Travel Reference
In-Depth Information
rebellions in 1837-8, by the demeaning report of Lord Durham in 1839,
which characterized French Canadians as 'un peuple sans histoire et
sans littérature' (a people without history and without literature), and
by the institutionalized repression and assimilation implicit in the Act
of Union in 1840 . 17
Garneau singles out Cartier and Champlain as his country's most
important ancestors, but even in recounting their explorations, his vi-
sion of the landscape and the natives differs remarkably from theirs.
Consider, for a start, Garneau's overall description of Canada: 'Ces con-
trées si variées, si étendues, si riches en beautés naturelles, et qui por-
tent, pour nous servir des termes d'un auteur célèbre, l'empreinte du
grand et du sublime, étaient habitées par de nombreuses tribus nomades
qui vivaient de chasse et de pêche.' (195; These regions, which are so
varied, so extensive, so rich in natural beauties, and which, to use the
terms of a famous author, bear the imprint of grandeur and the sub-
lime, were inhabited by numerous nomadic tribes, who lived by hunt-
ing and fishing.) Unlike Cartier and Champlain, Garneau sees beauty
as a natural not cultural phenomenon ('beautés naturelles'), defined by
its variety and vastness ('si variées, si étendues') rather than its uni-
formity. Rather than bearing the 'imprint' of civilization, the country-
side has its own natural stamp of sublime grandeur ('l'empreinte du
grand et du sublime'), a term borrowed from a 'great author,' probably
Chateaubriand, but certainly characteristic of 'Edenic' not 'utopian' vi-
sion. 18 For Garneau, the most typical natives are those nomads ('tribus
nomades') who live from hunting and fishing, rather than those of fixed
domicile who cultivate the land, the focal point for Champlain.
As Garneau follows Cartier's exploratory voyage of 1535 up the Saint
Lawrence River, the historian's description nonetheless differs mark-
edly from that of his ancestor's, which was focused on uniformity and
utility. In his detailed table of contents, Garneau highlights the 'beautés
naturelles du pays' (93; the natural beauties of the land), and he subse-
quently describes the site of Quebec City (formerly Stadaconé) as fol-
lows: 'Cet endroit du Saint-Laurent est, à cause de ses points de vue,
l'un des sites les plus grandioses et les plus magnifiques de l'Amérique'
(98; This spot on the Saint Lawrence is, because of its viewing points,
one of the most grandiose and magnificent sites in North America).
Here the historian remains in the realm of visual aesthetics ('points de
vue') and sees beauty in terms of grandeur ('grandioses'), as reiterated
in a subsequent description of the same site: 'Mais à Québec la scène
change. Autant la nature est âpre et sauvage sur le bas du fleuve, autant
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