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. <http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/261010/Louis-Hemon>. 
[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 Klinkoff.ca)

© 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

Baron Viktor Gutmann: Final Comments


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Landscape by Gustav Klimt (Pinterest)

The above landscape is a favourite. The composition is masterful and so is the choice of colours and a remembrance of pointillism.

Today must be devoted to domestic affairs. Besides, I’m still sorting out files, throwing many documents away. They have lost their relevance. I wish to thank all of you for allowing me to visit your magnificent posts at a slower pace and to publish much less frequently.

100 The Tree of Life, Stoclet Frieze 1909

The Tree of Life by Gustav Klimt, 1909 (Google images)

The Vancouver Bloch-Bauer Family

This post contains more information on my friends and the Vancouver branch of the Bloch-Bauer family. I have edited my post to show that the Mr. Bloch-Bauer I met was Karl (Charles) David Bloch-Bauer. The gentleman I knew as Mr. Bloch-Bauer died of leukemia in 1968. In 1968, I was a PhD candidate at the University of British Columbia. The last time I saw Mr. Bloch-Bauer, my husband and I were entering a movie-house with two friends. Mr. Bloch-Bauer looked extremely ill and died in 1968. Members of the Vancouver Bloch-Bauer family were and are in the forest industry (Canfor), but Francis was a scientist, married to the exquisite Hélène, and Nelly is Dr. Nelly Auersperg.

I looked at my wedding book and found a card signed by the Gutmanns, wishing us the best. From the photographs I can identify no more than a handful of friends. After our honeymoon, at Wikaninnish Inn – the highway had not been built, David and I settled on Point Grey Road. The Ocean was at our feet and we had a marvellous view of English Bay. Those days are gone.

My story is accurate, but it is of a different flavor than versions told by the press. Adele Bloch-Bauer was my friends’ great-aunt, but the Gutmanns did not try to retrieve Gustav Klimt’s portraits and other paintings and sketches the family owned. What I remember is that the Nazis pillaged their Vienna home; that their father was executed by the Red Army; that Francis and his sister were / are scientists, that Baron Viktor Gutmann asked his wife to marry Josep Beppo Gattin and to erase all traces of their Jewish ancestry and that John Auersperg, a Prince, taught me the Viennese Waltz.

I am of course delighted that, after six decades, paintings and sketches that belonged to the Bloch-Bauer family were returned to their owners. Francis and Hélène’s children will live more comfortably. However, I cannot edit my memories fully. I can’t help thinking that it must have been horrible for Baron Viktor Gutmann to face an unjust death not knowing what would happen to his family. He was first and foremost a husband and a father.

To my knowledge, Francis and Nelly had been sent to Palestine, but in 1946, they were in today’s Croatia and Nelly was entering medical school. The Bloch-Bauers were in Vancouver before the World War II, but Baron Viktor Gutmann had returned to his homeland, Croatia. They immigrated in c. 1950.

I was told that Baroness Gutmann barely escaped internment and probable death in a concentration camp. A Nazi officer pulled her away from other detainees. If this is true, which I believe it is, was the officer punished? The German people suffered under the Nazi régime, and, when the war ended, Germany was split and a wall was built to divide Berlin. The Cold War had begun.

Actor Adrien Brody is still haunted by memories of the 2002 film The Pianist. Mr. Brody played the role of Polish pianist and composer Władysław Szpilman whose life was saved by Nazi officer Wilm Hosenfeld. Wilm Hosenfeld was imprisoned by the Red Army and died in captivity in 1952.


Art endures, but can it redeem man’s inhumanity to man?

