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Meeting My Ancestors in New France

[This is an excerpt from Here to Stay an account of the lives of my seventeenth-century ancestors. Everything in the book is factual or a reasonable surmise (and referenced as such).]

This book could have begun in 1604 with Louis Hébert, my very first ancestor in North America, but I chose to begin with people who bore names that I have known all my life—my father’s and my mother’s patronyms. It begins therefore in 1662—eleven rather than thirteen generations ago—when Barthélémy Verreault arrives. When Marthe Quittel, his soon-to-be wife sails into Québec harbor three years later, she will become part of the story also. In 1668, we will find Louis Ledoux in Chambly, then known only as Fort Saint-Louis. We will happen upon him quite by surprise on May 20 being slapped gently on the cheek by the autocratic François de Montmorency-Laval, as the pugnacious bishop of Québec confirms sixty-six men whose names are duly recorded on a role—Louis’ is sixteenth on that list. Unfortunately, he will never reveal to us when he came to New France nor just what he is doing there in Chambly. Louis’s wife, Marie Valiquet, is more easy on us: her birth in the palissaded village of Montréal is documented. She is a Canadienne, a new breed of French.

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