cndhistory

HISTORY MEME || 10 Moments || Funeral of George-Étienne Cartier

On May 20th, 1873, George-Étienne Cartier died in London, England of Bright’s Disease. Eleven days later, his body arrived at Montreal aboard the ship Druid. We have Lady Dufferin to thank for the chillingly beautiful image she left in her diary:

When we [she and her children] were at tea we heard some music—the “Dead March"—being played; and looking out, we saw, passing slowly in the darkness, the steamer with the body of Sir George Cartier on board; it was a stirring moment—the chapel on board lighted up, the band playing, and bells tolling at sea, answered by bells tolling on shore.

His state funeral was held Friday morning, June 13, at le Palais de Justice in Montreal. Cartier was placed in a 22-foot-high funeral car draped with heavy black cloth and embroidered with silver stars, the Cartier coat of arms, and had a large silver cross. The car was lead to the cathedral by eight black horses draped in cloth, and his family and closest friends walked as part of the procession. (John A. Macdonald, one of Cartier’s closest friends and political comrades, did not participate in the march, but did hold himself together long enough to attend the service.) During the funeral procession, the Grand Trunk Infantry and Montreal Field Battery resounded a volley, answered by the guns on St. Helen’s Island. They fired on the minute until the service, two hours later.

Seventy-five thousand people passed his casket as it lay beneath a black velvet dome inside the cathedral. Every window was draped in violet, giving the cathedral “an air of heavy solemnity.” The casket was surrounded by statues of crying and praying figures, arrangements of flowers and an imposing statue of a lion, which may have inspired John A.’s later tribute to his friend, when he called him repeatedly “bold as a lion.” During the service John A. sat red-eyed and distant: “He was in a very bad way—not at all himself—indeed quite prostrate.” There was also a statue of Cartier’s father (or grandfather) Jacques Cartier engraved with the words “Je revis dans mon descendant” [“I survive in my descendant.”]

The stone base upon which Cartier’s casket was set was marked with:

Homme sincere – A Sincere Man
Homme droit – An Upright Man
Homme firme – A Firm Man
Homme honnête – An Honest Man

Sir George Cartier, L’ami de son pays – The friend of his country

The funeral of George-Étienne Cartier was one of the biggest and most elaborate in Canada’s history.

On Wednesday I visited the Arts & Letters Club where the archivist Scott James was kind enough to not only give me free reign in the J.E.H. MacDonald fonds, but he also gave me a tour of the place afterwards! I think I was holding back squeals the whole time. The entire place is just infused with Jim MacDonald and his art and everything. When we walked into the dining/performance hall my heart skipped a beat as soon as I saw the tables, and they are the same fucking tables.

I took the bottom photo while I was there. Obviously the table looks longer because whoever took the legendary photo of 6/7ths of the Group was taller than me.

Really underrated book that was born of Daschuk’s doctoral dissertation. I’m working on a list of must-reads for John A.’s 2015 bicentennial that cover the good, the bad, the legislative, the personal, and this is 100 percent going to be on that list.

So, in 1865 Louis Riel wrote three letters to George-Etienne Cartier in verse praising him and telling him how much he admired him as a person and politician. AND THEN. In 1872 Riel ran in the federal election to represent Manitoba in the national assembly (which would have been crazy since that would have put him in the House of Commons with John A.) but stepped down because everyone realized what a bad idea it would be to have him in the House of Commons with John A.! The only reason Riel agreed to step down though was because George-Etienne was the one taking his place, and Riel thought George-Etienne would support the Metis cause, which he might have! George-Etienne was, after all, the only member of Parliament who meant to pass an amnesty for Riel for forming the Provisional Government. But George-Etienne died a few months after winning his seat in Manitoba. As a result, Riel was re-elected but John A. flat out refused to let Riel onto Parliament Hill.

So once again I’m totally amazed that nobody ever talks about how different things would have turned out if George-Etienne wouldn’t have died so early. And this whole secret bromance between Riel and George-Etienne is new to me, and sort of makes me extremely happy tbh.

And George-Etienne was responsible for drafting the Manitoba Act, which pretty much means that he had a meeting with Riel, Poitras, and Schmidt to sign off on it. akdggkagdgdkags

I’m pretty bad at translating, but here’s roughly what was up with my family and Louis Riel in 1885:

My dear brother-in-law,

Though the wife writes you often and relays my sentiments to you, I do enjoy writing you occasionally.

Although God has been testing us as of late, we must not stop praying to him; his paternal hand may at last be ready to douse us with his grace and consolation. And even if it seems everything is lost I do have confidence in you, and I am not discouraged. The family is well. Marguerite and the children are fine.

May God protect you and bless you, for that is at this time the most ardent wish from your family and your friends. I send my love.

Your brother-in-law,

Jean Marie Poitras

This was a little more than three months before Riel was hung. Oh god, my feels.

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These twenty seconds are like the best behind-the-scenes moment of all time. David’s face in the first gif when Julie walks in dressed as Luce. He’s like, “That’s my lady! Look at her!” So proud. And Julie just strolls in like she owns the place and everybody in it which she does, and then Shawn walks in and cozies up to his bff and is like, “She’s with George!” Like, make no mistake viewers, I love my wife. She ain’t mine.

THEY ALL DO THEIR ENTIRE CHARACTERS IN TWENTY SECONDS.

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Doing a worksheet (mini-essay) on Francis Anne Hopkins. I wanted to do Kenojuak Ashevak but someone else already signed up to write about her! But Hopkins always blows me away when I see her stuff in person, so I’m glad to be writing about her in any case.