Cancellation of Plains Of Abraham Battle Reenactment - Canada

So, what’s your thoughts on this cancellation.

A factual battle reenactment is just that; it’s an historical reenactment of a factual battle. So what’s the big deal?

From Wiki:

On the other hand, it feels a bit like Orangemen parading through Catholic neighbourhoods to me. Sort of a “rub your nose in it” mentality. I’m glad they cancelled it because any violence that may have came from it would not have been worth it and might have opened some wounds that appear to have been healing for the last decade or two.

I’d like some other perspectives.

I think the reenactors should continue and guillotine anyone who gets in their way.

Somebody needs to tell all those Southerners that Civil War re-enactments are rubbing their noses in the Yankees’ victory. Once they realize that I’m sure they’ll cease their enthusiastic participation.

I confess I don’t understand the attitudes of those who wanted this canceled. The Battle on the Plains of Abraham was quite possibly the single most influential event in Canadian history, and there’s nothing anti-Quebec-nationalist about recognizing it as such. The re-enactment was not a celebration of the glorious victory of English over French. It was a commemoration. No one is going around saying, “Jeez, it’s a good thing Wolfe beat Montcalm, or look what terrible straits we’d be in!”

I am aghast you would suggest such a thing! The guillotine didn’t come into use until the 1790’s. The Plains of Abraham was in 1759! If you’re going to be so sloppy about your period accuracy you may as well have the Redcoats wearing 7-button waistcoats instead of the accurate 6-button ones! Hmph!!

I think battle reenactments are stupid and I’m glad that this one has been cancelled. I don’t see the point of them.

And I’ll feel the same way if any of the proposed reenactments for 200-year anniversary of the War of 1812 go ahead.

… I get dibs on assaulting New Orleans!

I’d like to take part in re-enacting the burning down of the White House. With the real White House, of course.

Reported.

:smiley:

I don’t understand why opponents of the re-enactment would be so upset as to threaten or engage in acts of violence. They sound like a bunch of thin-skinned whiners, to me.

In other words, French? :smiley:

The thing to realize here is that the Battle of the Plains of Abraham has a symbolic signification that many people may not be aware of. In truth, and in the grand scheme of things, this battle wasn’t actually all that important (and this is where I disagree with Gorsnak). It lead to the British occupying Quebec City, but not to the end of the war. The French actually won the Second Battle of Quebec, but weren’t able to reoccupy the city, and it wasn’t until the Conquest of Montreal that fighting ended in North America (other than a few sporadic incidents). And if France had really wanted to regain its North American colonies, it could have done so during the negociations for the Treaty of Paris (1763), and today this whole Conquest might not be remembered much more than the occupation of Quebec City by the Kirke brothers from 1629 to 1632 (and who remembers this today?)

So the Battle of the Plains of Abraham was simply a battle in a war involving European powers, and it isn’t even really the reason why Canada became a British colony. But for some reason it gained the symbolic meaning of a victory of “the English” over “the French” (whoever these two groups are). A few decades ago this battle was still used to justify the fact that francophone Quebecers often had to work in English and were economically second-class citizens, in their own province (as in “you lost the war, deal with it”). Even today some people still think it’s a valid argument when discussing Canadian politics. I think matt_mcl once alluded to someone close to him (maybe his mother?) using this argument in a debate with him. The battle is also used as an argument to compare the character of francophone Canadians and anglophone Canadians. Common knowledge has it that the French forces at the Plains of Abraham were stronger than the British forces – Wikipedia says they weren’t – and could have won, but the French started attacking the incoming British forces without any cover while the British remained in their positions. So this French “headless chicken” attitude is seen by many as a characteristic of francophone Canadians even today, while the British discipline is seen as characteristic of anglophone Canadians. (My history teacher in high school said something similar to this. Apparently he did a reenactment of the Battle of the Plains of Abraham with francophone and anglophone high school students while he was a college student and a tourist guide in Quebec City, and this is what happened.)

Of course all of this is basically nonsense and shouldn’t have any bearing today (the battle was won by the British over the French, and anglophone Canadians aren’t “British” any more than francophone Canadians are “French”; in fact with the Loyalist influence in English Canadian culture, it could be said that their society has been founded by “losers” as well), but it’s part of the symbolism of the Battle of the Plains of Abraham, and you can’t get rid of it easily. So in this context, commemorating the battle should be done with the greatest care. And it appears that this wasn’t done in this case. According to the Angry French Guy, this commemoration would have included “a comedy cabaret with Wolfe and Montcalm impersonators”. That doesn’t seem very serious, for a battle that’s still ongoing in many Canadians’ minds (francophone as well as anglophone).

Personally, I think this battle should be commemorated in some way. I don’t think it’s as important as people think it is, but it’s certainly become a symbol of Canada’s dual cultural nature. But it should be done in a tasteful way.

Well, I can’t say as that I agree with this assessment at all. Without taking Quebec, the British could never advance on Montreal, and if Montcalm drives Wolfe back into the river the British don’t take Quebec. The strategic importance of holding Quebec was immense - and precisely the reason that Sainte Foy is never spoken of. It did not result in the city changing hands, where the Plains of Abraham did. I suppose it’s true that France could have negotiated a return of her colonies, but without having lost them militarily this question doesn’t even arise.

