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Power from the north : the poetics and politics of energy in Québec Desbiens, Caroline 2002-09-22

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POWER FROM THE NORTH: THE POETICS AND POLITICS OF ENERGY IN QUEBEC b y CAROLINE DESBIENS B.A., Concordia University, 1992 M.A., University of British Columbia, 1997 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY i n THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES (Department of Geography) We accept this thesis as conforming to the required standard THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA November 2001 © Caroline Desbiens, 2001 UBC Special Collections - Thesis Authorisation Form http://www.library.ubc.ca/spcoll/thesauth.html In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanced degree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make it freely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensive copying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of my department or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying or publication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my written permission. The University of British Columbia Vancouver, Canada 1 of 1 2001/11/15 2:12 PM ABSTRACT In 1971, Robert Bourassa, then Premier of Quebec, launched a major hydroelectric scheme to be built 1400 km North of Montreal. Known as the "James Bay" project, the first phase included the creation of eight powerhouses, six reservoirs and the diversion of two rivers. These transformations necessarily impacted the local Cree people; a territorial agreement partly compensated them but remains controversial to this day. While northern communities overwhelmingly bear the ecological cost of the project, the bulk of James Bay energy flows south to the industrial centers of Quebec, Ontario and the U.S. The assertion then that "James Bay belongs to all the Quebecois" which was meant to ease political tensions about the project begs the question, "Who are the Quebecois" and how do the Crees fit within such a community? This thesis explore that question by looking at the Quebecois cultural production of territory and its resources in the north. If James Bay was out of reach, it was never out of view. Media and political discourses reiterated key elements of a Quebecois cultural relationship to place, some of which are contained in the rural literature known as the roman de la terre. Several elements of this literature and its broader context were recontextualized in James Bay, particularly as they pertained to the will to occupy the land and develop natural resources. This was an important aspect of making James Bay - a land historically inhabited by the Crees -into a "Quebecois" national landscape. I suggest that this process was largely rooted in representations of nature that sought to bind it with nation and national identity. Thus James Bay demonstrates the close connection between identity and environmental struggles. For the Quebecois, the access to James Bay was supported by a territorial discourse that performed their own cultural past. This provoked an organized resistance from the Crees which constituted them as a modern political unit. A look at the cultural geography of the region highlights the political scales created in the accessing of resources that render their equitable and sustainable use more difficult to achieve. ii. TABLE OF CONTENTS ABSTRACT p. ii LIST OF FIGURES . vi MAP OF QUEBEC . ix QUEBEC AND JAMES BAY - IMPORTANT DATES p. X ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS p. xiii PORTFOLIO 1 p. 1 MISE EN SCENE p. 7 Opening . 7 "The world begins today" . 7 The politics of energy . 11 Viewing points p. 19 The view from the balcony . 19 Viewing the land / viewing "the people" p. 25 Locating theories . 30 Development: ordering North and South . 33 Geography of the field p. 36 City and wilderness . 36 Conducting / enacting research . 39 Redirecting the gaze / relocating the field p. 43 See what you will see: Power from the North p. 46 PORTFOLIO 2 p. 53 PROLOGUE p. 58 The British Conquest and early rule p. 63 From French to British America p. 63 Interpreting the Conquest . 67 The Patriot Rebellion p. 69 The Durham report . 71 iii. The nineteenth-century rural ideal p. 78 Rurality and religious ideology p. 78 Leaving the land p. 81 La Conquete du sol . 84 ACT 1 - ROMAN DE LA TERRE: WRITING NATURE AS NATIONAL IDENTITY p. 92 An archetypal narrative? . 98 Maria Chapdelaine . 103 "Making land": wilderness versus rural nature p. 104 Choosing rural nature, choosing the nation . 108 Trente Arpents p. Ill Blood and soil: losing a cultural anchor p. 113 Unnatural nature: the experience of exile . 117 L'Appel de la race p. 119 Homo quebecensis . 121 Nature as national space . 123 Jean Rivard, le defricheur / Jean Rivard, l'economiste p. 127 Habitant, planner and economist p. 131 Rural ideal, development ideal . 134 Rural ideal and Quebec moderne: contrary or complementary natures? p. 138 PORTFOLIO 3 p. 141 ACT 2 - WILD AND RICH: SCRIPTING JAMES BAY AS A SPACE OF DEVELOPMENT p. 149 Trading weapons, tapping nature's wealth p. 157 Spectacle p. 163 Recognizing a familiar landscape p. 165 iv. Scripting , p. 173 Linking the dots p. 174 A portable landscape . 1178 Nature as a standing reserve p. 181 Tracks . 185 Reading the land p. 186 Governmentality . 194 A father's attention . 198 Seeing like a national subject p. 203 PORTFOLIO 4 p. 210 ACT 3 - BUILDING WATER: A GEOGRAPHY OF "THE PEOPLE" p. 216 Women at work: in difference and solidarity p. 227 Placing women: space and sexuality in the work camp . 228 Women with no femininity: reinscribing gender and race p. 236 Pioneers and water builders: contemporary James Bay as a "people's geography" p. 243 Viewing the colonial past p. 246 Working / owning the land . 252 Building water: nature as national resource p. 258 PORTFOLIO 5 p. 264 EPILOGUE p. 271 James Bay - another look ; p. 272 Natural resources - a political landscape p. 274 Identity politics as environmental politics . 279 Performing/challenging the past through development p. 281 Multiculturalism in the wilderness p. 286 Power from the North: cultural critique as environmental study p. 290 BIBLIOGRAPHY p. 295 v. LIST OF FIGURES Figure 1: Map of Quebec p. ix Source: The Natural and Human Environment of the La Grande Complex (Hydro-Quebec, 1992), p. 2. Figure 19: The Order of Northern Conquerors p. 152 Source: Le Soleil (Quebec, 15 February 1969), p. 22. Figure 20: Bourassa. Father of James Bay . 201 Source: Personal collection of the author. Figure 25: A prayer p. 233 Source: En Grande, Vol. Ill, No 3 (March 1976), p. 2. Figure 26: Strange trees . 233 Source: En Grande, Vol. IV, No 15 (August 1977), p. 2. Figure 27: Sketch of the Robert-A.-Boyd Park . 247 Source: Societe des Sites Historiques de Radisson, Pare Robert-A.-Boyd I Concept d'interpretation (Radisson, 1999), p. 27. Figure 28: A country of giants. Homage to the water builders p. 252 Source: Societe des Sites Historiques de Radisson, Pare Robert-A.-Boyd I Concept d'interpretation (Radisson, 1999), p. 22. PORTFOLIO 1 Figure 2: Bienvenue, Wachiya, a la Baie James p. 2 Source: Nord-du-Quebec, Baie James (Quebec Guide Touristique 1999/2000), p. 1. Figure 3: LG2 machine hall p. 3 Source: The La Grande Complex - Phase 1 (Hydro-Quebec, 1991), p. 25. Figure 4: LG2 main dam . 4 Source: P. Turgeon, La Radissonie (Montreal: Libre-Expression, 1992), p. 111. Figure 5: LG2 escalier de geant p. 4 Source: P. Turgeon, La Radissonie (Montreal: Libre-Expression, 1992), p. 110. Figure 6: Power. Key to becoming "Masters in our own house" p. 5 Source: A. Bolduc and D. Latouche, Quebec un siecle d'electricite (Montreal: Libre-Expression, 1979), p. 260. Figure 7: Now or never! Masters in our own house p. 6 Source: A. Bolduc and D. Latouche, Quebec un siecle d'electricite (Montreal: Libre-Expression, 1979), p. 276. Figure 8: Nationalisation. Key to the kingdom p. 6 Source: A. Bolduc and D. Latouche, Quebec un siecle d'electricite (Montreal: Libre-Expression, 1979), p. 277. PORTFOLIO 2 Figure 9: Power for the Quebecois p. 54 Source: Forces 48 (Montreal, 1979). Figure 10: A source of energy that belongs to us p. 55 Source: Forces 97 (Montreal, 1992). Figure 11: Quebec's North. What is it for you? p. 57 Source: Forces 48 (Montreal, 1979), pp. 92-93. PORTFOLIO 3 Figure 12: Secretary behind her desk p. 142 Source: En Grande, Vol. 11, No 5 (May 1975), p. 4. Figure 13: Pleasures of landscape. Bourassa viewing the La Grande... p. 144 Source: P. Turgeon, La Radissonie (Montreal: Libre-Expression, 1992), p. 110. Figure 14: LG3 dam. "A concrete arm holding the La Grande" p. 145 Source: Forces 68 (Montreal, 1984). Figure 15: LG2 escalier de geant p. 145 Source: Le Reseau (Hydro-Quebec, 1990), p. 2. Figure 16: Rushing waters. Another view of the escalier de geant p. 146 Source: Forces 68 (Montreal, 1984). Figure 17: Maestro Bourassa p. 147 Source: Forces 104 (Montreal, 1993-1994), p. 40. Figure 18: LG4. A global geography . 148 Source: Forces 68 (Montreal, 1984). vii. PORTFOLIO 4 Figure 21: "Developing a [rational] vision for the future" p. 211 Source: Forces 104 (Montreal, 1993-1994). Figure 22: Profession pionneer p. 212 Source: Forces 48 (Montreal, 1979). Figure 23: Worker as "Hydro-Quebecois" p. 214 Source: A. Bolduc and D. Latouche, Quebec un siecle d'eTectricite (Montreal: Libre-Expression, 1979), p. 404. Figure 24: Under the gaze . 215 Source: Hydro-Qu6bec archives. PORTFOLIO 5 Figure 29: A handshake (JBNQ Agreement) p. 267 Source: P. Turgeon, La Radissonie (Montreal: Libre-Expression, 1992), p. 117. Figure 30: The Odeyak p. 268 Source: Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Astchee), Never Without Consent: James Bay Crees stand against forcible inclusion into an independent Quebec (Toronto: ECW Press, 1995). Figure 31: International outreach - Earth Day 1992 p. 269 Source: Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Astchee), Never Without Consent: James Bay Crees stand against forcible inclusion into an independent Quebec (Toronto: ECW Press, 1995). Figure 32: Another look at the escalier de geant p. 270 Source: Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Astchee), Never Without Consent: James Bay Crees stand against forcible inclusion into an independent Quebec (Toronto: ECW Press, 1995). viii. QUEBEC AND JAMES BAY - IMPORTANT DATES 1534 Jacques Cartier plants a cross in Gaspe in the name of the Roy de France . 1611 First recorded contact between natives and Europeans in James Bay. 1670 The Hudson Bay Company is incorporated by the British Crown. 1760-63 British conquest of New France. 60 000 French colonizers remain. 1763 Paris Treaty. France cedes its Canadian colony to England. 1774 Quebec Act. Quebec gets its language, old civil law and freedom of religion. 1791 Constitutional Act. Divides Upper and Lower Canada. 1837-38 French Patriot uprisings and defeat. Main leaders executed or sent into exile. 1839 Royal inquiry into the Patriot uprisings (Durham report). 1867 Canada's Constitution Act. "One dominion under the name of Canada." 1912 Quebec frontier is extended North to the Hudson Strait. 1944 Creation of Hydro-Quebec. 1944-59 Maurice Duplessis is elected four times as Prime Minister of Quebec. His leadership is referred to as "La Grande Noirceur" and ends with his death in 1959. 1960 Election of Jean Lesage leader of the Liberal Party. Beginning of the Quiet Revolution. 1962 Lesage and his government are re-elected with a mandate for the "nationalization of electricity", symbolized by their campaign slogan "Maitres chez nous." 1967 General Charles de Gaulle's "Vive le Quebec libre!" Creation of the movement for Sovereignty-Association by Rene Levesque. 1968 Pierre Elliot Trudeau becomes Canada's Prime Minister. 1970 April: Bourassa elected Prime Minister. October: Political crisis which ends with the assassination of Pierre Laporte. 1971 April: Bourassa launches the James Bay project. July: creation of the "Societe de developpement de la Baie James" (SDBJ) 1972 Cree and Inuit people seek an injunction against the project in the Quebec court. 1973 Judge Albert Malouf orders construction to cease on the La Grande complex. His decision is reversed a week later. 1974 Labour dispute leads to a riot at the LG2 work camp. The site is closed for over a month. 1974 Grand Council of the Cree is formed with Billy Diamond as Grand Chief. 1975 James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement is signed between the Cree, Inuit, and Naskapi and the governments of Quebec and Canada. 1976 Rene Levesque defeats Robert Bourassa to become Quebec's Premier. 1979 LG2 Complex is inaugurated. 1980 First Quebec referendum on separation from Canada. "No" side wins with 60% of the votes. 1982 Patriation of the Canadian Constitution and creation of a Charter of Rights and Freedoms. 1985 Bourassa defeats Rene Levesque and is re-elected. During the campaign, he proposes to pursue Phase II of the James Bay project (Great Whale). 1988 Bourassa announce that construction will begin on the Great Whale river in the spring of 1989. 1990 Cree and Inuit people network with environmental groups to lobby against Great Whale. Their cause receives international attention at an Earth Day rally in New York City. xi. 1992 New York Power Authority cancels energy buying contracts with Hydro-Quebec. 1993 Bourassa resigns from his position as Premier of Quebec. He dies of cancer in 1996. Parti Quebecois elected with Jacques Parizeau at its helm. 1994 Jacques Parizeau cancels the second phase of the project "indefinitely", stating that it is no longer a priority of his government. 1995 Second referendum on separation. The "no" side wins again with only 50.6% of the votes. xii. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS I wish to thank the following people for their help throughout the writing of this thesis: Dan Gibbons for formatting the images; Alan Penn for offering invaluable comments and suggestions; Derek Gregory, Geraldine Pratt, Cole Harris, Allan Pred and Neil Smith for showing me how to stick with difficult questions. During the research process I have benefited tremendously from my exchanges with other geography students: I thank Alison Mountz, Margaret Walton-Roberts, Helen Watkins, Wendy Gibbons, Minelle Mahtani, Laimis Briedis, Etienne Rivard, and Bob Wilson at UBC, as well as Cheryl Gowar and Noriko Ishiyama at Rutgers. The members of my family in Montreal - Natalie, Rita, Jean-Yves and Lise - provided endless encouragement along the way, as did my in-laws here in Vancouver. I thank each one of them. I am grateful also to Annemarie Gockel for remaining a close friend throughout the Ph.D. Finally, thank you Aurian for taking every step of this thesis project with me. Your turn now. xiii. PORTFOLIO 1 r. Figure 2: Bienvenue, Wachiya, a la Baie James (tourist brochure) Figure 3: LG2 machine hall Figure 5: LG2 escalier de geant 4-. MHfll < 1* ****** «-» ; K ** * « [PREMIERE EDITION IA METEO "" -~ • - • "•— Cesf te people vs le trust, offirme Al Jean Lesage L electricite: clef qui nous rendra MAlTRES chez nous ft* (Wit **<t*« «»' wit prmrj *M Iw -tcrs •-' <MM** if wut i. rwamiiar'. pBIBi • « • ..^!. / .<•,.>•.. jire* inuptuifiiAMRir' Is » f.'.v/ .. f:-'.«.! (Me M ..-.IJ-.;-- •'•Jlic •> I'/uuaiu OB-JI^IT" W <0*»n "iff mW«t f*W« = <>#. • <ippnnmi V* J* IMMF »<*- « • M »«* — • ** •*- - • m Apres 1'admission de Heredfth Des bagarres eclatent a 1 Universite du Mississipi De-us perscww soul tofe, piusiears son! biessees MM. lapalme el Levesque: "II falfaif du courage..." Lesage attaque ,w v violemment TUN ,rr-:\ W, «,f ,!» -• - • « ••• " — fiw i^;.... .. v» w—v Urn 11. MMU * • JtsTi |Iej debard«vn jMoirse ou Texos La prese a loyte liberie air Quebec En p«9« 5 MM j En peg* 1$ "It* fkmnaKi la tib«ri* mix «tckrv*s, nous OHWMSJ cei/* <i*s f»mm« librvV ** faj^.-S^imT tu" |*,0*<l**fl*- lUdocJwt; Men* EowdMnitotu ZSTJ* Figure 6: Power. Key to becoming "Masters in our own house' 5. X 6. MISE EN SCENE "// ne sera pas dit que nous vivrons pauvrement sur une terre aussi riche. Nous sortirons de notre inferiorite economique. Le gouvernement, qui a un grand role a jouer dans ce projet, Vassumera pleinement."1 Robert Bourassa, Premier of Quebec James Bay launching ceremony April 30th 1971 Opening "The world begins today" It has been thirty years since Premier Robert Bourassa pronounced the above words in front of five thousand ecstatic supporters, cheering for his Liberal government and the miraculous growth it promised to bring to the province of Quebec. After completing his first year in power, Bourassa had gathered his party congress to look back on the beginning of his term and announce the direction his government would take for the immediate future. The audience had waited impatiently in almost complete darkness for their leader to enter the brightly illuminated stage. Having sufficiently delayed his entrance for the crowd's mood to reach its highest point, Bourassa suddenly appeared on stage at the junction of two brilliant beams of white light. Waving at his supporters who gave him a triumphal standing ovation, he left the platform to go sit in the first row amongst representatives of his own riding. Seated thus and plunged into darkness 1 "It will not be said that we will live poorly on such a rich land. The government, which has a great part to play in this project, will assume it entirely." Quoted in R. Lacasse, Baie James: V extraordinaire aventure des derniers pionniers canadiens (Paris: Presses de la Cite, 1985), p. 67. 7 like the rest of the audience, Bourassa and the other members of his government symbolically joined the spectators' ranks to witness, on three giant screens, a preview of the monumental show they were about to produce for the Quebec population: this show would be known as the James Bay hydroelectric project. For most Quebeckers living in the south of the province, this region was seen as a wilderness devoid of economic and social activities; this despite a history of trading relations with natives going back to the seventeenth century.2 Electricity production had become an emblem of Quebec's political strength since the government take-over of the energy sector - the so-called "nationalisation" of electricity - which had been an important precursor of a period of state expansion in the mid-twentieth century. Hydro-Quebec had been created in 1944 with a mandate to provide energy to the municipalities, enterprises and citizens of Quebec at the cheapest possible cost. It did so by gradually acquiring private-sector energy corporations, most of which were run by the province's anglophone business class.3 Hydro-Quebec had turned its sights on Northern water resources very soon after its creation; but, it was on the night of Bourassa's speech in 1971, when he launched the project, that James Bay entered more fully the Quebecois cultural imagination as a national territory, one 2 The first recorded meeting between Natives and Europeans happened in 1611. In 1670 the fur-trading "Hudson Bay Company" was incorporated by the British Crown and granted a vast portion of land known as "Rupert's Land", corresponding to what is today James Bay, Hudson Bay and the Northwest Territories. HBC officials arrived in Eastern James Bay that same year to establish the first trading post in Charles Fort. Rupert's land became part of the Canadian Union in 1870 and Quebec's Northern frontier was extended in 1912 to reach up to the Hudson Straight (see map). D. Francis and T. Morantz, Partners in Furs: a history of the fur trade in Eastern James Bay 1600-1870 (Kingston and Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press, 1983), pp. 16 and 24. 3 See C. Hogue, A. Bolduc and D. Larouche, Quebec, un siecle d'electricite (Montreal: Libre Expression, 1979), pp. 228-349. 8 which would hold tremendous economic, political and cultural significance for the expansion of the Quebecois nation. According to the initial plans, the James Bay development scheme was to have encompassed three phases with a projected total cost of nearly fifty billion dollars: these were the La Grande, Nottaway-Broadback-Rupert (NBR) and Grande-Baleine (Great Whale) complexes (see map). In the end, only ,the La Grande Complex was completed, at a cost of approximately thirty billion dollars. Its installed capacity is 15 700 megawatts (MW), and is thus capable of generating large surpluses since the provincial population of only seven million people. This is all the more remarkable since three quarters of Quebec's energy is supplied by electricity and Quebec's cold winters generate long periods of high demand. Although La Grande has only a fifth of the Colorado river basin, it produces about three and a half times as much energy as its generating stations. This is the result of eight powerhouses and six reservoirs on the river, and the diversion of two additional rivers: 87% of the Eastman river basin and 41% of the Caniapiscau were rerouted into the La Grande to nearly double its potential.4 The largest powerhouse of the La Grande Complex - originally referred to as LG2 but recently renamed in honour of Robert Bourassa who died in 1996 - currently has a capacity of 7 326 MW, which is more than twice that of the Hoover dam.5 LG2 includes three central elements that 4 Hydro-Quebec information brochure, Le Complexe La Grande (1998), p. 17. Subsequent details about the powerhouse are taken from The LG2 Powerhouse (Montreal: Societe d'energie de la Baie James, 1980). 5 The Hoover dam possesses 2 000 MW of installed capacity. The completion of additional structures (known as LG2A) in 1992 places the complex third in the world in terms of size, after Guri in Venezuela (10 300 MW) and Itaipu in Brazil and Paraguay (9 940 MW). If completed, the Three Gorges project in China is poised to take 9 have been widely celebrated as marvels of modern technology. First, the main dam - two and a half kilometers long and fifty-three stories high -holds back the waters of the LG2 reservoir, which has a capacity of twenty-three million cubic feet of water. Secondly, the machine hall where the generators are found is located more than one hundred meters underground; measuring half a kilometer in length, it was carved straight into the granite and is the largest of its kind in the world, housing sixteen turbine generator units. It became common during its contruction to indicate its scale by saying that it was twice the size of the Chartres cathedral in France: indeed, the machine room is commonly referred to as the "Underground Cathedral", a figure of speech strongly suggesting the perceived connections between technology and divine power.6 Scale and supernatural status are also rendered metaphorically in the third key element of LG2, which is the spillway mechanism adjacent to the dam and reservoir. The spillway has become the most recognizable icon of the project and is referred to as the escalier de geant. Its twelve descending steps - each of which is twelve meters wide and twenty meters high - are intended to regulate the flow of water when valves are open to release overcapacity in the reservoir above. The reference to giants has been a key figure in the symbolic enframing of the region by the Quebecois, adding a the first rank. Hydro-Qu6bec, Le Complexe, p. 17. In order to be consistent with the time period, I refer in this thesis to what is now the Robert Bourassa Complex by its original name of LG2 (La Grande 2). 6 The following description offers one example: "Quand je penetre enfin dans la salle contenant une des turbines, une telle impression de puissance illimitee s'impose a moi que je me dis que si la technologie pouvait arriver a creer un dieu, il ressemblerait a ce groupe turbine-alternateur... Dans un vacarme presque insoutenable, je me prends a songer a ces moulins a prieres tibetains qui, en tournant, sont censes procurer au fidele les merites attaches a la repetition des formules sacrees qu'ils contiennent. Quelle priere proferent done a leur fagon les turbines de LG-2?" P. Turgeon, La Radissonie: le pays de la Baie James (Montreal: Libre Expression, 1992), p. 114, my emphasis. 10 decisively epic tone to the construction project.7 During the first ten years, between 1971 and 1981, a total of one hundred thousand people worked to build these various structures, with a maximum of eighteen thousand employees during the peak period prior to the inauguration of LG2 in 1979. It is this decade - and, in particular, the emphasis then established on vision and spectacle in representations of the LG2 complex - that constitutes the focus of this thesis: this period, and its predilections, coincided with important changes in Quebec whose impacts still shape the national question in the province today. While the James Bay development was little more than a blueprint in 1971, the Premier wanted to make it clear from the very start that he was thinking on a grand scale and that he was about to treat the population of Quebec to a truly spectacular production. Indeed, casting all ambiguity aside, the short film that presented the project to Bourassa's audience in Quebec City was entitled "The world begins today."8 The politics of energy For all its presumption, such an assertion was none the less consistent with the series of major political, economic and social changes that were taking place in Quebec at the time, known collectively as the "Quiet Revolution." Canada's only French-speaking province, Quebec has been the center of a francophone culture whose territorial grasp was significantly reduced when the English took over the colonies of New-7 A similar reference is found in the Cree's "Giant Beaver Story" where Giant Beaver is a mythical figure whose travels and various actions have become toponymic references throughout the region. Brian Craik, personal communication (March 2000). 8 Hogue et al., Quebec, p. 353. 1 1 France in 1760. The sixty thousand French settlers who remained continued to develop a rural landscape along the St.-Lawrence river that provided a physical backbone for their culture, language and religion which connected the reproduction of a distinctive tradition with the maintenance of a rural way of life. The Quiet Revolution was envisioned as a critique and a break from this deeply sedimented ideology. It was set in motion with the election of Liberal leader Jean Lesage in June of 1960, after sixteen consecutive years of the conservative rule of Jean Duplessis.9 A champion of nationalism strongly based in tradition, Duplessis had sought to maintain the religious and agricultural character of Francophones through social pillars such as the patriarchal family, parish life, and a cult of the past encapsulated by the rural sphere.10 In deliberate and marked contrast, Lesage's arrival brought about the secularization of the provincial state and the deployment of a series of in-depth reforms that would gradually redefine social institutions and reshape the character of Quebec society, especially for its francophone members. Starting from the premise that the state was the most effective tool available for francophone Quebeckers - or Quebecois, as the term emerged then - to retain their language and improve their socio-economic standing in the province, Lesage and his ministers were proponents of what they called a "new nationalism" entrenched in strong government. The central plank of their second election platform in 1962 was the nationalisation of electricity. The liberals conducted the campaign under the banner of a slogan that was to 9 Lesage's cabinet became known as 'I'equipe du tonnerre' and was followed by two subsequent governments before the election of Robert Bourassa in 1970. While historians identify the 1960-66 period as the Quiet Revolution in a strict sense, the "spirit" of this era is recognized to have lasted at least into the early eighties. P.-A. Linteau et al., Histoire du Quebec contemporain, Tome II (Montreal: Boreal, 1989), p. 423. 10 lb id., p. 347. 12 become the emblem of the Quiet Revolution: Mattres chez nous ("Masters in our own house", see Figures 6, 7 and 8). Rene Levesque, who was minister of natural resources from 1961 to 1964, played an important role in Hydro-Quebec's take-over of eleven private utilities across the province, a process which he viewed as the "decolonization" of the energy sector from the control of anglophone "colonial barons."11 The nationalization of electricity was advertised as the "key to the kingdom" that would finally put the francophone majority of Quebec in control of its own territory, industry and development. These changes, and many others, led to a renewed sense of national pride and a wave of political affirmation by Francophones in Quebec, whose culmination may have very well been the election of Rene Levesque's separatist government in 1976, which called the first referendum on independence from Canada in 19 8 0 -12 Unlike L6vesque, Robert Bourassa was not a separatist - but he was, none the less, a nationalist - and his policies toward resources and development were imbued with his own brand of economic nationalism that was in large measure fully congruent with the spirit of the Quiet Revolution. Bourassa's first action after officially launching the James Bay project was to introduce a bill to the National Assembly - known as Bill 50 - to create a corporation which would oversee all aspects of northern development, 11 R. Levesque, Memoirs (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1986), pp. 170-171. Although he started his political carreer as a Liberal, L6vesque founded the "Movement for Sovereignty-Association" in 1967, which became the Parti Quebecois prior to its election in 1976. 1 2 Separation was rejected in this referendum by a majority of 60%. A second referendum was conducted on October 30th 1995 under the leadership of Jacques Parizeau. This time the "No" side won by a razor thin majority of 1.2% (54 000 votes). The plebiscite saw an outstandingly high voters' turnout, with 93.5% of eligible voters casting their ballot. 13 whether in the area of water resources, forestry, mining, transportation or tourism. To specifically address the creation of a hydroelectric network, this "Societe de developpement de la Baie James" ("James Bay Development Corporation", subsequently referred to as SDBJ) created a sub-division which would be known as the "Societe d'energie de la Baie James" ("James Bay Energy Corporation", SEBJ).13 Throughout the 1970s, Bourassa remained firmly committed to the goal of developing and fueling the province's industrial base with what he called "Power from the North."14 With their strong focus on electricity and northern resources, his policies strengthened the Quebecois sense of territoriality to such an extent that the economy of which James Bay was to be the engine was constituted as an unequivocally nationalist one. The question of who would benefit from such a mammoth project made it rife with political conflict from its 13 It is important to note that Bourassa ran into fierce opposition when he sought to challenge Hydro-Quebec's hold on the province's energy policies by creating the two separate institutions. Although meant to be distinct at the beginning, both became subsidiaries of Hydro-Quebec which was to run the installations once they were built. Since further development has been halted in the region, the SDBJ is now defunct and the activities of the SEBJ have been redirected to providing local and international engineering expertise for large-scale energy project. The fact that, from the moment of its creation, the SEBJ was in some sense a phantom corporation that could hardly be distinguished from Hydro-Quebec was strongly apparent during my fieldwork. Although most documents pertaining to the first phase of the project bore the sole stamp of the SEBJ (not that of Hydro-Quebec), their archives were filed with those of Hydro-Quebec. I spent some time researching in the current SfiBJ resource center, but found little relevant information. From what I could gather b y inquiring with the staff, most of the current employees of the SEBJ - a small set of offices located in a Hydro-Qu6bec building - were working on projects with no direct link to James Bay. For an overview of the debates around the creation of the SDBJ and Hydro-Quebec's position when Bill 50 was introduced in the Quebec parliament, see R. Leroux, "Une bataille de Titans qu'Hydro a remportee." La Presse (October 1979), p. 4. 14 The expression - in French, L'tnergie du Nord - is the title of a book Bourassa wrote after completion of the first phase of the project, which he dedicated to Quebec's youth. The book was translated into English and clearly aimed at a Northeastern American audience, the potential buyers of Quebec's electricity surplus. R. Bourassa, L'Energie du Nord: la force du Quebec (Montreal: Quebec/Ame>ique, 1985). 14 inception. Commenting on these conflicts, Robert Boyd, then president of the SEBJ, stated that: Cette politisation de toutes les couleurs a eu deux consequences desastreuses: elle a masque l'objectif principal du projet - a savoir la satisfaction des besoins energetiques du Quebec - et elle a serieusement menace sa credibilite... Heureusement, le temps a fait son oeuvre et la passion cede tranquillement la place aux arguments de raison. Pour notre part, nous avons toujours ete convaincus que la population avait droit a une meilleure information sur le projet de la baie James. En definitive, ce projet appartient a tous les Quebecois..15 In mentioning the "politicisation" of the project, Boyd was partly referring to the court injunction obtained by the Cree in 1973 to stop work on the La Grande complex, and to the negative press that ensued. The conflict that opposed First Nations people to the James Bay developers generated harsh criticism - in Quebec, in Canada and internationally - from those who saw the scheme as both an illegal appropriation of territory and a serious threat to the environment. What I wish to emphasize, however, is that these conflicts should not be seen as the derailment of a project that ought to have gone smoothly simply because it "belonged to all the Quebecois": that it was in some way a purely technical project. On the 1 5 "This politicising under every banner has had two disastrous consequences: it obscured the central objective of the project - that is, to meet the energy needs of Quebec - and it seriously undermined its credibility... Fortunately, time has done its work and passion is quietly yielding to reason. For our part, we have always been convinced that the population had a right to be better informed about the James Bay project. In the final analysis, this project belongs to all the Quebecois." See "Le Projet appartient a tous les Quebecois." En Grande Vol. 1.11 (November 1975), p. 11, my emphasis. 