Tuesday, September 08, 2009

LRC on the siege

Literary Review of Canada has a terrific survey, now online, of a group of books about the Plains of Abraham, by the young Toronto writer Jack Mitchell.

As an amateur strategist, Mitchell has a cranky idea or two. At least, this amateur strategist isn't much taken with his idea that Montcalm should have frittered away his troops trying to hold unsustainable outposts like Point Lévis, or that the February 1760 battle at Ste-Foy mattered much in the scale of things.

But in assessing the merits of the various books, Mitchell is both generous and astute. Even more so when he reflects on the wrangles last February that led to the cancellation of a planned "reenactment" of the battle. As Mitchell suggests, the cancellation proved, not the irrelevance of Canadian history but the fact that it is almost too important. A "let's have fun and promote tourism" attitude to the Plains of Abraham was absolutely the wrong way to grasp the significance of Canadian past.

The organizers of opposition of the renactment were labelled "hardline separatists" and no doubt some were. But they spoke for at least some who care about history and about Canada.

Before reading Mitchell, I had been unaware of the book pictured, which seems to have done in book form and properly, more or less what we've been messing with here in our Live-Blog: Québec, ville assiégée, 1759–1760 by Jacques Lacoursière and Hélène Quimper, published by Séptentrion.

Also not to be missed, in the current LRC Letters section (but I think you have to have the hardcopy for that, at least so far): Michael Bliss's fiery-and-thoughtful-too opinion of last winter's prorogation wrangle.
Follow @CmedMoore