They make house calls…



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Flowers and Fruit, 1899 - Louis Valtat
Flowers and Fruit par Louis Valtat, 1899 (

I apologize for not posting more frequently. First, someone is reading my posts as I write them. He or she may have the best intentions. Still, I have always worked alone. Although I have read and continue to read books and articles on Molière and insert quotations in learned articles, I usually present a significantly personal analysis of Molière.

It seems, however, that I may henceforth publish shorter posts. Last Wednesday, I tried to do some online banking. However, the company has created a new and safer version of its online tools. I followed the instructions, and a message appeared confirming that all was well. However, I could not log in.

So I phoned the company and waited for a few minutes until someone was available, but I started to cry when a young man answered. Technologies are a genuine obstacle, and technical problems may trigger a vulnerability. At any rate, within a few minutes, two large policemen were inside my apartment. I put on my mask, and we spoke.

I mentioned that my cat had died on 29 November 2019 and that it would soon be a year since he died. Moreover, I had been inside my apartment since March, avoiding the coronavirus. As well, in the space of three years, I had failed to settle in my apartment. Finally, Sherbrooke is now a red zone. One cannot call a carpenter, until a degree of safety has been reached. Who would help during a pandemic?

One of the policemen suggested I adopt a cat, and one offered to remove a heavy box from the hallway. They were good persons. I thanked them because I felt much better. It had been an accident.

One returns to life as usual, a narrower life because of Covid-19, but life.

However, I reflected that in the days of the coronavirus, if a citizen of Sherbrooke, Quebec, feels distraught, his or her best help could be the police. They are available twenty-four hours a day and they make house calls.

Love to everyone 💕

Afficher l’image source
Anemones and Green Jug by Louis Valtat, ca. 1926 (courtesy Art Resource, NY)

© Micheline Walker
20 November 2020

Chronicling Covid-19 (7): The Plan



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I would invite you to reread the article I posted yesterday.

I have not changed my mind. I believe that we have to test people and let the healthy return to the workplace. Self-isolation alone will not keep us safe. Not if we can no longer work and earn a living. There is no overnight miracle, but testing may allow the economy to recover more quickly.

Testing is much easier than discovering a vaccine. As I mentioned yesterday, there is an American group who is working with doctors and scientists and would send the healthy back to a safe workplace. Testing would be needed.

A vaccine will be produced, but it may not be produced in the foreseeable future, luck being a factor. Who will come up with the brilliant idea that will allow a cure and also allow the world to be as it should be. We can now see the magnificent Himalayan range of mountains.

Leaders, doctors and scientists must work together, but expertise must inform decisions made by elected officials. Mr Trump is ready to send people back to work to save the economy. But we cannot allow people who test positive to return to work. They must still self-isolate, or the pandemic will continue.

A Triage: Testing

What I am suggesting is a triage that would separate the healthy from the sick and allow those who test negative to return to work. The sick would be treated, but the healthy would keep the economy alive. We have new tools: Skype, etc. Although humanity has been scourged for millennia, it has survived.

I have a healthy nephew whose employees are healthy, but they are not allowed to work. So why do we not test them? Testing was carried out in Germany quite successfully.

We cannot close the future down. We cannot let massive unemployment follow the pandemic. That is a grim scenario. Scientists would continue to search for a vaccine, but the economy would not crumble. Testing may be difficult to organize, but it has to be organized. There is no other way.

Expertise is what world leaders need. I do not wish to trivialize world leaders, but they need guidance from doctors, scientists and economists, which is leadership in the days of the novel coronavirus.

Streets would still be disinfected as well as the workplace, but we would ensure economic stability and lift the world’s morale. Can we truly justify the self-isolation of my nephew and his healthy employees?

I am not a medical doctor, a scientist, or an economist. I am quite simply civic-minded. If we test and test, we will find those who test negative. I’m scared, because this virus may be airborne. Hence cleaning the workplace. But why isolate people who would test negative and create a new nightmare.


The Creation
, Die Schöpfung, by Joseph Haydn


Jerome Adams, Surgeon General of the United States.

© Micheline Walker
12 April 2020








Molière’s “L’Avare:” Doublings



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L’Avare by François Boucher (drawing) and Laurent Cars (engraving) (Photo credit: Pinterest)


  • Plautus (c. 254 – 184 BCE)
  • commedia dell’arte
  • French 17th-century misers: sources
  • Hellenic (ancient Greek) sources
  • French medieval farces and fabliaux
  • translations into English

As indicated in a previous post, Molière‘s L’Avare, The Miser, was first performed on 9 September 1668 at the Théâtre du Palais-Royal. It is a five-act play, in prose, inspired by Roman dramatist Plautus‘ (254 – 148 BCE) Aulularia, the Pot of Gold. As we have seen, it is also rooted in the commedia dell’arte as well as Italian comedies and tales, and in France’s own medieval farces and the largely scatological fabliaux.

However, Molière also drew his material from La Belle Plaideuse (1655), by François le Métel de Boisrobert, which features a father-as-usurer, and Jean Donneau de Visé‘s La Mère coquette (1665), where a father and son are in love with the same woman.[1]

L’Avare is one of Molière’s better-known comedies and it was translated into English by Thomas Shadwell (1772) and Henry Fielding, the author of Tom Jones. However, it was not a huge success in Molière’s own days. It has been speculated that Molière’s audience expected a play written in verse, the nobler alexandrine verse (12 feet or syllables), first used in the twelfth-century Roman d’Alexandre.


L’Avare (

The dramatis personæ is:

Harpagon, father to Cléante, in love with Mariane.
Cléante, Harpagon’s son, lover to Marianne.
Valère, son to Anselme, lover to Élise, and “intendant” to Harpagon
Anselme / Dom Thomas d’Alburcy, father to Valère and Mariane, and 
Master Simon, broker.
Master Jacques, cook and coachman to Harpagon.
La Flèche, valet to Cléante.
Brindavoine, and La Merluche, lackeys to Harpagon.
A Magistrate and his Clerk.
Élise, daughter to Harpagon.
Mariane, daughter to Anselme.
Frosine, an intriguing woman.
Mistress Claude, servant to Harpagon.

The scene is at Paris, in Harpagon’s house.

Act One

We will be focusing on the manner in which the young couples featured in the Miser, L’Avare, manage to overcome the obstacle to their marriage. Short of a miracle, they are condemned to do as their father’s greed dictates. All the elements of L’Avare’s plot are introduced in the first act of the play, which reflects the Græco-Roman origins of comedy and tragedy. As a five-act play, Molière’s L’Avare is a ‘grande comédie,’ not a farce (Molière wrote both), and its plot is the archetypal struggle, also called the agôn, between, on the one hand, the alazṓn of Greek comedy, or the blocking character, and, on the other hand, the eirôn, the young couple and their supporters: valets, maids, zanni. In other words, it is a traditional blondin-berne-barbon plot. The young couples will succeed in marrying.

A Comedy of Manners and A Comedy of Intrigue

  • doublings: two young couples and two fathers
  • Harpagon is the father of Élise and Cléante
  • Anselme is Valère and Mariane’s father, which we do not know until the fifth act (V. v) of the comedy

L’Avare is both a comedy of manners, a form we inherited mostly from Greek dramatist Menander, and a comédie d’intrigue, a comedy where the plot prevails. As the portrayal of a miser, L’Avare is a comedy of manners (see the full text in Wikisource and eBook #6923). Harpagon’s greed constitutes the obstacle to the marriage of Cléante (Harpagon) and Mariane as well as the marriage of Valère and Élise (Harpagon).

Cléante gambles and wins, which allows him to buy elegant clothes and court Mariane, but he does not have sufficient money to marry and must therefore go to a moneylender. Ironically, the moneylender happens to be Harpagon himself who demands no less than the now metaphorical “pound of flesh” (Shylock) as repayment. The moneylender episode—act two, scene two (II. i) [II. 2]—shows to what extent Harpagon’s greed is an obstacle to the marriage of our young couples. The plot advances in that Cléante cannot obtain a loan that might enable his marriage. Another “trick” must be devised. However, plot and manners (greed) are inextricably woven.

