The Voyageurs: hommes engagés


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Shooting the Rapid, 1879, Frances Ann Hopkins (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Shooting the Rapids by Frances Ann Hopkins, 1879 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Voyageurs

The voyageurs were the French-speaking Canadian boatmen or canoemen, who travelled in birch-bark canoes from Ottawa or Lachine, to fur-trading posts in what is now Manitoba and Minnesota, Grand-Portage being the main trading post.

  • First, they had to short-legged. Being short-legged was important because they had to transport as much fur as possible relatively small canoes and much of the fur was stored under each canoeman’s seat in the canoe. There was very little room for their legs.
  • Second, a strong upper body was an essential characteristic. They sometimes had to go from one waterway to another waterway and when they did, they carried fur (usually beaver pelts) and personal supplies on their back, bundles called bales, they carried on their backs, weighed more than 40 kilos (about 90 pounds), perhaps a conservative figure. And they also had to carry their canoe.  These parts of their trips were called a portage (from the French porter: to carry).
  • Third, they had to be good singers.

The Singing Voyageurs

Travellers to North-America, fur traders, employees and governors of fur-trading companies, such as the Hudson’s Bay Company, historians, and others often reported that the Canadien voyageur, sang as he paddled canoes filled with precious pelts.

Les Trois Cavaliers fort bien montés (The Three Well-Mounted Horsemen), a folksong, inspired Irish poet Thomas Moore to give it new words in 1804. It became the famous Canadian Boat Song.

In Kitchi-Gami [i], J. G. Kohl writes that “They [the voyageurs] were chosen men! The best singers in the world:”

C’était des hommes choisis ! Les plus beaux chanteurs du monde!

Le Portage

Portages were so difficult that the men often chose to “shoot the rapids.” At such times, I doubt that they sang. “Shooting the rapids” was dangerous and many men died.  Alongside the rivers the voyageurs used to go from Lachine (Montreal), or Ottawa, the usual points of departure, to what is now Manitoba and Minnesota, there are little white crosses. The voyageurs left small white crosses where boatmen had die.

The Contract: voyageurs and coureurs de/des bois

We have to distinguish between the voyageurs who had a licence to work in the fur trade and those who roamed the forests without the proper permit, called coureurs de/des bois. As for the voyageur, he was a hired man: an engagéBut the coureurs des bois were adventurers. They roamed the woods without a permit and if they got caught fur-trading, they faced sanctions and the beaver pelts they had not sold were confiscated.

These men usually signed a three-year contract which meant that they often left behind, a wife and children to whom the earnings of the voyageur were usually sent.  However, many men lived with Amerindian women or married Amerindian women. Their children were Métis.

However, some voyageur wanted to marry a French-Canadian woman and simply waited. Canada’s Louis Riels grandfather, Jean-Baptiste Lagimodière, went to Quebec to marry Marie-Anne Gaboury, the first white woman to settle in Western Canada. Their daughter Julie married a Métis named Louis Riel and they had a son they named Louis Riel. Several Métis remained in Manitoba, but the Battle of Batoche took place in Saskatchewewan. Many retired in Minnesota, USA. Those who did had usually been employed by the American Fur Trade company, founded by John Jacob Astor in 1808.


I will continue to tell the story of the voyageurs, but let this be the background. We have actually gone a long way.  For the time being, I will continue to reflect on the fact that these men sang despite the dangers they faced and their isolation from their home.


© Micheline Walker
12 January 2012

[i] G. Kohl, Kitchi-Gami. Wanderings Round Lake Superior (London: Chapman and Hall, 1860).  Available in paperback, with an introduction by Robert E. Bieder, under the title Life Among the Lake Superior Ojibway (St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 1985 [1860]).

The Beaver

The Beaver

Louis Riel, Hero or Rebel


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Buffalo at Sunset

Buffalo at Sunset by Paul Kane (National Gallery of Canada)

“I have done three good things since I have commenced: I have spared Boulton‘s life at your instance, I pardoned Gaddy, and now I shall shoot Scott.”
(Louis Riel, Wikipedia)


Riel, Louis and the First Provisional government, 1869 (courtesy Glenbow Archives/NA-1039-1) (Photo credit: The Canadian Encyclopedia)

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March 4, 1870. Protestant Orangeman Thomas Scott is executed on orders from Louis Riel (from the Illustrated Canadian News, April 23, 1870/Glenbow Collection) (Photo credit: The Canadian Encyclopedia) 


Executing Thomas Scott is in fact the worst thing Riel ever did. “Some historians say this was one of Riel’s most fatal errors.” (See Execution of Thomas Scott, A Country by Consent.) It was.

Irish-born Thomas Scott, an Orangeman from present-day Ontario, was captured when he and his party tried to break into Fort Garry, the former Red River Colony and future Winnipeg. He could have been freed on the condition that he leave the valley, but he wouldn’t leave the valley. He was a member of the Orange Order, named after Dutch-born Protestant king William of Orange, anti-Catholics Protestants who looked upon French Canadians as “morally inferior:”

Its [the Orange Order’s] members generally viewed Roman Catholics and French Canadians as politically disloyal or culturally inferior. Some Orange members argued that their association was the only one capable of resisting Catholics who, they believed, were subservient to the Pope’s spiritual and political authority and who were therefore disreputable crown subjects.

(See Orange Order, The Canadian Encyclopedia)

As an Orangeman and very anti-Catholic, Thomas Scott repeatedly taunted his captors and threatened to kill Riel.” (See Execution of Thomas Scott, A Country by Consent.)  Moreover, Orangemen had a “penchant for violence and secrecy.”

Colonial administrators in Upper CanadaCanada West were at times thankful for their loyalty and service, and other times disparaged their penchant for violence and secrecy.

(See The Orange Order in CanadaThe Canadian Encyclopedia.)

The Red River Rebellion: the beginning

One can understand that after Canadian Confederation, Canada’s first Prime Minister, John A. Macdonald, and his government might wish to expand westward. In 1867, the United States had bought Alaska from Russia. Moreover, the United States had developed an ideology, Manifest Destiny (c. 1850), which suggested that Americans “were destined to expand across North America the special virtues of the American people and their institutions, etc.” (See Manifest Destiny, Wikipedia.)

Therefore, John A. Macdonald and his government purchased Rupert’s Land, a vast territory, named after Prince Rupert of the Rhine, who supplied Pierre-Esprit Radisson with a ship, the Nonsuch, that took him near the center of the continent. For men employed by the Hudson’s Bay Company, chartered in 1670, portages were minimized. The HBC’s trading post was York Factory, built in 1684.  However, in 1774, the Hudson’s Bay Company built Cumberland House, on the Saskatchewan River, its first western inland post. “Brigades” of canoes would go down waterways to acquire beaver pelts used to make top hats or chapeaux haut-de-forme. At this point, the Hudson’s Bay Company and the North-West Company became fierce competitors until the merger of the two companies in 1821.

Canada buys Rupert’s Land

This [Rupert’s Land] amounted to an enormous territory in the heart of the continent: what is today northern Québec and Labrador, northern and western  Ontario, all of Manitoba, most of Saskatchewan, south and central Alberta, parts of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut, and small sections of the United States.

(See Rupert’s Land, The Canadian Encyclopedia.)


Rupert’s Land (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Thomas Douglas, 5th Earl of Selkirk (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Red River Colony

The inhabitants of the Red River Colony consisted of retired Canadiens voyageurs, former fur traders, French-speak Métis, Anglo-Métis, Scottish crofters, who had been deprived of their land, other Europeans (citizens of Swiss origin), and Aboriginals. In the mid-1810s, several members of the Régiment de Meuron, or Meurons, “a regiment of infantry originally raised in Switzerland in 1781” and commanded by Charles-Daniel de Meuron. These soldiers were mercenaries (i.e. professional soldiers). (See Régiment de Meuron, Wikipedia). They had seen action in India, as a British Infantry, in Canada, under Sir James Charles Prévost, at the Battle of Plattsburgh, during the War of 1812, and in the Red River Colony, as discharged soldiers in the Pemmican War.” In 1816, when the regiment was disbanded, half of the De Meurons‘ 640-men strong infantry settled in Canada and many headed for the Red River Colony. So did members of De Watteville’s Regiment.

Later some of its [Régiment de Meuron] soldiers also served at the Red River Colony. Some 150 recently discharged soldiers from the Régiment de Meuron and De Watteville’s Regiment, still retaining their uniforms, participated in the Pemmican War. Rue des Meurons in the Winnipeg suburb of Saint Boniface is named after the regiment.

(See Régiment de Meuron, Wikipedia.)

Settling the Red River Colony had been difficult because of warring factions: the Hudson’s Bay Company, chartered in May 1670 (at first, a fur-trading company, and its rival, the North West Company, founded in 1789 and headquartered in Montreal. The Red River Colony‘s first settlers could have died of hunger, had it not been for Aboriginals who provided pemmican (from the nearly extinct, buffalo), the food they also prepared for voyageurs, whose relatives they became. The family of Swiss artist Peter Ridinsbacher  (12 April 1806 – 12 August or 13 August 1834), whose lovely watercolours depicting Aboriginals, Métis and the Red River Colony are a precious legacy, also lived in Assiniboina or the Red River Colony. Their home was flooded in 1826, one among other calamities. It led the family to leave Assiniboina or the Red River Colony for the United States. (See 1826 Red River Flood, Wikipedia). They moved to Wisconsin, but ended up settlin in St. LouisMissouri, where Peter died, “possibly of cholera,” (Wikipedia) at the age of 28.

