Headstone Transcription Project for the English Communities Located Around Quebec City on the North Side of the St. Lawrence River
By D. Clark McIntosh, 2001
I began researching this area as part of my undergraduate thesis at McGill in 1974. I began looking through the graveyards with my family during one summer vacation in 1995 and have returned to the area several times to complete my cemetery listings. It should be noted that I have focused on the English names, and there are several cemeteries that have both French and English. Therefore, these listings are not complete. I have indicated in the table of contents which ones are complete.
The British Governors of the early 1800s tried to settle the marginal lands around the St. Lawrence Valley with loyal British settlers partly to act as a buffer between the French Canadiens and the Americans, and partly to surround the French in an attempt to limit their expansion. My area of interest is the communities located north of Quebec City, ranging from Notre Dame de Portneuf (originally Portneuf Station) to Lac Beauport. My descendents come from a small community located in Riviere aux Pins, north of the town of Valcartier. The Canadian government expropriated this community in 1914 to build an army training camp during the First World War.
Driving south from St. Raymond to Pont Rouge, on Route 365, you are driving through the ancient Seigniory of Bourg Louis, which at one time was a thriving English speaking rural settlement. Today, there are only remnants of the old farmsteads with only a handful of the farms still under production.
As you approach Ste. Catherine and the Jacques Cartier River, the landscape becomes very hilly. Here, the soil appears sandy and farm abandonment is prevalent. The village of Ste. Catherine's is in a valley surrounded by hills and replanted forests. It is a small, clean, and attractive village. There is a large Catholic Church, a school, a motel, gas stations, a bank, a general store, a post office and an information centre for the tourist trade. The Catholic Church, located beside the river, dominates the skyline. The church was built originally by the Irish around 1832, and was serviced by Irish priests until 1871. From then on, the French language began to dominate the area. In 1909, the present church was built as the old one was destroyed by fire. From pictures hanging in the church, dating back to about 1900, it appears that the whole area was under cultivation. Trees now surround the village entirely. The year 1944 saw the lats English service to be given in this area, excluding special events such as marriages.
On the road to Shannon from Ste. Catherine (along the north bank of the river), is a paved road in need of repair, serving a once farmed area. There are various stages of farm abandonment, as the soil is poor, rocky and the land is very hilly. The houses are old, often cottage styled, and there are only a couple of working farms. There is evidence of timber, signs of reforestation, trailer homes, lots for sale, gravel pits, a junkyard, and a turkey farm. Shannon was settled about 1825 in what was then known as Ste. Catherine. These settlers were mainly from the areas of Kilkenny, Wexford and Carlos in Ireland. Mr. Duchaney, the French landlord of the Seigniory, recruited Irish tenants to come settle his land. Because his land was sandy and of poor quality, many of the families left the area. Shannon was the name given to this Irish community around 1946 when it received its first post office. Shannon remained part of Ste. Catherine until 1948, when it was granted its independence. Shannon still has an English speaking population. A small chapel was built in 1944 when the English service at Ste. Catherine was discontinued. Some of the people use the church at the Valcartier Army Base. There are no graveyards located in Shannon, but two in the village of Ste. Catherine.
The main road from Ste. Catherine, on the south side of the Jacques Cartier River, is an area that is dominated by woodlands, cottages and abandoned farms. This road is a main throughway for the many people that live in the area and commute to Quebec City. Both roads follow the river and both afford lovely scenery.
Leaving Shannon, there is a road that winds through the Army Base that takes you to the community of St. Gabriel de Valcartier, Here, there are four churches: the Christ Church, a very old Anglican Church with graves dating back to the 1840s, the St. Gabriel Catholic Church build in 1853 and rebuilt in 1891, a Presbyterian Church and a United Church. Valcartier is a rural settlement with turkey farming and some mixed farming. It is rolling country, again cut by the Jacques Cartier River. The original settlement was totally an English speaking community and many of their descendants still live there.
There was once a large English community still further north called Riviere aux Pins, in a very fertile valley. The Federal government expropriated all of this land to build an army base in 1914. The base has been expanded since then. Many of the families who lost their farms to expropriation left for other parts of North America rather than remain in the area.
The road to Tewkesbury is one to be seen! It is a very beautiful drive along the river, then along the valley top and over several mountains. There are some turkey farms and some farms that raise dairy or beef cattle. Some of the farms are on the slopes of hills but most are in the valley. There is much farm abandonment. The settlement of Tewkesbury is located off the man highway in a narrow valley surrounded by hills and forests. There is no protestant church located here, only a Catholic Church ( with a graveyard nearby) located on the road to Stoneham.
The road to Stoneham is one cut through forested areas. Cottages are the first sign of civilization, until you reach Stoneham, where some farming is still carried on. The farms are mostly located on the flat lands and in the valleys. Once a rural settlement, Stoneham is now known as a recreational ski area.