The City of Sillery Celebrates 375 Years of History

The City of Sillery Celebrates 375 Years of History

Article and photos by Job Patstone

The city of Sillery celebrated its 375th birthday on Sunday, Aug. 19th, with attractions for the whole family going on in front of the library, the fire station, and part of the municipal parking lot.

It was back in 1637 that a French diplomat ( Noël Brunet de Sillery) bought a parcel of land along the St. Lawrence River which would develop into the City of Sillery as we know it today. The land was donated to the Jesuits in 1638 in order to set up a settlement for the local native population and install some missionary priests who would serve as teachers and religious leaders in the area. At the time, it was a heavily wooded area where eventually the numerous trees would be cut down and used to build ships which would be used by the British as trading vessels around the world. People such as James Pattison Cockburn who in 1833 started a ship-building company at the bottom of the hill in a bay called Wolfe’s cove, and others such as Henry Atkinson, a British businessman who shipped some of the wood to England for building purposes. The area became known as Spencer’s Wood and an Englishman named James Bell Forsyth built a cottage close by, which would eventually be designated as the Governor General’s residence for Lower Canada.
Today the residence is a magnificent tourist attraction known as “Cataraqui”, a ‘must see’ when visiting the area. Situated not far away is a park called “Bois de Coulonge”, (formerly Spencer’s Wood) another highlight of Sillery, and is frequented by tourists and citizens alike who enjoy the walking paths, views and wildlife activities that change with the seasons, making the park an ever changing year round attraction.

The City of Sillery has since been amalgamated by the City of Quebec causing it to lose its specific identity, but the history and heritage of the area live on through the many landmarks and historical buildings situated within its boundaries. One of those landmarks is Maguire Street, where the August 19th celebrations took place; a popular location with its numerous restaurants and bistros. “La rue Maguire” was named after Curé Alexandre Eustache Maguire, who had the road built to travel between the St. Michel church and the nearest cemetery; the church itself is another one of Sillery’s most popular attractions, standing majestically over the St. Lawrence River for all the sailors to see when navigating the area. Ironically enough, the British also built a church close by and named it St. Michael’s. Both churches still function today and hold regular services every Sunday.

The celebrations, titled “Sillery en Fète,” included some historical exhibits, some period costumes, plus a huge “corn roast” using locally grown corn run by volunteers from “La Maison des Jeunes de Sillery. But mostly, it was a day for families and children to get out and enjoy the festivities with clowns, make-up booths, and street performers; and to make things even better the weather was ideal with lots of sunshine and warm temperatures. The organizer, Vincent Cliche was very happy with the results.

Categories: News, Opinion

About Author

Job Patstone

Job Patstone was born in Hamilton, ON. and has lived in Montreal, Calgary, Edmonton and Red Deer AB. He is presently living in Quebec City, with his wife. He worked for Xerox for 26 years and was an ESL teacher for another ten.

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