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Globe and Mail Update
July 22, 2008 at 10:17 PM EDT
On July 3, 2008 I (along with Francois Enguehard, the author of this fine article) was one of many people who gathered in Quebec City to commemorate the founding of the great city by Samuel de Champlain. Glad as I was to have been invited to represent the roughly 300,000 Acadians of the four Atlantic provinces, I was saddened by the speeches I heard.
Listening to the dignitaries, you would be excused for thinking that Champlain sailed straight from France to Cap Diamant in the spring of 1608. Not a word was said of the four years he spent in the Bay of Fundy, in what is now Nova Scotia. There, in a large establishment called Port Royal with leader Pierre du Gua de Monts, writer Marc Lescarbot and their companions, Champlain wiled away the long winters by instituting l'Ordre du Bon Temps, the order of good cheer and good fellowship. Lavish feasts were prepared and plays performed the first in New France. Of all this colourful sojourn in the Bay of Fundy by the hero of the day, not a word.
This is not a matter of wanting to be first. In fact, long before Champlain 100 years before French fishermen had reached the shores of Newfoundland in pursuit of the cod fishery. Because of their stories of abundant fish, lush forests and probable riches, Jacques Cartier followed in 1534. That in turn convinced French King Henry IV to send du Gua de Monts to found Acadia. Champlain, who had already been to North America, signed on.
History is simply a succession of events, each propelling the next. History is not meant to be edited or altered to fit the occasion, whatever it may be. Some of the phrases used on July 3, such as This is where New France began, were identical, word for word, to those uttered in 2004 on the shores of the Bay of Fundy, where they were spoken by different people in similar political positions, celebrating the 400 anniversary of the founding of Acadia.
The people of Acadia and Québec are both true inheritors of Champlain's legacy, but each has evolved in a different way. Quebec has become the successful province we know, while the Acadians had to face deportation from 1755 to 1763. Thousands died and thousands more were scattered to different parts of the world, some as far away as the Falklands; many came back and settled wherever they could in Acadia, in Quebec, in Saint-Pierre and Miquelon. Others went back to France or settled in Louisiana. Today, every one of their descendants remains Acadian.
Scattered all over the Atlantic, the Acadians then transcended the deportation in a bold democratic experiment borne out of sheer necessity: they became a nation unto themselves, using that term deliberately and self-consciously. In the 1880s, they gathered in several National Conventions and chose a flag, a national anthem, a Société Nationale to represent them, but without government or frontiers. Today, as writer Antonine Maillet attests, Wherever you find an Acadian, there is l'Acadie. Ours is a nationhood of history rather than geography, of lineage rather than passport. It is a most interesting concept in a world that is tearing itself apart for land, frontiers and domination.
This too is Champlain's legacy to our country. Perhaps more than anyone else, he was the one short-changed on July 3.
Aug. 15 is the national day of the Acadians. This summer, on that very day, thousands of us will march in a great show of exuberance in the streets of Quebec City. We will reaffirm our place as Canada's other francophone people, as players in the shaping of New France. As we weave through the cobbled streets of old Quebec, we will make noise, lots of noise, performing a Grand Tintamarre a medieval tradition adopted by the Acadians after they returned from the deportation.
The noise is a symbol of their determination never to be silenced again as a people. Today, this resolve is as strong as ever.
Françoise Enguehard is president of the Société Nationale de l'Acadie
Québec City celebrates 400 years in 2008
Almost 400 years ago, a great moment in history was recorded. The day that Samuel de Champlain founded Kébec on the shores of the St. Lawrence River, he set a fabulous adventure into motion
Bienvenue au 400 ieme de Québec
On July 3, 1608, the curtain rose on the theatre of our destiny. From that day forward, a multitude of encounters, events and circumstances have shaped our heritage, our culture and our dreams; have helped define our identity and make Québec the city we know today.
