Written by Bernie Monaghan in the 1980s. 

From General Education to Education of Generals.

By Padre R. A. B. Maclean, writing in L’Emerillon, May 19th 1982. 

Anniversaries and local genealogical connections of my own family have driven me to search out the past of Valcartier. My wife had an uncle who trained at Valcartier in 1914 and was part of the Canadian Expeditionary Force (C. E. F. ) of 33,000 who marched from Camp Valcartier to Quebec City to board one of the thirty transport ships in October of that year who sailed off to World War 1. My own uncle was a rifleman in the Royal Rifles of Canada. Following overseas duty in Botwood area of Newfoundland, the R. R. of C. re­turned to Valcartier. On July 27th they had a Church parade with H/Lt-Col (Ret’d) F. G. Scott of St. Matthew’s Anglican church conducting worship. They later embarked for Hong Kong, where they capitulated Christmas Day, 1941.

H/Capt James Barnett, Protestant Chaplain was among the prisoners. He presently lives in Ottawa, having remained in the Chaplainry following W. W. 11. My uncle died of diphtheria in 1942.

Two volumes, printed locally, I have found that touch on much of the history of the Camp area. They are:

A history of Camp Valcartier, P. Q. l647-1957 by (H. M. Cathcart) Colonel Commander Camp Valcartier 1957.

A history of Christ Church, Valcartier 1844-1945. A Short History by Rev. Marklem Brett, Walter Hicks and John Robinson. The last two were wardens of Christ Church in 1945.

Another amateur historian I have run into is Mrs. Kay Crawford who married a Valcartian. She has done a lot of research in relation to the settlement of Valcartier. (The Seigniory of St. Gabriel de Valcartier) which seems to have commenced in 1816 following Waterloo and the War of 1812. She has some interesting data and I will quote her article in full with her permission.

We must remember that Samuel de Champlain chose a cliff on the St. Lawrence 3 July 1608 on which to build a tiny settlement which is now Quebec City. Then in 1647 King Louis X1V, of France conceded to a Dr. Robert Gifford the Seigniory of St. Gabriel de Valcartier on 16 April, a piece of land approximately six by twenty miles. 2 November, 1667 he gave it to the Jesuit Religious Order as he returned to France.

Adjutant Alexander Wolff of the 60th Regiment of Foot (later King’s Royal Rifle Corps, 1830), after whom the Primary School is named, settled in Valcartier as did many who had served with him in Egypt under General Abercrombie and also in the Peninsular wars. He was wounded in five separate battles, and held the largest number of campaign clasps to the War medal of any officer of the British Army of that period.

Now let us hear Mrs. Crawford on these other ” Old Soldiers”.



“If you know what I mean. As some of the readers of the “Chronicle” may know I have been digging around in Valcartier history for some time and about a year ago, I published a couple of articles which were intended to solicit the help of Valcartier residents and any others with information to assist me in uncovering something about the people and the past of this interesting community. This has taken on a new urgency of late as more people are inquiring for information about Valcartier. I have received requests for information from descendants of the original settlers who are doing their family genealogy, from their churches who are celebrating anniversaries, from Laval History and Architecture students who are doing research, and from ordinary people, who to quote the popular American Historian and Author, Barbara W. Tuchman, have turned toward the”literature of actuality”.  Mrs. Tuchman claims this trend offers golden opportunities for the historian. 

She also points out that the research is the truly interesting part of the history and writing up the material gathered is the drudgery. She might have also pointed out that a person has to have a lifetime to build a background so that they understand the significance of what one has researched. There are compensations, of course, or else local historians would cease to exist. First of all there is the “Knowing”, just satisfying a lively, natural curiosity, and getting some of the answers to what made us and our community as it is today. Then there is the service to be rendered to people and community, groups we hold dear, and lastly the fun of sharing it with people who are really interested.

Genealogy is said to be the second most popular and one of the fastest growing hobbies in the United States. Strange to say this hobby which requires patience, scholarly skills and a willingness to listen to what the past has to say to us. It is fascinating for many youngsters today. Some of this interest is stimulated by the “rootless” way some people tend to live today. A generation or so ago we listened to elderly people and so we heard what we wanted to know second hand. We lived in the place in which we were born and so we remembered the changes as they cameabout. We read more purely local literature and we established the social status of people in our community by their genealogy . Today we hardly know where our neighbors were born. 

Having pled the case for the local amateur historian and given you some reasons why I wish that OLD SOLDIERS DID NOT IN FACT DIE AND COULD STAND TO BE COUNTED or better still stand to recount some stories, I am asking the readers of this article, again to help us gather the history of Valcartier.  To help you remember, and to inspire you to bring out the old land deeds, notarial deeds, letters, military papers, newspaper clippings, maps – – indeed any thing that will tell us about the past. I will tell you now something about –

THE OLD SOLDIERS who lived and were the leaders in “old Valcarty”.