Another temporary and colourful inhabitant of Assiniboina was musician Edward Ermatinger, a Hudson’s Bay Company employee who ended up settling in St. Thomas, Ontario. His collection of voyageurs songs may be the only one to have come down to us.

He made a collection of the words and music of French Canadian folksongs, which survives, and one of his friends refers to a “Red River March” he composed.


Winter Fishing on the Ice by Peter Ridinsbacher, 1821 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


The following sites are extremely rich in images. Claire C.’s 36 Portraits are stunning. Peter Ridinsbacher: Beauty by Commission (stunning) contains an interview featuring the diversity among inhabitants of the Red River Colony, the current Winnipeg.

The Red River Rebellion

The citizens of the Red River Colony were alarmed because of the influx of immigrants that followed Confederation. New Canadians were moving West in a manner that did not reflect the manner in which the Earl of Selkirk’s had settled the community the Colony. (See The Red River Settlement, Canada’s First Peoples and Lord Selkirk’s Grant, It was located at the juncture of the Red River (the Red) and the Assiniboine, in modern-day Winnipeg. When he returned from studying in Montreal, Louis Riel, the grandson of Jean-Baptiste Lagimonière, or Lagimodière, and Marie-Anne Gaboury, noticed that life was changing in the Red River Colony and that it was not changing in favour of the Métis.

For instance, “[t]he Métis did not possess title to their land, which was, in any case, laid out according to the seigneurial system rather than in English-style square lots.” (See Louis Riel, Wikipedia.) French seigneuries were narrow strips of land on the shores of the St. Lawrence. Given that they were narrow, several seigneuries could be built on each side of the St. Lawrence River. Such a configuration facilitated transportation.

A timeline of events

  • surveyors arrived on 20 August 1869;
  • the Métis interrupt the survey’s work on 11 October 1869;
  • the “Métis National Committee” is formed on 16 October 1869;
  • Riel is summoned by the HBC-controlled Council of Assiniboia;
  • William McDougall attempts but fails to enter the settlement on 2 November 1869; ←
  • the Métis Provisional Government is formed on 6 December 1869;
  • Jean Baptiste Thibeault and Charles-René d’Irumberry de Salaberry are sent to the Red River, on a goodwill mission, but fail;
  • Louis Riel (Wikipedia) becomes its president on 27 December 1869.

On 20 August 1869, a survey party arrived. On 11 October, the survey’s work was interrupted so, on 16 October, a “Métis National Committee” was formed at which point Louis Riel was summoned by the HBC-controlled Council of Assiniboia and “declared that any attempt by Canada to assume authority would be contested unless Ottawa had first negotiated terms with the Métis.” (See Louis Riel, Wikipedia.) On 2 November, unilingual William McDougall, who had just been appointed Lieutenant Governor of  Rupert’s Land and the North-Western Territory, attempted to enter the settlement. McDougall had participated in the purchase of Rupert’s Land. He and George-Étienne Cartier had gone to London seeking funds to purchase Rupert’s Land. Métis “led by Riel seized Fort Garry [present-day Winnipeg].” (See Louis Riel, Wikipedia.) The Métis formed a Provisional Government, the Legislative Assembly of Assiniboia, on 6 December and on 27 December 1869, Louis Riel became its President. On 4 March 1870,  28 year-old Irish- born Thomas Scott was executed by firing squad, but he may have been left to die of his wounds. (See Louis Riel, Library and Archives Canada.)

The execution of Thomas Scott: a mistake

The execution of Irish-born Ontario Orangeman Thomas Scott, on 4 March 1870, is central to an account of the Red River Rebellion and to the fate of French-speaking Canadians in western Canada. Thomas Scott was violent. “He took part in a strike in 1869, for which he was fired and convicted of aggravated assault.” Therefore, he may have attempted to kill Louis Riel. Moreover, “Scott backed the annexation of the Red River Settlement to Canada, and the rest of his life revolved around this conflict. Scott had persecuted many metis, or “Half Breeds” in Winnipeg, and his first town, Ottawa, with a mysterious man named Gnez Noel.” Members of the Orange Order “generally viewed Roman Catholics and French Canadians as politically disloyal or culturally inferior.” (See Orange OrderThe Canadian Encyclopedia.)

In fact, colonial administrators were of two minds with respect to members of the Orange Order.

Colonial administrators in Upper CanadaCanada West were at times thankful for their loyalty and service, and other times disparaged their penchant for violence and secrecy.

(See Orange Order in CanadaThe Canadian Encyclopedia)

In short, Thomas Scott was not a model citizen. On the contrary. Yet, would that, however “violent and boisterous” he was, 28-year-old Thomas Scott had been spared a death sentence. This may have prevented Riel’s own demise and allowed French Canadians to settle west. Thomas Scott was a very young man, whom everyone would forgotten, but who would, henceforth, be considered a martyr taken into captivity at Fort Garry, and murdered by a so-called government of ‘Half Breeds.’

Was the Legislative Assembly of Assiniboia a government? If French Canadians were “morally inferior,” one would surmise that French Métis, French Canadians and the descendants of Aboriginals, were morally inferior to French Canadians. I doubt that the Métis Provisional Government, or Legislative Assembly of Assiniboia, could anticipate the impact of the execution of Thomas Scott (The Canadian Encyclopedia). I suspect that in the eyes of many Canadians, Métis could not form a government.

But, more importantly, compassion has its place. It would be my opinion that Riel was very angry, which is the reason he was committed to an asylum. Later on, he was, elected to Parliament three times, but was never allowed to sit in the House of Commons.

His [Riel’s] mental state deteriorated, and following a violent outburst he was taken to Montreal, where he was under the care of his uncle, John Lee, for a few months. But after Riel disrupted a religious service, Lee arranged to have him committed in an asylum in Longue Pointe on 6 March 1876 under the assumed name “Louis R. David[.]” Fearing discovery, his doctors soon transferred him to the Beauport Asylum near Quebec City under the name “Louis Larochelle.”

(See Louis Riel, Wikipedia.)

The inhabitants of the Red River Colony, or Fort Garry, the Métis and Aboriginals especially, had a right to their land. It had belonged to the Hudson’s Company Bay since 1670, but colonial powers usurped the land they occupied. As for the Red River Colony, it had been settled. The Earl of Selkirk’s family had nearly bought sufficient shares in the Hudson’s Bay Company to acquire the land the Earl of Selkirk settled.

But the notion that land in North America had been claimed, not bought, was probably lost on John A. Macdonald and his fledgling government. It had been lost on most colonial powers and colonists. Moreover, by modern standards, it seems legitimate on the part of Aboriginals, Métis, and European citizens of the Red River to determine their relationship with Canada. One wonders if John A. Macdonald and his government could see that the inhabitants of the Red River Colony‘s did have rights. Although Bishop Alexandre-Antonin Taché and Hudson’s Bay Company governor William MacTavish, advised caution on the part of John A. Macdonald’s government, the Canadian minister of public works,  William McDougall, ordered a survey of the area, he and his men arrived on 20 August 1869. (See Louis Riel, Wikipedia.)

(See Alexandre Antonin Taché.)

As for John A. Macdonald, at this stage, he was still inexperienced. He therefore  purchased Rupert’s Land, where the Red River Colony (Upper Fort Garry) was located, without consulting its inhabitants, which led to the Red River Rebellion. Although Prime Minister John A. Macdonald ignored the Métis and other inhabitants of the Red River, the consequences are regrettable. Following the Red River Rebellion, there was little room in Western Canada for Catholics, French Canadians, and Métis.

The news of Scott’s execution arrived ahead of them. John Schultz and Charles Mair, who had both been imprisoned by the Provisional Government for a period of time, were now in Ontario and determined to turn public opinion against Riel.

The Red River Rebellion did lead to the Manitoba Act of 1870 (Loi sur le Manitoba) a negotiated entry into the Canadian Confederation.  The Manitoba Act created the province of Manitoba which was named Manitoba when it entered Confederation, hence Riel being named the “Father of Manitoba.” But Manitoba was diminutive; it was a small square at the bottom of Rupert’s Land, or the North-Western Territory.

canada_change_1870-07-15 (1)

The Manitoba Act 1870

The Manitoba Act reads as follows (I have removed the footnotes). It is

[a]n act of the Parliament of Canada that is defined by the Constitution Act, 1982 as forming a part of the Constitution of Canada. The act, which received the royal assent on May 12, 1870, created the province of Manitoba and continued in force An Act for the Temporary Government of Rupert’s Land and the North-Western Territories when united with Canada upon the absorption of the British territories of Rupert’s Land and the North-Western Territory into Canada on July 15, 1870.

(See Manitoba Act of 1870, Wikipedia.)

Nevertheless, Manitoba negotiated its entry into Confederation, or the Manitoba Act, signed on 12 May 1870.  A Committee of three who travelled to Eastern Canada. The Act was ratified by the Métis government on 24 June 1870.

Riel’s Provisional Government sent Father Noël-Joseph Ritchot a close adviser of Riel’s, Alfred Scott, a Winnipeg bartender, and Judge John Black, to Ottawa to negotiate with the Canadian government.

(See The Birth of Manitoba, Manitobia.)

However, as noted above, the Committee arrived after news of Scott’s execution reached Ottawa.

(See The Birth of Manitoba, Manitobia.)

However, no sooner was the Manitoba Act of 1870 signed than John A. Macdonald, fearing the United States would annex Manitoba, dispatched the Wolseley Expedition (or Red River Expedition) to “restore order.” The Expedition left Toronto in May 1870 reaching Fort Garry, or the Red River in late August 1870.

After a journey lasting three months of arduous conditions, the Expedition arrived at, and captured, Fort Garry, extinguished Riel’s Provisional Government and eradicated the threat of the U.S. being able to easily wrest western Canada from Confederation.