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Down through the years, some 5 million men and women have trod the soil of Québec, every day or on occasion, at various stages of their lives. They are the history of Québec City, as are we. At one time or another, Québec City figured in the lives of each of these individuals. We are celebrating 400 years of encounters, 400 years of emotions, 400 years of life.
From pioneer to builder - Explorer to visionary - 400 years in a new world
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For thousands of years, Québec has been a natural meeting place for encounters great and small, historic and contemporary.
Encounters between Europe and North America, First Nations and settlers, France and England. The confluence of a mighty river and a chain of mountains, of fresh and salted waters, of Upper and Lower Town, of venerable old stones and modern glass walls. A rendez-vous for lovers charmed by the city with its hospitable residents and visitors from the world over.
Pont de Québec
This succession of encounters has left its mark on Québec City and on its landscape, architecture, culture, economy, population and lifestyle. Today we celebrate the founders choice to establish Québec City here where so many memorable meetings and encounters are made possible.
This is the essence of the programming for Québec City's 400th anniversary : sharing this historic and contemporary crossroads of memorable encounters with all comers.
Céline Dion will perform on the Plains of Abraham with several other artists on Friday August 22 in a free public concert.
Porte St-Louis; Grande Allée
Happy Birthday Quebec - July 3, 2008 Official Commemorations
Basilique de Québec Plains of Abraham Bassin Louise; July 3 is the anniversary of the founding of Québec City, and in 2008, marks the exact date of its fourth centenary. This is the high point of the 400th anniversary celebrations...
Promenade de Gouverneurs
To celebrate Québec City's 400th anniversary is also to celebrate our origins and to recognize the rich history that we all share in Canada.
Vieux-Port de Québec
All Canadians, friends and fellow citizens are invited to this fabulous celebration! Québec City's 400th anniversary will be an opportunity to express our collective pride in what we have accomplished and who we have become; an opportunity to come together, to strengthen our mutual ties and to bring all Canadians closer together.
This is our way of paying tribute to 400 years of history by welcoming the many different Canadian communities to Québec City and to include in our program Canada-wide activities and events that will commemorate this historic moment elsewhere in Canada.
A special tie with France
Our language, our culture and many of our names are a living testimonial to our French origins. Four hundred years later, we still maintain these special ties with the country of Samuel de Champlain and of the immigrants that followed him to New France to found Québec City.
France will play an active role in the festivities with a program of events taking place both in France and in Québec.
Petit Séminaire de Québec
The United Kingdom and Ireland
Many buildings, place names and streets remind us of the time when the British and Irish were a strong presence in Québec City, and of the significant contribution of the British Regime and of immigrants from England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland. Their history and their influence will be acknowledged on several occasions during the 400th anniversary celebrations.
The United States
Québec is closely linked with the United States, geographically, culturally, economically and historically. The Unites States, and especially New England, have become home to many immigrants from Québec. The Franco-American community has a stake in these historic commemorations for the 400th anniversary of Québec and plans to take this opportunity to promote its roots, its history and its culture.
Meeting the First Nations
The Huron-Wendat Nation has been named the First Nations' host for Québec City's 400th anniversary celebrations. They are in charge of ensuring significant participation of the First Nations in the 2008 festivities.
Remparts de Québec
Singer-composer Danny Boudreau, hailing from Petit-Rocher in New Brunswick and Louis Mathieu from St-Basile-Le Grand won the contest "Québec, je te chante" with the song So Many Tales. The contest was organized by Espace musique, in cooperation with the Société du 400e anniversaire de Québec.
The contest took place between April and June of 2007, and over 300 participants submitted their projects. A jury chose three songs as finalists among all the submissions, and the public voted for their favourite on Radio-Canadas Web site.
Danny Boudreau and Louis Mathieus So Many Tales becomes the official song for the 400th anniversary of Québec. Using "meetings" as a theme, the song pays homage to the city of Québec and its 400-year history, as well as its modernism and its openness.
This song will definitely be heard on many occasions all through 2008!
We invite you to learn the lyrics right away so that you may sing Québec along with us, as soon as the festivities open!
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