Being "in the field" has kept me super busy, but things have been great. This a quick post with a few pictures and descriptions of where I've been and what I've been doing
The very first thing that I did upon arriving in Québec City was a trip to the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec for the exhibition Les arts en Nouvelle-France (the arts in New France). This is the first major exhibition on the subject in decades and included objects from nearly every genre and medium present during the period. Furniture, paintings, silver, sculpture, printed media, and ceramics formed the crux of the show.
I had the chance to meet with Parks Canada staff for a private tour of the archaeological site of the forts and château-Saint Louis! Archaeologist Pierre Cloutier, Curator Claire Desmeules, and Historian Brigitte Violette went out of their way to offer me a private tour of the site, hidden under the boardwalk of the Terrasse Dufferin. It was great to talk about my research with the staff and exchange ideas, all while learning more about the site with the experts.
The manoir Mauvide-Genest was built in two parts on the Ile d'Orléans, a large island in the middle of the Saint Lawrence River. Now open to the public, I met with the director to talk more about the collections and furnishing plan. The manoir is one of the few surviving French colonial structures in Canada, and I felt that it was important to include it in my research itinerary. A symbol of the seigneurial system and the semi-feudal nature of French colonial Canada, it was the heart of a large estate that included roughly the western half of the island. The manor was built by Jean Mauvide, a French-born surgeon from Tours, who continued to practice medicine and directed mill and shipbuilding businesses from the house.
Louisbourg deserves its own post...it was fantastic. The reconstructed fortress sits on the coast of Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia and interprets the year 1744. By 1750, Louisbourg was the fourth largest settlement in North America and an important French power base. Taken by the British in 1745, it was returned to France after the end of the War of the Austrian Succession in 1748, then taken again by Britain in 1758 during the Seven Years' War. Rather than risk having to give it back to France a second time, the British bombarded it, leaving nothing but ruins that were rebuilt in the 1960s. The Fortress of Louisbourg is the largest historic reconstruction effort in North America. Its most imposing reconstructed building is the king's bastion, where the governor, military officials, soldiers, and domestic staff were lodged. With historian Anne Marie Lane Jonah and curator Ruby Fougère, I toured the governor's apartments and got a preview of an upcoming exhibition on furnishing Louisbourg and the importance of probate inventories.
Trois-Rivières was founded in 1634 and represents the second permanent settlement in New France. The third largest community in the colony after Québec and Montréal, Trois-Rivières offers a number of historic sites that date to the French regime, including the manoir Boucher de Niverville. Begun in 1668 and enlarged in 1729, the manor is restored and offers a thematic exhibition on the colonial bourgeoisie. Site administrator Julie Desaulniers showed me through the exhibition, and generously took the afternoon to show me around the historic area of Trois-Rivières. Super fun!
A graduate student with an interest in the people of the past and their things