Quebec City - Part II | July 2
A Special Gathering Aboard the Lois McClure in Quebec City
The theme for our 2008 northern journey is a regional perspective about "Our Shared Heritage Along the Waterways". Samuel de Champlain is perhaps the most obvious example of our share connections. On July 3rd, 1608 Champlain stepped ashore at what was to become Quebec City and changed the course of human events. One year later, in July 1609, Champlain and his native allies travel south to "a large lake filled with beautiful islands" and was so taken with the place that he "named the lake, Lake Champlain."
Quebec City viewed the 400th anniversary of Champlain arrival as an opportunity for a grand celebration and the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum's schooner Lois McClure was graciously invited to participate. On July 2nd, 2008, almost 400 years to the day, a delegation from Lake Champlain converged aboard the deck of the Lois McClure, which was docked on Quebec City's inner harbor, to exchange messages of goodwill, friendship and shared heritage.
Senator Patrick Leahy speaks aboard Lois McClure in Quebec City, July 2, 2008. Photo by Jean Belisle.
It was a proud moment for our region when US Senator Patrick and Marcelle Leahy, Vermont Governor Jim and Dorothy Douglas, Burlington Mayor Bob Kiss and Vergennes Mayor Mike Daniels, New York Quadricentennial Vice Chairperson Celine Paquette and US Counsel David Fetter spoke of the many ties that bind our regions together. Quebec City's 400th President Jean Leclerc, the Mayor of Quebec Regis Labeaune were joined by the Prime Minister of Quebec, Jean Charest, who reciprocated in expressions of welcome, cultural and economic connections and goodwill.
Prime Minister Jean Charest (left) joined the crew of Lois McClure in Quebec City. Photo by Jean Belisle.
It was an extraordinary experience to participate in such a wonderful event, and speaker after speaker added to the theme of our shared heritage along the region's interconnected lakes, rivers and canals, but it was Marcelle Leahy and Jean Charest who stole the show. Like so many other Vermont families, Marcelle Pomerleau Leahy's family migrated across the border from Quebec City and the surrounding countryside. Marcelle's remarks, delivered in French, were the embodiment of the message about our cultural connections. Prime Minister Charest knew Marcel's family and was wonderfully warm and entertaining in his remarks. While the Lois McClure was recognized by many speakers as the official flagship of our upcoming 2009 Quadricentennial celebration, Prime Minister Charest also recognized us as the flagship of Vermont's navy.
(right) Marcelle Leahy also spoke to the Quebec crowd, but in French, illustrating her family's Quebecois heritage. Photo by Jean Belisle.
Over the seven days we spent as guests of the Quebec 400th Society, the warmth, enthusiasm and affection with which we were received added to the impression that we are all connected along the regions lakes, rivers and canals. We spoke to a record number of visitors about the many layers of history which we hold in common and invited them to join us next year when we commemorate our own Champlain Quadricentennial.
The visit to Quebec has to be one of my career highlights. The gathering of dignitary's aboard the schooner, the warm reception and the incredible number of people who came aboard made for lasting memories. But for me, one of the great memories I will take with me was having the opportunity to walk this historic city and see the locations where Benedict Arnold was wounded and Richard Montgomery fell in the ill fated New Years Eve attack on Quebec in 1775. It reminded me in a very real way of the important history we share along these waterways.
Special Thanks To: