The Evolution of French Canada

By Jean Charlemagne Bracq | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER IX
BRITISH CONSTRUCTIVE WORK AND ITS INFLUENCE

IT has been accepted as an absolute and indisputable fact that French Canadians are exceedingly conservative and make no advance, while the English, open-minded, represent all forms of improvement. It must be remembered that these sons of France were long like their southern neighbours and like many other peoples. The idea of progress was then far from popular even among New Englanders and the inhabitants of the Maritime Provinces. Still French Canadians moved forward in many ways. Quebec College antedated Harvard, and Montreal had a college less than a score of years after New York. The city of the great Champlain had a literary club in the latter half of the eighteenth century,1 and a literary society as early as 1809. Two French Canadians were then members of the Academy of Sciences of Paris.2 It is estimated that in 1765 there were 60,000 volumes in private libraries. Mr. Ægidius Fauteux, the learned director of the St. Sulpice Library, Montreal, gives us the list of a personal collection of over four hundred well-selected volumes.3 M. Charles Deschenaux, who died in 1832, had a library of several thousand volumes.4 These facts are indices of a certain activity in the realm of ideas and culture.

Professor B. Silliman, an eminent scientist connected with

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1
Lareau, Mélanges historiques et littéraires, p. 193; Faucher de Saint- Maurice , Loin du pays, Vol. II, p. 394.
2
J. E. Roy, Royal Society, III, Vol. III, p. xiv.
3
Les Bibliothèques canadiennes, p. 17.
4
Les Ursulines, Vol. IV, p. 426.

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