Obstacles to Two Marriages

  • “genre” art
  • a family tyrant

The action takes place in Harpagon’s house in Paris and can be described as genre arta depiction of ordinary people engaged in ordinary activities. Will G Moore has remarked that Molière’s characters

“[a]re concerned with everyday life; the stuff of which it was made was by tradition the doings of ordinary people in ordinary surroundings.”[2]

L’Avare is a five-act comedy, but it is written in prose, not verse, and Harpagon, our blocking character, is an enriched bourgeois. Although he does not feed his horse properly, he owns a carriage and he has servants. As depicted by François Boucher, the interior of his house is rather elegant. However, he is extremely greedy and he behaves as though he owned his children. He is a domestic tyrant. In act one, Harpagon states that he has arranged for his children to marry, but has not consulted them. Cléante will marry a “certain widow,” our tyrant has just heard of, and Élise will be “given” to Mr. Anselme, a gentleman who will not request the customary dowry, or “sans dot

Quant à ton frère, je lui destine une certaine veuve dont ce matin on m’est venu parler; et, pour toi, je te donne au seigneur Anselme. (Harpagon to Élise, [I. iv])
[As to your brother, I have thought for him of a certain widow, of whom I heard this morning; and you I shall give to Mr. Anselme. [1. 6] [eBook #6923]

Élise does not know Mr Anselme and refuses to marry him, threatening to commit suicide. As for Harpagon, he plans to marry Mariane, who loves his son (Cléante). For Harpagon, Mr Anselme is a perfect choice because Élise will marry at no cost to the miser: “sans dot.” (I. iv FR) (I. 6 EN) 

Harpagon’s Rigidity

Valère will attempt to save Élise from a marriage to a person other than himself. Valère, Harpagon’s “intendant,” begs Harpagon to free Élise. However, the objections he presents are followed by Harpagon’s “sans dot” (without a dowry). Molière’s blocking characters are inflexible or rigid. This rigidity is the feature Henri Bergson (18 October 1859 – 4 January 1941) attached to the comical or comedic in his Laughter. Valère’s objections having been rebuked by a litany of “sans dot,” he is literally speechless. He simply repeats what the Harpagon, the miser, has told him:

Lorsqu’on s’offre de prendre une fille sans dot, on ne doit point regarder plus avant. Tout est renfermé là-dedans, et sans dot tient lieu de beauté, de jeunesse, de naissance, d’honneur, de sagesse, et de probité. (Valère à Harpagon, I. v)
[When a man offers to marry a girl without a dowry, we ought to look no farther. Everything is comprised in that, and “without dowry” compensates for want of beauty, youth, birth, honour, wisdom, and probity.] (I. 10[eBook #6923]

But there is some hope. As the story goes, Valère’s father, Dom Thomas d’Alburcy, is believed to have drowned when he and his family (his wife, Valère and Mariane) were fleeing Naples. It appears, however, that Dom Thomas has survived and that he is a man of means. Valère was looking for him when he met Élise. At her request, he decided to stay near her and made himself Harpagon’s “intendant,” but someone else is looking for Valère’s father.

Mais enfin, si je puis, comme je l’espère, retrouver mes parents, nous n’aurons pas beaucoup de peine à nous le rendre favorable. J’en attends des nouvelles avec impatience, et j’en irai chercher moi-même, si elles tardent à venir. (I. i)
[However, if I can find my parents, as I fully hope I shall, they will soon be favourable to us. I am expecting news of them with great impatience; but if none comes I will go in search of them myself.] [I.1]

The curtain will then fall on an anagnorisis  (V. v) [V. 5], a recognition scene. However, when Anselme enters Harpagon’s house and hears that there is opposition to the contract he has come to sign, he tells Harpagon that he will not coerce a woman into a mariage, which frees Élise. He also remarks that he will not “lay claim to a heart which has already bestowed itself,” thereby allowing Mariane, his daughter, to marry Cléante, Harpagon’s son, rather than Harpagon.

Ce n’est pas mon dessein de me faire épouser par force, et de rien prétendre à un cœur qui se serait donné ; mais pour vos intérêts, je suis prêt à les embrasser ainsi que les miens propres. (Anselme to Harpagon [V. v])
[It is not my intention to force anybody to marry me, and to lay claim to a heart which has already bestowed itself; but as far as your interests are concerned, I am ready to espouse them as if they were my own.] (V. 5) [eBook #6923]

Anselme seems a fine gentleman whom the anagnorisis (V. v) [V. 5], the dénouement (see Dramatic Structure, Wikipedia), will identify as Valère and Mariane’s father. A greedy Harpagon has chosen Anselme as the perfect groom because Anselme would marry Élise without requesting the customary dowry, or at no cost to the miser: “sans dot.” (I. v) [I. 5]


Qu’il faut manger pour vivre, et non pas vivre pour manger. (III. i)

A Comedy of Intrigue

  • a plot or intrigue
  • a chiasmus (a mirror image in a sentence)
  • a quiproquo (a misunderstanding)
  • the doubling of the father figure (mirror image)

Harpagon’s greed is enormous, so students are taught that Molière concentrates on manners rather than the plot. He does, but in L’Avare, although the plot is mainly episodic, manners and plot (intrigue) are inextricably linked. For instance, when Harpagon is having a meal prepared to celebrate the marriage(s) that are to take place that very day, Harpagon hears Valère say that il faut manger pour vivre and not vivre pour manger, that one should eat to live and not live to eat, Harpagon so loves Valère’s witty chiasmus, that he wants these words engraved in gold and placed above his fireplace. (III. i) [III. 1] It is unlikely that Harpagon would use gold to celebrate greed, but it is true to character and comical. A meal often ends comedies and may solemnize a wedding.

Moreover, it is a quiproquo, a comical misunderstanding which, in L’Avare, leads to the anagnorisis. When Harpagon realizes his cassette has disappeared and may have been stolen, he loses his composure and accuses Valère, at the instigation of Maître Jacques. Maître Jacques resents the trust Harpagon has placed in Valère. If he could, Harpagon would have Valère drawn and quartered. Valère has not stolen Harpagon’s cassette, but he and Élise have signed a promise to marry another. Valère has ‘robbed’ Harpagon, but it is Élise he has taken, not a cassette. (V. iii & iv) [V. 3 & 4] [eBook #6923]

Anselme first steps foot on the stage as the battle rages. Given Élise’s promise, he cannot and would not marry her. However, Valère stands accused of a theft and wants to tell his story. The anagnorisis has now begun. To give himself credibility, Valère says that he is the son of Dom Thomas d’Alburcy, which Anselme hesitates to believe because he is a friend of Dom Those and, to his knowledge, all members of Dom Thomas’ family drowned as they were trying to flee Naples, which is not the case.Valère says that he was rescued by Pedro, a servant, and later adopted by the captain of the ship he and Pedro were allowed to board. He can prove his identity. As he speaks, Mariane realizes that Valère is her brother.

For their part, Mariane and her mother were also saved, but their helpers were corsaires, pirates, who enslaved them. Following ten years of enslavement, they were released and they returned to Naples where they could not find Dom Thomas d’Alburcy. They therefore picked up a small inheritance in Genoa and moved to Paris. Mariane’s mother is Valère’s  mother and Dom Thomas d’Alburcy’s wife. As he watches this scene, Dom Thomas learns that no member of his family died leaving Naples. He has just found his children and his wife. He would not stand in the way of Valère and Mariane’s marriage who wish to marry Harpagon’s children. Le sieur Anselme knows le sieur Harpagon.