(See Wolseley Expedition, Wikipedia)

Riel flees (1870) and returns (1885)

Riel fled the Red River upon the conclusion of the Wolseley Expedition (Wikipedia). He was elected into office, but was never allowed to sit in the House of Commons. After his illness he went to the United States, married, Marguerite Monet, à la façon du pays, and fathered three children. He returned to Canada in 1885, summoned by Gabriel Dumont, he was taken prisoner when Métis were defeated at the Battle of Batoche, Saskatchewan, (in May 1885).

(See North West Rebellion,


Gabriel Dumont, resistance fighter
Gabriel Dumont was a man of great chivalry and military skill, superbly adapted to the presettlement prairie life (courtesy Glenbow Archives) (Photo credit: The Canadian Encyclopedia)


How does one conclude?

Louis Riel and Gabriel Dumont attempted to protect land the white man, Europeans, had taken from North-American Indians, Amérindiens. However, Riel made the mistake of condemning Thomas Scott to death, giving a martyr to the Orange Order. I suspect Riel also believed his provisional government would be taken seriously. It wouldn’t, not in 1870. Had his provisional government been taken seriously, Riel would not have been a ‘wanted man’ for fifteen years and executed? The Métis were not recognized as an aboriginal people until the Patriation of the Constitution (The Canadian Encyclopedia), in 1982.

As for the Métis List of Rights (A Country by Consent), recognized in the Manitoba Act of 1870, they were short-lived rights. In 1890, Manitoba passed An Act to Provide that the English Language shall be the Official Language of the Province of Manitoba (See Manitoba Act, The Canadian Encyclopedia). In March 1890, the government of Manitoba “passed two bills amending the province’s laws on education: An Act respecting the Department of Education and An Act respecting Public Schools.” These bills abolished the province’s dual school system: Catholic and Protestant. French-speaking children attended English language schools.

Orangemen disparaged the Jesuits’ Estates Act of 1888 and resented the influx of French Canadian Catholics into Eastern Ontario at the turn of the 20th century. Finally, in the debates surrounding the Manitoba Schools Question and the Ontario Schools Question, Orangemen vigorously agitated against Catholic education because of its ties to the French language.

(See Orange Order, The Canadian Encyclopedia.)

Quebec was known as the “priest-ridden” province. (See La Révolution tranquille: the Decline of Religion. But, ironically, “[t]he Order [Protestants] was the chief social institution in Upper Canada.” (See Orange Order in Canada, Wikipedia.)

As for Riel, he was neither a hero or a rebel, but a victim, a victim of colonialism. Amerindians were nomadic, which they could not be after the purchase of Rupert’s Land. Riel was executed for High Treason, after the Battle of Batoche, following the North-West Rebellion (1885).


Red River Expedition at Kakabeka Falls by Frances Anne Hopkins, 1877 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sources and Resources

The North-West Rebellion (or North-West Resistance) was a violent, five-month insurgency against the Canadian government, fought mainly by Métis militants and their Aboriginal allies in what is now Saskatchewan and Alberta. It was caused by rising fear and insecurity among the Métis and Aboriginal peoples as well as the white settlers of the rapidly changing West. A series of battles and other outbreaks of violence in 1885 left hundreds of people dead, but the rebels were eventually defeated by federal troops. The result was the permanent enforcement of Canadian law in the West, the subjugation of the Métis and the Plains tribes, and the conviction and hanging of rebel leader Louis Riel. (See North-West Rebellion, The Canadian Encyclopedia.)


  1. French Canadians as a Founding Nation (19 January 2018)
  2. Louis Riel, as a Father of Confederation (2012 & 2018)
  3. Voyageurs Posts (a page)

Sources and Resources

À la claire fontaine 


© Micheline Walker
20 March 2018

Louis Riel, as a Father of Confederation


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Buffalo Hunt by Peter Rindisbacher (1806-1834; aged 28) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


A Métis Family by Peter Rindisbacher (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Louis Riel’s demise is a fine example of what happened to French-speaking Canadians and their Amerindian spouses in the western provinces of Canada. A new post will follow.

From Coast to Coast

John A. MacDonald was the first Prime Minister of Canada and a Father of Confederation
Georges-Étienne Cartier was a Quebec Leader and a Father of Confederation
Gabriel Dumont (a Métis leader) took Riel to Saskatchewan (second Rebellion)

Louis Riel is the grandson of Jean-Baptiste Lagimonière/Lagimodière (1778-1855), a farmer and a voyageur who made a name for himself. On 21 April 1806, he married Anne-Marie Gaboury (1780 – 1875), the first white woman resident in the west, and the grandmother of legendary Louis Riel.

Upon learning that the Earl of Selkirk, DOUGLAS, THOMAS, Baron DAER and SHORTCLEUCH, 5th Earl of SELKIRK (1771 [St Mary’s Isle, Scotland] – 1820 [Pau, France]) was settling the Red River, Lagimonière and his wife went to live in the Red River settlement. But rivalry between the Hudson’s Bay Company and the North West Company was so intense that North-West Company men nearly destroyed the settlement.

Lagimonière was sent to Montreal to speak to Lord Selkirk, but taken prisoner on his way back to Manitoba. Lord Selkirk attacked the fort and the settlers were able to resume a difficult but relatively normal life. Lord Selkirk rewarded Lagimonière for his services, by giving him a large grant of land between the Red River and the Seine, close to present-day Winnipeg. Lagimonière had become a celebrity.

Louis Riel

The Lagimonières had several children: four girls and four boys and, at one point, they became a very prosperous family.  One of the Lagimonière daughters, Julie, married a Métis, a neighbour named Louis Riel, and is the mother of Louis Riel (22 October 1844 – 16 November 1885; aged 41) who is considered the father of Manitoba.

Louis Riel

Louis Riel (1844 -1885; by hanging)

An intellectually-gifted child, Louis Riel was sent to the Petit Séminaire, in Montréal, to prepare for the priesthood. He dropped out before graduation and studied law under Rodolphe Laflamme.

He was not very fond of the subtleties of  laws and slowly found his way back to Manitoba working odd jobs in Chicago and St Paul, Minnesota, where many of the voyageurs employed by John Jacob Astor’s American Fur Company had retired. He then travelled back to the Red River settlement, which had changed during his absence.

The Settlers, the Surveyors and William McDougall

  • On his arrival in St-Boniface, the current French area of Winnipeg, Riel observed that settlers had arrived from Ontario. They were white Anglo-Saxon Protestants who disliked Catholics. Many were Orangemen or Orangists. Settlers had also moved up from the United States.
  • As well, land surveyors were dividing up the land, but not in the manner it had been divided formerly. The long strips of land of New France were becoming square lots. This land still belonged to the Hudson’s Bay Company, but the Crown was preparing for a purchase (1869) and no room was being made for the Métis.
  • Moreover, William McDougall, an outsider, had been appointed Lieutenant-Governor of the territory and was overseeing the progress of the land surveyors.
  • As for the Métis, they had suffered from an invasion of grasshoppers, so food was scarce. Moreover, immigrants were walking all over the Métis’ flower-beds, metaphorically speaking. They therefore needed a leader and went to Louis Riel for help.

The Red River Rebellion: the First ‘Treason’

  • Riel quickly organizes a “national committee” to put an end to the surveyors’ work.
  • On 2 Nov. 1869, Riel and his men capture Fort Garry unopposed.
  • However, John Christian Schultz and John Stoughton Dennis start to prepare for an armed conflict.
  • The Federal Government recalls McDougall and orders are given to end the work of the surveyors.
  • Riel has John Christian Schultz and John Stoughton Dennis imprisoned in Fort Garry and
  • Riel and his Métis establish the Legislative Assembly of Assiniboia:

“The Legislative Assembly of Assiniboia was a short-lived legislature set up to pass laws for the North-Western Territory and Rupert’s Land provisional government led by Louis Riel from 1869 to 1970.  The Legislative Assembly was named after the Council of Assiniboia that previously managed the territories before the Hudson’s Bay Company sold the land to Canada in 1869.” (See Legislative Assembly of Assiniboia, Wikipedia.)

Scott and Boulton recruit a small army and are joined

A good will mission arrives from the Federal Government. One member of this group is Donald A. Smith, the chief representative of the Hudson’s Bay Company.  Frightened by Thomas Scott and Charles Boulton, Métis has them imprisoned and court-martialed. They are condemned to death by Ambroise Lépine.

  • Charles Boulton is pardoned, but
  • Thomas Scotta Orangeman, is executed despite pleas on the part of Donald Smith of the Hudson’s Bay Company.

Manitoba enters into Confederation: 12 May 1870

The Bishop of Saint-Boniface, Bishop Taché, returns from Rome carrying and amnesty proclamation for all acts previously performed. At this point, Riel and his men reach an agreement and the Manitoba Law is passed on 12 May 1870.  The Federal Government gives land to the Métis and makes both French and English the official languages of the new Province of Manitoba.

However, in 1870, after learning that Colonel Garnet Wolsely is being sent to the Red River by the new Governor General, A. G. Archibald, Riel flees to the United States but returns home to Saint-Vital in the fall of 1871. He then offers to help keep Fenians from attacking the Red River Settlement.

Louis Riel

  • is elected into office in 1873;
  • He is re-elected to the Federal Assembly in 1874, but a motion to expel him from the room was proposed by Orangist or Orangeman Mackenzie Bowell and was passed.
  • But Riel is re-elected into office.  However, he will not sit with other members of Parliament.

At about the same time, Ambroise Lépine’s death sentence for the “murder” of Thomas  is commuted.  He spends two years in jail and loses all his rights.  However, Lépine and Riel are amnestied, in February 1875.  

