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Franco-Fete in Villes Jumelles (the Twin Cities of Minneapolis-St. Paul) September 28-30, 2012

Monday, July 23rd, 2012

UPDATE Sep 12, 2012: Here’s an interesting hour with samples of Le Vent du Nord music and discussion of Franco-Fete on Bonjour Minnesota radio program Sep 11, 2012.

CONTACT INFORMATION: Check in occasionally. Scroll to end of this post.

Francophone, Francophile, French-Canadian ancestry…or know someone who is, or is interested? Consider passing this post along, about a very special event in Minneapolis September 28-30, 2012. That’s only two weeks away. Home website is here.

(click on all photos to enlarge them)

Statue of Pioneers corner of Marshall and Main Street NE, Minneapolis, less than a mile from the conference venue.

reverse side of Pioneer Statue

In 1980, the United States Census asked, for the last time, a question about the ethnic background of Americans.

That year, 7.9% of Minnesotans- 321,087 persons, one of every 12 citizens – declared themselves to be a least partially of French (France and/or French-Canadian) ancestry. Neighboring Wisconsin counted 7.3% Wiconsinites of such ancestry and many other states had very significant numbers of persons in this category. Fr-Can in U.S. 1980001

It is this base, and any of those with an interest in the French language and cultural influence, who will want to set aside the end of September, 2012, for the first-ever Franco-Fete in Minneapolis.

All details, including registration information, are on the web here.

IMPORTANT TO NOTE: The agenda continues to evolve. Even if you’ve checked before, check back again to get a more complete picture of the entire conference. The music and meal programs especially should be reserved now as we anticipate very significant interest both Friday and Saturday evening.

Franco-Fete will include all the elements of a fine program: family, food, fun…along with academics, history, music…

This will be the first such Fete in Minneapolis-St. Paul, but is not a first ever venture.

Leader Dr. Virgil Benoit, French-Canadian (Franco-American), professor of French at the University of North Dakota and a lifelong part of the Red Lake Falls MN community, has been putting together similar festivals for over 35 years in various places in Minnesota and North Dakota. Dr. Benoit is a professor of diverse talents and great skill, as well as having great passion for the culture and language of his birth.

This years conference will be the largest and most ambitious thus far. Most likely it will be continued in subsequent years.

Virgil Benoit ca 2008 compliments of Anne Dunn

There are two major venues for this years Conference:

Our Lady of Lourdes Church, since 1877 the spiritual home of Minneapolis French-Canadians, will be the venue for Friday night Sep 28. The below photo, taken ca 1968, shows Lourdes as it was before the development of Riverplace around it in the early 1980s.)

DeLaSalle High School, a few short blocks from Lourdes on Nicollet Island in the Mississippi River, and within a short walk of downtown Minneapolis, will be the venue for all of Saturday Sep 29 programs.

On Sunday, September 30, at noon, the French-speaking congregation at St. Boniface Catholic Church in nearby northeast Minneapolis, will host those who wish to experience the Catholic Mass in French. This community, largely immigrants from African countries with French colonial overlays, is a vibrant French-speaking community in the midst of the Twin Cities. While not a formal part of the conference, we urge participants to take part in this ending celebration.

Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church, Minneapolis, 1968

Our Lady of Lourdes, August 7, 2012

DeLaSalle High School, Nicollet Island, Minneapolis MN

Fr. Jules Omalanga, pastor St. Boniface Catholic Church, Minneapolis, after Mass March 25, 2012

After a sit-down supper at Our Lady of Lourdes on Friday Sep 28, and tour of the church, noted musician Dan Chouinard and friends will give a concert in the sanctuary of the Church.

On Saturday evening Sep 29 the noted Quebec band Le Vent du Nord will do music workshops and a music program at DeLaSalle. They are internationally noted, and one of Canada’s most popular ensembles. (The web page can also be accessed in French.) UPDATE: More on the Le Vent du Nord event here.. Tickets can also be purchased on-line here. The evening program begins at 5:30 p.m.

The St. Boniface Francophone Choir of Minneapolis, Dan Chouinard and others will also be part of this evening extravaganza.

And Sunday Sep 30 at noon, the community at St. Boniface will host all for Catholic Mass in French.

Again, Franco-Fete is only two weeks away!

Now is the time to enroll.