Don’t laugh at “Valcarty”. It was an attempt to pronounce what to its settlers was a foreign name, as foreign as the North American Indian names were to the first Europeans who cane to North America. We must not forget that these men not only came to Canada because they were hungry or sent” but because they were the brighter spirits in their society who wanted more to eat, better work, and better remuneration for their work, a chance to rise in a very stratified society where a man had to know his place. They wanted to see interesting places, travel, fight, trade, own their own land and they had the guts to skimp for their passage or risk their lives in battle or take passage on what came to be called “floating coffins”” to get their chance.

Many came from literate, refined people, but were landless in an economy still based on land ownership. Many were craftsmen who wanted to break out guild and apprentice system. They wanted in order of importance, a family, food, land, education, freedom of worship and political freedom. They have been accused of grabbing for money, status and power. This is unjustified since they seldom acquired these things except after years of work or government service.

Many of the veterans who settled  VALCARTIER had served the British Crown under what we would call impossible conditions for most of their adult lives before they were granted a valuable “location ticket” to settle on a piece of stony or marshy land which they were under pressure to clear and cultivate in a limited period of time or find themselves landless and starving. Many had served in the tropics where malaria was common or had been wounded. These disabilities left them ill fitted for the rough life they had to face. Some gave up in discouragement and so land changed hands often and only the tough, the fortunate and the hardworking survived.

We should remember that the Seigniory of St. Gabriel de Valcartier was not chosen because it was choice land. It was chosen because it was a large tract of land which had not been settled by the French Canadians. It is true that it was in the proximity of Quebec City. I do not believe that even powerful as the Jesuit Order was when the martyred members of their order comparatively well known, through the Jesuit Relations, were they able to obtain what was considered choice land for the remnants of the conquered Huron Nation. The Sillery mission, while it was instrumental in some measure in bringing some of the tribesmen under European influence did not succeed as a model farm community. The Hurons still followed the nomadic ways of their forefathers and were hunters rather than farmers. When they left Sillery they gathered at Ste. Foy for a while, then at Ancienne-Lorette before they finally settled at their present location at the Huron Village in Loretteville. They were a broken and depleted nation through circumstances beyond their control. They had been persuaded to become involved on the French side of the French. . . English Indian Wars when the colonial governors, lacking regular troops from their native lands had used the native Indian to fight their war for the possession of the North American continent. Would the attacks of the Iroquois have been so fierce and so devastating if the Indians had not been armed and abetted by the Europeans?  It is doubtful. Would the Aborigines have been exposed to diseases and alcoholism without the European influence?  Many Indians see their tribes as the victims rather than the Europeans. They also claim that Indian reserves were never on desirable land which could be easily farmed by Europeans at the time it was reserved for Indians. While we are examining this issue we must consider that there was no Marshal Plan for defeated nations in Colonial and Indian times. The spoils of war went to the conqueror as “his right” and both winner and loser expected and accepted this. Following 1759, much of the best land automatically passed into British hands because  French land-owners had no desire to remain under the British Crown and their lands were picked up by British army officers and government officials for a song. The desirable and fertile lands in Sillery and Ste. Foy which had passed from the Indians to French settlers under the Jesuits during the French regime, were among the first to be taken over. The remainder were sort of frozen and it was not until the Assembly of Lower Canada, which was a representative body, devised a scheme to use the revenues from the Jesuit Estate which the crown held for “general education”, that the inhabited area in the Seigniory of St. Gabriel was opened for settlement. The leaders in this project were John Neilson, Andrew Stuart, Louis Moquin and Nicholas Vincent of the Huron Tribe. Other commissioners were appointed by the Governor and included his secretary who presumable could report directly to the governor. Among the most desirable settlers were old soldiers who had experience as farmers before their army career. Their loyalty was unquestioned and their background was known through their service records, so their applications received favorable consideration. The Hurons were considered a dying nation in those days and it is true that Indian Lorette had a small population. Nevertheless, the land had been held by the Jesuits in trust for the Indians and it was the “Huron grounds” in the Seigniory which were settled after 1816.

Some of the army men who were granted lands were :  

JOHN BOYD who served 23 years in the forces and who first presented his petition March 10, 1817 and who acquired lots 17 and 27 in Concession 2. 

