Years ago I signed up for a workshop – I think it was titled “Family of Origin” – and the first assignment was to find out what we could about our ancestors, something which I had never explored before.
I was 40 at the time.
My parents took the bait; I found that my Dad was 100% French-Canadian, with very deep roots in Quebec, though near lifelong North Dakotan.
There are millions upon millions of people with French-Canadian ancestry today; hundreds of thousands of them in my own state.
“Quebec” (name first established in 1608) long pre-dates use of the name “United States of America (1776)” and “Canada” (1867). Here’s a National Geographic map from my copy of the Historical Atlas of the United States, Centennial Edition, 1988 (p. 96). Note the extent of “Quebec”. This was before the naming of “Canada”
My first French-Canadian ancestor was in North America in 1618, and French-Canadians have had a very rich subsequent history all across North America.
I stay active in the quest to keep this rich culture alive, and yesterday prepared a reintroduction to be sent to our local mailing list. The 9-page mailing is here: French-Canadian001
If you wish, open and just scroll through the link. I’d especially recommend the last four pages, a recent essay entitled “Why Are Franco-Americans So Invisible?” by David Vermette, which appears in the Winter (Hiver) 2017 edition of Le Forum from the state of Maine.
I dedicate this post to my great-grandparents, Clotilde Blondeau and Octave Collette, who married at what was then called St. Anthony, soon to become Minneapolis MN, in 1868; thence 1875 to the Dayton MN area, thence to Oakwood (near Grafton) North Dakota in 1878.
Below is the tintype photo of them about the time of their marriage. Clotilde would have been about 5 when they arrived in Minnesota Territory from eastern Ontario in the early 1850s; Octave was about 17 when most of the Collette family moved from St. Lambert QC to St. Anthony (later, Minneapolis) in about 1864.
(click to enlarge, double click for close-up)
I also dedicate this to my grandparents: Henry Bernard, born 1872 and raised in rural Ste. Sylvestre Quebec, coming to North Dakota in the 1890s; and Josephine Collette, born 1881 at the now disappeared Red River town of St. Andrews, where the Park River enters the Red. They married in 1901 at Oakwood ND.