St. John the Baptist's Day Banquet in Montreal on June 24, 1834
Last Tuesday, on St. John the Baptist's Day, a numerous and respectable meeting took place in Montreal to celebrate the patronal festival of the Canadians. The guests numbered sixty and were composed of Irishmen, Americans, and Canadians. Mr. Viger, mayor, was elected president, and Mr. John Turney, Esquire, former member of the City Council, vice-president.
After the customary toast of loyalty, the following toasts were proposed by the president:
- The people, primitive source of all legitimate authority.
- The day we are celebrating.
- The House of Assembly of Lower Canada, the faithful voice of the Canadian people.
- The Honourable Louis-Joseph Papineau, Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, skillful and zealous defender of the rights of the people.
- Louis Bourdages, Esquire, dean of the House of Assembly, the Canadian Nestor.
- Elzéar Bédard, Esquire, representative of the County of Montmorency, first Mayor of Quebec City, mover of the Ninety-Two Resolutions on the Province, and the 56 Members who formed the glorious majority that voted them.
- O'Connell and our Irish compatriots.
- Jocelyn Waller (in silence.)
- Daniel Tracey, and the three victims of May 21 (in silence.)
- Messrs D.-B. Viger and A.-N. Morin, our agents in England.
- Messrs Hume and Roebuck and the other Liberal members of the House of Commons who defend our interests.
- Messrs W.L. Mackenzie, Bidwell and the other reformists of Upper Canada.
- Messrs Carson, Blanchard and Morris, and the other reformists of the English colonies.
- The government of the United States: it raises the admiration and envy of the universe.
- General Lafayette (in silence.)
- Joseph Papineau, Esquire, dean of the notaries in this province, and one of the two surviving members of the first Parliament of Lower Canada. At his patriarchal age, 82 years old, still enjoying all the strength of his genius, he has the joy to see his son, the Speaker of the House of Assembly, walk in his footsteps in the parliamentary career, and to see the people and the youth of the country adopt and follow the principles that he defended in and out of Parliament.
- Jacques Viger, first Mayor of Montreal, and the Council of the City of Montreal. May they continue as well as they have started.
- Bonaventure Panet, from Lachenaie, on of the two surviving members of the first Parliament of this country. The new Cincinnatus, after having served his country on the hustings and in the camps, he now dedicates his old days to the cultivation of the land that feeds him.
- W.L. Mackenzie, Esquire, first Mayor in Upper Canada and the City Council of Toronto; There as here and in Quebec City, the people distinguished themselves by their judicious choice in the composition of the first municipal corp.
- The liberty of the press and the Liberal presses of the country and in the neighbouring provinces.
- Le Canadien of Quebec City, the only faithful voice of the inhabitants of its district. By the benefit of the truth which it expresses with such dignity, may it choke the false expositions and the calumnies of its antagonists.
- The emigration: may the thousands of British subjects who every year come on our shores seeking asylum against the abuses and oppressions they suffer in their native country, not create such evils among us and fin here the welcome they deserve! They will form with the inhabitants of Canada an impenetrable and irresistible phalanx against tyranny.
- The Canadian clergy and its bishops. — May they always be united and give the good example to its flocks. They will be supported and respected by joining the cause of the House of Assembly and the people.
- The Convention of the District of Montreal. — The people granted its members the care to watch for their interests which will not be neglected.
- The Constitutional Meetings of the three districts that supported the proceedings of the House of Assembly and the state of the country, and those who circulated the petition to be signed in support of the demands of the Assembly. — Honour to those who defended the rights of the people, with such patriotism, zeal, and disinterestedness."
It is useless to state that the toasts were welcomed with enthusiasm, as were the voluntary toasts of which some of the main ones were: "
- Mr. Duvernay, president of the "Aide toi, le Ciel t'aidera" Society, who had the idea for this feast and who oversaw its preparation.
- "Aide toi, le Ciel t'aidera". This nascent society, composed of the elite of our youth, allows for the most flattering hopes.
- Our Vice-President John Turney, Esquire, it is deservedly that he enjoys the regard and confidence of his co-citizens. He has rendered eminent services to them, and he will do so again when the occasion comes.
- The Compagnie canadienne de commerce en commandite of Montreal. Its successes surpassed expectations. May it continue to receive the support it deserves.
- The Montreal Medical Bureau. — Its composition received the approbation of the country, and it must be hoped, the next election will not change the spirit which directed and animated it.
- The body of the Canadian Retail Traders of Montreal. — The distinguished themselves by the integrity and their patriotism.
- The liberal priests of this district. — They are, hopefully for the country, the great majority.
- Agriculture, principal source of the wealth of this country. Honour to those who are dedicated to it.
- The English colonies of North America. — They are coming out of their doze to claim their rights. May they obtain them.
- The 2nd Company of Volunteer Riflemen of Montreal and Mr. de Bleury, its Captain. — Their beautiful discipline and the spirit animating them offers some guarantees of their conduct, when the country will need their succour.
- The trade and working class of Montreal and this country in general. May education continue to spread among the useful members of society, and may they they procure the wellbeing and ease they deserve by their works.
- Mr. William Evans, farmer of Côte Saint-Pierre. — For several years, he held with honour and success the place of secretary of the Société d'Agriculture in that district. The people and the agricultural class will never forget his great services.
These toasts were intermingled by music, and several speeches were pronounced, among others by the Mayor and Messrs T.S. Brown, C.-O. Perrault, de Bleury, Lafontaine, E.-E. Rodier, (these last three being Members of Parliament.) Dr. O'Callaghan, Létourneux members of the Canadian House Sicotte, Turney, Laberge, Dr. Vallée and Gosselin. The President and Messrs O'Callaghan and Rodier had to occasion to address the meeting several times.
Some songs were sung by the Mayor, Mr. Turney, and several other messieurs. Mr. George Cartier also sang a song he had composed for the occasion. The following verses, whose author kept anonymous, were delivered to the president who read them.
St. John the Baptiste in your memory,
We have consecrated this day;
We wish to serve your glory,
You must serve us in return.
We ask for your might
To help in our efforts and vows,
When we will need to implore your clemency,
Be the intercessor between us and the Gods.
The World say they are redoutable,
These Frenchmen from who we descend;
But even if they were not so worthy
Thanks to St. John we will be worthy;
They have struck tyranny,
We will bring it down too.
If faith made another race our enemy,
Watch over us, St. John and make us the victors.
Honour, glory and the fatherland
Do not carry all our leanings,
We keep for our girlfriends
Love, pleasures, and sweet feelings.
To Canada as well as to his beautiful
Each one swears fidelity!
And ask St. John, that one be faithful as well
while the other wakes at the cry of Liberty!
The greatest gaiety reigned during the whole soirée. The diner. prepared by Jehlen, was splendid. His tables were placed in the garden of Mr. McDonnell, lawyer, who had the politeness to offer it for this pastoral festival. His lights suspended to trees, the music, the perfume spread by the flowers, the beauty of the site, all tended to add to the charm of the spectacle. This holiday, whose goal is to solidify the union of the Canadians, will not go without bearing fruit. It will be celebrated annually as a National Holiday and will not miss producing the happiest results.
* Reproduced in Honoré-Julien-Jean-Baptiste Chouinard (1881.) Fête nationale des Canadiens-Français célébrée à Québec en 1880, Québec : A. Côté et Cie, p. 517-520 (online)