I decided to finish my Québec sourcebook. It was that or delete it from my hard drive.
This is the foreword and the introduction. This is mainly the history of the province. Up to the Conscription riots, this is the real deal. After that, it diverges. I used mostly real political historical figures but willingly misplaced them. I also tried to solve 2 big issues that I had with the FASA Québec:
1- This fantasy "Governor" stuff. A quick search of the 1930s to 1950s history of Québec would have revealed a much better autocrat : Maurice Duplessis. He is a very interesting character to say the least. (I high recommand his biography by Conrad Black, out of print in English but really a great read)
2- The occupation of all of southern Québec by the MP. With that, Québec is not a viable state and there is no way in hell that the MP got enough troops to occupy that much ground.
So please comment and be blunt. Yazhuk already did it a couple of years ago and it helped me alot to rewrite this part. If you want the .doc, just PM me.
I'm not a native English speaker, so thank you also in advance to correct my mistakes.
My first questions are: Is it too long? What parts are not interesting? What parts do you want to know more about?
So here it is:
Je me souviens – A People’s Christian Democratic Republic of Québec Sourcebook
Foreword from the editor
The book you are currently holding took us a long time to write. Not much as been published on the République of Québec since it seceded from Canada in 1931. Even us at Air Action Weekly, have been guilty of under coverage of this country, until recently. With the recent daring recapture of the town of Sherbrooke in early 1937, Québec became the centre of the world’s diplomatic attention as its neighbours, enemies and allies tried to prevent a full scale war with the Maritime Provinces.
This forced us to reconsider our coverage of the largest Francophone state on the continent. However, the language barrier and the distrust that Quebecers have toward foreigner made this assignment tough, even the People’s Collective is easier to cover. But now, after almost six months of hard work, we are now able to present you a complete report and coverage of one of the most fascinating and unknown country of our continent.
This book would not have been written without the collaboration of many Quebecers that made possible for our reporters to get a better understanding of this closed and homogeneous society. To this effect AAW would like to give particular thanks to M. Jim O’Brien of the Chronicle Telegraph in Québec City, whose help proved priceless to arrange for meetings and visits of the République officials and military installations. Also, this book was made possible by the active cooperation of the Armée de l’Air du Québec (the Québec air force) or AAQ, which gave us permission to tour most of their facilities with reasonable freedom.
In the hope that this book will allow you to have a better understanding of this nation.
Nero L. MacLeon editor Air Action Weekly
ES Intelligence memo Q-2443
To: all pilots and military personnel
Subject: République of Québec
The task of gathering information about the République of Québec is a great challenge; despite our best efforts we were unable to make significant infiltration of Québec’s territory and institutions. We are also faced with repeated refusals of the Maritime Provinces regarding an intelligence sharing treaty. Therefore, we recommend that you read this publication, to which our observations were added. Although the threat level posed by Québec is low compared with the ISA and Hollywood, the surprising performance of some of the Québec based groups and the steady expansion of the AAQ force us to remain vigilant. This document should be examined with the outmost care by all personnel.
Col. Gregory Leblanc, Deputy Director of the Québec and Maritime Provinces division of the Empire State Intelligence Agency
Introduction - The ROQ history and current situation
The first French explorer to reach Quebec was Jacques Cartier, who planted a cross in 1534 in the Gaspé Peninsula and claimed the land in the name of the King of France. French merchants soon realized the new territory was full of valuable fur-bearing animals, especially the beaver, an important commodity as the European beaver had almost been driven to extinction. Eventually, the French crown decided to colonize the territory.
Samuel de Champlain is credited with the founding of Québec City in 1608. It was built as a permanent fur trading outpost to forge a trading and military alliance, with the various native American nations. They traded their furs for goods such as metal objects, guns, alcohol, and clothing.
From Quebec adventurers and Catholic missionaries used river canoes to explore the interior of the North American continent.
