To the Sound of the Knell

Under the French Regime, hours were still rung. The sound of the bell still told the time of the day. In that day and age, time was heard more than seen, since clocks, few and far between in the colony, were a luxury. The church bell chimed the daily life of inhabitants and was the visible and audible symbol of the community. The bells tolled for assembly meetings, attempted to ward off hail in stormy weather, called on the inhabitants to fight various dangers and announced the ceremonies of baptisms, marriages and funerals. By sounding the morning, midday and evening angelus, the church bells imposed a rhythm on the community.


Tenant une custode, un vieux prêtre traverse un champ rocailleux pour aller offrir la communion à un mourant. En sa compagnie, un jeune servant de messe tient une lanterne et annonce leur arrivée à l'aide d'une clochette. / Holding a pyx, an old priest crosses a rocky field to give Communion to a dying man. Accompanying him, a young server holds a lantern and announces their arrival with a small bell.

Eucharistie, Viatique à la campagne, undated

Musée de la civilisation, 90-672-328




Par un temps froid et venteux, un prêtre, deux servants de messe et cinq accompagnateurs marchent sur la neige afin d'apporter la dernière communion à un mourant. / On a cold windy day, a priest, two servers and five escorts make their way across the snow to bring the last Communion to a dying man.

Eucharistie, Viatique en Bourgogne, undated

Musée de la civilisation, 90-672-329




Vêtues de blanc et agenouillées devant le prêtre, de jeunes filles reçoivent la première communion. / Dressed in white and kneeling in front of the priest, young girls are receiving their first communion.

Eucharistie, premières communiantes, undated

Blanchard
Musée de la civilisation, 90-672-330

Capsule on First Communion

In New France, young people learned fundamental values at home and at school, whereas they learned catechism and prayers under the direction of the parish priests. From the age of ten, children received religious education over a period of one week to two months. The First Communion completed this instruction, with a symbolic value that was very important not only on the spiritual level, but also on the social level. Besides being an occasion for youngsters to receive the Body of Christ, the First Communion was their rite of passage from childhood to adolescence, which gave them the opportunity to become involved in family decisions and in the education of their younger brothers and sisters.

Source: Francine Leboeuf, Échos d'antan. Montréal, Éditons Paulines, 1991




Célébration eucharistique dans une église paroissiale richement décorée. Le prêtre et ses servants de messe sont à l'autel, dos au public. / Celebrating the Eucharistic in a richly decorated parish church, a priest and his servers stand at the altar, with their backs to the congregation.

Interior of Parish Church, undated

in H. A. Ogden, Picturesque Canada, v.1, 1882
Musée de la civilisation, Séminaire de Québec Library, 291.7.22




Autour d'une table bien garnie de victuailles, un groupe de bourgeois lèvent leur verre après qu'un des leurs ait porté un toast. / Sitting at a table laden with victuals, a group of gentlemen raise their glasses to a toast proposed by one of them.

Le repas festif, undated

in Henri-Raymond Casgrain, Guerre du Canada, 1756-1760. Montcalm et Lévis, 1899
Musée de la civilisation, Séminaire de Québec Library, 297.7.21




Un prêtre baptise un enfant pendant que le parrain et la marraine lui imposent leurs mains. / A priest baptizes an infant while the godfather and godmother lay their hands on their godchild.

Sources de vie, 1944

Rolland Boulanger
in Albert Tessier, La Femme dans l'histoire du Canada, 1944
Musée de la civilisation, Séminaire de Québec Library, 365.7




Un curé célèbre le mariage de deux époux à l'intérieur d'une église. Quelques invités assistent à la cérémonie. / A parish priest celebrates the wedding of a couple inside a church. A few guests are in attendance.

