The Province of Lower Canada
In the spring of 1812, a few months before the outbreak of war between England and the United States, there arrived in Quebec from Boston a young man who was to play an active part in Canadian politics and who has preserved for us a lively description of people and social life in the provincial capital. Andrew Cochran was a Nova Scotian, the son of an Anglican clergyman, but he had found much to admire in Boston, and he contrasted unfavourably the dull greys of the Rue de la Montagne with the neat brick houses and white woodwork of the New England metropolis.
Quebec appears very much to disadvantage after just leaving Boston; there everything is gay, clean and lively. Here the ill-looking stone houses, wearing more the appearance of prisons than habitations, give a gloomy aspect to everything around; added to which the men and women are a set of as ugly beings as ever man looked on. It is really a relief to my eye to see a pretty or even a good-looking face. The snow has not yet left the countryside and the streets are yet villainously dirty from its recent dissolution. The weather, however, is growing very warm and in a short time we shall have summer in all its heat and fury.1
Other visitors to Quebec at this time felt more admiration than Cochran for the picturesque aspects of the city on the rock, but all united in condemning the climate both winter and summer.
From the moment he landed, Cochran had the entrée to the Governor's court in Quebec, for he had known the new Governor-General, Sir George Prevost, in Halifax, and he came under the aegis of Colonel Brenton, Prevost's aide and confidential secretary, with whom he lived on his arrival. With the Brentons he visited the Castle every Tuesday and Thursday evening, and early attended a ball given by Lady Prevost, 'at which I saw the Canadian beauties and all the young girls of respectability. There were none who would not be considered very ordinary in