Canada’s most romantic home

It’s not your typical suburban dwelling, but overlooking the Montmorency Falls (near Quebec City) sits a home with one of the most romantic histories in Canada.

After visiting the spectacular Montmorency Falls, tourists often drop in for a bite at the Manoir Montmorency Restaurant. It’s a beautifully-preserved, rambling two-storey English villa with wide verandahs, surrounded by landscaped terraces. As well, this palatial retreat served as the “love nest” of the Duke of Kent — better known as Queen Victoria’s father.

The time was the late 1700s and Prince Edward Augustus was a young, single army officer in charge of his country’s troops in Quebec. His father, King George III, was still on the throne and reportedly had sent Prince Augustus to Canada to get him out of his sight.

A lonely Prince
Prince Augustus was also unpopular with his officers and soldiers, and loneliness set in. Rejected by his father and unliked by his men, the unhappy 24-year-old sent an emissary to France to find a young lady to keep him company. Therese Bernardine Mongenet, who changed her name to Julie on arrival to Canada, joined her prince in an affairhat lasted 27 years. According to a contemporary account, she was intelligent, well-mannered and likeable.

In 1794, the prince left Montmorency to fight the French in the West Indies and later returned to Canada to settle in Halifax with “Julie”. The prince, now the Duke of Kent, enjoyed a comfortable life with his “beloved companion”. But the romance could not last. In 1818, after stalling for almost two years, the prince was coerced by the British government to leave Julie and return to England. He never saw her again.

The prince hurriedly married a German princess of the House of Saxe-Coburg. Six months after the birth of his daughter he caught a chill and died of pneumonia. But the prince had done his work. As his brothers were childless, his daughter grew up to become Britain’s longest reigning monarch — Queen Victoria.