Thursday, August 16, 2007

Le Forum - Published by Le Centre Franco-Americain

Portland Press Herald
August 16, 2007
By Juliana L'Heureux

Le Forum's summer edition is packed with 55 pages of cultural information about Franco-Americans and Acadians. If you're fortunate enough to subscribe, the latest edition is already in your mailbox.

Published by Le Centre Franco-Amricain, Universit du Maine, in Orono, the magazine-style quarterly newspaper is sent to 4,500 subscribers, mostly Franco-Americans, living in the United States.

"Stories in Le Forum are about current cultural news. I keep a copy in our family's reading basket for several months, until the next issue comes out," says Rita Dube, executive director of the Franco-American Heritage Center in Lewiston. "There's something interesting to read on every page."

Articles submitted for publication are written in French or English, depending on the primary language of the writer. "L't" (the summer) edition of Le Forum includes Franco-American articles from contributors living in all the New England states and includes subjects like books (livres), poetry (posie), art, music (musique), genealogy (gnalogie), some local current events and, mais oui, food.

Writer Denise Rajotte Larson wrote several informative articles about colonial Quebec. She reports on the favorite first names given to children of the colonial era French who settled in Quebec during the 1600s. She explains, "When it came time to name the babies born in New France, the parents kept to tradition and used names that were popular in their family and in France at that time."

Not surprising, "Marie" was the most popular French-Canadian girl's name, writes Larson. There was a common practice of honoring the Holy Family, and the name "Joseph" was the most popular name for baby boys. These religion-related names are also popular Franco-American middle names. After paying tribute to the Holy Family, the second most popular girls name was Louise. For boys, Jean (honoring Saint John the Baptist) was the second-most popular name.

French families, who often raised more than a dozen children, could easily use up nearly all the popular first names. Larson's article also lists the surnames of the first residents of Quebec who lived in the city during the lifetime of its founder, Samuel de Champlain.

In the article, "Companions of Champlain: Founding Families of Quebec, 1608-1635," Larson writes in English about the particular circumstances that drove the first French settlers to leave France and follow Champlain on his mission to settle New France.

For the most part, writes Larson, the first French settlers were intent on supervising a trading post for the Company of New France, with the purpose of shipping native animal pelts to Europe. In exchange, the ports in France were obliged to send certain foodstuffs and living supplies back to the Quebec settlers.

In settling New France, she concludes, the Quebec-French pioneers set a new culture in motion, one less formal than the European social structure they left behind. Among several genealogy articles, one is also a history lesson. A genealogy article by Charles Francis, a retired Maine teacher now living in Belleisle, Nova Scotia, describes Acadian history and the story of the Acadians arrival in northern Maine, beginning in June 1785, after the 1755 British deportation.

About 1.5 million Acadians live throughout the world, with the largest population center being in Louisiana, reports Francis. They're descendents of the 10,000 Acadians brutally ousted from their Acadie homeland and exported by the British.

Information about how to support or subscribe to Le Forum is available from Centre Franco-Amricain, Orono, Maine 04469-5719; or by e-mail to Yvon Labbe
Juliana L'Heureux can be contacted at:


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