Sharing the Voyage of Life

When European settlers came to make homes in North America, different European countries concentrated in certain areas. The English settled along the Atlantic Ocean, the Spanish went south and to the southwest, and the French went inland on the St. Lawrence to what is now Quebec.

Samuel de Champlain is considered the founder of New France. He established a home in what is now Quebec in 1608, the year after the English founded Jamestown, Virginia. New France eventually spread as far south as Louisiana, but France sold the vast southern portion of New France to the United States in 1801, a sale Americans call the Louisiana Purchase (that’s what President Thomas Jefferson sent Lewis and Clark to explore on their famous expedition).

Eventually the main French influence in North America became concentrated in what is now the Canadian province of Quebec, where French continues to be the official language.

When Ray and I decided to make our journey from Boston to Quebec in late April, our main purpose was to enjoy the cruise with our friends and take in the sites where the cruise ship landed. However, something very special happened to us when we first landed in Quebec.

I have already written about the warm welcome our ship received when we landed in Saguenay. As we wandered around the dock, looked at the historic displays, and joined in the folk dancing, . . .

Folk Dancing in Saguenay

Folk Dancing in Saguenay

I started thinking about my French Canadian ancestor Timothy Demonbreun, whom I wrote about recently. Ray had done some research about Timothy before we published our first history curriculum, Exploring Tennessee, back in 1999. I had done more research while writing America the Beautiful. We told some of Timothy’s story in both books. Timothy Demonbreun is the Anglicized version of his name. He was actually born in New France and his full name was Jacques Timothe Boucher sieur de Montbreun.

I decided to speak with the Saguenay man who seemed to be the main person in charge of the activities on the dock to see if he knew anything about my ancestors. It seemed like a longshot, but I decided to give it a try. He immediately recognized the name Boucher (which is actually Timothy’s family name, but more about that later) as someone involved in the history of Quebec. My interest was piqued, and I decided to explore more about my heritage while we were in the province.

I had learned previously that Timothy’s great-grandfather Pierre Boucher had been a leader in New France and that his statue was outside the parliament building in Quebec City, the provincial capital of Quebec. I thought this was nice, but had never really thought all that much about it (which seems silly, considering our occupation, but it’s true nevertheless or none-the-loose, as my daddy used to say).

Quebec City was our destination the next day. The men who traveled with Lewis and Clark were called the Corps of Discovery. Since my own discoveries in Quebec, I have been on a voyage of discovery. As I began my own voyage, I didn’t want to travel alone. As Ray and I walked up the hill to the village of Saguenay, Ray shared my excitement and I called my brother to tell him what I was learning about our common ancestor.

One of the multitude of gifts you are giving your children day after day is the gift of people with whom they can share their voyages, parents and siblings in particular. Ray and I reconnected with precious friends back in March. Since then, they have traveled from Texas to Nashville to support his sister and from Texas to Jackson, Mississippi, to celebrate her brother’s retirement. Sibling sharing and support is precious. Joys are sweeter and trials are easier to bear when they are shared.

Rejoice with those who rejoice,
and weep with those who weep.
Romans 12:15

Yesterday Notgrass History released our new audio supplement for Exploring America for high school. Click here to see a quick video and learn more. The audio supplement is on sale for 20% off through Monday, July 17.


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