New France became a Royal Province in 1663. This ushered in a golden era of settlement and colonization in the territory. Colonists built farms on the banks of St. Lawrence River and called themselves "Canadiens". The colony's total population was limited, however, by a winter climate significantly harsher than that found in France; by the spread of diseases; and by the refusal of the French crown to allow Huguenots, or French Protestants, to settle there.
The Seven Years' War / Capitulation of New France
In 1753 France began building a series of forts in the contested Ohio Country. They refused to leave after being notified by the British Governor, and in 1754 George Washington launched an attack on the French Fort Duquesne (now Pittsburgh) in the Ohio Valley in an attempt to enforce the British claim to the territory. This frontier battle set the stage for the French and Indian War in North America. By 1756, France and Britain were battling the Seven Years' War worldwide. In 1758, the British mounted an attack on New France by sea and took the French fort at Louisbourg.
On September 13, 1759, General James Wolfe defeated General Louis-Joseph de Montcalm on the Plains of Abraham outside Quebec City. The fall of Québec cut the rest of New France from the supplies from the motherland and the rest of the colony capitulated on the spring of 1760.
The defeat of the Plains of Abraham could be single out as the founding moment of the Québec nation. Before it most of the Canadiens considered themselves French. However after the defeat they started to establish their own identity. The defeat is blamed, in the Québec collective spirit, on the arrogance and incompetence of the French, especially Montcalm, that forced the Canadiens militiamen to fight like European soldiers instead of letting them do what they did best, harassing the British and attacking their supply trains. Even today Quebecers are very reluctant to accept any kind of military help of advice from France, with the exception of Foreign Legion soldiers and officers that are not considered French by most Quebecers. The Québec/France relationship could be best described as an old bickering couple. But in the end they will remain united. -L
Following that defeat France ceded most of its North American possessions to Great Britain in favor of the island of Guadeloupe for its then-lucrative sugar cane industry.
This trade is still rescented today by Quebecers along with the quote made by Voltaire at the time that the country was not worth anything because it was only “A few acres of snow.” -L
The British Royal Proclamation of 1763 renamed New France the Province of Quebec.
This was the first use of that name for the territory. Before that, Canada, a mispronunciation of Kanata an Iroquois word meaning settlement, was the name use for the territory along the St-Lawrence valley. -L
The Quebec Act
After the capture of New France the British implemented a plan to control the French and entice them to assimilate into the British way of life. They prevented Catholics from holding public office and forbade the recruitment of priests and monks, effectively shutting down Quebec's schools and colleges that were controlled entirely by the Catholic Church. This first British policy of assimilation lasted 11 years and was deemed a failure. Both the demands in the petitions of the Canadiens' élites and the recommendations by Governor Guy Carleton played an important role in convincing London to drop the assimilation scheme. But the looming American revolt was certainly also a factor as the British were fearful that the French-speaking population of Quebec would side with the rebellious Thirteen Colonies to the south, especially if France allied with the Americans as it appeared it would.
This failed policy of assimilation entrenched a general suspicious toward London, later the Feederal government and anybody speaking English in general, in the collective identity of the Quebecers.-L
In 1774, the British Parliament passed the Quebec Act that paved the way to official recognition of the French language, civil law and culture.
Quebec during the American Revolutionary War
On June 27, 1775, General George Washington decided to attempt an invasion of Canada to occupy Quebec and the St. Lawrence River both important for the supply of the British. The force was defeated in a series of battles in Québec and Trois-Rivières and in early 1776 the army withdrew back to Ticonderoga.
Although some help was given to the Americans by the locals, Governor Carleton punished American sympathizers and the Catholic Church put its influence behind the British Government, so almost no Canadien helped the invaders.
At the end of the American Revolutionary war, around 50,000 British Loyalists from America came to Canada and settled amongst a population of 90,000 French people. Many of the loyalist refugees settled into the Eastern Townships of Quebec, in the area of Sherbrooke, Drummondville and Lennoxville.
