This cannon was manufactured in 1907 by Honoré Beauchesne and Canada Iron in Trois-Rivières at the request of the Association des Zouaves de Trois-Rivières, founded on July 3, 1902, and officially incorporated the following August 6.

Gédéon Désilets (1845-1922) was in charge of this association (company no. 2). Himself a sergeant major serving as a warrant officer in the Papal Zouaves Regiment, and also known as a journalist upon his return from Rome in 1871, Mr. Désilets had been one of the first cadets from the former military school of Quebec to obtain his first-class certificate in 1864. He held the rank of captain in the volunteer militia when he left for Rome in December 1867.

But what was the cause to be defended? In short, for French Canadian Catholics, it was about coming to the defence of Pope Pius IX, at his express request, just as other European populations had done. This pope saw his Papal States endangered by the Italian unification plans of Giuseppe Garibaldi, an anti-cleric, and his combatants. Rome nevertheless lost the battle in 1870. Fortunately, despite a few released prisoners, it seems that none of the Canadians who left for Rome were killed or seriously injured there. Upon returning from Europe, despite the defeat, all were welcomed as saviours. Of our Trois-Rivières representatives, Gédéon Désilets or Louis Garceau, we remember the journey.

Since then, several municipalities in Quebec saw the formation of Zouave Associations, such as the one in Trois-Rivières. The purpose of these associations was to advocate for the defence of the rights of the Catholic Church and the Pope, as well as to maintain the traditions of the Papal Zouaves Regiment.

As for the other officers active within the Trois-Rivières Association, there were: L. Dussault, former sergeant of the Papal Zouaves, captain adjutant; I. N. Godin, captain; D.-X. Giroux, lieutenant; A. Pothier and D. Larivière, second lieutenants; and N. Lord, sergeant major. The staff, meanwhile, who were simply men recruited from the liberal professions, industry, commerce, and the working class in Trois-Rivières, numbered around a hundred depending on the year.

Before owning this cannon, the Association performed its fencing manoeuvres once a week and engaged in military excursions almost everywhere: in Quebec City, Sorel, Joliette, and several locations in the Trois-Rivières area, according to Le Trifluvien (Tuesday, September 25, 1906, page 4).

This cannon—it must be admitted—has never been operational. In reality, its role was essentially to serve as a decorative element during parades or exercises.

Musée Pierre-Boucher Collection
1978 461 A.2-1