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From 1840 to the Great Depression, approximately 900,000 French Canadians left their homes along the St. Lawrence River in hopes of bettering their lives on American soil. (1) Initially, the stream of migrants was small and seasonal, with most working as farm laborers, loggers, and rail workers. In the three decades that followed the U.S. Civil War, the exodus reached deluge proportions as the lure of steady income from mill work in Boston's industrial hinterland proved irresistible. Albert Faucher described this mass exodus from Quebec as "the landmark event of nineteenth-century French-Canadian history." (2) More recently, J. I. Little characterized it as "[t]he most traumatic development of the latter half of the nineteenth century, in the eyes of Quebec's lay and clerical leaders." (3) This migratory movement informed Canadian trade policy, discussions of national economic development, and the campaign for domestic colonization. It fueled the litterature du terroir, a genre that celebrated the traditional agrarian lifestyle, Catholic values, and French customs of the old parishes in the St. Lawrence River valley. Few observers were willing to state, as one political figure allegedly exclaimed in Parliament, that only the rabble was leaving, and that Canada was the better for the exodus. (4)

Contemporary responses to this "demographic hemorrhage" were, to be sure, inconsistent. Scholars of Franco-American history have argued that prevailing views in Quebec about emigration flipped around 1880. Previously, elites had seen emigrants as either lazy or avaricious, seeking in a foreign land the luxuries they could not afford in Canada. They worried that, living under the "Great Republic," emigre Canadiens would inevitably lose their faith, language, and customs. According to the conventional narrative, this changed after 1880, when leading prelates and government figures in Quebec ceased portraying French Canadians abroad as a dissolute rabble or as traitors. Unable to hold back the demographic tide, they began to view the expatriates as providentially destined to expand the homeland. Indeed, certain elites saw the will of God at work in the migration: French Canada was fulfilling a religious and national mission. This position, a kind of hopeful fatalism, collapsed in the early twentieth century as a result of sustained efforts to assimilate francophones in the United States and in response to assaults on minority rights in other Canadian provinces. On the strength of constitutional guarantees and a clear French and Catholic majority, Quebec was thus restored as the bastion of French-Canadian life and values in North America. (5)

The ideology of providential expansion did gain currency in the 1880s, but there is reason to reconsider its alleged pervasiveness. Its ascendency was never fully secured, as policymakers in Quebec continued to battle depopulation through the end of the century. The twin projects of repatriation and colonization survived failures in the 1870s, as we see in the remarkable influence exerted by the cure Antoine Labelle into the 1880s. Labelle was an "apostle" of domestic colonization--the development of the province's uncultivated areas to retain or repatriate French-Canadian families--and he was not alone. The press devoted constant attention to emigration as an existential problem and support for colonization spanned the party spectrum. Even those with friendly ties to Franco-American communities saw French Canadians' destiny as inextricably linked to the ancestral homeland stretching along the St. Lawrence. Providence, it seemed, was more inscrutable than certain proponents of extra-provincial expansion made it seem. (6)

Perceptions of French Canadians' geographical destiny matter not merely on account of the scale of emigration. They hold an important place in a greater arc of national self-definition. The sustained opposition of Quebec's elites to emigration was practical and self-interested. In the process of articulating their hopes and fears for the imagined French-Canadian nation, however, they also developed an ideological vision that identified Quebec as the only true homeland of French Canadians. Rather than offering organizational, financial, or even moral support to those outside of the province, political and religious leaders emphasized constitutional guarantees which Quebec enjoyed under the British North America Act of 1867. They saw in the government of the province the exclusive vehicle of their national aspirations. By reconsidering dominant views of the diaspora, scholars also stand to question and historicize the growth of a neo-nationalism often associated with the post-World War II era. Indeed, nineteenth-century repatriation and colonization movements already signaled a turn from traditional French-Canadian nationalism to a "modern" Quebec nationalism whereby the government took direct responsibility for the cultural, economic, and moral fate of the nation. That view still prevails more than a century later. (7)

The conventional narrative centering on elites' tentative support for emigration after 1880 results from misinterpretations of efforts to expand the Roman Catholic faith, which might occur in Quebec as well as in the United States. For instance, and as we will see below, the views of the editor Jules-Paul Tardivel have often been misread. (8) There has also been a tendency to read texts on providential expansion abroad selectively. Priests, politicians, and members of the press who grudgingly allowed that Franco-Americans were fulfilling a religious and national mission also generally deplored emigration to the United States and sought to halt it. Such is the case of French author Francois-Edme Rameau de Saint-Pere, who in 1859 and 1860 offered the clearest expressions of French-Canadian providentialism. (9) Finally, scholars have overstated the influence of a half-dozen figures who followed Rameau and who saw a religious purpose in spatial expansion: Louis DeGoesbriand, the bishop of Burlington, Vermont; Franco-American orator and civil leader Charles Thibault; Quebec premiers Joseph-Adolphe Chapleau and Honore Merrier; Father Edouard Hamon; and writer Edmond de Nevers. Though these were major figures, they did not alter the landscape of policymaking and national self-definition then cohering in Quebec. (10)

French-Canadian conceptions of religious and national geography permitted seemingly contradictory approaches to emigration. Focus on the Catholic parish as a necessary condition of French-Canadian identity opened varied interpretations of national destiny. Across such debates, resistance to emigration never faded. Even when conceding that the French parish could survive in American cities, the likes of Labelle and Tardivel warned of the inevitably corrupting influences of materialism and Protestantism; they found in agriculture the providential vocation of the French-Canadian people. More pragmatic leaders expressed concern about depopulation from the standpoint of influence within the Canadian federation. Indeed, public discourse on both sides of the international border in the late nineteenth century reveals that the ideology of providential expansion was highly contested, thus opening an important moment in the evolution of traditional Quebec nationalism. (11)


The European population that entered the British empire with the fall of New France, in 1760, was overwhelmingly French (in language and customs) and Catholic. Such were the markers of the settlers' identity that set them apart from British officials and merchants, "Old Subjects," and, later, Loyalists. Until the wave of immigration unleashed by Ireland's Great Famine, a Catholic identity entailed French lineage; well into the twentieth century, elites saw Catholicism as the natural religious condition of French Canadians. The priests and bishops encouraged this association of faith with nationality. After 1840, when Lower Canada was merged with the predominantly English-speaking and Protestant Upper Canada, Catholic leaders imagined themselves to be the guardians of nationality. Should French Canadians lose their language and customs, religious perdition would surely follow. (12)

This double identity was well entrenched by the time of Confederation, in 1867, due in large part to the role played by the Church in public education. The British North America Act joined Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec, and Ontario under a common federal government. This constitutional arrangement enabled Quebec's legislative assembly to protect the cultural concerns of the province's French and Catholic majority, especially in education, which became an area of provincial responsibility. In 1869, Quebec's school system became explicitly denominational and, the next year, the journalist Oscan Dunn explained in Pourquoi nous sommes francais that "it is the glory of the clergy in this country that it has identified religion with our national interests." (13) In the early 1880s, a member of Parliament suggested to Franco-Americans that the Catholic priest "had come into the valley to fight with us the fights of our faith and homeland." (14) A clergyman soon added, in language common to friends and foes of emigration, "[a]ll that contributes to the expansion of our homeland and the development of our race is to the advantage and honor of our religion." (15) As Franco-American leaders would often reiterate, God had given the apostles the gift of tongues to evangelize according to local languages and customs. The Church did not ignore nationality, but rather nourished it. This was hardly a stretch of logic or historical interpretation in a century of national awakenings, during which French Canada found ample inspiration in Europe. (16)

