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Cohoes, New York versus Lowell, Massachusetts: Where would you go if you were crossing the 49th parallel looking for work?
In the first chapter, "To the Wrong Side of the Border", Takai describes the predominate regions of Québec sending emigrants to Lowell, Massachusetts in the early twentieth century were Lanaudière and Maurice. Although hardly a stressed point in Takai's thesis, I find it very interesting. Lowell attracted French Canadians from Lanaudière and Maurice while, it would appear to me, Cohoes, smaller in size and manufacturing in the early 20th century, was attracting French Canadians from Montérégie and parts of the Richelieu Valley. Perhaps it was easier for Montérégie emigrants to make the trip directly south on the railroad into Cohoes. The Guertin (Yetto)), Bissonnette, Beauvais, St. Hilaire, Chaput, all came from the Richelieu Valley. The Rivet and the LaCasse families were exceptions. Instead of heading to Lowell like the majority of emigrants from Joliette and Lanaudiére, Maxime Rivet and Dedace LaCasse with their respective wives and children, headed to Cohoes at the end of the 19th century. Why did they come to Cohoes, New York instead of Lowell, Massachusetts? It's a perplexing question and cannot be easily solved. Did Maxime Rivet and/or Dedace LaCasse have prior relatives in Cohoes who wrote home and told them about the opportunities? Were there active recruiters from Cohoes in Joliette seeking manpower and womanpower for the mills? Although the answer isn't apparent at this time, perhaps someday my research will answer this question.
|New York Central Railroad Station in Cohoes: Where thousands of |
French Canadians Disembarked to work in the Cohoes Textile Mills
|Another view from the south of the New York Central Station|
Meanwhile, reading Gendered Passages, encourages me to consider the crossing from Lanaudiére to Cohoes, instead of Lowell, may have more to do with the women. Marie Lord and Marie Louise Mireault, respective wives of Maxime Rivet and Dedace LaCasse, may hold the key to solving this little mystery.
Yukari Takai: Author Profile