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CHAPTER XIV

 

THE CANADIAN ARMADA

I T was no light task to move an army of 33,000 men from Valcartier Camp to Quebec, where the ships that were to transport it overseas had assembled. But the work was done magnificently during the last week in September, 1914. While the movement of troops and supplies was taking place severe rainstorms somewhat hampered the operations. The wagons and guns were brought to the point of embarkation over the muddy roads, but the men for the most part made the journey by train. As the troops arrived they could see, from points of vantage on the heights of Quebec, at the docks and in the broad river, the greatest fleet that ever assembled in the St. Lawrence.

In the year 1629, when Champlain was struggling at Quebec to build up a New France in America, three English vessels under command of the Kirkes arrived before the rocky fortress. To a curt demand to surrender Champlain was forced by circumstances to yield, and for three years the English flag was to wave over Quebec. In 1690, in the days of Frontenac, a badly-manned and ill-equipped fleet of thirty-odd vessels under Sir William Phips made a futile attempt to capture the ancient capital of Canada. In 1759 a powerful British fleet bore Wolfe and his army to its walls, with the result that French rule came to an end in North America. The whole early history of Quebec is a history of the conflicts between the French and English. But the fleet now assembled in the waters lapping the shores of Cape Diamond was of vastly greater tonnage than the fleets that brought Phips and Wolfe to the St. Lawrence. It was composed not of warships but of swift commodious ocean-liners and roomy cargo-boats. It was there not to

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