Le Ciel, mes enfants, ne me redonne point à vous, pour être contraire à vos vœux. Seigneur Harpagon, vous jugez bien que le choix d’une jeune personne tombera sur le fils plutôt que sur le père. Allons, ne vous faites point dire ce qu’il n’est point nécessaire d’entendre, et consentez ainsi que moi à ce double hyménée. (V. v)

[Heaven, my dear children, has not restored you to me that I might oppose your wishes. Mr. Harpagon, you must be aware that the choice of a young girl is more likely to fall upon the son than upon the father. Come, now, do not force people to say to you what is unnecessary, and consent, as I do, to this double marriage.] [V. 5] [eBook #6923]


Molière’s L’Avare has an intrigue which resembles the intrigue of most comedies. A young couple wishes to marry, but a blocking character, or alazṓnprevents their marriage. However, Molière has doubled the young couple who are a brother and sister wishing to marry a brother and a sister, so Molière has therefore doubled the father figure which happens during the anagnorisis. As Dom Thomas d’Alburcy, Anselme is the eirôn who allows the young couples to marry.

The anagnorisis, the recognition scene, does not take place unannounced. As mentioned earlier, as he despairs,Valère tells Élise that he hopes to find his father who may still be alive. Act one (I. i) [I. 1] has prepared the reader or spectator:

Mais enfin, si je puis comme je l’espère, retrouver mes parents, nous n’aurons pas beaucoup de peine à nous le rendre favorable. (Valère à Élise, I. i)
[However, if I can find my parents, as I fully hope I shall, they will soon be favourable to us.] [I. 1] [eBook #6923]


Der Geizigue, Harpagon & La Flèche by August Wilhelm Iffland, 1810 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


In L’Avare, Molière does not use a deus ex machina. He simply introduces a second father figure who will allow the young couples to marry and will pay all costs. L’Avare‘s young couple are in fact very resourceful, but one cannot marry without money. Mariane (Dom Thomas) recoils at wishing Harpagon’s death, feelings that are reciprocated by Cléante (Harpagon).

Mon Dieu, Frosine, c’est une étrange affaire, lorsque pour être heureuse, il faut souhaiter ou attendre le trépas de quelqu’un, et la mort ne suit pas tous les projets que nous faisons. (Mariane à Frosine, III. iv)
[Oh, Frosine! What a strange state of things that, in order to be happy, we must look forward to the death of another. Yet death will not fall in with all the projects we make.] [III. 8] [eBook #6923]

Que veux-tu que j’y fasse ? Voilà où les jeunes gens sont réduits par la maudite avarice des pères ; et on s’étonne après cela que les fils souhaitent qu’ils meurent. (II. i)
[What would you have me do? It is to this that young men are reduced by the accursed avarice of their fathers; and people are astonished after that, that sons long for their death.] [II. 1] [eBook #6923]

When his father falls, accidentally, Cléante is worried:

Qu’est-ce, mon père, vous êtes-vous fait mal ? (III. ix)
[What’s the matter, father? Have you hurt yourself?] [III. 14] [eBook #6923]

Critic Northrop Frye states that “[t]he tendency of comedy is to include as many people as possible in its final society: the blocking characters are more often reconciled or converted than simply repudiated.”[3]

As for Harpagon, although he may he has been tyrannical, when Dom Thomas and the young couples leave to bring good news to Dom Thomas’ wife, Harpagon is off to see his dear cassette. His cassette, a casket, his vital to Harpagon.

Et moi, voir ma chère cassette. (I. vi)
[And I to see my dear casket.][1. 6] [eBook #6923]


I have already suggested that Molière uses doubling and fusion of functions.[4] Harpagon is a miser and will remain a miser ready to sacrifice his children. It is a sad reflection on humanity but perhaps less sad than the intervention of a deus ex machina. Dom Thomas d’Alburcy is a  major member of the play’s society, the intervention of a second father figure allows the happy ending the play demands. An anagnorisis may not be as dazzling a dénouement as the intervention of a deus ex machina, the prince in Tartuffe and a godlike figure in Dom Juan, but all’s well that ends well. 

Love to everyone



Commedia dell’arte


Sources and Resources

The Miser is a Wikisource eBook (Charles Heron Wall, translator)
The Miser is an Internet Archive publication EN
The Miser is a Project Gutenberg publication [eBook #6923] EN
The Miser, Henri Fielding is an eText EN
L’Avare is a publication FR
Molière21 is a research group
Le Salon littéraire FR
The Miser is a LibriVox text publication (YouTube)
Laughter, Henri Bergson is an Internet Archive publication EN

[1] L’Avare in Maurice Rat, Œuvres complètes de Molière (Paris : Éditions Gallimard, coll. La Pléiade, 1956), p. 968.
[2] Will  G. Moore, Molière, a New Criticism (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1968 [1949], pp. 69-70.
[3] Northrop Frye, Anatomy of Criticism (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1973 [1957]), p. 165.
[4] Micheline Bourbeau-Walker, « Le Misanthrope, ou la comédie éclatée, » in David Trott & Nicole Boursier, eds. L’Âge du théâtre en France (Edmonton, Alberta: Academic Printing and Publishing, 1988 ), 53 – 63. (papers from a conference held in Toronto, May 14 – 16, 1987) ISBN 0-920980-30-9 — PQ527.A33 1988

The Miser


L’Avare by Jean Degrassi, 1955 (

© Micheline Walker
1 December 2016

L’Exode told: Trente arpents …


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La Rivière Magog par Marc-Aurèle de Foy Suzor-Coté, 1913 (Ontario Art Collection)


Trente Arpents (Thirty Acres)

I am forwarding links leading to a discussion of a novel entitled Trente arpents (Thirty Acres). Ringuet’s Trente arpents was published in 1938, at the very end of the period of French-Canadian literary history labelled “régionaliste.” (See Philippe Panneton, Wikipedia). Unlike earlier régionaliste literature, Trente arpents is characterized by its realism. A farmer, prosperous in his youth, “gives himself” (his land) to one of his sons. Everything goes wrong. This novel reflects the difficulties habitants faced when they had to divide the ancestral thirty acres among sons. It is also an excellent depiction of an habitant’s family

One presumes Euchariste Moisan, an habitant, owns his thirty acres. When the Seigneurial system was abolished, in 1854, “habitants” who could purchase the thirty acres they had farmed since the beginning of the 17th century. Those who couldn’t buy had to pay a rente for the rest of their life, as though they still had a seigneur. As noted in an earlier post, the rente was a form of debt bondage which ended in 1935, when Alexandre Taschereau was Premier of Quebec. Whenever the priest arrived at their door, these “habitants” no longer wanted to pay thite (la dîme). Trente arpents was published in 1938. At that time, the United States and the world were nearing the end of the Great Depression and migration was less frequent. It should be noted that the exodus started at the time of the Rebellions of 1837-1838. It endured. Trente arpents was discussed in two parts.

Forthcoming: John Neilson on Canadiens, and the potatoe famine

Alexis de Tocqueville’s inverviewed John Neilson, a bilingual polititian in Lower Canada. I have translated this interview. In 1831, John Neilson, Scottish, praised Canadiens and looked upon French-speaking and English-speaking Canadians as compatible. The interview took place six years before the Rebellions of 1837-1838. The French had friends. Among them were the Irish who had fled their country because of the potatoe famine. When they arrived in Quebec, they were very sick, which caused a cholera epidemic. Canadiens had survived various blows and survived again. In fact, Canadiens bonded with the Irish, many of whom went to work in factories but were never promoted. So, we know why the music of Ireland and Scotland exerted a great deal of influence on Québécois music. We also know why my grandfather, on my father’s side, had an Irish mother.


