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

Early Years (1)

I was born on March 5, 1883, in Sainte-Marie de Beauce. My parents lived on a large farm, with a brick house, barns, a stable and sheds surrounded by trees and gardens. My father was Charles Barbeau, a farmer, stock-breeder and famous patron of trotting horses. My mother was Virginie Morency, daughter of Mrs. Jean Morency, a widow with independent means living in a beautiful large home. My parents should have easily lived comfortably as farmers. But there was little money to spare. They lived off their products and their labour (manual arts). It was a typically Canadian rural milieu. My mother, when she married my father, brought a dowry of one thousand dollars in cash, which was a great deal (and unusual) at the time. My parents were married in 1882.

My first memories were of me sitting beside my mother in a large covered wagon, on the road from Omaha to Clayton. My mother was alone with my younger sister and me; I was between two and three years old. My mother had a large box of candies. She gave me some. I asked for more. They were so good! That lasted a long time like that.

In Saint-François, on the rivière Gilbert, a large amount of gold was discovered in the alluvial deposits on the surface of the water. That was just next to the property of my grandfather Louis Barbeau. My father was struck with gold fever, which led him to leave his property to go west, where so many were drawn by the talk of gold. He left before the rest of his family (my mother, my little sister and me), rented his land, and went to Omaha, Nebraska, where four of his sisters were married-two to the Nash brothers, Americans from Vermont who had come to the Beauce to search for gold. Seduced by this North American dream, my father would go much further, to Clayton, Idaho, at the foot of the Rocky Mountains. All that is vague. It is not surprising that, disillusioned, they soon abandoned this foolish venture and returned to Sainte-Marie de Beauce in the fall of 1886. I was three and a half years old at the time.

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