Le mariage de Lucien, undated

in Paul Saunière, Monseigneur, undated
Musée de la civilisation, Séminaire de Québec Library, 429.6

Marriage

In New France, marriage and births were considered to be extremely important, and the law tended to favour them by granting privileges. According to colonial legislation, it was readily accepted that a fourteen-year-old girl married a sixteen-year-old boy. And that was for a good reason: young and healthy, the couple's fertility would more likely last longer, which meant an increase in the population of the colony. Favours were thus granted to fathers who accepted to marry off their young adolescents, and presents from the king were given to families of ten or more children. On the other hand, men who refused to get married received penalties such as being banned from hunting and participating in the fur trade.




Dans la chambre à coucher, une mère de famille souriante endort son nouveau-né au berceau pendant que ses deux autres enfants caressent un chien. / In the bedroom, a smiling mother rocks her newborn to sleep while her two other children pet a dog.

Famille heureuse, undated

Léo Caillé
in Le Monde illustré, 1903
Musée de la civilisation, Séminaire de Québec Library, 537.6




Sous la direction d'un maître d'oeuvre, un groupe d'hommes s'affèrent à hisser une cloche à l'aide de câbles. / Following a foreman's directions, a group of men are busy hoisting up a bell with cables.

The Toning of the Bell, undated

in Canadian llustrated News, 1882.
Musée de la civilisation, Séminaire de Québec Library, 544.4

Church Bells

Whether they ring out sadness, hope or happiness, church bells summon the congregation to pray and to experience current events. Never silent, they fulfil their religious and social mission and bring the news to anyone within earshot. As the voice of the Church, they announce the beginning of the day, ring the midday Angelus, call for prayer and tell the faithful when to thank the Creator for the good deeds of the day. As the voice of the community, they warn of danger, bring back memories, invite the faithful to celebrate and comfort everyone with the reminder that Christian salvation cannot be found on Earth, but rather in Heaven.




Pendant qu'un curé et ses servants de messe allument un feu de joie, les paroissiens assistent avec intérêt à l'événement. / Parishioners look on with interest as a parish priest and his servers light a bonfire.

Les Feux de la Saint-Jean, undated

in Le Monde illustré, 1900
Musée de la civilisation, Séminaire de Québec Library, 555.5




Sur une route de campagne, deux hommes veillent au transport de deux cercueils placés dans une charrette tirée par deux boeufs. Un cueilleur s'informe auprès d'eux. / On a country road, two men supervise the transportation of two coffins in a cart pulled by two oxen. A fruit-picker asks them questions.

Le transport des corps de MM. Sivel et Crocé-Spinelli à la station de Chabenet, undated

C. Mayrand
in L'Opinion publique, 1875
Musée de la civilisation, Séminaire de Québec Library, 660.4.7




Assise sur une chaise de bois, devant un autel improvisé, une femme prie au côté d'un cercueil. / Sitting on a wooden chair in front of an improvised altar, a woman prays beside a coffin.

Une mère désolée, undated

in L'Opinion publique, 1975
Musée de la civilisation, Séminaire de Québec Library, 660.4.7




Attablés, une grand-mère, sa fille et son petit-fils prient avant d'entamer le repas. / Sitting at a table, a grandmother, her daughter and a grandson say grace before a meal.

Le Bénédicité, undated

in L'Opinion publique, 1876
Musée de la civilisation, Séminaire de Québec Library, 660.4.8




Vêtues de leur habit de première communiante, un groupe de jeunes filles déambulent près d'un port en récitant des prières. Le vent marin anime leur voile... / In their First Communion dresses, a group of young girls stroll near a port while reciting prayers. Their veils float in the sea breeze...

Une première communion à Dieppe, undated

Roberts
in L'Opinion publique, 1879
Musée de la civilisation, Séminaire de Québec Library, 660.4.11




Agrippés à des cordes, deux hommes sonnent les cloches d'une église. / Gripping sturdy ropes, two men ring the church bells.

Les sonneurs de cloches à la Giralda, undated

in L'Illustration, 1899
Musée de la civilisation, Séminaire de Québec Library, 692.1.3




Au pied d'un berceau en bois où dort un jeune enfant, un chat fait le guet. / A cat sits watchfully by a young child sleeping in a wooden cradle.