To a very large extent, Quebec entered Confederation because Confederation pleased Quebec’s bourgeoisie, French and English, as well as the Clergy. The Clergy feared dissention. My source is Denis Monière‘s Développement des idéologies au Québec[1] and the sources he quotes. For a very long time, the bourgeoisie, including Quebec’s bourgeoisie and the Château Clique, attempted to minoritize and assimilate French-speaking Canadians. The Clergy sided with the British. The Clergy was in favour of confederation. Moreover, several Englishmen and United Empire Loyalists, who were given the Eastern Townships, les Cantons de l’Est, now l’Estrie, wished to absorb French-speaking Canadiens. The Townships were home to Abenaki Amerindians. I have Amerindian ancestry.

French-Canadian literature is a subject I taught for several years. In 2001, I gave a lecture on La Patrie littéraire at the University of Stuttgart. As you know, I had huge workloads, so many subject-matters. A mission impossible is the only accurate description of the tasks expected of me when I taught at McMaster University. Yet I was elected to the presidency of the Canadian Association of University and College Teachers of French, l’Apfucc and to the Fédération des Études humaines, and to its Executive. But let us call these years an epiphany.

The image above shows la Rivière Magog. It crosses la rivière Saint-François in Sherbrooke.

The Magog River and the Saint-François River

We may have seen the video I have embedded. It tells a story.


[1] (Montréal: Québec/Amérique, 1977)


Love to everyone 💕

Music video of “A la claire fontaine” (By the clear fountain/spring) performed by Vancouver choir musica intima, arrangement by Stephen Smith. My own urban re-interpretation of the traditional French folk song.

Director/producer: Nigel Hunt. DOP: Terry Zazulak, Editor: Brian Nemett. Actors: Jerry Prager, Sigrid Johnson. Funding: Bravo!FACT. Video copyright: Garrison Creek Productons, 2000.
Allégorie de l’automne par Suzor-Coté (

© Micheline Walker
10 May 2021

The Exodus: “railroads, land, and factories”


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Le Marché de la Haute-Ville, la Basilique et le Séminaire en hiver [The Upper Town Market, the Basilica and the Seminary in Winter] (Quebec City). BAC. (Claude Corbo)



  • Canadiens (French-speaking Canadians) did not own businesses…
  • options: colonisation & émigration

As depicted in Louis Hémon‘s Maria Chapdelaine, a novel written in the winter of 1912-1913, landless or unemployed French Canadians, called Canadiens, could be “colonisateurs” or emigrate. Colonisation, making land, was the patriotic choice but tens of thousands, nearly a million by 1890, chose to work in the United States. It is unlikely that Maria Chapdelaine’s Lorenzo Surprenant, one of her three suitors, is affluent but he is employed. Matters would change after 1929, during the Great Depression. My grandfather left Quebec’s Eastern Townships (les Cantons de l’Est) in approximately 1926, and found work. When my mother located him, in the mid-to-late 1940s, he owned a large farm in Massachusetts and lived in a well-built Colonial house. I do not know how he escaped the Great Depression of 1929.

As an émigré to the United States, my grandfather was a loss to Canada. He had to leave because he could not earn a living in his country. If I use the 1900 American statistics,[1] most Canadians lived in Massachusetts and Michigan. The people who left Ontario settled in Michigan. My research has led me to unsuspected destinations: English-speaking Canadians were also leaving Canada. This matter I will not discuss, except to say that many worked part of the year in the United States and then returned to Ontario, where they spent their money. These were not “good” émigrés (MacLean) because they were not naturalised Americans.[2] My grandfather was a naturalised American. He may have missed his family, four children, but when we met him, he had bought land and he lived simply but comfortably with Nanny, the woman who became our finest grandmother. They had seven cats, a Border Collie, hens, a cow, four vegetable gardens, and a beautiful flower garden, the fifth garden. However, he still went to work at a factory.

Les P’tits Canadas

  • French communities in the United States
  • Alexis de Tocqueville visits Lower Canada (1831)

Other émigrés to Massachusetts were not as happy as my grandfather who was an Anglophone French Canadian. His mother was Irish. Others, however, were Francophone émigrés. They missed Canada and created P’tits Canadas, communities where they had a church, a school, and a newspaper. I remember that during our visits to Massachusetts, we attended Mass and the priest spoke French. As a member of le Conseil de la Vie française en Amérique, my father was in touch with several émigrés groups in New England and elsewhere in the United States. Many voyageurs retired in Minnesota. They had first lived in Canada, but when the border between Canada and the United States was traced, after the War of 1812, formerly Canadian fur-trading posts were situated in Minnesota and were not moved north.

Laurent-Olivier David[3] quotes an émigré, a priest, who writes in L’Étendard national (Worcester, Mass, le 21 mars 1872, p. 1), that émigration was due to a lack of railroads, land, and factories in Quebec.

Ce n’est ni le drapeau rouge ni le drapeau bleu qu’il nous faut, c’est du progrès, des chemins de fer, des terres et des manufactures.

Laurent-Olivier David in Textes de l’exode.

[We need neither the red flag nor the blue flag, we need progress: railroads, land, and factories.]

Alexis-Charles-Henri Cléral de Tocqueville by Théodore Chassériau,1850 (Claude Corbo)

Alexis de Tocqueville

In 1831, when Alexis de Tocqueville visited Lower Canada, he noticed that French-speaking Canadians lived in relative prosperity, but that money, la grande richesse, was in the hands of English or American merchants. Canadiens were farmers, called “habitants,” not businessmen. Moreover, the only professions were law, medicine or the priesthood. Families expected one son to become a priest and one daughter to enter a convent. Sons who went to work in factories were never promoted and their priests looked upon their meagre salary as a good sign. They were on the road to salvation. The citizens of New France and their descendants were Jansenists. Moreover, their well-educated priests, many of whom had fled the French Revolution, sided with the boss.

Si les paysans sont prospères, la grande richesse, elle, appartient aux Anglais du pays. Tant les frères Mondelet, rencontrés à Montréal le 24 août, que le marchand anglais anonyme de Québec, le 26 août, indiquent à Tocqueville que « presque toute la richesse et le commerce est dans les mains des Anglais. » ( Claude Corbo & others)

Alexis de Tocqueville[4]

[Even though the peasants are prosperous, the real wealth is in the hands of the country’s Englishmen. The Mondelet brothers, whom Tocqueville met in Montreal on August 24th, as well as the anonymous English merchant he met on August 26th, reveal to Tocqueville that, “almost all the wealth and commerce is under English control.”]

Claude Corbo : Articles | Encyclopédie du patrimoine culturel de l’Amérique française – histoire, culture, religion, héritage (

In other words, the French-speaking Canadians Tocqueville met had not entered and could not enter “modern times.” They were “nés pour un p’tit pain” (born for a tiny loaf).

Édouard Montpetit

  • l’École des Hautes Études commerciales
  • la Révolution tranquille

Quebec’s businesses and factories were owned by the United States and England. Moreover, Quebec had not acquired a business class. Montreal’s École des Hautes Études commerciales was founded in 1907. Édouard Montpetit was perhaps the first French-Canadian economist. He studied law and then attended Paris’ l’École libre des sciences politiques and the Collège des sciences sociales. In 1910, he started teaching at Montreal’s l’École des Hautes Études commerciales, a trilingual institution: French, English, Spanish.

However, it was not until la Révolution tranquille (the Quiet Revolution), in the 1960s, that French-speaking Canadians started owning their province. The 1960s (1963-1969) are also the years when the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism conducted its enquiry.


