Quebec City, founded in 1608, was the first permanent French settlement in North America.More than two-and-a-half centuries of history, high in color and drama, separate the establishment of the earliest French trading posts along the St. Lawrence River and, to the east, in Acadia, and the first great wave of the French~Canadian emigration to New England.
In 1759 a battle lasting a mere twenty minutes on the Plains of Abraham, before the walls of Quebec City, sealed the fate of New France. Although the British would, eventually, predominate in Canada, the French inhabitants of Quebec and certain other areas of that country would succeed in maintaining their language, traditions, and separate nationality. This historic struggle is indelibly engraved on the French~Canadian mind and explains, in a large measure, the extraordinary persistence of certain cultural traits among Franco~Americans, even after several generations.
"Another factor that contributed to this remarkable survival was the French~Canadian immigrants' sentimental conception of their ancestral way of life, for many it was a deep attachment, and their frequent return trips to their native villages to keep in close touch with relatives and revive old memories. Their descendants, too, kept such feelings alive with repeated visits." ~ Gerard J. Brault
In recent years, many French~Canadians and Franco~Americans have taken an interest in their French ancestors and, thanks to vastly enhanced travel opportunities, have been able to visit France and experience French life and culture. With the advancement of technology and the internet, they have also begun to learn more about their forebears who lived during the early years of the colony. Their ancestors are no longer remote and vague participants in a kind of costume drama: with the help of the internet genealogists and family historians, and of living museums in historic areas of French Canada, their forbears have become real people, their own flesh and blood, relatives with everyday concerns. One such voyage of discovery, Gerard J. Brault's own, will be discussed later.
Until recently, most French~Canadians and Franco~Americans conceived of their roots in terms of their immediate past, the kind of people their parents and grandparents were, and how they lived not so long ago in rural Canada.
1. The french-Canadian Heritage In New England by Gerard J. Brault
2.Images- Edmond J. Massicotte, Nos Canadiens d'auttrefois: 12 grandes compositions (Montreal: Granger Fre`eres, 1923.
3. Guide officiel des Franco-Americains 1931(Auburn Rhode Island: Albert Belanger, 1931)
4. Gerard J. Brault, "Etat pr`esent des e'tudes sur les centres franco-ame'ricains de la Nouvelle-Angleterre (Quebec City: Hardy, 1891) referring to Vicero.