The figures I provided in my last post were misleading. I put the post aside.
In the sombre days of imperialism and colonialism, Prime Minister John A. Macdonald created “uniform” schools where English was the language of instruction. He minoritized French-speaking Canadians. As immigrants arrived in Canada, their children had to attend English-language schools. Children could not be educated in French outside Quebec. He made Quebec their only home.
Québécois would like to retain their language. They have done so since Nouvelle-France fell to Britain. But the obligatory francization of businesses is unacceptable. Quebec is trying to assimilate its anglophone population and drive it away from Quebec. No company should be asked to obtain a Certificate of Francization. Quebec is a province of Canada, and Canada is officially bilingual. Moreover, anglophones have the right to bilingual services in such areas as the Eastern Townships.
John A. Macdonald created uniform schools, and l’Office de la langue française is creating a uniform province.
The figures (list of colleges) I am providing show that Quebec is home to both anglophones and francophones. I would hate to think that we cannot live together happily. Many Anglophones live in Montreal. They have their literature, songwriters, artists, and institutions. McGill University is a monument to the world of learning.
Doctors at the Montreal Neurological Institute work miracles. Imagine Quebec has the Montreal Neurological Institute, but Quebecers cannot find a doctor. That situation is infamy. So much of our tax dollars is spent on doctors, but medicine is deficient in Quebec.
In this respect, I would like to repeat that, in Quebec, learning French as a second language should be in the curriculum. Moreover, I would not prevent French-speaking students from enrolling in an English language CEGEP, a two-year post-secondary programme, or similar institutions. Finally, I would recommend improvements in the teaching of French as a mother tongue.
Moreover, Harvard’s new course on North America’s francophonie may prove an excellent initiative. Canada’s founding nations were France and Britain, but the French opened the North American continent. Francophonie overrides the Battle of the Plains of Abraham. It also overrides the expulsion of the Acadians, many of whom live in Louisiana. Moreover, 900,000 French Canadians moved to the United States between 1830 and 1930. They could not find work in Canada. They may no longer speak French, but they are part of North America’s francophonie.
La Patrie littéraire, the Literary Homeland
I could not write my book on Molière during my last sabbatical leave because I was asked to prepare two new courses: Animals in Literature and a course on contemporary Quebec literature. That year, however, I lectured in Stuttgart, Germany. One of my lectures was on la patrie littéraire, the literary homeland. In his Report on the Rebellions of 1837-1838, Lord Durham stated that French Canadians had no history and no literature.
They are a people with no history, and no literature. The literature of England is written in a language which is not theirs; literature which their language renders familiar to them, is that of a nation from which they have been separated by eighty years of a foreign rule, and still more by those changes which the Revolution and its consequences have wrought in the whole political, moral and social state of France.
My contribution to this concept is an analysis of Antonine Maillet‘s Pélagie-la-Charrette, the above-mentioned La Patrie littéraire: errance et résistance. Pélagie-la-Charrette is a novel which earned its author, Antonine Maillet, the prestigious Prix Goncourt 1979. The novel features Pélagie, the narrator, and a group of Acadians travelling up the east coast of the United States pulling a cart, la charrette. They are returning to Acadie. Pélagie presents her characters as “the son of” or “the daughter of:” le fils à or la fille à: “Bélonie à Bélonie,” providing a lineage for her characters. Our ancestors are larger than we are. They validate us. So, Pélagie-la-Charrette is an anamnèse and a creation of things past. The term anamnèse is used in medicine where it lists the medical antecedents of a patient, but Pélagie-la-Charette is also uneanamnèse. Pélagie builds a past.
I will close here, concluding, first, that French should be in the curriculum in Quebec’s English-language schools and that the teaching of French as a mother tongue could be revised. I also wish to emphasize that a nation may be une patrie littéraire. French Canada will always be a sum of its literary works and other achievements.
We are skipping material we have already covered. We therefore skip La Corriveau. Our next big event is la débâcle, or the spring break-off of the ice on the St Lawrence. You will remember that the French built their seigneuries on the shores of the St Lawrence River which they used as a road in winter and in summer. During the winter, the ice on the St Lawrence could be very thick. One could cross the river in a horse and carriage, or a sleigh, un traîneau. The St Lawrence was Nouvelle-France’s highway. It took one from Quebec City to Trois-Rivières, and then to Montreal. Lots were narrow but they went back a considerable distance. When the water was frozen, the ice could support a large weight. When the river flowed, one used a boat, often a canoe.