Sources and Resources

Document2 ( (Tocqueville interviews Mr Neilson) FR (on the “habitants”)
Wikipedia (most links)
Britannica (link to “modern times,” Charlie Chaplin)

[1] Annie Marion MacLean, “Significance of the Canadian Migration,” American Journal of Sociology (X, 6, mai 1905, pp. 814-823), in Maurice Poteet, responsable, Textes de l’Exode (Montréal : Guérin Littérature, collection Francophonie, 1987), pp. 62-73.
[2] Loc. cit.
[3] Laurent-Olivier David, « L’Émigration », in Maurice Poteet, responsable, Textes de l’Exode (Montréal : Guérin Littérature, collection Francophonie, 1987), pp. 39-41.
[4] Claude Corbo, Articles | Encyclopédie du patrimoine culturel de l’Amérique française – histoire, culture, religion, héritage ( FR & EN


Love to everyone 💕

Fred Pellerin chante “Amène-toi chez nous” (Come home), composition de Jacques Michel
Unknown Artist, Indien et Habitant avec Traîneau [Indian and Inhabitant with a Tobogan] (Quebec City) around 1840. BAC (Claude Corbo)

© Micheline Walker
6 May 2021

The Exodus: Canadiens leave Canada


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La Maison rouge par Clarence Gagnon


In earlier posts, I discussed Louis Hémon‘s Maria Chapdelaine (1913). Louis Hémon (12 October 1880 – 8 July 1913) was born in France but visited Quebec in 1912-1913. He went North to the small community of Péribonka. Having worked with French Canadians, he spent the winter of 1912-1913 writing Maria Chapdelaine and sent his manuscript to a publisher in France. In my discussion of Maria Chapdelaine, I also introduced the legendary Antoine Labelle (1834-1891). Antoine Labelle was a priest who encouraged Quebecers who had no land to go North, to the Lac-Saint-Jean FR or up the Ottawa River and “make land,”(faire de la terre).

Since the 1850s, or perhaps as early as the Rebellions or 1837-1838, Quebecers were moving to the United States.The thirty acres French colons (colonists) had farmed since the 17th century were a peau de chagrin.[1] They could no longer be divided among sons. Moreover, when the Seigneurial System was abolished in 1854, farmers could buy their ancestral land if they had money. The censitaires who could not buy their thirty acres had to pay “rente” for a lifetime.

Faire de la terre, making land, is the choice Maria’s father has made. Maria falls in love with François Paradis, but he dies in a storm, hoping to spend Christmas with Maria. An émigré to the United States, Lorenzo Surprenant, also wishes to marry Maria, but she will live and die as her mother lived and died. She marries Eutrope Gagnon who is “making land.”

My grandfather left Canada because he could not making a living in his native land. He went to the Canada d’en bas,[2] a down below Canada, or New England states. Traditionally, Quebecers had left for the pays d’en haut, north. They became voyageurs or worked as loggers (bûcherons) or river drivers (draveurs). Raftsmen drove the lumber down rivers, which was very dangerous.

Draveurs / Raftsmen (Bytown is Ottawa and the Ottawa River is l’Outaouais)

However, French Canadians left Québec for reasons other than unemployment. There were jobs in the United States, but French-speaking Canadians did not escape the spellbinding notion that, in order to be rich, one migrated to the United States. It was described as a land of plenty. My grandfather was unemployed, so he went to work in a New England factory. He saved his money and bought a large farm. Owning land was everything.

It remains true, however, that nearly one million[3] French-speaking Canadians left Canada mostly because they could not make a living in their country. Besides, although it did not happen the minute Confederation was signed, provinces legislated the exclusive, or nearly exclusive, use of French as a language of instruction. Sir Wilfrid Laurier could not accommodate immigrants and refugees. Needy French-speaking Canadians could not go west.

For instance, under Premier Sir James Whitney, Ontario was not prepared to have a dual system of education. In July 1912, Whitney’s government passed Regulation 17, which banned the teaching of French in schools beyond the first two or three years. This measure inflamed French-Canadian opinion across Canada, but more so in Quebec. French-speaking Quebecers wondered if they should accept conscription.

In 1922, Quebec nationalist, Lionel Groulx, a priest, published L’Appel de la race, (the call of…). Jules Lantagnac, a lawyer, has married Maud Fletcher, a Catholic Anglophone. They live in Ottawa. He is elected into office in Ontario, but wants his children to be educated in French. His wife opposes him and she threatens to leave him if he supports a motion by Kamouraska (Quebec) Member of Parliament, Ernest Lapointe. The marriage falls apart. A few years ago, Lionel Groulx, Quebec’s most prominent nationalist ever, was accused of racism. Although I would rather read Gabrielle Roy, I will say that race also means breed and that Lantagnac’s roots are a French and bilingual Canada. Sir James Whitney, was influenced by Ontario Orangemen. Sir John A. Macdonald, the main father of Confederation, was an Orangeman and the Orange Order was anti-French and anti-Catholic. (See James Whitney, Wikipedia.)

But French-speaking Canadians had friends.

They [French Canadians] have adopted our system, but there are two things they have clung to, their religion and their language. I believe that their national sentiment is even stronger than their religious sentiment—I really believe so. The national feeling among them is intensely strong, but I would ask you English, Irish and Scotch descendants born in this country, and brought up here, supposing a regulation similar to No. 17 were passed in the Province of Quebec, what do you think our duty towards it would be? Supposing Sir Lomer Gouin—I cannot imagine it—but supposing he did have the courage, or the nerve, so to speak, to pass a regulation of that kind. There would be a rebellion in this Province, I think. And here we have our French-Canadian brethren in the sister Province who by constitutional means are trying to obtain the repeal or the modification of the regulation, or some other settlement of the question which would be satisfactory to all concerned.)

Mr. JUSTICE McCORKILL, in Bilingualism by N. A. Belcourt speech given at the Canadian Club in 1916.
Gutenberg [EBook #25040]

George-Étienne Cartier (1814-1873), the Prime Minister of Canada East, signed Confederation. Quebec was part of a federated Canada. He was pleased that Quebecers would keep their language, their religion, and their Code Civil. He negotiated Manitoba’s entry into Confederation. But could he presume that a dual system of education would be opposed? He died in 1873, twelve years before Louis Riel was executed.

However, it remains difficult to say to what extent being confined to one province hurt French-speaking Canadians. Emigration to the United States was a loss. All I know is that the people living in Canada are compatible. So many French-speaking Canadians are federalists. They inherited a Constitutional Monarchy and liked that system. One could speak. As for Sir John A. Macdonald, he had a dream. Canada would stretch from the Atlantic to the Pacific. That vision was enibriating, but…


Sources and Resources

[1] I am borrowing from Honoré de Balzac (1799-1850) who wrote a novel entitled La Peau de chagrin. Shagreen shrinks. It may, therefore, represent life, love, and all paradis perdus (paradise lost)
[2] Pierre Anctil, « La Franco-Américanie ou le Québec d’en bas », in Maurice Poteet, responsable, Textes de l’Exode (Montréal : Guérin Littérature, collection Francophonie, 1987), pp. 91-111.
[3] Télesphore Saint-Pierre, « Les Canadiens des États-Unis : ce qu’on perd à émigrer », in Maurice Poteet, responsable, Textes de l’Exode (Montréal : Guérin Littérature, collection Francophonie, 1987), p. 47.


Love to everyone 💕

© Micheline Walker
1st May 2021

La Question des écoles / The Schools Question. 2


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Maison d’enfance (Childhood House) de Gabrielle Roy, à Saint-Boniface, Winnipeg, Manitoba


I cannot accomplish much at this moment, but I am sending you a photograph of Gabrielle Roy’s childhood home in Saint-Boniface, Manitoba. I mentioned short stories written by Gabrielle Roy, the author of Bonheur d’occasion, a novel published in 1945 and translated as The Tin Flute. The novel tells the story of a family living in Saint-Henri, Montreal, the poorest area of Montreal in 1945. The novel’s central irony is that World War II will “save” the family. Rose-Anna will receive a few hundred dollars a month.

Bonheur d’occasion (second-hand happiness) and Hugh MacLennan‘s Two Solitudes (1945) have been considered mirror narratives expressing the tragic repercussions of the separation of Canada’s two founding nations, after the First Nations.