Next, Riel spends nearly three years (1875-1878) in hospital where he was treated for depression.  He has turned to religion and feels he has a divine mission to guide his people.

Riel was released from hospital and went to the United States where he managed to earn a living, became an American citizen, joined the Republican Party and, in 1880, married a Métis woman, Marguerite Monet. There is little information about Marguerite. Born in 1861, she died in 1886. Riel fathered three children.

North-West Rebellion (1885): The second ‘treason’

But in June 1884, Riel is asked, by Saskatchewan Métis, Gabriel Dumont, to help Métis whose rights are being violated. Riel goes to Saskatchewan believing that it is his divine mission to do so. He takes over a Church in Batoche, Saskatchewan, gathers a small army, but on 6 July 1885, he is officially arrested and accused of ‘treason.’

He is tried and his lawyer asks that he be examined by three doctors one of whom comes to the conclusion that Riel is no longer responsible for his actions. This divided determination was not made public and Riel was condemned to death.  Riel himself did not wish to use insanity as his defence.

Appeals fail so Louis Riel is hanged in Regina on 16 November 1885 and the body is then sent by train to Saint-Vital and he is buried in the cemetery of the Cathedral at Saint-Boniface.

To this day, opinion remains divided as to Riel’s guilt. Riel, who was hanged for “treason,” is nevertheless a Father of Confederation.


Yet, Louis Riel had been elected into office three times. He is still considered by many as the father of Manitoba. Moreover, Riel had brought Manitoba into Canadian Confederation as a bilingual province and with Métis being allotted the land they needed.

Yes, the Red River Rebellion was ‘treason,’ but clemency had been requested by the judge and there were mitigating circumstances: Riel’s mental health is one of these contingencies. However, the execution of Thomas Scott had long generated enormous resentment on the part of Ontario Orangemen or Orangists. As a result, being amnestied did not weigh in Riel’s favour.

As for the North-West Rebellion of 1885, it was ‘treason.’  Riel was found guilty and condemned to death, but the judge had asked for clemency.  However, Orangists remembered the execution of Thomas Scott, and despite appeals, Riel was hanged ostensibly for ‘treason,’ but also, in all likelihood, for the “murder” of Thomas Scott.

These videos tell the story:

 Buffalo Hunt, P. Rindisbacher 

Photo credit: Wikipedia, all images
Artist: Swiss-born Peter Rindisbacher

Sources other than Wikipedia:


© Micheline Walker
12 May 2012

Carpe diem: Love Songs


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Still life with basket of flowers by Jean-Baptiste Monnoyer, Flanders, 1690s (Courtery: Art Gallery of South Australia)

This has been a difficult year. I celebrated Valentine’s Day discreetly and failed to write a post on the subject of love. However, if one clicks on Posts on Love Celebrated, a page, not a post, one will find discussion on this subject.

At any rate, I am wishing you, belatedly, a Happy Valentine’s Day.

In Gilles Durant’s poem, the first song, a lover invites his Lady to enjoy the pleasures of love, as life is much too brief. Carpe diem.

Ma Belle, si ton âme… Gilles Durant de la Bergerie & and other love songs


©Micheline Walker
21 February 2018



SOGI as anti-bullying legislation


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Shah Abbas I of Persia with a boy by Muhammad Qasim, 1627. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

SOGI (Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity)

  • sex as “dirty”
  • diversity
  • sex as learned behaviour
  • celebrations of one form of sexuality

A controversy has arisen in British Columbia, Canada. A programme called SOGI (Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity) is now part of the curriculum and its purpose is to promote an acceptance of a sexual orientation that differs from heterosexuality, and to protect transgender individuals.

Most of us are heterosexuals. We engage in sexual intimacy with a person whose sexuality is different. Men and women make love, which is how humanity perpetuates itself. But sexuality is diverse, and children should know. The difficulty is not necessarily the subject matter, but the way in which children learn that there are differences in sexuality and that some men are born inside the body of a woman and some women, inside the body of a man. This is a subject some teachers may not be able to teach because they are insufficiently informed or are themselves intolerant of diversity in human sexuality.

I was not familiar with SOGI, but someone sent me an email inviting me to look at a Facebook page, which I did. I therefore watched an American news broadcast where SOGI, a Canadian programme, was looked upon as potentially destructive. A human sexuality programme need not be destructive. For example, given entrenched prejudices, it may be difficult for a homosexual adolescent to accept his or her sexual orientation. In this regard, SOGI can be helpful. Our adolescent, gay or lesbian, may feel better about accept his or her sexuality.

As noted above, heterosexuality, sexual attraction between a man and a woman, is the most common form of sexual orientation. It is often presented as “dirty.” Heterosexuality isn’t dirty, nor are other forms of sexuality, such as homosexuality, attraction to a person of the same sexual orientation, bisexuality, attraction to both men and women, and asexuality. Asexual human beings are not sexually attracted to another human being.

What is potentially destructive is the denigration of one form of sexuality and the promotion and celebration of another form. What is also potentially destructive is any suggestion that human beings choose their form of sexual orientation and that children may be indoctrinated into a form of sexuality that isn’t theirs. A human being’s sexuality is determined before children enter kindergarten. In my opinion, this should be common knowledge. (See Social Learning Theory, Wikipedia.)

So, although children cannot choose their sexual orientation, there is no room in Canadian classrooms for exhibitionism. In other words, exposing children, particularly small children, to readings by a drag queen whose appearance is frightening cannot be very constructive. It is a sensationalized depiction of homosexuality. (See Sensationalism, Wikipedia.) Therefore, I cannot applaud the producers of the news broadcast presented below:


Canadian anti-bullying legislation

I researched SOGI which led me to an article published in Toronto’s Globe and Mail. Human sexuality is a subject matter that may be poorly taught and taught by biased teachers, but it is consistent with Canada’s anti-bullying legislation, and bullying is a form of behaviour that must be discouraged, as it is a form of hatred and may lead a child or adolescent to commit suicide. Canadian children are being asked to respect “sexual” otherness (sexual orientation and gender identity) as well as other forms of “otherness:” nationality, colour, language, stammering, disabilities, etc. This cannot be achieved if teachers are themselves intolerant and teach in a manner that reinforces rather than reduces prejudicial and, at times, criminal behaviour. Children can be cruel.

The Globe and Mail reported that a father (shown below) was afraid to take his fifteen-year-old transgender offspring to school, because the child could face bullying. At the age of 15, a child has usually entered adolescence, and, in the hands of adolescent bullies, a transgender child could indeed be at risk.

Bullying varies from school to school, but if a school has a significant number of bullies, a transgender child may indeed be entering an unsafe environment, hence the legitimate fears of a father (shown below) and the relevance of anti-bullying legislation and SOGI.


Cole, 15, with his father, Brad Dirks, prepares to head off to school in Langley, B.C. on Oct. 20. Brad has been supportive of programs that help transgender students find acceptance at school.


Brad Dirks with his sons Cole, 15, and Jake, 11, before heading to school in Langley, BC on October 19, 2017.

Human sexuality, briefly

  • a continuum
  • Heterosexuality
  • Homosexuality (gays [males] and lesbians [females])
  • Bisexuality, etc.

Given the purpose of SOGI, which is acceptance of difference, of otherness, a description of heterosexuality and homosexuality need not be too graphic and detailed. It may suffice to point to the heterosexual–homosexual continuum, which admits diversity in sexual orientation.

Along with bisexuality and heterosexuality, homosexuality is one of the three main categories of sexual orientation within the heterosexual–homosexual continuum.


Scientific research has shown that homosexuality is a normal and natural variation in human sexuality. (See Homosexuality, Wikipedia.)

If a presentation of human sexuality is too detailed and too graphic, small children could feel perturbed. Age matters. If age didn’t matter, pederasty (pedophilia) may be looked upon as acceptable, which it was in ancient Greece, but is no longer. However, it seems appropriate to tell children that some people differ from “Mummy” and “Daddy,” who are heterosexuals.

Sexuality as a choice

According to most experts, human beings do not choose their sexual orientation. In other words, sexual orientation is not learned. (See Social Learning Theory, Wikipedia.)  A little discretion is necessary, whatever one’s sexual orientation. In some cases, there is no choice other than repressing one’s sexual urges. Pedophilia is abusive. There is an age of consent. But the fact remains that a child’s sexuality is determined in very early childhood and that some children are born into the wrong body, which is the plight of transgender people.

Transgender people

Transgender people feel their sexuality does not correspond to their assigned sex. (See Sex Assignment, Wikipedia.) There was a time when little could be done to correct transgender sexuality, or the discrepancy between sex assignment and gender identity. However, transgenders may now undergo a treatment programme called sex reassignment. I am not familiar with the details, or the nitty gritty, of sex reassignment, but, broadly speaking, sex reassignment consists in a “combination of psychological, medical, and surgical methods intended to physically change a person’s sex to match their gender identity.” (See Sex reassignment, Wikipedia.)

“Greek love”

In ancient Greece, pederasty (pedophilia) was accepted. (See Pederasty in ancient Greece, Wikipedia.) French scholar Michel Foucault, the author of The History of Sexuality (1976), wrote an essay entitled “Greek love.” Ancient Greece was a homosocial culture. Homosociality “implies neither heterosexuality nor homosexuality.” (See Pederasty in ancient Greece, Wikipedia.)


