When we caught sight of the parliament building in Quebec City and saw a plywood construction barrier surrounding it, I had a sinking realization. “I’m not going to see that statue,” I told Ray.
When we went inside to join a tour of the building, I told our guide about my ancestry and asked if there was any way I could see the Boucher statue behind the construction barrier. As it turns out, the entire front lawn area of the building is being excavated and the statue which is normally at ground level is now three stories up from the excavated ground! That made my request impossible.
I was disappointed, but when I picked up a booklet called Memories in Bronze: The Statues in the Facade of the Parliament Building, and saw among the descriptions of the twenty-four statues on the front of the building, a half-page devoted to my ancestor, I got giddy again.
I was excited to learn that Pierre’s statue is among the eighteen that represent specific individuals from Quebec’s history. Three of those eighteen are the well-known Samuel de Champlain, as well as Jacques Marquette and Louis Joliet, the two French explorers whom we learn about in American history because of their exploration of the Mississippi River.
This is what the booklet said about Pierre Boucher:
Pierre Boucher was born in Mortagne, France. He was fluent in Native languages, and was a soldier and interpreter for the Compagnie des Cent-Associes in Trois-Rivieres. He later became a captain, the Governor of Trois-Rivieres, the founder and Seigneur of Boucherville, a royal judge and a King’s councillor. In 1653, he saved Trois-Rivieres from destruction by the Iroquois, thus doubtless saving the entire colony. His understanding of the problems of New France made him the ideal choice for a mission to France, where he met with Colbert, Conde and Louis XIV. In 1664, he published a fascinating natural history of New France.
With those kind words about my ancestor in my heart, I toured the building with Ray and a multi-national group.
When our tour was completed, our guide looked at me and beckoned with his finger for me to follow him, saying, “I have something for you.” He led Ray and me down a hallway to this painting of the Honorable Charles Boucher de Boucherville, a former official of the Quebec parliament, whom our guide assumed might also be a descendant of my ancestors. I have since learned that he is.
When the contractors covered the ground level statues to protect them during the construction process, they attached large pictures of the statues to the plywood covers. I was determined at least to get a photo of the picture.
Just to show you how determined I was, let me show you how I got the photo. See this monument far out on the front lawn?
I climbed onto the curved base (which is higher and steeper than it looks) to peer far away over the top of the plywood and set my camera on its highest zoom to get that photo of a photo of the statue.
Before we went outside and I found a place for my shots, I talked to a security guard at the parliament building exit. Thinking Ray and I would just have to figure out a way to come back when the work was finished, I asked when the work would be finished. “Three years,” was her reply.
I found this photo on Shutterstock which shows how the parliament building looked before the excavations began. I hope the new improvements are this beautiful.
The statue Ray and I were looking for is just a work of bronze. It is a treasure to me only because it represents my heritage. It really does exist behind the plywood; it is just hidden from view right now.
The real treasures are in Christ, and they are available to us all if we seek them with all our hearts. The apostle Paul told the Colossians:
For I want you to know
how great a struggle I have on your behalf
and for those who are at Laodicea,
and for all those who have not personally seen my face,
that their hearts may be encouraged,
having been knit together in love,
and attaining to all the wealth that comes
from the full assurance of understanding,
resulting in a true knowledge of God’s mystery,
that is, Christ Himself,
in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.