The identification of faith with nationality was aided by historical narratives. Leading opinionmakers argued that France, often presented as the eldest "daughter" of the Church, had passed on its special evangelizing mission to Canada by sending Catholic pioneers and missionaries to the New World. Although the British conquest might seem to undercut a tale of providential mission, the war had enabled the Canadiens to prove their valor and spared them the ravages and "errors" of the French Revolution. The Canadians had found freedom under the British regime, and they had preserved their distinctive institutions. They now thrived and might yet fulfill a larger mission. A centuries-old expression captured the meeting of Church and nation: Gesta Dei per Francos, God's will through French deeds. (17)

By virtue of this narrative, the Catholic parish served as a special, doubly sacred space. Mason Wade characterized the parish as "the basic social unit of French Canada, religiously, scholastically, and municipally," but even this characterization fails to convey its broader significance. The parish was the very embodiment of French Canada and where it was successfully implanted, so was the nation. Indeed, it was the site where both church and nation happened, conceptually and ritualistically. Where it thrived, providence followed. This vision fed on and into the sense of siege that accompanied French Canadians as they navigated assimilatory forces. Charles Dauray, the long-time pastor of an ethnic parish in Woonsocket, Rhode Island, made this plain in an analogy to French Canadians' predominantly agricultural lifestyle. (18) "We must raise protective walls to prevent the planting of bad seeds," he told a Montreal audience in 1884. "We must build fortresses to protect [the emigrant] from invaders; we must raise dikes to halt the overflowing tide of impiety that threatens to submerge him." Central to those efforts, Dauray explained, were the parish church and the parish school. (19)

The existential significance attributed to the French-Canadian parish helps to elucidate early perceptions of emigration to the U.S. Northeast. The first "national" parish in the United States appeared in Burlington, Vermont, in 1850. There, the expatriates would find a pastor capable of preaching and hearing confessions in their own language, thereby sanctifying their customs and cultural aspirations. In fact, many Catholic priests would accept formal duties in local societes Saint-Jean-Baptiste--another vehicle for the French Catholic identity--in the United States. But even as sustained emigration from Quebec led to the proliferation of such national parishes abroad in the late 1860s and early 1870s, elites maintained doubts about the ability of diasporic French Canadians to sustain their distinctive traits and thus the seed of their providential mission. (20)

Those doubts were justified in several respects. In Quebec, the idealized parish community was rural. It was tightly controlled, culturally homogenous, and closed to the "corruption" of outside influences. In the countryside, priests were able to build high walls to protect their flock. The rural parish also provided spiritual care to French Canadians in their (perceived) natural vocation, agriculture. (21) When transplanted to the northeastern United States, the parish might well struggle in vain against the forces of Protestantism and materialism, and the exiled might sink into dissolution. The English-speaking environment and the process of linguistic acculturation would accelerate the process. Ethnic controversies stemming from resistance to the rule of Irish Catholic bishops, often seen as the prime architects of assimilation, only added to the misgivings of Quebec clergy. (22) But there was more to the issue. If a nation had an essence and a providential destiny, then to mingle with other "races" would be especially perilous. Nations were understood to be mutually exclusive, a notion that helped fuel the language of racial competition that was so prevalent in the late nineteenth century. The fate of French Canadians--and their culture--abroad was thus always tied to their numerical presence, their fertility rate, and their ability to crowd out other racial groups. (23)

Because the Canadians' religious and national mission was profoundly connected to a spatial sense of self and to their numbers, domestic colonization was prized as a remedy and safe alternative to emigration. Appointed in 1849, the first public committee to study the problem of emigration was most attentive to the development of Canada's forested hinterlands--a proper demographic safety valve that would provide much-needed employment to young men. (24) For decades to come, amid recurrent reversals, colonization would be the prime weapon in elites' response to the exodus. In 1875, the provincial assembly passed a bill to promote repatriation and the formation of new "colonies" on Canadian soil. The bill was a failure--its few successes owed more to the coinciding economic depression (1873-1879)--and the steady stream of migrants on southbound trains resumed at the end of the 1870s, when prosperity returned to American manufacturing. (25) But those opposed to emigration were not willing to declare that the expatriates were fulfilling a divinely sanctioned and quasi-imperial vision, through their numbers, in the United States. Repatriation and colonization schemes continued to animate public policy debates in the last two decades of the century. (26)


Historians who situate the ascendency of an expansionist ideology in the late nineteenth century have abundant evidence from which to draw. Most of it comes from Franco-American rather than Quebec figures, however. The proliferation in the early 1880s of national parishes and local unions and societes in the United States suggested remarkable dedication to religious and national ideals. Franco-American conventions testified to a strong group consciousness, as did the powerful, cohesive response to an 1881 report of the Massachusetts Bureau of the Statistics of Labor, which deemed them "the Chinese of the Eastern States." With some difficulty, Quebec bishops sent native-born priests to serve the emigrants, and clerical leaders from the home province did visit New England. Ferdinand Gagnon was emblematic of the moment; Gagnon led the Massachusetts movement and was identified by member of Parliament Joseph Tasse as "the true leader of the Canadian emigrants." At the dawn of the 1880s, Gagnon abandoned his work for repatriation and took up the cause of U.S. naturalization. It appeared that the exiled could be loyal American citizens while remaining faithful to their ancestral faith and culture. (27) Similarly, Bishop Antoine Racine of Sherbrooke pleaded for the recognition of minority cultures within the U.S. Catholic Church.

But there was never a consensus in Quebec. Resistance to emigration resulted partly from the high hurdle of mental realizations identified by Yves Roby:
Quebecers had to accept the fact that those who had left would not
return, indeed, that they would fight tooth and nail against any
attempt to repatriate them; next, they would have to realize that
emigrants remained true to themselves in the midst of a foreign people,
that they had no desire to become Americanized and, finally, that it
was vital to help them. (28)

For elites, this was too much to concede, even if all three points were patent in the 1880s. Thus, instead of showcasing "national" unity, the French-Canadian convention held in Quebec City in 1880 revealed diverging views of emigration. The event was inspired by a similar event held in Montreal for the Saint-Jean-Baptiste in 1874, for which thousands of expatriates had returned--momentarily--to the province. Misunderstandings and logistical issues undercut Franco-American attendance in Quebec City. Still, prominent Franco-American Edmond Mallet addressed the convention. In a conciliatory speech, he noted the many challenges faced by emigrants and explained that French Canadians' true mission lay in Canada, though large-scale repatriation was impossible. The next speaker, Bishop Louis Lafleche of Trois-Rivieres, was less sympathetic. Emigration, he claimed, owed to personal failings: Those who left were seeking an easy life, rather than the hardy existence of a pioneer, and were giving in to immoderate desires. Joseph Tasse, in turn, underscored structural economic forces. His hopeful fatalism granted that expatriates were realizing providential designs. Should centrifugal forces tear the United States apart, as was expected of large republics, the emigrants' mission on the continent would be enlarged. He nevertheless deplored on-going emigration and argued that "the chief remedy lies unquestionably in colonization, the clearing of our unproductive lands." (29)

Far from disappearing with the new decade, these clashing impulses remained and reappeared at a similar congress held in 1884. In the presence of countless representatives from locations across the U.S. Northeast and Midwest, the tone was considerably friendlier to the emigrants. Franco-American speakers sought to counter the rhetoric of treason. By then, civil and religious leaders in Quebec had learned to speak one way in the presence of these delegates from abroad and another way in the course of political debates at home. One discourse expressed their loftiest hopes for the race; the second, their fears for the patrie. If, on account of the friendly remarks, this seemed the age of providential expansion and of its ideology, scholars must consider the narrative that prevailed in Quebec once the Franco-American delegates had returned to their U.S. homes. Indeed, among the distinguished orators at the 1884 event was the aforementioned cure Antoine Labelle, who spoke highly of colonization. Franco-American accomplishments might be quite laudable, but the emigrants were imperiling themselves and the homeland's own ability to fulfill its mission. It was Labelle and his allies who would hold the field and maintain the most influence as the convention adjourned. (30)

