John Neilson celebrates his 240th birthday!

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Photo: Allison Kirkwood

John Neilson received a beautiful T-shirt made by Emma Perreault to help him jump into the 21st century.

There was a very special birthday party in Saint-Gabriel-de-Valcartier on Sunday, July 17.  The Honourable John Neilson turned 240 years old!  

As you may know from previous QCT articles, it was John Neilson who, in 1816, put out the call for settlers to create a village in the Jacques Cartier River valley. 

This year, he has returned to see what became of his little idea. In fact, Neilson has been seen about town at the monthly activities marking the 200th anniversary of the “Settlement” – visiting with the Golden Age Club, interrupting Hip-Hop practice and discussing with school children how different life is today. While the students were able to explain things like cars and electric lights to him, they never quite got Mr. Neilson to understand iPads and the Internet. He still wonders, “Who is this Mr. Google, and how did he get so smart?” 

On Sunday, he learned all about modern birthday celebrations. Along with a cake glowing [more like going up in flames!] with 240 candles, Mr. Neilson received a card made by the children at the summer playground and was presented with a key to the municipality by pro-mayor Thomas Lavallee. Federal member of parliament Joël Godin was on hand to greet the 80 or so people who turned out to hear the traditional music, dance a set and wish Mr. Neilson many happy returns.  

If you haven’t yet run into John Neilson, you can meet him at Saint-Gabriel-de-Valcartier Family Day on August 20 and at the weekend celebration of “Settlement Days,” October 7 to 9.  For more information, visit or Facebook - Valcartier Settlement Days.