NOTE: You can find many related commentaries using search word Quebec or French-Canadian. Or enter any of the following numbers in the search box and click enter: (Each has a basis in French-Canadian or Quebec) #15 Grandpa; 28 Weller; 43 Fathers Day; 280; 306; 313; 388; 449; 450; 459; 481; 486; 510; 550; 573; 582; UPDATE Sep 5: 585; 610; Aug. 17, 2012; Sep. 1, 2012;

You are invited to submit your own commentaries, either as a distinct blog post, or as a comment to be added here. Dick_BernardATmsn.com

CONTACT INFO:
General, local contact:
Dick Bernard
dick_bernardATmsn.com
cell 651-334-5744 (leave message, with return phone #).

Specific, including interview requests:
Dr. Virgil Benoit
University of ND at Grand Forks
virgil.benoitATund.edu
toll-free: 855-864-2634

Clotilde Blondeau and Octave Collette about July 12, 1869

Clotilde Blondeau and Octave Collette married at St. Anthony of Padua in then-St. Anthony, now-Minneapolis MN July 12, 1869. In 1871 the City Directory showed them, and the rest of Collette family, living at what is now the corner of SE 2nd Street and SE 6th Avenue at what is now a block or two from Father Hennepin Park and Minneapolis’ Stone Arch Bridge, and perhaps three blocks from I-35E bridge. More here.

Additional information for those with a continuing interest in matters French-Canadian are invited to visit here. This space will be updated and may well become a continuing presence for those with an interest.

#459 -Dick Bernard: Heritage. Michif Language and Music; Haitian Family Story and Food. Thoughts of Booyah and Culture, generally.

Saturday, October 22nd, 2011

An October theme for this writer came to be the topic of Heritage. Previous posts on this topic are here and here and here.

October 18, found me in a classroom with multi-cultural students of French at Macalester College in St. Paul MN. We were listening to Professor of French and French in America scholar Professor Virgil Benoit of the University of North Dakota speak on the Michif culture of the Chippewa Reservation at Turtle Mountain ND. Dr. Benoit is a passionate defender of the French language, one of the major world languages, and one of the most studied languages in the world.

Dr.Virgil Benoit, University of N. Dakota, at Macalester College, St. Paul MN October 18, 2011

Dr. Benoit’s video guests (from a 2005 video interview) were Turtle Mountain Michifs Dorothy and Mike Page (Mike is pictured with the fiddle above). Mr. and Mrs. Page conversed about various aspects of their culture, including use of their native Michif language, a language infrequently used at this point in their history. “Michif” is a culture and a language, usually a combination of French-Canadian and Canadian Cree ethnicity and language and customs. (A number of links related to Michif, including a fascinating conversation spoken solely in Michif, can be found here.)

A few days later, October 21, we attended a most interesting talk presented at a Minneapolis Church by Jacqueline Regis about her experience growing up in the southern peninsula of Haiti (near Les Cayes). Haiti, the second free Republic in North America (independence in 1804) was born from a revolt of African slaves against their French masters. It was viewed as a threat by slave-holding and infant United States with consequences to the Haitians lasting to this day (click on Haiti history timeline link here NOTE. the reference to 1919 should be 1915). The loss of Haiti was a major defeat for the French, however, and a direct consequence of that defeat was the co-incident sale of the huge Louisiana Purchase to the United States in 1803.

Ms Regis, long in the United States, is fluent in English but grew up speaking Kreyol and learning French, now both official national languages of Haiti, though French is the language of government and commerce.

[UPDATE: see note at the end of this post] Here is a Haitian recipe for Haitian Pumpkin Soup, served at the gathering: Haitian Recipe001. Food, along with Fun and Family, are very important parts of all cultures.

As I was listening to the Page’s and Dr. Benoit on Tuesday I began to think of a regional stew often featured at large group gatherings in this area. It is called “Booyah“, sometimes “Booya”, and when I looked it up I found it is likely actually derived from a French word, and possibly was first used as a reference to the stew in Wisconsin.

Booyah, like Americans generally these days, consists of many common elements, but no Booyah is exactly the same.

So also is American culture: very diverse. And the diversity was reflected both in the classroom and the church sanctuary in the Twin Cities this week.

Dr. Benoit, the Page’s, Jacqueline Regis, and everyone who make up the American booyah have good reason to be proud of their heritages, as reflected in the rich tapestry that is the American culture.

UPDATE October 26: an incorrect link is shown in the pdf. A reader provided the correct link for the Pumpkin Soup recipe: see it here. Other recipes here and here

#449 – Dick Bernard: Heritage: The Tin Types

Tuesday, October 4th, 2011

Related posts here and here.

