Travel Reference
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elle est ici variée et pittoresque, sans cesser de conserver un caractère de
grandeur.' (98; But at Quebec the scene changes. As much as nature is
harsh and wild on the bottom part of the river, here it is that much var-
ied and picturesque.) Once again beauty ('pittoresque') is linked to vast
space ('grandeur'), not limited place, and to variety ('variée'), not uni-
formity. 19 Garneau goes on to quote his friend, the British economist,
John McGregor, author of British America , 20 whom he deems among the
best writers to describe 'l'Amérique brittanique,' and who does so here
from the perspective of a spectator going upriver: 'Alors Québec et les
beautés sublimes qui l'environnent lui apparaissent tout à coup. Le
grand et vaste tableau, qui s'offre à ses regards frappe d'une manière si
irrésistible qu'il est rare que ceux qui l'ont vu une fois oublient la
majesté de cette scène et l'impression qu'ils en ont recue.' (99; Then
Quebec and the sublime beauties that surround it suddenly appear to
him. The grand and vast painting, which offers itself to his eyes, is so
strikingly irresistible that rarely do those who have once seen it forget
the majesty of this scene and the impression they received from it.) Again
the scene is described in visual terms ('ses regards,' 'vu,' 'l'impression,'
'scène') that cast artistic beauty in painterly terms as an aesthetic phe-
nomenon, linked to grandeur ('le grand et vaste tableau') and based
more on imagination than on practicality.
Similarly, as Garneau follows Cartier to Montreal (Hochelaga), the
historian recognizes the explorer's obvious concern with agriculture -
'le pays lui parut propre à la culture' (101; the land appeared fit for
cultivation to him) - but as Garneau describes Cartier's view from
Mount Royal, which we quoted earlier, he dwells on the very vastness
that Cartier had sought to limit: 'Du sommet, il découvrit un vaste pays
s'étendant de tous côtés jusqu'où l'œil pouvait atteindre, excepté vers
le nord-ouest où l'horizon est borné dans le lointain par des montagnes
bleuâtres. Vers le centre de ce tableau que traverse le Saint-Laurent,
“grand, large, et spacieux,” s'élèvent quelques pics isolés.' (101; From
the summit, he discovered a vast expanse of land stretching out on all
sides as far as the eye could reach, except to the northwest where the far
horizon is closed by bluish mountains. Towards the centre of this paint-
ing, crossed by the Saint Lawrence, 'large, wide, and spacious,' arise
several isolated peaks.) Given Garneau's visual orientation ('l'œil'),
with an unprecedented suggestion of colour ('montagnes bleuâtres')
and a distinct tendency toward vastness ('vaste'), and his designation
of the scene as a painting with centred composition ('le centre de ce
tableau'), it is significant that his single quote from Cartier emphasizes
 
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