MP-0000.3202.1-2 | Petit Champlain street with the Breakneck Stairway, Quebec City, about 1903
Petit Champlain street with the Breakneck Stairway, Quebec City, about 1903
Underwood & Underwood
1903, 20th century
Silver salts on paper mounted on card - Albumen process
9 x 17.8 cm
© McCord Museum
Only a small horse and carriage could fit in the narrow Petit Champlain Street in Quebec City. The laneway, squeezed between the steep cliff and the wider Champlain Street, was originally a path taken by the first French colonists, most likely including Samuel de Champlain (c. 1570-1635), who founded Quebec City in 1608. Irish immigrants working in the local shipyards lived here from the 1840s to the 1870s, and called it Little Champlain Street. The French name of ''Petit-Champlain'' is simply a literal translation from the English. The Breakneck Stairway, leading to the Côte de la Montagne, had central handrails installed in keeping with a restoration plan by architect Charles Baillargé in 1889. Its wooden structure required frequent repairs over the years.