Achilles and Patroclus (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

However, ancient Greece is not present-day Greece. Although pedophiles, or pædophiles, do not choose to be pedophiles or pederasts, in most societies, pedophilia is looked upon as sexual abuse. An adult male cannot force a younger male, a child, to engage in sexual activity. Nor, for that matter, should an older male assault a young girl. In fact, no one should force another person into sexual intercourse or a pregnancy. Sexual exchanges must be consensual and pregnancies are far too invasive to be coerced.


Allow me to conclude poetically. Metamorphoses were a favourite subject matter in Greco-Roman antiquity. Few books have been as influential as Roman poet’s Ovid (20 March 43 BCE – CE 17/18) Metamorphoses. Roman novelist Lucius Apuleius (c. 124 – c. 170 CE) also wrote a Metamorphoses, a picaresque novel entitled the The Golden Assbased on a Greek narrative. Lucius wished to be transformed into a bird, but he was mistakenly transformed into an ass. The Golden Ass contains in-set tales, one of which is the story of Cupid and Psyche, a tale we are familiar with.

Poet Ovid wrote that the son of Greek mythology’s Aphrodite (Venus in Rome) and Hermes prayed to a god asking to be forever united with water nymph or naiad, Salmacis. As Hermaphroditus, he was both a female and a male. The combination of male and female genital attributes is called androgyny.

We all share male and female attributes, to a greater or lesser extent. Men and women befriend one another. It seems therefore that we need to emphasize the notion of a  heterosexual–homosexual continuum.

Fabuliste Jean de La Fontaine‘s motto was diversité: Diversité c’est ma devise. That precludes bullying. SOGI is anti-bullying legislation. Bullying borders on criminality and may be criminal behaviour.


Sources and Resources

Love to everyone ♥

Otello’s Nessun maggior dolore by Gioachino Rossini


Nessun maggior dolore by Simeon Solomon (Photo credit: Arcadja Auctions)

© Micheline Walker
20 February 2018







Forthcoming Posts


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Sappho and Erinna in a Garden at Mytilene by Simeon Solomon1864, Tate, Britain (Photo credit: Wikipedia) 

Anti-bullying legislation: sexuality

I have been unable to create posts, except drafts, since 20 January 2018. I am too tired and somewhat discouraged. But I continued working on French-speaking Canadians as a founding nation and also wrote a post on SOGI (sexual orientation and gender identity), a programme promoting an acceptance of diversity that is consistent with Canadian anti-bullying legislation. There’s an uproar in British Columbia that may be the result of entrenched discrimination against people whose sexual orientation differs from the most common form, which is heterosexuality. Communication is very difficult, whatever the topic, but sexuality is a particularly sensitive area. People often hear what they wish to hear or expect to hear. We then enter into a dialogue de sourds, a dialogue of the deaf.

Moreover, now that it has become possible for a man living in the body of a woman, and vice versa, transgender adolescents are the victims of bullying. Transgenders may undergo treatment that will correct gender identity. It consists in transgender hormone therapy as well as surgery and psychotherapy. (See Transgender, and Sex assignment, Wikipedia).

Some men are born inside the body of a woman, and some women, inside the body of a man. However, the story of  human sexuality is very complex and cannot be the subject matter of a mere post. So, teachers, and bloggers, have to simplify and state, in a nonjudmental way, that there is a continuum in sexual identity which includes homosexuality as well as bisexuality and asexuality. Anti-bullying legislation was first used in Quebec, in 2004, but the current battle is fought in British Columbia and spilling east.

Transgender people

Sexual orientation differs from gender identity. When she was convicted of espionage (WikiLeaks), Chelsea Manning was Bradley Manning whom she is no longer:


The Founding Nations: Louis Riel

I continued working on French Canada as a founding nation. This topic took me west of Quebec and, for reasons I cannot understand, it published itself before I could finish it. It has reverted to draft form, as it requires serious revisions. Many Quebecers have some Amerindian ancestry very few women were sent to New France before the Louis XIV sent filles du roy (the King’s Daughters) to New France. However, west of Quebec, voyageurs and fur traders married Amerindians and founded a nation: the Métis nation whose most famous and controversial figure is Louis Riel.

Apologies and love to everyone  

Art by Simeon Solomon


© Micheline Walker
18 February 2018


Maria Chapdelaine


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The Chapdelaine Farm, by Clarence Gagnon

The Chapdelaine Farm by Clarence Gagnon

This post was published on 26 January 2012. It was one of two posts on Maria Chapdelaine. These earned me an invitation, by Montreal’s Writer’s Chapel Trust, to the unveiling of a plaque honouring Louis Hémon. Unexpected events prevented me from attending, but I am thankful for the invitation and regret not attending.
See Related Post: Regionalism in Québec Fiction: Maria Chapdelaine.

Louis Hémon[i]

This is the first post I wrote on Maria Chapdelaine. I went on to write a second one.

French author Louis Hémon (12 October 1880 – 8 July 1913) moved to Canada in 1911. By then he had already published several books. As for his Maria Chapdelaine, he wrote it during the winter of 1912-1913, sent his manuscript to France and started travelling west.

Hémon died in a train accident at Chapleau, Ontario.  Had he travelled a little further he would have met the descendants of voyageurs, Métis, and aristocrats referred to as “The French Counts.”[ii] They had settled in the Assiniboia region: Count Henri de Soras, the Marquis de Jumilhac, Viscount Joseph de Langle, Count de Beaulincourt and others.

Church at Peribonka by Clarence Gagnon

Historical Background: two choices

  • L’Exode or Exodus[iii]

Louis Hémon came to Quebec during a period of its history when there was very little work for French-speaking Canadians inhabiting Quebec and Acadia. This period of Canadian history is called the Exode. Nearly a million French Canadians and Acadians moved to the United States where they could work in factories.

  • The Curé Labelle: colonisation

This could not be the Church’s best choice. One priest, the famed Curé Labelle (24 November 1833 – 4 January 1891), was the chief proponent of colonisation. He urged French-Canadians to settle north and “make land,” faire de la terre, faire du pays, as their ancestors had done. This was their mission.


Making Land: Samuel’s Choice

So making land had been Samuel Chapdelaine’s choice. He had taken his family to the Lac Saint-Jean area where he and his sons were turning inhospitable land into arable soil. I should think Hémon named Samuel Chapdelaine after Samuel de Champlain, whom we could call the founder of New France.

Louis Hémon in the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean

When Louis Hémon arrived in Canada, 1910, he lived in Montreal. But two years later he travelled north and stopped at Peribonka, in the Lac Saint-Jean area. At first, he worked as a farmhand, helping “settlers,” but, as noted above, he spent the winter of 1912-1913 writing Maria Chapdelaine.

Hémon had sent his manuscript to France but he never savored the success of his novel. It was serialized in France in 1914 and published by J. A. Lefebvre in Quebec in 1916, with black and white illustrations by Marc-Aurèle de Foy Suzor-Coté. It was an  international bestseller. An English translation, by W. H. Blake, was published in 1921.

Maria Chapdelaine

There is a summary of Maria Chapdelaine (just click on the title) on the website of the McMichael Canadian Art Collection, housed in Kleinburg, a village just north of Toronto. Clarence Gagnon‘s (8 November 1881 – 5 January 1942) 1933 illustrations of Maria Chapdelaine are part of the McMichael Canadian Art Collection.

Napoléon Laliberté by Clarence Gagnon

A Summary of the Plot

However, I will summarize the summary.

Maria is the daughter of a “settler.” She is a little plump, but beautiful. One Sunday, the day on which parishioners get together and chat, Maria meets François Paradis. François is a sort of coureur des bois, voyageur, canoeman, lumberjack: the mythic fearless pioneer.

When François meets Maria, he is attracted to her and tells her that he will stop by her family’s farm before escorting Belgian travelers who are looking for fur. Maria and François fall in love. They will be married when he returns from the logging camp. However, he dies in a blinding snowstorm attempting to visit with Maria on New Year’s Eve.

Eutrope Gagnon and Lorenzo Surprenant: the other suitors

Maria has two other suitors: Eutrope Gagnon, a settler and neighbour, and Lorenzo Surprenant, who has travelled from the United States to find a bride. What Lorenzo has to offer is an easier life: no black flies, no back-breaking labour, milder weather, nearness to a Church and to stores. She is genuinely tempted to marry him, despite the fact that she is not in love with him. For Maria, love died the day François died.

However, she rejects Lorenzo. She will marry Eutrope Gagnon, a settler, and will live as her mother lived. When she is making her decision, she hears voices telling her that in Quebec, nothing must die and nothing must change: « Au pays de Québec rien ne doit mourir et rien ne doit changer… »

The names are all symbolic: Paradis for paradise; Surprenant; for surprising or amazing; and Gagnon for winning.

Beaver Coin

My summary of Maria Chapdelaine may have diminished Maria’s suitors. But Hémon makes them very real and anxious to live their lives, which means taking a wife. Although it is a simple novel, finding a more focused, but somewhat stylized, account of life as it was in 1912 would be difficult.

Hémon describes Québec as un pays, a country. In 1937, Félix-Antoine Savard will feature le délié, a person who is no longer tied (lié) to the land and is therefore looked upon as a man who sold himself: un vendu. (See Menaud, maître-draveur, Wikipedia.)






