Quebec: A Cool City and a Monument to Winners and Losers
The old city of Quebec, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is beautiful, the only city in North America surrounded by walls. There is much we loved about our weekend there. The quirks of history, like the fact that they never found a picture, in Quebec or France, of what their founder Samuel de Champlain looked like, so the face on the very large statue of him is entirely made up. (He looks good!) The fact that soldiers fighting the wars in the 1700's were required to have two teeth, one on top of the other, in order to tear open the gunpowder packets. The house of the exiled Duke of Kent, Queen Victoria's father, who before marrying Victoria's Mom lived in Quebec with his mistress and their children. The side by side gardens throughout the city, one in the well-mannered French style with trimmed shrubbery and one in the colorful and less tame English manner. The tromp-d'oeil mural on the Place-Royale, created by over a dozen artists, celebrating Quebec's heroes and history.
The Macaroons from Paillard and Poutine, french fries and cheese curds topped with gravy that tastes far better than it sounds. For a small offering, tiny balls of bread baked by nuns called Petits Pains de Sainte Genevieve, two in a small cellophane package, not to eat but to bring you and someone you love love and happiness. Our guide carries with her still the small bread she received as a child as well as one of her Mom, who recently passed. Not sure what makes it last forever; guess it's a secret.
And then there is this. A monument in a beautiful square celebrating both the winning English General Wolfe and the losing French General Montcalm, both of whom were mortally wounded in the battle on the Plains of Abraham in 1759 which ultimately led to the French ceding the territory. The inscription on the obelisk, unveiled in 1828, translated says: "Their courage gave them a common death, history a common fame, posterity a common memorial." But it's in Latin. Why? Because when they couldn't decide whether it should be in French or English, they compromised.
Compromise. A word derived from the Latin com--together--and promittere--promise. Could our elected representatives learn something from this monument?