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A Canadian Manor and Its Seigneurs The Story of a Hundred Years, 1761-1861   By: (1860-1948)

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[Illustration: COLONEL JOHN NAIRNE]

A CANADIAN MANOR AND ITS SEIGNEURS

THE STORY OF A HUNDRED YEARS 1761 1861

BY

GEORGE M. WRONG, M.A. PROFESSOR OF HISTORY IN THE UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO

WITH ILLUSTRATIONS

TORONTO THE BRYANT PRESS, LIMITED 1908

COPYRIGHT, CANADA, 1908 BY GEORGE M. WRONG

PREFACE

In spite of many pleasant summers spent at Murray Bay one had never thought of it as having a history. The place and its people seemed simple, untutored, new. Some of the other summer residents talked complacently even of having discovered it. They had heard of Murray Bay as beautiful and had gone to explore this unknown country. When this bold feat was performed there was abundant recompense. Valley, mountain, river and stream united to make Murray Bay delightful. The little summer community grew. At first visitors lived in the few primitive hotels or in cottages at Pointe au Pic, vacated for the time being by their owners, who found temporary lodgings somewhere, not infrequently in their own out buildings. The cottages left something to be desired, and, gradually, the visitors bought land and built houses for themselves: to day dozens of them dot the western shore of Murray Bay. In due time appeared tennis courts; then a golf links. Murray Bay had become, alas, almost fashionable.

It still seemed to have no past. True, near the village church, a fair sized house stood, embowered in trees, with a fine view out over the bay and the wide St. Lawrence. A high fence shut in a beautiful old garden, with a few great trees: as one drove past one got a glimpse of shady walks and old fashioned flowers. The extensive out buildings near this manor house, stables, carriage house, dairy, showed that the establishment was fairly large. There were sleek cattle in the farm yard. On one of the out buildings was a small belfry, with a bell to summon the work people from afar to meals, and this seemed like the olden times when the seigneur fed his labourers under his own roof. On making a formal call at the manor house one noted that some of the rooms were of fine proportions and that a good many old portraits and miniatures hung on the walls. This all spoke of a past; and yet of it one asked little and knew nothing.

Just across the bay stood another manor house; of stone, too, in this case not concealed by a covering of wood. Thick walls crowned by a mansard roof spoke of a respectable age. This manor house, also looked out on the bay and across the St. Lawrence. One knew that it was named Mount Murray Manor, while that on the right bank of the river Murray was called Murray Bay Manor. It was said vaguely that a Colonel Fraser had dwelt at Mount Murray and a Colonel Nairne at Murray Bay; but all that one heard was loose tradition and there were no Nairnes or Frasers of whom one might ask questions. One could see that, in both places, something like an old world dignity of life had in the past been kept up.

Making a call at the Murray Bay Manor House, I was told one day of a manuscript volume in which the first seigneur had copied some of his letters. I begged to be allowed to spend an afternoon or two in looking through it. I went and went again. To me the book was absorbing. It told the story of the first people of British origin who went to settle at Malbaie, which they named Murray Bay, just after the British conquest; of the career of a soldier brother of Colonel Nairne who died in India not long after Plassey; of campaigns fought by Colonel Nairne during the period of the American Revolution; of his plans and hopes as the ruler of the little community where he settled. When I had read the book through, I asked if there was not something more. Yes, there were some old letters, preserved in a lumber room at the top of the house. These I was allowed to see. This task, too, was of great interest and I spent the better part of a summer holiday reading, analyzing, and copying letters... Continue reading book >>




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