Résistance: Clandestine Schools outside Quebec

There was resistance to the uniform school system created by Sir John A. Macdonald in provinces other than Quebec. As humble as it was, the Laurier-Greenway Compromise of 1989 made it possible to use French as the language of instruction in several Manitoba schools. But the Laurier-Greenway Compromise was short-lived. In 1915, the Thornton Act abolished the bilingual school system in Manitoba. However, in many schools, French continued to be the language of instruction, but in a clandestine manner. The teacher spoke French, but switched to English when the Inspector visited the school. Certain immigrants also took in hand the education of their children. But it could not last.


As for French-speaking Canadians, the Official Languages Act of 1969 was passed one hundred and two years after Confederation (1867). It was too late. Canada is officially bilingual and bicultural, but the people of Canada do not necessarily speak both French and English. In practice, Canada is a mostly English-language country, which it may remain. The Federal Government has put into place French Immersion Schools and Canada has an Office of the Commissioner of the Official Languages. (See Canada’s “Founding Mothers” of French Immersion | The Canadian Encyclopedia and Canadian Parents for French.) These schools cannot transform English-speaking Canadians into French-speaking Canadians, but gifted and motivated students do learn French. These schools also constitute a validation of the French language. Moreover, such groups as Canadian Parents for French look kindly on publically-funded separate schools in various communities, if these communities qualify.

However, it would be my opinion that one cannot expect coast to coast bilingualism. Not after 102 years. Canada is a mostly English-language country where each linguistic group should respect one another and also respect immigrants to this country. When they arrive in Canada, they are fellow Canadians.

Whether laws should enforce the use of French in Quebec is questionable. By virtue of Quebec’s Bill 22 (July 1972), French is the official language of Quebec. Bill 101 (La Charte de la langue française),1977, reinforced Bill 22. There are “sunnier” ways of preserving a language. I am borrowing the term “sunnier” from Sir Wilfrid Laurier.

But I will pause here. The concept of nationhood is complex. I have met people in whose eyes Britain won the battle, i.e. the Battle of the Plains of Abraham (13 September 1759), which means that the French have no rights, nor do Amerindians. They too were conquered. This ideology has fallen into disrepute, but it has done so… very slowly.


If one reads the above, one may be tempted to revisit separatism. Confederation separated Quebec. It would not be on an equal footing with other provinces. But it also separated French-speaking Canadians from English-speaking Canadians.

The people of Canada must never stop respecting one another: English speaking, French speaking, immigrants to this country, and refugees. When immigrants arrive in Canada, it becomes their country. Not that they will forget their native land. Gabrielle Roy’s Sam Lee Wong is lost in the Canadian prairies. Canadian Japanese were Canadians. But they were interned after the attack on Pearl Harbour.


Sources and Resources

Two Solitudes and Bonheur d’occasion: Mirror Images of Quebec | Bibliography on English-speaking Quebec (
See Office of the Commissioner of the Official Languages to view a timeline of the history of bilingualism in Canada. There were noble gestures in provinces where the language of instruction could not be French.

Love to everyone 💕

Les Charbonniers de l’enfer: La Traversée miraculeuse

© Micheline Walker
28 April 2021

La Question des écoles / The Schools Question


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Louis-Hippolyte La Fontaine & Robert Baldwin (cover of John Ralston Saul‘s book)
Sir Wilfrid Laurier (Pinterest)
André Laurendeau & Davidson Dunton (The Canadian Encyclopedia)


The Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism (1963-1969)

At the time André Laurendeau and Davidson Dunton conducted their inquiry on bilingualism and biculturalism, my father was one of the leaders of British Columbia’s Francophone Community and its spokesman, which I have mentioned in earlier posts. He was interviewed frequently, and was also invited to talk shows. The talk show host would take telephone calls from citizens many of whom stated that in their community very few people spoke French. Most of these callers were the descendants of immigrants to Canada who could not understand that Canada’s founding nations, after the First Nations, were France and Great Britain. In their towns, villages, or rural districts, they were the majority. Why should instruction be in a language other than theirs? The schools question is a complex issue.

So, in order to get to the source, I read large sections of the reports submitted by The Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism (1963-1969). The children of several immigrants to Canada were educated in their parents’ tongue. These would be mostly immigrants to the Prairie provinces, Alberta and Saskatchewan., to be precise. However, results were not as expected. These immigrants and Manitoba Francophones, were not in a position to organize a school system. Moreover, they would be opposed by Ottawa or the premier of their province. So, I will state, once again, that the school question is a complex issue.

In Manitoba,[1] the schools question reached its apex five years after Métis leader Louis Riel was executed (1885). Louis Riel assumed that in provinces that entered Confederation the language of instruction in public schools would be either French or English. This would be true of Quebec. But, as you know, John A. Macdonald was an Orangeman and he favoured uniform schools: English-language and Protestant schools. So, in 1889, Manitoba passed the Official Language Act, which

made English the sole language of Manitoba government records, minutes, and laws. Other laws abolishing French in all legislative and judicial spheres followed leading to the disappearance of Catholic (and hence French) schools.

Laurier-Greenway compromise, University of Ottawa

However, the Laurier-Greenway Compromise of 1897 would allow some latitude, concerning the language of instruction, but barely so.

If it were in my power, I would try the sunny way. I would approach this man Greenway with the sunny way of patriotism, asking him to be just and to be fair, asking him to be generous to the minority, in order that we may have peace among all the creeds and races which it has pleased God to bring upon this corner of our common country. Do you not believe that there is more to be gained by appealing to the heart and soul of men rather than to compel them to do a thing?

‒ Oscar Skelton, Life and Letters of Sir Wilfrid Laurier (1921)

In 1905, Prime Minister Wilfrid Laurier negotiated the entry into Confederation of Saskatchewan and Alberta, but he could not give immigrants schools other than uniform schools. He respected the Laurier-Greenway Compromise, which had been his initiative. However, in Manitoba, the 1916 Thornton Act reiterated the Official Language Act of 1889. As noted above, immigrants and French-speaking Canadians often took in hand the matter of education in a language other than English, as did French-Canadians in Manitoba. These citizens would face a formidable obstacle: taxation.[2]

Gabrielle Roy (Gabrielle Roy en), the “grande dame” of French-Canadian literature, wrote very touching short stories about Ukrainian immigrants: Ces enfants de ma vie (The Children of my life), Un jardin au bout du monde (A Garden at the edge of the world). Gabrielle Roy had been a school teacher in Manitoba. In Un jardin au bout du monde, she wrote a truly moving short story about a Chinese immigrant: Où iras-tu Sam Lee Wong? (Where will you go, Sam Lee Wong?)

The Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism could not propose that children be educated in French in communities where there were a mere handful of families were French-speaking families. The callers who spoke to my father had a point. There were very few French-Canadian families in their area. There could not be under the terms of Confederation. Numbers count. There had to be a demand. However, had there been a demand and a school instituted, the language of instruction would have been French or English. French and English were recognized as Canada’s official languages by virtue of the Official Languages Act of 1969. If the language of instruction in certain schools was other than French or English, such schools would be private schools as were denominational schools. Immigrants also asked for denominational schools.

Confederation created a uniform Canada. Yet, today’s Canada reflects the Baldwin-La Fontaine‘s great ministry, or the province of Canada when it obtained its responsible government in 1848. Today’s Canada is also in the image of Louis Riel‘s Red River. Canada was not officially bilingual and bicultural until the passage of the Official Languages Act of 1969, the culmination of The Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism, an in-depth inquiry. André Laurendeau died in 1968. He and Davidson Dunton remind me of Robert Baldwin and Louis-Hippolyte La Fontaine. They were a team, compatible, and they understood.

Traditionally, French-speaking Canadians have been Catholics and many could not accept that a French-language school should be other than Catholic. So, if my father expressed the view that the combination of language and faith hampered the creation of publicly funded French-language schools, he was criticized, if not crucified.