Folklore: À la claire fontaine, Université de Moncton, Male Choir

(please click to hear the song)

Maria Chapdelaine can be read online. It is a Gutenberg Project e-book.
Maria Chapdelaine (Project Gutenberg, FR) [EBook #13585]
Maria Chapdelaine (Project Gutenberg, EN) [EBook #4383]
Maria Chapdelaine PDF FR
Canadian literature: The Montreal School, 1895–1935
First serialized in Le Temps (1914) (Paris)
Published in book form in 1916 (Montreal)
Translated into English in 1921 (W. H. Blake)
Translated into all the major languages
[i] “Louis Hémon.” Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2014. Web. 13 Jan. 2014. <>. 
[ii] Ruth Humphrys, “Dr Rudolph Meyer and the French Nobility of Assiniboia,” The Beaver (The Hudson’s Bay Company: Outfit 309:1, Summer 1978), p. 16-23. 
[iii] Maurice Poteet (ed.), Textes de l’Exode (Montréal: Guérin Litérature, coll. Francophonie, 1987).
Johannes Brahms: Drei Intermezzi, Op. 117, No. 2 
The White Horse, by Clarence Gagnon

The White Horse by Clarence Gagnon

© Micheline Walker
26 January 2012



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The Blacksmith’s Shop by Cornelius Krieghoff (Courtesy the Art Gallery of Ontario)

Dear Readers,

Once again I am a blogger. But planning one’s life is not always easy.

Belaud, my dearest cat, walked on the computer shortly after my article, written on 18 January, was posted. Belaud, my cat, uses the freedom I have always given him to rearrange the computer, which he is not allowed to do.

My post is in Word and will be retrieved. But it keeps returning to earlier drafts, primitive drafts.

I will do my best to reconstruct it and put its paragraphs in the correct order. You should know, however, that two weeks ago, I could not find my car after seeing a doctor at a very large hospital. The doctor who examined a little white spot told me there was nothing wrong with me. No biopsy was needed or performed.

It was snowing and very cold. My fingers started to freeze. I therefore returned to the main door of the hospital and told a gentleman helping patients that I could not retrieve my bright red Toyota Yaris. I knew the numbers and letters of my licence plate in the correct order and a few minutes later, my car was returned to me and I was escorted to it. The gentleman was so polite that I gave him a hug. He helped me get into the car.

Blogging again

Yes, I am blogging again but it could be with slightly diminished capacities, given yesterday’s events. My face does not tell my age, but I have aged. I was 65 when the pictures that appear on screen were taken. I may now be a little thinner, but the pictures are mostly accurate. However, I’m now letting my hair go white.

So, I will reorganize my post. It should be dated 18 January 2018. I posted it a few minutes too late.

Back to work.

Rudolf Schock sings “In mir klingt ein Lied”; Etude in E major [mi majeur]; Frédéric Chopin

Laurendeau and Dunton (Wikipedia)

© Micheline Walker
19 January 2018










French Canadians as a Founding Nation


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The Blacksmith’s Shop, oil on canvas painting by Cornelius Krieghoff, 22 x 36 in, 1871, Art Gallery of Ontario


The above picture and the ones below are depictions of an older Quebec by Cornelius Krieghoof  (19 June 1815 – 8 April 1872), a Dutch artist who immigrated to Canada, but first served in the United States army. He married a French-Canadian, Émilie Gauthier, and died in the United States where he had retired. The paintings depict bon viveurs habitants or descendants of habitants, the former tenants of seigneurs. The Seigneurial System or the Compagnie des Cent-Associés was created in 1627, by Cardinal Richelieu. The hundred associates were “to capitalize on the North American fur trade.” The Seigneurial System was abolished in 1854. Tenants were called  habitants (literally, inhabitants).  In 1645, the Company “sublet its rights and obligations in Canada to the Communauté des Habitants.”  But, in 1663, the Société des Cent-Associés‘ grant was revoked, and, by the same token, so was the Communauté des Habitants. New France became a province of France. (See Compagnie des Cent-Associés, The Canadian Encyclopedia.)

Current Activities

I cannot speak of serious current activities because I have not posted an article for two months, which has been my current activity for a few years. I could not write posts and turn this apartment into a home. However, I was not asleep. I waited for the first snowfall, a magical moment, kept an eye on Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, a fairy tale, and bought a Christmas cake, une bûche, a small one, at the Pâtisserie liégeoise and celebrated the twelve days of Christmas.

Books, but not just ordinary books…

There is no doubt that I wasn’t fit to move. However, I like my new apartment and, although there were too many books to unpack, a surprise awaited me. The books were not entirely mine. Many belonged to my father. In the 1990s, I starting housing his books and used them to write an article published in Francophonies d’Amérique, in 2002. When I moved to Sherbrooke, Québec, I was given more books and bought a bookcase where my father could find all of his books easily.

As I removed these books from their boxes, I started browsing and realized that they constituted a particularly rich source of information on French-Canadian nationalism. For instance, my father had in his possession some of the reports presented to the Royal Commission on  Bilingualism and Biculturalism (1963-1970), established by Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson PC OM CC  OBE (23 April 1897 – 27 December 1972). The Royal Commission is also known as the Laurendeau-Dunton CommissionAndré Laurendeau was the editor-in-chief of Le Devoir, a fine Quebec newspaper, and Davidson Dunton was President of Carleton University, in Ottawa. The work of the Commission culminated in the Official Languages Act of 1969.

Browsing my father’s books helped me remember and understand that Canada did have two founding nations and that these two nations could live side by side, in harmony. Laurendeau and Dunton were a very compatible team. In other words, I understood, better than ever before, that as members of a founding nation, French-speaking Canadians had rights, such as the right to ask to be educated in French outside Quebec, if possible. The key words are founding nations, of which there are only two: the French and the British. Canada also has its First Nations, its aboriginals.

The Quebec Act and the Constitutional Act

The Quebec Act, signed in 1774 under Guy Carleton, 1st Baron Dorchester, put on an equal footing French-speaking and English-speaking British subjects and, as expected, aboriginals and French-speaking fought the British in the American Revolutionary War. The Constitutional Act (1791) divided Canada into Upper Canada and Lower Canada, located closer to the Atlantic.

As for Royal Proclamation of 1763, it protected aboriginals. The Canadian Encyclopedia indicates that the Royal proclamation of 1763 was the Amerindians magna carta. With respect to Amerindians, the Proclamation, established the constitutional framework for the negotiation of treaties with the  Aboriginal inhabitants of large sections of Canada, and it is referenced in section 25 of the Constitution Act, 1982. The Proclamation

established the constitutional framework for the negotiation of treaties with the  Aboriginal inhabitants of large sections of Canada, and it is referenced in section 25 of the Constitution Act, 1982.

In the case of French-speaking subjects, the Treaty of Paris 1763, was negotiated so that his “Britannick” majesty would protect his new French-speaking subjects. They should be at liberty to use their language and practice their religion. However, until 1774, contrary to the Aboriginals, French-speaking Canadians had no constitutional framework. The Quebec Act, 1774, would provide fill this gap. French-speaking Canadians would be at liberty to use their language and practice their religion. They could also keep their “thirty acres” (trente arpents) and their Seigneurial System.

In 1791, the Constitutional Act separated Upper Canada and Lower Canada. French-speaking subjects lived in Lower Canada, closer to the Atlantic Ocean, and viewed Lower Canada as their land, their patrie.

Guy Carleton, 1st Baron Dorchester, was largely responsible for the Quebec Act, which helped to preserve French laws and customs (courtesy Library and Archives Canada/C-2833).

Religion and Education

In the province of Quebec, French-speaking citizens had the same status as English-speaking Canadian. However, East and West of the province of Quebec, they didn’t. For instance, in 1890, Manitoba abolished French-language schools. The Manitoba Schools Question is my best example, but I could also mention the New Brunswick Schools question. With respect to the establishment of French-language schools outside Quebec, the traditional excuse was that Catholic schools had to be private schools. This matter was a  thinly veiled and unsavoury chapter in Canadian history.

To be perfectly accurate, as I read my father’s books, it became increasingly clear to me that governments outside Quebec may well have used religion, perhaps unconsciously,[1] to deny French-speaking Canadians living outside Quebec an education in French. Foi et patrie (faith and land or language) were inextricably entwined in the mind of French-speaking Canadians, but they were, nevertheless, a founding nation. As Alexis de Tocqueville stated, the people of New France were not conquered, they were abandoned by France. (See Related Articles, no 1.), Tocqueville concluded that it was nevertheless best for French-speaking Canadians to believe they had been conquered rather than abandoned by France, their motherland. Tocqueville pointed a guilty finger at Louis XV. But the terms of the Treaty of Paris (1763), did protect England’s newly-acquired territories and its French-speaking subjects, without creating an assembly for French-speaking Canadians.

The Quebec Act and the Constitutional Act

The Quebec Act, signed in 1774 under Guy Carleton put on an equal footing French-speaking and English-speaking Canadians and, as expected aboriginals and French-speaking fought the British in the American Revolutionary War. The Constitutional Act (1791) respected French Canadians. In fact, the Royal Proclamation of 1763 protected aboriginals mainly if not only. According to the Canadian Encyclopedia, the Royal proclamation of 1763 was the aboriginals’ magna carta. The same could not be said of the French-speaking citizens of Britain’s new colony. With respect to Amerindians, the Proclamation

established the constitutional framework for the negotiation of treaties with the Aboriginal inhabitants of large sections of Canada, and it is referenced in section 25 of the Constitution Act, 1982.

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Royal Proclamation Map (Photo credit: The Canadian Encyclopedia)

In short, France chose to cede New France under the terms of the Treaty of Paris, but that it did so conditionally. His “Britannick” majesty would not take away from France’s former subjects their language, their religion and their seigneurial system. Under the terms of Confederation, Quebec also kept its Civil Code, which is still in place. Moreover, under the Constitutional Act of 1791, Quebec included Labrador. (See Labrador, Canadian Encyclopedia.)

The Labrador Boundary Dispute was one of the most celebrated legal cases in British colonial history. Though Newfoundland’s claim to the watershed of all rivers flowing into the Atlantic Ocean is recognized in the Constitution Act, many Quebecers still consider Labrador part of “Nouveau-Québec.”

