I started at the Musée canadien des civilisations/Canadian Museum of Civilisation in Gatineau across the river from Ottawa. This museum is in the process of being rebranded a museum of Canadian history from prehistory to the present-day. Consequently, it has a great collection! I was able to explore exhibition files in the museum archives, as well as consult the library, before meeting with Jean-François Lozier, a curator at the museum whose specialty is on Canadian history and material culture to the mid-nineteenth century. We looked at curatorial files for several objects of interest to me, in addition to discussing my project. It was a productive meeting and great to meet someone who had heard of Winterthur!
After two days in Gatineau, I headed to Montréal. Founded as Ville-Marie in 1642, Montréal was the site of an earlier trading post and is now an important metropolis and home to several important museums and collections. My first visit was to the Grand Séminaire, a seminary founded by the Sulpician Order in 1840. The seminary's origins go back to the 1660s, when the Sulpicians became seigneurs of Montréal. An important order in the religious landscape of French colonial Canada, the Sulpicians were given a number of objects and furnishings by Monseigneur de Pontbriand, the last bishop of New France, upon his death in 1760. Pieces still in the collection include a French commode with what I believe to be original hardware from the 1740s (and identical to drawer pulls excavated at the fortress of Louisbourg in Nova Scotia), a suite of 8 contemporary armchairs the bear the mark of Parisian joiner Jean Nadal, and a clock.
My second day in town I visited the Stewart Museum on the île Ste-Hélène, an island in the Saint Lawrence River housed in an early nineteenth-century British fort. I was able to look over some archives related to Vaudreuil and the marquis de Beauharnois, another colonial governor-general, in addition to the permanent collection.
That afternoon was especially exciting as I had the chance to tour the storage facility for the McCord Museum. The Museum owns several pieces of furniture with a history of having been used in the hôtel de Vaudreuil. I haven't written too much on this structure, but it's an important part of understanding the furnishings for the château Saint-Louis. Built by Philippe de Rigaud as a private residence and subsequently leased to the crown for use by the governors-general in the winter months, the hôtel was one of the grander edifices in Montréal. I wonder if its furnishings might have actually traveled between Montréal and Québec as the governors changed residences. Although Louis XIV made Versailles the permanent home of the court in 1682, it originally led a nomadic existence. Kings and noblemen changed residences with the seasons, taking their belongings- furnishings included- and other supplies with them. Acquired by the museum with a story of having been owned by Pierre de Rigaud in Montréal, it is possible that three Parisian armchairs bearing the marks of Charles Cressent, a circa 1720 Régence armchair, and a walnut commode were among the furnishings of the château Saint-Louis and/or the hôtel de Vaudreuil.
I'm now in Québec, where I'm visiting lots of interesting things. More later!