Le passé plein les yeux, plein les oreilles!
Wilfred Rotte's farm, St. Jérome, Lake St. John, QC, about 1906
Wm. Notman & Son
About 1906, 20th century
Silver salts on glass - Gelatin dry plate process
20 x 25 cm
Purchase from Associated Screen News Ltd.
© McCord Museum
Keywords: Animal (838) , Photograph (77678)
This farm is located in Saint-Jérôme, a town founded in 1898 in the Lac-Saint-Jean region of Quebec. Saint-Jérôme was one of many such towns that sprang up during the province's colonization movement.
In the early 20th century five regions welcomed new thousands of new colonists: Ottawa, Témiscamingue, Lower St. Lawrence, Gaspé and Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean. The latter region was the first to be opened up, from about the mid-19th century to 1910. Several colonists' guides were published during that time; they sang the praises of these regions, sometimes adopting a propagandistic tone. For example, in 1890 the Québec-Lac Saint-Jean railway company published a guide to Lac Saint-Jean calling the region the "breadbasket" of Quebec and claiming that its climate and soil were very favourable for agriculture. The booklet also extolled the benefits of being close to a railway line:
"[...] The construction of the railroad from Lac Saint-Jean, where it has already reached Roberval on the very shores of the lake, will soon be extended east and west, in order to provide colonists with as many access points as they need. The region is especially suitable for raising livestock. The forage is so rich that sheep from Lac Saint-Jean are already famous for the quality of their meat, and several railway cars, loaded with these animals as well as cattle, were shipped to market this year."
The first colonists arrived in the second half of the 19th century, especially from Charlevoix. Before planting their crops, they had to do the back-breaking work of clearing their land (cutting trees and other vegetation to make way for crops). Thus, in the early years, the colonists could barely live on what their land produced, and many men had to go to work in the logging camps in the area. However, in the 1880s the dairy industry took root and soon Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean became known for its commercially produced butter and cheese. With a strong dairy industry, local farmers no longer had to depend on logging to pay the bills.