The Governor and the General
Home Radio Television Curio.ca
CAPH banner left CAPH banner centre CAPH banner right
Rumblings of War
The Governor and the General
Header 3 Header 4 Header 5
History Home
The Governor and the General
The Governor and the General
Quebec City was the centre of France's operations in North America and in 1756, it became a wartime city, filled with soldiers and refugees.

Canada had been rooted here for 150 years with many families into their fifth generation.
France was a dim memory for some long-time Canadian families but the war in Europe would disrupt their lives.
France was a dim memory for some long-time Canadian families but the war in Europe would disrupt their lives.
For some, France was a dim memory in stories told by grandfathers. But this was about to change. When Europe erupted into war, France and Britain brought their fight for world dominance to the farthest reaches of their empires, including Canada.

In April 1756, before Britain's official declaration of war in May, France sent Louis-Joseph, the Marquis de Montcalm to Quebec to command all the forces in North America. Montcalm, at forty-four, was a career soldier from a distinguished French family. He had begun his military training at the age of nine and had a good military record, but little money.

"I believed I must accept an honourable commission, but it would also be a sensitive one, because it must also secure my son's fortune.
In Lower Canada, most farmers did not own their land but gave part of their harvest as payment to the landowner. (As portrayed in Canada: A People's History)
In Lower Canada, most farmers did not own their land but gave part of their harvest as payment to the landowner. (As portrayed in Canada: A People's History)
An important goal for a father, but it was a commission I never asked for nor desired."

Montcalm was short, impatient, determined and vain – the physical and temperamental opposite to Canada's Governor Pierre de Rigaud, the Marquis de Vaudreuil. Vaudreuil was the first Canadian-born governor of the colony. At fifty-seven, the colonial aristocrat was a big man who favoured directness. He was ambitious and confident that he could handle whatever might come. He didn't think an imported French general was the person to lead the North American troops.

"War in this country is very different from the wars in Europe...the Canadians and Indians would not march with the same confidence under the order of a commander of the troops from France as they would under the officers of this colony," wrote Vaudreuil.

The Governor and the General quickly came to detest each other and wrote regularly to France, each informing his superior of the other's perceived shortcomings.

"Monsieur de Montcalm is so quick-tempered that he goes to the length of striking the Canadians," Vaudreuil wrote to the Minister of the Marine.
Louis-Joseph, the Marquis de Montcalm was a career soldier from a distinguished French family. (As portrayed by Guy Nadon in Canada: A People's History)
Louis-Joseph, the Marquis de Montcalm was a career soldier from a distinguished French family. (As portrayed by Guy Nadon in Canada: A People's History)
"How can he restrain his officers when he cannot restrain himself?"

Vaudreuil, in turn, was described as "a timid man and one who neither knows how to make a resolution or to keep one once made."

Montcalm believed that war was the business of Europeans and had no taste for the guerrilla tactics of the New World that Vaudreuil subscribed to.
Pierre de Rigaud, the Marquis de Vaudreuil was the first Canadian-born governor of New France. (As portrayed by Paul Savoie in Canada: A People's History)
Pierre de Rigaud, the Marquis de Vaudreuil was the first Canadian-born governor of New France. (As portrayed by Paul Savoie in Canada: A People's History)
The European strategy was to deliver a single well-timed volley that devastated the enemy line. Battles tended to be brief and casualties were high. War came with a set of manners, although "civilized" warfare was far more destructive than the Indian guerrilla tactics, which inflicted a more specific cruelty on a much smaller number of the enemy.

Montcalm also wasted no time in showing his opinion of most Canadian officers: "...Langy excellent, Marin brave but stupid; the rest are not worth mentioning..."

top of page


Last Topic:
Acadian Expulsion

Current Topic:
The Governor and the General

Clashes in the Ohio Valley
Clashes in the Ohio Valley
read more ...

French and English sever diplomatic ties
French and English sever diplomatic ties
read more ...

Acadian Expulsion
Acadian Expulsion
read more ...

history home | explore the episodes | biographies | teacher resources | bibliography | games and puzzles | sitemap | contact us
cbc home | tv episode summaries | merchandise | press releases | behind the scenes | audio/video

copyright � 2001 CBC