The Laval News | Former Laval Mayor Marc Demers receives medal from the Société nationale du Québec


Former Laval Mayor Marc Demers received the Médaille du Patriote, a traditional “Ceinture Fléchée”, from the Laval section of the Société Nationale du Québec on May 20 in Sainte-Rose. (Photo: Martin C. Barry, Laval News)

History buffs and nationalists gathered in Sainte-Rose for the Journée des Patriotes

Three years after retiring from municipal politics, former Laval Mayor Marc Demers was back in the spotlight earlier this month when the Laval branch of the Société nationale du Québec awarded him the Médaille du Patriote in recognition of his promotion of Québec's language, culture, heritage and history.

The award ceremony took place on May 20, the Journée nationale des Patriotes (National Patriots Day), on the steps of the Église Sainte-Rose-de-Lima in the historic Sainte-Rose district of Laval.

Uprising of the “Patriots”

Once an independent village with its own town status before the 1965 amalgamations that created the city of Laval, Sainte-Rose was one of the places in the early 19th century that had been part of the Quebec City Metropolitan In the 17th century, the Lower Canada Rebellion took place in Lower Canada (another example is Sainte-Eustache), which received considerable support from “patriots” who rose up against the colonial British government.

While some visitors to Sainte-Rose occasionally mistake some of Sainte-Rose's distinctive street names (such as Boulevard Je-Me-Souviens and Rue des Patriotes) for active Quebec political nationalism in the area, they are actually a tribute to Sainte-Rose's historic role in the Lower Canada Rebellion – which remains a source of great pride for many of the local residents.

Sabotage in Sainte-Rose

According to one account of the role of rebel sympathizers in Sainte-Rose at the beginning of the uprising in November 1837, they did not take up arms. Rather, they contributed by sabotaging a bridge (the Pont Porteous) between Sainte-Rose and the North Shore in order to slow the advance of British soldiers who were on their way to crush the armed uprising in Saint Eustache.

In addition to the medal presented to Demers (a former long-time Laval police investigator), a plaque was presented to Annie Desrochers, host of Radio-Canada's FM afternoon show. The Book 15–18which airs Monday to Friday from 3pm to 6pm, in recognition of her valuable contributions to the community. She shared how she grew up in Sainte-Rose, participated in local events and attended École Latour in the heart of Sainte-Rose.

Tri-color Patriots banner

Previous recipients of medals and other honours from the Laval Section of the Société Nationale du Québec include Jean-François Payette (2019), Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral (2021), Claude Tousignant (2022), Maud Debien (and Léon Debien posthumously) (2023) and Alberto Georgian Mihut (2023).

The presentation took place on the entrance steps of the Église Sainte-Rose-de-Lima.

Annie Desrochers (second from right), host of Radio-Canada's afternoon show, is seen here after receiving a commemorative plaque alongside members of her family and Société nationale du Québec President Jean Desautels (far left). (Photo: Martin C. Barry, Laval News)

During the ceremony, it was pointed out that the tricolour flag of the rebellion, which was also used by the Parti Patriote (also called Parti Canadien), contains green (for the Irish), white (for the French) and red (as a sign of support for England and Scotland) stripes.

The Parti Patriote was founded by the American emigrants James Stuart and Louis-Joseph Papineau, a leading figure in the Patriot movement before the Lower Canada Rebellion.