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Archive | Franco-American Stories

In this archive category, you will find a significant collection of Franco-American stories. These posts are of interest to Americans of francophone Canadian descent and to their friends and allies.

Most of the stories below present a slice of Franco-American life in the middle of the twentieth century. They were written by men and women who wished to preserve the story of their lives, and in so doing, the authors also preserved a record of their ethnic group that once comprised one-fifth of the population of New England.

A legacy one generation is leaving to another

These accounts record often overlooked details of this significant  ethnic group in American life. (Quick: who launched the credit union movement in the US? If you said Franco-Americans you are right!] These Franco-American stories contain much information thought to be too marginal and so too frequently lost to students of history.

A basic function of memoir is to give witness to a time and a way of life gone by. This category, Franco-American stories, succeeds admirably at this task for both a time and a group.

In addition, some of the posts cover the history of early Canada in the days before the Conquest. These cover a time when New France covered most of North America, when North America might rightly have been called New France.

Send us your Franco-American stories.

If you have a Franco-American story, please consider sending it in for our consideration for these pages. [We have no interest in stories about the Continental French (les Français de France) or francophone Africans unless they highlight an interaction with Franco-Americans. We are not interested in stories about  anglophone Canadians.]

For submission details, click here.

publishing independently

My first publication story: publishing independently

Let me share the independent publication story of my first book, What Became of Them. It is a collection of short stories that I had written over a number of years in the 1980s. In 1987, I decided it was time to send the collection out into the world, but I was not ready yet to do publishing independently.I learn to support myself in the creative life.

Taking stock of myself, I knew I had no need to be approved by someone, to have my writing found to be worthy.  I know many writers want to have a “real book,” and by this, they probably mean they want their book to be canonized by someone—the larger the reputation and the more famous, the better.

This sort of approval was not important to me. I was looking for a way to reach my audience which I  knew both existed and would want my book.

I also wanted to earn some income from my writing. I understood that my income would come both from sales of the book and from speaking and teaching from the podium my book would allow me to step up on.

Where to send my manuscript?

I gleaned names and addresses I researched in the library and bookstore. After selecting a few of the more promising—they championed topics which I thought would attract my audience and encompassed a territory where my audience lived.

I sent the book out—and then I waited and waited.

I totally understood how a book has to fit into a publisher’s catalog. (A fruit distributor doesn’t, after all, take on a chicken farmer as a client!) A new book must support the company’s mission and complement books that have already been successful.

In addition, a book must promise to earn the company some income (preferably a large one) from its audience.

A losing proposition

[Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]

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The Pacific Theater

Crossing the Pacific to Reach the World War 2 Theater

This excerpt is from Business Boy to Business Man the memoir of Robert Verreault as told to Denis Ledoux. The memoir was published in 2013.

The military would never tell servicemen where we were going during World War 2, but it was a fairly easy bet that we were headed for Hawaii as a first leg to the Japanese front. The night before we were to board our ship, I had supper in San Francisco with the girlfriend of one of my friends. It would be the last time in a long while that I would have a home-cooked meal.

In the morning, my buddy and I headed out to the Mare Island Naval Shipyard where the ship we were to head out on had undergone some repairs. Like many other ships used by the Americans, this one was a foreign ship that had been more or less stranded far from its homeland and was now helping in the anti-Axis war effort. We were to board it at the yard and begin our trip from there. We reported in and then, hoisting our duffle bags onto our shoulders, took our place to board. There was a long line of men, thousands of men. The line moved slowly, the duffle bags grew heavy. It seemed that when finally we put them down to rest, the line moved again and we’d lug the bags once more. Eventually, we reached a narrow gangplank and walked up it to the ship’s deck. [Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]

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Marriage in New France: Barthélémi and Marthe Wed

As was the custom in the colony, the wedding was set for a date soon after the contract signing. These were exceptional times. Winter was just three months away, and if Barthélémi and Marthe were to survive the long, cold months at the new farm in Chateau-Richer, there was much to be done. Until she […]

My mother's book has found its audience.

My Mother Passes

On this blog, I have frequently offered excerpts of my mother’s memoir, We Were Not Spoiled. It has been such a satisfaction for me to have written her story and to have been able to hand her a copy. One day, after I had presented her with the hard copy of We Were Not Spoiled, […]

Ledoux Wedding, September 4, 1944

Our World War 2 Wedding in Maine

We Prepare for Our World War 2 Wedding

On Saturday evening, Mr. and Mrs. Ledoux threw us a pre-nuptial party at their home. I had known them for a long time already so they were not strangers to me. Our friends and relatives dropped by to wish us well. Mrs. Ledoux had prepared finger foods and served soft drinks and beer. I supposed Rhéa [Lavigne, Albert’s sister] had helped her.

Sunday called for all the food to be ready as well as for my suitcase to be packed and ready for our trip to Syracuse, NY, the next day after the wedding ceremony because Albert would have to report to base Monday night. That trip would be the only honeymoon we would have because we were having a World War 2 wedding! [Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]

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marching drill teams were popular in Franco-American New England

I Join a Marching Drill Team

In Franco-American New England, marching drill teams were popular. These teams were made up of girls who played instruments and marched in formation. Rhéa Ledoux was a team captain and she got to march in front of the other girls. The various drill teams would prepare elaborate sequences which they performed in parades—often in competition […]

My mother's book has found its audience.

My Father Loved to Tell a Story

My father loved to tell a story. He would sit three or four of us on his lap and ask us what kind of story we wanted to hear. “Perhaps un petit rien tout nu (a little naked nothing)?” he’d suggest. Not knowing what that was, we would nod our heads eagerly. “Do you want […]

Point of View in a Memoir

My First Morning Away

The is an excerpt from a yet-unnamed memoir of my high school years spent in a seminary continues to chronicle my first days there. The school is in Bucksport Maine, and the year is 1960. In this vignette, I write about my first morning. The memoir is in progress.

At 5:45, it was still dark outside, night really. Except for an occasional mumble, the regular breathing of boys in deep sleep was the only noise punctuating the quiet of the dormitory. Perhaps we were all back home in our dreams, with our families once again.

Suddenly—Brrr!

The “bell”— an electric ringer really,  resounded loud and insistent in the silence.

Laus tibi, Christe,” shouted the head Fourth-Form admonitor from his bed in the center of the dorm.
Only from the deep-voices of the other two admonitors at the opposite ends of the room was there an answering “Deo gratias!”<!–more–> [Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]

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House where Marie Bilodeau was born Bilodeau

Marie Bilodeau’s story

My grandmother Marie Bilodeau Ledoux would have been 130 years old today. She was born in St-Narcisse-de-Lotbinière, Québec, on May 15, 1884. The following is excerpted from a booklet I wrote about my mémère some fifteen years ago and gave a s a Christmas gift to my extended family.

A gift for you...
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