Political measures like those advocated by Labelle found a complement in literary developments, as journalists and other writers joined clergymen and certain political figures in building a Quebec-centered aesthetic and narrative. The ascent of a literature that was attached to agrarianism, traditional values, and the Catholic faith contributed to the intellectual climate in Quebec after 1860. A product of the ecole patriotique de Quebec, Antoine Gerin-Lajoie's Jean Rivard (1862-1864) captured its spirit and enjoyed lasting influence. It hinted at the moral and material rewards awaiting those who dared to open new settlements in Quebec. Of equal fame and appreciation was Gerin-Lajoie's song, Un Canadien Errant (1842), which told of emigrants' mournful experience abroad. In 1884, Gagnon explained that the song no longer reflected the expatriates' feelings--but it survived and, appropriately, was sung at a convention on colonization held in 1898. (31)

Editors and journalists in Quebec had remarkably numerous and meaningful relationships with the United States in this era. The ultramontane Jules-Paul Tardivel lived the first seventeen years of his life in Kentucky and Ohio. Remi Tremblay fought in the U.S. Civil War, which inspired his Un Revenant (1884), and he became an editor in Fall River, Massachusetts, before returning to Canada. Honore Beaugrand, author of Jeanne la fileuse (1878), also worked in Fall River. The poet Louis Frechette resided in Chicago for five years. Telesphore Saint-Pierre spent his youth in the Detroit-Windsor area before repatriating to Montreal. Columnist Arthur Buies saw much of the United States in his travels. But from their experiences of both Quebec and the Great Republic, these writers derived widely divergent interpretations of emigration and of potential remedies. (32)

From its inception in 1881, Tardivel's weekly newspaper La Verite staunchly supported colonization. Whereas Labelle, following Rameau de Saint-Pere, expected French Canadians to flourish in the Ottawa River valley and to move westward to Manitoba (which an unbroken chain of settlements and parishes would connect to the homeland), Tardivel was less grandiose. (33) He declared,
the general interest requires that we concentrate our strength in the
Province of Quebec, that French Canadians become a united and strong
people in this land which cannot be taken from us, that we continue
developing under the auspices of the Church and of institutions
inherited from our ancestors. That is our true destiny, that is the
goal towards which we must strive if we are to one day fulfill with
dignity the glorious mission that divine Providence seems to have
assigned us in America, a mission analogous to the one long
accomplished in Europe by France. (34)

What that mission might be, if French Canadians were not called to expand across boundaries, was not entirely clear. Yet Tardivel's view did reflect on-going contempt for the emigrants who--even leaving aside any personal failings they might have--would surely succumb to Protestantism, the foreign influences of American culture, or the errors of the American Catholic Church. Prospective emigrants should commit to the abundant resources of Quebec and remain within the existing parish system. (35)

Emigration split Liberals and Conservatives on the issue of trade policy, the former privileging free trade with the United States as a remedy and the latter favoring protectionism. Regardless of their political or religious opinion, nearly everyone sincerely lamented emigration and found in colonization a noble and patriotic cause. Tardivel shared common ground with the liberal and sometimes anticlerical columnist Arthur Buies on these issues. Rejean Beaudoin has grouped Buies with Beaugrand, Frechette, and Alphonse Lusignan as the mauvais fils of the Quebec Church, but it is telling that Buies became an intimate friend of Labelle and a steadfast supporter of the priest's colonization projects in the 1880s. He paid his respects both to his recently deceased friend and to the cause of colonization in a collection of essays published in 1891. By continuing Labelle's work, he explained, Quebeckers would fulfill the mission assigned to them by Providence and "accomplish the destiny of the French-Canadian people." (36)

Evidently, talk of a providential mission did not belong entirely to Franco-American leaders eager to gain recognition and support from counterparts back home. It was sufficiently ambiguous as to allow ultramontane conservatives and advanced liberals in Quebec to identify the religious and national aspirations of French Canadians specifically with the province. In fact, the malleability of the concept allowed tension between "spreading" and "preserving," with some authors committing uncertainly to both. It is declarations such as these that have led scholars to exaggerate the currency of an ideology of providential expansion. Thus, the ultramontane Philippe Masson wrote in 1875:
Our opportunity to spread religious truth is better than any other
race's. We constitute a people whose members are as a single body, on a
common territory; who, honored and glorified by a shared past, speak
the same language and have a common destiny. The Province of Quebec is
truly a new France, a granddaughter of the Church, governed by her
mother's laws, with institutions of its own and speaking a particular
language that bestows a distinct national character. (37)

Similarly, in an homage to Labelle in 1883, the superior of a Quebec seminary announced that "wherever the Canadian settler sets foot, he brings his faith and religious virtues; everywhere he tends to his spiritual interests; everywhere he is revealed as the heir to a race chosen to continue on this continent the providential mission of France: Gesta Dei per Francos." But the setting suggests that Father M. A. Nantel, the speaker, expected "French deeds" to resonate on Canadian soil, where national strength would be concentrated and conserved. (38)

This was a legacy of a period of legislative union between Lower Canada and Upper Canada. From 1841 to 1867, the Canadiens had lacked a distinct government with which they could clearly identify their national ambitions. Their sense of divine mission was buttressed by their statelessness. Appropriately, that providentialism survived the longest with the stateless Franco-Americans whose survivance was more dependent upon the Church. (39) While ultramontanes like Tardivel, Masson, and Nantel continued to borrow from that religious trope, it had become increasingly superfluous in Quebec. By virtue of the British North America Act, the province--with a French-Canadian and Catholic majority at its helm--had recovered a distinct existence within a larger federal union. Quebec had become "the boulevard of the rights and prerogatives of the French race in America." (40) Former minister Charles Langelier thus contrasted the constitutional situation of Quebec with the Anglo-Protestant domination awaiting French Canadians in Ontario and Manitoba. (41) By virtue of its inner contradictions, political guarantees, and the parish system that was kept intact through the care of bishops and trustees, Quebec-centered providentialism had declined in influence by the end of the century, though it was not obsolete.


In 1885, rebellion erupted on Canada's western plains. Metis people led by Louis Riel sought to resist the federal government's land policy and resolve growing economic insecurity. The North-West Rebellion found little support elsewhere in Canada, but Riel--who was taken as a prisoner to Regina, where he was tried for treason and hung--quickly became a martyr. The execution of this Catholic of French descent after a jury's appeal for clemency seemed ethnically motivated, and so added considerably to already-existing anxieties about French Canadians' future in a sea of English speakers. Eleven days after Riel's surrender to military authorities, prominent Quebec Liberals gathered to call for Canada's full independence from Britain. It may seem, then, as if Quebec Liberals like Honore Beaugrand, then mayor of Montreal, and provincial Liberal leader Honore Mercier had come to embrace a burgeoning Canadian nationalism, rather than a nationalism of French Canadian exceptionalism; but the reality was in fact more complex and, perhaps, more predictable. Through independence, French Canadians would escape a proposed imperial federation that was insensitive to their concerns. The moment thus reflected the continuing pursuit of autonomy and of distinct French-Canadian political and cultural spaces. Riel's hanging in November 1885 and the formation of Mercier's government in early 1887 cemented those twin concerns in provincial decision-making, but they also illustrated the ambiguity that underlay Canadiens' views of national destiny. (42)