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Constitutional Act, 1791 (Photo credit: The Canadian Encyclopedia)

Consequently, French-speaking Canadians’ magna carta was the Quebec Act of 1774 and the Constitutional Act of 1791.  But they and the British lived for the most part in Lower Canada where facing the “schools question” was easier to deal with. Each nation had its land.  Yet, the schools question, French-language schools that were also Catholic schools was a legitimate request on the part of French-speaking Canadians living outside Quebec. They were Catholics, but first and foremost they were one of the founding nations of an expanding Canada. The French, the voyageurs, in particular, with the help of Amerindians, opened the North-American continent, but the French and Métis were Catholics and Manitoba, a French-language province.

One could argue that French-speaking Canadians, living in provinces outside Quebec could have been educated in their mother tongue, had they not insisted their schools also be Catholic schools. Yet, one could also take the view, expressed above, that authorities outside Quebec had an easy, but questionable and somewhat justification to deprive members of a founding nation of their right to have their children educated in the French language, if possible.

Consequently, “the schools question,” the creation of language schools that were also Catholic schools was a legitimate request on the part of French-speaking Canadians living outside Quebec. They were Catholics, but more importantly they were one of the founding nations. The Manitoba Act of 1890, the abolition of French as a teaching language was

[a]n Act to Provide that the English Language shall be the Official Language of the Province of Manitoba.

What of the two founding nations? Was Quebec to be the only part of Canada where children could be educated in French?

The Official Languages Act of 1969

The work of the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism resulted in the Official Languages Act, given royal assent on 9 September 1969. Most acts are amended, so there have been a few amendments to the Official Languages Act. In theory, the dispute is over or should be. Canada is officially bilingual. In other words, its official documents appear in the two languages and the federal government’s services are available in both languages.

By 1969, public schools were secularized in Quebec. The separation of Church and state has long been accepted. Until the 1960s, the people of Quebec had a French Catholic school board and an English Protestant school board. Problems arose after the Second World War. (See Laïcité, Wikipedia, note 7.)[2] Laïcité would also have benefited Quebec during the years that followed the Second World War. French-speaking immigrants were not necessarily Catholics. Which school were parents and students to choose?


Motto of the French republic on the tympanum of a church in Aups, Var département, which was installed after the 1905 law on the Separation of the State and the Church. Such inscriptions on a church are very rare; this one was restored during the 1989 bicentennial of the French Revolution. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Quebec and its Language Laws

The Official Languages Act of 1969, was a great victory for Canadians. (See also the Official Languages Act of 1988, Canadian Encyclopedia). French-speaking Canadians living on the West Coast could listen to Radio-Canada and watch its television programmes in French (Ici Radio-Canada). Radio-Canada is the French-language equivalent of the CBC, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

However, despite their rights, it could be said that, in practice, Quebec’s Official Language Act may have harmed the citizens of Quebec and French-speaking Canadians living outside Quebec. In 1974, Quebec declared itself a unilingual province, French, under Premier Robert Bourassa‘s, The Quebec government passed Bill 22. In 1976, Quebec elected its first separatist government under the leadership of René Lévesque,  who had founded the Parti québécois. Quebec’s government passed Bill 101, or the Charter of the French language, in 1977, language bills. The face of Quebec had to be French and its immigrants would have to enter French-language schools.

In the 1980 referendum, 60% of Quebecers voted not to give the Quebec government the mandate it needed to begin negotiations that could lead to Quebec’ sovereignty. It was a “no” vote. A second referendum was held, in 1995. In 1995, the ‘no’ vote was 50.58% and led to the Clarity Act (2000).

An État providence or Welfare State

The goal of the Parti Québécois was sovereignty, but the goal of the Révolution tranquille was an État providence, or Welfare State, which could not be attained if language laws caused its most affluent citizens to leave Quebec.

Moreover, as early as the 1960s, separatists or sovereigntists had a terrorist branch: the Front de Libération du Québec, or FLQ. FLQ militants placed bombs in mailboxes, injuring postal workers, and they kidnapped British diplomat James Cross as well as Quebec’s minister of labour, Pierre Laporte, who was strangled. It could be that James Cross would also have been killed had Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau not invoked the War Measures Act. To civil libertarians, the War Measures Act seemed excessive, but James Cross was freed and acts of terrorism ended. These events are referred to as the  October Crisis of 1970 and they would cause many to find Quebec an unsafe environment. That exodus was a loss for Quebec. Those who left were, by and large, affluent taxpayers. How could Quebec become an état providence, a welfare state, if taxes could not absorb the costs?

Bill 22, 1974 & Multiculturalism

With respect to Bill 22, it may have been passed to counter Pierre Elliott Trudeau multiculturalism, a notion that grew during the Laurendeau-Dunton Commission, Royal Commission on  Bilingualism and Biculturalism. I remember clearly that during the Laurendeau-Dunton Commission, many Canadians rejected Bilingualism and Biculturalism, from the point of view of demographics. There were more Germans, Hungarians, Italians, or Ukrainians in their community than French Canadians Their language should therefore be an official language, which would mean that Canada could now have more than 200 official languages. They also said that New France lost the battle of the Plains of Abraham (13 September 1759) and that the time had come for French-speaking Canadians to be told they lost the battle. Canada is increasingly multicultural and it will continue to welcome immigrants, but its founding nations remain France and Britain to this day. In Quebec, immigrants learn French because French Canadians no longer have very large families. In the rest of Canada, learning French is not necessary.

An Exodus from Quebec: the St-Lawrence Seaway or…

However, even if they were used to keep Quebec a French-language province, its Language Laws caused an exodus. Many argue that the opening of the St-Lawrence Seaway, which allows large ships to reach Toronto, provides a full explanation for this exodus. This explanation is not totally convincing. The  October Crisis of 1970 alone would be disturbing and could result in the more affluent taxpayers leaving Quebec, Montreal especially.

An État Providence, a Welfare State

This matter is problematical. One of the goals, of the Révolution tranquille, other than secularization, laïcité, was the establishment of an État Providence, or Welfare State. Welfare States levy taxes that fund social programmes. Although Quebecers pay income tax to both their provincial and federal governments, I doubt that Quebec can be an état providence. I have not heard Quebecers complain bitterly. Students pay low tuition fees and day care costs are also inexpensive, but Quebec is not a Welfare State.  In all likelihood, Language Laws have frightened citizens. It must be very difficult for Quebec to offer medical services that have become extremely expensive.

It must also be difficult for the government to pay high salaries. The harsh repression of asbestos miners, in 1949 (see Asbestos miners’ strike, Wikipedia), opened the way for the growth of strong labour unions. Employees would no longer be exploited by employers but a lot of Quebecers are syndicated, including part-time university teachers and university teachers.

According to sources outside Quebec, the province’s healthcare laws and practices “do not respect the principles set out in the Canada Health Act,” and amendments. Given that Quebec has not signed the Patriated Constitution of 1982, le repatriement de la Constitution, a Quebec healthcare card is refused by doctors outside Quebec. Hospital fees will be paid, which may not be enough. One could therefore state that Quebec’s healthcare laws and practices “do not respect the principles set out in the Canada Health Act” because it is not universal. Provincial healthcare cards should be valid everywhere in Canada and they should also buy you a bed in a four-bed hospital room and, if necessary, a two-bed hospital room.

The 1982 Patriated Constitution

René Lévesque and Pierre Elliott Trudeau were at loggerheads between 1980 and 1982, the year the Patriated Constitution was signed. In 1980, when the first sovereigntist referendum took place, 60% of Quebecers voted against given the René Lévesque’s Parti Québécois a mandate to renegotiate Quebec’s partnership with Ottawa, the federal government. Would that Quebecers did not have to pay the price! The Quebec government’s refusal to sign the Patriated Constitution did lead to what can be viewed as the erosion of the Canada Health Act.

Healthcare in Canada is universal but Quebecers’ Healthcare card is not valid outside Quebec, except in a hospital. I am a Canadian and so are other Quebecers. The Quebec health-care card is universal but only in Quebec. Quebec accepts the Healthcare cards of citizens living outside Quebec. Quebecers are therefore footing the bill. Yes, Quebec authorities should have signed the Patriated Constitution of 1982, because the people of Quebec are still Canadians. Are authorities outside Quebec treating Quebecers as though they were not Canadians. If so governments outside Quebec may be seen as complicit in the erosion of Healthcare in Quebec, a Canadian province.

I hope Quebec will sign the sign the Patriated Constitution of 1982 as quickly as possible and that it and other Canadians will not use unfortunate historical events to perpetuate quarrels and, unconsciously, participate and be in fact complicit in the estrangement of Quebec. It may be injudicious on the part of Ottawa not to ensure the welfare of Quebecers. Many Québécois wish to separate. Quebecers are Canadians. I realize that Education and Health are provincial responsibilities, but must a Quebecer who faces a health catastrophe outside Quebec, his province in Canada, pay the cost?

I would so like to know why Quebec’s refusal to sign the Patriated Constitution of 1982 has led to the erosion of universal heathcare in Canada.  Quebec is a province of Canada. If he knew the consequences of his actions, René Lévesque, the then Premier of Quebec, may well have failed voters by not signing the new Constitution. Or was Pierre Elliott Trudeau forgetting the people, ordinary people?


Opening boxes of books was a challenge, but it became informative. However, discarding books had become more complex. My father’s books will be adopted by Sherbrooke’s Historical Society and the University of Sherbrooke. But these libraries need lists and will not pick up the books. That will be my duty. My father’s writings have been collated. He wrote editorials for Le Franc-Contact, a periodical published by the now extinct Conseil de la vie française en Amérique FR. University research centres have replaced le Conseil de la vie française en Amérique.