On my father’s death in 1997, I became custodian of our family photos.

While he came from an ordinary North Dakota family of French-Canadian descent, the family had an inclination to take pictures documenting important events, such as weddings, new births and such.

Within the box of photos was a May 7, 1954 Social Security envelope, and inside the envelope were seven most unusual photographs, very dark, on varied size pieces of tin.

They were of a genre called “tin types“, photography as practiced before photographic film.

The oldest – I can speak with some certainty as to its ID – is a photo of my great grandparents, Octave Collette and Clotilde Blondeau, who married in St. Anthony (later Minneapolis MN) in July 1869. While the photo was, like the others, unlabelled, there is no question, comparing with later photos, that it showed Octave and Clotilde, likely about the time of their marriage. The photo is below.

(click on all photos to enlarge).

The remaining six photos are also unlabelled, but most of them show a young Henry Bernard (born 1872), and were likely taken in the late 1880s and early 1890s, probably in Quebec, most likely as keepsakes for him to take along on his trip west to remember the folks back home. The album with the remaining photos is at the end of this post.

The photos vary in size: the smallest is of Octave and Clotilde (1 7/8″ x 3 1/8″); the largest of the two men (2 5/8″ x 3 1/2″). As can be noted on the above photo, the tin pieces were probably snipped out, rather than of a standard consistent size.

The tintypes obviously endured plenty of wear over the years. It is remarkable that they survived as long as they did, probably stuck in a trunk or dresser or such for as much as over 140 years. But they were meaningful enough to not be thrown out.

Four of the photos appear to have been taken by the same photographer at the same time. The evidence is a slight rosy tint to portions of the photos (note the cheeks), likely hand administered. Until I scanned the photos (at 800 dpi), I wasn’t aware of these rosy cheeks etc. on the four photos.

Precisely the who, where, when and why of the photos will likely remain mysteries except for the certainty that most include my grandfather Henry, and the other is of his future wife’s – my grandmothers – parents.

My best guess: the large group photo, with a young Henry Bernard in front, is probably of his family circle in Quebec, including the Parish Priest. Ditto for the photo of three men and three women. And the others are similarly related, in some ways to his family in Quebec (or so I believe).

The four photos with the rose tint were probably taken at Thetford Mines, Quebec, where young Henry was a miner, where a sister and family lived, and from which place he most likely embarked for then-booming Grafton ND in the early 1890s.

Family history mysteries: they fascinate, and they exasperate.

Consider labeling your present day photos, so that someone down histories road knows who is in the image.

Most likely Henry (Honore) Bernard in front center, his brother Joseph to his left. Perhaps taken in Quebec in late 1880s.

Most likely young Honore (Henry) Bernard

#388 – Dick Bernard: Gay Marriage in New York State

Saturday, June 25th, 2011

Early last evening I was watching my usual news program and a guest was talking about how New York Legislature was about to pass a law authorizing same sex marriage in the state of New York. I’ve been around political decision making for long enough, and closely enough, to question the judgment of a premature announcement of a bill which would be, but had not yet, passed and was still questionable…one doesn’t announce a victory with ten minutes left in, say, a basketball game.

But announced it was. And it happened. And it apparently has already been signed into law by its architect, Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

There will be countless opinions flooding the news on this issue. Here is my small ‘squeak’.

This is great news, long overdue. As I understand the law, my Catholic Church doesn’t have to marry Gays; neither can it block Gays from getting married.

This is a very big deal on a great many levels. To me, it is one more piece of evidence that sanity is beginning to return to the political conversation – and by “politics” I mean “people”, generally.

I’m straight, and I thus have no direct personal “frame” to understand the Gay perspective. But that’s the most important reason why such a Law as this is good.

Even most religious leaders who despise what they consider the Gay lifestyle seem to agree that God approves of Gays – at least they admit this on paper. But they don’t understand how it is to be Gay, thus they attempt to throw the theological “Book” – their interpretation of the Bible – at it. “Belief” is made to reign.

I really don’t care if my local Archbishop doesn’t like this new Law, or if my local legislator recently went with the majority to deliberately bypass Minnesota’s Governor and authorize an initiative on the 2012 election ballot to enshrine into our Constitution a provision making gay marriage unconstitutional.

New York went with common sense last night.