Le Vent du Nord

In Le Vent du Nord‘s “Confédération,” the ex-patriote who saved les Français d’Amérique would be George-Étienne Cartier, the Prime Minister of the Province of Canada East and a father of Confederation. George-Étienne Cartier was involved in the Rebellions of 1837-1838. Rebels were called patriot(e)s in both Upper Canada and Lower Canada.[3] George-Étienne Cartier was happy that his people had their Québec: their schools, their religion, their Code Civil. But Wilfrid Laurier quickly ran for office in Ottawa (1874).

In 1969, Canada reflected the Great Ministry of Baldwin and La Fontaine. In 1848, under Robert Baldwin and Louis-Hippolyte La Fontaine, the Province of Canada was granted its responsible government and it was bilingual and bicultural Canada. (See also Baldwin and La Fontaine, Canadian Encyclopedia.) But given the terms of Confederation, Quebec was the only province that retained Baldwin and La Fontaine’s dual system of education. Louis Riel‘s Manitoba did not.

Confederation is rooted in the Act of Union, and the period extending from 1867 to 1969 seems… a pause (un pays qui fut fondé trois fois).


Sources and Resources

Love to everyone 💕

[1] I am excluding schools located in British Columbia. I attended St. Ann’s Academy, in Victoria, British Columbia. It was built before Confederation and was never a Residential School. The Sisters of St. Anne had travelled from Quebec to Victoria.

[2] Comeault, G.-L. (1979). La question des écoles du Manitoba — Un nouvel éclairage. Revue d’histoire de l’Amérique française, 33(1), 3–23.

[3] Confédération also contains a reference to the Château Clique, whose membership, rich merchants, included John Molson and James McGill. They paved the way to the Act of Union (1840).

Le Vent du Nord’s Confédération
Louis Riel (The Canadian Encyclopedia)

© Micheline Walker
24 April 2021

Le Vent du Nord’s “Confédération”


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La Confédération

Although it is quite long and somewhat repetitive, I am publishing this post. In Confédération, Le Vent du Nord ensemble tells that French-speaking Canada was created three times.
1) New France was defeated.
2) Patriots were exiled after the Rebellions of 1837-1838.
3) Confederation isolated Quebec.
However, it is difficult to say to what extent being confined to a single province harmed French-speaking Canadians. What I know for certain is that English-speaking and French-speaking Canadians are two compatible populations.


On 1st July 1867, four provinces of Canada federated: Ontario, Québec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. These provinces were suffering attacks by the Fenians, an Irish brotherhood whose mission was to free Ireland. Fenians lived in the United States, but some lived in Canada. Moreover, the United States purchased Alaska on 30 March 1867, three months before Confederation. Canadians feared annexation which led to the purchase of Rupert’s Land from the Hudson’s Bay Company and a motivation to bring British Columbia into Confederation. On 20 July 1871, after being promised a transcontinental railroad, British Columbia entered Confederation. Canada would stretch from sea to sea. (See Maps of Canada.)


  • a continuation of the “Great Ministry”
  • a new Canada

Confederation, however, was not a continuation of the ‘Great Ministry‘ formed by Robert Baldwin and Louis-Hippolyte La Fontaine. The Great Ministry unified Ontario and Quebec, or the Province of Canada. It was a bilingual and bicultural Canada where French-speaking and English-speaking citizens were equals. Such was the Canada Métis leader Louis Riel envisaged. He therefore “halted the Canadian land surveys on 11 October 1869.” (See Louis Riel, The Canadian Encyclopedia.) The arrival of Orangemen at the Red River Settlement was premature and could be described as a landrush. The purchase of Rupert’s Land from the Hudson’s Bay Company had yet to be finalized. In addition, no policy governing the allocation of land would exist until the Dominion Lands Act was passed. It received Royal assent on 14 April 1872. (See Dominion Lands Act, The Canadian Encyclopedia.) 

The Act of Union

Confederation would not reflect the “Great Ministry.” It would instead be consistent with John George Lambton, Lord Durham‘s recommendations. After investigating the Rebellions of 1837-1838, Lord Durham recommended the union of Upper Canada and Lower Canada. The Act of Union was passed in Britain in July 1840 and in Canada on 10th February 1841. Upper Canada and Lower Canada would constitute the Province of Canada.

Lord Durham expected that, in a Province of Canada, English-speaking Canadians would soon outnumber and absorb the French-speaking minority. The Act of Union was passed in Britain in July 1840 and in Canada on 10th February 1841, but it was followed by the “Great Ministry” In 1848, Canada obtained the responsible government it sought in 1837-1838.

Lord Durham also recommended that the language of the Assembly be English. The languages of the Assembly would remain French and English. When Louis-Hippolyte La Fontaine, the first Prime Minister of the Province of Canada, addressed the Assembly, he spoke French shortly and then switched to English. He set a precedent.

The Terms of Confederation

Confederation marginalized Quebec. Under the terms of Confederation, the British North America Act, 1867, the children of French-speaking families could not be educated in French outside Quebec. In public schools, the language of instruction was English. The assimilation of French-speaking Canadians had been Lord Durham’s intent when he proposed a united Canada, the Province of Canada. So, as immigrants arrived in Canada, their children attended English-language schools. John A Macdonald (10 or 11 January 1815 – 6 June 1891) was an Orangeman and the Orange Order was anti-French and anti-Catholic. (See Orange Order, The Canadian Encylopedia.)

By 1864, the ‘great ministry’ seemed a memory. It was replaced by the great coalition of Canada, the government that would usher in Confederation. George-Étienne Cartier, the premier of Canada East, had good reasons to lead Quebec into Confederation. Confederation offered a secure environment, but Quebec would not be an equal partner. Outside Quebec, the children of French-speaking Canadians would be educated in English, unless they attended private schools, which was another problematic. So, bilingualism and biculturalism played itself out as la question des écoles,[1] the school question, i. e. publicly funded French-language schools outside Quebec. Therefore, John A Macdonald was Prime Minister of Canada after Canadian Confederation, a Confederation that was not bilingual and bicultural, except in Quebec.

“Macdonald has come under criticism for his role in the Chinese Head Tax and federal policies towards indigenous peoples, including his actions during the North-West Rebellion that resulted in Riel’s execution, and the development of the residential school system designed to assimilate Indigenous children.” (See John A Macdonald, Wikipedia.)


Maps of Canada (15 October 2020)
About Confederation, cont’d (6 October 2020)
About Confederation (15 September 2020)
Sir Wilfrid Laurier: the Conciliator (15 July 2020)

[1] Comeault, G.-L. (1979). La question des écoles du Manitoba — Un nouvel
éclairage. Revue d’histoire de l’Amérique française, 33(1), 3–23.


Love to everyone 💕

Sir John A Macdonald (Britannica)

© Micheline Walker
20 April 2021



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Woman Reading by François de Troy

I apologize for a delay in posting. There have been many events. The worst, however, is difficulty logging in to Windows/Microsoft. I supply a password. It works, but suddenly it no longer works. I do not think the password is the problem but something else. I am also facing criminality on the Internet.

As for my posts, the next one is a song in which the Vent du Nord ensemble express an opinion on Confederation. At this point, statues of the main father of Confederation have been removed. A building or buildings named after him have been renamed.

I have been updating posts on La Fontaine. La Fontaine’s Official Site is no longer the same, so the link to the text of the fables must be changed. These posts are listed on a page and, to my knowledge, all have been updated. In the days of Covid-19, informative posts may benefit students.

Where the Pandemic is concerned, the rapid emergence of variants combined with civil disobedience are undermining the vaccination campaign. The number of victims has risen. It seems that Easter has been as deadly as Christmas and refusal to wear a mask or to be vaccinated are deadlier still. It would be my opinion that governments respond to protest by loosening sanitary measures prematurely.

My memory is playing tricks on me. It’s a neurological issue caused by the virus H1N1, which I caught in February 1976. Beware of “slow Covid.”