WILLIAM BOYD who was a Master Amoured of the Ordinance Board Department at Quebec, and who had served five years in the British Navy, 14 in the ordinance Department, a total of 19 years service. He first petitioned for land on March 12,1817. A note of his petition states that he should receive 2 lots (3 X 30 arpents) 180 acres. Apparently he also acquired lot 6 Concession 5 before Notary Campbell, August 2, 1826. 

CURTIS BILLINGS. According to tradition was an old soldier. His grant request states he was a sergeant in the “19th Light Dragoons. ” He obtained Lot 19 in Second Range on River aux Pins and lot 28 for his brother. 

ALEXANDER BADENOCK. He was issuer in H. M. Fuel Yard, Quebec when he pe­titioned for land on July 16, 1821. He was conceded Lot 11, Rage 2 in Rivi­ere aux Pins November 25, 1823. This lot Badenock sold to David Neil according to deeds made out before Notary Campbell in November 1823. 

THOMAS BURNS. Who was a late soldier of the 4th Royal Veterans Battalion with 23 years of service is noted on a Jesuit Estates Commissioners list as eligible to receive two lots (180 acres). His first petition was made March 27, 1817. 

DONALD CAMPBELL. Who was a soldier with the Canadian Fensibles was the Commissioners’ List to receive two lots (3 X3O). No date given. 

GEORGE CARTWRIGHT. “Late Sergeant, 4th Royal Veterans” and had served I3 years petitioned for land on March 10, 1817 and the Commissioners List notes that he was to receive two lots (180) acres. 

PAUL COOK.  Late Sergeant of H. M. 76th Regiment of Foot” petitioned for land on June 8, 1821. He was granted land on November 21, 1821 and deeds for the acquisition of lots 5 and 6 Concession 2, were issued by Notary Campbell on November 28,1821. 

WILLIAM CRAWFORD of the 68th Regiment, is listed in Volume 11 of the St. Gabriel Censier (which was opened in 1826) as being a lot holder. 

WILLIAM DAVIDSON son of Lieutenant Davidson is noted on his sister Mary Ann’s death notice as a resident of Valcartier in 1849. 

SAMUEL FITZGERALD was a clerk in the Commissary Department Quebec. He had been in Quebec for three years at the time he petitioned for land on June 14, 1817. Iater his petition was granted, it would seem, since he is mentioned on the list of property owners at a later date. He states in his petition that he has served five years as an officer in His Royal Highness Duke of York’s Office and that “he had left to come to Canada.” He had four children. 

JOHN GLOVER of Athlone, Westmeath, Ireland who had served in the army, had been wounded and pensioned on October 21, 1828. He had been living in Quebec for some time, had a wife and eight children, 4 of whom were boys and he en­closed a recommendation from William Smith, he acquired Lot 9, Concession 2 according to the commission records but no date is given. 

THOMAS GOFF  who had 11 years service with the 4th Royal Veterans Batallion petitioned for land on March 14, 1817 and he received two lots. 

ROBERT GOODFELLOW, petitioned for land in Valcartier on May 29, 1821. He wrote on behalf of his brothers Andrew and William. An Elisha Goodfellow is listed in the Valcartier Census of 1825. William acquired lot 5 and Robert Lot 6 Concession 2 Riviere aux Pins in 1827. A Robert Goodfellow who was a “Sergeant in the 66th Regiment of Foot” married a Susannah Cuthbert in Quebec when he was 26 and she was 20 in 1829. It is likely that this is the same person who settled in Valcartier. 

JOHN GORDON who as a Master Smith” in the ordinance Department and had 14 years in Portugal, Spain and Walehaven, petitioned for land on March 21, 1817. The Commissioner’s lists note that he was to receive two lots. 

DONALD GRANT late of the “Royal Regiment of Artillery” had 27 years of service ,and had been a non-commissioned officer for 14 years. He had served in France and in Canada and USA. during recent wars. He acquired Lots 10 and 11 Concession 5. 

LIEUTENANT HARVIE  (half pay). Royal Navy petitioned for land September 23, 1819 for himself and his Father William. The petition must have been granted because a William Harvie paid rents for land in Valcartier from 1821 to 1827 , and John sold land in Valcartier on June 29, 1821. 

THOMAS HEALY who had 13 years of service petitioned for land on March l4, 1817. He had served with the 4th Veterans Battalion and the Commissioners  noted that he should receive two lots. 

THOMAS HICKS who served in the 52nd Regiment was married in Quebec 1772. In March 1799 Hicks and Rolph acquired land in the 4th Concession before Notary J. P. Panet from John Nairn who was an army veteran, the same Scots soldier who later settled in Murray Bay we believe. 

JAMES HINKS  who had been a Lieutenant in the 4th Royal Veterans Batt. petitioned for land on April, 14th, 1817J and the Commissioners noted that he should receive 5 lots. 

