Je me souviens (I Remember)

Monday, August 09, 2010


We have officially been here for 2 days now and there has been this question as we have been driving around about what really does "Je me souviens" mean and with my very little french I was able to find in my little french dictionary that 'souviens' means 'Remember'. So I left it... for about a afternoon... but then we were able to walk around the Old City for a little while and saw the Parliament buildings which I would have to say took my breath away. And there it was again below the coat of arms... "Je me souviens"... and again under a statue of a cross and a sword "Je me souviens"... Remember, Remember, Remember... But what are we remembering? I am officially hooked; I need to find out.

It seems that in 1883, Eugène-Étienne Taché, architect and Assistant Commissioner for Crown lands, had the motto carved in stone below the coat of arms of Quebec however Taché does not appear to have left any document explicitly stating the intended meaning of the motto. (He apparently thought it was self explanatory, but not to the generations following)

That Quebecers had adopted Taché’s motto since the late 19th century is shown in a speech by historian, politician and member of the legislative council Thomas Chapais, in 1895:

The province of Québec has a motto which it is proud of, and likes to engrave on the pediments of its monuments and palaces. This motto has only three words: Je me souviens, but these three words in their simple laconicism equal the most eloquent of speeches. Yes, we remember. We remember the past and its lessons, the past and its misfortunes, the past and its glory.

It is also said that it is only the beginning of a longer poem saying:

Je me souviens / Que né sous le ly s/ Je croîs sous la rose.

I remember / That born under the lily / I grow under the rose.

The lily and the rose were referring to the floral emblems of the kingdoms of France and England.

So now my quest to know is a little bit satisfied, part of me would like to know what was in the mind of  Taché when he first put it on the coat of arms and if he really knew that saying would be such huge part of Quebec's future.

So today with all of Quebec, as I learn and as I grow to understand and love the culture of Quebec; I will remember with them; I will learn what it is to remember and remember it well. Even as I remember my own past; the past God has brought me through to be at the place I am today. To remember that even though things seem concrete God can turn then upside down in just a year. I remember the friends that have helped me to grow and pushed me forward... I will remember the past and it's lessons, the past and its misfortunes, the past and its glory...

2 comments

  1. What a great post... we have a missionary from our church that serves on the university campus in Sherbrooke and she always speaks so highly of the culture in Quebec, so glad you guys are getting to immerse yourselves in it!

    - Ben & Lisa

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  2. I dont know if you guys recieved any of my offers to place a bet on the USA vs. Canada Olympic Hockey game. Needless to say im glad you didnt, just wanted to say congratulations (theres no spell check on this thing)wish you guys the best. Please feel free to contact me for future wagers on upcoming competitions between our respective countries. -Jordan

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