Again, a belated Happy New Year to all of you and apologies for not posting for two months. Combining posting and settling in a new apartment was not possible.


  1. Colonization and the Revenge of the Cradles (11 January 2014)
  2. Alexis de Tocqueville on Lower Canada (31 December 2013)
  3. Regionalism in Quebec’s Literature: Thirty Acres (12 January 2014)
  4. Regionalism in  Quebec Fiction: Ringuet’s Trente Arpents, Part One (27 July 2012)
  5. Regionalism in Quebec Fiction: Ringuet’s Trente Arpents, Part Two (29 July 2012)

Sources and Ressources


Love to everyone
[1] Unconsciously, perhaps, the Quebec Act embodied a new principle in colonial government – the freedom of non-English people to be themselves within the British Empire. It also began what was to become a tradition in Canadian constitutional history – the recognition of certain distinct rights, or protections for Quebec – in language, religion and civil law. (Canada, a Country by Consent.)

[2] “France”Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs. Retrieved December 15, 2011. See drop-down essay on “The Third Republic and the 1905 Law of Laïcité“. (See Laïcité, Wikipedia.)

Marie-Nicole Lemieux sings from La Pietra del paragone (The Touchstone) by Giacomo Rossini

Sleigh Race at Quebec on the St. Lawrence by C. Krieghoff, 1852 (Courtesy Gallerie

© Micheline Walker
18 January 2018







Alexis de Tocqueville on Lower Canada


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  The First Snow  Canadian Homestead, c. 1856 (la Galerie Walter Klinkhoff)

The First Snow | Canadian  Homestead by Cornelius Krieghoff, c. 1856
(La Galerie Walter Klinkhoff, Montreal)

Scene in the Laurentian, by Cornelius Krieghoff

Winter Scene in the Laurentians by Cornelius Krieghoff, 1867 (La Galerie Walter Klinkhoff, Montreal)

I published this article on 21st December 2013. My next post would be difficult to understand without the information provided in my earlier post and another earlier post.

Alexis de Tocqueville on Bas-Canada (Lower* Canada)

We are still in Lower Canada or Bas-Canada. * “Lower” means down the St. Lawrence river, closer to the Atlantic Ocean.  Our images are by Cornelius Krieghoff (19 June 1815 – 8 April 1872) who arrived in New York in 1836, immediately after completing his studies. Although Krieghoff had a brother in Toronto, Canada, but he settled in the province of Quebec. 

However, we are also reading excerpts from French political thinker and historian  Alexis de Tocqueville (29 July 1805 – 16 April 1859), whose two-volume Democracy in America, published in 1835 and 1840, depicts America as it was and, to a large extent, as it has remained: materialistic and much too individualistic.

In 1831, Alexis de Tocqueville and Gustave de Beaumont (6 February 1802 – 30 March 1866), a magistrate and prison reformer, had travelled to North America in order to write a report on prisons in America, which they did.

However, Tocqueville’s curiosity led him to the former New France and induced him to discuss slavery in America.  In fact, it is now somewhat difficult to remember that Tocqueville and Beaumont’s mission was to examine the prison system in the New World.  Tocqueville and Beaumont were in Bas-Canada from August 23rd until September 2nd.  It was a short visit, but Tocqueville’s portrayal of Bas-Canada and the dangers confronting it are exceptionally insightful.[i] 

The Toll Gate, by Cornelius Krieghoff

Winter Landscape by Cornelius Krieghoff, 1849 (National Gallery of Canada)

The Ice Bridge at Longueil, by Cornelius Krieghoff, 1847-1848 National Gallery of Canada

The Ice Bridge at Longue-Pointe by Cornelius Krieghoff, 1847-1848 (National Gallery of Canada)

Lower Canada or Bas-Canada

« Le Canada pique vivement notre curiosité.  La nation française s’y est conservée intacte : on y a les mœurs et on y parle la langue du siècle de Louis XIV. » (Tocqueville)

“The French nation has been preserved there.  As a result, one can observe the customs and the language spoken during Louis XIV’s reign.” (Note 2)[ii] (Corbo’s translation)

« [I]l n’y a pas six mois, je croyais, comme tout le monde, que le Canada était devenu complètement anglais. » (Tocqueville)

In a letter to his mother, dated 7 September 1831, Tocqueville writes that: “not even six months ago, [he] believed, like everyone else, that Canada had become thoroughly English.” (Corbo’s translation)

« Nous nous sentions comme chez nous, et partout on nous recevait comme des compatriotes, enfants de la vieille France, comme ils l’appellent. À mon avis, l’épithète est mal choisie : la vieille France est au Canada ; la nouvelle est chez nous. » (Note 3)[iii] (Tocqueville)

“We felt like we were at home and everywhere people greeted us as one of their own, as descendants of ‘Old France’ as they called it.  But to me, it seems more like Old France lives on in Canada and that it is our country [France] which is the new one.”  Thus, Tocqueville was surprised by realities he discovered in Canada. Compared to his visits to other foreign countries, the visit to Lower Canada was a brief one. (Note 4) (Tocqueville & Corbo.)

The seigneurial system and Religion

He notes that the seigneurial system is, for the most part, a “formality,” and that Religion is central to the community.

“The seigneurial system, which would last until 1854, is more of a formality than anything else, even though it is a source of irritation for some.  But this does not keep the lands from being properly farmed or from prospering.  Religion is central to the community; the clergy holds an important place and proves to be unquestionably loyal to the British authority.” (Corbo)

The Wealth is under English Control

Even though the peasants are prosperous, the real wealth is in the hands of the country’s Englishmen.  The Mondelet brothers, who [sic] 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.”  On September 1st, Tocqueville confirms in his notes that “the English have control of all foreign trade and run domestic trade without any opposition.” (Note 7)[iv] (Corbo & Corbo’s translations)

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. » (Corbo & others)

Predominance of the English Language & Anglicisms

In both cities, “all the signs [enseignes] are in English and there are only two English theatres.” During his visit to the courthouse in Quebec City, Tocqueville observes the predominance of the English language and the mediocrity of the language of French-speaking lawyers, which is riddled with Anglicisms. (Note 8)[v] (Corbo.)

Tant à Montréal qu’à Québec, la langue anglaise domine dans la vie et sur la place publique:  « La plupart des journaux, les affiches et jusqu’aux enseignes des marchands français sont en anglais. » (Corbo & Tocqueville)

So, on 26 August, having visited the courthouse, Tocqueville comes to the conclusion that the French who live in the former New France are a conquered people and that it is an “irreversible tragedy.”

 Je n’ai jamais été plus convaincu qu’en sortant [de ce tribunal] que le plus grand et le plus irrémédiable malheur pour un peuple c’est d’être conquis.

“I have never been more convinced than after I left the courthouse that the greatest and most irreversible tragedy for a people is to be conquered.” (Note 10)[vi] (Corbo’s translation) 

Indians at Snowy Landscape, by Cornelius Krieghoff, c. 1847-1848 (The National Gallery of Canada)

Indians at Snowy Landscape by Cornelius Krieghoff, c. 1847-1848 (The National Gallery of Canada)


Having expressed pleasure in finding that New France had become Old France, Tocqueville then fears for the future of the French nation he has visited.  He was right.  The French-Canadian habitant was still prosperous, but there did come a point when the thirty acres could no longer be divided.  In fiction as in history, regionalism died.  In his 1938 Trente Arpents, or Thirty Acres, Ringuet, the pseudonym used by Philippe Panneton, chronicled its passing away in a poignant manner.  The habitant had nowhere to go.  Nearly a million French-Canadians and Acadians left for the United States.


“Pour l’amour du bon Dieu ” by Cornelius Krieghoff, 1858 (la Galerie Walter Klinkhoff, Montreal)

Sources and Resources

Tocqueville, Alexis de, Œuvres complètes : œuvres, papiers et correspondances, édition définitive publiée sous la direction de J. P. Mayer, Paris, Gallimard, 1951-2002, 18 tomes en 30 volumes.

Alexis de Tocqueville, Correspondance familiale, Œuvres complètes, t. XIV, Paris, Gallimard, 1998) in Œuvres complètes.

Habitant, by Cornelius Krieghoff (note the ceinture fléchée) (la Galerie Walter Klinkhoff)

“Va au Diable” by Cornelius Krieghoff, 1858 (note the ceinture fléchée), (la Galerie Walter Klinkhoff, Montreal) 

Our habitant says “For the love of God,” knocking at his lawyer’s door, and “Go to the Devil,” as he leaves.  He is wearing a hat called une tuque and his ceinture fléchée.

Love to everyone and a Happy New Year ♥

[i] Claude Corbo, in the Encyclopedia of French Cultural Heritage in North America As indicated, Corbo is at times the narrator and, at times, a translator. 

[ii] Alexis de Tocqueville, Correspondance familiale, Œuvres complètes, t. XIV, Paris, Gallimard, 1998, p. 105. (Note 2)  

[iii] Alexis de Tocqueville, Correspondance familiale, Œuvres complètes, t. XIV, Paris, Gallimard, 1998, p.129. (Note 3)

[iv] Alexis de Tocqueville, Œuvres 1, p. 210. (Note 7)

[v] Œuvres 1, p. 210. (Note 8)

[vi] Alexis de Tocqueville, Œuvres I, p. 205. (Note 10)

The video has been removed.

The Valley of the Cariboo, by Cornelius Krieghoff,

The Valley of the Cariboo by Cornelius Krieghoff, 1856 (la Galerie Walter Klinkhoof)

© Micheline Walker
31 December 2013