Les Franco Américains au 19e et au 20e siècle: témoignages (deuxième partie)

Suite de Les Franco Américains au 19e et au 20e siècle: témoignages (première partie)

Dans le American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers’ Project, 1936-1940, on retrouve quelques bribes de l’histoire des Canadiens français aux États-Unis. Philipe Lemay et Steve Comeau sont parmi les personnes qui ont témoigné de leur expérience. Ces témoignages contiennent plusieurs informations sur la vie des Canadiens français avant et après leur émigration au États-Unis. On y aborde le travail dans les usines, leur vie avant d’émigrer, les raisons qui les ont incité à partir, la langue française, la vie communautaire, le catholicisme, l’éducation, etc.

William Green


William Green, French American. Lived in Canada when young, but born in Van Buren in 1883. 75 years old. Lives with his wife and married son, Adam, who is their only child. The couple did adopt a child named Florence about forty years ago. Florence, who was about four  old when she was [adopted?], was one of about ten children who had been brought to the church from some orphan asylum. The custom of bringing orphan children hare ( and to other parishes as well, I suppose) was followed for several years. Married persons whom the parish priest thought would make satisfactory foster parents were allowed to adopt one of the children. Florence, although she wasn’t French, was brought up a Catholic and spoke French. She attended the convent school. She worked in a local dry goods store when she was about sixteen. She was very good looking and a very good [girl?]. Every one, including Mr. and Mrs. Green, thought she was an orphan, but when she was eighteen her bona fide parents turned up with proofs of their clams. The Greens didn’t like to give her up but the choice was finally put up to Florence and she reluctantly choose her actual [parents?], and returned to Massachusetts with them. Mrs. Green cried when she left.

Suite du témoignage ici. Si ce lien ne fonctionne pas, cliquez ici et entrez « William Green ».

Ovide Morin

Habite Old Town, Maine


Ovide Morin, Sr. 224 Bosworth Street, Old Town, Maine. (Bosworth Street is on Treat and Webster Island, popularly known as « French Island » because the population is almost exclusively French.) Mr. Morin, a French Canadian, was born in St. Epphane, (pronounced Saint F and A) Quebec, in 1862. He is 76 years old, has a wife and eight children – all boys except two, and all married except two of the boys. Three of the boys operate the O. G. Morin wholesale and retail fruit business. They deal in fruit, candy, ice cream, cigars, etc., and own much real estate in Old Town including the brick block which houses their business, and doctor’s offices on the floor above. They make a high quality ice cream. Mr. Morin came to Old Town in 1881 when he was nineteen years old, and has lived here ever since. Had very little schooling, but reads French and speaks English with a noticeable accent. Vocabulary is not extensive. Is very intelligent. Has worked on the river, in sawmills, and as a carpenter and a brick and stone mason. Catholic. Lives next to his married son, Ovide, Jr. Both houses are good. Mr. Morin’s house is very clean inside and is tastefully and expensively furnished. He is about 5 feet 6 inches tall, tanned, of wiry build. Hair is thick and iron gray, and his brown eyes are bright and alert. Appears to be in the fifties rather than in the seventies. Has a wide mouth that seems to be a characteristic of this branch of the Morin family.

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Alphonse Martin

Woodsman (draveur?)


« Yes sair, I work on de boom mebbe tree or five summer. Gene Mann was de boss dere. When I go up dere for job Gene say to me, ‘Can you stan’ on de log, [my?] frien’?’ ‘Yes sair,’ I tole him, ‘if she’s tie on bot’ hends.’ Gene laf at dat an’ he say, ‘Hokay, my frien’, I guess we can use you. Go down on de stream where de watair ain’t so deep, an’ tell Tobey – dat’s his boy – I sent you dere.’ I go down dere an’ Tobey he puts me on de las’ joint of de firs’ beat, an’ he say, ‘You go on dere. Dose hemlock doan run so fas’ today. Doan you raf’ anyting but de diamond rabbit track.’ Tobey he show me how to raf’ de log, an’ bimeby I can do him jus’ as well as hanybody helse. You grab delog wit’ de pickpole an’ pull him over, an’ den you wind de rope aroun’ de toe an’ pull him tight. Den you put on de wedge an’ drive him in wit’ de mallet. If dat rope ain’t tight enough you wind him aroun’ de mallet an’ pull on dat an’ dat make de rope tighter. Dose log, you honderstan’, haf to be raf’ tight. If dey ain’t de log she’s turn over an you can’t see de mark. One day I was set on de bank for smoke de pipe when de hemlock doan run so fas’ an Jo Cote – he was de checker on dat [boat?] – he holler, ‘Hey Alphonse, sleep on de night time. Come out here an’ catch dese log. What you expec’ for me to go over an raf’ dose hemlook for you.’ He was make joke, you honderstan[;?] I tell [you?] dough, mister man, when Jo Cote get mad you better look out. Dat man he’s fight on de ring sometime an’ he’s know what she’s all about.