José, a domestic, has driven to Quebec to pick up Jules and Arché, whom Jules’ father wants to meet. However, a huge noise is heard. The ice is breaking and Dumais breaks a leg. He cannot escape unassisted. Events in Les Anciens Canadiens occur on the shores of the St Lawrence River. When the Compagnie des Cent-Associés was formed in 1627, by Richelieu, it was given a mission. The people of New France were to harvest fur, Nouvelle-France’s gold. However, those who paddled canoes had to work under a bourgeois. In other words, voyageurs were hired (engagés). If not, they were called coureurs des bois and were fined if they were caught.
In the seventeenth century, Radisson went as far as the Hudson’s Bay and returned to the shores of the St Lawrence with a hundred canoes filled with precious pelts. Radisson was an explorer, not a voyageur. When he showed his pelts, he was treated like a coureurdes bois and his pelts were confiscated. Miffed, he went to England and Prince Rupert sent a ship to the Hudson’s Bay. This led to the establishment, in 1670, of the Hudson’s Bay Company. The Company owned Rupert’s Land which Canada would purchase when Confederation occurred, in 1867.
Dumais, who is caught in the ice, seems a Métis. There were métis. The French lived with Amerindians and they married Amerindians. Moreover, the notion of the noble savage originates, to a large extent, in the Jesuits’s Relations. The Jesuits realized that one could be a good person without being baptized. It was a shock for the Robes Noires and it led to the emergence of a character called the Noble Savage. Lahontan, a French aristocrat, wrote about the Noble Savage. He named him Adario. So, Dumais’s ancestors could include Amerindians. Although Amerindians would torture the whites, many were “nobles.“ But our Dumais, whatever his ancestry, is cought in the ice and would die, were it not for the skills of an athletic Scotsman, Arché. Arché saves Dumais life.
The Noble savage, in literature, an idealized concept of uncivilized man, who symbolizes the innate goodness of one not exposed to the corrupting influences of civilization.
La Débacle / the Debacle
Arché saves Dumais’ life
Dumais cannot help himself. He will die, but Arché proves a heroic Scot.
« Capitaine, je nage comme un poisson, j’ai l’haleine d’un amphibie ; le danger n’est pas pour moi, mais pour ce malheureux, si je heurtais la glace en l’abordant. Arrêtez-moi d’abord à une douzaine de pieds de l’îlot, afin de mieux calculer la distance et d’amortir ensuite le choc : votre expérience fera le reste. Maintenant une corde forte, mais aussi légère que possible, et un bon nœud de marin. » Arché au capitaine Marcheterre (V: p. 97) [“Captain, I am like a fish in the water; there is no danger for me, but for the poor fellow yonder, in case I should strike that block of ice too hard and dash it from its place. Stop me about a dozen feet above the island, that I may calculate the distance better and break the shock. Your own judgment will tell you what else to do. Now, for a strong rope, but as light as possible, and a good sailor’s knot.”] Arché to captain Marcheterre (IV: 68-69)
Dumais, malgré son état de torpeur apparente, malgré son immobilité, n’avait pourtant rien perdu de tout ce qui se passait. Un rayon d’espoir, bien vite évanoui, avait lui au fond de son cœur déchiré par tant d’émotions sanglantes à la vue des premières tentatives de son libérateur, mais cette espérance s’était ravivée de nouveau en voyant le bond surhumain que fit de Locheill s’élançant de la cime du rocher. Celui-ci avait à peine, en effet, atteint la glace où il se cramponnait d’une seule main, pour dégager, de l’autre, le rouleau de corde qui l’enlaçait, que Dumais, lâchant le cèdre protecteur, prit un tel élan sur sa jambe unique, qu’il vint tomber dans les bras d’Arché. (V: p. 102) [Dumais, in spite of his apparent stupor, had lost nothing of what was passing. A ray of hope had struggled through his despair at sight of Lochiel’s tremendous leap from the summit of the rock. Scarcely had the latter, indeed, reached the edge of the ice, where he clung with one hand while loosening with the other the coil of rope, than Dumais, dropping his hold on the cedar, took such a leap upon his one uninjured leg that he fell into Archie’s very arms.] (IV: 71-72)
Dumais is very thankful. How can Dumais repay? He will.
