Québec Conquest & Jewish General Wolfe

Jacques Cartier discovered Nouvelle France in 1535. Champlain founded the city in 1608. French people built up the city. (QUEBEC, Classic Encyclopedia)

A company composed of merchants from Rouen and Saint Malo were busy trading in furs. They need a city and fort to support their operations. Québec was built, and then garrisoned by French soldiers. (Jean Ferland, Cours D'Histoire du Canada, S.R. Publishers Limited, 1969, p. 197)

In 1627, French nationalist cardinal Richelieu got the French king Louis XIII to prohibit any Jews from coming to Nouvelle France. (Communauté juive, GrandQuebec.com)

It was difficult for Jewish lobbyists to influence the governor. They weren't there.

A rich province. No Jews. No anti-Semitism.

Unable to bribe the French king, the Jews tried subterfuge: "In September, 1738, a girl disguised as a boy arrived in Quebec on the ship Saint-Michel. Posing as Jacques La Fargue, she was discovered to be Esther Brandeau, the daughter of David Brandeau of Bayonne, France. Mlle. Brandeau was given every opportunity to accept the Catholic faith but she adamantly refused, and subsequently she was deported to France." (Arthur Chiel, Manitoba Jewish History - Early Times, 1953-1954, http://www.mhs.mb.ca/docs/transactions/3/jewishhistory.shtml)

The Jews had been put off, but for how long?


The French army was in Nouvelle France. Their weak point was supplies. The Jew Abraham Gradis had the supply contract. (id.) When the Jews were ready to make their move, Gradis cut off supplies.

The British siege of Quebec began the night of Thursday, July 12, 1759.”
“Four large cannon and five mortars kept up a steady barrage until morning, sending cannonballs into the streets and smashing walls. Firebombs made of iron baskets filled with pitch, tar and powder were lobbed over the walls, spreading fire. In that first day three hundred British bombs fell on Quebec.

At his church, Notre-Dame des Victoires, Abbé Jean-Félix Recher watched
the city burn around him. "At noon a bomb fell on the widow Morand's house, set it on fire and burned it to the ground as well as Widow Cheneverd's house, Mr Cardenas', Mr Dassier's and Madame Boishébert's."

"...the gunfire and the bombardment... terrorized the whole town... the women with their children, in great numbers near the citadel, were continually in tears, wailing and praying; they huddled together and said the rosary," Recher wrote.

(Bombing ignites the city, CBC History, http://history.cbc.ca/history/?MIval=EpContent.html&series_id=1&episode_id=4&chapter_id=7&page_id=3&lang=E)

Naturally, this Jewish general didn't restrict his attentions to the city. He also devestated the French farms in the course of 1759. (Joerg Seifarth, WEISSBUCH-SCHWARZBUCH, http://edoc.hu-berlin.de/dissertationen/seifarth-joerg-2004-07-07/HTML/chapter5.html)


To summarize, “Wolfe bombarded Quebec mercilessly in an attempt to force the French to surrender.” (id.) The bombing campaign lasted nine weeks, and involved use of 20,000 fire bombs (Le Guerre de Sept Ans, UN NOUVEAU ONDE - Exploration et colonisation de l'Amérique du Nord, http://www.medarus.org/NM/NMTextes/nm_01_04_seven_y_war.htm) Most of the city was destroyed.

“The bombing continued, eventually destroying Recher's church and others. On August 10, a shell ignited brandy in a wine cellar, spreading flames until Notre Dame des Victoires had burned to a half-walled ruin. The Recollet Friar's Church had holes in the roof where the cannonballs had fallen and its pews were strewn into useless piles of lumber. The Jesuits' Church and the nunnery suffered the same fate.” (CBC, supra) Compare with Chapters 8 and 14.

When Wolfe arrived, he encountered strong defenses. He tried tactics of deception to lure the French away from their positions, but that didn’t work (see Chapter 20 on Carcassonne, and Chapter 9 on Shechem) Finally, a surprise attack from a quarter where the French thought they were secure did the trick. (compare with Shechem, Chapter 9) (QUEBEC, Classic Encyclopedia, http://www.1911encyclopedia.org/Quebec,_Canada_(Capital))

The Jews were coming! Jewish commander James Wolfe was assisted in his command by “Alexander Schomberg, also of Jewish ancestry and a member of General Wolfe's staff.” (A History Of Jewish Immigration To Canada, A Scattering of Seeds – The Creation of Canada) Jew Aaron Hart, a commissary officer under General Amherst during the British attack on Montreal in 1760, was the first Jewish settler in the same year.

There were plenty more Jews who fought as both officers and soldiers in the effort to conquer this new business opportunity. (The Virtual Jewish History Tour
Canada, http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/vjw/canada.html)

Jews came along with the army and stayed to enjoy the rich economic opportunities. (Joanna Sloame, The Virtual Jewish History Tour Montreal, Quebec, http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/vjw/Quebec.html) They also took over the fur trade. Names like Ezekiel Solomons, Chapman Abraham, Gershon Levy, Benjamin Lyon, and Levy Solomons. (Chiel, supra)

But did the Jew stay around to build up the community?

Jews settled in Québec Cité as soon as the English soldiers came in 1759. Maurice Pollack ran a big department store, and got huge profits. (Clyde H. Farnsworth , Jews Dwindle In the Capital Of Quebec, New York Times, August 16, 1995)

In 1832, the English put up a monument. For the French victims of the firebombing? Not quite. It was for the Jewish general Wolfe who conquered the city. The
freedom-loving population vandalized the memorial. In 1840, the English put up a very sturdy, 40-foot column to replace the broken memorial. Its still there. (QUEBEC, Classic Encyclopedia)