(I wonder if our Legislature rules are similar to those in Roberts Rules: where decisions made can be reversed if people who voted on the prevailing side move and second to rescind their previous action. If so, maybe this is still a possibility. In fact, I had this as one of my possible questions at a Forum with Legislators a couple of Mondays ago.)

What happened in New York State overnight was a huge big deal. It won’t make the issue go away in other places. But it will be instructive; and it will empower people like ourselves to speak more confidently and informed about this issue.

I think of two evenings ago, at our annual suburban political party picnic.

This years event was in relative terms lightly attended, largely due to chilly and uncertain weather. We had the usual political speakers, but the first one was very unusual for us. Teresa Nelson, Legal Counsel of the Minnesota branch of the American Civil Liberties Union, addressed us about two issues she felt were absolutely critical for basic civil rights in the upcoming year.

Teresa Nelson, June 23, 2011

The first issue was the proposed constitutional amendment on marriage; the second was another proposed constitutional amendment on a voter id bill whose only purpose is to suppress citizen right and ability to vote. Both are, among many others, national initiatives appearing in many places in slightly different forms.

We citizens have work to do in the coming months. Too many of us have not been engaged. If this applies to you, now is the time.

I offer one last thought on the marriage issue:

My hobby for 30 years has been family history.

In the course of researching my French-Canadian side I came across the marriage contract between my first Bernard ancestors in Quebec, in the year 1730. The translation of this contract is Quebec Marriage Cont001

It is worth taking the time to really analyze this contract: who it was with, what it says, etc. (Here’s the summary: the 1730 document was a civil contract, between the parties and the State, to be followed, two weeks later, by the religious Matrimony….)

Of course, Quebec then was an exclusively Catholic country, so the marriage ultimately had to be finalized in the Catholic Church.

But the U.S. is not Quebec. And the Catholic Church in today’s Quebec is, I’m told, all but completely irrelevant….

UPDATE: This over nite blog post does a good job of defining what’s going on with the political decision making on this and other issues as well.

#280 – Virgil Benoit: On French-Canadians, English and the American Revolutionary War

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

During an animated conversation on Sunday, some new friends, long-time residents of Long Island NY, and for a number of years residents in Salt Lake City UT, asked a question about an aspect of French-Canadian history, which I then rephrased for Dr. Virgil Benoit of the University of North Dakota, an expert on things Franco-American. His Initiatives in French – Midwest is a fledgling but important organization to celebrate the French heritage in the Midwest.

Dr. Benoit re-enacting an important French-Canadian trader at old St. Joseph (Walhalla) ND 2008

I asked Dr. Benoit: “Is there a simple reason why the French did not support the Americans when, in the Revolutionary War period, the fledgling U.S. was interested in throwing the English out of power in Quebec?
I know nothing is simple, but perhaps there is a general answer.*

Dr. Benoit responded almost immediately, and his succinct commentary is well worth sharing, and is shared with his permission.

Hi Dick,
The Quebec Act of 1774 [Q Act] is often cited as the event which encouraged French-Canadians [F-Cs] to not revolt against the British in Canada in 1776. The Q Act gave F-Cs the freedom to practice their religion, customs and language.

The Q Act was a first in British governance towards its colonies. But the British were only a small minority in Quebec at the time. Maybe they felt they had to do it that way. They also knew they could lose the other thirteen colonies in North America and have no foothold in the New World. The F-C. also had no support from France by 1776. They also were afraid of being swallowed up by the neighboring anglo-saxon protestant culture, i.e. the new United States. As it were the Quebec Act gave them more protection as a defeated people than the unknown relationship with a nation-to-be.

With the defeat of 1760 [of France, by England at Quebec] the F-C society lost its upper class. Its leaders with political contacts went either back to France or had been lowered in status to common folk as far a political or social influence was concerned. The one class that rose quickly to exert influence in Quebec at this time was the clergy, which turned out to act very conciliatory toward the British. They [the clergy] interpreted the new situation stemming from the Quebec Act as one that guaranteed protection. They felt that as a conquered people the French-Canadians should be careful and appreciate that they had religious freedom as well as privileges to use French and customs as before the conquest in 1760. Over time, the clergy tied the privileges of religion and language together, saying that to keep French was also to be true to the Catholic faith.