Mercier's bid for the Quebec premiership was premised on French-Canadian national unity that would transcend, even erase, old party lines. Appropriately, once in office, he appeared to merge the imperatives of providential expansion and domestic colonization. Appointing himself commissioner for agriculture and colonization, Mercier took personal responsibility for developing the province's untapped resources and retaining would-be emigrants. The next year, he took the extraordinary step of naming a prelate--Labelle--as his deputy. But Mercier did not recycle the charges long lobbed at emigrants, nor did he see Franco-Americans as doomed or permanently severed from the homeland. He praised their achievements and, on his recommendation, the provincial legislature sent Liberal L.O. David and Conservative Faucher de Saint-Maurice as good will ambassadors to the Franco-American convention held in Nashua in 1888. Mercier made his own appearance of sorts at the convention. With a flair for the theatrical, he sent David a telegram while the convention was in session. It was immediately read to the attendees, and sustained applause and cheers greeted his pledge that the Quebec government would contribute $400 towards the convention's costs. (43)

The financial support reflected what Mercier believed to be Quebec's moral obligation to expatriates. Though he joined a broad consensus on the dangers of depopulation, the charismatic premier also followed a line of thought that prized unity and solidarity across political borders. This approach was evident in Joseph Tasse's 1880 statement that "we must do all in our power to help make our compatriots worthy of the noble mission that seems to await them on foreign soil." (44) This might be accomplished, Tasse thought, by sending more priests from Quebec and federating all local societes Saint-Jean-Baptiste. A similar call came several years later from Gedeon Archambault, a physician from Woonsocket, Rhode Island, who defended his fellow exiles from charges of treason, rejected repatriation as unrealistic on a mass scale, and asked Quebeckers for their compassion and their support. (45) It is in light of speeches such as these that we should understand Mercier's call for unity in a Saint-Jean-Baptiste address that coincided with the Nashua mission of David and Faucher. (46)

Mercier was unceremoniously removed from office in 1891. His efforts to reconcile colonization with support for the emigrants found few followers, even as Franco-Americans pleaded for stronger cross-border ties. Contempt declined only to a point. Thus, Father Edouard Hamon's optimistic report on Franco-American life, issued while Mercier held the reins of government, reflected not public opinion in Quebec, but a sense of possibility among Franco-Americans buoyed by their own impressive institutions. Hamon identified the French-Canadian parish as the people's "common citadel" and argued that Rome had recognized the right to ethnic churches. "Canadian centers [in the United States]," explained the prelate, "can immediately incorporate the emigrants who arrive continuously from Canada. For them, there are no possible hesitations or dangers. On the other side of the line they instantly find what they had left in Canada, a society and a church both fully Canadian." (47) Edmond de Nevers agreed several years later, but his case was more nuanced. He argued that French-Canadian national sentiment was in fact stronger in the United States. He thought that in Quebec, the secure position of Catholicism and French culture led to apathy, whereas the national struggle abroad inspired sustained efforts for survivance. For de Nevers, the emigrants had taken their homeland with them, which made Quebeckers' contempt all the worse. Still, the author joined the consensus by identifying colonization as one of three pillars of survival for the race, alongside the preservation of a pure French language and the development of Quebec's scientific, literary, and artistic potential. De Nevers would later become an official in the Department of Colonization and Mines, apparently replacing Arthur Buies as a publicist. (48)

But the re-creation of French Canada across political boundaries, or of a New France that would straddle those lines, was of little interest north of the forty-fifth parallel--no more than it would be to the secular nationalists of the postwar period. Scholars have regularly turned to Hamon as the exemplar of an ascendant ideology of providential expansion, but Hamon himself brought attention to enduring hostility to Franco-Americans in the Quebec press. (49) Newspaper editors were not alone in their contempt: A committee appointed by the legislature the next year to inquire into the problem of emigration was equally disparaging.

When Jerome-Adolphe Chicoyne, a long-time advocate of colonization, delivered his report in 1893, the bonds of solicitude suggested by Hamon and others were, if real, invisible. For the most part, Chicoyne identified concrete economic problems that the government might address. But enough of the language about emigrants' moral failings found its way into the report to feed the likes of Tardivel. (50) Several years later, when Charles Rouleau published a stinging attack on emigrants, he relied on the 1893 report to identify laziness and alcoholism as leading causes of expatriation. (51)

Despite these attacks on emigrants' morals, efforts in the 1890s to halt emigration and to promote colonization schemes were almost universally celebrated in Quebec as an important patriotic cause. In 1893, while sparing the moral character of emigrants, Telesphore Saint-Pierre returned to well-worn themes in a tract that advantageously compared economic well-being in Canada to the mirage of American prosperity. (52) During the next provincial election campaign, in 1897, instead of enthusiastically supporting the ill-starred Conservative government, La Verite dedicated many of its opinion columns to proposals for a better colonization system--a cause that had notched few successes in the prior two decades. (53)

The rhetorical significance of colonization--as a unifying, nation-building project and as a response to emigration--was never more obvious than at the Congress on Colonization held in Montreal in November 1898. Likewise its concrete limits. The event drew Quebec's most prominent figures, including the lieutenant governor, the speaker of the legislative assembly, the provincial commissioner for Colonization and Mines, the archbishop of Montreal, influential newspaper editors like Tardivel, as well as Buies. Save perhaps that it was closed to a broader public, the event had all of the patriotic fervor and personages of a Saint-Jean-Baptiste celebration. It also appeared to cement the identification of French-Canadian Catholicism with the province specifically. Archbishop Paul Bruchesi explained that religion could never be divorced from a people's homeland. Tardivel, in turn, lauded the consummated union of Church and state, a union that was reinforced by the promise of colonization and which, for French Canadians, could hardly happen outside of Quebec. Such was the logical course of religious nationalism among the Canadiens. (54)

That proponents of colonization succeeded in identifying French-Canadian nationalism specifically with Quebec's destiny should not overshadow the limits of their achievements. In an 1891 address in Boston, the federal Liberal leader, Wilfrid Laurier, admitted that he had failed to understand the causes of emigration. (55) It is telling that as late as 1893, Chicoyne recycled some of the causes and proposals that had first appeared in an 1849 report on the issue. (56) Montreal's Societe generate de colonisation et de rapatriement, which organized the 1898 congress, had been at work for over twenty-five years--a time span that coincided with the greatest migratory flow to the United States. Ultimately, that congress passed a single resolution concerning emigration, which was to ask the federal government to appoint more francophone repatriation agents. (57)

The apparent vacuity and evident failures of the colonization and repatriation movements did not owe simply to the premature death of Labelle and the absence of a worthy successor, nor did they succumb to the power of providential expansionist thought. Rather, the anti-emigration activists' focus on the personal failings of emigres prevented them from fashioning a coherent response to structural forces, and an idealization of rural parish life kept them from fully recognizing the lure of industrial work in urban settings, where the resources of church and state might have been better expended. (58)

Still, the proponents of colonization who pushed most strongly against emigration were able to maintain influence by drawing attention to assaults on French-Canadian and Catholic educational rights in New Brunswick and Manitoba, to the hostilities that led to Louis Riel's execution, and to confrontations in Danielson, Connecticut, and North Brookfield, Massachusetts. (59) Events such as these nourished a sense of siege and justified views like Tardivel's, even while colonization remained a Utopian endeavor. Quebec's political leaders were presented with a choice: They could circle the wagons and depict emigrants as lost to the nation, or they could follow Mercier in pledging support for trampled communities. Most would take the first path, thus depriving emigrants and then-descendants of means and moral support in subsequent cultural battles. They surrendered what some understood as an obligation to emigrants based on a shared identity. It is indeed a testament to the weakness of providential expansionist thought that so little was done by Quebec leaders in response to each of the above controversies. (60)

When Quebec leaders lent grudging support to providential expansion, it was typically before Franco-American audiences. Though they would lament emigration, they also spoke on the expatriates' own terms and encouraged survivance efforts. So it was with L.O. David and Faucher de Saint-Maurice in 1888, and with others through the next decade. They recognized the community-building efforts of Franco-Americans and their struggles against American nativism and supposedly hostile bishops. But beyond the declarations of Franco-American orators, and of those Quebeckers who supported them, lay the increasing acculturation of expatriates and their children. A lull in emigration at the turn of the century helped to accelerate this process. It became more common for ex-Quebeckers to speak English, and the strict social bonds of the transplanted parish began to loosen; some Franco-Americans fell away from the Catholic Church. While Quebec papers would carry news of Franco-American communities for decades thereafter, by the First World War there was already a sense of irreconcilable difference between francophones north and south. (61)


