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The French Canadians in Michigan: Migration and Contribution

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Canadian historian Jean Lamarre examines the remarkable mobility of French Canadians from Quebec to the American Midwest and how they adopted and adapted to their new life in the United States. Professor Lamarre has discovered that in their migration to the lumber and mining industries of Michigan during the second half of the nineteenth century, French Canadians in fact traced a more complicated, three-part route among Quebec, the Midwest, and New England. Rather than the victims of economic circumstances that pushed and pulled them from Quebec to the Midwest, French Canadians vigorously pursued the best opportunities available to them. Based on their earlier work experience as fur traders and lumber workers and their knowledge of the regional work market, they moved circuitously from Quebec to New England, to the Midwest, and back again.

Jean Lamarre is Associate Professor of History at the Royal Military College of Canada in Kingston, Ontario. He teaches American History, American Foreign Policy, Québec History, and the relations between the United States and Québec. He is the author of, among several other books, Les Canadiens français du Michigan. Leur contribution dans le développement de la vallée de la Saginaw et de la péninsule de Keweenaw, 1840-1914 (2000). An English edition was published in 2003 as The French Canadians in Michigan. Their Contribution to the Development of Saginaw Valley and Keweenaw Peninsula, 1840-1914.

This program is part of a series on French Canadians in the Midwest that will continue through mid-March 2011 with a Spotlight exhibition, a series of public programs and teacher resources. It is made possible in part by generous support from the Québec Government Office Chicago.

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