The following article by Edgar Andrew Collard appeared in The Montreal Gazette on March 25, 1950. Collard was a Canadian journalist and historian, born in Montreal on 6 September 1911, and best known for his Montreal Gazette column “All Our Yesterdays”.
The first issue of his column appeared in The Montreal Gazette on August 14, 1944 and appeared every weekend for 56 years. Each week the column addressed an episode or aspect of Montreal history. In 1953 he became editor-in-chief of The Gazette. He continued his column until a month before his death on 9 September 2000.
Collard was made a Member of the Order of Canada in 1976.
(Transcription by Audrey Henderson, January, 2015)
All Our Yesterdays
By Edgard Andrew Collard
The Mystery of the Waterloo Veterans
In this column today are two letters in reply to an inquiry made by Mr. Leon Trepanier, O.B.E., of Montreal.
Some time ago Mr. Trepanier, in reading an excerpt from the London Canada Gazette for 1890, came upon a statement that “the cemetery of the country parish of Valcartier, on the line of the Lake St. John Railway, contains the graves of nineteen Waterloo veterans. How many country parishes in England can surpass this record?”
Though he made a number of investigations, Mr. Trepanier could find no other reference to this forgotten cemetery, and his inquiry for information was published two weeks ago. Letters kindly sent by Mrs. Frank Bussieres of Sillery and Rev. J.H.M. Brett, rector of Abbotsford, are printed below.
Dear Sir – I was interested in the inquiry from Mr. Leon Trepanier concerning the old cemetery at Valcartier in which 19 veterans of Waterloo are said to have been buried.
Possibly some light may be cast upon the question by certain excerpts in the book “Historic Tales of Old Quebec” by George Gale (1920). I quote below excerpts to be found on pages 92 and 93:
“Valcartier, in the ancient seignory of St. Gabriel, some fourteen miles distant from Quebec was ceded to Surgeon Robert Giffard in 1647. St. Gabriel became the property of the Jesuits and on the death of the last member of the order in Quebec, Jean Joseph Casot, in 1800, the property passed over to the Government.
“The parish of Valcartier through the efforts, among others, of Hon. John Neilson and Hon. Andrew Stuart, was first settled in 1817. Some of the earliest inhabitants were United Empire Loyalists from the State of Connecticut. Later, English, Irish and Scotch settlers among them many battle-scarred British army veterans, sought their homes in the primeval forest of this locality….and here many descendants of these pioneer agriculturists are still cultivating the soil, and, like their forefathers, living in peace and harmony. Previous to 1814 Valcartier was unknown except to the Huron Indians or coureurs de bois.
Ste. Catherine, in Portneuf County, was first settled by English speaking people in 1820, as was Bourg St. Louis. Another well-known community settled by English speaking people was Stoneham in 1824, while the first settlers – many of them veterans of the British Army – reached Lake Beauport in 1821 and Laval in 1836.” Margaret Bussieres, Sillery, P.Q., March 13, 1950
Wolff and His Followers
Dear Sir, – I was interested in reading Mr. Leon Trepanier’s inquiry in one of your recent columns about the graves of 19 veterans of Waterloo who are buried in the cemetery of the country parish of Valcartier “on the line of the Lake St. John Railway.”
As a former incumbent of the Valcartier Anglican Mission, I gathered all the information I could find about the early days of the church in that district. The following notes may be of interest.
Although land was not acquired for the first church and cemetery until 1844, Anglican services had been held in a large house since 1817, various clergymen from Quebec City coming out to conduct them.
In 1824 Adjutant Alexander Wolff, late of the 60th Regiment, settled in Valcartier district. He had had a distinguished military career, serving in Egypt under Gen. Abercrombie, and later in the Peninsular War. He was wounded in five separate battles and was the proud possessor of the war medal with 16 clasps, said to be the largest number held at that period by any officer in the British Army.
So beloved was he by his men that many of the rank and file of his regiment settled in the district in order to be near their old leader. It is said that Adjutant Wolff spent many years on his old homestead and ably discharged his duties as a Lt.-Col. of militia and as an active and upright magistrate.
While no mention of the battle of Waterloo was made in the above information, yet is it not reasonable to suppose that a man with such a long service record in the British Army would have taken part in that battle? Further, the reference to “many of the rank and file of his regiment settling in the district to be near their old leader” would account for such a large number of veterans of Waterloo being buried in the cemetery of the country parish of Valcartier.
Wolff and his followers settled in the district in 1824. The first Anglican cemetery came into being in 1844. Where were members of the congregation buried between those dates?
In 1833 land was deeded for an Anglican cemetery near Ste. Catherine. There was a church there for a few years: then at a later date, the cemetery was abandoned. This burying ground was roughly the same distance from Valcartier Station on the line of the lake St. John Railway, as Valcartier Station is from Valcartier village, that is to say, about five miles. As the same minister who conducted services at Valcartier also went to the Ste. Catherine church, this might well be considered part of the Valcartier Mission.
I believe that in the early days the Ste. Catherine cemetery was used by the Valcartier congregation. In any case, many bodies were taken from the abandoned cemetery and re-interred at Valcartier. This is shown by the following entry in the parish register under the date of June 1, 1932:
“The remains of Margaret Brown, aged sixty-eight years, who died November 20, 1858, and the remains of eight other bodies, names, ages, dates of burial, etc., all unknown, were removed by me, Ernest R. Roy, subscribing witnesses, from the abandoned Anglican Cemetery at Ste. Catherine, County of Portneuf, permission for same being granted by the Superior Court of Quebec, and the remains were then reinterred by me in the Anglican Cemetery at Valcartier and which was done on Wednesday, June 1st, 1932. By me, Ernest R Roy, Rector of Levis. Witnesses: W. Henderson, Margaret L. Henderson.”
When the new church was built in 1863 and pews were auctioned by four families of the name of Brown rented pews. From the extract quoted above, it would seem that in the early days the Brown family used the Ste. Catherine cemetery as a family burying ground even though they were members of the Valcartier congregation.
Could this old cemetery be the resting place of many of the Waterloo veterans?
It is possible that an old Anglican burial ground existed at Valcartier itself, of which no records exist today. I was told by members of the congregation that when an excavation of a furnace was made under the present church, in1913, several coffins were discovered. This leads one to believe that when the present Christ Church was built in 1863, there were many graves unmarked and forgotten.
Where the 19 veterans of Waterloo are buried is a mystery that may never be entirely solved. But it does seem quite possible that there were members of the 60th Regiment who settled in the district to be near their old leader. Adjutant Alexander Wolff, late of the British Army, who settled in Valcartier in 1824.
May the old warriors rest in peace!
(Rev.) J.H.M. Brett, St. Paul’s Rectory, Abbotsford, P. Que., March 14, 1950.
Transcription by Audrey Henderson, November, 2014
Original article accessed through http://news.google.com/newspapers