The Patriotes' Rebellion
In 1837, after many attempts to change the way the political structure of Canada worked, residents of Québec, led by Louis-Joseph Papineau and Robert Nelson, formed an armed resistance group to seek an end to the unilateral control of the British. They were quickly following by the English speaking citizen of Upper Canada (now Ontario) lead by William Lyon Mackenzie. They made a Declaration of Rights with equality for all citizens without discrimination and a Declaration of Independence of Lower-Canada, the then official name for Québec, in 1838. An unprepared British Army had to raise militia force, the rebel forces scored some victories but were soon defeated. The British army burned the Church of St-Eustache, killing the rebels who were hiding within it. The bullet and cannonball marks on the walls of the church are still visible to this day.
This revolt is still very fresh in the collective memory of Québec and the Patriotes green, white and red flag is still used today by the various militias and “resistance group” in the occupied territories. -L
Act of Union
After the rebellions, the British government merged the two colonial provinces into one Province of Canada in 1840 with the Act of Union and again started a policy of assimilation of the Quebecers.
However, the political union proved contentious. Reformers in both provinces worked to repeal limitations on the use of the French language in the Legislature and the implementation of a responsible government.
In the 1860s, the delegates from the colonies of British North America (Canada, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland) met in a series of conferences to discuss self-governing status for a new confederation. In the end, the British Parliament decided to allow the provinces to keep their local governments but they were to be subordinated to a strong central federal government.
In the remaining years, the various borders of the provinces were determined by the British government and Canada took the shape that we knew until the 1930.
Despite having now a constitution that allowed them a relative amount of freedom, Quebecers still had the feeling that their grievances of 1837 remained unaddressed. Even when Wilfrid Laurier became the first Quebecer Prime minister of Canada this seemed to create more tension than to appease them. The population of Québec still referred to themselves as “Canadiens” or “Canadien Francais” in opposition to most of their English speaking compatriots that still saw themselves as British citizens. This tension was again exposed during Canada’s implication in the Great War.
Québec and the Great War
Although some Quebecers volunteered to serve in the Canadian army during the Great War, they, at first were assigned to English speaking units and denied the rights to form their own units. However after series of editorial in the Québec newspapers denouncing the racism of the Canadian Army and inviting the Quebecers to join the French Foreign Legion, which many did, the Canadian government created a distinct French speaking unit, the 22ième Régiment d’Infantrie nicknamed the Van Doos.
Van Doos being the English mispronunciation of “vingt-deux” French for 22. It has become a badge of honor for this unit and they use it themselves to this day -L
But on the home front, when the Canadian government introduced the conscription in 1917, the differences between the two communities were again exposed. The Anglo-Canadian accepted this fact of life to defend King and country, but in Québec this was vociferously opposed and denounced. In the 1917 election, almost no deputy from Québec was part of the government. This created wounds that would never heal. When the government started to enforce the law in 1918 and actively pursue draft dodgers it led to riots all over Québec. The most serious incidents of violence happened in Québec City where an estimated 15 000 rioters sacked federal offices and police stations. The rioting, that lasted the complete Easter weekend, only came to an end when army units brought in from Ontario used live ammunitions to disperse the crowd. The amount of casualties resulting from that action is still under contention today ranging from five to five hundred protesters killed. As Wilfrid Laurier wrote in a letter to La Presse on Eater Tuesday: “Forcing the French Canadians to serve in a war for a country that is not theirs and in an army that does not want to accommodate them will lead to break up of Canada.” Laurier, an ardent Canadian nationalist, died in 1919 and could not see the fulfillment of his prophecy.
Québec and the Crisis
At the end of the 1920s, Québec was still very much a rural society. There was the start of urbanization around Québec and Montreal but most of the industries were based on the natural resources of the province and owned by Anglophones. With the crash not a lot of French Canadian lost money but they lost their jobs, their house, their farm. As the both Canadian and Québec government were slow to react, the nationalist sentiment grew in the population. There was an exodus from the cities as workers tried their hands at farming so that they could at least escape starvation. Seeing themselves as neglected by London and Ottawa, the majority of the population started to think that their lives would be easier if they were on their own. This sentiment was used by the scandal plagued government of Adélard Godbout to get reelected in 1929 with the slogan “Maitres de notre destin” (Master of our destiny). Their main promise was to renegotiate the Canadian constitution to give Québec more political and financial power within Canada. For the rest of Canada, this was not even a concern since it had to find a way to feed the millions of impoverished and starving Canadians.
