The Metamorphoses of Landscape and Community in Early Quebec

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McGill-Queen's Press - MQUP, 2000 - History - 231 pages
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In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries French settlers radically transformed the landscape of the St Lawrence river, creating strong local communities that became the crucibles of a New World nationalism. Drawing on the insights and methods of cultural history, Colin Coates examines the seigneuries of Batiscan and Sainte-Anne de la Pérade, recreating the social relations between individuals and ethnic groups that inhabited the area. He shows that successive waves of immigrants sought to appropriate the landscape of the New World and replace it with a physical and cultural reality much closer to their European roots and traditions.
French settlers distanced the indigenous people and flora and fauna to create a landscape that by the mid-eighteenth century had become recognisably European. British industrialists and landowners attempted similar appropriations with far less durable results and the area remained a heartland of French-Canadian life, with a sense of cohesive community. This community spirit, rooted in agrarian landscape, was channelled into the developing sense of colonial nationalism of the 1820s and 1830s.
Drawing on maps by explorers and surveyors, correspondence documenting the conflict between a backwoods priest and his parishioners, a gentlewoman's sketchbook, and the documents of a bitter court case between a seigneur's wife and a local priest, Coates illuminates the development of the region and the social, cultural, and economic ties and tensions within it, providing insights into the often hidden values of a rural community.
Colin M. Coates is director of the Centre of Canadian Studies at the University of Edinburgh.

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About the author (2000)

Colin Coates was the host of the 2002 conference on "Majesty in Canada." He is the author and editor of various books, including the award-winning "Heroines and History: Representations of Madeleine de Vercheres and Laura Secord" (with Cecilia Morgan). He is currently Canada Research Chair in Canadian Cultural Landscapes at Glendon College, York University, Toronto.

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