Monday, 23 May 2011

La Journée des Patriotes: Even The Gazette Says It's a Good Thing to Celebrate

Today is a holiday: in Quebec since 2002 it's been called la Journée des Patriotes, in honour of the band of rebels who took on the British regime in 1837-38. In the rest of Canada it's Victoria Day, since originally it was the day that the 19th century monarch's birthday was celebrated.

I have always thought that the Quebec name was most appropriate, particularly since both English and French speaking Quebeckers of the time took part in the rebellion which had on its agenda nothing short that democratization and social progress that wasn't achieved for more than a hundred years. And this morning that eminently Anglo voice, The Gazette, agrees in an editoral, "A holiday that all Quebecers can celebrate."

More than 10 years ago I published an historical biography of one of the patriots, Robert Nelson, called The Words on the Wall: Robert Nelson and the Rebellion of 1837, which is still available at various used bookstores and libraries, but seems to have disappeared from regular sources. It was much more warmly received in its French translation, Robert Nelson : le médecin rebelle, so it's particularly nice to see that my message may be finally getting through.

The picture was taken last year in Outremont. The flag was the one adopted by the Patriots and subsequently used by in the great wave of Quebec nationalism in the last part of the 20th century. BTW, there's a certain irony in the fact that Victoria ascended the throne in 1837.

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