– Comment m’acquitter envers vous, dit-il, de ce que vous avez fait pour moi, pour ma pauvre femme et pour mes pauvres enfants ! Dumais à Arché (V: p. 106) [“How can I ever repay you,” said he, “for all you have done for me, for my poor wife, and for my children?”] Dumais to Arché (IV: 73-74)
Our noble Arché tells Dumais that he need simply recover.
– En recouvrant promptement la santé, répondit gaiement de Locheill. Arché à Dumais (V: p. 106) [“By getting well again as soon as possible,” answered Lochiel gayly.] Arché to Dumais (IV: 74)
A Night Among the Savages
Dumais saves Arché’s life
Dumais will repay Arché. He will save him from being tortured by Amerindians. To Amerindians, Arché must be tortured. First, Dumais tells la Grand’ Loutre that Arché is not an Englishman. He is Scottish.
– Que mon frère écoute, dit Dumais, et qu’il fasse attention aux paroles du visage-pâle. Le prisonnier n’est pas Anglais, mais Écossais ; et les Écossais sont les sauvages des Anglais. Que mon frère regarde le vêtement du prisonnier, et il verra qu’il est presque semblable à celui du guerrier sauvage. Dumais à la Grand’ Loutre (XIII: p. 291) [“Let my brother heed my words,” said Dumais. “The prisoner is not an Englishman, but a Scotchman, and the Scotch are the savages of the English. Let my brother observe the prisoner’s clothing, and see how like it is to that of a savage warrior.”] Dumais to Grand-Loutre (XII: 185-186)
Dumais then tells Grand-Loutre that the prisoner, Arché, is the one who saved Dumais’ life.
– Eh bien ! repritDumais en se levant et ôtant sa casquette, ton frère déclare, en présence du Grand-Esprit, que le prisonnier est le jeune Écossais qui lui a sauvé la vie ! Dumais à la Grand’Loutre (XIII: p. 302) [“Very well!” replied Dumais, rising and taking off his cap, “thy brother swears in the presence of the Great Spirit that the prisoner is none other than the young Scotchman who saved his life!”] (XII: 192-193)
The novel is binary. In Chapter V (FR), Arché has saved Dumais’s life. In Chapter XIII (FR), Dumais saves Arché’s life. It is near-perfect symmetry. Moreover, we are witnesses to a friendly, brotherly, relationship between the French and New France’s natives. The French could not arrive in North America as conquerors. They were dying of scurvy. Nor could they harvest precious pelts, without a canoe and snow-shoes. As for Scottish explorers, they needed voyageurs and Amerindians. There is considerable truth to Montesquieu‘s théorie des climats.
Dumais’s comment according to which the Scots are the savages of the English is extremely funny. But Dumais must be understood. La Grand’Loutre would not hurt a person of is considered a savage by the English. Nor would he hurt a person who saved his “brother.” But one could say that Dumais is Les Anciens Canadiens‘ voyageur or Métis.
In 2012, I wrote two posts about Aubert de Gaspé’s Les Anciens Canadiens. I mentioned Sir Charles G. D. Robert‘s first translation of Aubert de Gaspé’s novel, The Canadians of Old, published in 1890. In fact, I did not discover Sir Roberts’s second translation until I prepared my last post. As a university teacher of French, I taught Les Anciens Canadiens in French.
I have not read Sir Charles G. D. Roberts’s first translation, The Canadians of Old. It was published fifteen years before the publication of Cameron of Lochiel, in 1905. As Cameron of Lochiel, a mere title, Les Anciens Canadiens focuses on the fate of a conquered nation. The novel nevertheless provides a description of the life of a seigneur, of his seigneurie‘s habitants, of feasts celebrated on the shores of the St Lawrence River, as well as other relevant tableaux of Canadian society before 1759. Dinner at the seigneurie reminds me of Acadie’s L’Ordre de Bon Temps 1606. Jules d’Haberville’s father serves copious meals, and all rejoice.