15 contrary, I suggest that, through assertions like Boyd's, James Bay was not "depoliticized" but was rather rendered more intensely political since the term "Quebecois" was by no means a generic or inclusive one. From the narrative of conquest in which the project was framed to the signing of an agreement with native people, James Bay showed - and continues to show - that policies aimed at economic expansion cannot be separated from the cultural becoming of a community; indeed, it is also these economic policies that shape and control the boundaries of the nation. Here the terms "community" and "nation" should not be understood unproblematically: while both imply the sharing of a common set of discourses and practices, it is important to remain attuned to the processes that create such a common basis. Culture is a powerful agent in fashioning not only the community, but also the scales at which a sense of community is shared. I suggest that it is precisely the production of various scales where meaning is shared that gives culture - understood as an active agent of the "taken-for-granted" within a particular group - an economic and political dimension. The case of James Bay is exemplary in this regard: what was portrayed on the one hand as a rationalised economic plan to exploit a territory's resources was also a platform for Quebecois nation-building. This platform was built at the expanse of the local cultural ecology of the Cree, and the legitimate territorial rights that followed from it. In insisting uncritically that the project "belonged to all Quebecois", the architects of James Bay avoided the more difficult question of who could share the accepted meanings of this community and accept the scale at which these meanings were - or aspired to be - circulated. An examination of the cultural and political geography of the first decade of the project can shed light on that question and show how intricately connected culture, politics 16 and economic development can become within the structure of the nation. Such an analysis is the main purpose of the present study. That Bourassa never consulted with the native inhabitants of the James Bay region - the Cree, the Naskapi and the Inuit - before launching the project provoked them into mounting' an organized opposition. The Cree heard about the hydroelectric project from a day-old Montreal newspaper picked up by Philip Awashish in Chibougamau. Shocked to read that the "project of the century" was to destroy vast amounts of native ancestral territories, Awashish organized a meeting at the end of June 1971 where elders and chiefs discussed a course of action: this led to a court battle and the signing of a territorial agreement with the Quebec and Canadian government in November 1975.1 6 Amounting to approximately eight thousand five hundred people in 1970, the indigenous population of Northern Quebec has more than doubled since thanks to a recent native population boom that is widespread across Canada.17 The main feature of the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement (JBNQA) was its division of the land into three categories with variable rights over each of them.18 Its 1 6 B. Richardson, Strangers Devour the Land (Post Mills, VT: Chelsea Green, 1991), pp. 80-84. 1 7 These numbers are derived from S. McCutcheon, Electric Rivers: the story of the James Bay project (Montreal and New York: Black Rose, 1991), p. 42; Hydro-Quebec information brochure, The Natural and Human Environment of the La Grande Complex (1992), p. 55. 1 8 Category 1 includes Cree and Inuit villages and lands reserved for exclusive native use (1.3% of the whole territory); category 2 encompasses public lands with exclusive hunting, fishing and trapping rights for natives (14.4%); category 3 corresponds to public lands where native retain their harvesting rights (84.3%). G. Beauchemin, "The Unknown James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement." Forces 97 (1992), p. 16. For a critical assessment of the agreement ten years after its signing, see S. Vincent et al., Ten Years After. Proceedings of the Forum on the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement (Montreal: Recherches amerindiennes au Quebec, 1988); R. Mainville, "Visions divergentes sur la comprehension de la Convention de la Baie James et du Nord Quebecois." Recherches Amerindiennes au Quebec Vol. 23.1 (1993), pp. 69-79. 17 implementation brought massive changes in the education, social services and economic infrastructure of the territory. The latter can be regarded in some measure as another Quiet Revolution in Quebec, this time within some segments of native society. These transformations have brought Cree and Quebecois people into a new relationship, where the complex and uneven colonial relations that have marked each group have been reconfigured into a different cultural and political geography.19 Their relationship reached a point of crisis in the early 1990s, shortly after a newly re-elected Bourassa announced that the second phase of the project, Great Whale, would go ahead. In renewing their fight against the project, the Cree now bypassed the Quebec government to go straight to the intended market for the surplus power of Great Whale. To do so, they forged alliances with major environmental groups such as the Sierra Club, Audubon Society and Greenpeace which helped them to raise international awareness. They were successful in their approach: in March 1992, the New York Power Authority, Hydro-Quebec's biggest client, canceled a four billion dollar contract. Using the media in the 1990s as strategically as the proponents of development had done during the 1970s, the Cree were able to disseminate more broadly their own counter-narrative and thus to challenge the dominant narrative of Quebecois nation-building in their territory. This shift in perspective was captured by Grand Chief Matthew 1 9 Because the Cree constitute the largest group and were more directly affected b y the development than the Naskapi and Inuit, they have been at the forefront of the struggle over James Bay resources. The Inuit communities of Ivujivik and Povungnituk refused to sign the JBNQA and conflict necessarily arose between them and the Cree who accepted to negotiate. Because a full account of these complex relations is beyond the scope of this thesis, I focus on the interactions between Cree and Quebecois. It must also be noted that while Cree communities are spead across the Northern part of Ontario and the Prairie provinces, this thesis refers specifically to the Eastern James Bay Cree. 1 8 Coon-Come's when he asserted that, for the Cree, "Bourassa's dream has become our nightmare."20 Viewing points The view from the balcony If the three decades that followed Bourassa's launching of the James Bay project were an important era for everyone in Quebec, they also have a much more personal significance for me since they stretch almost exactly across the span of my own life. Growing up in a francophone suburb of Montreal during the 1970s and 80s, it often seemed that James Bay was the sole engine driving Quebec's political and economic life; its effects were palpable in the working-class milieu that surrounded me since the project provided many of our family friends and neighbours with their regular source of income. From a child's - and at the time exclusively francophone - perspective, kitchen-table discussions yielded many intriguing details about the mammoth scale of the project, the struggle it shaped between the power of technology and the "forces of nature", the tensions it created between workers and their "bosses" or, even more intense, between whites and "Indians". Added to these oppositions, I now realize, was the question of gender. The majority of these discussions pictured James Bay as an overwhelmingly masculine work space where the presence of women seemed paradoxical and literally out of place: an imaginative geography that did not bode well for the role of women within the nation these 2 0 "Bourassa's dream has become our nightmare. It has contaminated our fish with mercury. It has destroyed the spawning grounds. It has destroyed the nesting grounds of the waterfowl. It has displaced and dislocated our people and broken the fabric of our society." Quoted in M.E. Turpel, "Does the Road to Quebec Sovereignty Run Through Aboriginal Territory?" In D. Drache and R. Perin, Negotiating with a Sovereign Quebec (Toronto: James Lorimer & Company, 1992), p. 104. 19 workers were supposed to be so actively building. In this casual, everyday exchange of anecdotes and popular information, James Bay emerged as a far-away and almost mythical location, richly defined through the language of those who had stories to tell. The gradual construction of this imaginary territory, which took place during the first ten years of my life, was given an intensely physical form by the sight of a gigantic machine resting on the bed of a transportation trailer. The driver was a neighbour setting out to deliver his cargo to LG2. He had caused quite a stir by taking a detour through a succession of small suburban streets to give us all a sense of the scale of the James Bay construction site. Just as the size of a whale can suggest something of the ocean's expanse, so the magnitude of this vast block of metal summoned up an image of an almost infinite territory. For myself, and I imagine for many of the people gathered around this spectacle, the idea that such a remote destination, such a vast space, could belong to the territory of Quebec required a great expansion of our imaginative geographies. The occasional fleur de lys that bloomed across the windows and balconies of our working-class lives were sure signs to us that a nation was in the making; the shape and contours of its space, however, were much harder to grasp. The journey of this iron limb made us acutely aware that its destination and all the resources that region contained were part of Quebec's territory too since, as political discourses repeatedly assured us, "James Bay belonged to all the Quebecois." And yet, as I now realize, whether the privilege of this citizenship, this sense of collective ownership, could be claimed by all the inhabitants of the geographical space known as Quebec independently of language, class, race or gender was a pivot of the 20 national debate. For the indigenous population of the North, the politics of energy that was intended to make them proud Quebecois spelled a policy of assimilation. Thanks to the economic boom that would be brought to the region, it was argued that the Cree should take the opportunity to move beyond their subsistence activities and become fully integrated into the market economy. If the Cree were now to be invited into the Quebecois nation, it was under the assumption - indeed the condition - that they would adopt a "proper" framework of interaction with the land that would benefit the national economy. And so, of course, the question must still be asked with regard to James Bay and the national subjects, like myself, that it helped to produce: "Who are the Quebecois people?"21 Running through the present study is a critical anxiety concerning that question since the latter cannot simply be answered by saying that the Quebecois are those who live in Quebec. Rather, the term must be understood in the context of the cultural, political and linguistic history it bears, and of how this history produces and maintains difference within the national body. Life experience, academic interests and cultural identity thus inform each other throughout this study. When I imagine myself back at the kitchen table or on the sidewalk where my sister and I contemplated that 2 1 The phrase is taken from an article by Sallie Marston, "Who are 'the people': gender, citizenship, and the making of the American nation." Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 8 (1990), pp. 449-458. From its emergence, the term "Quebecois" has generated conflict because it is seen to represent only the francophone population of Quebec at the exclusion of racial and linguistic minorities, and of other French speakers who live outside the province. For those who do not speak French, "Quebecois" is indeed a problematic designation because it is virtually untranslatable, thus making language the condition of entry into the national community. For a broad discussion of this question in the Quebec context see, among others, M. Elbaz et al., eds., Les Frontieres de I'identite: modernite et postmodernisme au Quebec (Sainte-Foy: Les Presses de l'Universite Laval, 1996). For a Cree perspective on self-determination, see Grand Council of the Crees, Sovereign Injustice: forcible inclusion of the James Bay Crees and Cree territory into a sovereign Quebec (Nemaska: Grand Council of the Crees, 1995), pp. 9-36. 2 1 giant machine, the extent to which the James Bay project inhabited our everyday life in the 1970s becomes vivid once again. Its constant presence on every media surface provided a framework for social interaction in my immediate community as well as a point of reference for other, external world events which it helped us to grasp and make sense of. Through the constant flow of text, images and everyday conversation about James Bay, I was able to envision what I would now describe as a social and geographical sphere extending far beyond my immediate surroundings. For if James Bay was out of reach, it was never out of view. From 1977 to 1983, the La Grande complex had a filmmaker/photographer in residence who produced more than thirty films which were shown across Quebec in different venues, in addition to other video documents and slide shows. Simultaneously, an extensive campaign of public relations generated numerous brochures, pictures and company publications that were made available through traveling kiosks of information. Public relations also did much to socialize the workers themselves into a highly particular sense of their part in the project, in an effort to make them convinced ambassadors of the La Grande Complex. If these measures failed to reach all of the population, special radio and TV programs were guaranteed to extend the reach of this publicity still further. Each major stage of accomplishment was marked by an inauguration, the most important of which were shown on live television throughout the province. This mediatizing of James Bay represented what could be understood as a form of travel1 writing "in reverse." Indeed, during the erection of the dams, it is not the people of Quebec who traveled to the construction sites so much as the construction sites that traveled to them, thanks to the 22 broad diffusion of texts and images. In large measure, the media barrage of the late seventies and early eighties was a controlled response to the negative publicity the project had initially received. In addition to the injunction obtained by the Cree and Inuit in 1973, a labour conflict that escalated into a riot brought, once again, the closure of the construction site during March and April 1974. It was not until this labour dispute was resolved and a territorial agreement signed with native people that the project was somewhat rehabilitated and the development corporation free to mount an extensive public relations campaign to improve its image and regain some form of public approval.22 Although my focus will be on this campaign and its dominant messages, it is important to remember the climate of resistance and confrontation in which they emerged, and to remember also that neither the Cree nor the Quebecois constituted a passive audience. While this study analyses the dominant discourse adopted by the agents of development in James Bay, I wish to stress that the "effectiveness" of this discourse always remains in question. In fact, the excessive appeal to spectacle by Bourassa and his government is itself an indication that hegemonic control over the meaning and becoming of the project was impossible to achieve: the effort to "stage" James Bay like a theater production was meant to suggest that the project was already fully scripted and that its outcomes were known. In presenting it as such, the Liberals sought to introduce an element of control - a horizon of meaning in which the project would appear intrinsically logical, inevitable and teleological - to a series of events whose unprecedented social and 2 2 For details on both set of events, see Hogue et al., Quebec, pp. 363-370; McCutcheon, Electric, pp. 42-63; B. Richardson, Strangers, pp. 296-327. 23 environmental impacts would otherwise made them visible as contingent, unpredictable and hence subject to criticism. The public relations campaign of the late seventies used various forms of outreach that were directed toward non-native people living in the South of Quebec. Although organized trips did take some visitors to James Bay, their experience of that space was arguably as tightly controlled as that of others - the vast majority in Quebec - who happened to visit one of the information kiosks in their schools, places of work or various public spaces. Indeed, both groups got their first impression of the mammoth scheme through the mediation of text and images, and the narrative the development corporation wished to impart to the project. Hydro-Quebec's archives reveal a detailed procedure that anticipated every aspect of a visitor's stay at LG2 from the moment of their arrival. They were to be met at the local airport, taken through an identification check, then conducted on schedule from site to site until they were delivered back to the airport, usually at the end of a full day or overnight stay. Buses would ensure transportation of these groups to different viewing platforms, where the various spaces and structures on display would be interpreted for them by tour guides hired and trained by the development corporation. For the most part, these presentations consisted of facts and statistis that stressed both the unique nature of the complex and the engineering magic that made it possible, all the while reasserting the necessity of the project for the economic future of Quebec. Moments in a strict itinerary that regulated what was and was not to be seen, these viewing platforms and their stock interpretations provided an experience of James Bay where the reality of "being there" could in no way ensure a 24 broader understanding of it. Framed in this way, James Bay was a virtual site whose visual surface alone was offered for spectacular enjoyment, while its content was withheld as much as possible from critical scrutiny. Because it was geographically remote yet politically so central, the discursive production of James Bay was a strategic affair that required careful handling by the governments and institutions involved. Indeed, I think that these representations of Quebec's North for a Southern spectatorship provided me - along with other influences - with an early sense of a Quebecois "people", as well as with an intimation that these people formed something like a nation through the act of collectively viewing or working for what became known as "the project of the century." In this way, the textual and visual narrative of James Bay was the binding element of my own - it has to be said, very homogenous - "imagined community" in the sense that Benedict Anderson gave to that term.23 Without a doubt this narrative was territorial; I now understand that it was partly through this focus on a spectacular land and nature - conjoined as "territory" - that the nation's racial contours were drawn in James Bay. Viewing the land I viewing "the people" Notions of "land" have always supported a sense of national identity in Quebec, and yet the meaning of the term has been highly unstable and subject to change. Nations and nationalisms are contextual entities; 2 3 Anderson sees the emergence of the nation as co-extensive with that of print-capitalism which reshaped European conceptions of time. The imagined world called up by the novel and the newspaper is one in which a variety of actions are performed at the same time by individuals who are not necessarily aware of one another, but can conceive that they exist simultaneously across time and space. See B. Anderson, Imagined Communities: reflections on the origin and spread of nationalism (New York: Verso, 1983), p. 26. 25 although they strategically represent themselves in abstract time and space, the sense of place which they articulate cannot be detached from the concrete economic and political context in which it emerges.24 Place-based nationalisms then, and the constructions of nature they entail, can be seen as something that emerges out of these material factors. In Quebec, the transition from the "traditional nationalism" crystallized in the Duplessis era toward the "new nationalism" of the Quiet Revolution offers a rich framework for tracing changes in notions of land, nature and territory as they relate to cultural identity. Each of these concepts, I argue, was reformulated in response to the societal changes brought about by a movement away from rurality toward modernity, development and state-expansion. This movement, however, is neither linear nor uniform in time and space. In large measure, the rattrapage (catching up) so characteristic of the Quiet Revolution became a priority because what were seen as traditional anchors of work and life for Francophones - the farm, the Church, the rural sphere - had undergone major transformations well before the twentieth century.25 In this thesis, James Bay is a key site for analyzing how traditional French-Canadian concepts of land and nature, chiefly based in the experience of farming, rurality and an agrarian economy were resignified to support the project of a state-sponsored northern expansion. The building of an extensive energy network in and 24 Homi Bhabha argues that the nation constantly substitutes a heterogeneous present for a homogenous past which is also, I believe, reflected in the subsumption of a diverse territory into an abstract space: "For the political unity of the nation consists in a continual displacement of the anxiety of its irredeemably plural modern space - representing the nation's modern territoriality is turned into the archaic, atavistic temporality of Traditionalism. The difference of space returns as the Sameness of time, turning Territory into Tradition, turning the People into One." H. Bhabha, The Location of Culture (London and New York: Routledge, 1990), p. 149. 2 5 For a discussion, see F. Dumont, "Quelle revolution tranquille?" In F. Dumont, ed., La Societe quebecoise apres 30 ans de changements (Quebec: Institut quebecois de recherche sur la culture, 1990), pp. 13-23. 26 beyond James Bay was meant to provide low-cost energy for an industrial boom that would principally benefit the southern population of the province. This expansion could not take place without the elaboration of a discourse capable of legitimizing the appropriation of resources from native people in the North, for whom the cost was disproportionately larger than the benefit. The nation, with its broad repertoire of geographical concepts and homogenizing view of the people, provides the symbolic apparatus for constructing such a discourse. As it pertains to the Quebecois, my understanding of land ("la terre") refers to the ecological base that has provided a matrix of cultural identity and economic subsistence. Numerous practices have shaped this relationship, each one altering the scale at which the land is perceived, from the field to the national territory and beyond. My initial analysis focuses on farming, more particularly its symbolic rendering within a popular form of rural literature known as the roman de la terre. Literally "the novel of the land", this set of works produced chiefly during the nineteenth century was a powerful vehicle for articulating the cult of tradition and the dominant idea of the time that the survival of French-Canadians in North America depended on their ability to establish and maintain a strong land base.26 In these works, "nature" is understood as a 2 6 C. Pont-Humbert, Litterature du Quebec (Paris: Nathan, 1998), pp. 36-37. The roman de la terre begins with the publication of Patrice Lacombe's La Terre paternelle in 1846 and is seen to end with Ringuet's Trente arpents in 1938. This last work effects a strong symbolic closure with the main character failing to hold on to his ancestral land, which is spelled by his exile, in his old age, to an American industrial center. The whole production includes few novels - with no more than ten major works -which makes its popularity and social impact seem disproportionate in relation to the number of books published. One way of explaining this unevenness is the fact that it became a useful ideological vehicle about the importance of keeping religion, language and land together in order to preserve a French cultural heritage in North America. The central message of the roman de la terre served the interests of 27 foundational category for the nation as the essence of Francophone identity is largely seen to reside in the rural landscape. By grounding cultural identity in nature, the roman de la terre presents various characters who seek to protect their heritage from change via foreign elements, since the latter posed the threat not only of encroachment but ultimately of assimilation. Nature is seen as an essential realm providing a secure anchor to language and religion. By reading James Bay in the light of the discursive categories created through the rural novel, my analysis seeks to demonstrate how traditional constructions of nature continue to function as constructions of national identity in contemporary Quebec. They do so through the reiteration of a Quebecois "poetics" about the land - what I also call a "mythico-poetic" framework - that has to a large extent given rise to the "politics" of energy in James Bay: that is, to the struggles fought over meaning, particularly the meaning of water, land, identity or the environment. What I wish to argue in juxtaposing the poetics of land to the politics of James Bay is that the narrative structure adopted by the dominant discourse of the nation also contributes to determine its spatial form. Indeed the images and texts surrounding James Bay articulated a struggle over land between Quebecois and Cree in such a way that cultural geography and the production of space were placed squarely at the center of the imagined community. While Benedict Anderson has provided considerable insight into the construct of the nation, his concept of an imagined community needs a critical reading capable of questioning how communities imagine not only themselves but also their territory and everything it contains through Quebec's religious elite at a time when this elite exercised a very strong influence on the population. These points will be further discussed in Act 1. 28 dominant discourses. I believe Anderson's concept stops short of its goals of de-essentializing the nation without sufficient analysis of the spaces national imaginings are set against, and the mechanisms through which the imagined community territorializes itself to assure its own cultural and political survival. In the second edition of his Imagined Communities, Anderson revisited his concept to address more directly how the "colonial" state imagines the space of its power.27 He did so by examining three important institutions: the census, the map and the museum. Through these institutions, Anderson argues, the colonial state was able to examine "the geography of its domain." Despite these important revisions, the role of "nature" in the imagining of communities remains, I suggest, understated, and more specifically the ways in which nature is "spatialized" in the creation of a national territory. By emphasizing the dynamic relation between nature and national imaginings, this study explores how, in a nationalist context, the social relation to the land is also connected to the production of nature. In James Bay, the process of state-formation through economic development is one where the product of natural resources comes to the forefront as a key elements of nation-building. I argue that although the nature of "natural" resources produced through the discourse of industry is qualitatively different from the nature imagined through rurality and an agrarian economy, it retains some of its important elements: notably those that ground notions of cultural identity. In short, resources become naturalized in much the same way that the nation is homogenized in its recourse to nature as a foundational category. Quebec's claim to the North Anderson, Imagined, pp. 163-164. 29 was established by placing resources in nature, which involved a process of separating them from the human sphere - that of the Cree - in which they were already embedded. In short, produced as "natural" resources thus became "national." This strategy relied on the affirmation of a dualism between nature and culture, with the Cree of course firmly locked into the first category. Representing a central feature of the roman de la terre, this dualism travels into James Bay although it does not necessarily do so intact. Much of this thesis endeavours to trace that movement, and also to account for what happens to Quebecois concepts of land and nature once they encounter Cree understandings of these same categories. It is in that encounter that a third element comes into sharper focus - that of territory - which is produced simultaneously as a political and cultural entity in and through the national imagination. Locating theories In examining the formation of this national territory and its links to the cultural politics of James Bay energy, the roman de la terre provides a n important indication of how culture produces meanings that become taken for granted as they are activated and actualized in social and economic policy. Postcolonial theory has examined how culture actively constitutes what we take to be material reality: A central concern of postcolonialism is to elucidate - to dis close, to make visible - the relations between culture and power. It aims to do so in such a way that culture is seen not as superficial, not as a screen or a cover for supposedly more fundamental (which for its critics typically means politico-30 economic) relations, and above all not as a "reflection" of the world. Culture is seen instead as a series of representations, practices and performances that enter fully into the constitution of the world.2 8 Along these lines, representations of Quebec's North during the 1970s can be said to have renewed the region's importance by placing it at the center of the province's economic development at a moment when Quebecois people were actively redefining their national identity. The North that was reasserted for the Quebecois during this period was simultaneously a place and a discourse. Both were equally material and discursive, both actively created the space of the "other" and the space of the "Quebecois." These categories acquire an additional layer of complexity because Francophones in Quebec often refer to themselves as "Nous autres Quebecois", thus signaling their own history of marginalization as the defeated people of the British Conquest. Through his study of Orientalism, Edward Said has called attention to the intricate ways in which discourse is constitutive of material reality as categories of meaning created in language become spatialized. Using Michel Foucault's notion of discourse, Said asserts that: [W]ithout examining Orientalism as a discourse one cannot possibly understand the enormously systematic discipline by which European culture was able to manage - and even produce - the Orient politically, sociologically, militarily, ideologically, scientifically, and imaginatively during the post-Enlightenment period.29 28 D. Gregory, "(Post)colonialism and the Production of Nature" (unpublished manuscript, 2001), p. 6. 2 9 E. Said, Orientalism (New York: Random House, 1979), p. 3. 