NO LÉVESQUE WITHOUT DORCHESTER: NO ‘SURVIVANCE’ WITHOUT CONTINUITY OF HISTORY.
The ‘Moulin à Parole’, to commemorate the two hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the Battle of the Plains of Abraham, went off without a hitch, relatively-speaking, in September 2009 in Québec city. The main theme seems to have been all about ‘la Survivance’, or survival of the French fact in Québec in the wake of the Conquest.
Most of the negative impacts of this struggle would still appear to be being heaped on the shoulders of the British. But wait!!! If it weren’t for a certain man by the name of Lord Dorchester, René Lévesque’s PQ government would’ve never even had a French language to save! Let me explain.
Lord Dorchester was one our first British governors after the Conquest. But he wasn’t even English, but an Irish Protestant, part of the so-called Irish Ascendency, a small elite group of Irish Protestant land-owners in Ireland who were allied with the British.
Dorchester had witnessed first-hand the mistakes that the British had committed in their attempts to assimilate the Irish, by wiping out their language and culture. He vowed he would not commit the same errors upon his arrival in Canada, in his dealings with the French-Canadians.
Shrewdly anticipating the American Revolution, and subsequent invasion of Canada by the Continental army, he passed the Québec Act in 1774 through the Westminster Parliament, (when most MPs had already gone on vacation, by the way), thereby protecting the French language, culture, Civil Law, and Roman Catholic religion.
One can only wonder what might have happened if said rights had not been protected, and the Continental Army had not been stopped dead in its tracks in a blinding snow storm on New Years eve, 1775, at rue de la Barricade, in Québec city, by an alliance of British and French-Canadian soldiers?
I daresay René Lévesque would never had had anything to stand up for to protect in the first place, the beautiful language of Molière, as it is spoken in such a particularly colourful way in our province, would have been swallowed up into the Great Republic to the south.
I therefore find it quite appropriate, that Lord Dorchester’s name should be honoured in the public domain in Montréal and along with René Lévesque. For one would have never been able to accomplish what he did for Québec, without the other.
Come to think of it, we still have a Dorchester street here in Québec city!!! (Not to mention a rue de la Couronne, du Roi, and de la Reine!!! How do you like them apples!!!)
Next time somebody starts up a ‘Moulin’ and starts blowing out words about this and that, maybe we should stop and remember a certain ‘ascendant’ Irishman who rose above the imperatives of imperialist cultural monolithism, and gave us something to be proud of.
I think that chain-smoking guy ‘ti poil’ from New Carlisle would agree with me, eh?