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  • France Looks at French Canada*
  • Pierre Mélèse (bio)
Pierre Mélèse

Visiting Professor, Carleton University; author of Canada, deux peuples, une nation (1959)


* Translated by Peter Moes.


1. Jacques Cartier, Voyage de découverte au Canada entre les années 1534 et 1542 (Paris, 1598; re-published in 1946); Marc Lescarbot, Histoire de la Nouvelle Prance (Paris, 1609); Relation dernière de ce qui s’est passé au voyage du Sieur Pontrincourt en la Nouvelle France depuis 20 mois en cà (Paris, 1612); Samuel de Champlain, Voyages et découvertes faits en la Nouvelle France depuis l’an 1615 jusqu’à la fin de l’année 1618 (Paris, 1619); Voyages … jusqu’à l’an 1629 (Paris, 1631); Fr. Gabriel Sagard, Histoire du Canada et des voyages que les Frères mineurs récollets y ont faits (Paris, 1636); Saint Jean de Brébeuf, Les Relations de ce qui s’est passé au pays des Hurons, 1635–1648, edited by Th. Besterman (Genève, 1956); Lettres de la venérable Mère Marie de l’Incarnation (Paris, 1681; re-published in 1939); Cavelier de la Salle, Dernières Découvertes de l’Amérique septentrionale de M. de la Salle mises au jour par le chevalier Tonti (Paris, 1697); Bacqueville de la Potherie, contrôleur de la marine, L’Histoire de l’Amérique septentrionale (Paris, 1722; re-published by R. Le Blant, Paris, 1940); Gédéon de Catalogne, Recueil de ce qui s’est passé au Canada au sujet de la guerre tant des Anglais que des Iroquois depuis l’an 1682, manuscript edited by R. Le Blant (Paris, 1940).

2. Cf. Dialogues curieux et mémoires de l’Amérique septentrionale, edited by Gabriel Chinard (Baltimore, 1931).

3. Cf. notably the 1703 ed., I, 60: “You would not believe how far the authority of these ecclesiastical gentlemen reaches.… Do not think that the priests limit their authority to sermons and reprimands in church; they pursue it right into the affairs of every-day life and into the very houses.”

4. Governor of Quebec, 1636–47.

5. This statement by Voltaire in a letter to Mme du Deffand of October 13, 1759, is less well known: “We have had the wit to settle in Canada in the snow between the bears and the beavers.” Three years later he wrote again to M. de Choiseul (September 6, 1762): “I am like the public, I prefer peace to Canada and I believe that France can be happy without Quebec.”

6. Notably Vers l’ouest (Paris, 1921), Manitoba (Paris, 1924), Clairière (Paris, 1929).

7. Among more specialized works: France d’outremer: Le Canada français, son histoire religieuse, son présent, son avenir (Tours, 1901); G. Vattier, Essais sur la mentalité canadienne française (Paris, 1928); Abbé Groulx, Le Français au Canada (Paris, 1932); Jules Léger, Le Canada français et son expression littéraire (Paris, 1938); Esprit, special number of August–September, 1952; France-Amérique, “Le nouveau Canada” (1952); P. Veysset, La Population du Canada (Paris, 1953); P. Deffontaines, L’Homme et l’hiver au Canada (Paris, 1957).

8. Travelling about the Maritimes a few years later, the same author reported in 1935 about this in La Grande Passion d’un petit peuple, in which he relates the tragic adventure of the Acadians, established anew in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick where, thanks to the founding of the two Eudist colleges and to the creation of Saint Joseph University and also as a result of their high birth rate, a new beginning of national life and a resurgence of the French language is manifest.

9. It should be sufficient to quote the improbable speech of Maurice Barrès, who congratulated the French-Canadian recruits in World War I on their martial bearing “inherited from their ancestors, the Indians!”

10. The special number of August–September 1952 by the review Esprit states these problems precisely in the articles of Canadian writers conscious of an evolution. Cf. also the special number devoted to Canada in 1952 by France-Amérique.

11. The Cercle du Livre de France contributes to this effort with the creation of...


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