3 1 Similar processes can be identified in the relationship between North and South in Quebec, yet it is important to remember that Said's critique of Orientalism is specifically about the construct of the Orient and should not be extended uncritically - nor be given carte blanche - to explain other colonial geographies. While staying attuned to its context as well as to the fact that theory often breaks down when it travels, I invoke Said's work specifically as a set of tools for understanding how colonialism constructs its objects. This process is neither smooth nor uncontested but rather characterized by ruptures, inconsistencies and oppositions, as is the passage of colonialism from past to present. The projected "decolonizing" of Quebecois people through the Quiet Revolution and beyond has been marked, I argue* by a simultaneous "recolonizing" - uneven as it is - in a different language (French) and in a different space (in this study, James Bay). Relevant to this process is a simple but telling distinction: capitalism, such as it fueled the drive toward the "development" of a new region, is inherently expansionist. Its production of space and nature could admit no barrier to its advance in James Bay, as Bourassa indicated when he launched the project without consultation with the Cree. On the other hand, colonialism, even as it was intimately implicated in the Northern advance of this capitalism, was predicated on the production of barriers, of a series of constitutive differences between "us" and "them", Quebecois and Cree, the colonizer and the colonized. In this imbrication of capitalism and colonialism, race and class were further intertwined while the gap between whites and natives was, conversely, further widened. The phrase I have already alluded to, which was repeated like a mantra since the beginning of the project - "James Bay belongs to all the Quebecois" - was an attempt to cover over these differentiations, instabilities and gaps. Although there 32 has been some effort in Quebec to identify this process with more precision and contest the essentialist terms of belonging in which it was conducted, much work remains to be done: I envision the present thesis as a step in that direction. Development: ordering North and South The spatial and discursive orderings the above expression suggests -"James Bay belongs to all the Quebecois" - are determined by the colonial past of Canada and Quebec; their productions of nature and space continue to entrench what is in effect a colonial present. The James Bay story is a narrative of conquest: that of nature as well as that of space, together as a new national territory. After all, other large-scale works of engineering had taken place in Quebec before LG2 and would continue to do so even as it was being built. Yet, I would argue that none of these realizations was given comparable importance in the national imagination simply because they took place in areas that had long been settled and integrated into Quebec's sense of its history and geography.3 0 When it came to James Bay, the geographical distance between North and South was translated as a temporal distance;31 seen as underpopulated - in large part even "empty" -and therefore free for the taking, the conquering and exploitation of this 3 0 Although they were also momentous events, the building of the Place Ville Marie high rise, the Quebec City bridge, the Montreal metro or the Olympic stadium did not embody the same territorial element as James Bay. Only the construction of the Daniel Johnson dam on the Manicouagan river during the nineteen-sixties called forth similar epic tones and was in many ways a rehearsal for James Bay. See Hogue et al., Quebec, pp. 299-331. 3 1 For a discussion of this concept, see J. Fabian, Time and the Other: how anthropology makes its object (New York: Columbia University Press, 1983); A. McClintock, Imperial Leather: race, gender and sexuality in the colonial contest (New York and London: Routledge, 1995). 33 remote region offered a chance to write another chapter of Quebec's history by inscribing new - and clearly very "modern" - markers of presence over its physical territory. In Quebec, as elsewhere in Canada, the "North" was produced and performed as a frontier of collective realization.3 2 There the retreat of a raw, "wild" nature was simultaneous with the advance of culture, broadly signified through science and technology. Framing the North as virgin territory - a solely physical mass devoid of any human geography - the James Bay development scheme provided the means, at once material and discursive, to access, transform and link this "wilderness" to Quebec's South, while also keeping the two distinct. The lived and imagined relations signified by these geographical markers of "North" and "South" are reminiscent of those commonly invoked at the international scale, but here the polarities are reversed. In Quebec, the South is characterized by a population belt in the St.-Lawrence valley which is disproportionately dense in comparison to what lies North of the fourty-ninth parallel. Patterns of resource extraction, industrial development and standard of living reflect those that commonly determine, although simplistically, global North and South relations, with Southern Quebec being significantly 3 2 The North has been broadly envisioned as a frontier of colonization in Canada in ways that are reminiscent of Turner's concept of the Western frontier in the American context. This view, however, does not account for a critical reading of Turner's "frontier thesis" which regards it as the glorification of a long-drawn process of colonial conquest and territorial dispossession for native Americans. If the frontier thesis can at all be applied to Canadian history, its critique is of course also relevant in the Canadian context. For further discussion see F. J. Turner, The Frontier in American History (New York: Henry Holt, 1920); J. M. S. Careless, "Frontierism, Metropolitanism, and Canadian History." In C. Berger, ed., Approaches to Canadian History (Toronto: University of Toronto, 1979), pp. 63-83; W. Cronon, G. Miles and J. Gitlin, "Becoming West: toward a new meaning for Western history." In W. Cronon, G. Miles and J. Gitlin, eds., Under an Open Sky: rethinking America's western past (New York: Norton, 1992). 34 O more prosperous.3 3 The force of these evocations and the spaces they materialize should be enough to persuade us that they are more than discursive categories. In James Bay, the North became the pervasive icon of an imaginative geography with extraordinary performative and practical force which gave the "new nationalism" of the 1970s some of its hopeful appeal. The images it called forth - its frontiers and landscapes but also its resources, regions and the technicalities of access to them - helped to delineate the nation's inside and outside by assigning each cultural group to its "proper" place. The latter categories were also constituted by a Western understanding of development. Building on some of Edward Said's ideas, recent theorists have examined the imaginative geographies of development and the material sites constituted through the practices these social imaginaries legitimate.3 4 To see development as a discourse, these theorists argue, enables us to trace its historical and geographical specificity and to problematize why so many societies endeavoured to "develop" themselves, especially in the post-World War II period.3 5 In the context of this study, a focus on the discourse of Northern development, such as it became dominant through the James Bay project, allows me to show how the Cree 3 3 Barri Cohen remarks that: "The very word 'North' (which demands its own critical commentary) is capitalized as a proper name in most native, Canadian government, land-claim, public policy, scientific and geographical texts, signifying it as an object of knowledge and surveillance in the spatio-political consciousness of Canada if not North America. The south, on the other hand, bears a lower-case, connoting that its power is dispersed across the nation, and hence dominant." In this thesis, I have chosen to capitalize both in order to indicate their mutual constitution both as concept and as place. B. Cohen, "Technological Colonialism and the Politics of Water." Cultural Studies 8.1 (1994), pp. 35-36. 3 4 See J. Crush, ed., Power of Development (London and New York: Routledge, 1995). The book acknowledges those who critique Said for what they see as an over-reliance on discourse at the expense of a political and economic analysis (p. 8). 3 5 A. Escobar, Encountering Development: the making and unmaking of the Third World (Princeton N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1995), p. 6. encounter with development also meant an encounter with a new cultural production of their environment: one which was left unmarked and thus taken for granted by a good proportion of non-natives. From a Cree perspective, however, Western development meant that "proper" river management would be determined not in relation to the day-to-day practicalities of fish population, water quality or seasonal freeze-up and thaw but in terms of water reserves, megawatts and potential surpluses. Hydro developers became the new land managers through the building of an energy network, and in that process the land itself was made new. In the Quebecois nationalist framework within which James Bay was repositioned, development began to resemble a liberation discourse whereby control over land and use of natural resources were seen as legitimate means to guarantee the survival of a language and culture under threat. Here my use of the term "liberation" outside of its usual reference to the poorest of the poor is shocking but deliberate as it is meant to disclose the complex power relations that determined the way in which Quebecois identity was mobilized by the project. Members of a society of European origin whose past was marked by colonial relations with the British, the Quebecois were able to effectively claim and articulate a status that was at once subaltern and dominant in order to legitimate their advance into native territories. I suggest that "development", like the "nation", also provided the conceptual and geographical tool-box that supported this endeavour. Geography of the field City and wilderness 36 That the discourse of development shapes material geographies became abundantly clear to me in the process of locating "the field" and defining "fieldwork".3 6 With an academic background in semiotics and comparative literature, I had come to rely on the assumption that most of what I needed to know, analyze or discuss could be found in a text. As a result, the field was a new and unfamiliar concept when I set out to do research for this project: I was unsure where to find it and, if by chance I did, what to do in such a place. I had lived away from Montreal for nearly seven years and my initial impulse once I had a proposal in hand was to go back to the city where I was born. After two fieldtrips during which the project unfolded between Vancouver, Saint-Eustache, Val d'Or, Montreal, Radisson and Fort George, with occasional glimpses of Chisasibi and a few interstitial touch-downs in native villages on the way, I realized how strongly Montreal - and eventually other urban centers located in Quebec and in the United States - gathers these places to itself, and does so according to the imaginative geographies of North and South that had been produced by the James Bay project. Not surprisingly, this returned me to the text for it was only through the process of writing, and from the distance afforded by Vancouver, that I could begin the work of "ungathering", of inserting Quebec's largest metropolis back into those other locations. There are many reasons for the prominence of a city in a study that explores development in a region that is commonly perceived a s remote, isolated and untouched. Some of these reasons will unfold as the 3 6 For a discussion of key issues related to the experience of field and fieldwork from a feminist perspective, see "Women in the Field: critical feminist methodologies and theoretical perspectives" with contributions by H. Nast, C. Katz, A. Kobayashi, K. England, M. Gilbert, L. Staeheli, and V. Lawson. Professional Geographer 46.1 (1994), pp. 54-102. 37 writing proceeds, others are more immediately linked to the fieldwork experience in itself and I need to explain these here. From an urban perspective, the first building phase in James Bay was a media spectacle projected on a screen whose bright source of light was qualitatively different from the material spaces in which Cree people lived their lives, and where they saw their landscapes irrevocably modified by hydroelectric development. This "nature" of James Bay was produced for consumption in the South and it was the details of that production I sought to piece together during my first fieldtrip to Montreal, where I conducted archival research for a period of nine months. During that period, and in an additional two months the following year, my discomfort with the process of fieldwork never relented. As with any research project, questions of methodology arose at every turn: What angle would allow me to get to the most important questions? What was the "right" method to gather the materials that would best inform the thesis? How would I effectively tackle endless boxes of dusty paperwork without losing focus, or my mind? I wanted to trace the James Bay story, understand how the discursive building blocks came together to form the imagined geography I had known as a Francophone growing up during what was arguably Quebec's most nationalist decade. My chief task was to scan newspapers and magazines on dizzying microfiches, don white gloves to dig into pile after pile of archival material, unearth pieces of paper that could come alive with meaning but more often regained the musty dark from which they had so briefly emerged. Wading through the flotsam of bureaucratic everyday, I got a very real sense of how the past is at times collected -accepted even - with little coherence or organization. Through this process, 38 the archivists at Hydro-Quebec, the Quebec National Library and the Fondation Lionel Groulx where I conducted the research were invaluable for their help but also for their optimism. Conducting/enacting research While it is not usual to refer to the archives as "the field", the extent to which access to documents depended on material circumstances and physical ability surprised me. Going into the archives seemed to me an embodied practice requiring not just mental but physical effort. I spent long hours in badly ventilated places, moving boxes, breathing dust, getting hungry or frustrated, needing help. I woke up early, got home late, traveled through the city to libraries, universities and research centers to find a book, talk to someone, view a documentary. I wondered about physical disability and the logistics of covering so much distance in such a small time had I not the freedom of a healthy body and the luxury of feeling safe in the public space of the city.3 7 In the process, I came to realize how archives can behave very much like interviewees. While they tell some stories, they withhold others thus making our findings always partial and context-specific. In this sense, archival research is fieldwork. Archived texts are active agents of our research, framing and directing our encounters with useful information in the same way that speaking subjects do. Tables of contents are the small talk that signals what may be there. An unopened file forgotten when everything else has been put away redirects the inquiry, the same way a recording machine so often does 3 7 Vera Chouinard and Ali Grant have discussed the issues associated with conducting academic research in a heterosexist and ableist society. See V. Chouinard and A. Grant, "On not Being Anywhere Near the 'Project': revolutionary ways of putting ourselves in the picture." Antipode 27.2 (1995), pp. 137-166. 39 once turned off. There is a privacy to boxes of documents laid to rest in unlit rooms; if the researcher is to entice them to come alive, to open themselves to a public gaze, this requires the greatest of care. The archival clerks behind the desks sometimes seemed to be the discrete guardians of memories and institutions under too much scrutiny. As I requested a picture, photocopy or box of material, I feared that I was divulging to these custodians some of my own predispositions and biases in indicating the direction of my research. This was, after all, Quebec where nationalist sensibilities are ever-present and near the surface but seldom dangerously explosive. Combined with the fact that archives are not always adequately organized, that the filing process can be sketchy and uneven, I came to recognize that doing research is an experimental process, like throwing a net which may catch a few interesting objects. Yet we so often set out to capture the ocean. These practical challenges were the easy part. Much more paralyzing was the uncanny sense that my quest was somehow prurient and that I needed to apologize for it. Through nine months of research, I created my own James Bay archive which I took with me to Vancouver and revisited for several months. During these months, I put together the skeleton of a thesis which followed me back East, this time for a much more condensed research trip. Over this shorter period, I conducted interviews with various academics who had worked with the Cree, as well as with policy advisors and environmentalists at Hydro-Quebec and the Grand Council of the Cree. In addition, I conducted a focus group with eight individuals (two men and six women) who had worked in James Bay. These meetings were meant as a way to share and situate my research and find points of connection with 40. on-going issues concerning hydroelectric development in James Bay. Since it was not my intention to write a thesis that would be based on interviews, I did not use a tape recorder but took notes which I would transcribe and comment on after each meeting, and use as a guide for my writing. Interestingly, the absence of a tape recorder seemed to allow for freer interaction during these discussions; yet the latter also generated some surprises when people expressed their biases, even their prejudices, with disarming frankness. Though they are not analyzed at length in the thesis, these encounters provided an important layer of understanding of the James Bay project that I could not have grasped by focusing solely on the archives. In addition to these meetings conducted in Montreal, I flew up North to visit Hydro-Quebec's installations on the La Grande river, and meet with some people in Radisson and see Chisasibi - old and new since I was lucky enough to make it to the island of Fort George.3 8 Throughout these travels and various encounters - real fieldwork as this second research trip was meant to be - I tried diligently to speak of and about my own people, the "Quebecois people", even as I realized that the term Quebecois had no fixed meaning which I could readily enlist for the purposes of my project. I felt at times like an "imperial traveler" meant to view the field from the 3 8 Now that construction has been completed on the La Grande river, the village of Radisson continues to house mostly Hydro-Quebec employees who run the installations and is the only permanent white settlement in the territory. Approximately one hundred kilometers West is the native village of Chisasibi which stands where the La Grande meets the bay; it was relocated to the mainland from Fort George island in 1987. The increase in water debit caused by the damming of the La Grande had rendered movement to and from the island difficult by keeping the river from freezing in the winter and accelerating the rate of erosion of its banks. A traditional summer gathering place for the nomadic Cree people, Fort George had become a fur trading post in the 17th century. It is now a depopulated yet intensely lived place as Chisasibi people return to their houses on the island for vacations, reunions or to celebrate various holidays. 4 1 detached perspective supposedly afforded by my grasp of Western knowledge.39 At other times, I was right back into my Quebecitu.de ("Quebecois-ness"), a pure laine with all the labels, legacies and emotions such a designation entails.40 This made the field of vision significantly more manageable, but it also brought about a somewhat uncomfortable sense that my research was getting too personal.41 To complicate matters, as someone who had been studying and living comfortably in English for several years, I was also genuinely "Anglo" when interacting with that other segment of Quebecois society for whom daily life is mostly conducted in English. I came to realize that - contrary to the pure laine - I was much more detached from my Anglo identity and thus more at ease to conduct research as a hybrid, and therefore harder to pinpoint, bilingual subject. This was ironic since in fact, territorially speaking, all of us were Quebecois, whether Anglophone, Francophone or Cree. Yet, the nationalist politics surrounding James Bay are proof that this territorial basis of identification - "We are all Quebecois because we live in a place called Quebec" - is still on shaky ground. What I learned from all this, in a decisively applied way, is that research is performative; by this I mean that it calls on various aspects of a researcher's identities and that it is through the process of deploying these identities that research takes place.42 In my experience then, research was not conducted so much as 39 M. L. Pratt, Imperial Eyes: travel writing and transculturation (New York and London: Routledge, 1992). See also E. Said, "Representing the Colonized: anthropology's interlocutors." Critical Inquiry 15 (1989), pp. 205-225. 4 0 The expression pure laine (pure wool) is often used in Quebec to designate Francophones whose ancestry is thought to be directly linked to the original French settlers. It can be used in a pejorative sense to signify a lack of openness to diversity. 4 1 K. England, "Getting Personal: reflexivity, positionality, and feminist research." The Professional Geographer 46 (1994), pp. 80-89. 4 2 For a discussion of performativity in relation to gender, see chapter three in J. Butler, Gender Trouble (New York and London: Routledge, 1990), pp. 79-141. See also 42 enacted as I constantly repositioned myself to hear different stories. If James Bay had been a spectacle during my childhood, research accomplished several years later allowed me to rethink, act upon and open up the very spectatorship that had partly created my own subject position as a Quebecoise. Redirecting the gaze I relocating the field For these reasons, my approach was informed by Donna Haraway's influential concept of "situated knowledges" where she proposes that all knowledge is acquired from somewhere, thus always articulating a particular - or rather "many" particular - subject position(s). Haraway's argument was developed in dialogue with what she saw as a need to develop a feminist version of objectivity that would escape totalization and relativism, which are both ways of "being nowhere while claiming to be everywhere equally", a process she identifies as the god-trick.43 Haraway's call to counter Western science's view from nowhere with views from somewhere problematizes vision and the binary oppositions it reproduces: "Feminist objectivity is about limited location and situated knowledge, not about transcendence and splitting of subject and object. In this way we might become answerable for what we learn to see."44 Given the initial A. Coffey, The Ethnographic Self: fieldwork and the representation of identity (London: Sage, 1999). 43 D. Haraway, "Situated Knowledges: the science question in feminism and the privilege of partial perspective." In Simians, Cyborgs, and Women: the reinvention of nature (New York: Routledge, 1991), p. 191. For a more geographical approach to Haraway's concept, see also G. Rose, "Situating Knowledges: positionality, reflexivities and other tactics." Progress in Human Geography 21 (1997), pp. 305-320. 4 4 Haraway, Situated, pp. 190. For an elaboration of this concept and of the politics of vision, see G. Rose, "Looking at Landscape: the uneasy pleasures of power." In Feminism and Geography (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1993), pp. 86-112; C. Katz, "All the World is Staged: intellectuals and the projects of ethnography." Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 10 (1992), pp. 495-510. 43 context in which I had learned to see James Bay (what I have called "the view from the balcony"), Haraway's work and that of her critics offered some invaluable tools as I undertook this project. It encouraged me to keep drawing links between biography and research rather than to split them apart. In turning the gaze onto my own ways of seeing - what Haraway called adopting partial perspective - I found a site from which my research could open up and enable me to build connections. While I sympathize with the criticism positionality has given rise to - chiefly, that it can distract from the goals of research by focusing too much attention on the researcher - I strongly believe that this process did not limit but enlarge my perspective. The images of my childhood and how they molded my subjectivity as a Francophone were my first exploration into the role James Bay played in shaping the term "Quebecois" as a reference of identity. I am only one subject of that era, but I was also constituted as a Quebecoise through it, which connects my viewing place in a suburban neighbourhood to a larger social and political sphere. In this sphere, the Cree, the Quebecois, the dams, the rivers, Bourassa, the aborted Great Whale project, the workers, the planners or myself are all important and interrelated actors. If ethnography was involved in this research project then, it was an ethnography of myself and of the Quebecois, exploring the cultural relationship to space and place that was reiterated through James Bay. My discomfort about asking the Cree to become, yet again, the providers of cultural information about land and nature was eased by making myself and my own culture's relationship to these things the engine of this inquiry. To some extent, this explains why the Cree are not as present as 44 they should be in this thesis. Throughout the research, I struggled with the issue of how to develop a relationship with some Cree people in which they would be more like partners in the inquiry than "informants." The elaboration of such a relationship takes time and will no doubt unfold over the course of many upcoming years of research. For me the attempt to build such a relationship was complicated by issues of academic "discipline": indeed, my interest in questions of culture did not make me a n anthropologist no more than my interest in questions of space limited m y role to that of a geographer. Many anthropologists have studied the Crees and worked with them, becoming some of their strongest advocates through their battle for territorial rights.45 Although their work was an invaluable stepping stone for my research, I felt strongly that m y academic background and the underlying goal of the thesis - to question the cultural politics that sought to appropriate James Bay resources "for all the Quebecois" - called for a different kind of interaction with native people in James Bay: one which would be based on their agency as political subjects interacting with Quebec's attempts at nation-building. But for such a relationship to evolve, the process of that nation-building in Cree land had to become clearer to me. And it was this that finally - and I think necessarily - redirected where I had imagined "the field" to be and what I should do in such a place. The agency of the Cree in giving representation to their territorial practices and defending their land was what had initially drawn me to this research. The clashing between them and other Quebecois over resources in James Bay has produced new structures of government for each group as well as redefined their concepts of 4 5 Among others, see in bibliography the work of H. Feit; T. Morantz; T. Morantz and D. Francis; R. Preston; R. Salisbury; C. Scott; A. Tanner. 45 nationality, both shared and separate. It is that interface making its way through text, people, archives and dams that constitutes "the field", and must be further understood if conflicts over land in Northern Quebec are to be resolved more equitably. This thesis represents a first and partial step in negotiating this complex terrain. See what you will see: Power from the North "But Levesque," [the executive] kept on repeating in a voice colored by several whiskeys, "how can people like you imagine you can run Shawinigan Water and Power?" "People like you." Or better still, people like you Quebecois. This was exactly the way the British and French had treated the Egyptians a few years before: how the devil did people like that think they could run the Suez Canal? "My friend," I replied, "just wait a little and you will see what you will see."46 These are the words in which Rene Levesque recounted a meeting with an anglophone energy executive shortly before Hydro-Quebec took over the last privately owned utilities of the province in 1962. Levesque's response - "you will see what you will see" - to the executive's arrogant remark anticipated what James Bay was to become: the project was literally a show. Its many installments were watched on TV and followed in the daily papers. It had heroes and villains, moments of victory as well as defeat, and brought on stage some of the most well-rehearsed themes of Western civilization; including the encounter with the rebellious other or R. Levesque, Memoirs, pp. 181-182, my emphasis. 46 the inevitable triumph of progress and modernization. On the day that our neighbour exhibited a mammoth machine to his neighbourhood audience, the effort of imagination that was required of us to envision this immense hydroelectric project required also a simultaneous imagining of the nation: one which rested primarily on the spectacular enframing of its territory. I n that spectacle was the possibility of decolonization for the Quebecois. With its state-of-the-art engineering structures that could divert and control the course of rivers, James Bay was truly a larger-than-life spectacle seemingly put on with the willful intent of showing what those who had been disparagingly known as "water carriers" were capable of doing.47 Indeed Levesque was right, we would see what we would see. This dramatic unfolding was meant to reach some closure in October 1979 when the first completed powerhouse (LG2) brought together Robert Bourassa and Rene Levesque, who by then had become Premier of Quebec, with the latter officially setting into motion the turbines which would generate James Bay's first electricity. It seems fitting that the climax of this show never reached its TV audience: a mysterious sabotage operation broke off communication at the precise moment when Levesque was to activate the mechanism that would symbolically turn on the giant machinery.48 This, I believe, is significant because we cannot start to 4 7 Referring to a type of labour often performed by them in the past, the Qu6becois were designated as porteurs d'eau to indicate their low socio-economic status. The term is significant in the context of James Bay. The fact that poor, landless French-Canadians were often reduced to this kind of work frequently becomes a point of reference for showing the progress and development of the Quebecois via Hydro-Quebec. Channeling vast quantities of water through a state-of-the-art energy network across the province, they are still symbolically connected to their past as "water carriers" but have managed to evolve into a fully modern and prosperous society. 4 8 There was an inquiry into this sabotage which was suspected of having been perpetrated by disgruntled union members. However, I have not been able to trace details concerning the result of this inquiry in the Hydro-Quebec archives. 47 understand the spectacular politics of James Bay without staying attentive to what does not make it onto the screen or into the realm of public view. In the same way that fieldwork entailed creative and evolving strategies, so should the writing stay attuned to the blindfolds and biases of representations. I have tried to acknowledge these by constructing the thesis as a series of "Acts" rather than chapters. Each is devised as a window for looking at James Bay, each makes some things visible while leaving others backstage. This simple semantic shift is meant to remind the reader that even as distinct characters come to the foreground, others stand back but continue to inform how the events unfold. Geraldine Pratt has remarked that in addition to challenging ways of seeing, researchers must also look for other modes of representing their work since text tends to privilege the "indicative" mood, telling us "what is" when what motivates research is usually the attempt to push beyond the very limits of that question.49 Thirty years of conflict over James Bay have seen a battle to produce the "truth" of that space: this also, I believe, is a limitation on what can be learned from James Bay. Although this thesis is overdetermined by text, my nod to the performative in structuring these words is meant to acknowledge their constituitive frame, their biases and their structuring absences, and thus hopefully push the debate beyond truth-making. Much writing in recent British and North American human geography has sought to assert the role of representation in the politics of space as well as that of space in the politics of representation.5 0 By framing 49 G. Pratt, "Research Performances." Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 18.5 (2000), p. 649. 5 0 See H. Lefebvre, La Production de Vespace (Paris: Editions Anthropos, 1974); D. Cosgrove, Social Formation and Symbolic Landscape (London: Croom Helm, 1984); D. 48 James Bay as a series of Acts where different actors, objects and events interact, my intent is also to explain how every representation of space also locates a subject position. When a Cree hunter is unable to convey, even through a translator, the size of his trapline in an exclusively white court of law, it becomes evident that the struggle over the space of James Bay was also fought on a discursive terrain; that is, over the categories that shape perception, guide spatial relations and lay the ground of subjectivity.51 In discussing these categories, the thesis begins by retracing key moments in Quebec's colonial past and then proceeds with three distinct Acts: Act 1 discusses dominant themes of the roman de la terre and how they have articulated notions of land and nature for the Quebecois; Act 2 focuses on how James Bay was brought into view as a landscape of progress, prosperity and national realization under Robert Bourassa's leadership; Act 3 examines the geography of the workcamp and the role played by representations of labour solidarity in anchoring a symbolic of "the people." Interspersed in-between these sections are portfolios that signal the importance images played in the "staging" of James Bay for a distant audience. I have gathered some key images into separate portfolios as a support for the text but also as a way to emphasize the visual intensity of the project during the initial building years. Like the Acts that compose this thesis, each portfolio identifies a dominant viewing point and suggests the role of the gaze in shaping this position. In each of Cosgrove and S. Daniels eds., The Iconography of Landscape (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988); T. Barnes and J. Duncan, Writing Worlds: Discourse, Text and Metaphor in the Representation of Landscape (New York and London: Routledge, 1992); J. Duncan and D. Ley eds., Place/Culture/Representation (New York and London: Routledge, 1993); G. Rose, Feminism and Geography (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1993). 