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Marius Barbeau A glimpse of Canadian Culture (1883-1969)
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Barbeau's Story

Time to Work

Since my father was a farmer and gardener, he had a great deal of work to do on his large farm. He needed help. He hired neighbours for different jobs: old Marcou, to thresh the corn in the battery; Michel Leclerc, to help make maple syrup and so forth. To be useful, my father had me pull out the weeds from the long rows of onions, carrots and so forth, all of them covered in weeds, especially pimpernel (primrose). On all fours, I weeded. But I didn't like it. I had to submit to authority.

Then came the time for ploughing. And my father was awarded first prize for agriculture in the parish by ploughing with a pair of oxen. I was the one, little guy, the "guide" for the oxen. With a large stick I would yell out: "Hue! Dia" (left, right) and the oxen slowly responded. That was midday, on the hillside, far from the house. My father, a dreamer, moody, often irritated, never spoke to me. I was in a hurry for the lunch basket, prepared by my mother before we left; she never went into the field. I was hungry; it was good! The fields and the hillside were beautiful, but sad in the fall. What a boring task, furrow after furrow. There was nothing nice about it.

During haying time, I would trample about with my little sister in the large cart. I was ten or eleven years old at the time. I was becoming the son of "a habitant", destined for the earth without wanting it, to become a farmer, as was the case with all the neighbours.

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