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  • Writer's pictureSylvie Lavoie

The legend of the black horse

I revisit the legends of the Island. I invite you to join me, because a legend can reveal unsuspected facts.

The first legend chosen is one that can be found in an impressive number of parishes, including that of Saint-Laurent-de-l'Île-d'Orléans: The legend of the black horse builder. The version of the Island differs from the others in particular because it is about the metamorphosis of a horse thanks to the grimoire of Albert Magnus.

The legend goes like this: During the construction of the church of St-Laurent, the horses suffered to transport the stones to the site, because the hills and the climb were steep. The entrepreneur then said to the workers: “I am going to get myself a very strong horse, capable of providing as much work on its own as all the others put together”. The entrepreneur then locked himself in with a horse and Little Albert. A few days later, a splendid black horse appeared on the site. The contractor entrusted it to the builders with instructions not to unleash it under any circumstances. When evening came, the horse seemed so tired, so exhausted, so ill that his carter took pity on him. He led him to the nearby stream and, to make him drink, took off his bridle. Immediately… the horse disappeared! Desperate, the carter threw himself into the stream where he was transformed into an eel.

The construction of the church was thus interrupted and, by the same token, the devil's plan. The latter intended to carry the soul of the first person to cross the threshold of the church once its construction was completed. To counter the devil's project, the builders decided not to lay the final stone at the top of the church.

In the Charlevoix region, there is a similar story. However, it is about the construction of a bridge and not a church. When I listen to The Shocking Revelations of the Charbonneau Commission, I tell myself that since then the devil may have decided to widen his field of action... But let's get back to our story.

A magic book called Little Albert

The book really exists. Written in the 13th century, its official title is: Marvelous secrets of the natural and cabalistic magic of Little Albert — a best seller in its time —. It is a grimoire, that is to say a book of magic including instructions and recipes. We find there, in particular, the famous "secret to make a horse go further in one hour than another will do in eight hours". Recipes that are very difficult to execute and that require rare, expensive or difficult to identify ingredients.

It is said to have been read more by cultivators than by sorcerers. It turns out that farmers made more use of the almanac — the annual manual — that came with the Petit Albert. It had a calendar, including gardening advice, tips and tricks, etc. You see me coming… The almanac is still relevant. Thus, for 2023, the Farmers' Almanac predicts an "unreasonably cold and snowy" season.


In view of the actions of certain ecclesiastics, the devil may have decided to change his skin. As who would say: "The devil is with the cows".

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