5 1 Boyce Richardson describes this event and others like it in his book Strangers Devour the Land, op. cited. 49 these Acts and portfolios, I approach the cultural landscapes of James Bay not as a basis for, mirror of or commentary on the political economy of the province. For me these landscapes are closely connected to the political economy of Quebec, and nationalism represents the glue, at once fluid and solid, between territory, resources and population. When I visited the dams I was at first disconcerted by the difficulty of separating the imaginative geography that filled my head from the physical structures that I was contemplating. Although various platforms along the guided tour were meant to provide the distance of spectatorship, mental pictures merged with the actual engineering works I was seeing: there stood the escalier de geant, underground cathedral and modern pyramids that had so often beckoned me from my childhood TV screens. There stood the wide open spaces that disarmed me in the way they demanded to be viewed as the very wilderness I had gone there to take apart. Even more puzzling was the fact that my critical analysis of this concept could do little to shake the fear of becoming lost which I experienced when I first looked across the La Grande river to what seemed like a limitless expanse of land. I felt as though my body had turned inside out to become part of a mute landscape where everything rested, speechless. But that feeling was short-lived. Standing on the same spot a day later I realized that a constant buzzing sound pervaded the whole scene as electricity climbed the wires from the powerhouse. The only silence there had been in this landscape was in the mental picture I carried with me. My visit also encompassed the trace of familiar sites who, to my surprise, had now vanished from their initial place but were reemerging in different clothes, some of them meant for the tourist 50. industry. The spaces where labourers ate and slept, had a beer, thought of going South; a huge cafeteria where the rare female construction worker edged her way through a tangle of eyes; Fort George in the winter holding against a faster river now rushing away with its banks. Without a doubt these various sites born from the national imagination of Quebec were now part of a new sense of place, along with its new physical geography. Consequently, this research shows that cultural geography is in some sense a physical geography, and that the academic division between them is a boundary which we must incessantly question, u especially when dealing with environmental struggles. As someone shaped for the first twenty years of my life by an almost exclusively white francophone milieu, James Bay throws my attachment to all these geographies into ambiguity. With my native language stretching thinner the further I get from home, I miss the neighbourhoods where French could be taken for granted and recognize why control over space is so often viewed as the safest means of cultural survival. These many shades of belonging are recalled in the image of the large piece of machinery that clogged up our street on a sunny Saturday afternoon. A few cars had to drive half-way onto the sidewalk and very slowly to detour around this gigantic mass out on a limb. Later, I went up to our balcony to see our neighbour turn his noisy engines on, blow his horn a few times, then move up the street while waving at us. Maneuvering with great caution, he managed to go around the block - no doubt shocking a few more residents with the size of his cargo - and reappeared facing the boulevard. Then he turned away from view to go rejoin the highway that would take him along an unfathomable distance up North, to James Bay 5 l where - ironically enough - none of us lived. I remember being elated b y the whole event and talking about it with my sister for many days to come. Yet, it left us with a curious feeling that perhaps we did not ponder long enough and which this thesis is an attempt to revive: What exactly had been the purpose of this exhibition and who precisely was it meant for? 52 PORTFOLIO 2 53. Le printemps des solitudes nordiques ,4 [a Baie-James : TEnergie pour les Quebecois, jrace a I'energie de Quebecois. Figure 9: Power for the Quebecois COMPAGNIE PETROLIERE IMPERIALE LTEE 5 4. Figure 10: A source of energy that belongs to us 5 5. Laval, October 17, 1982 Vancouver, November 4, 2001 It is a cold Sunday night, I turn on the TV to see it filled with a bright landscape of rock and sky suddenly inundating the room beyond the screen. After moving over a large body of water, the camera comes to a full stop onto a grand piano which is resting, awkward, crooked and surprisingly miniature on one of the stairs of the escalier de geant. The familiar spillway towers above the piano, threatening to wash this pebble away by unleashing torrents of water in a second. French singer Gilbert Becaud is undisturbed as he plays the piano and sings into a microphone. The scene looks too vast and windy for his words to be captured into this tiny device; I suspect they have long been swept up by the cold air and what I am hearing is a studio recording barely matching his moving lips. "Mister 100 000 volts in James Bay" is the title of this special program. I am mesmerized. There has never been a show like this in the cramped universe of Sunday television. Song follows after song in this windswept stage. Becaud looks debonair wearing a well-cut suit, hands in his pockets or holding a cigarette as he sings a duo with a young star of the Quebecois music scene, Martine St-Clair. Something about a lost love, they sing with their backs turned to each other. Then it is a native child sitting alone at the piano, crying. Or Becaud again, next to a teepee and fire, also shedding a tear as he sing about "The Indian." There is a drama unfolding here, too big for this screen and at the same time diminished by the ridiculousness of this production, only I do not understand what this drama is. A dancer stands on top of the LG2 dam taking wide leaps into the air. His bare body against the rocks makes me cringe, as do these linear cuts into the land, the giant stairs, the spillway, the dam turned into a television set. I feel uncomfortable but compelled to watch, not just the songs, but also every sponsor's message. It is late into the evening when the credits finally roll off the screen. "This special presentation was brought to you by the SDBJ, S£BJ, the Radisson regional bureau, Nordair, Hydro-Quebec..." The names flow upstream against the rocky face of the escalier de geanf like water being sucked back into the reservoir, against the regular course of the river. 5 6. PROLOGUE Appeals to the past are among the commonest of strategies in interpretations of the present. What animates such appeals is not only disagreement about what happened in the past and what the past was, but uncertainty about whether the past really is past, over and concluded, or whether it continues, albeit in different forms, perhaps. Edward Said, Culture and Imperialism, p. 3. 5 8. Any explanation of nationalism in Quebec needs to take account of the fact that social and economic processes which take place all across Canada are here captured by a strong discourse of identity predicated on key events that shaped the social world of what used to be a French, then a British colony. If Levesque's defiant warning - "You will see what you will see" - anticipated the nationalization of electricity and the "spectacle" of economic development across the province, it also harked back to complex colonial relations that have produced the space and society of Quebec over a long period of time. It is those relations that so strongly contribute to the maintenance of what I have called a "colonial present" in the Northern part of the province: a present where culture but also nature have been enrolled into heterogeneous regimes of power. Through the conjunction of both, territory has forcefully emerged as the material expression of a distinct national identity for the Quebecois. This identity is founded culturally through space but also economically, ideologically and politically, each category bleeding into the other to form what can be regarded as a Quebecois "territoriality."1 1 "Sur le socle que dresse la realite socio-culturelle, le territoire temoigne d'une appropriation a la fois economique, ideologique et politique (sociale done) de l'espace, par des groupes qui se donnent une representation particuliere d'eux-memes, de leur histoire, de leur singularite." / "On the platform that socio-cultural reality erects for itself, territories signify an appropriation of space - which is at once economic, ideological and political (social then) - by groups that fashion a particular 5 9. Countless practices through the centuries are at the root of this territoriality, some of them figuring more predominantly than others in the collective memory. While farming was by no means the only productive activity pursued by French-Canadians in early Quebec, the settling of agricultural lands and the rural way of life that developed around them have fashioned distinct cultural and material landscapes charged with a nationalist content that continues to impact Quebecois identity. Such content is highly malleable and always subject to contestation, each of its articulations draws from and contributes to a multi-faceted iconography that gives meaning to place and the national community.2 This iconography may symbolize the land but is not immobilized by it; on the contrary, it travels and is reconfigured without losing the force of its dominant meanings.3 In James Bay, the integration of a newly developing region into the national fold necessitated the revivifying and - in a very applied sense - "transplantation" of an attachment to place, meant to foster a commitment to provide the land with the political, industrial and economic structures that could bring about its prosperity. How this attachment was envisioned and sought to secure itself to the North turned physical geography into a political territory. In the pan-Canadian context, Audrey Kobayashi remarks that: representation of themselves, their history, and their singularity." G. Di Meo, "Geographies tranquilles du quotidien: une analyse de la contribution des sciences sociales et de la geographie a l'etude des pratiques spatiales." Cahiers de Geographie du Quebec 43.118 (1999), pp. 75-93. 2 For a discussion of the links between iconography, landscape and cultural memory, see D. Cosgrove and S. Daniels, eds., The Iconography of Landscape: essays on the symbolic representation, design, and use of past environments (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988). 3 "Les symboles de l'iconographie ne sont d'ailleurs pas rives au sol. lis circulent avec la diffusion des idees et les mouvements des hommes. Cette circulation des iconographies accroit encore la fluidite de la carte politique." J. Gottmann, La Politique des Etats et leur geographie (Paris: Armand Colin, 1952), p. 223. 6 0. The interests of Canadian citizens are as diverse as the landscapes of francophone Trois-Rivieres, the Kahnawake Indian Reservation, Vancouver's Chinatown and Toronto's old elite district of Rosedale. Such places must be seen, therefore, not simply as cultural landscapes, but as manifestations of political objectives that cannot be accommodated without struggle and contradiction.4 Nowhere is this politicisation of geography better exemplified than in the struggle over James Bay resources: indeed, the Quebecois fought this struggle "on the ground" with the Cree, but also simultaneously through the cultural production of the region as a series of landscapes that were at once new and familiar for the South, and highly relevant to its political and economic interests. These landscapes are the various scenes that compose this thesis and, accordingly, I too envision my analysis of them as a political project. As will become clear in the writing, the central goal of such a project is to challenge some of the more enduring boundaries of the Quebecois nation and open them to the diversity of its population. Like other Canadian provinces, Quebec must change and adjust to the increasingly multicultural composition of its people. From a geographical point of view, this is more easily accomplished in relation to urban space than to rural or sparsely populated areas. Cultural difference and ethnicity have started to become theorized in Quebec through the space of the city, envisioning it as fragmented, multiple and crisscrossed by various identity claims that are expressed spatially. In contrast, the rest of the national A. Kobayashi, "Multiculturalisni: representing a Canadian Institution." In J. Duncan and D. Ley, eds., Place/Culture /Repres entation (New York and London: Routledge, 1993), p. 224. 6 1. territory appears disproportionately blank, abstracted and taken for granted; especially the North which remains deceptively homogenous in the Quebecois national imagination. The fact that Bourassa could launch James Bay without notifying its local population is a powerful example of the material implications of such homogenous constructions of space, and their consequences for native communities. While the Cree have since strongly expressed their presence on the land and reinscribed their own narratives of belonging in James Bay, the other non-urban spaces native people inhabit across Quebec - whether it be the countryside, the reserve, the North, or the Great North - continue to be represented as blank in renditions of the nation as a spatio-political unit. Therefore, each act that composes this thesis represents my own attempt to give back some of the space of the Quebecois nation to the multiple communities that compose it, not by speaking for them but by naming the processes whereby my own culture's relationship to space sought to represent itself as universal. Before turning to this analysis, I need to describe some key moments in Quebec's history that repeatedly flash through notions of nature, land, and identity such as they have been configured in James Bay. There has been extensive research on the historical geography of the province and an inclusive account would necessitate a more detailed discussion of the literature than is relevant here.5 Rather, I have chosen three dominant 5 See, among others, the following studies about the history and geography of Quebec: R. C. Harris, The Seigneurial System in Early Canada: a geographical study (Sainte-Foy, Quebec: Les Presses de l'Universite Laval, 1966); F. Ouellet, Histoire economique et sociale du Quebec 1760-1850 (Montreal and Paris: Fides, 1966); L. Dechene, Habitants et marchands de Montreal au XVIIe siecle (Paris: Plon, 1974). See also the following three volumes of the Qu6bec historical atlas: S. Courville et al., Le Pays laurentien au XIXe siecle: les morphologies de base (Sainte-Foy, Quebec: Les Presses de l'Universite Laval, 1995); S. Courville et al., Population et territoire (Sainte-Foy, Quebec: Les Presses de l'Universite Laval, 1996); C. Boudreau, S. Courville and N. Seguin, Le Territoire (Sainte-Foy, Quebec: Les Presses de l'Universite Laval, 1997). 6 2. constellations of events which I refer to, summarily, as the British conquest and early rule, the nineteenth century rural ideal and the conquete du sol. I approach each of them not so much as a time period but rather as an important ideological emblem of social relations and political events whose memory has been active beyond their immediate context and spatialized anew over time: a process which continually reactivates their meaning in new and different environments and allows them to become increasingly taken-for-granted. The repeated extension, recycling and re-spatializing of these meanings contributes to their decontextualisation and, in a a sense, misinterpretation; yet such is the process of remembering, with the consequence that any study of nation-building should seek to understand the past not only as a set of events but also as a set of discourses. What follows then tries to account for how the three above-mentioned sets of events are interrelated but also, and perhaps more importantly, how they have fashioned the dominant discourse of Quebecois identity into the twentieth century. My intent is not to offer the definitive version of each of them but to understand how they helped prepare the ground for the production of James Bay as a Quebecois cultural landscape pushing into Cree territory. The British Conquest and early rule From French to British America It is difficult to speak of the conquest of New France by the English (1760-63) outside of the various ideological positions that have presented these events either as a benefit to the French-Canadian population or as its greatest evil, with various shades of meaning in between. I will address 6 3. these debates in discussing the conquest, but I need to lay out a few historical markers before doing so. French settlement in what is today Canada was formally undertaken in 1603 when King Henry IV of France chartered the colony of Acadia, sending there, in the following year, some eighty colonists who would attempt to live through the winter.6 A disastrous death toll - thirty-five died of scurvy that year - gravely weakened this initial implantation. French settlement did, however, move west along the St.-Lawrence river and continued to spread inland in pursuit of the fur trade: "By the 1680s, French fur traders had built posts around the Great Lakes, on the Mississippi River, and well into the Canadian Shield north of Lake Superior; farther north, the Hudson's Bay Company had established several river-mouth posts on James and Hudson Bays."7 With fishery and fur-trading constituting the main economic activities of the colony, any agriculture that subsequently developed in the St.-Lawrence valley during the eighteenth century did so as a way of fulfilling the subsistence needs of the families i n place.8 The establishment of a military presence was also a mainstay of economic activity in the early colonial outposts of New France as settlers were fighting battles with the Indian Nations and trying to curb the 6 Jacques Carrier and the Sieur de Roberval had made earlier attempts (in 1541 and 1543) to establish a colony near the present site of Quebec city but with no success. See J. G. Reid, "The 1600s: French Settlement in Acadia." In J. M. Bumsted, ed., Interpreting Canada's Past - Volume One (Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1993), pp. 47, 51. 7 C. Harris, "The Pattern of Early Canada." The Canadian Geographer/Le Geographe canadien 31.4 (1987), pp. 291. % Ibid., p. 294. 6 4. economic power of their European rivals across the territory.9 French and English rivalries mounted as each power sought to secure its colonial bases and expand overseas trade. A decisive battle took place in 1759 on the Plains of Abraham near Quebec City, with generals Wolfe and Montcalm leading the opposing armies. Montcalm's troops were defeated and Quebec surrendered at that time, followed by Montreal in September of the next year.10 This effectively underwrote the conquest of New France by the British - which was later ratified by the Treaty of Paris in 1763 - and meant that the geographical expansion and colonial hold of the French throughout the continent was severely curtailed. It has been estimated that 65 000 French colonists resided in Canada at the time of the conquest, in what was then the St.-Lawrence colony.11 This population now forms the bulk of Canadian French speakers and - although smaller French-speaking communities exist elsewhere in Canada - has remained centralized in what has become the province of Quebec. Francophones constitute the majority of the province in a proportion of approximately 80 per cent. The defeat on the Plains of Abraham and the events that immediately ensued were followed by three important edicts by the British Crown that, for French settlers, defined the approach of the new 9 The "Indian Wars", as they are known, were fought with the Iroquois on the shores of the St.-Lawrence. Between 1608 and 1760, Canada experienced less than fifty years of peace. See W. J. Eccles, "The Social, Economic, and Political Significance of the Military Establishment in New France." In A. I. Silver, ed., An Introduction to Canadian History (Toronto: Canadian Scholar's Press, 1991), pp. 57-76. Eccles concludes his article by stating that "for the better part of two centuries war, and the threat of war, was one of the great staples of the Canadian economy" (p. 76). 1 0 For details of these battles, see J. Lacoursiere, Histoire populaire du Quebec, des origines a 1791 (Sillery, Quebec: Septentrion, 1995), pp. 293-325. 1 1 See J. Henripin, La Population canadienne au debut du XVIIIe siicle (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1954), p. 13. 65. colonial government. The Royal Proclamation of 1763 imposed British civil and criminal law as well as the use of English as the official language. Its most significant impact was that it barred French-Canadians from holding public office and thus fully participating in the decision-making sphere of the colony. It did so because all citizens were required to pledge allegiance to the British Crown; since the Monarch was also the Head of the Church of England, this amounted, for the Canadiens, to a renunciation of their Catholic faith.12 While the Proclamation of 1763 tried to enact what was in effect a policy of assimilation, the latter proved difficult to implement since the French greatly outnumbered the British in their former colony.13 British Governors James Murray and Guy Carleton pleaded with the Crown that such an approach might lead to rebellion and jeopardize the long-term goal of fostering allegiance from the francophone population. The Quebec Act of 1774 heeded the two governors' position by authorizing the French civil code of law, recognizing the French language as well as the Roman Catholic Church, and by generally working to accommodate French-Canadians rather than striving to assimilate them. By abandoning previous assimilationist policies and acknowledging the cultural specificity of the French and their institutions, the Quebec Act effectively recognized them as a "distinct society" within the British colony. Finally, the Constitutional Act of 1791 was another determining moment of this period of early British rule: it roughly divided the British and French populations into 1 2 J. Conway, Debts to Pay: English Canada and Quebec from the Conquest to the Referendum (Toronto: James Lorimer & Company, 1992), p. 13. French settlers initially set their group apart from the European metropole by referring to themselves as "Canadiens" rather than "French." This became their usual designation until other residents increasingly adopted the term, in English and French, with Canada emerging as a nation around the time of Confederation (1867). 1 3 In Quebec, there were thirty Canadiens to each English settler. J. Morchain and M. Wade, Search for a Nation: Canada's crises in French-English relations 1759-1980 (Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 1984), p. 12. 66. Upper and Lower Canada, thus establishing the boundaries that today correspond to Ontario and Quebec. The act also granted an elected assembly to each entity although a British governor and council retained some measure of power over them.14 With this act, the French-Canadians made up 90 per cent of the population of Lower Canada with the remainder mostly British and Loyalists who had crossed into Canada as a result of the American War of Independence. Interpreting the conquest Assessing the impact of the conquest on the French-Canadian population has been a subject of constant debate among historians, and this, in turn, has influenced how Quebec envisions its national identity. One important figure of this debate has been Michel Brunet whose book La Presence anglaise et les Canadiens advanced the thesis that the business and political class of New France was "decapitated" by the conquest, with the result that the Canadiens could not effectively pursue commercial activities in a business environment so drastically changed around them and designed to serve British interests.15 Brunet viewed English-Canadian historians of the nineteenth century as "romantics" who maintained that the British Conquest had enabled the people of New France to receive civil liberties the French Empire would have never granted them. Among them, 14 J. Conway, Debts, p. 20-21. 1 5 "This colonial people had prematurely lost its supporting metropolis. Reduced to its own resources, it was doomed to an anaemic leadership of an economically independent bourgeoisie totally devoted to its interest as an ethnic group and capable of establishing a political, social, and cultural order suited to it. It had nothing left but a few institutions of secondary importance and the relative and inert force of numbers and social instinct." M. Brunet, "The British Conquest and the Decline of the French-Canadian Bourgeoisie." In A. I. Silver, ed., An Introduction,^. 111. See also La Presence anglaise et les Canadiens (Montreal: Beauchemin, 1964) and Les Canadiens apres la conquete 1759-1775 (Ottawa: Fides, 1969). 67. Francis Parkman maintained that: "A happier calamity never befell a people than the conquest of Canada by the British arms."16 In his analysis of these historians, Brunet outlines the Victorian framework that colors their rendering: "[The] French in Canada were the first considerable body of an alien race to taste that liberty which is larger than English liberty and is the secret of the modern British commonwealth of nations."17 On the contrary, for Brunet, French-Canadians were a nation who had been conquered and occupied by a foreign power, thus becoming a minority in their native land and losing their right to self-determination.18 In the same way that the historians he challenged reflected their own social context, which was that of the Victorian era, Brunet's views on the conquest are indicative of the paradigm change that was quickly gaining ground in Quebec when he started publishing his work, which was at the time of the Quiet Revolution. The ideas advanced by Michel Brunet and other Quebec nationalist historians were significantly questioned by Fernand Ouellet, who saw in them the inscription of a French-Canadian nationality before 1760 where none was in existence - or at least none comparable to that of today. Speaking of these historians, he argued that: The whole of their interpretation of Canada's history logically flows from this initial observation and from their idea of the nature of this nationality. 1 6 Quoted by Brunet, "The British Conquest and the Canadiens." In R. Cook et al., eds., Approaches to Canadian History (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1979), p. 87. 1 7 Brunet is quoting historian A. L. Burt. He also notes that Burt wrote a Canadian history textbook with a chapter on the French entitled "The Liberty to be Themselves." Ibid., p. 89. 1 8 Ibid., p. 91. 68 These interpretations have undoubtedly had the merit of awakening feelings and thus reaching people's minds. But do they reflect reality? Is emotional content a guarantee of their truthfulness? Long before me, historians have suspected not.19 While it must be granted that several readings could be made of the events of 1759-60, it is important to recognize that a change of government did take place which had important repercussions on the subsequent development of the colony. The political and economic changes that issued from the British takeover of Canada proved to be an important trigger for what became known as the "rural retreat" of the French, and consequently their under-representation from dominant sectors of merchant activity in Montreal and Quebec City. For many, the conquest was re-lived during a period of insurrection in 1837-38 - the "Patriot Rebellion" - which was followed by a Crown report that sought to explain the cause of these events and to present recommendations based on the conclusions reached. The Patriot Rebellion Although the insurrection initially occurred in both Upper and Lower Canada, it lasted longer and was significantly more violent in the latter where rebels known as the "Patriotes" engaged in a series of battles spread over two years. The generation after the Conquest had seemed relatively at peace with British rule, yet the new regime generated discontent both in Upper and Lower Canada. The two provinces were facing strongly 19 F. Ouellet, "French-Canadian Nationalism: from its origins to the Insurrection of 1837." In A. I. Silver, ed., An Introduction, pp. 258j-259. See also his Histoire economique, op. cited. 69. entrenched political oligarchies that remained deaf to the demands of their respective elected assemblies.21 For Upper Canada "Reformers", the most pressing issue was a monopoly of land ownership by absentee owners, many of whom were part of a dominant merchant class that repeatedly opposed the interest of settlers.22 Small battles took place around Toronto and the American border but, being too few in numbers and poorly organized, the Reformers were quickly repressed by the British military without widespread violence. Unlike the Patriotes of Lower Canada, the Reformers have not been widely memorialized in English Canada and their rebellion is at times even regarded as having delayed proper democratic reform. 23 By contrast, the events that took place in Lower Canada during the same period have received a different interpretation in the French province. While both movements opposed an administration they saw as corrupt and standing in the way of the colony's development, the battle of the Patriotes also intersected with the ideal of founding a French nation in North America. The always-present fear that the long-term goal of the English were to assimilate the French added meaning to what the Patriotes were perceived to be fighting . for. As an elected party with Louis-Joseph Papineau at its head, the Patriotes enjoyed broad popular support in the election of 1827. They strove to get a series of grievances and resolutions adopted by the assembly, all of which were rejected by London in 1837 2 1 They were known as the Family Compact (Upper Canada) and the Chateau Clique (Lower Canada). F. Ouellet, "The Rebellions of 1837/8." In J. M. Bumsted, Interpreting Canada, p. 412. 2 2 Conway, Debts, p. 24. 23 Ibid., p. 25. 7 0. via Lord John Russell's infamous "Ten Resolutions."24 Furthermore, these resolutions stripped the Patriotes of their political power as an elected party. These extreme measures laid the ground for the insurrection which, like that of Upper Canada, was met with little success and eventually resulted in failure. The confrontations - chief among them those of Saint-Eustache, Saint-Denis and Saint-Charles - were significantly more violent. They ended in the burning of villages and farms by the British military and led to the hanging of twelve men among the ninety-nine who had been accused of treason. Of those who remained in prison, fifty-eight were sent in exile and the rest were eventually pardoned.25 The most controversial trial and execution was that of the Chevalier De Lorimier. On the night before his death, he wrote a political testament where he stated that he was dying without remorse since he had desired nothing but the good of his country. He ended with words that in some way anticipated the nationalist movement of the next century: "Vive la liberte, vive l'independance! "26 The Durham Report The political project of the Patriotes remains ambiguous since the Rebellion did not broadly unite the population of Lower Canada into clearly expressed common goals. The difficulty of identifying and interpreting the context of their motives and the reasons for the failure of their 2 4 See G. Filteau, Histoire des Patriotes. (Montreal: Les Editions de l'Aurore, 1975), pp. 159-191. 25 Ibid., pp. 437-440. 26 Ibid., p. 438. The desire to keep the memory of those events alive in Quebec is exemplified by the release of two movies on the Patriotes in the last two years: Quand je serai parti vous vivrez encore directed by Michel Brault (1999) and 15 Fevrier 1839 by Pierre Falardeau (2001). 71. insurrection has not prevented them from occupying a central place in the nationalist imagination of Qu6bec. From this perspective, the Patriotes fought the last battle for the creation of a French nation in North America: their repression in 1838 is seen an important cause of the supposed political apathy that took over the French population and endured until the re-emergence of a strongly militant nationalist movement in the mid-twentieth century. This claim is partly supported by yet another change of policy toward the French enacted in the wake of an inquiry into the Rebellion that was commissioned by the British Crown. Named after its author, the "Durham Report" (published in 1839) assessed the political climate that prevailed in the two provinces and recognized the need for reform. What Lord Durham identified as the root of the rebellions was to have a tremendous impact on Francophones: I expected to find a contest between a government and a people: I found a struggle, not of principles but of races; and I perceived that it would be idle to attempt any amelioration of laws or institutions until we could first succeed in terminating the deadly animosity that now separates the inhabitants of Lower Canada into the hostile divisions of French and English.27 2 7 R. Coupland, ed., Report on the Affairs of British North America (The Durham Report) (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1945), p. 15. Adopting a usage that was common throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Durham's use of the term "race" for what is today more generally understood as "culture" gives us a sense of how French and English were strongly perceived not only as separate but also incompatible entities, a notion that was supported and reinforced by their respective religion and class position. In a novel entitled L'Appel de la race (The Call of the Race), one author of the roman de la terre, Lionel Groulx, also regards the cultural differences between French and English as biological traits but seeks to revalue the French as the "nobler" race and the one chosen by God. I will discuss this novel in Act 1. 