The Evolution of French Canada

By Jean Charlemagne Bracq | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XI
RURAL LIFE AND CUSTOMS

PROFESSOR LEGOUIS, of the Sorbonne, says that "daylight entered into English literature with the song of Taillefer, at Hastings."1 The statement of Froissart that "the English take their pleasure sadly" contains much truth. When Britons, after the battle of the Plains of Abraham, subjected to their domination French Canadians, a certain spirit of solemnity and cheerlessness made its advent into New France, and worked its way to the Pacific Ocean. With his numerous appeals to our admiration the English Canadian is of a less happy temperament than the French. The latter are known as being of a joyous nature and possessing rare social instincts. Community life means much to them. In Ontario one notices that the farms are large, and that farm-houses are located at the centre, away from neighbours. This arrangement is doubtless more convenient for agricultural purposes, but less well adapted to sociableness. English writers have made all manner of fun of the long ribbons of land in Quebec,2 but they have failed to see that such a system was demanded when French colonists were hourly exposed to the attacks of the Red man, and also by the social spirit of the natives. Anglo- Canadians are getting detached from the land, but the habitant, with his social environments, still finds great happiness in cultivating it, for he has an instinctive delight in society.

In this attempt to describe the moral and social condi

____________________
1
Défense de la poésie française, p. 55.
2
Goldwin Smith, p. 6.

-190-

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