Changing of the Guard-Québec City
I had always assumed that the changing of the guard only occurred at Buckingham Palace and the craziness of trying to see when you’re buried in a hoard of tourists can be overwhelming (especially if you don’t like crowds!).Imagine our surprise when we arrived in Québec City and discovered that they, too, had a changing of the guard, in the same uniforms with similar bearskin hats and a much better view! At the Citadelle of Quebec-which is still an active military installation-people were able to surround the parade grounds, but it was only a few people deep even at the height of the summer season, allowing for great views of the ceremony performed by the Royal 22e Régiment. The boys were able to sneak right in front and got a perfect view of everything. We were running late, but a guard at the entryway said the last 20 minutes were the best and the entire ceremony was a bit much unless you were really a history buff. The guard was right, the last 20 minutes included the actual ceremony on the parade grounds, the band and the formal exchange between the troops who have been on duty for the previous 24 hours and their replacements.
Queen Victoria’s goatMy son’s favorite part of the changing of the guard was the regimental mascot, Batisse the goat who must be the most well-groomed goat I’ve ever seen! While officially the Batisse symbolizes the “will to succeed”, unofficially, the goat symbolizes the headstrong nature of the regiment. Batisse the 12th is a direct descendant of a Kashimir goat given to Queen Victoria by the King of Iran in 1837. The goats live on a small farm outside of Québec City where they are cared for by the Goat Major who is always an active duty soldier.
Tour of the Citadelle
After seeing the changing of the guard, we went on a tour of the Citadelle. Since it is still an active military base, you must be accompanied at all times. Tours are offered in English and French and our guide was great at giving us the history of the Citadelle and the role it had played in various battles. The oldest fortified building at the Citadelle is La Redoute, which was built in 1693.
My boys giggled over the sneakiness of Governor-General Louis de Buade de Frontenac who tricked an emissary from Admiral Phips, the leader of a group of militia men from Massachusetts. The emissary was sent to demand the surrender of the French colonists prior to the Battle of Quebec in 1690. When the emissary landed, he was blindfolded and escorted through the city where the same small group of French colonists repeatedly harassed him, leading to the impression that the city was much better defended than it actually was.
While you’re not allowed to climb anything at the Citadelle, there are cannons in other parts of the Québec City that were irresistible. The changing of the guard and a tour of the Citadelle were a fascinating part of our visit to Québec City for everyone, and my youngest will always remember Queen Victoria’s goat.
You can view the changing of the guard at the Citadelle from June to September. To learn more about the Citadelle, click here: La Citadelle