Byline: Dan Snow
I ARRIVED in Quebec on the trail of a famous British victory. Just over 250 years ago on a plain above the city, a British army in the heart of enemy territory, and wholly outnumbered, fought a battle which would change the world.
The Battle of Quebec was a triumph for British General James Wolfe, who died from musket wounds at the glorious moment of victory. The battle is now largely forgotten but it is a story that was once familiar to every British schoolchild and a founding myth of the British Empire. The details are relatively simple. The British Government sent a fleet of nearly 200 ships carrying 20,000 men on an extremely hazardous mission through uncharted waters. The battle would become the template for how Britain would go on to conquer vast areas of the world and British victory at Quebec led to the creation of modern America as we know it today.
It was the pivotal encounter of the Seven Years War in which the world's two great superpowers, Britain and France, fought over the future of the American continent. At the centre of the conflict lay Quebec, the capital of what the French called New France. At its peak in 1712 the territory of New France was vast, extending from Newfoundland to the Rocky Mountains and from Hudson Bay to the Gulf of Mexico.
I am half-Canadian (my mother comes from Toronto) and I've always been fascinated by the events of 1759. During my schoolboy summer holidays in Canada I used to hear stories of that battle, tales of the British army's daring exploits on the water and on the battlefield.
Recently I spent three years writing a book - Death Or Victory - on the subject of the battle. Last year I was fortunate enough to spend time making a film which relates the events outlined in my book. Working on the film gave me another very welcome …