Tuesday, August 17, 2010

My Debt to Canada

Recently chatting with TH2, I realized that I owe Canada a big debt, and I know far less about Canada than I think I should. I have been aware for most of my life that Canada was originally New France, that the British took it over about 1763, and there have been tensions ever since.

In 1955 I went for two weeks or so to the Catholic Youth Center camp on Big Sandy Lake in northern Minnesota, where I first learned of the seven Jesuit martyrs, Jogues, Brébeuf, Goupil, Lallemant, and the others (and Kateri Tekakwitha who ended her short life in a settlement on the banks of the St. Lawrence). I have to add that the combination of woods and water (as opposed to prairie) seized my heart and imagination.

Probably the biggest debt I owe Canada is that one of my great-grandfathers, Jules Etienne Napoleon Gosselin, was born in Montmagny, Quebec, in 1852. I have no idea how he got to Osseo, Minnesota - founded by Pierre Bottineau - by 1885 to marry my great-grandmother Julia Chenevert, granddaughter of Pierre.

The next biggest debt is to my Uncle George's wife, my Aunt Rita, born in St.-Jean-Baptiste near Winnipeg, who has not only been very kind to me, but has been tart in her criticism of my schoolbook French ("You don't growl enough!")

Next comes a friend of some years' standing whom I met on Ave Maria Singles; she is a Winnipeg lady, bilingual (naturally), and who has been a wonderful chatting companion these year, and who is the inventor of Huey the Humourous Humerus and the co-inventor of Newfie Brewfie.

Then, in no particular order: Red Green, Geneviève Bujold (whose performance as Jeanne d'Arc I would love to see again), Céline Dion, Lucy Maud Montgomery, Robert Service, Thomas Costain, Louis Hémon, John Buchan (yes I know he wasn't really a Canadian), W. P. Kinsella; and so many actors and musicians I've liked but I had no idea were Canadians.
And, of course, TH2.
PS - the Maple leaf is from the tree in my back yard.

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