Albert Faucher and J.I. Little had good reason to emphasize the impact of emigration on late-nineteenth-century Quebec. It touched most areas of policymaking and its effects endured in national self-conceptions. Yet, until now, few scholars have seen late-nineteenth-century emigration as an important factor in the transition from French-Canadian nationalism to a more familiar Quebec nationalism. As elites approached proposals for repatriation and colonization and witnessed the trials of French-Canadian culture abroad, emigration led to a new sense of self in the province. Church and nation remained connected, but both were now securely latched to the predominantly French-Canadian state revived by Confederation. Even though large-scale repatriation failed and colonization had mixed outcomes, the Tardivellian viewpoint prevailed. Emigrants' stubborn refusal to repatriate, and their growing acculturation abroad, seemed to annul the moral commitment formulated by Mercier. In any event, facing reversals elsewhere, French Canadians would better resist the siege in a province where Catholic parishes, constitutional guarantees, and a clear cultural majority could ensure the survival of their distinct identity. The French-Canadian nation thus fragmented geographically: A broad "racial" identifier was abandoned in favor of a territorial outlook, such that Franco-Americans, Franco-Ontarians, and other diasporic groups were now presumed to have destinies separate from that of francophones in Quebec. (62)

In the era of traditional religious nationalism, the territorial integrity of the nation--and thus its survival--was tied to the integrity of the parish system. Even national parishes could do little to save those on U.S. soil from the ravages of Americanization and Americanism, or so it seemed to most proponents of colonization. A network of contiguous parishes extending southward and westward could not assure survivance, and so the providential mission was likely to be left unfulfilled. However, emphasizing parish-based agricultural utopianism can mask the lasting effects of the fight against emigration. The identification of the Quebec government as an agent of national fulfillment and development--often associated with post-1945 neo-nationalism--truly originated in the last two decades of the nineteenth century. Colonization captured the popular imagination and answered patriotic hopes much as the nationalization of Hydro-Quebec and large hydroelectric undertakings later would. And as the nation was increasingly identified with a specific state, so the culture and its aspirations became evermore dependent on the protection of Quebec's government. (63)

In light of the recent sesquicentennial of Canada, it is striking that so little was written in regard to "Quebec 150." Confederation opened the possibility of a new nationalism centered on this predominantly French-Canadian province. Far from finding its first expression in the projets de societe of the 1960s, this Quebec nationalism was articulated in reaction to mass emigration and cohered in the late nineteenth century around the first of the great national endeavors, colonization. In recent decades, with the threat of depopulation largely gone, the quest for greater autonomy has enabled successive governments in Quebec City to look south again and to establish a commercial and diplomatic presence on U.S. soil. The province is now represented by government offices in Boston and New York City and enjoys direct relations with U.S. governors. As in the days of Mercier, it sends delegates to Francophonie Day celebrations and other cultural events in New England. The cross-border economic relationship continues in the guise of "Hampton and Hydro," meaning extensive tourism and the sale of cheap, renewable energy. In a fascinating twist, Quebec now embraces the history of the "demographic hemorrhage" and cites Franco-Americans as a basis for economic and political partnerships. (64)

Patrick Lacroix defended his doctoral dissertation, titled "John F. Kennedy and the Politics of Faith, 1960-1963" at the University of New Hampshire in 2017. His work on Franco-Americans has appeared in numerous journals in both English and French. He most recently taught at Phillips Exeter Academy (Exeter, N.H.) and Bishop's University (Sherbrooke, Quebec). Dr. Lacroix thanks this journal's anonymous referees as well as the organizers of Boston College's latest Biennial Conference on the History of Religion, where he presented a preliminary version of this article.

(1.) Gilles Paquet, "L'emigration des Canadiens francais vers la Nouvelle-Angleterre, 1870-1910: prises de vue quantitatives," Recherches soaographiques 5:3 (1964): 319-370; Ralph Vicero, "Immigration of French Canadians to New England, 1840-1900: A Geographical Analysis" (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Wisconsin, 1968); Yolande Lavoie, L'emigration des Canadiens aux Etats-Unis avant 1930: mesure du phenomene (Montreal: Presses de 1'Universite de Montreal, 1972).

(2.) Faucher, quoted by Yves Roby, Histoire d'un reve brise? Les Canadiens francais aux Etats-Unis (Quebec City: Septentrion, 2007), 7. All translations appearing in this article are the present author's.

(3.) J. I. Little, "La Patrie: Quebec's Repatriation Colony, 1875-1880," Canadian Historical Association, Historical Papers 12:1 (1977), 67.

(4.) This view was attributed to Georges-Etienne Cartier. An account appears in "Discours du Dr. M. M. Metivier, de Holyoke," in P. P. Charette, ed., Noces d'or de la Saint-Jean-Baptiste: Compte-rendu officiel des fetes de 1884 a Montreal (Montreal: Le Monde, 1884), 420.

(5.) This window of providential thought in emigration appears in most major works on Franco-Americans. See Andre Senecal, "La these messianique et les Franco-Americains," Revue d'bistoire de l'Amerique francaise 34:4 (March 1981): 557-567; Robert G. LeBlanc, "The Francophone 'Conquest' of New England: Geopolitical Conceptions and Imperial Ambition of French-Canadian Nationalists in the Nineteenth Century," American Review of Canadian Studies 15:3 (Autumn 1985): 288-310; Francois Weil, Les Franco-americains, 1860-1980 (Paris: Belin, 1989), 27-35, 92-94; Armand B. Chartier, The Franco-Americans of New England: A History (Manchester, Worcester: ACA--Institut francais of Assumption College, 1999), 64-65, 90; Yves Roby, "La paroisse franco-americaine (1850-1976)," in Serge Courville and Normand Seguin, eds., Atlas historique du Quebec: La paroisse (Sainte-Foy: Presses de I'Universite Laval, 2001), 251-263; Yves Roby, The Franco-Americans of New England: Dreams and Realities (Quebec City: Septentrion, 2004), 30-53, 99. Roby's Histoire d'un reve brise? provides sustained analysis of perceptions of migration and cultural survivals; he first studied the issue in Yves Roby, "Les Canadiens francais des Etats-Unis (1860-1900): devoyes ou missionnaires," Revue d'bistoire de l'Amerique francaise 41:1 (Summer 1987), 3-22. Rejeau Beaudoin had studied providential thought in Quebec literature in Naissance d'une litterature: essai sur le messianisme et les debuts de la litterature canadienne-francaise (1850-1890) (Montreal: Boreal, 1989).

(6.) Little, "La Patrie: Quebec's Repatriation Colony, 1875-1880"; on Labelle and the broader intellectual and political context of colonization, Gabriel Dussault, he cure "Labette: Messia-nisme, utopie et colonisation au Quebec (1850-1900) (Montreal: Hurtubise HMH, 1983); for a contemporary account, he Canada: he Cure habelle et la colonisation (Paris: Imprimerie de l'Oeuvre de Saint-Paul, 1885).

(7.) In the late nineteenth century, the provincial government did so by stimulating railway construction, natural resource extraction, and other ventures that might help to retain Quebeckers or lure back expatriates. As this article shows, the most important of these state-sponsored national development projects was domestic colonization.

(8.) Yves Roby, for instance, takes Tardivel's words concerning a new New France as evidence of expansionary impulses when the author actually refers to an autonomous, culturally distinct, and divinely guided Quebec. See Roby, "La paroisse franco-americaine (1850-1976)," 252; "L'avenir de la race franchise en Amerique," La Verite (5 November 1898), 3.

