. Jean Baptiste De La Brosse. Nehiro-iriniui aiamihe massinahigan. [Prayer-book and catechism, compiled for the use of the Montagnais tribe, on the northern shore of the St. Lawrence River] Quebec: Broun & Girmor, 1767. © Copyright The British Library Board
Zoom in on this image


Maps K.Top.119.44-c.
James Peachey. A View of the Falls of Montmorenci, the perpendicular height of which is 240 feet above the level of the River. August 1765.
Maps K.Top.119.44-c. James Peachey. A View of the Falls of Montmorenci, the perpendicular height of which is 240 feet above the level of the River. August 1765. © Copyright The British Library Board
Zoom in on this image


Maps K.Top.119.39.d. James Peachey. A view of the city of Quebec the capital of Canada, taken from the ferry-house on the opposite side of the river. 3 October 1784.
Maps K.Top.119.39.d. James Peachey. A view of the city of Quebec the capital of Canada, taken from the ferry-house on the opposite side of the river. 3 October 1784. © Copyright The British Library Board
Zoom in on this image


Maps K.Top.119.30-a-3. Lieutenant Fisher.  A View of the Inside of the Recollect Friars Church [drawn on the spot by Richard Short]. From Six Views in North America. London, 1795, 1796.
Maps K.Top.119.30-a-3. Lieutenant Fisher. A View of the Inside of the Recollect Friars Church [drawn on the spot by Richard Short]. From Six Views in North America. London, 1795, 1796. © Copyright The British Library Board
Zoom in on this image


Maps K.Top.119.30.a.  Lieutenant Fisher.  View of Cape Diamond, Plains of Abraham, and Part of the Town of Quebec.  10 May 1795.
Maps K.Top.119.30.a. Lieutenant Fisher. View of Cape Diamond, Plains of Abraham, and Part of the Town of Quebec. 10 May 1795. © Copyright The British Library Board
Zoom in on this image


Maps K.Top.119.30.f.  Lieutenant Fisher. Fall of Montmorenci, 246 Perpendicular Feet. 1 February 1796.
Maps K.Top.119.30.f. Maps K.Top.119.30.f. Lieutenant Fisher. Fall of Montmorenci, 246 Perpendicular Feet. 1 Feb 1796. © Copyright The British Library Board
Zoom in on this image


792.l.3. George Heriot, Travels Through the Canadas. London, 1807.
792.l.3. George Heriot, Travels Through the Canadas. London, 1807. (Detail.) © Copyright The British Library Board
Zoom in on the full image

Images have been digitally enhanced

Introduction: Quebec 2008
Discovery of Canada and Quebec
La Nouvelle France 1608–1763
Siege of Quebec and Seven Years War 1756–63
Lower Canada
Tercentenary 1908
Early 1900s

 
 
Main
Intro: 2008
Themes
Discovery
Themes
La Nouvelle France
Themes
Siege and war
Themes
Lower Canada
Themes
Tercentenary
Themes
Early 1900s
Accessibility Terms of use
Copyright The British Library Board