27 October 2021

Blue Plaque Special: Quebec City Edition

In the early days of the Dusty Bookcase – more than twelve years ago! –  I heaped praise upon London's blue plaques, singling out favourites affixed to the former homes of George Frideric Handel, Jimi Hendrix, and Canadian British Prime Minister Andrew Bonnar Law. "Despite all good intentions, and a great deal of effort, we have nothing that compares in this country," I wrote.

I was wrong.

As I discovered last week during a visit to my home and native province, plaques abound in Quebec City! Consider the above, which recognizes Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's 1942 stay at 25, avenue Sainte-Geneviève (below).

One night? Two?

Never mind, it's worthy of a plaque.

As in London, the plaques of Quebec are blue. I saw them on nearly every street in the old city. Here we have two plaques, both dedicated to literary figures – Félix-Antoine Savard (1896-1982) and Luc Lacourcière (1910-1989) – who at different times called 2, rue des Remparts home:

Below is a photo of 5, rue Hébert, once the residence of  Sir James MacPherson Le Moine (1825-1912). A lawyer and historian, Sir James is the author of Quebec Past and Present (1876) and, appropriately, Picturesque Quebec (1882).

(A mystery: The Répertoire du patrimoine culturel du Québec website lists the plaque as being located at 1½, rue Hébert when in fact it is at number five. Installed in 2001, it would appear to have been moved one address over at some point after 2006. Waymarking.com has a photograph of the plaque in its former location.)

My favourite plaque bleu is found at 34, rue St-Louis, which served as residence of Philippe-Joseph Aubert de Gaspé (1786-1871) between the years 1816 and 1822. Built in 1675, one of the oldest standing houses in old Quebec, it's now home to the restaurant Aux Anciens Canadiens.

You can't see the blue plaque in this photo, but it's there.

Sadly, the pleasure derived in seeing Quebec's blue plaques was tempered by the knowledge that Montreal has no similar programme.

Why not?

I speculated as to the reason in that twelve-year-old post... and have not changed my thought on the matter.

My last day in the province found me walking through Montreal's Notre-Dame-de-Grâce. I passed 6879 Monkland Avenue. It once belonged to Irving Layton. The poet owned and lived in the house for more than four decades.

There is no plaque of any kind.

O Montreal!

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