5 May

Wolfe Choosing his Battleground, 1759

Siege of Quebec Begins

Although Quebec did not surrender to Wolfe's forces until September 18, 1759, after the battle on the Plains of Abraham on September 13, the campaign began on May 5. When Wolfe sailed from England in February, with twenty-two warships, as well as frigates and sloops of war, he went to Halifax and stayed there because Louisburg harbour was closed by ice. Work began on the assembling of an army. Most of the units had been engaged in the attack on Louisburg the previous year. When the troops were assembled and counted, there were only 9,000 men. The battle plan called for 12,000. Wolfe refused to be discouraged and wrote to Prime Minister Pitt: "If valour can make amends for lack of numbers, we shall probably succeed."

It was an optimistic point of view, because Montcalm had 15,000 regulars and 1,000 militia. Quebec was supposed to be an impregnable fortress, and under those conditions the attacking force should be far greater than the defenders.

Then carne another blow. On May 5, Captain Durell sailed from Halifax with a number of warships to block the St. Lawrence. The plan was to prevent reinforcements arriving from France. Durell was too late. Twenty-three French transports under Admiral Bougainville had already made their way up the river to Quebec.

Durell took his ships up the river after them until they arrived at Isle-aux-Coudres, 60 miles below Quebec. Montcalm had wanted to fortify the island, but had been over-ruled by Governor Vaudreuil, who, with Intendant Bigot, was his biggest handicap. The opportunity to establish a base there was seized by Colonel Guy Carleton, later to play a greater part in the development of Canada as Lord Dorchester. He was in charge of the troops in the Durell expedition.

There were many notable players in the drama of Quebec. Cook, Who became an explorer of the Pacific coast, was a "Master" or navigating officer of Wolfe's armada, and guided it safely through the almost uncharted waters of the St. Lawrence during May and June. Sometimes the armada stretched for miles as it made its way up the river. It was one of the greatest feats of navigation of all time, as not a ship was wrecked. The French were dumbfounded when they saw the British ships sail through "the traverse" where they would seldom risk a ship of their own.


5 May

-1660    Bishop Laval announced that he would excommunicate people caught selling liquor to the Indians.

-1665    Twelve horses were brought to Quebec. The Indians called them "the moose from France."

-1789    Captain Martinez claimed Nootka Sound, British Columbia, for Spain.

-1813    Sir Tames Yeo arrived at Quebec with 450 'seamen. He was made Commodore of the Royal Navy on Lake Ontario.

-1814    Yeo attacked Oswego, New York, with 1,100 men.

-1859    New Westminster was made capital of British Columbia. (Vancouver Island was a separate colony.)

-1929    C.N.R. radio operators established two-way telephone links from trains.