On May 8, 1945, hundreds of people crowded in front of the Basilica-cathédral Notre-Dame de Québec to celebrate VE Day – the end of the war in Europe. The fighting in Japan ended a few months later on Aug. 15, 1945, and the Second World War officially ended on Sept. 2, 1945, when the surrender document was signed. (Photo by W.B. Edwards Studio)

Victory in Europe Day in Quebec City – May 8, 1945

Shirley Nadeau

Martin Edwards, the grandson of famed Quebec City photographer William B. Edwards, kindly gave the QCT permission to publish this photo taken in Place Hôtel de Ville, Quebec City, by one of the sons of W.B. Edwards on May 8, 1945, when the end of the war in Europe was officially declared. The large area between City Hall and the Basilica-cathédral de Notre- Dame-de-Québec is absolutely teeming with people.

“I am not sure which of the three Edwards boys took the 1945 picture,” said Martin Edwards. “W.B. died the prior year, so it was either Walter, Austin (my father) or Maurice (my aunt Gertie’s twin).”

Pierre Lahoud, historian and photographer, wrote an article that appeared in the autumn 2021 edition of Continuité magazine which discusses W.B. Edwards’ photo taken in front of the Basilica on VE Day (magazinecontinuite.com/v-pour-victoire).

Lahoud commented on the angle of the remarkable shot, which is “… just high enough to get an overview, but not too high so as to convey the enthusiasm of the crowd…. People express their joy by singing and shouting. They wave posters on which one can read ‘V for victory,’ ‘Hitler chez Satan,’ ‘Vive King,’ [prime minister Mackenzie King], ‘Le boche est fourré,’ ‘Vive de Gaulle,’ and even ‘The only thing missing is a Canadian flag!’ Indeed, all the standards that appear in the photo are those of the United Kingdom … Canada’s maple leaf was not formalized until 1965.

“Standing on the wrought-iron fence in front of the basilica, a boy wearing britches-type pants stares at the photographer. … He was surrounded by other students, probably all from the Petit Séminaire de Québec. The wrought-iron structure on which he stands is still in place today.”

Victory in Europe Day in Quebec City – May 8, 1945 was last modified: May 3rd, 2022 by qct_admin

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