Given the passing of Prince Philip, I am playing my “royal” music, the second movement of Beethoven’s 7th Symphony. It has long been a favourite.

Love to everyone 💕

Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony, 2nd Movement, Israël Philharmonic under Zubin Mehta
The Hunt by François de Troy (Courtesy Britannica)

© Micheline Walker
14 April 2021

Prince Philip has died: 1921-2021


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Prince Philip (Mirror, UK)

My first gesture today is to bemoan the death of Prince Philip and to offer my sincere condolences to his wife, Queen Elizabeth, to all members of the Royal family, to their European relatives, to the leaders and citizens of the countries of the Commonwealth, and to all who admired the Queen’s husband, Philip Mountbatten, Duke of Edinburgh. He was always supportive of the Queen.

May he rest in peace and may the Royal family be united in these sorrowful days.

My kindest regards to all of you. 💕

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip (Pinterest)

© Micheline Walker
9 April 2021

Sir Karl Jenkins’ “L’Homme armé”


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Christ Pantocrator, Sainte-Sophie, Istamboul (fr Wikipedia)

The Fall of Constantinople

Setting a Mass to a secular song, the 15th-century L’Homme armé, is an oddity. But the title of this Mass is otherwise intriguing. Sir Karl Jenkins (b. 1944), a Welsh composer, dedicated his Armed Man: a Mass for Peace to the victims of the Kosovo genocide, giving his Mass a “contemporary resonance.” (Early Music Muse.)

The genocidal wars that followed the dissolution of the Soviet Union reflect ethnic discrimination in Eastern Europe. Such discrimination is probably rooted in the very last Crusades, the fall of Constantinople.

On 29 May 1453, the Byzantine Empire fell to the Ottoman Empire. Greek scholars fled to Italy initiating or buttressing the Renaissance. Moreover, Ottoman Turks invaded neighbouring countries, creating Muslim communities. In 1529, they nearly reached Vienna.

By the 15th century, the expanding Ottoman Empire overpowered the Balkan Peninsula, but faced successful rebellion and resistance led by Gjergj Kastrioti Skanderbeg. By the 17th and 18th centuries, a substantial number of Albanians converted to Islam, which offered them equal opportunities and advancement within the Ottoman Empire. Thereafter, Albanians attained significant positions and culturally contributed to the broader Muslim world.

(See Albanians, Wikipedia)

L’Homme armé

The composition of the secular L’Homme armé has been attributed to Johannes Regis (c. 1425 – c. 1496), but it appears that Antoine Busnois (c. 1430 – 6 November 1492) is the song’s composer. Sources differ. Both Regis and Busnois were younger members of the Burgundian School, younger than Guillaume Du Fay (5 August 1397 – 27 November 1474). However, all three composers lived in the 15th century and were active in or after 1453. Busnois, Regis, and Du Fay were members of the Burgundian School, whose chief purpose was the development of polyphony. Although the Greeks invented polyphony, “the term polyphony is usually used to refer to music of the late Middle Ages and Renaissance.” (See Polyphony, Wikipedia.)


The fall of Constantinople and the conquest by Ottoman Turks of several European countries, the future Balkans mainly, led to battles and bloodshed. So, it is less surprising that 15th-century composers set the Ordinary of the Mass, the Mass’ permanent elements, to L’Homme armé, its cantus firmus, or fixed melody. “Some have suggested that the ‘armed man’ represents St Michael the Archangel.” (See L’Homme armé, Wikipedia.)

As for compositions of L’Homme armé that followed the breakdown of the Soviet Union, they reflect distant conflicts. Karl Jenkins’ Armed Man: a Mass for Peace, composed in 1999, is a commemoration. One is also reminded of Benjamin Britten‘s War Requiem, an anti-war piece. 

Fifteenth-century composers who have set a Mass to L’Homme armé are Josquin des Prez, Matthaeus PipelarePierre de La RueCristóbal de MoralesGuillaume Du Fay, Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, Guillaume FauguesJohannes Regis, and Johannes Ockeghem. Most were members of the Burgundian School or the Franco-Flemish School.

One cannot forget L’Homme armé.



Sources and Resources

L’homme armé / The armed man: the remarkable life of a 15th century song and its contemporary resonance.
(Early Music Muse.)

L’homme armé doibt on doubter.
On a fait partout crier
Que chascun se viegne armer
D’un haubregon de fer.
L’homme armé doibt on doubter.

The armed man should be feared.
Everywhere it has been proclaimed
That each man shall arm himself
With a coat of iron mail.
The armed man should be feared.

(See L’Homme armé, Wikipedia.)


Love to everyone 💕

Sir Karl Jenkins conducts his Armed Man: a Mass for Peace
Renesansowa pieśń żołnierska Renaissance Soldier Song L’Homme armé (ballada na niej oparta)
L’homme armé in the Mellon Chansonnier, c. 1470 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

© Micheline Walker
6 April 2021

Guillaume Du Fay’s L’Homme armé


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L’homme armé in the Mellon Chansonnier, c. 1470

In the 15th century, musical compositions, both liturgical and secular, often blended several independent voices. Such compositions are labelled polyphonic. Polyphony is a musical texture blending independent voices as do Barbershop quartets.

Secular madrigals, songs in the mother (madre, Spanish) tongue, had been monophonic (one voice), but they were a form used in the development of polyphonic music. So was the Motet, liturgical music. Polyphony could at times blend more than the soprano, alto, tenor and bass (SATB), the four voices we are most familiar with. But more importantly, a Mass by Guillaume Du Fay combined the sacred and the secular. The Ordinary of the Mass was set to L’Homme armé (the armed man) a secular theme. A Mass’ permanent components constitute the Ordinary of the Mass.

Guillaume Du Fay (5 August 1397 – 27 November 1474), the most prominent composer of the 15th century, was associated with the Burgundian School. The Burgundian School was a close predecessor to the Franco-Flemish School. In the 15th century and during most of the 16th century, the Netherlands were the cultural hub of Europe. For instance, Adrian Williaert (c. 1490 – 7 December 1562), of the Franco-Flemish school, would be a teacher in Venice. He founded the Venetian School.

L’Homme armé (Wikipedia) was a very popular tune. “Over 40 settings of the Ordinary of the Mass using the tune L’Homme armé survive from the period between 1450 and the end of the 17th century.” (See L’Homme armé, Wikipedia.)

Du Fay set the Missa L’Homme armé to a cantus firmus “a pre-existing melody forming the basis of a polyphonic composition” (Wikipedia). However, the pre-existing melody was L’Homme armé, the armed man.

Composers still write sacred music. Examples are Benjamin Britten (22 November 1913 – 4 December 1976) and John Rutter (b. 1945). Earlier, Hector Berlioz (11 December 1803 – 8 March 1869) wrote his Grande Messe des morts or Requiem.

In fact, L’Homme armé is still used. Pieces on L’Homme armé are listed in its Wikipedia entry. British composer Peter Maxwell Davies composed “a parody mass Missa super L’Homme armé (1968, revised 1971).” Canadian pianist and composer Marc-André Hamelin (b. 1961) wrote Toccata onL’Homme Armé” “on commission by the Van Cliburn Foundation for the Fifteenth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. Every competitor was required to perform it in the preliminary stage of the competition.” (See L’Homme armé, Wikipedia.)

I should also mention rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar, with music by Andrew Lloyd-Webber (b. 1948) and lyrics by Tim Rice (b. 1944). The rock opera does not use L’Homme armé, but it is a theater musical based on a Christian theme.

One never forgets L’Homme armé.



Love to everyone 💕

L’Homme armé de Guillaume Du Fay
Marc-André Hamelin performs his Toccata on “L’Homme armé”
Du Fay (left), with Gilles Binchois in a c. 1440 Illuminated manuscript copy of Martin le Franc’s Le champion des dames[n 1] (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

© Micheline Walker
1st April 2021