As a depiction of Nouvelle-France, Les Anciens Canadiens is a very rich novel, but Aubert de Gaspé idealizes Nouvelle-France. Sr Roberts’s title, Cameron of Lochiel, legitimizes an idealized past
In the eyes of Aubert de Gaspé, the fall of New France to England is as large a loss as the fall of Scotland to England. Objectively, the fall of Scotland is the greater loss, but how else can Aubert de Gaspé express adequately the tragedy that has befallen his land than by evoking Scotland, the larger tragedy. France has gone and will not return. That is an emotional reality, or a reality of the mind, but it is a reality.
Arché de Locheill n’était âgé que de douze ans, en l’année 1745, lorsque son père joignit les étendards de ce jeune et infortuné prince qui, en vrai héros de roman, vint se jeter entre les bras de ses compatriotes écossais pour revendiquer par les armes une couronne à laquelle il devait renoncer pour toujours après le désastre de Culloden.(II: p. 22) [When Archie was but twelve years old, in the year 1745, his father joined the standard of that unhappy young prince who, after the old romantic fashion, threw himself into the arms of his Scottish countrymen, and called upon them to win him back a crown which the bloody field of Culloden forced him to renounce forever.] (II: 20)
Scotland is the larger loss and, although Jules d’Haberville is as fine looking as Cameron of Lochiel, Archie is taller and, stronger than d’Haberville:
Le second, plus âgé de deux à trois ans, est d’une taille beaucoup plus forte et plus élevée. Ses beaux yeux bleus, ses cheveux blond châtain, son teint blanc et un peu coloré, quelques rares taches de rousseur sur le visage et sur les mains, son menton tant soit peu prononcé, accusent une origine étrangère ; c’est, en effet, Archibald Cameron of Locheill, c’est, en effet, Archibald Cameron of Locheill, vulgairement Arché de Locheill, jeune montagnard écossais qui a fait ses études au collège des Jésuites de Québec. Comment, lui, étranger, se trouve-t-il dans une colonie française ? C’est ce que la suite apprendra.(I. 15) [His companion, who is older by two or three years, is much taller and more robust of frame. His fine blue eyes, his chestnut hair, his blonde and ruddy complexion with a few scattered freckles on face and hands, his slightly aggressive chin—all these reveal a foreign origin. This is Archibald Cameron of Lochiel, commonly known as Archie of Lochiel, a young Scotch Highlander who has been studying at the Jesuits’ College in Quebec. How is it that he, a stranger, finds himself in this remote French colony? We will let the sequel show.] (Foreword: 4)
Moreover, in 1757, France had not been defeated, so Archie is more sensitive than Jules d’Haberville:
– Oh ! Français ! légers Français ! aveugles Français ! il n’est pas surprenant que les Anglais se jouent de vous par-dessousla jambe, en politique ! – Il me semble, interrompit Jules, que les Écossais doivent en savoir quelque chose de la politique anglaise ! Le visage d’Arché prit tout à coup une expression de tristesse ; une grande pâleur se répandit sur ses nobles traits : c’était une corde bien sensible que son ami avait touchée. Jules s’en aperçut aussitôt, et lui dit : – Pardon, mon frère, si je t’ai fait de la peine : je sais que ce sujet évoque chez toi de douloureux souvenirs. J’ai parlé, comme je le fais toujours, sans réfléchir. On blesse souvent, sans le vouloir, ceux que l’on aime le plus, par une repartie que l’on croit spirituelle. Mais, allons, vive la joie ! continue à déraisonner ; ça sera plus gai pour nous deux. (IV: p. 45) [“Oh, you French, you frivolous French, you deluded French, no wonder the English catch you on the hip in diplomacy!” “It would seem to me,” interrupted Jules, “that the Scotch ought to know something by this time about English diplomacy!” Archie’s face saddened and grew pale; his friend had touched a sore spot. Jules perceived this at once and said: “Forgive me, dear fellow, if I have hurt you. I know the subject is one that calls up painful memories. I spoke, as usual, without thinking. One often thoughtlessly wounds those one best loves by a retort which one may think very witty. But come, let us drink to amerry life! Go on with your remarkable reasoning; that will be pleasanter for both of us.”] (III: 48-49)
In Chapter IV/III (EN), Jules d’Haberville tells the legend of La Corriveau, a murderess. It was one of my 2012 posts. The second post is a more general description of Les Anciens Canadiens. La Corriveau: a legend (1 April 2012)
Last weekend, I worked on Philippe-Joseph Aubert de Gaspé‘s Anciens Canadiens. The novel can be read online. It was translated twice by Sir Charles G. D. Roberts, an excellent Canadian writer, but Mr Roberts’s second and finer translation, published in 1905, is entitled Cameron of Lochiel [EN]. I had never looked for a translation of Les Anciens Canadiens and this English title intrigued me. Upon due reflexion, the title Sir Roberts gave Les Anciens Canadiens seemed altogether legitimate. As the events of the Anciens Canadiens unfold, Jules d’Haberville becomes Cameron of Lochiel. Scotland fell to England at the Battle of Culloden (1746), which is discussed in Les Anciens Canadiens. As for New France, it will also fall to England, but it will have a glorious past.