The Winter war
The secession of Texas in 1930 seems to have been the spark that lit the powder keg. Witnessing the collapse of its southern neighbour and seeing an opportunity to negotiate with a strong hand, the government of Adélard Godbout sent an ultimatum to both governments on June 24th 1930:
“If the Federal and British governments do not create a country that recognises the place that Québec occupies in the Federation, with the corresponding powers, then this government will be forced to declare independence on January 1st 1931.”
Godbout, a graduate of the Amherst Agricultural College, is the current Québec Ambassador to the Atlantic Coalition, their most important Ally. He accepted the job even if he is a mortal political enemy of the current primer, however he is said to hate the Governor even more. -L
This letter did not spark any negotiations, since both governments refused any discussions. British ships and troops were sent to various parts of Canada with the firm intention of re-establishing order in case of troubles or a declaration of independence of any province. However, on both side of the Atlantic, with the disintegration of the USA and the revolutions in Europe, the Canadian situation was a side show.
The showdown between the Québec, Britain and Canada began in the end of 1930 and are now known as the Winter War. Canadian troops were ordered to occupy strategic locations all around the province and prevent a declaration of independence on New Year’s Day. On November 15th a group of military policemen came to the Québec City Citadelle to put under house arrest the complete Van Doos Infantry regiment.
The Citadelle is still today one of the most important military base of the province. Because of its victories in the Great War the Van Doos was legendary amongst Québecers and was seen as a rallying point in case of crisis. -L
The same operation was planned against all the Canadian units in which the Francophone where in majority, but it backfired. In Québec City and Montréal small groups of soldiers violently opposed the military policemen. They were soon reinforced by municipal and provincial policemen as well as civilians. These actions galvanised the Québec public opinion that changed from a lukewarm support for independence to near fanaticism.
The house arrest plan was part of a poorly though strategy that ended up costing Canada and Britain the war.-L
On November 20th an angry group of Quebecers crossed the bridge between Hull and Ottawa. Unopposed and taking everybody by surprise, including their own government, they attacked the Canadian Parliament, captured several ministers and set fire to the Supreme Court building. On the morning of the 21st Prime Minister Godbout was scheduled to make a radio address in which he would ask the population to stay calm and to refrain from any violent acts. However, 10 minutes before the address, a group of bombers from the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) attacked the radio studio.
Still today there is a lot of confusion about the reasons that motivated the attacks and who ordered it. Some talk about a rogue, French hater commander, others about a simple intimidation mission that went wrong. The fact is that nobody will probably know why this attack was allowed to proceed. -L
The bombs missed their target and fell on a residential neighbourhood killing 150 persons. Enraged, premier Godbout went on the air an hour later and announced the attack to the population. In the same breath he declared independence. He said: “So far the Canada has only brought death and destruction to French Canadians. It is now time to take our destiny into our own hands and build our country as a beacon of freedom against the tyranny of the British Empire. May God help and have mercy on us.” His first action as leader of the People’s Democratic Christian Republic of Québec was to declare war on Canada.
It is important to note that Godbout did not declare war to Britain, forcing the British government to become an aggressor to enter the conflict. This was probably the reason why His Majesty's government did not enter the conflict until January 1931.-L
The declaration of war did little to change the situation on the field. Armed forces from both sides were unprepared. In the case of Québec, it did not even have armed forces. So for the next month, there were small border skirmishes, riots and vendettas against English or French speaking residents on both sides of the frontier. Most of the fighting occurred in the air as a small force of Québec pilots, armed with any fighter they could get their hands on, flew to meet the RCAF that tried to gain air superiority on the Québec territory. Both side where inexperienced and undersupplied, but they clashed constantly over the Gatineau River.