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Mike Pelletier

Ouvrier d’usine, né à Old Town, Maine, en 1873. Son père est natif de Saint-Hébert, Québec. Aperçu du travail dans un moulin à scie et des épidémies de l’époque.


His father was born in St. Herbert, Quebec. The latter came to Old Town in 1865. Mike has a wife and 13 children; 8 boys and 5 girls. The girls are all married. The youngest boy, who works in a CCC camp, in the only one of the children not married. Albert worked as a weaver in the woolen mill for a long time. When that shut down he obtained work as a spare hand in the mill where his father works. One boy works in a filling station in Berlin, N.H. One works in a filter plant in Pittsburg, Pa. Another works in a plant that makes varnish out in some mid-western state. One, I think he said, was a mail clerk in Pittsfield, Mass. Mike has lived in Old Town all his life and on the same street. Mike started in at the public school at the age of 5 in 1878, and transferred to the convent school in 1885. Finished his school education two years later in 1887. Thus he went to school 9 years and stopped just short of the high school. He is, however, a very well read man, and could pass for a well educated person. Mr. Pelletier worked on the boom for one reason after he finished school in 1837[?] and that fall when the boom closed he went to work in the Great Works pulp mill where he has worked ever since. Mike is a Catholic. He is about 5 feet 10 inches tall and probably weighs 185 pounds, has good teeth, thick gray hair parted on one side, and is one of those fortunate men who never lose the enthusiasms of youth. He is a very interesting talker, is 66 years old, but looks to be 50 and acts as though he were 30. Both he and his wife look as though they get a lot of honest enjoyment out of living. Mike is the kind of man you would call by his first name (Mike).

Texte complet ici . D’autres texte si vous cliquez ici et entrez « Mike Pelletier ».

Dave Morin

On y discute entre autre de la langue française. Extrait

Dave is of French Canadian ancestry having been born in Quebec in 1870. He came to Old Town in 1882 with his parents and brothers and sisters. There were twenty five in the family. Has a wife and six children, three of whom are boys, and three girls. One of the boys works as a drug clerk in a local drug store. once sells life insurance. Two of the girls are married. He went to Salem, Massachuset [s?], in 1883 and remained there two years. While there he worked in a textile mill and attended night school. Returning to Old Town he worked in a box mill for twenty years, and then took over the management of a pool and billiard hall where candy, soft drinks, cigars, and fruit were sold. He became very ill with diabetes several years ago and was forced to retire. He looks to be in excellent health now and much younger than his sixty eight years. Is a very good checker player and used to play pool and billiards very well. Attends the Catholic Church and is interested in local politics, and world [affairs?]. Chief interest seems to be in his home and [children?]. Is about 5 feet 8 inches tall and dark complexioned. Has deep set eyes and prominent chin, and if his thick, iron gray hair were shaved off, he would look not unlike Signor Mussolini. Like most of the Morins, he was always well liked. The store belonged to his brothers Frank and Lawrence. The Morins are all very pleasant people to meet — perhaps that is why they have done so well in business.

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Billets reliés

Les Franco Américains au 19e et au 20e siècle: témoignages (première partie)
Quelques livres numérisés sur les Franco-Américains (1872-1920)
Patrimoine religieux: les images pieuses
Les archives franco-américaines

Les Franco-Américains au 19e et au 20e siècle: témoignages (première partie)

Dans le American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers’ Project, 1936-1940, on retrouve quelques bribes de l’histoire des Franco-Américains aux États-Unis. Philipe Lemay et Steve Comeau sont parmi les personnes qui ont témoigné de leur expérience. Ces témoignages contiennent plusieurs informations sur la vie des Canadiens français avant et après leur émigration au États-Unis. On y aborde le travail dans les usines, leur vie avant d’émigrer, les raisons qui les ont incité à partir, les relations difficiles avec les Irlandais (dont Jean-Baptiste Blanchette a été la victime en 1880), la vie communautaire, le catholicisme, l’éducation, etc.


Philippe Lemay
Philippe Lemay a émigré aux États-Unis en 1864 avec sa famille. Ils habitaient à  Saint-Ephrem d’Upton. Philippe Lemay a  à Lowell puis à Manchester.


French Canadians from the province of Quebec have worked in the mills of Manchester for a long, long time. There was one as far back as 1833, and for more than 50 years they kept on coming until now we are 35,000 strong, 40% of the entire population of the city. Ours is said to be the largest single nationality group.
I am going to tell you as well as I can the story of the French Canadian textile worker; what brought him here; how he came, lived, worked, played and suffered until he was recognized as a patriotic, useful and respected citizen, no longer a ‘frog’ and ‘pea soup eater,’ a despised Canuck. And it’s the story of all the French Canadians who settled in New England mill towns. The picture of one French Canadian textile worker and the picture of another are just as much alike as deux gouttes d’eau, or, as we have learned to say in English, like two peas in a pod.

