Quebec Studies

Robert G. LeBlanc, 1930-2001

Quebec Studies (2002), 33, (1), 5–7.


5 Robert G. LeBlanc, 1930-2001 Stewart Doty University of Maine-Orono, Emeritus Each of us who knew Robert LeBlanc knew him differently. Some of us knew him as a geographer. Others as a scholar of Franco-Americans. Still others as the Franco-American he was. Most of us also knew him as a friend. All of us felt lessened when we learned that he was on the United Airlines Flight 175 that crashed into the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. He was en route to a geography conference in Los Angeles. With his itchy geographer feet, he and his wife were ticketed for a trip to Argentina after that conference, and had planned visits to India and Sweden in 2002. Robert LeBlanc was born on October 28, 1930 and grew up in the Franco-American city of Nashua, New Hampshire. He was a late arrival to higher education and academia. After serving in the U.S. Air Force during the Korean War as a radar technician, LeBlanc attended the University of New Hampshire, graduating as a history major in 1959. Then, in 1962, he took a master of arts degree in geography at the University of Minnesota. Few who know his work will be surprised that his thesis title was "Acadian Migrations." His Ph.D. dissertation at the University of Wisconsin in 1968 was entitled "The Location of Manufacturing in New England in the 19th Century." His dissertation was published under that title in 1969 by the Geography Publications at Dartmouth College. He had already joined the geography faculty of the University of New Hampshire in 1963 and he would teach there until his retirement in 1998. Robert LeBlanc was a pioneer in studying the connections and con­ trasts between French-speaking Canadians and Franco-Americans. These themes dominated his work, whether it was examining the movement of Acadians from Canada to the United States, the varied reaction to World War I by French-speaking Canadians and French-speaking Americans, the willingness or reluctance of French-speaking Americans to repatriate to Canada, the lure of Quebec higher education for Franco-Americans or the effect of that education on their values. From the beginning of his career, LeBlanc became and remained a major authority on the Acadian migrations of the eighteenth century, the subject of his 1962 master's thesis. He published the thesis results in the Proceedings of Minnesota Academy of Science that same year. He modified that article for "Les Migrations Acadiennes," Cahiers de Géographie de Québec (Dec. 1967, 523-41). The English version of that article, the one most of us know, appeared as "The Acadian Migrations" in the Canadian Geographical Journal (July 1970,10-19). The article has remained so influential because LeBlanc showed how nuanced the Acadian expulsion and subsequent migrations were. He left to others the British motives for the expulsion, before examining four phases of the migrations. First was Le Grand Dérangement of 1755-57 during which Québec Studies, Volume 33, Spring/Summer 2002

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Author details

Doty, Stewart