During that period the AAQ was founded and developed its now legendary capacity for improvisation and scrounging. Readers should note that the Winter War was the first real combat test of the Hawker Blizzard, the Fairchild Bandit and the Canadian Car and Foundry Huard.-L
December 20th 1930, the Winter War begins
On the night of the 19th, one of the strongest snow storms of the decade hit the Ottawa/Hull region. Taking advantage of the confusion after the storm General Richard Dallaire, commander of the Armée de Terre Québecoise (ATQ), ordered the 1st Reconnaissance Battalion to cross the Gatineau River two miles north of Ottawa and raid the city. The attack caught the Canadian army completely by surprise. Lead by Maj. Paul Galipeau, the raiding party captured the Ottawa air force base, the main airfield of the RCAF. Pilots and ground crews were taken prisoners and send to a Québec POW camp for the rest of the war. Hangars were destroyed, planes flown back to Québec and most of the 1st RB retreated back. However, Galipeau stayed behind with 50 soldiers to draw the Canadians out of Ottawa. When they moved out of the city, the Fusiliers Mount Royal and the Van Doos, two regular Canadian army units now fighting for Québec, crossed into Ottawa almost unopposed. After 10 days of intense street fighting, Ottawa surrendered on New Year’s Eve 1931.
The fall of Ottawa can hardly attributed to a grand strategy, but to a series of great tactical operations that turned into a strategic victory. The raid on the Ottawa airfield was initiative of Maj. Galipeau, a Hull native that knew the region and led a force composed mainly of local militiamen. They crossed the nearly frozen river using canoes and travelled cross country with snowshoes. It is unlikely that the high command was informed of their success until the next day when they learned that part of the garrison had left the city and was attacking the airfield. Seeing the opportunity, Gen. Dallaire ordered all his forces in the sector to attack Ottawa.-L
After the fall of Ottawa the ground war was paralysed by winter. Apart from small skirmishes and some air raids made by the AAQ, not much happened until January 12th 1931. On this day, a detachment of British Royal Marines landed at Rivière-du-Loup supported by a small naval force. This second front, 125 miles from Québec City, put the young République in a tough position. Nevertheless the ATQ launched a major offensive toward Toronto on January 15th. Surprising good weather conditions allowed the Quebecers to capitalise on their air superiority. At this point the Canadian army was disorganised, confused and undersupplied. The only viable port for supplies from Britain was Vancouver at the other end of the country. Also, with the loss of Ottawa AFB, the RCAF had lost the majority of its aircrafts. The AAQ flew almost unopposed; attacking supply columns and harassing the retreating troops as the ATQ closed on Toronto.
On the other front, the British ransacked Rivière-du-Loup and headed toward Québec City since the ATQ seemed to ignore them.
When the British forces landed in Québec, the République send out distress calls to the French government, asking them to intervene. France was unwilling to declare war to Britain, so they officially refused Québec’s demands. However, massive amounts of supplies and military personnel were sent from France to support the République war effort. Since the British did not want to attack officially neutral French ships and zeppelins, this gave the Quebecers a much needed lifeline. At the same time, the French government played the mediator in cease-fire negotiations between the Québec and England. Envoys from the three countries met in Boston to start negotiations that would ultimately end the war. The French knew that Québec would not stand a chance if the British Empire put all is military might behind the Canadians, but they also knew that the cost for complete victory would be very high and that the British were unwilling to pay it.-L
On the morning of February 2nd 1931 the British task force arrived at Québec City. The Marines landed in the nearby town of Beauport, but meet stiff resistance from the local militias that pinned them in the city and prevented them from proceeding to Québec. Lacking the appropriate manpower to mop-up the area, the Marines started to dig in at Beauport. The next morning the ships started shelling Québec City. Having no navy, the AAQ was sent to silence the guns. It managed to damage a destroyer and to sink a supply ship but at the cost of several airplanes. The next morning, the AAQ deliberately targeted the supply ships in an attempt to starve the British task force. This forced the task force to retreat out of gun range of the city. On land the Marines where under constant harassment by the militias and the AAQ and the causalities started to pile up. The next day, the Voltigeurs, a unit made up of army reservists and demobilized veterans assaulted the Marines’ position. Savage hand to hand fighting occurred this day as half of the city was retaken by the Quebecers.
