French Connections : Franconnexions Conference
March 20th, 2017, International Francophonie Day
University of Vermont, Burlington
A conference highlighting the historical, cultural and economic contributions of French Canadians from Québec into Vermont and New England.
Between 1830 and 1930, close to one million immigrants from Québec poured into Vermont and New England, populating towns and villages, starting new businesses and farms. While many of these new immigrants settled closer to the border, others spread throughout Vermont and into New England. The influence of these new settlers on the state and region was vast, from politics to culture, to the economy. In many northern schools in Vermont, French was as frequently spoken as English. Today, while the phone book remains heavily dominated by French surnames, this huge influx of population is largely integrated. Yet some 25% of Vermonters trace their ancestry to French Canada.
In this conference we look at the past, the present and the future of these cross-border migrations and relationships. In three panels we examine this story, asking these fundamental questions:
- Past: How and why was Vermont and New England populated by so many French Canadians in the 19th-early twentieth centuries? When, how and why did this massive influx assimilate?
- Present: How do cross-border connections with Québec, in tourism and in trade, continue to shape the culture and economy of Northern New England?
- Future: How does the French Canadian wave of immigration relate to current immigration trends? What can we learn from the past as we think about the future?