L’ancienne capitale française

In 2013, I wrote an essay for the Newfoundland Quarterly about how my hometown of Placentia, the French capital of Newfoundland from 1660 to 1713, has a French history rather than a French heritage — that the town today likes to pretend it has some special Frenchness, but that this claim is false and has been since the mid-18th century. I meditate on what our imagined Frenchness means,  how it figures into our sense of identity as Placentia-people (Placentians?), and why we vigorously maintain this imaginary French heritage when all the facts are aligned against its existence.

Le Gaboteur, the French-language newspaper for Terre Neuve et Labrador, took note of my essay and recently asked if they could translate it and publish that translation. Of course I instantly said yes — it’s thrilling when someone does something creative with a text I’ve produced, and I consider translation to be a creative act. Also, I’m very pleased that my ideas will have a second jog around the block, as it were, and that they will be read by people who have a significant interest in the stakes of my essay.

The translation was completed last week, and it appeared today in the most recent edition of Le Gaboteur. If you have (or get) an online subscription, you can read it here. If you live in a part of Terre Neuve et Labrador where Le Gaboteur circulates, you can pick up the November 24 issue and turn to pages 9 and 10.

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