2018-09-07 / Community

Author to speak of Franco history

Biddeford Cultural and Heritage Center will host a presentation by author David Vermette 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 26 at McArthur Library in Biddeford.

Born and raised in Massachusetts, Vermette has a family connection to Biddeford, where his grandparents lived and are buried. He is a researcher, writer and speaker on the history and identity of the descendants of French North America.

He will discuss industrialization, immigration and religious strife encountered by Franco-Americans, along with his new book, “A Distinct Alien Race; The Untold Story of Franco- Americans.”

Americans don’t think of Canada as a source of potential terrorists – speaking a foreign tongue, serving a foreign religion and invading their country. But when a million French-Canadians crossed the border between 1840 and 1930, many seeking work in New England’s burgeoning textile industry, they were cast as foot soldiers in an alleged Roman Catholic plot to subvert the United States.

Vermette’s book looks at these Franco-Americans in the context of contemporary issues: the rise and fall of manufacturing in the U.S.; nativism and the fear of the other; emigration to the U.S. across land borders; and the construction of race. The topic is “significant now,” says Vermette, “because we think what’s happening on our southwestern border is unique and unprecedented, and it’s just not.”

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