250th Anniversary of the Battles - The Commission cancels the re-enactments to avoid endangering the safety of the Plains' visitors

    QUEBEC CITY, Feb. 17 /CNW Telbec/ - This morning, the National
Battlefields Commission has announced the changes brought to its commemorative
program for the 250th anniversary of the Québec battles. After several days of
consultation and listening, the Commission was able to get a feeling of
people's sensitiveness about certain elements of its program. The Commission
gives up the re-enactments of the Battles of the Plains of Abraham and
Sainte-Foy. The priority of the Commission is to guarantee the safety of all
those who visit this historic park. The Commission will offer a simple,
respectful program that will call to mind the importance of these historic
events, and the siege of Quebec's tragic consequences for its civilian
    At the end of July, there will not be any activity to replace the
re-enactment that would have been the most imposing demonstration of the kind
in the country, presented to the public. From 2000 to 3000 re-enactors were
expecting to participate, these are volunteer history buffs who travel the
world to take part in period evocations. Also, 100,000 visitors were expected
on this occasion.
    As for the masked ball that was to depict society life in the months
prior to the battle, it is replaced by a presentation of different actors of
the period, to illustrate by other means the climate that prevailed in the
city before the coming of the British.
    The Commission's decision has been thoroughly thought out: the approach
selected to commemorate the battles, which relied on a large public and gave
the re-enactors total freedom of action, led the Commission to conclude that
it could not guarantee the safety of families and re-enactors.
    Mr. Juneau has regretted the magnitude of the media tempest around part
of the program contemplated by the Commission. He said that he understood that
the idea of looking back on an event that has deeply affected the province of
Québec could stir up very mixed feelings. However, it would be unfortunate to
pretend that these historical events never occurred and to forget the
hardships and the courage of the city's inhabitants and of the combatants.
However, it would be unfortunate to pretend that these events never occurred,
and to forget the hardships and courage of the city's inhabitants and of the
    The chairman of the Commission, Mr. André Juneau, accompanied by Jacques
Mathieu, historian and member of the board of directors, referred to the fact
that the mandate of the National Battlefields Commission is clear: to preserve
Québec City's great historical battlefields and to develop this heritage for
the benefit of the population. The Commission deplores the fact that its
commemorative project was interpreted as a celebration rather than a wish to
recall this event collectively, as a duty of remembrance. The reminder of an
historical event is not dependent on victory or defeat, but on the importance
of this event in our history.
    The Commission funds its commemorative activities from its operating
budget. Nearly $320,000 have been earmarked to offer the public: thematic
days, an exhibition on the Seven Years' War, symposiums with the participation
of historians, memorials in memory of the combatants, books recalling the
writings of the military and civilians who lived through these events, and
more. The Commission will collaborate with other organizations to recall with
the utmost accuracy the facts that unfolded here 250 years ago.
    The main confrontation on the Plains of Abraham actually lasted only a
few minutes, but Quebec and its surrounding areas were in the throes of the
British siege for nearly three months. Raids, bombardments, destruction, acts
of violence, famine, fighting, heroic gestures, etc. punctuated these troubled
days and marked an entire population. The Commission has offered to
collaborate with several organizations grouping together municipalities,
historical societies, museums and historic sites of Québec and its surrounding
areas, which have planned commemorative activities on their respective sites.
    The 250th anniversary program is meant as a rigorous, respectful
historical evocation of the Battle of the Plains of Abraham on September 13,
1759 and the Battle of Sainte-Foy on April 28, 1760. These activities will
allow many people to learn about the Seven Years' War, about the context of
the battles and the stakes involved, about the true historic facts, the lives
of soldiers during this period, the French as well as the British, Canadians,
and Amerindians, etc. This will be a unique opportunity to increase everyone's
knowledge about what occurred at the time.
    Created in 1908, at the same time as the Commission, Battlefields Park is
the first national historic park in the country, and one of the most
prestigious in the world. Over four million visitors come every year to Québec
City's rallying site par excellence.

For further information:

For further information: Joanne Laurin, Communication Officer, National
Battlefields Commission, (418) 649-6251, joanne.laurin@ccbn-nbc.gc.ca

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