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LOUIS HÉBERT: A Legacy of Tenacity

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Immigrants to Canada have brought valuable expertise in industry, art, politics and economics. Many of the first arrivals came to farm and to feed a nation. Agriculture was, and is, a defining national industry. Québeçois filmmaker Richard Boutet celebrates the efforts of Louis Hébert, the first farmer to sow wheat in Québec.

French Immigrants to Canada have brought valuable expertise in industry, art, politics and economics. Today, 80% of Quebecers are living in cities but it has not always been this way. Many arrivals came to farm and to feed a nation.

Québeçois filmmaker Richard Boutet started a quest for identity back to the very first family of the country.

At the beginning of "Nouvelle France," farming was essential to maintain life. Louis Hébert was the first settler to sow wheat and vegetables in Québec in 1617. He was an apothecary (a scientist of healing plants) in the service of the king, the son of a known apothecary. He emigrated from France with his family and became a farmer as a way to earn his freedom. He was indentured for two years to the Canada Company during which time he had to turn over all his produce to the Company. Only then was he given his own parcel of land. Later in 1623, he was named Lord for his contribution. He died in 1627. His wife Marie Rollet and their three children continued the farming.

Ever since Hébert and other settlers learned the cultivation of corn from the native peoples, farming in the New World has evolved and adapted to changing needs and technology. Today, in Québec, farmers still follow the tradition of Hébert's tenacity. Despite the English Conquest, the American Revolutions, the colonial wars, the American invasion, the various repressions, the economic depression, and the march of time, farming has continued to sustain the communities and to feed the cities.

Prominent Québeçois filmmaker Richard Boutet traces the genealogy of Louis Hébert, capturing the seasons from seeding to harvesting, and charts the evolution of French immigrants to "Canayen" colonists and finally to French Canadians and Québeçois. Boutet explores the lasting legacy of Louis Hébert in the open markets of Québec City and Montréal. Between seven in the morning and six in the evening, the stalls are teeming with small growers of corn, potatoes and various fruits and vegetables. They sell their produce directly to passersby without middlemen. Here the descendants of Louis Hébert still ply their trade.

This film is a synthesis of 400 years. It outlines the legacy of Louis Hébert through time and through the everyday courage of the Immigrants who arrived from France.


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