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Asterisks

So what about asterisks? Stories like these, based on real people in real populations tend to gather a number of characters making the cast look more like something from Dickens or Tolstoy than Elmore Leonard. These people had large families providing large numbers with the same last name and they used precious few first names resulting in many folks with identical names. Early in my research I used the asterisk to note important characters, usually a member of the family line of the story. When I began the books I knew many readers would be interested in the genealogy of the era so I persisted with the asterisk. As the audience broadened, many readers weren’t particularly interested in this and it is to them I give my apologies for the asterisk. Just realize it does help keep the main-character, Pierre*, apart from the twenty other Pierres encountered along the way.
Confused? Coming next: Cliff Notes for the Allard Series.  Read More 
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In the beginning

Before I explain those pesky asterisks, I suppose I need to explain more about how the books came to be. What started as a short trip to the local library clutching a paper and pencil in case I found anything worth jotting down became a fifteen year quest for information leading me deeper and deeper into the bowels of libraries and other sources including many trips to places far away in quest of answers. Along this voyage, I wrote some reports and some brief synopses on the life of so-and-so, but it became ever more evident that something on a grander scale was calling. It was not data. It was people—all manner of people—screaming to escape the dank depths of the bibliothèques to return to the daylight if just for enough time to tell their stories, something they could do much better than I.
And what stories they were! More to come… Read More 
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Early life in New France

At the end of the day, The Allards Book One: The New World is about early life in New France. Most of the tales are inspired by French-Canadian literature and the volumes of stories from my Grandmother and Great-Grandmother: Stories of clearing the virgin forest and planting the first farms, hunting and fishing, brutal snow covered winters and idyllic summers with Sunday picnics, a tradition that lasted into my childhood. Stories of travel by water and that wonderful native invention, the canoe as well as stories of the inventors of the craft, the native Canadians both friend and foe. Attached is a picture of the guy responsible for all of it—the beaver.
In closing I should mention those pesky asterisks but I think I’ll save that for next time.  Read More 
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Winter In Quebec

Life in Quebec during the late 1600’s was hard to say the least. Anyone who has experienced the Winter Carnival in Quebec likely remembers the weather (photo). The colonists differed greatly from their English counterparts to the south. The population was routinely Catholic and, of course, predominately French. Anyone who has visited both England and France has experienced the delightful differences between the two groups even today. Native relations were different as well due to the attitudes of the two European cultures as well as the respective natives. The Algonquin who predominated New France were hunters and relatively nomadic while the Iroquois in New England tended toward agriculture and stable communities. Francois Allard worked for three years for Anne Ardouin, a widow with adult children, and her relationship with an Indian family would not have been odd. I chose to maintain this relationship with the Allards throughout the early books. I also took the opportunity to bring both mundane daily and exciting famous events into the lives of my characters. More about that later… Read More 
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Madeleine de Roybon, Fille de Roi

More Filles de Roi: Due to the wealth of information, it is simple to discover who came to Quebec at about the same time. Hence I was able to assemble a group of likely shipmates, (or shipmaids?) of Jeanne. A wonderful prospect was Madeleine De Roybon D’Alonne. I shortened her name to Madeleine De Roybon for simplicity. She and Jeanne were about the same age and would have been among the more mature young ladies of the group. The friendship was a natural. However Madeleine’s life in France and Canada differed from many of the others. Her father was likely a land owner and officer in the King’s company. It would appear from this and Madeleine’s life in Canada that she had no small amount of money. She never married but appeared to be the long-term mistress of Rene-Robert Cavelier de La Salle, the famous explorer. He and his inland ship, The Griffin, play a short but pivotal role in Book Two:The Hunter.
So why does this child of privilege come to Quebec? Perhaps sent away from something or someone? And why does she choose a life of sin to the sanctity of marriage? Obviously, she was too juicy to leave out of the book. Incidentally, Jeanne’s last name sometimes shows as L’Anguille, which unfortunately translates from French as the eel.  Read More 
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Filles de Roi and marriage contracts

I’ve been asked about marriage contracts: The contract was a legal agreement to marry between the two parties—usually after they met during a group meeting at the convent. However, the marriage could not take place until the banns had been read at mass for three weeks. In addition, marriages frequently were delayed until after the harvest. As a result, the parties had time to reconsider. As it turns out, French Canada was at the forefront of women’s rights. The WOMAN could cancel the contract! This from a country (France) where women were not allowed to vote until 1946, and women needed their husband’s permission to work until the 1940’s.
Frequently these young inexperienced women would agree to marry the first man they met, or perhaps one they found attractive. Later, returning to the girls’ lodging, their friends would give them advice—usually find a man with money and property—causing them to cancel that day’s contract and return for another try. Although many women only signed one contract, a few signed and cancelled as many as twenty!
More fun facts about the Filles de Roi later.  Read More 
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Jeanne Anguille: Fille de Roi

Jeanne Anguille: I often find the women in the Allard Series to be the most fascinating characters, and Jeanne is certainly an example. (Therese Allard in Book Six: The Medallion is my favorite but more on her some other day.)
Research reveals a wealth of information concerning Jeanne which presents a number of quandaries for the genealogist but fertile ground for the novelist: She came to Quebec in 1671 as a Fille de Roi (FdR), the FdR records hint who else may have come on the same voyage. She did not stay at one of the FdR housing units but under the protection of Lady Anne Gagnier. She came with a dowry, and was 24 years old (old for a FdR). She married Francois Allard in November of 1671.
Her home was Artannes-sur-Indre, a small French village on the banks of the Indre River in the heart of the spectacular Loire Valley Chateau Region. Both her parents were living at her departure, and the dowry hints her father had some means. The church of St. Maurice in Artannes is next to an old Abbey famous from the time of Jeanne d’Arc (Joan of Arc). We visited Artannes, the church and Abbey in 2001. It remains a lovely riverside village. To discover how I interpreted the facts in the matter of Jeanne Anguille, you must read Book One: The New World.
Here are photos from the mill and the Abbey in Artannes-sur-Indre.
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Filles de Roi

More about writing Book One: The New World:
Why in the world would you leave France and go to Quebec in 1660? Great question. We all know about coming to America to avoid overcrowding, religious persecution, hunger, disease, etc. But there was little of this in France. In fact, very few people ever came to The New World from France. The government was not interested in colonization, only fish and the fur trade and people to support those industries. Cartier had told the king about the Native Americans and he supposed if he sent French males, they would breed with the Indians and produce colonial Frenchmen. Unfortunately, the wilderness was more enticing than the towns and the men who did bond with the Indians frequently ran off to the woods.
As a result, the King conceived the Filles du Roi, possibly the most interesting group ever to cross the Atlantic.
More about them and their role in Book One to come… Read More 
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More on Book One

More about writing Book One: The New World:
Laval, the first bishop of Quebec, ordered parish data: births, marriages, etc. be kept in two separate locations so they could not be lost from fire, etc. As a result, one of the benefits of French-Canadian research is remarkably complete data. This enabled me to find, for instance, the time people came to the New World, and who their fellow passengers might be, and it’s not odd their families remained close in Quebec. Guillaume Renaud and his family remained close to the Allards up to my lifetime. In addition, stories of the voyages, the nature of the boats and the many hardships: storms, becalming and pirates were common.
More later… Read More 
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