Protestant ships drifting away


Walker Expedition in 1711 :

Here is how an English invasion attempt failed, the failure of which was due not to the exploits of French arms, but to a series of accidents. Sister Marie Morin describes this assault on Quebec: “It is with great pleasure that I make a few remarks on what happened when the English made a second effort to take control of Canada by force of arms.

For this purpose, they sent 14 to 15 thousand men well equipped with all the ammunition both for weapons and food, with good ships of the line capable of attacking and defending themselves to besiege the city of Kebec (Quebec), capital of all of New France, from the sea side below, and from above, another army of three thousand men to come and attack Ville Marie (Montreal), the most advanced post and exposed to the blows of our enemies, but also the strongest by the protection that the most worthy mother of God has for all the inhabitants of this city, which is consecrated from its beginning, and on which they base their hopes, as I will say below. (C.f. Commentary of : indeed, the English admiral Walker has a fleet of nearly 90 ships and 12,000 sailors and soldiers who besiege Quebec. General Nicholson, who advanced from the south towards Montreal, had 3000 English soldiers and 700 Iroquois. On the French side, there are about 5000 men).

Mr. de Vaudreuil, Governor General, was warned by the court of the English design so that he would be in a position to resist them. He was also informed by Acadia, Plaisance and Île-Percée, on the lower side, and by the Indians, our friends, on the upper side, so that he did not doubt it.

Taking advantage of these lights and advices, he worked incessantly to fortify the city of Quebec and gave orders for the conservation of the sides and villages around, with much wisdom and prudence, and that from the beginning of spring of the year 1711, that is to say in the month of April or towards the end of March.

Monsieur de Ramezay, Governor of Ville-Marie (Montreal), did not fail to give orders to all the inhabitants around and in all his government to be on their guard and ready to leave to go in front of the enemies as soon as he knew they were on their way to come to us, and that on foot through the woods. He constantly sent scouts to England to see if their army was on the march. For 4 months, we were in continuous movement, at least the men, since we had been warned that the army below would lay siege to Quebec at the latest around the middle of July and that the one above would give on Montreal or Ville-Marie at the same time, in concert.

And what was more distressing was that it was known that several of the most warlike savage nations had put themselves on their side and had left the axe on the François, at their request, whom they feared more than all the English because of their cruelty. (C.f. Commentary from Walker left Boston and headed for Quebec on July 30th.

Around mid-September 1711, Monsieur de Vaudreuil was warned by the discoverers on the sea side that the English army was 80 leagues from Quebec. He immediately sent his orders to bring down the men from Ville Marie to Quebec and from the other sides, to defend the capital. Work was incessantly being done to prepare for battle in Quebec City, where the ships loaded with 15,000 fighting men were to land, not including a large number of families and other people who were to settle in Canada. Day and night, we were on guard while working.

In these expectations, there arose a strong northeasterly wind which made arrive at Quebec a big ship of Roy, named “the Hero”, which had passed in the middle of the English army without noticing each other, which was at Isle-aux-Œufs, and which broke at the same time several ships of our enemies against the rocks, so that more than 4 thousand men drowned. Their bodies were found floating on the shore of the sea at that place.


This accident put terror in the English army. They all took the road to Boston from where they had left and lost the desire to take Canada, saying that God was against them. On arriving there, two of their largest ships burned in the harbor without being saved. Some of our Franciscans, who were there as prisoners, saw this and brought it back.”

 On August 18, 1711, Walker’s fleet was at the entrance to the St. Lawrence. A strong wind was rising. A thick fog descended. The English fleet was driven to the north side as far as Ile-aux-Œufs. On the night of August 22, seven transports and a supply ship ran aground. Nearly 900 people drowned, not 4,000 as Sister Marie Morin had said (C.f. Commentary from

After two days, Walker decided to return to Boston. He lost four more boats near Cape Breton. At the entrance to Portsmouth, the flagship exploded for an unknown cause with more than 400 men on board).

These events took place around the middle of August. But the news of the disaster did not reach Quebec until the beginning of October. It was received with great joy. The population of Quebec City flocked to the church in the lower town “to thank Our Lady of Victory for having saved the colony from ruin for a second time. The verve of the writers was given free rein. “The Parnassus became accessible to everyone; the ladies even took the liberty of climbing it.”

“The country was thus finally delivered by the powerful protection of Mary! The Canadians were no less grateful in 1711 than in 1690; a solemn feast was celebrated where M. de la Colombière preached with new zeal and great success, on the fidelity to which this signal benefit of the most holy Virgin obliged; the verve of the poets was exhausted in rhyming poems and songs on the disaster of this enemy fleet, four times more numerous than anything the colony had to oppose it; but piety wanted something more lasting, to testify to posterity of its gratitude to its celestial Deliverer. “

A picture painted in 1747 was added as an ex-voto dedicated to the Virgin Mary for having saved the ship L’Aimable Marthe from sinking. A second ex-voto hangs from the vault of the nave. It is a replica of the Brézé, a ship that carried part of the Carignan-Salières regiment sent to New France in 1665 to counter the Iroquois threat. Originally hung from the ceiling of the Notre-Dame de Québec Cathedral Basilica, it was severely damaged when the vault collapsed in 1759 after a fire. In 1955, after its restoration, it was relocated to the Notre-Dame-des-Victoires church.


Sources :

Commentary from