I do wish that I hadn’t set aside the violin when I hit my teens. (Side note: Now I’m wondering if giving up had anything to do with my parents’ divorce.) I also wish that my family had had some sort of connection to Acadian traditional music. I wasn’t even exposed to French-Canadian fiddle traditions until a couple of years ago. Didn’t even know that such a thing existed. For me, fiddling was most indelibly associated with bluegrass, Irish, Cajun, and Romany traditions. Yeah, I should have guessed that the Cajun fiddle had to grow out of something, but sometimes I’m not that bright.
Increasingly I regret having grown up in a cultural void. The primary thing that identifies culture (i.e.language) was something that I did start out with, but I was teased out of that by the "better-adjusted" Canuck kids. Being French Canadian meant that I had roots on Sand Hill in Augusta, Maine. It also meant that I got to go to a Catholic school, attended wedding receptions at Le Club Calumet, and knew what cretons was. I can make mean french toast, understand the value of "grade B" maple syrup, and can say that my grandfather worked a lumber camp during WWII.
Aside from these snippets, I know virtually nothing about French Canadian culture or where the hell I came from. I’ve been to Quebec once. I don’t speak French any longer. I have no connections with branches of my family that didn’t move to Maine in the 1930’s and 40’s. I don’t even know what town my family is from. It’s like when my ancestors crossed the border, they left almost everything behind.
I’ll leave you to consider a modest proposal for addition to the text on the Statue of liberty: Your technological and cultural distinctiveness will be added to our own.
*One of the sponsor’s listed for Le Club Calumet, "Bilodeau Motors," represents another little piece of my lost heritage, albeit for entirely different reasons.