C’était un temps déraisonnable,
On avait mis les morts à table.

http://www.parolesmania.com/paroles_louis_aragon_82603/paroles_est-ce_ainsi_que_les_hommes_vivent_1368599.html FR
http://lyricstranslate.com/en/est-ce-ainsi-que-les-hommes-vivent-how-men-live.html EN

My love to everyone

Yves Montand chante « Est-ce ainsi que les hommes vivent ? » (Louis Aragon)

Wilm Hosenfeld (Wikipedia)

© Micheline Walker
18/19 November 2017





Luise Bloch-Bauer & Viktor Gutmann


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Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I by Gustav Klimt, 1907 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Allow me to return to an earlier post: Fauré & Ravel: Nostalgia, so I can finish telling the story of my long-lost friends, Francis and Hélène Gutmann.  As you know, they had a great-aunt, Adele Bloch-Bauer, whose name was perpetuated by Gustav Klimt. Adele Bloch-Bauer was Ferdinand Bloch-Bauer‘s wife. Ferdinand commissioned a portrait of his wife from Gustav Klimt, a founding member of the fin de siècle Vienna Secession, an art movement linked to Art Nouveau, the Arts and Crafts Movement and the Jugendstil: japonisme and modernisme. Gustav Klimt completed the portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I, in 1907. But there would be a second portrait of Adele: Adele Bloch-Bauer II, 1912.


Adele Bloch Bauer II by Gustav Klimt, 1912 (Google Images)

When I lived on the West coast, the Bloch-Bauer family had not retrieved the art masterpieces that had been confiscated from the Bloch-Bauer family by the Nazis, when Nazi Germany annexed Austria: the Anschluss (12 March 1938).

I had never heard of Maria Altmann, née Bloch-Bauer, my friends’ aunt who lived in California. Her search for pieces of Klimt’s legacy that belonged to the Bloch-Bauer family had not begun. Ferdinand Bloch-Bauer’s heirs owned five paintings executed by Gustav Klimt, one of which was the famous Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I, 1907, which Klimt created using gold leaf and silver.

Adele Bloch-Bauer died of meningitis, in 1925, and she and her husband, Ferdinand, never had children. Ferdinand Bloch-Bauer fled to Switzerland, but he lost everything and died in Zürich, in 1945. However, in his Will, he bequeathed his wife’s portrait and other pieces, a total of five, by Gustav Klimt, to at least three of the children born to his brother, Dr. (jur.) Gustav Bloch-Bauer (Bloch) whose wife was Therese Bloch-Bauer (Bauer). The names were joined. Gustav Bloch-Bauer (Bloch) died on 2 July 1938, the year Austria was annexed by Nazi Germany. He and Therese’s children were:

  1. Karl (Charles) David Bloch-Bauer;
  2. Leopold Bloch-Bauer / Bentley;
  3. Robert Bloch-Bauer / Bentley;
  4. Mrs. Maria Altmann;
  5. Baroness Luise Gutmann, wife of Croatian Baron Viktor Gutmann von Gelse und Belišće.

The first persons, whose name comes to mind in this saga are Gustav Bloch and Therese Bauer. The two names, Bloch and Bauer, were joined. Another person is Mrs. Altmann (née Bloch-Bauer) who married Fritz Altmann, in 1937. Her husband was arrested and sent to Dachau concentration camp in the hope this would force his brother Bernhard Altmann, who had fled to Britain, to transfer his wealth to the Nazis. Fredrik (Fritz) Altmann was released and he and Maria Altmann found a refuge in the United States. Bernhard sent Mrs. Altmann a cashmere sweater, which is how cashmere was brought to the United States. The Altmann family first lived in Massachusetts, but moved to California.

Mrs. Altmann is the heroine, played by actrice Helen Mirren, of the film Woman in Gold (2015). Maria Altmann hired composer Arnold Shoenberg’s grand-son, E. Randol Schoenberg, portrayed by Ryan Reynolds in Woman in Gold, in her successful quest to retrieve the paintings by Gustav Klimt that belonged to the Bloch-Bauer family, but were confiscated by the Nazis.


