Founding Fathers: The Celebration of Champlain and Laval in the Streets of Quebec, L878-1908

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Ronald Rudin, Founding Fathers: the Celebration of Champlain and Laval in the Streets of Quebec, l878-1908 (Toronto University of Toronto Press, 2003, 290pp. Cloth. £40.00. ISBN 0-8020-645-7. Paper: £15.00. ISBN 0802084796.

The publication by H.V. Nelles in l999 of The Art of Nation Building delivered a splendid study of the tercentenary of Champlain's founding of Quebec City. If Ronald Rudin now returns to the subject he does so in an account that both complements and extends that initial investigation: anyone interested in the form and significance of commemorations must consult both works. Their scope is not identical. Rudin pays equal attention to the process by which the accidental discovery in l877 of the remains of Mgr François de Laval was prelude to an unexampled reburial the following year. This provided, under clerical direction, a dramatic expression of national identity. It also served to stimulate a campaign of a somewhat different nature to recognize the founding role of Champlain. Laval's significance was overwhelmingly Québécois: Champlain was to be celebrated as the founder of Canada, to whose historical role English and Protestants might equally pay respect and offer financial support. …