My name is Félix St-Denis and I'm from around Hawkesbury, a small village called Chute-à-Blondeau. My whole family has, from one generation to the next, been living in that region. It's a remote corner of Ontario that's really French-speaking. I come from a family where our identity as French Canadians, as Franco-Ontarians, is very important. Yes, it's a matter of being Francophone, of being proud of who we are and of our culture.
There's plenty to see in Ottawa. First of all, there's the Change of the Guards on Parliament Hill, and then, as Félix lives in Ottawa, he will be showing us his city. Well, as we mentioned, it's the National Capital, it is the heart of French-speaking Canada. It's quite something to see. Félix is looking for a French-speaking soldier on Parliament Hill. Indeed, Félix is passionate about French. He has taught us new Franco-Ontarian expressions and we politely laugh at his accent.
Ottawa has known its share of fights for the preservation of the French language. One of the most famous was brought about by Bill 17 which forbade the teaching of French in schools. The "war of pins" took place in this city. Mothers, armed with hat pins, defended the rights of their children and of all those of generations to come. The Bill was passed in 1912 and was abolished in 1927. The language of New France's founder would be perpetuated in Ontario. Samuel de Champlain, born in Brouage, France, in 1567, died in Quebec on December 25th, 1635. Geographer of the King, navigator, explorer, founder of Quebec City and governor of New France. The first among distinguished Canadians.
Ontario and Quebec
We got in a hot-air balloon to see how Ontario and Quebec are right beside each other.There is only a river separating them.
We passed Mont-Antoine, we passed right through it, you see the largest part of the lake. We are between Ceramic and Snake Creek. Over 400 years ago, Samuel de Champlain and Étienne Brûlé came up this river by canoe. Back then, it took more than four weeks to go from the Ottawa region to Huronia. There were 50 portages to do, they had to walk long distances with large bark canoes and loads of supplies.
It was built around 1639, that was the beginning of Ste.-Mary. It was a mission village, that is to say that there were Jesuit priests here. The great mission of Ste.-Mary, from 1639 to 1649 represents the beginning of a French presence in Ontario. At a certain time, up to 65 Francophones lived among the Hurons, whom we then called the Ouendats. In 1648, there was enough corn to feed more than 6 000 Ouendats. About 30 years before that, Étienne Brûlé came here as a scout. Then, Samuel de Champlain spent a whole winter here in Huronia.