7 2. Seeing that the problems of the colony resided in the inequalities between the two populations, Durham concluded that the only way to solve them was through the rapid assimilation of the French to the English. Regarding Lower Canada, he viewed the transformation of its character as an urgent matter and he advised the Crown to design and implement a strict program to make it an English province in the shortest possible delay.2 8 Durham's recommendation was legitimated through a harsh portrayal of Francophones, one where class differences between the French and English which had emerged in the colony over time were presented as essential cultural attributes. His report contained two sections - "The French Canadians" and "The English Immigrants" - which strongly entrenched into his text the dualism whereby colonialism constructs its "other" by representing the colonized as the negative image of the colonizer.29 In this dual framework, the French were an "uninstructed, inactive, and unprogressive" people who clung to "ancient prejudices, ancient customs and ancient laws." Durham blamed the British government for this state of affairs since it had left "the mass of the people without any of the institutions which would have elevated them in freedom and civilization." As a result: "they remained an old and stationary society in a new and progressive world"3 0 2 8 Britain sought to implement Lord Durham's recommendations to anglicize Canada through the Act of Union of 1840. The territories of Upper and Lower Canada were to be united into a single colony with a democratic assembly where each province would have an equal number of seats. See Coupland, Report, particularly the last section "Conclusions and Recommendations", pp. 124-183. 2 9 Not surprisingly, Albert Memmi's Portrait du colonise (Paris: Gallimard, 1985) was widely read by militant nationalists in the 1960s for whom the Quiet Revolution represented a period of decolonization where these dualist images could be overturned. 30 These various quotes are from, Coupland, Report, pp. 22-23. 7 3. In contrast, the English immigrants were seen as "exhibiting the characteristics with which we are familiar, as those of the most enterprising of every class of our countrymen." Thanks to their "active" and "regular" habits, they had succeeded in displacing their "inert and careless competitors of the French race" from the most profitable industries of the colony. This was viewed by Durham not as an invasion but as the creation of welcome opportunities: "the English cannot be said to have encroached on the French; for, in fact, they created employments and profits which had not previously existed." The fact that Durham did not question the inequalities that existed between the two groups was made visible in his failure to consider it an injustice that the so-called opportunities created by the English confined the French to the toughest forms of labour: "The more skilled class of artisans are generally English; but in the general run of the more laborious employment the French Canadians fully hold their ground against English rivalry."31 Durham's dualistic portrayal of the two "races" acquires a geographical dimension when it becomes clear, in the report, that the cultural characteristics of the French - understood, according to the common nineteenth-century usage, as "racial" - preclude them from making the best use of the land and of its resources. Biased, sketchy and incomplete as the report may be - and has been recognized to be both by Anglophones and Francophones in Quebec - what it accomplished at the time for securing British rule in Canada cannot be underestimated: as a text, it reiterated and gave renewed force to a set of colonial meanings where the category of the "French" functioned as the inferior other of the 3 1 Ibid., pp. 23-27. 7 4. category of the "English." Looking ahead, the imaginative geography of James Bay created a similar binary opposition as native people were represented as the "other" of the Quebecois nation; a point which will become clearer as the thesis unfolds. For now, what needs to be understood about the Durham report is the importance of discourse -particularly its production of taken-for-granted meanings - in colonial constructions of race, and the way in which these constructions impact material geographies. They do so largely because, in colonial discourses, constructions of race so often operate simultaneously as constructions of nature. One of the main functions of the dualism entrenched in the Durham report is to position the English as the one of the two groups who can successfully effect control over the territory and bring forth its potential for maximum prosperity. This they can do best because, unlike the French, the English can overcome and "normalize" nature. Consider these two renditions of each culture's farming ability, which I quote here in their entirety. Speaking about the French, the Durham report estimates that: Along the alluvial banks of the St.-Lawrence, and its tributaries, they have cleared two or three strips of land, cultivated them in the worst method of small farming, and established a series of continuous villages, which give the country of the seigniories the appearance of a never-ending street. Besides the cities which were the seats of government, no towns were established; the rude manufactures of the country were, and still are, carried on in the cottage by the family of the habitant, and an insignificant proportion of the population derived their subsistence from the scarcely discernible commerce of the province.3 2 For his part, the English farmer: [C]arried with him the experience and habits of the most improved agriculture in the world. He settled himself in the townships bordering the seigniories, and brought a fresh soil and improved cultivation to compete with the worn-out and slovenly farm of the habitant. He often took the very farm which the Canadian settler had abandoned, and, by superior management, made that a source of profit which had only impoverished his predecessor. The ascendancy which an unjust favouritism had contributed to give to the English race in the government and legal profession, their own superior energy, skill and capital secured to them in every branch of industry. They have developed the resources of the country; they have constructed or improved its means of communication; they have created its internal and foreign commerce."33 These descriptions envision land management skills as cultural attributes which are given - as though genetically embodied - rather than acquired. In the terms set up by the comparison, the French appear disorderly, unresourceful and unsystematic whereas the English stand for organization, planning and industry. Restating one of the most basic, overarching dichotomies of colonialism - that of nature versus culture - the inability of the French to bring rational order to the space of the colony 3 2 Ibid., pp. 21-22. See footnote number 41 for a definition of the habitant, 33 Ibid., p. 25. 7 6. means that they cannot properly tackle its "wilderness" to effectively bring it into the realm of culture, and thus financial prosperity. It comes as no surprise then that the report intensified the already important dialectic between culture and space for French-Canadians, which continues to produce the symbolic and material content of nature, land and territory well into the twentieth century. Following the Durham report, the challenge of resisting assimilation for the French would increasingly hinge on their ability to produce a nature - and therefore a physical space - they could control and symbolize as their own national sphere. Again, Lord Durham's imagination of the space of the colony gives us a sense of this struggle which involves both physical and cultural geography: The possession of the mouth of the St.-Lawrence concerns not only those who happen to have made their settlements along the narrow line which borders it, but all who now dwell, or will hereafter dwell, in the great basin of that river. For we must not look to the present alone. The question is, by what race is it likely that the wilderness which now covers the rich and ample regions surrounding the comparatively small and contracted districts in which the French Canadians are located, is eventually to be converted into a settled and flourishing country?34 In the context of the Durham report and its powerful reiteration of cultural stereotypes pertaining to the French and English, I want to propose that much of the rural ideology of the nineteenth century and the landscape it 34Ibid., p. 151, my emphasis. 7 7. contributed to mold in Quebec can be understood as a form of response to the above question. The nineteenth-century rural ideal Rurality and religious ideology [Djans des conditions d'oppression (comme en comporte en particulier la situation coloniale), il n'est pas rare de voir surgir, dans un climat d'effervescence collective, des mouvements religieux de salut qui constituent une autre forme de protestation a cote de la revolte armee et parfois la precedent, l'accompagnent ou en suivent l'echec.3 5 To a large extent, the rural ideal of the nineteenth century associated the continued occupation and expansion of the areas Francophones had settled in the St.-Lawrence valley before the events of 1760-63 with the survival of the French language and culture. If survival was always a material imperative for French colonists, living with policies of assimilation meant that it also came to be defined in cultural terms as a result of the British conquest; a process which the Durham Report could have only exacerbated. The Catholic Church took a leading role in the effort to preserve French-Canadian identity by anchoring it in a traditional - i.e. rural - way of life. In that process, the geographical environment of the 3 5 "In oppressive conditions (as can be found particularly in a colonial context), it is not rare to see the emergence, in a climate of collective effervescence, of religious salvation movements that constitute another form of protest next to armed revolt and sometimes precede it, accompany it or follow in the wake of its failure." G. Dussault, Le Cure Labelle: messianisme, utopie et colonisation au Quebec 1850-1900 (Montreal: Hurtubise HMH, 1983), p. 43. 7 8. country was made to bear a set of specific moral ideals which also provided the backbone of a nationalist territoriality. The French military and political leaders who left Canada as a result of the conquest were gradually replaced by a local elite largely made up of religious figures who took on a substitute role for the state: in essence, the clergy became French-Canada's governing class and, by the end of the nineteenth century, strongly exercised that role. Under the leadership of the Church, the resilience of the Canadiens was viewed in teleological terms: as a linear evolution toward the pre-determined end of re-creating the French nation in North America. Consequently, nineteenth-century rural ideology was as firmly anchored in the soil as it was in a Catholicism that took the mantle of national religion. The intersection between nationalism and religion would produce strong overtones of messianism whereby the god of an oppressed people who were "poor francophone Catholics" fought alongside them against the "rich anglophones Protestants.3 6 Sylvie Vincent has illustrated another aspect of the dynamic between nation and religion by arguing that, faced with the dual difficulty of maintaining horizontal links - politically, economically and culturally - not only with France but also with Britain, French-Canadians developed vertical links with a Catholic heavenly father, but also with an earthly mother and her various attributes as "nature", "nation" and "land."37 In pointing to the complex gendering of land through religion in nineteenth-century Quebec, her analysis alerts us to the fact that the national landscapes these concepts helped to shape were also heavily gendered. One 3 6 Ibid., p. 49. 3 7 S. Vincent, "Terre quebecoise, premiere nation et nation premiere: notes sur le discours quebecois francophone au cours de l'ete 1990." Discours et mythes de I'ethnicite (Montreal: ACFAS - Les Cahiers scientifiques #78), pp. 227. 7 9. aspect of this geography is expressed in the importance of the family in the rural sphere. From 1831 to 1961, the French-Canadian population grew from 553 000 individuals to over five million.3 8 This prodigious increase is known as the "revenge of the cradle", a demographic phenomenon in which the Church played a considerable part by maintaining the Catholic moral environment capable of fostering such a population boom.3 9 The idea of a "revenge" in terms of demographic presence is another reference to the conquest and the subsequent policies that sought to assimilate the French. Here the role of the Qu6becois mother in maintaining a distinct cultural heritage was an important part of the traditional nationalist discourse. This role reverberated socially and spatially through the tight form of organization that existed around the parish, which was facilitated by the structuring of the land base along the form of the rang a"habitat. As a land pattern, the rang is characterized by narrow fields usually running perpendicular to the St.-Lawrence; this division ensured that every farming family could have equal access to the river and enjoy a property with roughly the same topography as that of its neighbours.40 With each rang running parallel to the river and land holdings cut through them on a perpendicular grid, houses would be close to each other at the end of their 38 As a frame of reference, demographers Henripin and Peron mention that, between 1760 and 1960, the total world population was multiplied by four whereas French-Canadians saw they numbers increase by a factor of eighty. J. Henripin and Y. Peron, "La Transition demographique de la province de Quebec." In H. Charbonneau, ed., La Population du Quebec: etudes retrospectives (Montr6al: Boreal Express, 1973), p. 24. 3 9 Ibid., p. 15. 4 0 H. Miner, St. Denis: a French-Canadian parish (Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, 1966), pp. 21-24. For a discussion of the genealogy and adaptation of this land pattern in New France, see L.-E. Hamelin, Le Rang d'habitat: le reel et Vimaginaire (Montreal: Hurtubise, 1993). Hamelin's analysis is at once empirical and interpretive and thus constitutes a rich example of the connection between physical and cultural geography in the St.-Lawrence valley. See also, Harris, Seigneurial, op. cited. 8 0. respective fields and linear clusters would develop to form a village, often stretching between church and school. By closely binding farming and community relations, the geometry of the land can be said - using the feminizing of nature common in the rural/religious discourse of the time -to have "nurtured" its descendants. Leaving the land Despite this strong connection between nature, nation and religion, the nineteenth century also saw both "mothers" and "mother-country" losing many of their children to the attraction of other environments existing beyond the original homeland of the Laurentian valley. Indeed, the Church's efforts to embed the French population in the soil of Quebec did not mean that the tension between movement and stability that had characterized so much of the French presence in North America was resolved. Part of that tension is explained by the fact that the colonizing sphere of the French was significantly reduced as a result of the conquest, an issue which is encompassed in the concept of L'Amerique frangaise. In relation to the ideal of a "French America", Quebec could easily appear the mere fragment of an empire that used to stretch from the "Atlantic to the Rockies and Rupert's land to the Gulf of Mexico."41 From the initial days of the colony, the extensive involvement of the Canadiens with fur trading had allowed further advance inland as well as contact with native people, and made mobility an important aspect of the relationship to space. In its strong emphasis on place and place-making, the rural ideal can be said to 4 1 S. Courville, Rives d'empire: le Quebec et le rive colonial (Ottawa: Les Presses de l'Universite d'Ottawa, 2000), p. 7. See also, C. Morissonneau, "Mobilite et identite qu6becoise." Cahiers de Giographie du Quebec 23.58 (1979), pp. 29-38. 8 1. have outlined a contrast between the figures of the coureur de bois and voyageur (traveler) and that of the habitant (farmer), thus staging the dilemma between two modes of interaction with the land and their potential outcomes for the nation.42 Here the question of what geographical space - the open horizon of the coureur de bois or the bounded sphere of the habitant - could serve best the establishment and expansion of a francophone homeland was a central issue. Although the intersections between these various spatial imaginaries and practices are multiple and deserve further discussion, what is important to retain for the purposes of this study is that, through the nineteenth century and beyond, the role of the rural in claiming and consolidating a French-Canadian nation in North America entailed the discarding of other conceptions of nature yielded from other experiences of space. The same process takes place in James Bay but with different kinds of "natures" - and their attendant archetypal heroes - competing for a different space. The Church's disapproval of those figures who blur the boundaries - both spatial and cultural - of the nation seeks to guard against the divergent productions of nature these figures 4 2 The coureur de bois was a fur-trader who circulated in the back country establishing and negotiating trading relations with native people, and using their knowledge to circulate through the territory: as a result, he was perceived to be a hybrid figure whose way of life took him across cultural boundaries. Often envisioned as a Utopian figure in the Quebecois nationalist imagination, the love of mobility and adventurous spirit of the coureur de bois offered the possibility of reconquering the lost territory of New-France. As for the voyageur, he was generally a man hired to travel with a discovery mission to portage across land, carry supplies and accomplish other physical labour involved in the expedition. French-Canadians were often chosen to fulfill that role because of the territorial knowledge and cross-cultural ties they had previously developed as coureurs de bois. Finally, the habitant often stands in sharp contrast against these two figures for his lack of mobility. The term refers to the French farmers who helped to mold the agricultural landscape of Quebec and connotes the traditional way of life associated with it. The verb hab iter means to live in and/or to occupy a given space; more than a farmer, the habitant was also someone who occupied the land, shaping and being shaped by it through language, religion and culture. These various colonial archetypes have been fictionalized in song, myth and literature. 82. threaten to oppose to a traditionalist nationalism which is hard at work binding nature and nation inside the rural sphere, and producing the kind of rational nature the French, according to Durham, were so severely lacking. And yet the biggest threat to the maintenance of tradition in the rural countryside came, in the nineteenth and early twentieth century, from quite a different space than that of the wilderness or the vast expanse of the American continent. Indeed, it was the space of the city which exercised an even stronger pull away from the rural sphere. The concentration and rapid growth of the French population along the initial axis of the St.-Lawrence yielded a tremendous demographic pressure on the region and created the need for an expanded land base. Single farms could not sustain alone the large French-Canadian family: if the first-born son could hope to take over the ancestral land, those among his siblings who did not enter a religious order faced the limited options of either settling a new agricultural property, looking for work in Montreal or Quebec city, or emigrating across the border toward the industrial centers of the United States. By the second half of the nineteenth century, Quebec was "literally overflowing... its agriculture was being transformed; new lands were more and more remote from the central areas of the province; and urban growth was still uneven and could not absorb the excess population of the countryside. It was the city, however, that was now the attraction."43 Between 1840 and 1930, Quebec suffered what seemed like a 4 3 S. Courville and N. Seguin, Rural Life in Nineteenth-Century Quebec (Ottawa: The Canadian Historical Association, 1989), p. 15. For a discussion of the various factors that converged to cause this migration, see A. Faucher, "Explications socio-economiques des migrations dans l'histoire du Quebec." In N. Seguin, ed., Agriculture et colonisation au Quebec (Montreal: Boreal Express, 1980), pp. 141-157. 8 3. true "hemorrhage" of its French-speaking population as nearly one million people relocated in New England.44 The Church's negative view of these departures was powerless to stop them, and powerless also against the change of values and lifestyle this emigration brought about. Exodus on this scale posed the danger of diluting the French population and, for the Francophone elite, made the political imperative to "cling to the land" all the more pressing. La conquete du sol Although the Church did try to follow the flow of emigration to help recreate the social structure of the parish in the United States, the opening of new farming land within Quebec was envisioned as a more effective solution to the dual problem of dispersion and assimilation caused by the exile of Francophones. The latter part of the nineteenth century saw the spreading of the population from its Laurentian core to settle many different areas: on the north shore, settlers headed into the back country of Montreal and Quebec City, and in the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean; on the south shore, they reached into the Eastern Townships, up the Ottawa valley, and into the Lower St.-Lawrence and Gaspe area.45 One of the leaders of this colonisation was the Cure Antoine Labelle (1833-1891) whose relentless support for the clearing of new land made him a central protagonist of this movement during his lifetime, but also beyond. His memory was frequently evoked to support subsequent colonization projects, notably in the wake of the Great Depression of 1929 when the 4 4 Courville and Seguin, Rural Life, p. 15. 45 Ibid., p. 15. 84. Quebec and federal governments sought to alleviate unemployment in the cities by sponsoring the move of previously urban families, and farmers also, onto new land. The Abitibi-Temiscamingue, which is situated directly south of James Bay, was transformed by this "return to the land" movement which lasted roughly twenty years from the nineteen-thirties to the fifties. Two separate plans were put into effect specifically aimed at assisting those who sought to establish themselves on colonisation lots, but many of them had only mixed results. Although they were put into effects several decades after the death of Cure Labelle, these programs can be regarded as a projection of his own work in that they strongly called upon a religious and heroic discourse to enlist potential settlers, and encourage them in their endeavour.46 In 1868 Labelle was appointed priest of a parish north of Montreal (Saint-Jerome) and, though he remained in that function until the end of his life, the impact of his activities was felt across the province. Among his numerous works he led a successful campaign for the building of a railroad between Montreal and Saint-Jerome; founded a colonizing society for the establishment of new parishes; traveled to Europe twice to recruit settlers; and was named assistant-minister of a newly created Quebec Ministry of Agriculture and Colonisation, all the while working for industrialization 4 6 Filmmaker Pierre Perrault has documented this important period in a movie trilogy produced by the Canadian National Film Board: alternating interviews with the local population of Abitibi with promotional films taken from the archives that extolled the virtues of opening new land, Perrault takes a critical look at the way people who were publicly celebrated as heroes of colonization were subsequently left to their own devices in a region ill-suited for agriculture. These movies are entitled Un Royaume vous attend (1976), Le Retour a la terre (1976), Gens d'Abitibi (1980, with Bernard Gosselin). See also "Les plans de colonisation et la consolidation du monde rural: 1930-1950" in O. Vincent, dir., Histoire de I'Abitibi-Temiscamingue (Quebec: Institut quebecois de recherche sur la culture, 1995), pp. 235-281; S. Courville, "Emparons-nous du sol!" in Le Quebec: geneses et mutations du territoire (Sainte-Foy (Quebec): Les Presses de l'Universite Laval, 2000), pp. 235-290. 8 5. and expansion of his own parish which acquired city status in 1881.4 7 What was most remarkable about Labelle was the evocative quality he was able to give his mission by conveying it in Utopian and messianic terms. He was a colorful and convincing speaker who represented his cause in words that could strongly mobilize people and governments. What Labelle essentially captured and embodied in his speeches was the "national messianism" that had pervaded the Church's ideal of establishing a homeland for the French. With Labelle, this ideal was unmoored from its Laurentian core and sent into other geographical directions. The priest, however, was firmly looking to the North, a sphere which he viewed as untouched and therefore ready for the expansion of Francophones. I n supporting the settlement of several parishes in the upper reaches of the St.-Lawrence valley, he also significantly expanded another territory which would give James Bay its evocative power: this territory was the imaginative geography of the North. In a letter where Labelle admitted the intentions of his program, he stated: Nous les enfants du Nord, nous les fondateurs de ce futur empire de l'Amerique du Nord, nous les hommes design6s a renouveler en Amerique les faits glorieux et celebres de la vieille France, nous qui devons conquerir sur les Philistins anglais cette terre de l'Amerique par notre vigueur, notre fecondite, notre habilete, et par ces secours d'en-haut... Un jour nous serons nation independante et cette nation sera gouvernee par les hommes qui l'ont fondee... L'immigration francaise va devenir ruisseau, riviere et fleuve dans les temps 4 7 G. Dussault, Le Cure, pp. 36-37. 8 6. a venir et c'est alors que la revenche de Montcalm sera accomplie par la voie pacifique de la force native de la race frangaise sans raeme bruler une cartouche. Ce sera la plus grande victoire que jamais nation ait accomplie: conquerir nos conquerantsA 8 Labelle's dream of "conquering the conquerors" can be understood as a dynamic, political response to the colonized position of the French in their native land following the defeat of New France. Furthermore, the "reconquest" by the British after the insurrection of 1837-38 - which, in the nationalist memory, had been sealed by the Durham report - was being challenged by a reconquest of the land. The slogan that determined this movement was unequivocal about the imperative of territorial possession: "Emparons-nous du sol!"49 Half a century later, the catch phrase under which the Liberal conducted their campaign for the nationalization of electricity - "Maitres chez nous" - contained strong echoes of this imperative; only this time, I contend, the cultural meaning of land was expressed through the imagination of its natural resources, more specifically water. In both contexts, the North functioned as a Utopian sphere as well as a frontier of regeneration.5 0 Like all Utopias, it was an 4 8 "We children of the North, we founders of this future North American Empire, we the men designated to renew in America the glorious and famous acts of old France, we that must conquer this land of America against the English philistines through our vigor, our fecundity, our skills, and through help from above... One day we will be an independent nation and this nation will be governed by those who founded it... French immigration will become a stream, a great river in the years to come and it is then that Montcalm's revenge will be accomplished, without firing a single shot, through the peaceful way of the French race's native strength. This will be the greatest victory any nation has ever accomplished: to conquer our conquerors." Ibid., p. 90, my emphasis. 49 Morissonneau, Terre, p. 65. The expression translates, roughly, as "Let's take over the land!" 50 Ibid., pp. 105-124. 8 7. ambiguous territory. For Labelle and for the other religious leaders who supported his program, its mythical force was sustained by the fluidity and endlessness, or so it seemed, of its physical contours. Indeed, the area designated as "the North" would change with the vision of each of its proponents. In his book Terre Promise, Christian Morissonneau identified key builders of this myth whose Northern imaginaries refer to geographical spaces of extremely diverse proportions: whereas Labelle is a proponent for the lower reaches of Qu6bec, Ontario and the Prairies, Edme Rameau de Saint-Pere envisions the whole of Canada; Jean-Chrysostome Langelier and Arthur Buies nearly the entirety of Quebec; and Guillaume-Alphonse Nantel and Testard de Montigny limit the frontier to a small fraction of the French province.51 Although they envision different spaces of colonisation, these myth builders use a common symbolic: represented as a virgin region, the North is viewed as a space where descendants of New France could fulfill their providential mission of establishing a catholic nation in the American continent. Produced as a wilderness, it demands . to be normalized and brought within the horizon of European meaning and civilization. Translated into discourse by the national messianism of religious leaders - and into practice by the spatial expansion of the French population - the decisive question posed by Durham in his report is brought into sharp focus, as is the underlying geographical imperative of the British conquest, the rural ideal and the conquete du sol: "By what race is it likely that the wilderness which now covers the rich and ample regions surrounding the comparatively small and contracted districts in which the French Canadians are located, is eventually to be converted into a settled and flourishing country?" I suspect this is a question that Premier 5 1 Ibid., pp. 125-147. 8 8. Robert Bourassa, like Labelle, sought to answer. Indeed, looking not so centrally at the forest but at the major rivers in James Bay, Bourassa too saw a wilderness that should be converted into a flourishing country. As I have tried to show in this discussion of three dominant reference points in Quebecois memory - which can now emerge more clearly as in fact two reference points, that is, "British conquest" and "Conquete du sol" - the colonial past reappears into the present not because of an unbroken link between them but because this past has been encapsulated in such a powerful geographical imaginary, i.e. the idea of the North. This imaginary is, as I have indicated, in no way linear nor static yet there is no doubt - as several researchers in Quebec have demonstrated -that it has played a central role in Quebec's social, economic, and political becoming. Like all myths - or should we continue to call it that given that it has been so extensively materialized - the imaginative geography of the North is an emotional construction, built from those moments of history that appeal most strongly to identity and political convictions, and have the power to will these convictions into existence. The James Bay development project gathered this power by using the performative force of spectacle, by "putting on a show" and gathering its audience under the rubric of "all the Quebecois people" to whom the resources of the North unquestionably belonged. If that much can be granted, Bourassa, I suggest, was Levesque's best ally by focusing his leadership not on "separating" Quebec from Canada but on expending its governmentality further North since separation is first and foremost a shift in spatial relations. Although Bourassa claimed that through hydro development "the past was no longer determining the future",5 2 he too them to "see what they will see": manage the land and, in doing so, order to transform the wilderness would have to define the terms of analysis of the roman de la terre might be. was taking on the English and daring which was that the Quebecois could manage themselves as a people. But in into their own settled country, they that country's nature. I now turn to an in order to explore what these terms Bourassa, La Baie James, p. 133. 