Quebec Studies

Regional Competition for Franco-American Repatriates, 1870-1930

Quebec Studies (1983), 1, (1), 110–129.

Abstract

Regional Competition for Franco-American Repatriates, 1870-1 9 3 O* Robert G. LeBlanc Introduction French Canadians have always demonstrated a propensity to migrate.’ Their migrations, with the notable exception of the Acadian dispersion, have been voluntary and economically motivated. They began soon after the establishment of New France and continue today. The greatest of these migrations was the mass exodus from the culture hearth of the Laurentian Lowland to the United States. In the period 184G1940, approximately one million left seeking for the most part to share in the benefits of the economic boom south of the border.* In 1923, there were almost as many Franco-Americans as there were Quebecois and if one includes the large numbers of French Canadians scattered across Canada, the Quebecois were actually outnumbered by the francophone population outside of the P r ~ v i n c e . With ~ the exception of the St. Lawrence lowland, the francophones of this continental diaspora were themselves locally outnumbered by the dominant anglophone population-a condition which threatened their viability. Rectification of this demographic imbalance could be achieved by either a superior reproductive effort or by a redistribution of the francophone population. The former strategy, “la revanche des berceaux,” produced a commendable effort but did little more than aggravate the conditions which had initially produced the exodus. ~ *The author extends his appreciation to William H. Wallace for his critical reading of the first draft of this paper. Research was supported by a grant from the Central University Research Fund of the University of New Hampshire.

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LeBlanc, Robert