(9.) Rameau de Saint-Pere, La France aux colonies--Etudes sur le developpement de la race francaise hors de I'Europe--Les Francais en Amerique: Acadiens et Canadiens (Paris: A. Jouby, 1859); "Lecture de M. Rameau: La race francaise en Amerique," L'Echo du Cabinet de Lecture Paroissial de Montreal (1 November 1860), 324-330; "Lecture de M. Rameau: La race francaise en Amerique," L'Echo du cabinet de lecture paroissial de Montreal (15 November 1860), 339-346. See Pierre Trepanier and Lise Trepanier, "Rameau de Saint-Pere et l'histoire de la colonisation francaise en Amerique," Acadiensis 9:2 (Spring 1980), 40-55.

(10.) These individuals form much of the cast of Robert G. LeBlanc's "The Francophone 'Conquest' of New England." Similarly, five of these six authors appear in little more than two pages in Yves Roby's "Les Canadiens francais emigres, des 'soldats d'avant-garde' de l'idee franchise en Amerique: l'autopsie d'un reve," in Guy Lachapelle, ed., Le destin americain du Quebec: americanite, americanisation et anti-americanisme (Quebec City: Presses de I'Universite Laval, 2010), esp. 34-36. With Ferdinand Gagnon, they form the heart of Roby's claim about providential rhetoric. DeGoesbriand's claim to fame in this area was an oft-cited letter that first appeared in Le Protecteur canadien in 1869. Hamon included the letter in full in a work that expressed Franco-American ambitions. See Edouard Hamon, Les Canadiens-francais de la Nouvelle-Angleterre (Quebec City: N. S. Hardy, 1891), esp. 171-176. See, on Thibault, Senecal, "La these messianique et les Franco-Americains," 558; on Chapleau, Weil, Les Franco-americains, 30-31. Mercier and de Nevers are discussed at greater length below.

(11.) Michel Bock addresses changing conceptions of the French-Canadian nation in "Tradition et territoire dans le projet national canadien-francais," in Martin Paquet and Stephane Savard, eds., Balises et references: Acadies, francophonies (Quebec City: Presses de l'Univer-site Laval, 2007), 57-77. Bock points to the prevalence of the ideology of providential expansion in the second half of the nineteenth century, but situates the rise of a territorial nationalism only in decades after the Second World War. The present study identifies the colonization movement of the 1880s and 1890s with a new, narrower nationalism. The geographical conceptualization presented here is inspired partly by Shelby M. Balik's work on religious communities in Rally the Scattered Believers: Northern New England's Religious Geography (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2014).

(12.) Jacques Monet, "French-Canadian Nationalism and the Challenge of Ultramontanism," Canadian Historical Association, Historical Papers 1 (1966), 41-55; Louis Rousseau, "La construction religieuse de la nation," Recherches sociographiques 46:3 (September-December 2005), 437-452; Jean-Francois Laniel, "L'Eglise-nation canadienne-francaise au siecle des nationalites: regard croise sur l'ultramontanisme et le nationalisme," Etudes d'histoire religieuse 81:1-2 (2015), 15-37. These authors situate the origins of traditional, faith-based nationalism in the early 1840s, but the creation of the Province of Quebec did not relegate the Catholic Church to irrelevance. The Church retained its role in education and other sectors; it consecrated all public rituals and continued to structure much of Quebec social and cultural life at a local level. Thus, at the dedication of a monument commemorating explorer Jacques Cartier and missionary Jean de Brebeuf in 1889, Honore Mercier witnessed "the love of our ancestors' homeland and faith; the union of Church and State." See "Reponse par Phonorable H. Mercier, premier minister de la province," in H.-J.-J.-B. Chouinard, ed., Fete nationale des Canadiens-Francais celebree a Quebec 1881-1889 (Quebec City: Imprimerie Belleau et Cie, 1890), 373.

(13.) Louis-Philippe Audet, "Le premier ministere de l'Instruction publique au Quebec, 1867-1876," Revue d'histoire de I'Amerique francaise 22:2 (September 1968), 171-222; Oscar Dunn, Pourquoi nous sommes francais (Montreal: La Minerve, 1870), 37.

(14.) Joseph Tasse, Aux Canadiens francais emigres (Ottawa, ON: Imprimerie du Canada, 1883), 5.

(15.) M. A. Nantel, quoted in Le Canada: Le Cure Labelle et la colonisation, 45.

(16.) "Le Congres de Baltimore," L'lndependant (31 January 1890), 1; "La question nationale aux Etats-Unis," La Verite (9 May 1891), 322.

(17.) This narrative, often expressed in public addresses, appears in its fullest version in Philippe Masson, Le Canada-Francais et la Providence (Quebec City: Leger Brousseau, 1875). See, similarly, "Sermon pour la St-Jean-Baptiste, prononce a la Basilique N.-D. de Quebec, par M. l'abbe T. M. Labrecque, T. D.," L'Electeur (27 June 1888), 1, and "Le sermon prononce par l'abbe Louis Ad. Paquet, a la messe solennelle de la St-Jean-Baptiste," La Patrie (24 June 1902), 8-9. As it pertained to the North, this providential mission is presented by Christian Morissonneau in La Terre promise: Le mytbe du Nord quebecois (Montreal: Hurtubise HMH, 1978), 93-101.

(18.) Mason Wade, "The French Parish and Survivance in Nineteenth-Century New England," The Catholic Historical Review 36:2 (July 1950), 163. The many religious, social, and administrative facets of the French-Canadian parish are explored in Courville and Seguin, ed., Atlas historique du Quebec: La paroisse.

(19.) "Discours de M. l'abbe Dauray," Noces d'or de la Saint-Jean-Baptiste, 161-167.

(20.) See, on the progress of parish formation in New England, Wade, "The French Parish and Survivance,"" 163-189.

(21.) "Congres de colonisation," La Minerve (23 November 1898), 1-2.

(22.) Although many confrontations ended with the defeat of survivance ideals, the first, the Flint Affair (1884-1886), could be, and was, construed as a victory. In Fall River, Massachusetts, Canadian immigrants resisted the appointment of Irish pastors to one of their national parishes. The Catholic bishop placed the church under interdict in response. When he reopened it six months later, after consulting with Roman authorities and the metropolitan bishop, he installed a French-Canadian curate, who became pastor the following year. Episcopal efforts to resolve the impasse justified French Canadians' hopes and combativeness. See Michael J. Guignard, "Maine's Corporation Sole Controversy," Maine Historical Society Newsletter 12:3 (Winter 1973): 111-130; Richard Sorrell, "Sentinelle Affair (1924-1929)--Religion and Militant Survivance in Woonsocket, Rhode Island," Rhode Island History 36:3 (August 1977): 67-79; Patrick Lacroix, "A Church of Two Steeples: Catholicism, Labor, and Ethnicity in Industrial New England, 1869-90," The Catholic Historical Review 102:4 (Autumn 2016): 746-770; Patrick Lacroix, "Americanization by Catholic Means: French Canadian Nationalism and Transnationalism, 1889-1901," Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era 16:3 (July 2017): 284-301.

(23.) Lacroix, "Americanization by Catholic Means," 293.

(24.) Report of the Select Committee of the Legislative Assembly, Appointed to Inquire into the Causes and Importance of the Emigration Which Takes Place Annually, from Lower Canada to the United States (Montreal: Rollo Campbell, 1849).

(25.) Little, "La Patrie: Quebec's Repatriation Colony, 1875-1880," 67-69. See also Donald Chaput, "Some Repatriement Dilemmas," Canadian Historical Review 49:4 (December 1968): 400-412, and Paquet, '"Le meilleur immigrant': le rapatrie des Etats-Unis comme categorie pour les responsables politiques du Canada-Uni et du Quebec, 1849-1968," Francophonies d'Amerique 9 (1999): 87-105.