After our friends complete their studies, Jules joins the French army and Arché, the British army. Archie serves in North America during the Seven Years’ War, called the French and Indian War. Ironically and tragically, Arché, a soldier, is ordered to set ablaze his friends’ manoir. Nouvelle-France is conquered by the British. Therefore, the defeat of Nouvelle-France mirrors the defeat of Scotland, a more important country, and, by the same token, it puts Jules and Arché / Archie on an equal footing. They are the two sides of the same coin. So, metaphorically, Jules has become Cameron of Lochiel. His country has been defeated and, despite the role Arché / Archie plays during the war, the friends are reunited. In 1759, the French in Canada fell to England as did the Scots, in 1746.
After the “conquest,” Blanche d’Haberville will not marry Roberts’s Cameron of Lochiel, whom she loves, but Jules will marry an Englishwoman, thereby giving himself a second and redeeming identity, an instance of the collaborator’s ideology. He is the conquered and the conqueror. As for Aubert de Gaspé, the author and a Seigneur, he will use Arché’s guided tour of a Seigneurie to consign New France to a réel absolu, that of fiction, the life and customs of anciens Canadiens. Jules familiarizes Arché with the life of a Seigneur and that of the inhabitants of a seigneurie, not to mention the life of New France’s humbler subjects and its Amerindians.
Missing are New France’s voyageurs, river drivers (draveurs), and bûcherons. Their life and their songs are chronicled elsewhere. Les Anciens Canadiens nevertheless memorializes and mythologizes the presence of the French in North America. France will live forever on the shores of the St Lawrence River because it is remembered, an anamnesis.
La Patrie littéraire
When John Lambton, 1st Earl of Durham wrote his Report on the Rebellions of 1837-1838, he described the French in Canada as a people lacking a history and a literature: un peuplesans histoire ni littérature. The French set about proving him wrong. Two literary schools were instituted, one in Montreal and one in Quebec City. The people of New France quickly built a patrie littéraire,a literary homeland.
Our colleague Derrick J. Knight was correct in suggesting a link between the Scots and the French in Canada. Matters would change when Confederation occurred. However, the spirit of the Auld Alliance would persist. Our Scottish explorers worked at an early point after the Conquest of Canada, formalized by the Treaty of Paris,1763. The Battle of Culloden took place less than two decades before the Battle of the Plains of Abraham, fought on 13 September 1759.
Canada’s bon Anglais is Scottish, he is both John Neilson and Cameron of Locheill. John Neilson stated that there could be a blend, un amalgame, of the two “races” in Canada, the French-speaking race, and the English-speaking race: the two sides of the same coin. There was an amalgame.Simon Fraser left Montreal accompanied by 19 voyageurs and 2 Amerindians. Explorers were guided by voyageurs and Amerindians whom they trusted.