In short, had the Battle of the Plains of Abraham been won by the French, the only way the history of Canada looks anything remotely like it does is if the British take Quebec in a subsequent expedition the following year. The British victory, while not guaranteeing a successful campaign, was nevertheless the single most critical element of that success.

It’s not serious, but I have to tell you, I have zero respect for the feelings of anyone who still takes the Battle of the Plains of Abraham personally or thinks it’s still ongoing in their minds. Anglophone or Francophone. Anyone who can’t have some fun with historical figures who’ve been dead since before our grandparents’ grandparents were born needs to go out and get a life.

Maybe it’s just me, but actually attaching emotional significance to a battle fought in 1759 strikes me as being the very definition of being a pathetic jerk - and that applies to the Anglophones who allegedly confer superiority on themselves for England winning the battle (which I admit I’ve never heard of - when Canadians take stupid and undeserved pride in a long-ago battle, it’s the War of 1812) or Francophones still bitter over it.

Holy shit, it was *two hundred and fifty years ago. *

I recommend that you be very careful whom you talk to about the 1690 Battle of the Boyne. :wink:

I don’t know much about military history, so you may very well be right. But I notice that in 1775, the Americans did occupy Montreal, and it’s Quebec they weren’t able to reach. It’s certain that capturing the city had strategic importance, in the sense that it allowed the British to control navigation in the St. Lawrence. But with their overwhelming superiority in terms of numbers, the British were all but certain to eventually capture Montreal and the other Canadian cities.

Just how important was the North American theatre of the Seven Years’ War, really? The battles in North America were fought for colonies. Yes, it’s nice to capture your enemy’s colonies, but when their main industry is beaver fur, it doesn’t have a lot of military importance. (Unless you plan to invade Russia, I guess. ;)) My point is that I think the European theatre of the Seven Years’ War was the decisive one. Colonies can pass from one country to the other, but what really decides who wins the war is who wins on his homeland. If you can win decisively there, you get a lot of leverage to regain your colonies and even gain your enemy’s.

Actually, this passage from the Wikipedia article on the Seven Years’ War summarizes what I’m trying to say:

After all, the British conquered Guadeloupe in 1759 and Martinique in 1762, and both were given back to the French in the Treaty of Paris. Indeed, those in Quebec who consider the Battle of the Plains of Abraham to be the symbol of a loss of freedom and our becoming a subjugated nation are more likely to blame it on a betrayal by the French than on British perfidy or whatever.

I’ve tried to find the post by matt_mcl I’ve mentioned earlier, but couldn’t. If he gets here, I guess he’ll tell us more about it. Yes, believe me, the Battle of the Plains of Abraham (or more generally the Conquest) is still used as an argument by anglophones to justify that any status given to the French language in Canada, even in Quebec, is the ultimate in goodwill.

And yes, some francophones also consider the Conquest as the symbol of the subjugation of the Quebec nation. These people will also usually give a lot of importance to the Patriotes’ Rebellion of 1837-1838. (So do I, but in my case it’s because I consider the Patriotes to have ultimately won Canada’s independence, if in a belated way.) Maybe you don’t feel much nationalistic sentiment, RickJay, but it’s very common and doesn’t make one a pathetic jerk; in fact it can lead someone to improve themselves. It’s especially common, indeed, among subjugated nations who don’t have a lot of successes to show the world, but even among strong and powerful nations. Remember the Alamo?

So far as I understand, the primary purpose is for the reenactors to have some fun, and the secondary purpose is to teach interested non-reenactors a bit of history. There’s plenty of hobbies that I don’t myself partake of, but that doesn’t mean that I think that all hobby events should be canceled.

Sure. Quebecers and the Irish are two very similar nations, you know. The main difference is that Quebec is not an independent country but still speaks its language, while Ireland is independent but doesn’t speak its language very much anymore.

And I believe something like 40% of francophone Quebecers have Irish ancestry. (I may have the numbers wrong, but it’s a high proportion.)

Wait, WHAT? :stuck_out_tongue: Do we get to burn a mock White House?

OK, this one, I might enjoy. :stuck_out_tongue:

If I recall my history correctly, there were a number of Irish orphans who were adopted by Quebecois in (I believe) the 19th century. They were permitted to keep their family names, but otherwise grew up, married, and had children (and grandchildren, and great-grandchildren) as Quebecois. To this day, you still find monolingual French speakers in Quebec with surnames like “O’Brien,” “Murphy,” “Kavanagh,” and so on. I worked with one such Quebecoise some years ago; her last name was O’Brien, but her accent when she spoke English was pure Jean Chretien.

That’s from an Heritage Minute. (Maybe that’s not where you heard it, but there was one about this very thing.) Also, our national poet is called Émile Nelligan. He wasn’t adopted, though; his father was an Irish immigrant and his mother French Canadian.

My ex-girlfriend has a last name which I thought was Irish, but is actually of Scottish Gaelic origin. (She also has Irish ancestry from her mother’s side.) Her family is francophone and English is very much her second language, but she’s quite aware of her Scottish heritage and wants to visit Scotland someday. She also has two brothers-in-law: the francophone with an English/Scottish name and the anglophone with a French name.

Yes, ethnic identification is complicated business. :wink: