Travel Reference
In-Depth Information
Wagnaër and Voisin. It is only when the feeble lights of culture are in
concert with the powerful illuminations of nature to form 'un mélange
de lueurs douteuses et indéfinies qui donnait à la scène quelque chose
de féerique' that the scene becomes monumental.
The city then, like the countryside, must be seen as a mixture of na-
ture and culture, and as such is not 'ville'-ified by Chauveau as it was
by Lacombe. If Madame Guérin succumbs to cholera in the city, the first
fatal blows to her health were dealt by the scoundrels in the country-
side; if Clorinde enters a convent in the city, it is because of her lost love
in the countryside, confirmed by her taking the name of 'sœur Saint-
Charles'; if Dumont's fear of cholera causes him to die of a stroke, his
fortune, amassed in the city, reunites Charles, now an ideal worker and
student in the city, with Marichette in the countryside, where they are
joined by Guilbault (city), who has married Louise (country), and the
prodigal Pierre, who has returned to Quebec as a priest. Indeed, in a
lengthy footnote published with the novel, Chauveau lavishes praise
on both Quebec and Montreal respectively as centres of North American
art and architecture: that is, culture (368). 10
Nonetheless, in a short epilogue entitled 'La nouvelle paroisse,'
Chauveau locates his newly married couples and their families in the
countryside, not on the cultivated land of Marichette's father near
Montreal, but in an adjoining, unnamed, and unsettled township,
where Charles has inherited land and where they create an agriculture-
based colony. Clearly Chauveau, himself a deputy for Quebec county
when the novel appeared in book form, is making a patriotic political
statement based on the explosion in the French-Canadian population
(the subject of an even more lengthy footnote, 354-60), which has cre-
ated a need for expansion and colonization, not emigration or assimila-
tion, in order to maintain cultural identity and sovereignty. Through
vision, determination, and the struggle to clear the land - 'le défricheur
canadien est un peu comme le soldat anglais' (347; the Canadian land-
clearer is somewhat like the English soldier) - the colony, nicknamed 'la
terre promise' (346; promised land), 11 prospers and becomes a new par-
ish with its own church and school.
After a brief participation in the 1837 Rebellion, Guilbault recognizes
his error, 'la folie de cette expédition' (350), and seeks more practical
outlets for his patriotism in agriculture itself. As for Charles, he has built
a mill, and 'Il habite un cottage qui n'est point sans prétentions. C'est une
maison blanche suspendue à mi-côte dans une anse que forme la rivière;
elle est entourée d'arbres et d'une luxuriante végétation qui contraste
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