Patriotism, devotion to the French-Canadian nationality, a just pride of race, and a loving memory for his people’s romantic and heroic past—these are the dominant chords which are struck throughout the story. Of special significance, therefore, are the words which are put in the mouth of the old seigneur as he bids his son a last farewell. The father has been almost ruined by the conquest. The son has left the French army and taken the oath of allegiance to the English crown. “Serve thy new sovereign,” says the dying soldier, “as faithfully as I have served the King of France; and may God bless thee, my dear son!” Sir Charles G. D. Roberts’s Cameron of Lochiel (Preface)
Although France and Scotland had joined forces under the Auld Alliance, the relationship between the French in Canada and Canadians of Scottish descent could not be as cordial as the bonds uniting France and Scotland. The French in Canada were a conquered nation. They had lost the battle. But let us look at the Scots.
The Fur Trade
Scots as Fur Traders
the North West Company
Montreal as centre of the fur trade in Canada
It is as fur traders that the Scots in Canada gained prominence.
The North West Company, founded in 1779, was a Montreal-based Company that competed with the Hudson’s Bay Company, chartered in 1670. Most partners, or shareholders, were Scots. They had mansions built in Montreal’s Golden Square Mile. Sir Hugh Allan, a shipping magnate, whose mansion is shown at the top of this post, was not associated with the North West Company. He brought immigrants to Canada and lived at Ravenscrag, located in Montreal’s Golden Square Mile. Ravenscrag was donated to McGill University in 1940. In fact, James McGill endowed McGill University in his will. Nor’Westers later moved to Westmount, in Montreal. They socialized at the Beaver Club, a Gentleman’s Club, founded in 1785. French-Canadians who had remained in the fur trade after New France fell to England were senior members at the Beaver Club (see Beaver Club, Wikipedia).
The most prosperous shareholders of the North West Company were not French-speaking Canadians. In the first half of the 19th century, very few, if any, French-speaking Canadians lived in the Golden Square Mile or Westmount, except the French-Canadian wives of fur traders. James McGill (1744-1813) married Charlotte Trottier Desrivières, née Guillimin, a widow, and Simon McTavish (1750-1804) married Marguerite Chaboillez, but these marriages did not reflect a political choice. Partners were Englishmen and English Canadians. Benjamin Frobisher (1742-1787) was English and Joseph Frobisher (1748-1810) was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia. He was an English Canadian. The main shareholders of the North West Company(la Compagnie du Nord-Ouest), were Scots.
Several North West Company shareholders or partners were members of Lower Canada’s Château Clique. La Clique du Château was un Parti bureaucrate, a bureaucracy, also known as the British Party or the Tory Party. The Château Clique had its counterpart in Upper Canada, called the Family Compact. A few Seigneurs and French-speaking Canadians were members of the Château Clique. Denis Monière refers to an idéologie de la collaboration. The French who were not returning to France were cutting their personal losses. So was the Clergy.
Il faut dire aussi que les rapports entre ces deux groupes sont facilités par une origine de classe identique.
Denis Monière 
[One must also say that the relationship between these two groups is made easier because they originate from identical classes.]
So, how could these threatened classes oppose strongly and visibly a group promoting the assimilation of French-speaking Canadians (union acts) and frowned upon a responsible government. One suspects that many saw clear and present danger, and went into hiding. In fact, James McGill (1744-1813) opposed the Quebec Act of 1774. (See James McGill, Dictionary of Canadian Biography.) The Quebec Act can be viewed as a wish to protect the British in Canada from an alliance between the defeated French and the rebellious colonies to the south. But it may also have earned Guy Carleton and the British in Canada decades of peaceful coexistence in the country Guy Carleton had governed. The Quebec Act was conciliatory. French-speaking Canadians were allowed to keep their language, their religion, their Seigneuries and their Code civil. Although the dreaded Act of Union was passed in 1840, it failed to assimilate French Canadians. There was compatibility between French-speaking and English-speaking Canadians.
Other Scots, the landless crofters, found homes in Thomas Douglas, 5th Earl of Selkirk‘s Red River Settlement. Crofters also settled in Nova Scotia and elsewhere in Canada. The Red River Settlement is inextricably linked to the fur trade. The competition between the North West Company and the Hudson’s Bay Company led to the Seven Oaks Massacre (1816) and to the merger of the North West Company and the Hudson’s Bay Company (1821).