The Bloch-Bauer Family in Vancouver

The remaining members of the Bloch-Bauer family settled in Vancouver, including Therese Bloch-Bauer (Bauer), Gustav’s widow and Ferdinand’s sister-in-law. They are Karl, Leopold, Robert, and Luise Bloch-Bauer, my friends’ mother and mother-in-law.

Members of the Vancouver branch of the Bloch-Bauer family changed their name to Bentley. Leopold Bloch-Bauer had married Antoinette Pick, so the name Pick was replaced by the name Prentice. I did meet a Mr. Bloch-Bauer. I believe the person I met was either Leopold Bloch-Bauer, Peter Bentley‘s father, or Karl (Charles) David Bloch-Bauer. The gentleman I met suffered from leukemia. So, I met Karl (Charles) David Bloch-Bauer.


Dr. Nelly Auersperg, b. Gutmann, enrolled in medical school at the University of Zagreb, Croatia, in 1946, where she studied for three years till 1949.


Dr. Nelly Auersperg, b. Gutmann in Belišće, Croatia, 2003. 
On the right to her is Mr. Francis Gutmann (PhD), her brother.


Croatia & the Principality of Auersperg

My friends surname  is Gutmann. Luise Bloch-Bauer married Croatian Baron Viktor Gutmann von Gelse und Belišće. Baron Viktor Gutmann fled to his homeland, the current Croatia, where he believed he would escape the Holocaust. He did and he didn’t.

Baron Viktor Gutmann and his wife, Luise (Bloch-Bauer), were arrested by Ustaše, in 1943, and imprisoned. Baron Viktor Gutmann’s brother, Ernö, died at the Jasenovac Concentration Camp. Ironically, Viktor Gutmann, a survivor of the Nazi régime, was executed on 17 February 1946, in Zagreb, Croatia, by the Red army. He was an aristocrat and a capitalist, not a criminal and Nazi collaborator. (See Viktor Gutmann, Wikipedia.)

I was told that, fearing for the life of his family, Baron Viktor Gutmann had instructed his wife to marry their Italian and Catholic friend. This Italian friend could be Josep Beppo Gattin. To be certain that what I am writing is correct, I would have to speak with Dr. Nelly Auersberg or Hélène, whom I cannot find. However, I wish to point out that having remarried, Baroness Luise Gutmann was no longer known as a Bloch-Bauer. She was the wife of Josep Beppo Gattin. Francis Gutmann, her son, did not change his name.

I met Baroness Luise Gutmann. Hélène and I stopped by her house, a humble house, and she showed me a document signed by a member of the Strauss dynasty. I therefore associated the now deceased Baroness Gutmann with the Strauss family and the Viennese Waltz. She had entertained guests in her Vienna home to the music of the Strauss. Her son, Francis, married Hélène, and Nelly, Dr. Nelly Auersperg, married John Auersperg. Mr. Auersperg would be the prince and perfect gentleman who taught me the Viennese Waltz. Nelly is a renowned scientist in her field: ovarian cancer research. (See Principality of Auersperg, Wikipedia.) Mr. Auersperg died on 17 September 2017.


Hélène probably lives in Montreal. She knows that I married David Walker. They may have attended our wedding. I must look at the pictures… I believe they did. I found the card Hélène gave us, wishing us the best. We visited them at their home in the early 1970s. I also spent a few days with them after they bought their bungalow. They had also purchased a Blouin piano they and I loved. Francis was teaching at the University of Sherbrooke, Quebec, where I live. They moved to Montreal.

I would love to see Hélène. We share the same family name. If she visited, she could give me suggestions regarding the decoration of my apartment. Her little house on the campus of the University of British Columbia was a jewel.

Love to everyone 


Landscape by Gustav Klimt (Pinterest)



The Kiss by Gustav Klimt, 1907/1908 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Frauenkopf by Gustav Klimt, 1917/1918 (Lentos Kunstmuseum Linz)

Erik Satie – Gymnopédie No.1


Dr. Nelly Auersperg, b. Gutmann

© Micheline Walker
16/17 November 2017