(26.) The idea of peaceful conquest, through sheer numbers rather than force of arms, was central to providential expansion. Joseph Tasse said of emigration that "it is a slow, but sure and inevitable invasion of a large portion of New England. It is the conquest by means of labor of that which we lost through the fate of war and the negligence of our diplomats." Similarly, Rameau had stated in 1860, "Little by little, this conquered people is itself becoming a conqueror through its work, thrift, and energy." See Joseph Tasse, Aux Canadiens francais emigres, 13; "Lecture de M. Rameau: La race franchise en Amerique," L'Echo du Cabinet de Lecture Paroissial de Montreal (1 November 1860), 328; "Discours de M. Ferd. Gagnon," Noces d'or de la Saint-Jean-Baptiste, 209; Hamon, Les Canadiens-francais de la Nouvelle-Angleterre, 34-35, 150, 152-153; on the fecundity of French Canadians as a gift of God and a means of expansion, Rameau, La France aux colonies, 238. The depiction of French ethnic clusters, the Little Canadas, as "colonies" did nothing to reassure native-born American observers.

(27.) Gagnon noted in 1880, while his position was evolving, that emigrants became more patriotic and more dedicated to their nationality on foreign soil. The national conventions held in Quebec beginning in the 1870s had their roots in similar events held by the emigrants. See Chartier, Franco-Americans of New England, 74-75; Roby, Franco-Americans of New England, 42; Lacroix, "A Church of Two Steeples," 750-754; Weil, Les Franco-americains, 93; Antoine Racine, Memoire sur la situation des Canadiens francais aux Etats-Unis de I'Amerique du Nord (Paris: Libraire de l'Oeuvre de Saint-Paul 1892); Chaput, "Some Repatriement Dilemmas," 402-406; "Discours de M. Tasse, M. P.," Noces d'or de la Saint-Jean-Baptiste, 203; Gagnon, quoted in Chouinard, ed., Fete nationale des Canadiens-francais, Celebree a Quebec le 24 juin 1880 (Quebec City: A. Cote et Cie., 1881), 226; Chouinard, ed., Fete nationale... 1880, 241-242; P. J. O. Chauveau, quoted in Noces d'or de la Saint-Jean-Baptiste, 203.

(28.) Roby, Franco-Americans of New England, 53.

(29.) Chouinard, ed., Fete nationale... 1880, 146-148, 258-259, 314-333, 359-374, 566. See, on the convention of 1874, "Fete nationale de la Saint-Jean-Baptiste--24 juin 1874," La Minerve (26 June 1874), 2-4; on the possible formation of a French state spanning parts of the U.S. Northeast and Canada, "L'avenir de la race francaise en Amerique," La Verite (5 November 1898), 3; Wade, "The French Parish and Survivance," 185. Hamon pondered the likelihood of a reunified French-Canadian nation through Quebec's annexation by the United States. See Les Canadiens-francais, 129.

(30.) Charette, Noces d'or de la Saint-Jean-Baptiste. Franco-American providentialism may indeed be less a powerful ideological movement than an echo of Quebec elites' more receptive rhetoric on the occasion of cross-border affairs. As with Mercier, there is the real possibility that religious and political leaders in Quebec were paying lip service to the cause to extend their own influence.

(31.) The litterature du terroir would truly blossom in the first third of the twentieth century, such that jean Rivard enjoyed exceptional influence for more than a generation. Partly inspired by Rameau de Saint-Pere, Henri-Raymond Casgrain formulated much of the religious and national credo of the literary movement of the 1860s. Beaudoin sees in him Labelle's literary equivalent. See Mason Wade, The French Canadians 1760-1945 (Toronto: Macmillan Co., 1955), 293-296; Beaudoin, Naissance d'une litterature, 59-73, 139-167; "Congres de colonisation," La Minerve (26 November 1898), 1-2.

(32.) See Pierre Savard, Jules-Paul Tardive!, la France et les Etats-Unis, 1851-1905 (Quebec City: Presses de l'Universite Laval, 1967); Jean Levasseur, "Remi Tremblay (1847-1926); la trepidante histoire d'un journaliste dans les Cantons de 1'Est (1re partie)," journal of Eastern Townships Studies (JETS) 24 (Spring 2004): 31-50; Levasseur, "Remi Tremblay (1847-1926); la trepidante histoire d'un journaliste dans les Cantons de l'Est (2e partie)," JETS 25 (Fall 2004): 23-43; Jean-Philippe Warren, Honore Beaugrand: La plume et l'epee (1848-1906) (Montreal: Boreal, 2015); Wade, The French Canadians, 371, 382-386; Chaput, "Some Repatriement Dilemmas," 406-411; Emmanuel Esterez, "Arthur Buies, un ecrivain quebecois en mission au XIXe siecle" (M.A. thesis, Universite de Montreal, 2005).

(33.) Labelle's remarks to this effect and Tardivel's arguments on a Quebec-centered providentialism were separated by the North-West Rebellion, whose causes and defeat hinted at the abrogation of minority rights in the rest of Canada. See Rameau, La France aux colonies, 233-234; Labelle, quoted in Le Canada: Le Cure Labelle et la colonisation, 53-54.

(34.) At the end of the century, La Verite would concede that the French-Canadian nation might have a future in the counties of New Brunswick and Ontario adjacent to Quebec. See "Reponse au R. P. Lacombe O.M.I.," La Verite (3 July 1886), 2-3 (italics in original); "L'avenir des Canadiens aux Etats-Unis," La Verite (5 November 1898), 3.

(35.) Vindicated by recent ethnic controversies in New England, which hinted at a French parish system under siege, Tardivel assailed the American Catholic Church in La situation religieuse aux Etats-Unis: Illusions et realite (Montreal: Cadieux et Derome, 1900).

(36.) Beaudoin, "Messianisme litteraire au Canada francais (1850-1890)" (Ph.D. dissertation, McGill University, 1981), 262-263; Arthur Buies, Au portique des Laurentides; Une paroisse moderne; Le cure Labelle (Quebec City: C. Darveau, 1891), 45-46.

(37.) Masson, Le Canada-Francais et la Providence, 52.

(38.) M. A. Nantel, quoted in he Canada: he Cure Labelle et la colonisation, 45.

(39.) "Survivance" refers to the cultural survival of French Canadians. The preservation of the French language was perceived as essential to their religious destiny; it protected them from assimilation into an English, Protestant world. This helps to explain French-Canadian clergy's participation in the ceremonial life of their flock (and role in French-language education) on both sides of the international border.

(40.) "Discours de l'honorable Chs. Langelier," in Georges Bellerive, ed., Orateurs canadiens-francais aux Etats-Unis: Conferences et Discours (Quebec City: H. Chasse, 1908): 199. By contrast, Mercier elevated Franco-Americans by undervaluing the distinctiveness of Quebec. In 1888, he compared francophone life under Old Glory and under the Union Jack. There was little reason to prefer one "foreign" government over the other. Tasse, Aux Canadiens francais emigres, 3; "Discours prononce par l'hon. M. Mercier [...]," h'Electeur (27 June 1888), 1.

(41.) "Assemblee legislative--La convention de Nashua," L'Electeur (6 July 1888), 1.

(42.) Wade, The French Canadians, 412-421; "Le banquet du Club national," La Patrie (27 May 1885), 1. Pierre Charbonneau depicts Mercier as the first important Quebec nationalist, whose nation-building project foreshadowed the Quiet Revolution. He places significant emphasis on Mercier's dedication to colonization, but not on the premier's larger spatial vision for French Canadians. See Charbonneau, Le projet Quebecois d'Honore Mercier (Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu: Editions Mille Roches, 1980).

