Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Settling Canada

Allo, mes amis . . . . It is Tee Angel here to tell you one of those old Cajun tales which you can believe or no; it is not the skin off my behind, cher!

Back before the Grand Dérangement, when the French were settling Acadia and Canada, le bon roi Louis wanted to have a stable European population a la French; his voyageurs were marrying or shacking up with Indian maidens and this was seen as a grande no-no back in France.  After all, these young or not-so-young men might affiliate with their wives' tribes, instead of being loyal Frenchmen and they shift allegiance away from France and its language.  So the solution was to adopt a number of virtuous poor, peasant girls as wards of the king and ship them over to be brides for the voyageurs, who were by this time singing about mistreating larks* and carousing in the woods.

These were les Filles du Roi: the King's Daughters.  They were given a dowry, and were supervised by the nuns until suitable rites of marriage were performed.

Anyway, they were shipped over in batches; and the ships would stop at various towns.  The men would gather, and pay court to these Filles du Roi (properly chaperoned by the nuns, to be sure).  And, if a suitable husband were found, they would be married; if not, then back on the ship as it goes upriver.

It so happens that the prettiest girls were married off in the first stops of the ship -- in Acadia**; and as it traveled subsequently upriver, the less attractive ones found husbands.  The ones further upriver could not be choosy.

Those poor unfortunates at the end of the voyage were stuck with the homeliest of the filles.  And that is the truth of Le Bon Dieu, I make no mistake.

In later years the king gave bonuses to families with many children; whether ten or twelve I'm not sure. 

*The song "Alouette" is about this practice.  The horned lark is typically the earliest bird to sing in the morning, and thus wake up sleepyheads.

** These first Acadiennes were the ancestors of today's Cajuns.

[I hope you don't find this Cajun story too corny.]



Hell Hound said...

Very interesting historical antidote.

Mike said...

We used to sing this song in grade school. I never knew what the words meant.

Elvis Wearing a Bra on His Head said...

So that's why they're so hot down in La.

Banana Oil said...

I enjoyed this amusing story and bit of history. Thsnks for shsring.

Big Sky Heidi said...

So basically that French song we learned in elementary school was about plucking a bird?

Bilbo said...

I guess that would explain the preponderence of beautiful women and naked larks in Louisiana...