RICHARD HOLT who had 26 years service with the 4th Royal Veterans Batt. ” petitioned for land on March 22, 1817, and acquired lot 29 which he sold to Thomas Moss . 

JOHN KING messenger of the Executive Councilor Lower Canada (who is almost certain to have been an old soldier) was conceded Lots 8 and 9 Concession 2 in Riviere aux Pins on August 28, 1823. 

JOHN KELLY a late “soldier 4th Royal Veterans Batt.  with seven years of service is noted in the Commission records as one who was to receive two lots. 

THOMAS KNOX held a grant made in 1799 to Notaries Plante and Panet. This would have been before the Jesuit lands were opened for settlement. In a re­survey in 1834 his son lost this land so he petitioned for a new lot and he acquired Lots 61 and 62 later. 

PETER McDONALD. A Sergeant of the late British legion of Horse petitioned for land on January 24, 1820 and was recommended by the Lord Bishop of Quebec. He had served five years in the American War under Lord Cornwalls in South Carolina, now a pensioner from that regiment settled in Ireland. He had a family or six sons and a daughter. Five sons at “years of maturity”. His Majesty’s Government held out encouragement to settle in Canada, and he applied to the Earl of Barthunet in 1817 and was promised land but could not obtain it. 

ADJUTANT A. J. WOLFF H. T. 60th Regiment in 182l. He later in 1850 was Lt. Col. Commanding l11th Battalion Quebec Militia. He obtained a grant of land which was “excessively rocky and swampy” so makes application for land on 5th Concession “near him”. 100 acres for each of six children on March 18, 1828. 

WILLIAM AIKENS was “among the earliest of the old country immigrants who first settled in this parish.” His land was very “swale” and nearly all cleared in 1832. He bought the land from Andrew Stuart attorney at law. 

JOSEPH PIERCE is recorded as “one of the first four settlers or Valcartier” who resided there constantly since the “first establishment of Valcartier settlement. There is no mention of his service with the military. He has undergone great hardship and privations and petitions on October 30, 1829 to remit the said arrears of rent. 

Many of Valcartier’s first residents served at Waterloo. 

Research has revealed that Mr. Griffin was correct. There were many old soldiers who settled in Valcartier. Land petitions show that in fact a large number were interested in acquiring grants and some were successful. The wide variety of people who wanted to acquire land in Valcartier is truly amazing and will be the subject of our next article. 

Manyof these soldiers were members of the 4th Royal Veterans Regiment along with their wives and children. 

Evidently others in the Regiment applied for land in Valcartier but we have not been able to determine yet how many received grants. Many of the petitions tell the country of origin, age and trade of the petitioner and other information very interesting to those doing genealogical work.


We know that Valcartier once had a militia formed around 1839. Charles S. Wolff, who was the son of Adjutant Alexander Joseph Wolff, who served in the 5th Battalion of H. M. Sixtieth Rifles and who originally settled in Valcartier, rose to be a Lieut. Col. in the Militia. Henry Crawford J. P. also held a commission in the Militia and was a Major in 1863. The Valcartier residents formed the 11th Battalion. 

We have discovered that the Abraham family came from Ireland in a family group under Nicholas Abraham in 1819. Included in the group were sons-in-law by the name of Bethel and Roark.  All were Protestant and not only farm raised but skilled in a number of trades. ‘One Joseph Abraham’, son of Nicholas, is noted as being farmer, mason, carpenter, tailor and shoemaker – a real jack-of-all-trades. 

Lake Tonataoan or Lake Hayes lots were opened for settlement much later than other sections and the plan was devised by Andrew Stuart whereby each lot owned some lake front property. 

We’ve picked up a couple of ghost stories one authentic and one of “ghosts” which were faked by pranksters. There have been two murders in Valcartier of which we have some knowledge, one of these remains unsolved. 

We are publishing a newspaper item which reflects the way of life of the early settlement period. We hope these will inspire people to look up their old land deeds. Notaries of this early period were A. Campbell, Lelievre, and M. Berthelot.

Meanwhile – Where did the militia drill? Was there a firing range?  What type of gun were they issued? Does anyone have old buttons or an old uniform? Did the Valcartier farmer grow wheat and have it milled at the banal mill in Ancienne Lorette by Pierre Plamondon? Who opened the first saw mill? There were plans for an oat meal mill – was it ever built ? Who was the first ferryman in Valcartier. 

Please send your questions, answers or comments to the Chronicle-Telegraph we promise to contact everyone who does. 

Katherine M. Crawford. Tel: 653-5941 February 18, 1981.