History of Le Chien d'Or
The place where is located the art gallery Le Chien d'Or has borne the same name for over 100 years. It all began in the early part of the 20th
century. The café Le Chien d'Or was the first business to open its doors in 1904. A mere 30 years later, during the 1940s, an Irish family took
possession of the place and turned it into the tavern Le Chien d'Or. Then, in 1979, Mr. Lauréat Veilleux transformed the place into an art
gallery. His son, Mr. Jean-Claude Veilleux, took over as owner of the gallery until 2010. For more than 30 years, post stamps, antique books,
and art pieces can be discovered at the gallery. On November 1st, 2010, Anne Lemieux became the third owner of the art gallery Le Chien d'Or;
which, to this day, has retained the same name for 106 years!
The Legend of the Golden Dog (Chien d’Or)
The legend of the Golden Dog (Chien d’Or) is linked to a murder that occurred in Québec City in January of 1748 and to a plate affixed on the Louis-S.-Saint-Laurent building, situated at 3 De Buade Street (the current Chien d’Or alleyway), at the corner of Côte de la Montagne..
The plate is a bas-relief that dates from 1736 and represents a golden dog eating a bone between his paws. The inscription, in French, reads as follows:
« Je suis un chien qui ronge l’o.
En le rongeant je prend mon repos.
Un tems viendra qui nest pas venu
Que je morderay qui m’aura mordu. »
The Origins of the Legend
A surgeon named Timothée Roussel from Montpellier, France, is presumed to have placed the plate above the main door of his residence, built in 1688, in Québec City. Some 45 years later, his heirs to the property sold the house to Nicolas Jacquin, a merchant known as Philibert, originally from the Vosges department in France (1734)..
At the time, as the Ministry of the Navy had deployed its troops in order to defend its colonies, it regularly called upon the residents of Québec City to house its soldiers. Among them, a soldier known under the name of Pierre-Jean-Baptiste-François-Xavier Legardeur, from Repentigny, claimed to have a note granting him permission to stay at the merchant Philibert’s hotel, Le Chien d’Or. The merchant, however, claimed otherwise. The disagreement between the two men escalated and provoked the ire of the soldier, who then assassinated Philibert with his sword. This was in January 1748.
Towards the end of the 1860s, the residence and the plate were still in excellent condition:
“Above the entrance door […] we could see the sculpted block, measuring half of its length in height. It was above all a prominent frame, sculpted in stone with, at the centre, the image of the golden dog in bas-relief, horizontally, on an oblong marble-plate, as if to allow the dog to lie down with ease. From the sidewalk, the verses could be read with little difficulty.” (Preface of the book Le Chien D’Or, Benjamin Sulte, 1916, p. 19).
In 1869, the house was destroyed and replaced with the Hôtel des postes, the current Louis-S.-Saint-Laurent building, where is housed a post office, a philatelic counter, and an information office on Parks Canada’s system in Québec. The plate has been preserved and placed on the pediment of the porch at the colonnade of the new building inaugurated in 1871.
With time, residents were able to understand the link between the murder of the merchant and the plate with the Golden Dog. It is said that the plate of Old Quebec was copied from a plate similar to the city of Pézenas, near Montpellier, France. Indeed, Roussel the surgeon, a native of Montpellier, is presumed to have made a copy of the plate to install on his house in Quebec City as a memento of his birth place. The merchant known as Philibert, owner of the residence that was succeeded to Roussel, had presumably modified the date inscribed on the plate (1736) after having expanded the residence to transform it into a hotel. Thus were associated the plate and the murder in the collective’s imagination.
The Legend of the Golden Dog in Quebec
The numerous literary works written throughout the centuries attest to the importance of the Legend of the Golden Dog for Quebec residents. The plate symbolises a heritage allocated by our French neighbours four centuries ago. Le Chien d’Or is also part of the itinerary of tour guides in Old Quebec.
Usage of the name « Chien d’Or »
- Galerie Le Chien d’Or (8 du Fort, Quebec, G1R 4M1)
- Regional Champoinships Le Chien d’Or – sailboat competition
- Fins Cafés Le Chien D’Or (625 des Marais, Quebec, G1M 2Y2)