9 0. Montreal, June 12, 1981 Vancouver, April 25, 2001 My classmates and I get on the bus early for a field trip that will bring us to the Olympic stadium where the "Floralies" are taking place. Our teachers have been talking for weeks about this special event where vegetation from around the world is to be fitted and displayed inside the velodrome. The place is crawling with children like me brought in to see this exhibition. The green racing tracks have sprouted a circuit of plants and flowers, each one outdoing the other with shapes and colors we hadn't known ever existed in nature. I move erratically around this loop with my friends, admiring the various microcosms, taking note of the flags and descriptions planted to delimit the greenery. Exotic natures occupy their booth generously in a tangle of textures and smells. Others hold back in restraint, raddled and pruned into geometric gardens. Since this is our geography lesson for the week, there is homework to be done. We draw words and pictures to distinguish tropical from temperate, Amazonian from Arizonan, and to remember the countries each environment belongs to. Filling the pages of our notebooks, we come to the end of our tour to something called "taiga." I draw a stick figure for a tree and a dotted rock to indicate what the display tells me is "lichen." This space seems bare, not green enough, and rather unstable with its boggy soil rippling like waves - although what I am standing on is merely a photograph. Everything looks as though it is waiting to take on a more definite shape; trees in mid-growth, bogs heavy with water, the uncertain contours of lichen patches - this environment waits to be firmed up and finalized. Along this tour, my mind has collected shells, flowers and fruit from each display. Not knowing what to take from such a place, I cannot form an understanding of it. I look for a clue by moving over to the edge of the booth where I read the name "James Bay" next to the insignia of Hydro-Quebec. Suddenly, a light comes up. The exhibit around me becomes crisscrossed with electric lines, and the strange nature of James Bay is rendered as familiar as my living room. 91. ACT 1 ROMAN DE LA TERRE: WRITING NATURE AS NATIONAL IDENTITY Au cours des deux sidcles qui s'ecoulent depuis la Conquete, le Quebecois tente sans cesse de seduire et d'epouser son territoire au point d'en paraitre V efflorescence ou la germination. "Avoir des racines", "prendre racine", "se donner des racines" et, a Vinverse, "se sentir deracine" sont plus que des metaphores litteraires; Us portent un sens strict rendant compte de la suprematie du lieu sur I'etre: avant d'etre quelqu'un on doit etre de quelque part. Lieu de ressourcement et d'enracinement, le territoire donne ainsi au Quebecois Villusion d'une existence concrete, d'une immersion dans le reel, au moment meme ou la realite de l'histoire lui echappe.1 Luc Bureau, Entre Veden et Vutopie, p. 161. 1 "In the course of the two centuries that follow the Conquest, the Quebecois repeatedly attempts to seduce and wed his territory to the point where he seemingly blooms or sprouts from it. 'To have roots', 'take root', 'give oneself roots', and, on the contrary, 'to feel uprooted' are more than literary metaphors; they bear a strict meaning demonstrating the supremacy of place over being. Before being someone, one must be somewhere'. A place of regeneration and rootedness, the territory gives Quebecois people the illusion of a concrete existence, of an immersion into the real at the very moment when the reality of history escapes them." 9 2. Recent academic debates have called attention to the ways in which nature is not external to the human sphere but is the product of a complex set of relations between societies and their environments. Along these lines, Margaret FitzSimmons has proposed that geographers and other social scientists should "[t]ry to see Nature, like History, like Geography, and Space, as a material, practical and conceptual reconstruction and reification of what are essentially social relationships."1 As a narrative of the land and of life on the land, the roman de la terre, which was written over a hundred years from 1840 to 1940, embodies in its constructions of nature many of the socio-economic relationships that made the rural sphere so central to French-Canadian cultural and economic survival. In this Act, I want to show that in "discursively delimiting"2 nature, the roman de la terre also helped to create the channels of its transformation through capital and technology. Indeed, the traditionalist nationalism the roman encapsulates has not merely produced a discourse of identity in Quebec, it has also provided the backbone of economic policies meant to lift 1 M. FitzSimmons, "The Matter of Nature." Antipode 21 (1989), p. 107. For an exploration of those debates, see also, among others, N. Smith, Uneven Development: nature, capital and the production of space (Oxford: Blackwell, 1984); B. Braun and N. Castree, eds., Remaking Reality: nature at the millenium (London and New York: Routledge, 1998); W. Cronon, ed., Uncommon Ground: rethinking the human place in nature (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1996); D. Haraway, Simians, Cyborgs, and Women: the reinvention of nature (New York: Routledge, 1991); P. Blaikie, The Political-Economy of Soil Erosion (London: Methuen, 1985). 2 Braun and Castree, Remaking, p. xi. 9 3. the Quebecois from their inferior socio-economic standing in the province; even when these policies erected themselves in opposition to the old world of the roman, and the society it claimed to represent. This was particularly evident in how the Quiet Revolution - of which James Bay is a product -used and expanded the state to improve the status of Francophones, but it is also true of the movements of colonization that sought to counter the pull of exile and the pressures of unemployment by encouraging colonization, during Labelle's time and beyond. Each of these periods of social mobilization called upon various ideas of nature, traditional and modern, which functioned to anchor national identity while fostering territorial expansion and economic development. Following the Patriot Rebellion and Lord Durham's infamous judgment that French-Canadians were a people "without history and without literature",3 rural novels - along with other narrative forms -opened an important discursive space where the social and economic life of Francophones, as well as their relationship to the land, could be signified. A hybrid between fiction, moral pamphlet and social commentary, the roman de la terre stands in sharp contrast to the modernism of French European novels written at the same time, which the Quebec religious elite saw as the expression of a degenerate culture who had lost both faith and morality as a result of the French Revolution. In its prose, the roman de la terre aimed to create an inspirational "realism" in which French-Canadians could see themselves and their values represented. This programme was consolidated and popularized by the ''Ecole patriotique" whose leader, the 3 Quoted in C. Pont-Humbert, Litterature du Quebec (Paris: Nathan, 1998), p. 32. 9 4. Abbe Casgrain, spelled out the principles writers should aspire to in the following terms: Si, comme il est incontestable, la litterature est le reflet des moeurs, du caractere, des aptitudes, du genie d'une nation, si elle garde aussi l'empreinte des lieux ou elle surgit, des aspects de la nature, des sites, des perspectives, des horizons, la notre sera grave, meditative, spiritualiste, religieuse, evangelisatrice comme nos missionnaires, genereuse comme nos martyrs, energique et perseverante comme nos pionniers d'autrefois... Ainsi sa voie est tracee d'avance; elle sera le miroir fidele de notre petit peuple...4 With its idealist turn of phrase, Casgrain's declaration suggests that the roman de la terre can hardly be a "realist" rendition of peasant life: rather, it uses the narrative framework of the novel to epitomize an agriculturist ideology.5 As I have already suggested, this ideology can be 4 "If, as it is incontestable, literature is the reflection of the customs, character, aptitudes and genius of a nation, if it retains also the imprint of the places where it emerges, of their nature, sites, perspectives, and horizons, then ours will be grave, meditative, spiritual, religious, evangelical like our missionaries, generous like our martyrs, energetic and resilient like our pioneers of before... Thus its direction has been traced in advance; it will be the faithful mirror of our small people..." Quoted in M. Servais-Maquoi, Le Roman de la terre au Quebec (Quebec: Les Presses de l'Universite Laval, 1974), p. 9. 5 Michel Brunet defines this ideology in these terms: "L'agriculturisme est avant tout une facon gen6rale de penser, une philosophie de la vie qui idealise le passe, condamne le present et se mefie de l'ordre social moderne. C'est un refus de l'age industriel contemporain qui s'inspire d'une conception statique de la societe. Les agriculturistes soutiennent que le monde occidental s'est egare en s'engageant dans la voie de la technique et de la machine. lis denoncent le materialisme de notre epoque et pretendent que les generations precedentes vivaient dans climat spiritualiste. Selon eux, l'age d'or de l'humanite aurait ete celui ou l'immense majorite de la population s'occupait a la culture du sol. Avec nostalgie et emoi, ils rappellent le 'geste auguste du semeur.'" / "Agriculturalism is first and foremost a general way of thinking, a philosophy of life that idealises the past, condemns the present and is suspicious of the modern social order. It is a refusal of the contemporary industrial age based in a static view of society. The agriculturalists maintain that the Western 9 5. regarded as "geographical" in that it contributed to shape a space that is both discursive and material, that of the rural. Casgrain himself registers that link by stating that literature is pervaded by the sites where it emerges, its nature, perspectives and horizons. However, Casgrain attributes a "mirror-like" function to literature whereas I wish to emphasize instead the ways in which, as a vehicle of cultural meaning, the roman de la terre is implicated in productions of space. While my analysis focuses on this body of literary works, it is important to note from the outset that the roman de la terre is part of a broad social, spatial and historical context that defines a French cultural relationship to the land in Quebec, and cannot be taken to stand over and above the other elements that form this complex landscape. What can be understood as a "Queb6cois sense of place" emerges from a diversified set of practices - whether farming, fishing, logging, mining, traveling, trading, hunting - and discourses - historical writings, newspapers, religious pamphlets, colonization brochures, folk tales, monographs, paintings, etc. The roman d e la terre follows more than two hundred years of settlement and agricultural expansion, in and beyond the St.-Lawrence lowlands, during which a very distinctive regional culture has emerged. In this long story of people and land, rural literature should be regarded as the tip of a much larger iceberg. However, my choice of the roman de la terre as a focus of analysis is motivated by two important factors: firstly, as a popular form of world became lost by following the path of technology and of the machine. They denounce the materialism of our era and maintain that preceding generations lived in a spiritual climate. According to them, the golden age of humanity was when the vast majority of the population cultivated the soil. With a great deal of nostalgia and emotion they evoke the 'august gesture of the sower.'" M. Brunet, "Trois dominantes de la pensee . canadienne-francaise: l'agriculturisme, l'anti-etatisme et le messianisme." La Presence anglaise et les Canadiens (Montreal: Beauchemin, 1964), p. 119. 9 6. literature, the roman de la terre presented narratives that were easily accessible to a broad readership. Their simple plot-structures allowed some of these stories to be adapted into other narrative formats whether to be printed into newspapers, broadcast on the radio or, later in the twentieth century, shown on television and turned into films. Secondly, it is that accessible, malleable quality of the roman de la terre that allows for the constant reactivating of the various symbols, characters and messages it stages and gives life to. The gallery of characters and situations it contains can be said to possess a signifying power within Quebecois society that is sometimes surprisingly independent from the original texts. In that sense, the roman de la terre is contained by the larger socio-economic landscape of nineteenth-century rural Quebec - and everything that led to the production of that space over three hundred years - at the same time as it contains that landscape within itself and makes it readily available for further recontextualizing. Popular, accessible and richly evocative, the roman de la terre represents a prime tool for the production of "taken-for-granted" meanings. If literature does not simply "mirror" but also contributes to shape the geography it emerges out of - in this case, that of the rural St.-Lawrence - this geography is perhaps not as "traditional" as it might appear at first glance. The roman de la terre is, quite literally, the "novel of the land." This land is written as both eternal and subject to change, an ambivalence which fiction is able to accommodate. In "writing the land", the roman de la terre fashions a discourse that aims to bind the rural sphere closer with the national community. As my discussion of James Bay will further demonstrate, this community is also bounded by its "national" 9 7. economy. Consequently, the Quebecois agricultural landscape of the nineteenth century, and beyond, is as much an ideological production as it is the result of economic processes and territorial expansion. The rural ideal was concretized by the literary form that articulated it as much as it was through the morphology of its parishes, fields and farmhouses. While much discussion of the roman de la terre has centered on how the genre anchors a nationalist ideology by narrating the connection between people and land, the ways in which the spatial aspect of this connection is articulated in text have not, in their turn, received sufficient attention. And yet it is precisely this articulation that can provide clues for understanding Quebec's strategies of territorialization and economic development in the twentieth century. In its various stages, the roman de la terre can be regarded as an artifact carrying its own traces of the evolution of what became a dominant discourse of territorial belonging in Quebec, the most recent installment of which, I suggest, can be found in James Bay. If the Quebecois have transformed that Northern space by remaking broad stretches of it into landscapes of (hydroelectric) power, this transformation was set in train long before the drawing of plans and the building of dams. By reinforcing the cultural meanings of land and nation, the roman de la terre produced a specific Quebecois territoriality whose concepts of nature are as flexible as text, sometimes contradictory, always ambiguous, and flexible enough to be rewritten to fit each new economic context in which they need to be deployed. An archetypal narrative? The book that inaugurated the roman de la terre as a genre was entitled La Terre Paternelle. It was published in 1846 by Patrice Lacombe 9 8. and narrates the life of a French-Canadian family on the land they have inherited through an unbroken succession of ancestors. In the opening lines, the writing scans the natural environment of this "paternal land" before narrowing its perspective on the family, more precisely the father, who enjoys ownership of this land: "La paix, l'abondance regnaient done dans cette famille; aucun souci ne venait en alterer le bonheur. Contents de cultiver en paix le champ que leurs ancetres avaient arros6 de leurs sueurs, ils coulaient des jours tranquilles et sereins."6 In accordance with the traditional framework of a tale, this idyllic scene is soon to be disrupted. One son leaves the ancestral land to be a coureur de bois, the other receives the farm from his parents but brings it to ruin by neglecting his agricultural duties to engage instead in commercial ventures. The family must leave the countryside to live in the city where father and son earn a living as "water carriers" (porteurs d'eau); Lacombe grasps their hardship by describing how the men become sheathed in ice as the cold temperature freezes their breath, covering their head with "frost and small icicles."7 This misery is compounded by the death of the eldest son in the winter whose corpse, significantly, must be kept in a mass grave until the soil is no longer frozen. For a "child of the soil", as the family is referred to in the first chapter, a worse fate cannot be imagined. In despair, the father pleads with the cemetery's guardian to lend him a hoe so he can dig a grave: "la terre ne manque pas ici, je vais creuser moi-meme la fosse a 6 "Peace and abundance reigned in this family; not a single worry would alter their happiness. Happy to cultivate in peace the field which their ancestors had showered with their sweat, they were enjoying happy and serene days." P. Lacombe, La Terre Paternelle (Montreal: Hurtubise HMH, 1972), p. 43. 7 Ibid., p. 85-86. 9 9. mon fils, dans quelque petit coin."8 The tale does end on a happy note, however, when the youngest son comes back from his travels and - like Ulysses whose wife recognizes him thanks to a scar on his body - is acknowledged by his mother who sees around his neck the medallion of Jesus and Mary she had entrusted to him upon his departure. Thanks to the son's savings and to the kind of happy coincidence only found in tales, the family is able to buy back their ancestral farm and live happily ever after. Before concluding his story, the narrator inserts a commentary that captures well the moral position of the roman de la terre toward literary modernism: "Laissons aux vieux pays, que la civilization a gates, leurs romans ensanglantes, peignons l'enfant du sol, tel qu'il est, religieux, honndte, paisible de moeurs et de caractere..."9 If France - spoiled by civilization - can no longer stand as the "old country", the roman de la terre is intent on recreating this ideal realm in the "New World." Lacombe's narrative can be regarded as an archetype of the genre and yet, like all archetypes, it is not simply copied so much as used as a point of reference for variations on its themes. It would be reductive to assume that subsequent examples of the roman de la terre do not complicate this idyllic narrative or critically reflect on it. The full production of the genre encompasses few major works yet each one adds another dimension to the rural ideal: from the more didactic "realism" of the early books, novels written in the nineteen-thirties and forties develop a critical, even cynical, look at peasant life, sometimes challenging its most 8 "[T]here is no shortage of land here, I will dig my son's grave myself in some small corner." Ibid., p. 94. 9 "Let's leave these novels full of blood to the old countries that have been spoiled by civilization. Let's depict the child of the soil as he is, religious, honest, peaceful in his customs and character." Ibid., p. 118. 100. fundamental values. When Dr. Philippe Panneton publishes Trente Arpents - under the pseudonym of Ringuet - in 1938, he effectively marks the end of the genre by presenting a protagonist who is subjected to transformations in the land, rather than nurtured by a static, timeless environment. That protagonist, however, holds on to an agriculturist view of the land when nothing in his experience remains to support it. In this way, Ringuet forces us to rethink rurality as a set of beliefs rather than as the unmitigated social reality it is often assumed to be for Francophones in nineteenth-century Qu6bec. More than the narrative itself then, it is perhaps the dominant view of the roman de la terre and of rural Quebec prior to the Quiet Revolution that has become "archetypal" as many social scientists in the province have recently suggested.10 Indeed, there is a significant amount of "modernity" in the "tradition" depicted in these rural novels and, in turn, more than a little bit of "tradition" in the "modernity" the Quiet Revolution was supposed to have brought about. An analysis of how these two spheres are intricately laced can start to shed light on why Robert Bourassa - the ultimate apologist for modernity, technology and progress for the Qu6becois - chose so frequently to call upon archaic notions of the land and its people in speaking about the North, and about the James Bay project. 10 See for example the following studies: S. Courville, Entre ville et campagne. L'essor du vdlage dans les seigneuries du Bas-Canada (Sainte-Foy, Quebec: Les Presses de l'Universite Laval, 1990); G. Bouchard, Entre I'Ancien et le Nouveau Monde (Ottawa: Presses de l'Universit6 d'Ottawa, 1996); G. Paquet and J.-P. Wallot, Lower Canada at the Turn of the Nineteenth Century: reconstructuring and modernization (Ottawa: The Canadian Historical Association, Historical Booklet no. 47, 1988); G. Bourque and J. Duchastel, Restons traditionnels et progressifs (Montreal: Boreal, 1988); M. Fournier, L'Entree dans la modernite. Science, culture et societe au Quibec (Montreal: Saint-Martin, 1986). 101. In order to bring the roman de la terre into dialogue with Bourassa's geographical - and more specifically "northern" - imagination, I want to survey those concepts in the literature that are explicitly spatial. Although land and nation dominate this discursive landscape, they also morph into or draw their contours against various other spatial concepts, to say nothing about how their masculine and feminine characteristics are rarely stable. My intent is not to "clean up" or categorize the broad range of spatial signifiers in the roman de la terre but to interrogate them about the role of nature in binding together these ideological formations. The reason for this interrogation is that, both within and beyond the pages of these books, nature functions as a larger signifying realm into which the nation and its various geographical concepts fold. Whether represented as a wilderness, an ordered agricultural landscape or the "unnatural" nature of the city, each of nature's incarnations in the roman de la terre has spiraled far beyond the printed page at the same time as it has constituted a commentary on the changes transforming the francophone homeland, which have increased in intensity since the turn of the century. In an effort to contain my discussion, I have selected four texts - Maria Chapdelaine, Trente Arpents, UAppel de Id Race and Jean Rivard - which speak more directly to the production of a rural nature bracketed by what is represented as two extremes - that of the wilderness and that of the city - but this should not be taken to imply that other works are silent on this matter. My approach to these novels is thematic rather than chronological as my main purpose is to highlight and establish links between their respective writing of nature as national space. As I hope to show, it is eventually this act of writing which provides an eminently useful 102. framework for marketing hydroelectric development and for making James Bay, a Cree land, into a Quebecois landscape. Maria Chapdelaine Published in 1916* this novel by Louis Hemon has been translated into several languages and is one of the most widely read books about Qu6bec. Hemon was originally from France and traveled in Quebec meeting and living among the settler communities he then sought to depict in his writing. Set in a fictional, isolated location in the vast North, "Peribonka du bout du monde", Maria Chapdelaine deploys various characters who embody the type of the "defricheur" which had already been crystallized in 1874 by another roman de la terre entitled Jean Rivard, le defricheur (which I will discuss later). The defricheur, a term which can be roughly translated as "land clearer", is an heroic male figure who stands at the frontline of colonization by penetrating into the territory and opening new farmland. To do so, he typically must confront a "wild" nature and force it to bear fruit through agriculture: this is usually illustrated by the struggle he wages against the forest, patiently pulling out one tree after the next with a minimum of tools. Consequently, the wilderness always stands in the margins of the roman de la terre and the gradual advance of a civilizing force is the very condition of this narrative. This arduous process seems to pit humans against nature according to the Western view of its externality, yet this is challenged in the literature by the usual description of the defricheur's task as "faire de la terre" (making land).11 The roman 1 1 Hemon gives the following characterization of this task: "Faire de la terre! C'est la forte expression du pays, qui exprime tout ce qui git de travail terrible entre la pauvrete du bois sauvage et la fertilite finale des champs laboures et semes." / "To 103. de la terre then stems from an interesting contradiction in its general portrayal of nature which is at the basis of the rural ideal: although it typically regards the agricultural landscape as the timeless and unchanging country of god, each one of its narratives painstakingly traces the process through which the human hand actively produces and transforms that sphere. "Making land": wilderness versus rural nature Because it is not yet fully rural, the environment Hemon describes is far from ideal. The Chapdelaine live a long way north of the agricultural belt of the Laurentian region and further still into the woods, away from the small village where settler families like them have painfully carved a few farming properties against winter and wilderness. This distance is conveyed early in the novel as the title character Maria returns from a trip to visit relatives who live south. When the last signs of human occupation vanish and the horse-drawn carriage taking her home enters the woods, she stops being interested in the landscape since the latter is apparently frozen in time: II n'y avait rien a voir ici; dans les villages, les maisons et les granges neuves pouvaient s'elever d'une saison a l'autre, ou bien se vider et tomber en ruines; mais la vie du bois etait make land! This is the common expression in this country which expresses every bit of harsh work that lies between the sterility (poverty) of the wilderness and the fertility of fields that have been plowed and sowed." L. Hemon, Maria Chapdelaine (Montreal: Bibliotheque quebecoise, 1990), p. 44, my emphasis. For a discussion of the "externality of nature", see Smith, Uneven, op. cited. 104. quelque chose de si lent qu'il eut fallut plus qu'une patience humaine pour attendre et noter un changement.12 In this space removed from the slightly more established farmland of Peribonka, the family is also removed from the church and thus further from god. The nature they are confronting then is not god's nature until it has been made into a rural landscape. For Maria, the inability to attend mass every Sunday reasserts her environment as a wilderness and has her wondering if this could bring "bad luck" to them.13 This distance is a constant concern for the mother also, who dreams of returning to one of the old parishes that line the upper reaches ^ of the St.-Lawrence valley. Thinking about the village her daughter has just visited, she ponders out loud how such a place with "flat terrain, square fields and strong straight fences" would have pleased her and admits regretting that her husband should wish to push always further into the woods rather than settle for a clear piece of land in the south.14 Hemon describes the father's impulse as follows: "C'etait sa passion a lui: une passion d'homme fait pour le d6frichement plutot que pour la culture."15 The discrepancy he sets up between the mother's ideal living space and that of her husband makes each of these environments the mark of a specific gender: if wild nature is male, rural nature is in turn a female entity, i.e. domesticated. Contained in this dualism is also the Quebecois opposition between North and South 1 2 "There was nothing here to see; in the villages, houses and barns could be built up from one season to the next, or become empty and fall into ruin; but life in the woods was something so slow that one would need more than a human patience to wait and note a change." Ibid., p. 34. 13 Ibid., pp. 31-32. 14Ibid., p. 38. 1 5 "It was his own passion. The passion of a man made for land-clearing rather than for agriculture." Ibid., p. 44, my emphasis. 105. which will be sharply intensified once James Bay becomes the latest incarnation of what I have referred to as the "myth of the North."16 When father and sons have laboured to tear more trees from the soil and make the land ready - "nu comme la main" - for the plough, the mother celebrates the beauty of their achievement in words that idealize the tamed countryside as a sensual and feminine nature. Interestingly, her vision of nature is also contrasted from that of urban dwellers which is "fake": Elle cel6bra la beaute du monde telle qu'elle la comprenait: non pas la beaute inhumaine, artificiellement 6chafaud6e par les 6tonnements des citadins, des hautes montagnes steriles et des mers perilleuses, mais la beaut6 placide et vraie de la campagne au sol riche, de la campagne plate qui n'a pour pittoresque que l'ordre des longs sillons paralleles et la douceur 16 The same spatial division along gender lines would be expressed during the building of LG2 by the fact that a majority of men "went up North" to the construction site while women were envisioned to be staying at home in the South. This idea was reasserted by Corinne Levesque who accompanied her husband to LG3 during the referendum campaign. In a speech addressed to the workers, she acknowledged the role of female labourers in James Bay but also evoked, speaking to the majority of men in the room, that archetypal female figure "who is raising children, who is faithfully and courageously assuming the responsibilities of the household, that woman you think about so often and who is waiting for you." Corinne Levesque saw herself as a spokesperson for spouses left behind and reminded her audience that these women were also doing their part "with the same courage, the same difficulties and the same hopes" and that it was thanks to them also that Quebec was gradually being built. Her speech suggests that, for women, the display of heroic qualities is associated primarily with the home rather than in the unbounded space of the North. Indeed, even the female work force in James Bay was described in terms of their social reproductive functions: "Chaque jour vous assurez vaillamment l'administration, le secretariat, la nourriture, le service quotidien de tous, de facon modeste, anonyme souvent, mais en assurant au chantier tout entier le plus indispensable soutien." See M. Tremblay, "Corinne Levesque emeut les travailleurs de LG-3." Journal de Montreal, May 1st, 1980. 106. des eaux courantes, de la campagne qui s'offre nue aux baisers du soleil avec un abandon d'epouse.17 This strict dualism between two impulses - that of the sedentary mother versus the nomadic father - and their respective nature - god's rural land in the south versus the "savage" wilderness of the north - is made more complex by the fact that it is their daughter who functions as the novel's protagonist. Unlike her parents, Maria does not strongly endorse either one of the natures they stand for, at least not until the end of the book. Her indecision, which provides the central dramatic element of the narrative, is adeptly staged by Hemon: having reached the age when she can marry, Maria meets three different men whom she will consider for a husband. Each potential lover embodies one of the dominant lifestyles that characterized French-Canadians at the turn of the century. Francois Paradis represents the nomadic coureur de bois who refuses to "always scratch the same piece of dirt": having sold the family farm after the death of his father, he goes north to work in logging camps and serve as a guide in the fur trade.18 Eutrope Gagnon is the model of the habitant, humble, stable and hardworking, he is deeply rooted in place and patiently pursuing his lonely task of clearing a piece of land where he hopes to raise a family. The third prospect is Lorenzo Surprenant who, like Francois Paradis, rejects the life of the habitant, yet unlike the coureur de bois Lorenzo has chosen a different geographical trajectory, and therefore an 1 7 "She celebrated the beauty of the world as she understood it: not the inhuman beauty, artificially created by the amazement of city people, of high sterile mountains and perilous seas, but the placid and genuine beauty of the country with its rich soil, of the flat countryside whose only picturesque quality was the order of long parallel furrows and the sweetness of fresh water, of the country that offers herself to the sun with a wife's abandon." Ibid., pp. 61-62. l*Ibid., p. 50. 107. opposite way of life, by emigrating south to the United States and working in a factory. Maria meets him when he is back in Peribonka to sell his father's property so as to permanently establish himself away from Quebec. In these three characters, Hemon captures the contrary forces that became the object of so much concern during the period that followed the Durham report and lasted into the twentieth century - a period frequently characterized as a form of "survivance" (survival) - since they were seen to seriously determine the ability of French-Canadians to maintain and expand their rural homeland. Choosing rural nature, choosing the nation In typical romance fashion, Maria's heart immediately goes for the adventurer Francois with whom she falls in love in the spring. But Hemon's novel is hardly a romance and the story takes a tragic turn when he gets lost in the woods and dies without ever returning home. As she mourns him through a long winter, Maria questions her attachment to the place of her birth, a country so harsh and "barbaric" that those who get lost die without rescue.19 Through Maria's mourning and the dilemma she faces between the two other men who want to marry her, it becomes apparent in the novel that, in line with the usual symbolizing of the nation as female, the protagonist stands for the Quebecois nation. Although she considers following Lorenzo Surprenant to experience the "marvels" of the city - lit up streets, magnificent stores, an easy life filled with small pleasures - a voice reminds her of the beauty of the land she wants to run 19 Ibid., p. 189. 