In the beginning was the beaver

We visited the Séminaire de Québec on the weekend, which also houses the Exhibit of Francophone America. Which was oddly silent on the topics of the Filles du Roi and the very early 18c Canadien migration into Southern Ontario that my paternal grandmother’s family followed — but droll on the subject of beavers.

I did want to find a bit more flesh for what I know about that branch of my family, but the sketches were both too broad (90 seconds on the incursion of the French, guided by First Nations people, into the west) and a bit too random (a pile of luggage from about 7 different decades over 200 years). And a little too Catholic.

It being a seminary, I didn’t expect a critique of the residential school system, but I was a bit put off by cheerful photos of nuns and Inuit children.

I did learn that there was a lot more immigration of French speaking settlers *after* the Conquest than I’d realized, and that there was a pattern of migration from the Ste. Lawrence Valley in the last quarter of the 19th c into the American West and Northern Ontario, which matches what I know of my mother’s mother’s mother’s family. My mother’s great grandparents “went west in a covered wagon on their honeymoon and came back four years later and moved to Northern Ontario.” It’s nice to be able to fit one’s people into a narrative.

The part of the museum specifically focused on the Church was even more uncritical than the rest, and I liked that the extremely ornate Chapel is available “for corporate functions,” Mary presiding over all.

It echoed for me that brilliant scene in The Barbarian Invasions where a priest decides he has to sell some of the “treasures” of the Church to an auctioneer, and takes her into the basement where statues and chalices are covered in cobwebs. And she gently tells him it’s not worth anything except perhaps to Catholics. “In other words, it’s worthless,” he says.

Things shift.

(10.6 – #280)


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