Pour lire la suite, cliquez ici. Si ce lien ne fonctionne pas, lien numéro 2 et tapez  »Philippe Lemay »

Steve Comeau
Steve Comeau est né à South River, Nouveau Brunswick, en 1876. Ses parents ont plus tard déménagé à Kouchidouduac, Nouveau-Brunswick. Il a émigré au Maine en 1896. Il a habité Greenville et Waterville.

A study of French Canadians in the eastern part of Maine, at least, can not be regarded in the same light as a study of an alien racial group that has occupied a part of a territory largely inhabited by Americans, or dominated by groups of other nationalities. I don’t think that the French in Canada regard eastern Maine exactly as they would foreign soil. There are a number of reasons why this should be so. Many of the early explorers who sailed from the old world and travelled through this region, and many of the early pioneers who settled here were French. This section once formed a part of the province of Acadia, and for long periods it was owned and controlled by Frenchmen. French Jesuits played a prominent part in the early religious life of the inhabitants, and in many communities scarcely any language but French was spoken. Even today same villages are predominantly French, and French Canadians and French Americans form a varying proportion of the population of every town.
In those early times there were many French in Canada, but there were also many in eastern Maine. Part of the time there was no boundary line between the two lands. The French here « grew up with the land. » They fought in the Revolutionary War and in the War of 1812. Maine first belonged to the Indians, and when America established its independence, the French in Maine did not feel as thought they belonged to an alien race.

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Alex Lavoie

Il a habité Old Town. Extrait

It’s too bad old Zeb (an uncle of his) isn’t alive. He knew a lot about this stuff. (magic, ghosts, superstitions) I remember a story they used to tell about a time when there was an epidemic of black cholera over on the island (French Island). There was an old covered wooden bridge that ran across the river at that time, and guards bad been stationed at this end of the bridge to prevent any one from crossing in either direction.

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Vital Martin

La transcription complète rend bien l’accent de monsieur Martin. Extrait

Worked on the farm and in the woods in Canada. Went to Lille when he was 17 years old in 1898. Worked there 15 years mostly as a carpenter but sometimes in the woods. Moved to Old Town in 1913 and has remained here ever since. Went to school only two years in Canada between the ages 6 and 8. The small house in which he lives and the large corner lot on which it stands belong to the church. He is janiotr of the church. He takes care of the fires in the convent school, the sisters’ house, the church, and the priest’s home; shovels paths and keeps ice off the roofs. Mows lawns and does other work about the church property in the summer time. The job keeps him pretty busy. Is a very fast and eifficient worker. Good carpenter. Has never worked in a factory. Interested in local politics and local affairs. Is a Catholic. A little above medium height, slim, and dark. Has good teeth and a scar on his left eyebrow. Talks with a pronounced French accent in spite of his years in Maine. Smokes cigars.

Pour lire le texte complet, cliquez ici. Si ce lien ne fonctionne pas, cliquez ici et tapez  »Vital Martin ».

La suite de ce billet se trouve ici (cliquez).

Billets reliés
Contre vents et marées L’histoire des francophones de Terre-Neuve et du Labrador

Journaux francophones en ligne hors-Québec 19/20e siècle Canada/États-Unis

Photographies anciennes des francophones de Old Town, Maine

Ann Wiley, bourreau (1775, Détroit)

Cartes anciennes: des trésors sur le web

Photographies anciennes des francophones de Old Town, Maine

L’association franco-américaine Nos histoires de l’île vise à conserver et à promouvoir le patrimoine et l’histoire de Treat-Webster Island (aussi appelée French Island). French Island fait maintenant partie de la ville de Old Town, Maine.

En 1860, on comptait 323 Canadiens français dans cette ville, 852 en 1880 et 3000 en 1900. (Réf. Yves Roby, 2000, p. 33) Pour en savoir plus sur l’histoire de Old Town, cliquez ici (choisissez l’onglet History, textes en anglais).

Le site qui suit a été créé dans le cadre de la publication en 1999 d’un livre sur l’histoire de cette communauté, livre intitulé Nos histoire de l’île. L’exposition virtuelle Nos histoires de l’île / Our stories of the Island présente une collection de photographies amassées dans le cadre de ce projet. Les plus anciennes photographies remontent à 1880. Dans la mesure du possible, chaque personne apparaissant sur les photographies a été identifiée. On peut faire une recherche par nom ou par lieu. Vous y trouverez des Labree, Lacadie, Lagasse, Landry, Chouinard, Cote, Veilleux, etc… Un beau voyage dans le passé.

Adresse: http://www.old-town.me.us/nos/default.htm

Il y a d’autres photos anciennes de Old Town sur le site de Maine Memory Network: cliquez ici.

Billets reliés:

Université Harvard: Quelques documents sur les Canadiens français aux État-Unis

Les Canadiens français de Lowell, Massachusetts

Les archives franco-américaines

Le Maine Memory Network: la mémoire des francophones du Maine