The Wolfe and Montcalm monument

he Wolfe and Montcalm monument

Taken from A.J.B. Milborne, Freemasonry in the Province of Quebec, 1960, p. 62-63.

[Note: Louis Joseph, marquis de Montcalm de Saint-Véran and James Wolfe became famous in the battle of the Planes of Abraham, in Quebec City, on septembre 13, 1759. Wolfe, commander of the English troops, launched a surprise attack on general Montcalm, commander of the French troops. The French army faced them without waiting for reinforcements. In the courageous battle that ensued, Wolfe, although victorious, is killed, and Montcalm, mortally wounded, died the following day.]

The foundation stone of the Wolfe and Montcalm Monument, in the City of Quebec, was laid with masonic honours by the Provincial Grand Master, R.W. Bro. the Hon. Claude Dénéchau, assisted by Officers of the Provincial Grand Lodge, and the brethren of the Lodges in the City on Novembre 15th, 1827, in the presence of the Earl of Dalhousie, the Governor. The following is a contemporary account of the ceremony:-

Everything being now in readiness, His Excellency, Lord Dalhousie placed himself in front of the stone, and spoke as follows:

“Gentlement of the Committee, we are assembled upon an occasion most interesting to this Country – if possible more so to this City. We are met today to lay the foundation of a Column in honour of two illustrious men, whose deeds and whose fall have immortalized their own names, and placed Quebec in the rank of Cities famous in the history of the world. Before, however, we touch the first stone, let us implore the blessing of Almighty God upon our intended work.”

The prayer concluded, His Lordship thus addressed the Masonic Brethren:

“Right Worshipful Grand Master and Worshipful Brethren of the Grand Lodge. I crave your assistance in performing Masonic ceremonies and honours on this occasion.”

The Right Worshipful Grand Master, supported by the Right Worshipful Deputy Grand Master Oliva on his right, and Past Deputy Grand Master William Alexander Thompson on his left, with two Grand Deacons, took his station on the east side of the foundation. The Right Worshipful Grand Master and Right Worshipful the Grand Chaplains placed themselves on the opposite sides, then the corner stone was lowered and laid with the usual Masonic Ceremony, the Grand Master, supported as above described, advanced towards his Lordship, to give the Three Mystic Strokes on the Stone. During this part of the ceremony, the Right Worshipful Grand Master repeated the following short prayer: “May this Undertaking prosper, with the Blessing of Almighty God.”

The part of the ceremony which followed, derived its peculiar interest from the presence of Mr. James Thompson, one of the few survivors (supposed to be the only man in Canada) of that gallant army which served under Wolfe on the memorable 13th September 1759. This venerable Mason, in the 95th year of his age, walked with the Party which accompanied the Earl, and stood near His Lordship, leaning on the arm of Captain Young of the 79th Highlanders, the Officer whose pencil produced the chaste appropriate design which has been adopted for the Monument. His Lordship called upon the Patriarch to assist in the Ceremony in these words:

“Mr. Thompson, we honour you here as the companion in arms, and a venerable living witness of the fall of Wolfe: do us also the favour to bear witness on this occasion by the Mallet in your hand.”

Mr. Thompson, then, with a firm hand, gave the Three Mystic Strokes with the Mallet on the Stone. An appropriate prayer was then pronounced by the Reverend Dr. Harkness, the Provincial Grand Chaplain. Then Captain Melhuish, of the Royal Engineers, having deposited Gold, Silver and Coppers coins of the present Reign (George the Fourth) in a cavity prepared on the face of the Stone for their reception, the pieces were covered by a Brass Plate, bearing the following Inscription, which was riveted to the Stone:

This Foundation Stone
of a Monument in Memory of
the Illustrious Men
Wolfe and Montcalm
was laid by
George, Earl of Dalhousie
Governor in Chief over all the British Provinces in North America
A work neglected for many years
(What is there more worthy of a gallant General?)
He promoted by his influence, encouraged by his example, and favoured by his munificence
the 15th, Novembre 1827
George 4th reigning King of Great Britain

Military Virtue gave them a common death
History a common fame
Posterity a common monument.
[original Latin version]

The ceremony concluded by the Troops under the command of Colonel of the 66th Regiment firing a feu-de-joie, after which they presented arms, the Bands playing “God Save the King”.

James Thompson whose association with the Craft in Quebec has been traced from the first meeting in Quebec on Novembre 28th 1759, had then been a Mason for over seventy years. But the sands of time were fast running out, and he passed peacefully away on August 25th 1830 at the age of 97.

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