France Through Canadian Eyes
The summer has been full of travelling and meeting new people! We travelled to Alberta, we toured the Gaspésie Region, and then our team made stops in New Brunswick and in Newfoundland. During the Memory Project’s summer events, I have had the chance to see and touch some amazing artefacts that have survived for over 65 years.
A small booklet that was given to Canadian soldiers in France. Property of Mr. George Bernard of Rimouski, Quebec.
In Rimouski (Québec), a veteran named George Bernard brought a small book along with him that specifically caught my attention. It was a small booklet that was given to Canadian soldiers who were going to France. This little blue book titled "France" with a drawing of l’Arc de Triomphe on the cover was not only a guide in order to situate oneself geographically but it also provided practical information, as well as information concerning France’s history in the war, French culture and the country’s inhabitants. For example, in the booklet you can see sections such as "The Results of Occupation", "The History and Geography of France" and "Things to Do and Not to Do". In this last section, one can read the following recommendations: "Do not discuss politics or religion." "If you are invited to eat at someone’s table, do not eat like an ogre since you do not want to deprive that household of whatever little rations they may have."
There is also a brief description of the French population and its behaviour, which ends with a note reminding the reader that likable and likable people exist everywhere, despite their nationality! Here is an excerpt:
"Ill-tempered people exist in France, as they do here. You will not simply meet kind Frenchmen. In general, avoid arguing if you come across an unpleasant person. Aren’t there at least one or two similar people in your own unit?"
The section on French history concludes with a paragraph titled, "What do the French people think of us?" However, do not fear! The answer is as follows: "Relations have been positive between both countries since 1940. The French people feel amicably towards Canadians."