View On ST. Helen's Island.
A feminine grace and beauty characterize it; and we are not surprised to learn that it was once the property and home of Champlain's wife, whose name, indeed, it bears. It is a lovely spot in summer, with stately trees and smooth-napped lawns; and from its margin one obtains a charming panoramic vista of the city stretched along the adjacent shore. A notable historic incident lends pathos to this river-garden. In 1760, after the decisive victory of Wolfe, the French commander, Levis, for whom the bold heights opposite Quebec are named, assembled here the remnant of his army, awaiting the result he knew to be unavoidable. When, therefore, Montreal had also passed into the possession of the British, Levis dispatched a message from this last retreat, requesting that he be allowed to surrender his troops with the honors of war. Receiving no reply, the general, on the ensuing night, caused a huge bonfire to be made in the centre of the island, into which, at the word of command, his followers threw the regimental flags. Then, while the drums beat mournfully, the few disheartened veterans, grouped around this funeral pyre of their standards, shouted, with choked voices, "Vive La France ! " Next morning, they marched in before their conquerors, and laid down their arms; but the old banners with the Bourbon lilies, which they had so long followed and so dearly loved, had in the night escaped the ignominy of capitulation, and lay in ashes on the soil of St. Helen's Island.
Old Fort On St. Helen's Island.
The other noteworthy park of the city covers the greater part of Mount Royal, and is almost unrivaled in the category of suburban pleasure grounds. Fine driveways wind around the mountain's slopes in graceful curves, commanding at each turn magnificent views of the island and the two lordly rivers which enclose it, while on a clear day looking southward one discerns the silvery gleam of Lake Champlain, and the soft, undulating line of the Green Mountains in Vermont. It is especially beautiful in autumn, when even the least impressionable visitor must be enchanted with the pomp and splendor in which the royal mountain wraps itself before assuming the white shroud in which it mourns the dying year. Millions of brilliant leaves then color the whole mound with red, gold, bronze, and purple hues, flaming like tongues of fire amid the steadfast verdure of the ivy and holly, and gorgeous beyond words in contrast to the coniferous evergreens, which know no change, whether the Sun-God leaves them in neglect, or woos them with the ardor of returning spring.
In Mount Royal Park.
Canadians are proverbially fond of outdoor sports. The tonic of the atmosphere and the inducements offered by the surrounding country for hunting, fishing, skating, coasting, and canoeing make them enthusiastic devotees of pleasures which in more southern latitudes are comparatively unknown. The crew of Cartier, which wintered miserably here in 1535, were unaccustomed to such glacial rigor; but their successors, the brave voyageurs, explorers, fur traders, and hunters, grew quickly wonted to the boreal winters, and, meeting them heroically, conquered and enjoyed them. In fact, for men who have become enamored of the northern gods the deities of a milder heaven have no charms. To genuine children of the north winter presents no terrors such as it excites in those who live where slush invariably follows snow, and where the mercury shows variations as startling and sudden as those of a panic-stricken stock market. Even the suffering caused occasionally by the frigid temperature is not so great as in far warmer climates, since nothing is truer than the paradox that in winter one can find most comfort in the north. "In Russia," says a proverb, "one sees the cold, but does not feel it; in Italy one feels the cold, but does not see it." Hence Swedes, Norwegians, Russians, and Canadians exult in the keen air that sends the hot blood tingling through their veins, and makes their breath ascend like incense offered to the shrines of Thor and Odin. They laugh at storms which would inevitably paralyze the locomotion and suspend the business of cities unprepared for such a visitation, for practice has enabled them to vanquish all the difficulties thus created with the greatest ease. For them the snow is not a hindrance, but a help. Its compact, frozen mass makes all roads good, and renders transportation vastly easier than on bare ground. To those also who have acquired the use of snowshoes, white fields are fascinating rather than formidable, for they inaugurate a season of invigorating sports. Tobogganing down slopes of glittering ice; skating upon the glassy pavement laid so deftly by the Frost King over pond and stream; swept by the wind at railway speed in ice boats over a blue lake that hibernates beneath its crystal coverlet; or whirled by spirited horses in luxurious sleighs along the crisp, white thoroughfares encircling Montreal; in every case abundantly protected from the weather by the soft, warm furs fashioned by nature for the denizens of the Arctic Circle - all these make winter life in Canada a carnival of exuberant vitality.