Monday, May 20, 2013

Happy Butcher's Day

A statue dedicated to Dollard des Ormeaux, Montreal
Imagine travelling to Chile and discovering that a national holiday is being dedicated to Augusto Pinochet; or to Peru, and Francisco Pizarro is a national hero. Imagine Argentina celebrating dictator Jorge Videla, or Italy Mussolini, or Great Britain Jack the Ripper, or America Charles Manson.

It happens in Canada. Let me rephrase it: it happens in Quebec.
Today, May 20th, is Victoria Day, a day to celebrate Queen Victoria, in all the Commonwealth states.
Except Quebec. Quebec calls it Patriots' Day. It's legitimate, one might say: they celebrate the patriots that, once upon a time, fought against the British Empire.
What few people know outside of Quebec is that until 2003, this same day was dedicated to a man, a colonist and soldier, known by the name of Dollard des Ormeaux.
Dollard des Ormeaux, according to some recent theories and more reliable historical studies, led ambushes and expeditions with the intentions of massacring Iroquis in order to steal their furs and take possession of their territories.

His death, or at least one of the recounts of his death (and the only one I will offer due to its entertaining flavour), occurred during the Battle of Long Sault. Kept under siege in their fort by a large group of pissed Iroquois, Dollard and most of his men were killed by a keg of gunpowder thrown by one of them towards the Iroquois lines. The grenade never made it over the fort walls and bounced back to Dollard, exploding right where it came from: an inglorious end that tastes of Looney Tunes and Wile E. Coyote!

Dollard des Ormeaux is nowadays a small town on the Island of Montreal. A statue dedicated to this French martyr and his bloody missions was erected and stands high and proud in LaFontaine Park, one of the most important parks in Montreal. Dollard des Ormeaux, although Dollard Day has been removed, is still remembered as a hero, martyr, benefactor and figure of selfless honour.

I'd rather call him a butcher and erect a statue in honour of the First Nations and all those native American populations who fell victims to the greed, violence and morbid thirst for blood of the European colonists.



  1. Whoa! Fascinating stuff here, Jay!

  2. Amen! Native American Indians got the short end of the deal once Europeans landed here, and so few tribes exist now. Such a shame.

  3. Morgan,
    Well, I was hoping the way I wrote it would be entertaining in a sarcastic way...

    Dollard gave his small but meaningful contribution towards the short end of the deal. And now he's a hero.

  4. Hi Jay,
    Thank you for sharing this sad, yet informative piece of historic information. I live in MTL and I see/hear the division between anglos, francophones, natives (First Nations), and immigrants. Why can't we all get along? I guess it's human nature to hate and destroy. It's also unfortunate that we don't learn ANYTHING FROM OUR PAST.
    In short, it's all about power and greed!

  5. A wonderful story, Jay. I love this period of history

  6. Here, across the bay in Berkeley, Columbus Day has become Indigenous Peoples Day.

  7. Totally not a nice man nor my idea of a hero! :-( I feel for any descendants of the Iroquois - how hurtful for them. I hope history continues to offer the truth of what this man did no matter the statue! Take care