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Mary Ann

Posted on 28 Aug, 2018 in History | 26 comments

Mary Ann was a slave who worked in her master’s house near Québec City’s Place Royale. In August of 1777, she left his house without permission and, presumably, fled the city forever. Where did she come from? How did she get there in the first place? There is really no way to know. In the Québec Gazette article that offered a reward for her return, she was identified only as a ‘panese’ woman, a term in common usage at the time that referred to her indigenous identity. She was not the only slave in Québec City at the time; she was not the only slave to flee her master.

241 years after she left, Mary Ann has come back to la Place Royale, but she has come back on her own terms. She is staring across the square that witnessed her servitude, staring down history itself. I wish she could know of the reverence in which she is held by passersby as they read the story of her courage on the plaque next to her likeness.

Her statue is part of the seasonal public art initiative known as Passages Insolites. Historian José Doré and artist Jean-Robert Drouillard have collaborated to make her presence there possible.


  1. Traurig. I hope she had a family of her own and has descendants.

  2. Wonderful tribute to a brave woman.

  3. Was slavery ever legal in the colony or was it just tolerated ?

    • Slavery was entirely legal.

  4. I don’t think the Lady Mary Ann get their name from her tough. Interesting story Neil and keep posting!

  5. Thank you for this entriging bit of your history.

  6. Great article as always

  7. Once again, thank you Neil for insightful pieces of information/history from your part of the world. So glad you are there and include us in your observations.

  8. Merci Neil! J’ai souligné la présence de Mary Ann lors d’un tour samedi dernier.

  9. Tres cool! 🙂 Thanks!

  10. When was slavery outlawed in Quebec? Did Quebec participate in the African slave trade?

  11. Thank you for the infro about Mary Ann!

  12. I see Mary Ann every day and I didn’t read her story. Tomorrow, I will read it. Thank you Neil for sharing. See you sometimes in The Little Champlain.

  13. Hi Neil.

    The “Slavery question” in New France and later in the Province of Québec was for a long time a real Taboo. It’s just during the 1960’s, at the beginning of the Quiet Revolution, that an historian called Marcel Trudel dared to talk first about that; and he was seriously contested, especially by the Catholic Church Authorities, as before they themselves owned some slaves (Indians and Black people) working in their religious institutions.
    And later, we also learned about the Residential Schools….

    Thanks again for your insight. Denis Laberge

  14. Merci Neil de partager l’histoire de cette femme !

  15. Tes chroniques sont toujours intéressantes.
    De plus, le buste de Mary Ann fait ironiquement face à celui de Louis XIV.
    J’essaie le plus souvent possible d’aborder le volet esclavage lors des visites.

  16. Always interesting, Neil.

  17. Pleased to hear from you again. Was worried that you were not well as it has been a while since your last post. Interesting and informative as always

    • Thank you so much for your concern, Liz. I am perfectly well…just a bit lazy at times!

  18. Merci beaucoup Neil. Nice to see that you still keep us sharp.

  19. Thank you for your interesting post. I really enjoy reading them, gives me an insight of Quebec and surrounding areas

  20. Thank you for sharing…Very interesting.

  21. Very interesting story. Appreciate the history.

  22. merci Neil….always improving our knowledge, interesting subjects ! Thanks

  23. I love that kind of new, like Colonial Kidnaping by Juliana l’Heureux, funny because I did a spécial Tour with Passge insolites and I missed this one. Best Regards D.

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