Mary Ann

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.

26 thoughts on “Mary Ann”

  1. 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.

  2. Francine Poulin

    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.

  3. 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

  4. 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.

  5. 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

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