108. away from. Hemon gives us a description of an idyllic landscape where a luxuriant and fertile nature willfully submits herself to the labour of man: L'apparition quasi miraculeuse de la terre au printemps, apres les longs mois d'hiver... [...] Le betail enfin delivre de l'etable entrait en courant dans les clos et se gorgeait d'herbe neuve. Toutes les creatures de l'annee: les veaux, les jeunes volailles, les agnelets batifolaient au soleil et croissaient de jour en jour tout comme le foin et l'orge. Le plus pauvre des fermiers s'arretait parfois au milieu de sa cour ou de ses champs, les mains dans ses poches et savourait le grand contentement de savoir que la chaleur du soleil, la pluie tiede, l'alchimie genereuse de la terre - toutes sortes de forces geantes -travaillaient en esclaves soumises pour lui... pour lui.20 Already associated with the nation, Maria can become nature - and also a "slave" according to Hemon - by marrying and bearing children where she herself was born. Throughout the narrative, "nature", "nation" and "woman" become fused as one and the same entity once Francois, who threatens the stability of the French by his lack of commitment to place-making, vanishes. In choosing the familiar (signified by Eutrope Gagnon and the agricultural labour of the rural) over the unknown of exile (Lorenzo Surprenant and the industrial labour of the city), Maria reasserts 2 0 "The almost miraculous apparition of the land in the spring, after the long winter months... [...] The cattle finally released from the barn running towards the fields and feasting on new grass. All the newborns of the year: the calves, the chicks, the lambs frolicking in the sun and growing from day to day like the hay and barley. The poorest of farmers would sometimes stop in the middle of his yard or field, hands in his pockets and savour the great satisfaction of knowing that the warmth of the sun, the warm rain, the generous alchemy of the land - all sorts of giant forces - worked like submissive slaves for him... for him."Ibid., p. 190-191. 109. rural space as her own country. It is significant that she does so against the space of the wilderness (Francois) and that of the city (Lorenzo). Her final decision comes to her as she sits through the night by the bed of her dead mother and resigns herself, although not without regret, to the fact that she too is capable of living a similar life bound to a traditional man, and therefore to religion, language and land. Simple, stable and patient like the nature/nation she represents, Maria heeds the voices telling her that: "in the country of Quebec, nothing must die and nothing must change."21 Hers is a serene, if not joyful, resolution offering hope that the city will be kept at bay, and that the wilderness will be taken over and transformed into an ideal country for the descendants of her race. Or will it? For despite H6mon's portrayal of Maria as the voice of traditional agriculturism, the attentive reader will recall that, when she entered the woods with her father at the beginning of the book, "a city" of trees opened before her: "Les maisons qui depuis le village s'espacaient dans la plaine s'evanouirent d'un seul coup, et la perspective ne fut plus qu'une cite de troncs nus sortant du sol blanc."22 In this image, the trees appear to stand as an obstacle to land clearing but they can also be envisioned as a resource connected to the industrial economy of the city. As it pertains to the complex dynamic between tradition and modernity and its production of space in Quebec, the author's use of an urban metaphor to describe the wilderness can be regarded as an invitation to situate the roman de la terre within a broader geographical sphere. 2 1 Ibid., p. 194. 2 2 "The houses, which had become sparser in the plain as they moved further from the village, vanished at once and the perspective become that of a city of naked trunks emerging from the white ground."/*id., p. 33. 110. Trente Arpents Written two decades after Maria Chapdelaine, in 1938, Ringuet's Trente Arpents handles some of the same themes but brings them to a much less heroic conclusion. Throughout the narrative, the city figures more predominantly as another kind of wilderness pushing against and threatening to undo rural nature. The central character is a farmer named Euchariste Moisan whom the story follows through the various stages of his life on the farm, which are portrayed as different seasons, starting with the spring and ending in winter. Once he has taken over his uncle's farm, Euchariste marries a neighbouring girl and, quickly after their first child, the two seem fully integrated to the rhythm and order of the nature around them, which assigns each gender its particular tasks. Significantly, the introduction of this gendered order is seen as the result of man having given up haphazard hunting and fishing activities to yoke himself to the rhythm of the land: Et cela suivant l'ordre etabli depuis les millenaires, depuis que l'homme, abdiquant la liberty que lui permettait une vie d e chasse et de peche, a accepte le joug des saisons et soumis sa vie au rythme annuel de la terre a laquelle il est desormais accouple. Euchariste: les champs; Alphonsine: la maison et l'enfant.23 2 3 "And this following the order established since thousands of years, since man, abdicating the freedom afforded to him by a life of hunting and fishing, accepted the yoke of seasons and submitted his life to the yearly rhythm of the land to which he is wedded from now on. Eucharist: the fields; Alphonsine: the house and child." Ringuet, Trente Arpents (Montreal: Flammarion, 1991), p. 48. This view of hunting as an unplanned and unpredictable activity was predominant during the court battle by the Cree that led to an injunction to stop construction on the La Grande river. In order to establish a legitimate claim to the land, the Cree had to prove that hunting and fishing were not haphazard but highly structured and reliable means of subsistence in their communities. See H. Feit, "The Ethno-Ecology of the Waswanipi 111. When the initial changes associated with marriage and birth have taken place in the short span of a few months, Euchariste trusts that the remainder of his life will be a repetition of the same: "les jours a venir passeraient sans apporter autre chose que le travail quotidien caique sur celui de la veille, et les saisons calquees sur les saisons precedentes."2 4 Yet this is not so. With its central character fully attached to the land at the very beginning of the novel, the story unfolds through the seasons as a gradual undoing of this physical anchor. This painful process begins in a dispute with a neighbour who buys a piece of land from Euchariste where the respective property of each man meet. The farmer sells it for what he thinks is an advantageous sum but soon discovers that his neighbour has fooled him into a dishonest transaction. The piece of land in question contains ochre, a substance he can sell at a high price to make paint. Euchariste's financial loss is illustrated by the fact that his soil is carted away by strangers who have a more lucrative use for it than agriculture, which is to manufacture paint. In a key scene, he realizes the wound inflicted on his property as the land is cut open and the ochre-rich dirt taken away by the bag full: "il vit un trou beant a flanc de cote, une plaie vive ou saignait la terre chargee d'ocre rouge. II resta ainsi un moment fige, son coeur refletant la blessure de sa terre, de la vieille terre des Moisan violentee par un autre..."25 Suddenly a portable resource because it Cree: or how hunters can manage their resources. B. Cox, ed. Cultural Ecology: readings on the Canadian Indians and Eskimos (Toronto: McClelland and Steward, 1973), pp. 115-125. 2 4 "The days to come would pass without bringing anything else but the daily work copied from that of the day before, and the seasons copied from the preceding ones. "Ibid., p. 67. 2 5 "[H]e saw a gaping hole on the hillside, an open wound from which the land, charged with red ochre, was bleeding. For a moment he remained transfixed, his 112. is valuable outside of its immediate environment, the soil is rendered vulnerable to the intrusion of foreigners who can appropriate it, provided they possess the right capital. The thought of his land uprooted in this way is as shocking as it is inconceivable to the habitant. Blood and soil: losing a cultural anchor And yet the old man must conceive of it as he is faced with the fact that not only his soil but also his son can be taken away if the money is right. This symbolic bleeding of the land is particularly painful to the central character because it follows the recent departure of his favorite son to the United States where he has elected to work in a factory rather than stay on the land. This is a decision which the farmer clearly cannot comprehend nor accept since it negates every term of belonging he stands for: Un Moisan desertait le sol et le pays de Quebec et tout ce qui etait leur depuis toujours pour s'en aller vers l'exil total; vers un travail qui ne serait pas celui de la terre; vers des gens qui parleraient un jargon etranger; vers des villes lointaines ou Ton ne connait plus les lois ni du ciel des hommes ni du ciel de Dieu.26 heart bearing the blow to his land, the old land of the Moisan assaulted by another..."Ibid., p. 171. 26 "An heir of the Moisan was deserting the soil and the country of Quebec, all that had always been theirs, toward a complete exile; toward a form of labour that would not be that of the land; toward people that would speak a foreign language; toward faraway cities where one knows neither the laws of man nor the laws of God." Ibid., p. 164. 113. In drawing a parallel between the bleeding of the land and the loss of a son to a doubly foreign space - that of the city and that of another country - Ringuet illustrates how place and national identity are inextricably bound for the farmer in the rural environment. The novel takes a decisively critical and pessimistic view of this when the main character himself is severed from that bond by his own progeny. After the departure of Ephrem to the United States, his second son Etienne takes over the farm. Various events unfold which consolidate Etienne's control of the ancestral land, and his resolve that his father cannot stay there anymore and should be sent to live in the United States with his first son. In the rural context where departure of the children was usually the ultimate threat to the family farm, the fact that Euchariste does have an heir to the land but is forced into exile by that same individual constitutes a particularly strong blow to the old farmer's world view that blood and soil are melded together. The impossibility for the character to maintain a bond with the place of his birth even as his descendants become stewards of the ancestral farm is a serious challenge to the belief, so central to the rural ideal, that the land could safeguard tradition and cultural identity by anchoring it geographically. If this ideal is lost for good when Euchariste -with his wife now deceased - begins his journey to the city, in fact its unraveling starts long before within the space of the farm itself which, despite the character's belief, is not immune to the forces of change. Indeed, the uprooting of the farmer from the universe he knows starts when a fire leaves nearly nothing unscathed on his property; once again the land is bleeding as a torrent of "bloody light" runs from the 114. windows.27 The task of rebuilding is managed by Etienne who accuses his father of causing the fire and thus seeks to undercut him at every stage of decision-making. In this confrontation, Ringuet stages the generation gap that is slowly pushing father and son apart as the latter shuns Euchariste's desire to rebuild everything exactly as it was, envisioning more modern structures instead: "La grange serait recouverte non pas de bardeaux de cedre, d Vancienne mode, mais bien de tole avec un comble a la francaise. Quant a l'etable, elle aurait des fondements et un plancher en beton..."28 For the old farmer, the erection of new buildings transforms the land to the point where it becomes unrecognizable to him: "la figure m£me de la vieille terre des Moisan lui en etait devenue meconnaissable. II ne se sentait plus chez lui."29 Ill at ease in the new barn, he turns to his fields in an effort to find himself at home, or simply to find himself.30 This is in vain since the land is insensible and even turns against him by refusing to provide the strength and renewal it so willingly gives, like a mother, to other members of her creation: "vieilli, use par elle a soixante ans, il eut voulu que le seul contact de cette terre suffit a lui redonner force et autorite, a faire monter en ses membres defraichis un peu de la seve que si genereusement elle dispensait aux sarrasins et aux mils tout comme au chiendent et a l'herbe a poux."31 When Euchariste finally leaves the farm 21 Ibid., p. 188. 2 8 "The barn would be topped not with cedar shingles, in the old style, but with an aluminum roof with a French-style gable. As for the stables, their foundation and floor would be made of concrete..." Ibid., p. 192, my emphasis. 2 9 "[T]he very face of the Moisan's old land had become unrecognizable. He did not feel at home anymore." Ibid., p. 195. 30 "Esperant se retrouver chez lui, se retrouver lui-meme." Ibid., p. 195. 3 1 "[A]t sixty, old and used by her, he would have wanted that the sole contact with this land (la terre) suffice to bring back his strength and authority, to bring up into his tired limbs a bit of the sap that she so generously dispensed to the buckwheat and millet, as she did to the couch grass and the poison ivy." Ibid., p. 196. Here Ringuet 115. on the journey that will take him to join his son in the United States, he seems like an empty shell of himself. So strongly is his identity rooted in the land that departure amounts to a loss of self: "c'est a peine s'il se rendait compte que c'etait bien lui, Euchariste Moisan, qui partait ainsi."32 The fact that the character is unable to grasp the reality of his departure is a suggestion of the extent to which he has been unaware of his own belonging to the land, upholding it and living by it quite unconsciously: Rien qu'a voir l'etable, il se figurait l'etat du troupeau et son rapport; s'il n'en respirait point en esprit l'odeur chaude, c'est que jamais sa conscience n'avait reellement percu cette odeur ou il etait ne, ou il avait journellement vecu; cette odeur qui impregnait son corps, ses vetements et son esprit meme.3 3 All the ardent rhetoric of the religious elite - even that of the Cure Labelle - could not spell a more emotional plea about the • connection between nature and national identity than the simple image Ringuet gives of his farmer bidding good-bye to the farm. Even nature is not quite herself on the day of this departure by bringing rain in February. seems to makes an allusion to the Greek myth of Anteus: son of Poseidon (water) and Gala (earth), Anteus is made invincible from a direct contact with his mother, the Earth. In his struggle with Heraclites, Anteus purposefully collapses to the ground when he feels his strength diminish. By drinking his sweat, his mother Gala revivifies his blood. When he discovers Anteus' recourse, Heraclites lifts him off the ground and chokes him in the air. In his book Entre I'lZden et I'Utopie, Luc Bureau refers to this myth to explain Quebecois territoriality. See Bureau, op. cited, p. 158-16.1. 3 2 "[H]e barely realized that it was him, Eucharisted Moisan, who was leaving in this way." Ringuet, Trente, p. 219. 3 3 "Just looking at the stable, he could assess the state of the herd; if he did not mentally take in its warm smell, it was because his conscience had never really perceived this odor in which he had been born and had lived on a daily basis, this smell that permeated his body, his clothes and his very spirit." Ibid., p. 225. 116. Unnatural nature: the experience of exile In his exile, the farmer attempts to recover his sense of identity through several sad attempts at recreating the natural environment of his past life - notably by planting a small garden - all of which end in failure. The last part of the book is where Ringuet reasserts the contours of what Euchariste has lost by repeatedly contrasting it, and also linking it, with the new urban space where he finds himself. This is perhaps most powerfully done in a scene that takes place moments after Ephrem picks up his father at the train station where the farmer struggles to reconcile the face in front of him and the clumsy French he hears with the memory of his son. After what seems to the farmer a roaring drive with buildings apparently throwing themselves at him, the two of them reach the top of a hill where they get out of the car to contemplate the landscape below them. Adjusting his gaze, Euchariste discerns as far as the eye can see a blackish field with hundreds of perfectly parallel rows running through. He is immensely pleased to find this piece of cultivated land in the middle of the city and touched that his son would have him take notice of it. But Euchariste is in for a surprise that once again shocks his traditional perception of nature: what he thinks is a well-plowed field is really the roof of the "Sunshine Corporation", a massive industrial plant where his son is employed manufacturing lamp bulbs.34 Looking at this "metal field", the old farmer sees a sterile meadow where men, including his son, are forced to work away from the sun's light while ironically manufacturing it. im this scene, Ringuet captures another dimension of Euchariste's {experience of exile, which is that he moves from "natural" to "manufactured" nature in his transition from the country to the city. And 3 4 Ibid., p. 230. 117. yet, like Maria entering a hybrid "wooded city", Euchariste must realize that the distance between the two is not so clear-cut: as Ephrem proudly announces, under the roof of the Sunshine Corporation thousands of workers make those same electric bulbs that had lit up the old farm kitchen back home. In this industrial landscape then is contained that very traditional sphere he always thought would be fundamentally denaturalized by the introduction of the new: "Moisan regardait cette aire metallique et infeconde qui subitement avait evoque sa terre lointaine et la cuisine tiede ou Ton se rassemble a cette heure particuliere et si douce d'entre travail et repos ou les lampes s'allument..."3 5 Although father and son seemingly belong to two different places and two different time periods, Ephrem's labour finds its way into this most intimate of rural sphere, above the little social world of the kitchen table where families gather and traditions, so the understanding goes, are kept. If nature can be transformed and manufactured for the Sunshine Corporation, what fate will be reserved to the French identity that was molded and nurtured by it? As Trente Arpents shows, these questions cannot be expelled from the orbit of the rural since the latter also belongs to the space of modernity; yet expelled they were and quite effectively by the religious discourse that perpetuated a static view of the land. In the next section, I want to look at a key proponent of this discourse who, in his essentialist rendering of nature, fashions a broad set of rhetorical tools that represent the Quebecois nation as a timeless and homogenous entity. 3 5 "Moisan was looking at this metallic, sterile surface which suddenly had evoked his distant land and the warm kitchen where people gather at this hour between work and rest, so special and so sweet, when the lamps are turned on..." Ibid., p. 231. 118. L'Appel de la Race The persistence of a traditionalist view of the land in Quebec can be explained by the fact that such a perspective is useful to the strengthening of the national community, and becomes indispensable in the maintenance of a legitimate claim to territory; especially in the process of its expansion such as was the case in James Bay. In Trente Arpents, the fact that nature as well as the farmer seem to lose their essential self on the day of his departure is a good example of the discursive potential of nature in giving a fixed meaning to that most dynamic of categories, which is national identity. As I have tried to show, both H6mon and Ringuet's novels flesh out their characters by describing the kinds of nature they identify with. Depending on their positioning in relation to the rural sphere, these characters express different degrees of "French-Canadianness." Maria and Euchariste are extreme in this regard: their national identity is their geography, their sense of place is the very definition of rural nature. More than the "faithful mirror" of a people as the followers of the Ecole patriotique would have it, the roman de la terre is an exercise in deploying the broad rhetorical register of nature to fashion the image that should appear in the mirror of cultural identity; which, according to the Church, should be rural. It "constructs" the essence of this image and erases the trace of its construction since nature, like the nation, is that which does not change and thus eternally repeats itself. Here Maria's words are again significant: "In the country of Quebec, nothing must die and nothing must change." Considering that much had changed when Maria Chapdelaine was written - over 50 per cent of Quebec's population resided in urban areas when Hemon published his book - these words must be understood as a wishful call to action rather than the "mirror" of an essential Quebecois 119. identity.36 If French-Canadians were not quite that close to the land, the roman de la terre would do its best to make it so. One novel offers us a powerful depiction of this rhetorical function of nature as the essence of national identity. L'Appel de la race by the Abbe Lionel Groulx was written in 1922. It was a controversial novel at the time and remains so to this day as Quebec tries to move away from an ethnic nationalism into a more inclusive discourse of place and identity. Its essentialist portrayal of the French arid English - which Groulx envisions as separate "races" - is deployed through a geographical determinism where constructions of nature simultaneously function as constructions of ethnicity. Throughout a career that spanned most of the first half of this century, Groulx was a tireless nationalist advocate for the French whose national destiny he saw in teleological terms as the will of a Catholic God which would eventually be fulfilled. He was Chair of the History Department at Laval University from 1915 to 1949 and, as an historian, he viewed the writing of the past as a tool for directing social action. Although based on actual events, the fictional framework of VAppel de la race allowed him to express political opinions more freely than could historical writing. More than a roman de la terre then, L'Appel was a roman a these, expressing a strong moral and political position about the situation of Francophones in Canada and the necessity of maintaining an exclusive homeland where they could protect language and religion. 36 K. McRoberts, "La These tradition-modernite: l'historique quebecois." Elbaz et. al., eds., Les Frontieres, op. cited, p. 34. This number is taken from the census of 1921, Maria Chapdelaine was first published as a book in 1916. 120. Homo quebecensis The U.S.-based scholar Richard Handler has commented on the work of Lionel Groulx, and more specifically on the discourse of nature and identity that pervades it. His book Nationalism and the Politics of Culture in Quebec presents and analyzes several interviews with Francophones conducted at the height of the separatist movement that culminated in the referendum of 1980. Well after the roman de la terre or the period of survivance, Handler inquires into the roots of attachment to place by asking his interviewees to explain their sense of belonging toward Qu6bec. His study outlines how the symbolic realm of nature still works to anchor the national community in place by "naturalizing" its presence upon the land - or it would be more accurate to say the "imaginative geography of the land", since Handler's interviewees are not specifically rural inhabitants. Handler draws parallels between his own data and Lionel Groulx's writings: The earth, one's native soil, one's fatherland, one's country attachment to these things is considered by nationalists to be supremely natural, as is the way of life built on the basis of this attachment. Consider the notions of land and the national territory found in the works of Lionel Groulx. The colony of New France, from which sprang the French-Canadian people, is said to have been planted in the soil of the New World. The soil protected and nourished the nascent collectivity, providing the material necessities of life and promoting those moral virtues associated with uncorrupted labor and a pastoral milieu. But man has also given to the land. The soil has been conquered, developed, "humanized" by 121. the succession of human generations living upon it. The people mark the land with their soul and personality, and, above all, they love the land.37 This singular relationship between people and the environment in Lionel Groulx is captured by the expression homo quebecensis. The term suggests that descendants of New France constitute a distinct example of the human species, as particular to their own milieu as a type of rock or plant.38 Such a specimen has undergone: "an adaptation that binds him indissolubly to the niche into which he has settled." As Handler remarks, Groulx maintains in his writings that this niche "creates a human variety, just as the soil and climate create biological varieties."3 9 The roman de la terre contains various fine specimens of this species and contrasts them against others who do not belong to it since they are essentially "detached" from the land rather than "attached" to it.40 In L'Appel de la race, rural nature functions as a point of origin and the return to it restores the moral essence of the central character Jules de Lantagnac. The book opens when de Lantagnac has just come back from a trip to the rural locale of his birth, which is a catalyst for the recovery of his true and essential self. After an absence of more than twenty years during which he has worked in the urban and anglicized region of Ottawa, de Lantagnac feels that he was able to reconnect with his "moral climate" 3 7 R. Handler, Nationalism and the Politics of Culture in Quebec (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1988), pp. 33-34. 38 Handler attributes the expression to Marcel Rioux in a monograph entitled Les Quebecois. The homo quebecensis is the "human specimen" found in Quebec. Ibid., p. 43. 39 Ibid., p. 44. 4 0 Morissonneau, Terre Promise, op. cited, p. 15. 122. by going to his physical birth place. Recounting his trip to a priest who is also his moral guide, de Lantagnac uses vivid landscape descriptions and invites his friend to "gather his memories along a beloved shore" with him.41 The character seems to be glancing back upon himself while h e glances at the physical features of the land: "Et me voyez-vous qui souris a ces vieilles choses retrouvees ou je me retrouve moi-meme comme en un visage qui me ressemble?"4 2 As his moral guide tells him, this return to his true self was inevitable: the priest compares de Lantagnac's pilgrimage to a metal bar that has shattered the foreign layers in his identity, allowing "the man of unity" to resurface.43 Nature as national space Finding himself in nature, de Lantagnac necessarily finds his national identity since Quebec's rural nature appears, in the book, to have an inherent patriotic character. This is indicated in a scene which symbolizes another return to origins, this time for his children who will be removed from their anglophone upbringing - from their mother who is English - and given back to the French "race." Here the gender structure of the nation shows a contradiction: while nature is symbolized as female with connotations of fertility, purity and renewal, the birth mother of de Lantagnac's children is in fact a woman who threatens the fulfillment of their true national destiny because she belongs to the wrong culture. The implication - which again demonstrates the essential bond between nature 4 1 L. Groulx, L'Appel de la race (Montreal: Fides, 1980), p. 20. 4 2 "Do you see me smiling at these old things where I find myself again as though in a face that resembles me?" Ibid., p. 21. 4 3 Ibid., p. 26. 123. and nation so predominant in Groulx - is that the children's "real" mother is not their biological parent but nature herself who nurtures her progeny through the land. In line with de Lantagnac's pilgrimage, his children's ability to recover their French roots corresponds to a physical movement back to the land of their ancestors. This movement is initiated when father and children take a boat ride on a lake in the Quebec Laurentians where the family has recently acquired a property. Approaching the end of a bay, they hear a group of religious men singing traditional French-Canadian songs. As described by Groulx, the scenery provides an acoustic background for the melodies, as if the landscape itself was playing them. When they get to the last song - which is the national anthem - the echo seems to come from the highest peaks: "on eut dit que l'hymne national devenait l'acclamation naturelle, le chant inne de la terre canadienne."4 4 This merging of the national anthem with the physical space of Quebec exemplifies what Handler has in mind when he refers to the geographical determinism found in Groulx whereby the soil of Quebec produces the homo quebecensis. The novel shows the rhetorical function of nature in "naturalizing" the bond between people and land which turns them into subjects of the nation and therefore delimits, through them, the boundaries of national space. When de Lantagnac's daughter breaks the awed silence following the end of the national anthem heard on the lake, she exclaims: "Quel beau pays tout de meme que ces Laurentides du Quebec! [...] N'est-ce pas qu'ici Ton parle naturellement le francais?" Wolfred supports 4 4 "[OJne would have thought that the national anthem was becoming the natural acclamation, the innate chant of the terre canadienne (French-Canadian land)." Ibid., p. 35. 124. her assertion by affirming "il me semble qu'ici cela va tout seul."45 Indeed, "the country air helping", the whole family will speak French for the remainder of their stay. Thus, the underlying message of L'Appel de la race is that French-Canadian identity is an essence that can be recovered intact from a return to the environment that initially imparted this identity, even after an absence of twenty years. If cultural essence can get clouded when it leaves the land and is exposed to other "unnatural natures", the ideology of agriculturism maintains that the rural is a matrix that can always restore identity since nature is immune to change. Indeed, as each of these novels illustrate, change in nature is always cyclical so that its culmination is a return to the point of origin. As a result, nature's change is a controlled activity that never threatens the integrity of the structure within which it happens: if humans change, nature in turn remains the same. By adopting nature as its narrative framework, the nation projects itself as permanent and acquires a discourse of origin. * * * Having touched on the rhetorical uses of nature in Quebecois rural novels, I want to return to the issue of tradition and modernity in this narrative, with the added problematic of essence and cultural identity. Although a few key points remain to be explored before I can bring this discussion to bear on Bourassa's particular use of the old and the new in his enframing of James Bay, let me say for . now that, in the same way that tradition and modernity are equally constitutive of the spaces encountered in the roman de la terre, the essentialist notions that tradition begets -4 5 "What a beautiful country these Quebec Laurentians are! Isn't it here that people naturally speak French?" "Yes, it seems to me that here this goes by itself." Ibid., p. 36, my emphasis. 125. which are most apparent in Groulx's. work - are not necessarily left at the door when Quebec supposedly enters into modernity. In other words, the rural can be captured by change, progress and modernity while still functioning as the matrix of a fundamental French-Canadian identity; in the same way, the modernity and change associated with the Quiet Revolution can continue to be endowed with a surprisingly static understanding of the past and of the cultural identity it serves to anchor. Handler views this interdependence between past and present as the juxtaposition of a process of evolution onto traditional notions of land and identity: [Contemporary nationalisms [in Quebec], like the clerical-conservative varieties, rely on the notion of a fixed national essence, though they add a developmental dimension not stressed by writers like Groulx. In other words, even when evolution is envisioned as ongoing, it is said to proceed on the basis of what has been fixed, once and for all, in the past. Like the metaphor of the collective individual, the species metaphor facilitates the attribution of boundedness to the nation.46 There is at least one roman de la terre that speaks directly to these considerations by telling a different story of the land, one where representations of a nature that anchors national identity exist side by side with an entrepreneurial force openly seeking to appropriate this nature to improve and exploit it. The hero of this novel, named Jean Rivard, may be a traditional defricheur but this does not stop him from being also an "economist." In that way, he brings colonization and economic development 46 Handler, Nationalism, p. 44. 