Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

Franco-Americans of New England. Dreams and Realities

Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

Franco-Americans of New England. Dreams and Realities

Article excerpt

Yves Roby, Franco-Americans of New England. Dreams and Realities, trans. Mary Ricard (Sillery: Les Éditions du Septentrion, 2004), 562pp. Cloth. $70.00. ISBN 2-8944-8391-0.

In his latest study of Franco-Americans, which first appeared in French in 2000, Yves Roby explores the history of the migration of French Canadians to New England between 1840 and 1976. The use of a great variety of sources, from first-hand accounts of immigrants and newspaper articles of the period to recently published studies, provides a rich exploration of the trials and tribulations of not only the individuals who chose to start a new life south of the border but also, more importantly, of their communities, the Little Canadas which were established throughout New England. Roby explores the many institutions of these communities, which were established in order to ensure the survival of the French language and the Catholic faith: churches, schools, newspapers, associations, and so on. The epilogue provides a brief look at the situation of Franco-Americans and the status of French in New England in the last decades of the twentieth century.

Roby's study focuses on the discourse of the Franco-American élite and their efforts to maintain a French-speaking, Catholic, community-orientated population. He describes specific situations and communities in detail in order to portray the struggles to maintain French-language education institutions and churches. However, the greatest strength of this work, what sets it apart from other studies, including his own, is the attention he gives to the construction of and changes in the Franco-American identity. …

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