Unconfirmed reports also add French “advisors” and volunteers mainly from the Foreign Legion, to the composition of the Voltigeurs at the time. -L
Seeing that his supply lines were overstretched and lacking the appropriate airpower, Rear Admiral Bodington ordered the Marines to withdrawal. He planned to return to Rivière-du-Loup, and wait for reinforcements.
In the night of the 5th, the Marines tried to retreat only to find that some ATQ troops were waiting for them on the partially frozen St-Lawrence blocking access to the ships. They were forced back into Beauport. The next morning, boats tried to reach the Marines but the aerial superiority of the AAQ made the rescue attempts impossible. The following night a handful of Marines managed to get to their ships in a sortie that was stiffly opposed by the Quebecers. On the morning of the 8th the British ships withdrew having lost 1 destroyer, 10 supply ships and 150 marines.
Although the British commanders made no blatant tactical mistakes, the lack of airpower created an untenable situation for the Royal Navy.-L
A cold front again swept the area in mid-February freezing the armies to a stop. On March 1st 1931, the three sides announced a cease fire. A week later the treaty of Hull was signed under the hospice of the French foreign Minister M. Jean Moulin. It re-established the pre-war borders and accepted Québec’s secession.
Even though it seems a compromise because of the military victories of the République, it was in fact a great diplomatic victory. With only a small number of soldiers and planes Québec was able to gain independence by defeating a superpower! The treaty of Hull was the death of Canada.-L
After the Treaty
The treaty of Hull was celebrated in Québec as a great victory, the army units were allowed to parade on the main street of Québec and Montréal. Large crowds greeted them, despite of the bitter cold. The Québec negotiator of the treaty, a Montréal businessman named Daniel Lévesque was instantly turned into a national hero. The rest of 1931 was used to create the institutions necessary for the new state, not an easy task during a financial crisis. The introduction of the Lys as a currency to replace the Canadian dollar brought rampant inflation and high interest rates. This was the main reason for the defeat of the Libérals of Godbout in the first Québec elections of 1932. Daniel Lévesque’s Parti du Québec won in a landslide. Surprisingly, instead of claiming the title of Prime Minister, Levesque was named Governor an office that was widely believed to be a symbolic post but is officially the head of state. With a majority in the parliament he was in fact in total control of all the levers of power.
The choice of Levesque may also have to do with the fact that the Governor is a lifetime job. Once a Governor is designated, he can only be replaced after his death or by a unanimous vote of the parliament. -L
One of his first decisions was to move the capital to Montreal where he lived. However, since the new République had very little money to spare, in fact, most of the institutions, including the Parliament, remained in Québec City.
In the two following years Levesque continued to assert his control over the country. He nominated friends and allies to all the key positions in the Québec government. He started a program of redistribution of wealth by seizing the assets of the wealthy English speaking families that were judged not loyal to the République and gave them tol Québec businessmen.
Most of the English families that were allowed to continue their business paid off Lévesque and his friends in order to keep them. The ones that would not or could not pay lost their assets that were given to “loyal” Quebecers i.e. Lévesque’s friends -L.
This also did not help the economy of the country get out of the crisis. Most of the English speaking businessmen that were not affected by the first wave of seizures left the country as soon as they could. This resulted in the closure of some of the remaining factories and a lot of the country’s natural resources could not be exploited because of the lack of industrial infrastructures to do so.
Most of the families that could escape ended up in the Maritime Provinces and started plotting their return. In retribution, the Maritime Provinces expelled most of their French speaking citizen to Québec sending a wave of poor refugees in a country that did not have the means to take care of them. The tensions between the two countries escalated until June 15th 1934 were the Maritime Provinces launched a surprise attack of the République.
The North East War
The objectives of the war remain to this day unclear. Did the Maritime Provinces wanted a complete occupation of Québec or did they only wanted to seize a limited amount of territory? In the end the result is a war that is still unfinished up to this day.