(43.) In 1889, Mercier earned praise for his warm reception of Franco-Americans visiting Quebec City and in turn showed his respects by addressing the expatriates in New England. See Buies, Au portique des Laurentides [...], 70-73; "Discours prononce par l'hon. M. Mercier [...]," h'Electeur (27 June 1888), 1; "Assemblee legislative--La convention de Nashua," L'Electeur (6 July 1888), 1; L.O. David, Souvenirs et biographies: Adolphe Chapleau [...] (Montreal: Librairie Beauchemin, 1926), 115-117; Chouinard, ed., Fete nationale des Canadiens-Francais celebree a Quebec 1881-1889, 189, 205-206, 208-211, 212, 463; "Conference de l'honorable Honore Mercier," Orateurs canadiens-francais, 173-192.

(44.) Tasse, quoted in Fete nationale... 1880, 372-374.

(45.) "Discours du Dr. Gedeon Archambault, de Woonsocket, R.I.," Noces d'or de la Saint-Jean-Baptiste, 402-419.

(46.) "Discours prononce par l'hon. M. Mercier [...]," L'Electeur (27 June 1888), 1.

(47.) Hamon, Les Canadiens-francais de la Nouvelle-Angleterre, 54, 62, 77, 118, 138.

(48.) Edmond de Nevers, L'avenir du peuple canadien-francais (Paris: Henri Jouve, 1896): 103-117, 120, 274-301, 428-441; "Divers," L'Avenir du Nord (7 March 1901), 2. The flexibility of de Nevers' thought is explored by Warren, Edmond de Nevers: Portrait d'un intellectuel (1862-1906) (Montreal: Boreal, 2005).

(49.) He wrote: "I regret having to recognize that a great number of Canadian newspapers persist in ignoring their emigrant compatriots. Never is there in their columns a word of sympathy for the emigrants' efforts to protect their faith and tongue; never encouragement in their struggles, never fraternal congratulations for their victories. More than that, it is a strange thing that speaking favorably of Canadian emigrants, paying tribute to their energy and successes is, for some men, to commit a serious crime against patriotism." See Hamon, Les Canadiens-francais, 135-142. The differing visions of a broader francophonie between Quebec leaders and their Franco-American counterparts survived into the twentieth century. In 1902, journalist J.-L.-K. Laflamme called for greater fraterniry across the border, not without reason. See "Discours," L'Avenir du Nord (17 July 1902), 5; "Discours," L'Avenir du Nord (24 July 1902), 2.

(50.) The report was sufficiently disparaging as to cause expatriates in Massachusetts to gather to condemn its findings. See "L'emigration--Les causes de l'exode des campagnes," La Presse (9 March 1893), 3; "L'emigration," L'Etoile du Nord (16 March 1893), 2; "Le rapport de M. Chicoyne," Le Courrier du Canada (25 April 1893), 2; "Les Canadiens de Cambridge," La Presse (29 May 1893), 4; on Chicoyne, see Little, "La Patrie: Quebec's Repatriation Colony, 1875-1880."

(51.) C.-E. Rouleau, L'emigration, ses principals causes (Quebec City: Leger Brousseau, 1896), esp. 73-74.

(52.) Telesphore Saint-Pierre, Les Canadiens des Etats-Unis: Ce qu'on perd a emigrer (Montreal: La Gazette, 1893).

(53.) Articles on this subject appeared in nearly all issues of La Verite published in March and April 1897.

(54.) "Congres de colonisation," La Minerve (23 November 1898), 1-2; "Congres de colonization," La Minerve (24 November 1898), 4; "Le premier congres de colonisation," La Verite (3 December 1898), 2-3. Liberals and Conservatives continued to put their specific spins on the issue and to blame the other party for playing politics with this patriotic endeavor. See "Le congres de colonisation," La Patrie (25 November 1898), 4.

(55.) "Discours de l'honorable Wilfrid Laurier," Orateurs canadiens-francais aux Etats-Unis, 17-18.

(56.) Report of the Select Committee of the Legislative Assembly (1849).

(57.) "Congres de colonisation," La Minerve (23 November 1898), 1-2; "La colonisation," La Minerve (25 November 1898), 2-3.

(58.) LeBlanc explores some of the failures of the colonization effort in "Colonisation et rapatriement au Lac-Saint-Jean (1895-1905)," Revue d'histoire de I'Amerique francaise 38:3 (Winter 1985), esp. 406-408.

(59.) In Danielson, Franco-Americans unsuccessfully challenged the rule of unsympathetic Irish and French-born prelates in a mixed parish. Facing a similar problem in North Brookfield, the immigrants tried to establish a distinctive national parish and present the bishop of Springfield with the fait accompli. That bishop made good on his threat to excommunicate those who would not desist from the endeavour and return to the existing church. See Roby, Franco-Americans of New England, 133-139.

(60.) This is not to discount cross-border bonds, but the transnational experience lived by common workers and celebrated by the Franco-American elite was seldom embraced by national mythmakers in Quebec. Meanwhile, Archbishop Alexandre-Antonin Tache of Saint-Boniface continually struggled to find allies in Quebec who might encourage French Canadians to settle in Manitoba. He hoped that a larger francophone population in the West would curb Anglo-Protestant domination. Bishops in Quebec did see the Northwest as preferable to New England, but hardly was it an ideal destination. Tache sought federal assistance and dispatched agents to New England to lure Franco-Americans back to Canada, largely in vain. Whereas Quebeckers feared depopulation and hoped to expand the parish system in the province, Franco-Americans were largely unwilling to sacrifice their present income, way of life, and communities. Tache's successor, Adelard Langevin, would later echo his complaints about westward migration. See Raymond J. A. Huel, Archbishop A.-A. Tache of St. Boniface: The "Good Fight" and the Illusive Vision (Edmonton: University of Alberta Press, 2003), 175-180, 210-213, 257-259, 290-291, 339; "Strong Words by Bishop Langevin," Quebec Daily Telegraph (24 February 1908), 1.

(61.) Wade, "The French Parish and Survivance," 188; Robert Rumilly, Histoire des Franco-Americains (Montreal: Union Saint-Jean-Baptiste d'Amerique, 1958), 310; Roby, "La par-oisse franco-americaine (1850-1976)," 251; LeBIanc, "The Franco-American Response to the Conscription Crisis in Canada, 1916-1918," American Review of Canadian Studies 23:3 (Autumn 1993), 343-372.

(62.) Against Tardivel, Henri Bourassa and other Quebeckers continued to fight for francophone rights from a pan-Canadian perspective. Indeed, tension persisted between two political visions of French Canada: one based on the guarantees of 1774 and 1791, which emphasized the particularity of Quebec, and the other on a two-nations theory. Canada could be both a territorial federation and a multinational state. The twentieth century witnessed the gradual rise of the former view with the ascent of a Quebec-centered nationalism. See Mason Wade, "Political Trends," in Jean-Charles Falardeau, ed., Essais sur le Quebec contemporain--Essays on Contemporary Quebec (Quebec City: Presses de l'Universite Laval, 1953): 145-164; Gerard Boismenu, "Le Canada est-il une federation territorial ou multinationale?" in Pascale Dufour et al., eds., La politique en questions (Montreal: Presses de l'Universite Laval, 2008): 130-139.

(63.) In La Terre promise, Morissonneau identifies colonization and northern resource development (forestry, mining, and hydroelectricity) as aspects of a singular fascination with the North, partly by virtue of the economic and national aspirations it promised to fulfill.

(64.) Patrick Lacroix, "Amid NAFTA Uncertainty, Canada Has Allies in New England," Montreal Gazette (11 January 2018), A6; Patrick Lacroix, "Quebec 150: Parlons-en!" Le Droit (2 December 2017), 19.
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Author:Lacroix, Patrick
Publication:The Historian
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:Dec 22, 2018

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