A Canadian Family

First Nations, French Canadians & Acadians

“Mon pays ce n’est pas un pays c’est l’hiver …”

Carnival of Genealogy 64th Edition – Winter Fun


Mon pays ce n’est pas un pays – these are the first few words of one of Quebec’s best-loved songs by chansonnier Gilles Vigneault.

A literal translation reads “my country is not a country, it’s the winter” but it sounds much more poetic in French and for Quebeckers these words really evoke the sense of isolation created by Quebec’s fierce winter storms. They also evoke the different ways in which l’hiver has shaped our psyche – and in some circles l’hiver is even a metaphor for our sense of distinctiveness from the rest of Canada. So in Quebec, winter is more than a word – it’s a notion that’s at once seasonal and political!

Today, barring rare natural catastrophes such as the Montreal Ice Storm of 1998, winters are not so terrifying or isolating, and as I browsed through our photo collection I noticed that our photos usually depict scenes of winter fun. Here’s one from the mid-fifties near the Theriault apartment on rue de l’Eglise in Verdun. These two little girls are from Theriault Generation 12 – and when we were that age we only spoke French! I don’t remember much from those earliest winters – but I do know I felt cherished and protected.

Verdun, 1950s (A Canadian Family, Photo Collection)

Verdun, 1950s (A Canadian Family, Photo Collection)

Have you noticed the wavy line around the outer edge of the photograph?

The youngest among you may not know this but photographs used to have these edges. I remember they often came attached in little booklets and we could tear them out along a little dotted line. I think this might be an example of that because there’s one edge that’s smooth and straight and three that are wavy. The straight edge might be the tear-away part. Does anyone else remember these little booklets?

* * * * *

Mon pays c’est l’hiver – Gilles Vigneault

Photomontage by Bartonica



January 7, 2009 - Posted by | .


  1. What a darling photo!


    Comment by Dorene | January 15, 2009 | Reply

  2. I remember well the ice storm of ’98, it was absolutely devastating. My husband was still working on the cleanup in August of that year and I hope it was a once in a lifetime event!

    I also remember the little photo flip books and may have one around here – someplace.


    Comment by Apple | January 18, 2009 | Reply

  3. Greetings, Thank you for sharing the great photo and the story! I too not only remember the wavy edged photo’s, but I am sure I have some of my mother’s somewhere! I guess I will be searching for some today!


    Comment by Taylorstales | January 18, 2009 | Reply

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