The Maritime Provinces were most likely looking for a complete occupation based on the way they attacked and the amount of manpower that they assigned to the task. -L
After secretly massing most of its army on its northern frontier, the Maritime Provinces launched a three prongs attack, with Rivière-du-Loup, Québec and Sherbrooke as the objectives. In the first days of the invasion, Québec was paralysed, it had been taken completely by surprise and only the slow speed at which the invading force proceeded prevented a complete collapse of the République since they moved mostly unopposed in direction of their objectives.
It took almost three days for the République to start significant resistance. The reason was a power struggle between Levesque, that did not wanted any retreat, and Dallaire, now the head of all armed forces, that wanted to buy time with territory. –L
The Provinces forces advanced almost unopposed to Rivière-du-Loup and Sherbrooke, but on the met fierce resistance on their way to Québec at what is now known as the battle on St-Georges, there the combined ground and aerial Québec forces fought the Provinces’ forces to a stalemate.
St-Georges de Beauce is a city strategically located on the Chaudière River valley. It is in addition an important railroad track junction in the south of Québec. By making their stand there, the Quebec forces factually cut the front in two and prevented the junction of the Provinces’ eastern and western forces. Reliable intelligence about the battle is hard to get but it is estimated to have given place to the most intense fighting since the Great War. The Van Doos and Citadelle and St-Georges squadrons are supposed to have been the main actors for Québec in this battle -L
Shortly after the start of the invasion, France officially entered the conflict. Although it did not declared war of the Martime Provinces it started harassing their ships and zeppelins in the name of “freedom of the seas”.
The French intervention effectively escalated up to an effective embargo of the main Martime Provinces ports. Additionally, huge amount of material was send to Québec and even active military units. Unconfirmed reports mention a complete regiment of the French Foreign Legion and some Armored Cavalry units under the command of the Lieutenant-Colonel Charles De Gaulle were send to Québec. -L
After one month of fighting around St-Georges where every yard was bitterly contested, the Maritime Provinces Commander, Marshal Jonas Boles, decided to send his eastern forces in Rivière-du-Loup toward Québec. This would make St-Georges irrelevant. But as soon as they left the city they came under intense bombardment from a combined Québec/French naval task force that had moved up the St-Lawrence. They push forward but on the outskirts of the village of Kamouraska they found an important Québec force entrenched in front of the city.
These troops were actually French Legionaires. -L
After one week of unsuccessful attempts to enter the village the exhausted Maritime Provinces force retreated to Rivière-du-Loup where it stayed for the rest of the conflict.
Today the Québec/French fortifications extend up to 3 miles in front of Rivière-du-Loup. -L
Further west, Boles send his Sherbrooke force toward Montreal. All the way they were harassed by “guerrilla” style irregular Québec force and the AAQ. However they still moved unopposed until they reached St-Hyacinthe where the ATQ had decided to take a stand in front of the Yamaska River. But before the Maritime Province troops could start assembling to assault the town they were attacked by the 1er Corps de Cavalerie of Québec, lead by the former Canadian General Raymond Brutinel. This strange unit composed of horse cavalry, trucks with machine guns, armored cars and even some small French tanks slammed in the flanks of Maritime Provinces army as it was still moving. The Maritime army was forced to retreat to the nearby city of Drummondville with the Québec armor in hot pursuit.
Using the flat terrain around the city, the Quebecers were able to charge through the moving Maritime Provinces troops and disorganise them. The retreat was more a rout. The Québec troops were superbly lead by Brutinel that was in charge of the only Canadian armored car brigade in the Great War. He is now head of the ATQ.-L
In the months that follow, anytime a significant force tried to exit Drummondville it was immediately attacked by the Québec forces. The Maritime Provinces force managed to retreat back to Sherbrooke only at the cost of abandoning Drummondville. For the remaining months the fighting concentrated itself in St-Georges as both sides poured additional units in the sector. The first week of October 1934 saw the most ferocious fighting take place. After a intense artillery barrage, the Maritime Province army manage to break through the Québec lines, they were stopped half a mile from the city. In the weeks that follow massive numbers of troops were committed to that breach and some trench changed hands three times, in the same day! A daring raid by the Voltigeurs, that used Autogyros to land troops two miles from the front and destroy an artillery firebase, eased the pressure and forced the Maritime Provinces army back to its original lines. After the first blizzards of November, fighting continued sporadically, but neither armies were equipped to fight in the bitter cold winter. Both sides lost many soldiers to frostbites, so in March 1935, Marshal Boles, proposed an armistice to his Québec counterpart, Général Dallaire.
