Voyageur Heritage came out with a really interesting piece covering the lost French towns of Michigan, First off, what?
We knew there were French settlers in Michigan, but the deep footprint they left seems to have been covered over by modern American culture that relegates most French things to the past or treats them as foreign. Boo!
The article delves a little into the 17th-century appearance of French-Canadians in Northern Michigan, which is very interesting. That's quite a distance to trek from Quebec.
What most interested us was when the article turns to the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
This picture has nothing to do with the article, we just really love the Detroit flag. Five glorious fluer-de-lis!
It appears the lost towns have a lot to do with the logging industry. French-Canadians came down from Quebec and absolutely dominated the landscape. American businessmen knew the Franco work ethic and actively recruited them. Yes, that's our claim, but if the workers weren't any good, why recruit them?
"In this era, it was not unusual for lumber companies to appeal for labor from Quebec, and many families from the same community might relocate en masse and form a new community elsewhere, sometimes recruited or accompanied by a Catholic priest."
From there the article begins to describe the formation of Little Canadas (creating Little Canadas was a past hobby of our ancestors) where French languages and traditions flourished.
We do wonder how much of this is taught in Michigan schools? Our guess...not much.
Even if it's not currently taught we applaud blogs like Voyageur Heritage for digitally keeping the story alive. As time goes on more curious French-Canadian Descendents will stumble on posts like this and perhaps rekindle some of the old traditions or go and learn to speak French (this blogger is trying too). The impact could be something special.
Paul Bunyan was 100% French-Canadian. 0 doubt ;)