These two “freedoms” became the clergy’s motto for keeping French-Canadians together, so to speak. The clergy fought migration to urban areas, such as Quebec City and Montreal which were very British and Protestant up until WWI. In short, the surrender of New France by France led to the seemingly paradoxical situation you are asking about. But the French of the former New France did not side with the Americans. It happened as you see because the common people of the former New France saw little hope, and their choice not to fight again was reinforced by the clergy. The common folk had fought the British invasion of 1760, but were in the end greatly outnumbered on the battle fields. They lost and along with the defeat, strategy (contacts with the homeland) and courage were also lost.

It would take the French Canadians until the 1970s to work their way back to a Quebec society that could be called contemporary to its counterparts in the world. Bravo. They did it. There was the Revolution of 1836 against British dominance in Quebec. It was stopped. There was the war’s act of Trudeau against Quebec in about 1968. It did not last. In all the rest of time and in all other arenas of civilized society the Quebec people have worked through parliament to regain equity with those who invaded and took their country away in 1760.

A final observation, invading armies can make war, but they can’t kill culture. It will surface and come back. In Quebec, not only has culture survived wars between gigantic superpowers and brutal scrimmages on the home front, but a rich government has been put into place and the country is dynamic today. Best to you.”
Virgil

* – At the time of the American Revolution, the French had already been established in what is now Quebec for 168 years. The founding of Quebec as a French Colony dates to 1608, with the major development beginning after 1630.

#28 – Mary Ellen Weller: French-Canadians in the American Civil War: A Book Review

Saturday, May 23rd, 2009

Note from Moderator: Mary Ellen filed this review of a book about the Civil War over a year ago.  It seems particulary pertinent as a memory for Memorial Day, 2009.  A companion to this article might be a recent talk by Howard Zinn on America’s “Three Holy Wars” at the 100th anniversary celebration of the Progressive magazine.  The Civil War is one of those wars.  His 35 minute talk can be viewed at http://www.commondreams.org/video/2009/05/18-0

Mary Ellen Weller: Riding the bus was an essential part of the French Heritage Tour sponsored by the IF Midwest May 2, 2008 [http://www.IFMidwest.org] . Essential because of who was sitting in those seats. Some were on the program and many were authors of books related to French-Canadian heritage in the US. What follows is a review of one of those books, a fascinating look at the US Civil War as an engine of French-Canadian immigration. It is not yet available in English.

Les Canadiens Français et la Guerre de Sécession, 1861-1865, une autre dimension de leur migration aux Etats-Unis

(French Canadians and the War of Secession, 1861-1865, another dimension of their migration to the United States)

by Jean Lamarre, Professor of History, Royal Military College of Kingston, Ontario

Quebec: VLB Editeur, 2006.

Americans of French-Canadian descent are likely to find their first immigrant ancestor arrived here between 1840 and 1930. In those 90 years more than a million French-Canadians came south of the border. The numbers are especially high during the time of the American Civil War. Exactly why young men of 15 to 49 (average age 25.2) (p. 51) would choose to fight in a neighbor’s civil war is addressed in Mr. Lamarre’s intriguing book and the answers are surprising.

The facts and evidence on which this work is based represent months of often tedious research in the National Archives in Washington D.C. where military records for each and every enlisted man are found. Lamarre used Record Group 94: the Adjutant General’s Office, Civil War (Union) Compiled Military Service Records. The researcher who wants to consult the personal file of a soldier must fill out, for each one, a form on which he indicates the name of the soldier and his regiment.” (p.26)* Using such a laborious process Lamarre gathered a sample of 1320 Union soldiers of French-Canadian origin, of whom 1142 were born in French-Canada and 178 in the US. He concludes that they represent about 10% of the total French-Canadian participation in the Union Army.

In addition to the challenge of submitting the necessary forms one by one to establish this sample, was the challenge of recognizing French surnames from approximate homonymic spellings in English. The recruits often could not spell their own names. More than 90% of these men could not sign their contracts and simply made a cross at the bottom of the page (p. 53). Check Mr. Lamarre’s appendix for the name Duquette and you will get a quick lesson in the challenges he faced. Remember, he had to order each record individually by name.

Once accessed, the record shows the soldier’s age at enlistment, his home, his place of enrollment, date of enrollment, and assigned regiment. The appendix which lists this information for the entire sample of 1320 French-Canadian Union soldiers will certainly be useful to anyone doing a family history. Thirty regiments from Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, New Hampshire and Rhode Island are represented. Additionally, the record might note injury, hospitalization, discharge at the end of his contract, re-enlistment, or status as a prisoner of war. Lamarre has re-created the stories of many individual soldiers and tells them with great care within the body of the text.