By then Dallaire had been promoted to head of all Québec armed services. -L
The armistice crisis
Dallaire immediately accepted the offer. He knew that is forces were exhausted by the fighting and the weather. The supplies were also running low and he feared that the defenders would break if the Maritime Provinces renewed the attack.
He did not know at the time that the Maritime Provinces army was in just a bad shape as the ATQ. -L
However, back in Montreal, Levesque was furious when he heard the news. He was outraged that the invaders were able to settle on the Québec soil and asked his Prime Minister to sack Dallaire, which he did. When this was made public, Quebecers were outraged. Dallaire was a decorated hero of the Winter War and seen as having saved Québec so far by defeating the advances of the enemy. The backbenchers’ of the Parti du Québec revolted. They threatened to force an early election if Dallaire was not reinstated. Levesque did not back down and new elections were held in early April 1935.The Parti du Québec was defeated by the Union Nationale parti of the former mayor of Trois-Rivière, Maurice Duplessis won by a landslide. The first act of the new Prime Minister, after taking the oath of office was to reinstate Dallaire as head of the armed forces and to formally accept the armistice. This armistice is still holding to this day and no major ground fighting as occurred since then.
However, aerial engagements are still very frequent. At least 15 zeppelins have been shot down/captured since 1934 in that sector. Even if the current maps give the Maritime Provinces control of all of southern Québec their hold is pretty weak. They only have firm control of Rivière-du-Loup and the road leading to it, the Chaudière valley up to St-Georges and west of that the towns of Sherbrooke. Québec troops are entrenched in front of Rivière-du-Loup and in St-Georges. In the west the ATQ seems happy to sit behind the Yamaska rivier near St-Hyacinthe. The Maritime Provinces army does not have the manpower to efficiently occupy the territory and their movements are complicated by harassment from regular and irregulars Québec air units.
After the end of the hostilities Duplessis worked quickly to assert his control on the Québec government.
Duplessis has the reputation of being in control of everything. He is nicknamed “Le Cheuf” by most of the population a slang mispronunciation of “Chef” (boss). That has been translated in the English speaking press as “Da boss”. -L
He sacked most of the Levesque nominated officials, send his main political enemy Godbout to Boston to negotiate a trade union with the Atlantic Coalition and started a program to attract investors in the country. This seems to have worked so far and economic life seems to flourish again in Québec. Although Levesque tries his best to interfere with Duplessis’ plan it is getting hard for him since the new Prime Minister is also the Justice and Defence minister and try to make most of his decisions in ways that do not require the approbation of the head of state.
The political cohabitation between Lévesque and Duplessis is rocky. The Governor is not happy being powerless and the autocratic Duplessis will certainly not share power with a man he despites and considers an opportunist. Tensions got even worst with the draft of a constitutional amendment proposed by Duplessis that would transform the Governor into an elected office, with a six years term. -L
In addition, a lot of money has been poured into the armed forces and the infrastructures of the country creating much needed jobs. Ironically, since 1936 every Québec citizen has the obligation to serve in the armed forces for two years. This has been enthusiastically accepted by the population that is suffering from restrictions imposed by the war even if there now seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel.
This may also be due to the fact that, apart from nouns, monks and priests, there are almost no ways to avoid serving. The Quebecers like that everyone should contribute to the defense of the République. -L
Man, that was not fun to write, but necessary. Now on to the fun part!
Malphas, over and out