French Canada After 1759

For two hundred years, writes George Woodcock, French Canadians have been battling to preserve their national and cultural identity.

More than most other histories, that of French Canada can be expressed in a single word—survivance. During the two centuries since Wolfe and Montcalm, the victor and the vanquished, looked with dying eyes upon the Plains of Abraham, where the old dream of New France also expired, the idea and the fact of survival have been constant preoccupations of the people of Quebec.

As it is applied there, survivance means a great deal more than merely political survival. It means the survival of a group identity, almost a collective way of thinking. It means the survival of a French seventeenth-century view of life in twentieth-century North America. It means the survival of a language, a religion and a set of legal precedents, that in their turn have become symbols of the survival of the “race” or the “nation.”

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