THE FIRST TOUGAS IN NEW FRANCE
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Prologue

Rémi Tougas, who wrote in 1979, Le Premier Tougard en Nouvelle-France, a book tracing the origins of the Tougas lineage in North America, is my second cousin. His father Rosario was my grand-father Hormidas Tougas’ brother.

 The idea of translating Rémi’s book had never crossed my mind. I had read it with great interest and enthusiasm and was extremely grateful that Rémi had undertaken the task yet it remained a precious book in my bookcase for my son to read and, one day, maybe, my grand-children.

 This wasn’t counting on my English speaking cousins’ – the descendants of Hormidas’ children who had immigrated to the United States – and their children’s frequent reference to Rémi’s book and to the fact they would indeed like to read firsthand about their Canadian roots.

 Thus, I decided to go ahead and take on the task. I didn’t expect to find the experience as fascinating as I did nor did I expect to be as touched as I was.

 Guillaume Tougard wanted to make a better life for himself when he decided to enlist and come to Canada. After all, he was risking a lot. Fighting Indians in North America wasn’t a typical career choice even in the late 17th Century. His three years of service finished, he decided to settle in New France. That he should decide to marry Marie Brazeau, an inn-keeper in Montreal, twelve years older than he was, who already had four children and a “reputation”, is an indication that Guillaume cared little for gossip and wasn’t afraid of taking on family responsibilities. He was quite convincingly a hard working man. In addition to being a wheelwright, he worked a plot of land, maintained an orchard and supported Marie at the inn.

 As for Marie Brazeau, the least one can say is that she was a woman of character. Her path is atypical. She wasn’t yet 20 years old when she traveled to New France with a newborn baby and without her husband. She acquired property in Montreal and managed her own affairs, signing her name firmly at the bottom of numerous contracts. She enjoyed the company of men and married four times. She had twelve children, three of which were out of wedlock. A keen businesswoman, creative, independent and strong willed, she did what she needed to ensure her family’s well-being. We can follow the lineage of Guillaume and Marie’s sons, Guillaume, Gabriel and Charles. I can’t help but wonder whatever became of their daughters once they were married. Marie-Anne died giving birth, but what about Marie and Pélagie?

 The story Rémi wrote brings to life Guillaume Tougard and Marie Brazeau in times of hardship yet of tremendous hope. It uncovers traits that have been transmitted from one generation to the other to help shape who we, their descendants, are. One can sense the heartbeat of a country and of a people being born, a people keeping alive and vibrant the French culture in North America.

 For all to enjoy and share.

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Adaptation et infographie : Maki | Communications Graphiques

Les traductions Jocelyne Tougas