CHRISTMAS Eve in Quebec; quaint, dear, old, historic Quebec. (1879)
The city is looking at its very best as the representative city of a land where snow reigns for a third of the year. Other cities may boast of summer charms, but Quebec, glorious under its summer sun, is enchanting under its winter snows.
All is life and fun and bustle to-night, and the streets, where the snow is so dry with frost that it is kicked before the foot of the passer-by like sand, are filled with crowds of people making preparation for the genial morrow. Fabrique Street and St. Johns are alive with sleighs dashing along the narrow roadway or cleverly creeping up the icy slope past the Esplanade.
From farms and villages, dotted all about the white landscape and snugly perched on the sides of the mountain ranges which guard the city ; from straggling Beauport, from St . Foye and the two Lorettes, come sleighs of all kinds and fashions, from the queer little red cariole of the small farmer, with its coarse buffalo robes, to the well-appointed graceful vehicle whose glossy black bear-skin sweeps the snow behind it.
The air is melodious with the sound of sleigh bells. Here, tuned to a sweet harmonious jangle, a group, silver-gilt, red-tasselled, adorns the proud backs of the splendid greys which are whirling wealth home from its Christmas-tree shopping, while close by there comes a single, feeble tinkle from the neck of a plucky little beast which is drawing a load of wood for Christmas fires on a home-made traineau, Bjid whose owner, red-capped and blanket-coated, trudges patiently by its side with many a cheering ‘ va donc !’ meditating hopefully on the prospects of a sale
Looking down from Durham Terrace, the warm lights peeping from tmder the steep tin-covered roofs of the houses far below, upon which the show cannot rest, the wide stretch of the river, now bearing not a ship on her dark cold bosom, but not yet frozen over, though soon to be so if the Fates are kind ; the high banks and houses of Levis, snow-covered but dotted with fire-light and lamp-light across the water, with all their suggestions of life and cheerfulness, cold and misery, of man defying nature, and nature, still and deadly, biding her time to catch him unawares.
All these things make up a picture upon which a man may look long and think long. From one of the windows of a house close by a man was looking and thinking ; for the better part of four months he had had but little chance of doing either.
Source: Rose-Belford’s Canadian Monthly and National Review (1879)
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