The first wave of (over-)confidence and patriotism that brought volunteers to the Northern Army swept many French-Canadians with it. An early victory was expected. Some joined for adventure, some for patriotism, some to combat slavery and some for the security of food, shelter, and a small salary. Those French-Canadians already living in the US were often pressured to show their allegiance to their new country by enlisting. In some communities there was violence against immigrants.

The situation at the border echoes the years of the Revolution. Just as Loyalists headed north to avoid the Revolutionary War, many, many French-Canadians returned to Canada alongside Americans seeking shelter from the conflict.

Lamarre notes that seasonal employment in both logging and farming, from New England to Michigan, had become a way of life for many French-Canadians. Some were motivated to enlist to protect these very personal economic interests. They reasoned that if the South won the war, they could lose these jobs.

That very line of reasoning reveals a lack of employment opportunities in French-Canada. Between 12,000 and 20,000 French-Canadians enrolled in the Union Army and Lamarre states that “it is above all the financial advantages accompanying enlistment that attracted the French-Canadians”(p. 49). At first, the “assurance of a monthly salary of $13” seemed “preferable to the idleness and poverty that awaited them on returning home” p. (48). As this most deadly of all American conflicts dragged on, with tens of thousands of Union soldiers dying in battle after battle, and few enlistments to replace them, Congress voted signing bonuses as part of the Militia Act of 1862. French-Canadian enlistments went up again. In 1863 a draft was established and “enlistment became even more profitable”. (p. 49)

Lamarre brings out three very important aspects of recruitment and enlistment that were new to me. One, under the draft it was legally possible to pay a substitute to enlist in your place. 14% of the French-Canadians who enrolled, did so as substitutes (p. 58) Two, recruiters for the Union Army operated in French-Canada openly before the British enforced the Foreign Enlistment Act (which forbade British subjects from fighting in foreign wars), and clandestinely as ‘job recruiters’ even after Britain’s declaration of neutrality. Three, the payment of Bounties to new recruits after 1862 led to a pattern of desertion and ‘bounty jumping’. 

Enlisting as a Substitute was dazzlingly attractive. “The sums paid varied between $100 and $300 in 1863 but they later reached $600 and even $1000. These amounts represented the equivalent of one to two year’s wages in Eastern Canada, a regular small fortune” (p.59).

The British and their colonies north of the border were understandably nervous at the assembly of large armies in the States. Among their fears was possible invasion by a victorious Northern Army. It was thought that the army would be used to pick off territory or whole colonies and annex them to the US. Among the results was the British North American Act of 1867. Huge territories recently opened by the ending of the charter of the Hudson Bay Company in 1860 were indeed causing comment and machinations in the US. Eastern and Western Canada (French and English) pulled together and became a confederation and a country rather than a collection of colonies. Many other factors led to confederation, but the American Civil War had its influence.

With Bounties at amazing levels, the fraud that was called Bounty Jumping is no surprise. Despite the risk of court martial and possible execution, some individuals signed up in several different regiments and collected several bounties, deserting each time, or simply not reporting for duty. Amazing as it seems, the recruits were paid their Bounty and then given time to put their affairs in order at home before reporting for duty. How much temptation does a poor man need? The number who reported honorably for duty is all the more impressive.

The individual stories that Jean Lamarre has reconstructed for this fascinating account of Civil War experiences are a great treasure. Alongside the important facts related to French-Canadian Union Army soldiers as a whole, each individual story humanizes and verifies those facts.

With illegal immigration ever before us as a 2008 campaign issue, with a fence going up between the US and Mexico, consider just this one fact: 25% of the Union Army were immigrants. At that time, if you were here and you were not born here, you were an immigrant. Simple as that. At the end of the war Union soldiers were granted a free homestead of 180 acres in remote places like Minnesota and Dakota Territory. It solved two problems at once: what to do with thousands of men seeking work, and how to populate a continent.

*All translations are mine, mew.

Note: This book is not yet available in English translation, but the valuable appendix is easily accessible with a minimal knowledge of French. An earlier work by Professor Lamarre, The French Canadians of Michigan: Their Contribution to the Development of the Saginaw Valley and the Keweenaw Peninsula, 1840-1914 is available in English from Wayne State University Press.

Mary Ellen Weller is retired instructor of French at Mesabi Range Community and Technical College, Virginia MN.  maryellenwellerATaolDOTcom