Montreal as fur-trade capital in Canada
a conquered people
the Seigneurial system is abolished
In short, after the Conquest, Montreal became the centre of the fur trade in Canada. Scots were the main shareholders of the North West Company, but the fur trade declined for lack of beavers. Canada’s voyageurs and Amerindians would then become the explorers’ guides. These were mostly Scots. and all wanted to find a passage to the Pacific, by land.
The story of the fur trade chronicles an early chapter in Canadian history, the years following the defeat of France. Nouvelle-France was ceded to Britain in 1763. English-speaking immigrants were brought to Canada and United Empire Loyalists were given land in the Eastern Townships. Yet, in 1854, when the Seigneurial System was abolished, habitants who could not afford their thirty acres had to pay rente perpetually. The French had been conquered.
On 26 August 1831, Alexis de Tocqueville visited a tribunal and said afterwards:
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.” (SeeAlexis de Tocqueville on Lower Canada, 1 January 2014)
I cannot accomplish much at this moment, but I am sending you a photograph of Gabrielle Roy’s childhood home in Saint-Boniface, Manitoba. I mentioned short stories written by Gabrielle Roy, the author of Bonheur d’occasion, a novel published in 1945 and translated as The Tin Flute. The novel tells the story of a family living in Saint-Henri, Montreal, the poorest area of Montreal in 1945. The novel’s central irony is that World War II will “save” the family. Rose-Anna will receive a few hundred dollars a month.
Bonheur d’occasion (second-hand happiness) and Hugh MacLennan‘s Two Solitudes (1945) have been considered mirror narratives expressing the tragic repercussions of the separation of Canada’s two founding nations, after the First Nations.
Résistance: Clandestine Schools outside Quebec
There was resistance to the uniform school system created by Sir John A. Macdonald in provinces other than Quebec. As humble as it was, the Laurier-Greenway Compromise of 1989 made it possible to use French as the language of instruction in several Manitoba schools. But the Laurier-Greenway Compromise was short-lived. In 1915, the Thornton Act abolished the bilingual school system in Manitoba. However, in many schools, French continued to be the language of instruction, but in a clandestine manner. The teacher spoke French, but switched to English when the Inspector visited the school. Certain immigrants also took in hand the education of their children. But it could not last.
However, it would be my opinion that one cannot expect coast to coast bilingualism. Not after 102 years. Canada is a mostly English-language country where each linguistic group should respect one another and also respect immigrants to this country. When they arrive in Canada, they are fellow Canadians.
Whether laws should enforce the use of French in Quebec is questionable. By virtue of Quebec’s Bill 22 (July 1972), French is the official language of Quebec. Bill 101(La Charte de la langue française),1977, reinforced Bill 22. There are “sunnier” ways of preserving a language. I am borrowing the term “sunnier” from Sir Wilfrid Laurier.
But I will pause here. The concept of nationhood is complex. I have met people in whose eyes Britain won the battle, i.e. the Battle of the Plains of Abraham (13 September 1759), which means that the French have no rights, nor do Amerindians. They too were conquered. This ideology has fallen into disrepute, but it has done so… very slowly.
If one reads the above, one may be tempted to revisit separatism. Confederation separated Quebec. It would not be on an equal footing with other provinces. But it also separated French-speaking Canadians from English-speaking Canadians.
The people of Canada must never stop respecting one another: English speaking, French speaking, immigrants to this country, and refugees. When immigrants arrive in Canada, it becomes their country. Not that they will forget their native land. Gabrielle Roy’s Sam Lee Wong is lost in the Canadian prairies. Canadian Japanese were Canadians. But they were interned after the attack on Pearl Harbour.
It all started when my telephone rang in the middle of the night. Someone was at the main door to the building asking me to unlock the door. He said he was delivering groceries. I let him in. It then occurred to me that he could be an intruder and that he could harm one of my neighbours. If so, it would be my fault. I dialed 9-1-1. Two police officers, a man, and a woman came to my door. I told them that I had foolishly let someone into the building and asked them to check the corridors. They didn’t check the corridors. I also told them that persons did ring the door to my apartment occasionally and then disappeared. But matters were different. This time, I had let a person enter the building.
They asked several questions, reassured me, and left. The building was quiet. The next morning, I realized that one of my neighbours had played a joke on me. Who else would know that my groceries are delivered and by whom? Later in the day, I phoned the police and spoke with a person who knew about this incident. I said that, in my opinion, a neighbour had played a joke on me. The gentleman wanted to know how I felt. I was fine. My neighbours were not the target, I was the target.
