Tour guide deplores book purge

As a Québec City tour guide, I make a point of taking visitors to the chaussée des Écossais and talking about the contribution of the anglophone community to the history of our city.

I tell them about the City Gaol, Morrin College and the Literary and Historical Society of Quebec, insisting proudly on the fact that the latter was the first learned society in Canada.

I explain to them that intellectuals preoccupied with better understanding the world used to gather here to discuss and debate ideas and that “the Morrin Centre draws on the resources of the Society’s unbroken history of intellectual endeavour (and) its priceless historical collection (...)” (Morrin Centre website).

Today, during my tour, I felt like adding that 1,500 items of this “priceless historical collection” will be sold by silent auction, in October; that the library does not possess second copies of most of these books; that, to my knowledge, they have not been offered to other libraries - Cégep Champlain-St. Lawrence or Université Laval - before being erratically packed in 104 boxes; and that the trust of those who believed in the power of ideas is being broken for materialistic and short-sighted reasons, such as the availability of space and 21st-century taste.

We have a duty to the past, as well as to the present, and if this collection is scattered to the winds we will be failing badly in that duty.

Marie Legroulx
Quebec City