Le Ber, undated

Horatio Walker
in Pierre-Georges Roy, L'Île d'Orléans, 1928
Musée de la civilisation, Séminaire de Québec Library, 708.3




Vue panoramique du quartier Saint-Roch, à Québec. Des ruines en flamme illuminent la nuit. / Panoramic view of the Saint-Roch neighbourhood, in Quebec City, with blazing ruins lighting up the night.

Incendie du quartier Saint-Roch vu de la Côte-à-Coton vers l'Ouest, 1845

Joseph Légaré
Musée de la civilisation, Séminaire de Québec Collection, 1991.168




De forme rectangulaire et surmontée d'une croix, la boîte aux saintes huiles est barrée par un loquet retenu par une chaîne. / A rectangular box for Holy Oils is topped by a cross and locked with a latch held by a chain.

Boîte aux saintes huiles, 1716

Guillaume Loir
Musée de la civilisation, Séminaire de Québec Collection, 1991.1001.1




Au travers des herbes sauvages, un petit cimetière paroissial se dresse à l'arrière d'une chapelle. / Seen through wild grass, a small parish cemetery lies behind a chapel.

Petit cimetière à Sillery, 1920

Simone Hudon
Musée de la civilisation, Séminaire de Québec Collection, 1993.24486




Devant l'antre d'un foyer, un conteur raconte une histoire aux membres de sa famille qui l'écoutent avec intérêt et étonnement. / In front of a fireplace, a storyteller spins a tale to members of his family, who hang on his every word.

Le conteur de contes, undated

in L'Opinion publique, 1871
Musée de la civilisation, Séminaire de Québec Collection, 1993.25327.1




Un curé surprend une famille attablée devant un repas de viande lors du carême. Le chef de famille ne semble pas s'en faire outre mesure. / During Lent, a parish priest surprises a family about to eat meat. The head of the family does not seem to be much bothered by it.

Le Carême brisé, 1848

Cornélius Krieghoff
Private Collection

Observing Lent in Île d'Orléans

"In the beginning of the French Colony in Canada, observance of Lent was very strict.

During Lent in 1670, Louis Gaboury, a farm worker of the Lirec fief, on île d'Orléans, had eaten meat without asking permission from the Church. He was denounced to the provost judge of Lirec by Étienne Beaufils, one of his neighbours.

Gaboury was tried and found guilty. On October 26, 1670, the provost judge sentenced him to be tied to the public post for three hours, then brought to the doorsteps of the île d'Orléans chapel, where, on his knees, with his hands tied and bare-headed, he had to ask forgiveness from God, the King and Justice. He also had to pay a fine of twenty pounds applicable to the charities of his parish, and then give to his denouncer one cow and a sum equal to one year's earnings."

Pierre-Georges Roy, L'Île d'Orléans. Québec, Historic Monuments Commission of the Province of Quebec, 1928.




Assis à sa table, le seigneur reçoit les redevances de ses censitaires pendant qu'un secrétaire tient à jour le registre. / Sitting at a table, a seigneur receives dues from his censitaires, while a secretary keeps records of these transactions.

Seigneurial Dues, undated

C.W. Jefferys
in Morden H. Long, A History of the Canadian People, 1942
Musée de la civilisation, Séminaire de Québec Library, M-142

Saint Michael's Day

"According to an old French custom, Saint Michael's Day was dedicated to business transactions. When our ancestors, who lived in the Saint-Lawrence valley, would sign contracts or deeds, they maintained the date of September 29 as the deadline for the reimbursement of debts or payments of interest. According to tradition, all other accounting was carried out on Saint Michael's Day.

Thus, the seigneur would wait for that day to find out the flour mill's profitability. The miller would go to the manor to hand in his business statement and present the complete bill for the operation of the mill. The administrators of the large seigneuries, which were often managed by religious communities, attached great importance to that day. It was then that the performance of each miller was analysed, and the seigneur did not hesitate to inform the miller, because it was believed that such comparisons would cause the best performances to be emulated."

Francine Leboeuf, Échos d'antan, Éditions Paulines, 1991.