Back to poetry and history

Should anyone wonder why I know for sure that my seventh great grandmother came to New France on a ship called the Saint-Jean-Baptiste out of Dieppe in 1671, here’s a record of the ship and some of its passengers.ship013Margeurite De Laplace is # 10 on the list, a fille du Roi, along with 2 carpenters, 2 masons, and 100 men 50 sheep… Also listed are ten donkeys.

The record also mentions that the ship returned to France in October with 10,000 pounds of beaver skins, 400 pounds of moose skins, 12 geese and a fox as gifts to King Louis XIV.

In the first poem in a minute or two/ without remembering, twelve year old Margeurite, orphan, speaks from on board ship. She was from the La Salpêtrière, at that time an orphanage/hospital in Paris.

She and Pierre LeSiege’s eldest daughter Louise would marry François Cottu (Coutu). She and François would become my sixth great grandparents and start the Coutu family and the Coutu name in Quebec and all over the world.


a minute or two/ without remembering

This post is in memory of my father, Gerald Coutu, who right up until he died, remembered bitterly almost daily that the English won New France in 1759.

front cover without flapPoems in a minute or two/ without remembering (2010 Two Cultures Press, North Bay, On) are spoken in the voices of my actual Coutu (Cottu) ancestors, encompassing 120 years of New France history roughly from 1680 – 1800.

What was it like for my 7th great grandmother arriving crossing the ocean to marry some unknown coureur de bois. Twelve years old, and within two weeks as a Fille du Roi, she would commit herself to marriage for life.

This is a family living through Iroquois attack, the deaths of children, going off to war, famine, plague and siege… to end up living under an English king.

Below is my sixth great grandfather’s signature (from a marriage certificate), published in gold on royal blue under the dust cover above. I wanted it to be there, like the foundation he was, as his arrival in Quebec was the beginning of the Coutu family in Canada. The squiggle after it possibly refers to his noble heritage in Picardy which goes back to Charlemagne. You may bow before me next time we meet, in recognition of my (the Coutu family) royal roots.

signature francois cottu