I have since wondered whether this incident is related to Covid-19. I have been inside my apartment, alone, for a year. However, someone delivers groceries once a week.
The Covid-19 Vaccine
I did leave the apartment two days ago. On Tuesday I received a letter from the government informing me personally that the vaccination programme had begun and that all I had to do was telephone the number I was given or go online to make an appointment. I dialed the telephone number and was vaccinated the following day. Covid-19 is so aggressive that all Canadians will be vaccinated before June 24, the first injection, if AstraZeneca is used. That goal is realistic for Quebec. The team is working so efficiently that several hundred persons are vaccinated in a matter of hours. The government hired a small army.
After the injection, one sits for 15 minutes and, if all goes well, one disinfects one’s hands and goes home. A gentleman called a cab for me. He made me sit comfortably while I waited and he helped me get into the cab safely.
The AstraZeneca vaccine was used. My mouth was very dry after the injection, but there were bottles of water. I was given water. I was not otherwise affected.
The Washington Post reports that many victims of Covid-19 who have been cured are not able to return to a normal life. I suspected this would happen. I caught the H1N1 virus in early February 1976. It triggered Myalgic Encephalomyelitis which did not relent, except for very brief periods, for forty-four years. ME ended when Covid-19 began. Long-Covid patients are vaccinated and it is reported that many patients start feeling better. Do not look upon them as malingerers.
Would that awareness of complications had been present in 1976! I could handle a normal workload by going to bed early and living cautiously. But my workload grew to include too many areas of literature, and the creation of language lab components. I fell to exhaustion and was not replaced, which shouldn’t have happened. I was then maneuvered into selling my house and leaving Nova Scotia. Two years later, I was fooled into accepting an arrangement that ended my tenure without my realizing it. I still ache.
Let’s just say that Covid-19 has been a curse, but that the government vaccination programme is very rapid. I have not experienced adverse effects. As for my neighbours, I sent management a letter they will never forget.
I have been looking for French Canadian folklore and traditional music. These sites do not appear immediately. In 1960, the French-language CBC, Radio-Canada or Ici Radio Canada, had yet to reach the West coast. Moreover, I was far from Quebec for forty years and had been trained to be a concert pianist, meaning I was learning Bach’s Preludes and Fugues. There was very little time left to learn folklore, and I wasn’t hearing any music from Quebec on the radio.
Les Voix du Vent are also known as Le Vent du Nord. Le Vent du Nord plays Celtic music. However, I am featuring a French song that tells a story.
The story is about a servant girl who wanted to be as beautiful as her mistress (as in master). She went to the pharmacist, l’apothicaire, to purchase makeup, du fard. He prepared a powder and told her not to look at herself in a mirror after applying the fard. The next day, le lendemain, she met her cavalier, a boyfriend, or a man she wished to attract. He told her that her face was black, black as a chimney. She was barbouillée (smeared). She returned to the apothecary, who explained that he had sold her coal. Servants should not try to look like their mistresses.
Above is Louis-Claude Daquin’s “Le Coucou” (The Cuckoo). Les Grands Hurleurs’ “Coucou” is an arrangement of Louis-Claude Daquin‘s “Coucou.” Daquin’s “Coucou” is not folklore, but it borders on traditional music and music we call “classical.” Daquin composed several Noëls, Christmas Carols. Christmas Carols are not looked upon as “folklore,” but they are traditional music. Christians sing Carols on Christmas Day and during the Christmas period. For Christians, Christmas commemorates the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, but it is also on or near the Winter solstice, the day of the longest night. Today is Candlemas(La Chandeleur), a festival oflightsand currently Groundhog Day (le Jour de la Marmotte).
Feasts are celebrated according to a natural calendar. This begins with the degree of light and darkness: two solstices, and in the middle of the two solstices (Christmas and la Saint-Jean) are the Vernal equinox of Spring and the Autumnal equinox (Michaelmas). And to return to traditional music, it is associated with feasts that are celebrated according to the above-mentioned natural calendar. Noëls are performed during the Christmas season.