126. - what can be summarily regarded as "past" and "present" - closely together within the space of the nation. Jean Rivard, le defricheur I Jean Rivard, Ve"conomiste Honneur aux defricheurs! Honneurs! mille fois honneur aux vaillants pionniers de la foret! (Applaudissements.) lis sont la gloire et la richesse du pays. Qu'ils continuent a porter inscrits sur leur drapeau les mots sacres: Religion, Patrie, Liberte, et le Canada pourra se glorifier d'avoir dans son sein une race forte et genereuse, des enfants pleins de vigueur et d'intelligence, qui transmettront intactes, aux generations a venir, la langue et les institutions qu'ils ont recues de leurs peres. (Applaudissements prolonges).4 7 Antoine Gerin-Lajoie sketched his hero in a two-part novel - Jean Rivard, le defricheur and Jean Rivard, Veconomiste - which he published in 1874 and 1876. Interestingly, both books were written several years before the three novels I have already discussed. I have reserved its analysis until last because, more than any other book, it sheds light on the roman de la terre as a discourse which is simultaneously located in the past and active into the present. The didactic tone of Gerin-Lajoie's two-4 7 "Cheers for the defricheurs! Cheers! A thousand cheers for the courageous pioneers of the forest. (Applause.) They are the glory and the wealth of the country. May they continue to bear on their flag the sacred words: Religion, Patrie, Liberty, and Canada will be able to glorify itself to have in its bosom a strong and generous race, children full of vigor and intelligence, who will transmit intact to the upcoming generations the language and institutions they have received from their fathers. (Long applause.)." A. Gerin-Lajoie, Jean Rivard, le defricheur (Montreal: Hurtubise HMH, 1977), pp. 310-311. 127. volume narrative clearly predominates over its literary voice: the author's chief intent was to deliver a message that could somehow alter the flow of the urban exile of Francophones he observed around him. Like the religious elite of the time, Gerin-Lajoie advocated the opening of new land in the Laurentian region. The central character, Jean Rivard, embodies this programme of territorial expansion; a clearly Utopian figure, he is also the epitome of the defricheur in his relentless efforts to "make land." Forced to abandon school when his father dies, Rivard uses his small inheritance to buy a remote piece of land in the forest in what is today the Eastern townships, southeast of Montr6al. Prior to his retreat to the woods where he will fell tree after tree to push back the wilderness and create a manageable space, Rivard has a dream in which he sees the forest falling away to be replaced by abundant harvests of grains, fruit and flowers. I n this vision, the higher destiny he must follow is revealed to him: Enfin il arriva qu'une nuit, apres plusieurs heures d'une insomnie fievreuse, il s'endormit profondement, et eut un songe assez etrange. II se crut transports au milieu d'une immense foret. Tout-a-coup des hommes apparurent armes d e haches, et les arbres tomberent ca et la sous les coups de la cognee. Bientot ces arbres furent remplaces par des moissons luxuriantes; puis des vergers, des jardins, des fleurs surgirent comme par enchantement. Le soleil brillait dans tout son eclat; il se crut au milieu du paradis terrestre. En raeme temps il lui sembla entendre une voix lui dire: il ne depend que de toi d'etre un jour l'heureux et paisible possesseur de ce dorriaine.48 4 8 "Finally one night, after many hours of a feverish insomnia, he fell deeply asleep and had a peculiar dream. He felt himself transported to an immense forest. Suddenly 128. Each book meticulously details the steady process through which Rivard transforms the wild forest into a perfectly planned space of civilization. At every stage of development of his domain, Rivard appears fully in control of the various operations involved, thanks to his highly systematic management of the farm and global approach to the town he will help grow around it. In Jean Rivard then, rural nature has ramifications that are not always so clearly at the forefront of other romans de la terre: in addition to its yearly harvest, the land gradually sprouts new roads and fields, additional streets and houses, a church, a school, various local industries, until Rivard's hamlet is a model of sound regional development. The concluding section is a return to what has become "Rivardville" after fifteen years of development told through the eyes of an external observer who records the perfect land-use program the protagonist has set into place. It is suiting that Rivard and his guest go up to a balcony on the second floor of his house in order to get a panoramic view from above of this newly rationalized landscape: Et nous montames sur la galerie du second etage de sa maison, d'ou ma vue pouvait s'etendre au loin de tous cotes. Je vis a ma droite une longue suite d'habitations de cultivateurs, a ma gauche le riche et joli village de Rivardville, qu'on aurait pu sans arrogance decorer du nom de ville. II se composait de plus d'une centaine de maisons eparses sur une dizaine de rues d'une regularite parfaite. Un grand nombre some men appeared who were bearing axes and the trees fell here and there under their blows. Soon these trees were replaced by luxurious harvests; then some orchards, gardens, flowers sprang up as though magically. The sun was shining in all of its splendor; he believed himself to be standing in an earthly paradise. At the same time, he thought he could hear a voice saying: it only depends on you to become one day the happy and peaceful owner of this domain." Ibid., p. 14. 129. d'arbres plantes le long des rues et autour des habitations donnaient a la localite une apparence de fraicheur et de gaite. On voyait tout le monde, hommes, femmes, jeunes gens, aller et venir, des voitures chargees se croisaient en tous sens; il y avait enfin dans toutes les rues un air d'industrie, de travail et d'activite qu'on ne rencontre ordinairement que dans les grandes cites commerciales.4 9 Not one element is amiss in this space - especially not the trees which now follow the geometric pattern of streets instead of lying randomly about in the forest - with the result that what the external narrator is contemplating is, for all intents and purposes, a Garden of Eden finally recovered through planning, labour and good economic policy. Furthermore, what the two characters contemplate from their viewing platform is also the emergence of the city in the countryside, or at least of the industriousness and activity usually associated with it. If the roman de la terre tended to idealize the rural sphere as somehow detached from economic activity and therefore guarded from the changes associated with it, Gerin-Lajoie is unabashed about the role of that activity in helping to shape a space that is no less the country of God and of the nation. Turned into the rational space of capital accounting, this rural nature also appears more masculine. 4 9 "And we climbed onto the balcony of the second story of his house from where my perspective could stretch to all sides into the distance. On my right I saw a long row of farm houses, on my left the rich and pleasant village of Rivardville that one could have referred to - without being arrogant - as a city. It was composed of more than a hundred houses spread along a dozen streets of perfect regularity. A great number of trees planted along the streets and around the houses gave the town an air of freshness and good cheer. One could see everyone, men, women and young people, come and go, as well as loaded cars crossing in every direction. There was in all the streets an appearance of industry, of labour and activity that one normally would encounter solely in great commercial cities." Ibid., pp. 316-317. 130. Habitant, planner and economist Another notable difference in Gerin-Lajoie's narrative is that its protagonist is not as "organic" as other heroes of rural literature - he could hardly be described as a homo quebecensis - and yet this does not stop him from being a fierce proponent of the importance of place for French-Canadian national identity. Robert Major has argued that Jean Rivard, who is an exemplary republican and capitalist, fits the model of the American hero of colonization described by Franklin, de Tocqueville and Emerson better than he does that of the French-Canadian habitant.50 Although he may clearly exhibit other cultural references as a fictional character, I want to suggest that his difference lies also in the fact that he does not fear that his identity will be altered by changes in the land. This makes him much more proactive about becoming the very agent of these changes and it is in that quality that he endeavours to fulfill his national duty. Indeed, it is chiefly out of a sense of duty toward his country that Rivard sets out to create his beautiful garden. Against the usual characterization of the habitant, Gerin-Lajoie is intent on showing that his hero becomes more than a farmer once his land is ready for cultivation but also acts as an economist, planner and city developer; all activities which appear not in opposition to each other but fully complementary. Agriculture is presented as the surest way to create jobs and bring about progress and prosperity, since the opening of new lands attracts other industries. This is done by putting much more emphasis on another important engine of territorial expansion, which is natural resources. The shaping of the wilderness into 5 0 See R. Major, Jean Rivard ou Van de reussir: ideologies et utopies dans I'oeuvre d'Antoine Gerin-Lajoie (Sainte-Foy, Quebec: Les Presses de l'Universite Laval, 1991). 131. agricultural lands opens channels for tapping into its resources. What is important to grasp in the context of the Quebecois dynamic between territory and identity is that, like agriculture, the tapping of resources is also an act of appropriation of nature for the nation, even if it replaces the old rhetoric of the land with that of progress and development. If my argument is right about the necessity of conflating nature and nation to confer essence onto cultural identity, the distance is therefore very short from "natural" to "national" resources, i.e. the appropriation of resources for a specific cultural group; it only requires a slight change" in the kind of "nature" that defines national identity. This shift and its implications will appear more clearly in my analysis of Bourassa's claim to the resources of James Bay. For now, let me explore more fully how this is rendered in Jean Rivard. Throughout the novel, the connection between the hero and the environment he will act upon hinges on the nation. The latter is never presented in abstract terms; if it is imagined, it is imagined through the process of its actualization. As in the work of Hemon, Ringuet and Lionel Groulx, the nation beckons through its nature; only this time it does so through the whole of its natural resources more than through the sole promise of an agricultural yield. Envisioned as a way of claiming the land, the tapping of resources and the labour associated with it effectively draws - both figuratively and physically - the boundaries of the national space Rivard wishes to open for his descendants. This is illustrated in a pivotal scene where a young Rivard speaks to his tearful mother prior to his exile in the woods where he will go from rags to riches in the space of a few years, using only the means nature puts at his disposal. He tells her 132. that, were he setting out for a foreign destination, she would be warranted in her sorrows. Instead, he reassures her: Je demeure dans le pays qui m'a vu naitre, je veux contribuer a exploiter les ressources naturelles dont la nature l'a si abondamment pourvu; je veux tirer du sol les tresors qu'il recele, et qui, sans des bras forts et vigoureux, y resteront enfouis longtemps encore. Devons-nous attendre que les habitants d'une autre hemisphere viennent, sous nos yeux, s'emparer de nos forets, qu'ils viennent choisir parmi les immenses 6tendues de terre qui restent encore a defricher les regions les plus fertiles, les plus riches, puis nous contenter ensuite de leurs rebuts? Devons-nous attendre que ces etrangers nous engagent a leur service? Ah! a cette pens6e, ma mere, je sens mes muscles se roidir et tout mon sang circuler avec force.5 1 The fear of foreign intrusion, of being dispossessed of something which rightly belongs to French-Canadians, is strongly expressed in this passage and is consistent with the well-known slogans of territorial appropriation I have already mentioned: "Emparons-nous du sol" and "Maitres chez nous." Furthermore, the gender dynamics of such a territorial imperative show their traditional contours, as does the usual conflation of woman and 5 1 "I remain in the country of my birth, I want to contribute to the exploitation of the natural resources which nature has so abundantly endowed it with; I want to pull from the soil the treasures it holds and which, without vigourous arms, will remain sunk deep for longer still. Must we wait for the inhabitants of another hemisphere to come and grab hold of our forests right under our eyes, to choose amongst the vast stretches of land that still remain to be cleared the regions that are most fertile, most rich, then content ourselves with their leftovers? Must we wait for these strangers to hire us for their service? Mother, when I think of this I feel my blood start moving." Gerin-Lajoie, Jean Rivard, p. 17, my emphasis. 133. nation since this declaration is addressed to the mother who remains silent and nods in acceptance while her son vouches his masculine strength for her protection. In the initial stages of his work, Rivard finds courage in the assurance that by serving his country he will gain a wife which, of course, he does. His fiancee's face appears to him amidst the harvest and she joins him at the end of the first book once a domestic space has been carved up for her. In this way, Rivard is assured a legacy even if his descendants may live in a world different from his own. This gives us a glimpse into how Jean Rivard envisions the making of a rural landscape as a process that calls upon both traditional and modern views of the land and need not shun development and change in order to anchor national identity. Rural ideal, development ideal I wish to make two further observations about Jean Rivard before I summarize my discussion of the roman and try to assess its impact for an understanding of the politics of energy in contemporary Quebec. In the first place, although the underlying plot of Jean Rivard is about a young man setting out to tap the resources of his land, to "pull them from the soil" and fully realize their potential, his activities can also be regarded as an impoverishment of the environmental diversity of the St.-Lawrence valley. From this vantage point, the extensive remaking of the region into the geometrical pattern of the rang accomplished over the span of nearly three centuries corresponds to a gradual depletion of fur-bearing animals and the simplification of the region's bio-diversity into a few selective crops. Rivard gets a glimpse of this environmental diversity moments before he lowers the axe he regards as the emblem and tool of 134. civilization.5 2 The novel gives a brief inventory and description of the various species that compose the forest surrounding him. There is the elm which gives its protective shade; the white ash which offers the best quality of wood; the beech tree which never gets hit by lightning; the lime; the wild cherry tree; the pine; and finally the maple which is spared the ax because it can produce syrup. With each downed tree, frightened birds fly away from what used to be their peaceful retreat and the ground gives out a dull moan.53 Fortunately, trees reappear in the last chapter either lining the streets of Rivardville or in an orchard where they have been planted, pruned and generally ameliorated thanks to the protagonist's industry: On a deja vu que Jean Rivard aimait beaucoup les arbres; il etait merae a cet egard quelque peu artiste. II ne les aimait pas seulement pour l'ombrage qu'ils offrent, mais aussi pour le coup-d'oeil, pour l'effet, pour la beaut6 qu'ils donnent au paysage. [...] II mettait autant d'attention a bien tailler ses arbres, a disposer symetriquement ses plantations autour de sa demeure qu'il en accordait au soin de ses animaux et aux autres d6tails de son exploitation.5 4 Nature has been remade to fit the hero's ideal of civilization and development; drilled, domesticated, the trees are contained by a space, that of progress, rather than serving to demarcate their own space, which is that of wilderness. In-between the lines, the reader can recover traces of 51 Ibid., p. 33. 53 Ibid., pp. 32-33. 5 4 "We have already seen that Jean Rivard liked trees very much; he was even a bit o f an artist in this regard. He appreciated them not only for the shadow they offer, but also for the visual effect, for the beauty they add to the landscape. [...] He gave equal attention to pruning and arranging them symmetrically around his property as he did to the care of his animals and other details of his exploitation."/*id., p. 182. 135. the environmental history of the space Rivard is carving for himself and his national descendants. Speaking of the fruit trees he has planted and cared for over the years, he anticipates the enjoyment they will procure his future progeny: "Mes arrieres-neveux me devront cet ombrage."55 Therefore, once the trees have been cleared and rationally replanted they represent the assurance of a legacy that projects itself from past to future. Having transformed nature, Rivard feels like he has in some way impacted a history beyond himself. In the second place, I suggest that we need these cues because they are a first-hand testimony of Rivard's efficiency in transforming the land and maximizing its resources to bring prosperity; trees are a constant presence in Gerin-Lajoie's book, they are the immediate and pervasive environment of the defricheur and the central character displays a preoccupation with them that is almost obsessive. What is less apparent in the text, however, is what happens to the trees once they are felled. We learn that stumps and underbrush are burned and that the ashes are turned into potash, but - if we can step outside of the fictional realm for a moment - surely the reader can assume that these "magnificent" trunks received their weight in gold other than by providing the lumber necessary for Rivard's house and other buildings on his property. In his eagerness to show that Rivard is a self-made man, Gerin-Lajoie leaves out the important fact that logging companies followed very closely in the path of those individuals and families who cleared the land. Indeed, the making of agricultural land in the St.-Lawrence valley was advantageous to the logging industry in that the aspiring farmer doubled up as a logger for "My grand-nephews will owe me this shadow." Ibid., p. 324. 136. companies that were usually American or Anglo-Canadian owned. This incursion outside the fictional realm throws the defricheur into a much wider economic and political sphere, thereby expanding the national space to which he belongs. To uncover this silence in the narrative is to recognize that the labour by means of which Rivard gains access to the resources of his country is closely connected with outside capital and that this connection is crucial - not merely contingent - in the creation of growth and prosperity. A rethinking of the rural sphere along these lines necessarily throws a different light on the usual anchors of Quebecois identity. Jean Rivard demonstrates that staying close to the land and preserving tradition need not be an obstacle to change; rather it can become a key vehicle for it by enabling the penetration of capital into the countryside and, hopefully, the increase of wealth. In Gerin-Lajoie's book, the rural ideal hooks onto a liberal ideal of economic development without seemingly presenting the least threat to Rivard's identification as a French-Canadian. In fact, for the hero, development and the use of natural resources is seen as a national duty. The rhetoric of the land and the identity it anchors becomes more pointedly a rhetoric of the "resources" of the land, without losing its nationalist appeal. I have contrasted Jean Rivard with Maria Chapdelaine, Trente Arpents and LAppel de la race to show that modernity and development in these narratives of Quebecois identity do not exclude but rather contain within themselves various key elements of traditional nationalism. 137. Rural ideal and "Quebec moderne": contrary or complementary natures? Some of the questions raised above were partly encompassed in Christian Morissonneau's analysis of the myth of the North and his hero the Cure Labelle, who was a strong proponent of railway building as a way of developing resource industries along with traditional farming. I have tried to bring them into conversation with another expression of Quebecois territoriality, the roman de la terre, and will endeavour to push that dialogue further into James Bay in the following Act. Roughly a century after the apologists of colonization appealed to the idea of the North to encourage a geographical expansion of the French-Canadian homeland -and grounded this appeal in constructions of nature such as those encountered in the roman de la terre - James Bay emerged as a powerful reconfiguration and recontextualization of that myth; one which is at times disorienting in its extremely heterogeneous evocation of the land. Labelle himself had looked toward James Bay in his dream of conquering a territory that reached as far as Manitoba. In a letter sent to a Priest in Winnipeg, he envisioned their meeting across the broad land stretch between the two provinces, following two separate rivers bearing the same name: "Les deux rivieres qui portent le meme nom de la 'Rouge1, la mienne et la votre, sont appelees a se joindre. Nous acheminons tranquillement vers les belles et fertiles r6gions de la baie James. Une fois la, nous nous donnerons la main."56 If the James Bay development project did not, like Labelle, look westward in its territorial designs, it did share 56 "The two rivers that bear the same name of 'Red', mine and yours, are meant to be joined. We are slowly making our way toward the beautiful and fertile James Bay region. Once there, we will shake each other's hand." Dussault, Le Cure, p. 93. 138. the Utopian dimension of the nineteenth century myth of the North. The religious aspect imparted to it by church leaders such as Labelle may have been gone by the 1970s but the myth still retained the aggressive spirit of its previous messianic character; only this time such a spirit was more forcefully expressed through visions of natural resources, modernity and economic development, with more than a hint of the essentialism of the rural sphere. Economic development had always been an integral part of Labelle's project because for him no reconquest could occur over the English if it was not also an economic reconquest: in addition to agriculture, mining, town and industry development, business and tourism, railroad expansion and francophone immigration were the engines of his programme of colonization.5 7 This global approach recalls that of Jean Rivard and anticipates the mandate that would be drawn up for the development corporation (SEBJ) that would take over the administration of James Bay in the following century. The terms of territorial expansion here are drawn under a slightly different rubric from "colonization" to "development", a change which I will trace in more detail through my examination of James Bay. Suffice it to say at this point that, if there is a continuity between the nineteenth century "conquete du sol" - symbolized in part by the roman - and hydroelectric development in the James Bay region, it is that all three employ the evocative force of the idea of the North to gather and deploy the necessary agents of economic development, whether these be industry, capital or labour power. It becomes easier to see the correlation between Labelle's program of colonization and Bourassa's economic policies toward James Bay once the territorial narrative that feeds them both, the roman de la terre, is understood as one 5 7 For details of this program, see ibid., p. 9-123. 139. that offers a representation of nature that is a hybrid between permanence and change, stability and expansion, tradition and modernity yet can always serve as a point of reference for national identity. In the wake of the Quiet Revolution, the later decades of the twentieth century are often celebrated in Quebec as a departure from an archaic past safely sealed away from the present in, among other things, the pages of the roman de la terre or the yoke of a religious morality which has been overthrown. The James Bay project was often promoted as a ground zero by its supporters because it supposedly marked the shift between two radically different societies, with agriculture and religion representing the old and the secularity of government, industry, technology and resources the emergence of the new. One anchored itself in rural nature while the other sought to reject it: still, as my analysis of Jean Rivard and other rural novels show, both needed a wilderness demanding to be "turned into a flourishing country" in order to represent the space of Qu6b6cois culture as a space of civilization, and justify its advance into new territories. From the roman de la terre to James Bay, I want to suggest that nature - although of a different "nature" - remained the anchor of the nation. In the next Act, I will look at the spectacular enframing of James Bay as an attempt to root the nation still more deeply into nature, this time through a relationship that is more broadly determined by rational science and technology. 140. PORTFOLIO Figure 12: Secretary behind her desk 142. Montreal, March 24, 1999 As I read through archival documents detailing the spectacular conquest of the North, the question of women's presence in James Bay enters the field sideways, asking to be considered and yet disappearing behind what is called "the facts." Secretaries - women most certainly -have typed these reports for bosses who may have thought nothing of interrupting their work to ask for coffee. Company newsletters are full of women smiling behind their desk, hands frozen in mid-gesture over a keyboard. Here the national epic has shrunk to the space of a small cubicle filled with the insignificant props of office work. My mother spent many years of her life among these objects. As a receptionist for one of the engineering firms that built the dams, she could have been the one smiling on company pictures, between desk and filing cabinet. Seeing these women's clothes or how their hair is done adds a layer to my research I had not foreseen. I can touch the fabric of skirts, restore the exact hue of eyeshadows and hear the clang of bangles against the desk. Most documents encountered in the archives have felt distant and smooth so far, emerging from a past I have no relation to. When the secretary's hand lingers in this grainy typewriter print, the page holds deeper crevasses of meaning. Letter-shaped dents trap the ink, I think of water in the bark of a submerged tree. With a steady pounding of metal against pulp, the James Bay "adventure" moves up one line at a time between the mechanism of fingers, keyboard, memory. I used to marvel at how fast my mother could make words appear on the page, faster than my mouth could utter them. This was her tenfold craft, a magic that could string meaning by hitting paper, make sentences hold still - and now I am reading them. Archives show that rivers were fitted into dams like crisp paper sheets between the guides of a typewriter. 143. Figure 13: Pleasures of landscape. Bourassa viewing the La Grande Figure 14: LG3 dam. "A concrete arm holding the La Grande 145 Figure 15: LG2 escalier de geant Figure 16: Rushing waters. Another view of the escalier de giant 147. Figure 18: LG4. A global geography 148. ACT 2 WILD AND RICH: SCRIPTING JAMES BAY AS A SPACE OF DEVELOPMENT Le territoire du Quebec est immense et en grande partie inexplore. Pendant que les Americains et les Russes se lancent dans Vexploration de Vespace, il y a sur notre territoire, tout pres de nous, a I'interieur de nos frontieres, un des plus beaux defis a relever: la conquete du nord quebecois, avec ses rivieres tumultueuses qui sont autant de fleuves grandioses, ses lacs immenses qui sont autant de mers interieures, ses forets de coniferes qui cachent des ressources inouies en gisements miniers de toutes sortes. Mais il y a aussi sa faune presque inconnue dans le Sud; sa flore qu'il faut inventorier et proteger; il y a Vinconnu irresistible qu'il faut decouvrir. C'est toute Vhistoire du Quebec qu'il faut reinventer; c'est le courage et la volonte de nos ancetres qu'il faut repeter au XXe siecle; c'est notre territoire qu'il faut occuper; c'est la Baie James qu'il faut conquerir; nous avons decide que le temps en etait venu.1 Robert Bourassa, La Baie James, p. 12. Imaginons un roman dont le hews serait un territoire: nous aimerions que ce livre se Use comme le roman de la [Baie James].2 Pierre Turgeon, La Radissonie: le pays de la baie James, p. 17. 1 "The territory of Quebec remains to a large extent unexplored. While the Americans and Russians are involved in space exploration, there remains on our territory, very close to us and inside our frontiers, one of the most beautiful challenges that can be taken up: the conquest of Quebec's North, with its tumultuous waters that form so many grandiose rivers, its immense lakes that resemble so many seas, its evergreen forests that hide unimaginable resources in mining deposits of all kinds. But there is also its fauna, which is almost unknown in the South; its flora which must be inventoried and protected; there is the irresistible unknown that we must discover. We must reinvent the history of Quebec; we must repeat the courage and the will of our ancestors in the twentieth century; we must occupy our territory; we must conquer James Bay. We have decided that the time has come." 2 "Let's imagine a novel whose hero would be a territory: we would like this book to be read as the novel of [James Bay]." 149. The characters of the roman de la terre are well-known figures in Quebec. It is not so much that they transcend their fictional framework, but that everyday life often proceeds through an array of literary references in attempts to signify the relationship between people and national territory. Along these lines, Louis-Edmond Hamelin remarked that Quebec farmers did not remain insensitive to Gerin-Lajoie's famous hero; at a meeting of the Catholic Farmers' Union in 1920s, one of the speakers referred to the audience as "sixty thousand Jean Rivards."1 Similarly, it is fitting that the Cure Labelle was represented in the fictional world of Les His Wires des Pays d'En-Haut given that he was frequently described as a character who was larger than life.2 Even before James Bay got off the ground, the project had its share of supporters ready to embody and enact what could be understood as the "poetics" of Quebecois territoriality by drawing on both the heroic imagination of the North, and the rhetoric of nature contained in the roman de la terre. One of these characters was a notary public from the Abitibi region named Dominique Godbout. In the late nineteen-sixties, he was responsible for a fundraising campaign to 1 L.-E. Hamelin, Le Rang d'habitat, op. cited, p. 316. 2 This was a popular television series inspired from Claude-Henri Grignon's book about a miser named S6raphin Poudrier. The series expanded on the characters and added other ones to represent rural life North of Montreal in the region the Cure Labelle helped to colonize, known as Les Pays d'En-haut (the "Northern Countries"). See C.-H. Grignon, Un Homme et son peche (Montreal: Stanke, 1984). 150. build a road that would aim directly North from the small community of Villebois, into James Bay. To do so, he helped found "The Order of Northern Conquerors." This was a fundraising plan whereby each donation would correspond to one of twelve titles whose prestige reflected dollar value. Thus, for five dollars one would be recognized as a "Portageur du Nord", twenty dollars granted the title of "Adventurous Brother of Radisson" or one hundred dollars that of "Captain of the Northern Sea." The ultimate title was reserved for those who could afford two thousand dollars; they would be made a "Duke, invincible, with the faith and heart of William the Conqueror." A two-page announcement appeared in the Quebec city newspaper Le Soleil which also listed honorary members of the Order; the list included four bank directors, the province's Premier (Jean-Jacques Bertrand), the Chief of the opposition (Jean Lesage), the Montreal mayor (Jean Drapeau), as well as other public figures such as Pierre Trudeau and Charles de Gaulle. A certificate was given to those who donated money which recognized them as lifetime members of the Order, a privilege that came with the inscription of the giver's name on a memorial plate to be placed at the entrance of the road. As well, a passport was issued which guaranteed perpetual rights of use on the road. Although this "passport" was hardly an official document, it symbolically laid a political claim to the territory of James Bay through the construction of this first access road.3 3 See "Pour hater la realisation du chemin de pen6tration Villebois-Baie James." Le Soleil, February 15, 1969, p. 22. Geographer Michel Brochu gave his support to this campaign, see "Le Nouvel axe economique routier de La Sarre-Villebois (Abitibi) a la baie James." L'Actualite economique (Montreal: Ecole des Hautes Etudes commerciales, 1970), pp. 819-824. 151. La Wa*t. Queb.t m*4i IS le*™r lo*,« r POUR HATER LA REAUSATI0N DU CHEMIN DE PENETRATION VILLEBOm BAIE JAMES President . FMIJIN FIOHOVCi!", Mmni< peTRorr O-HUCSCN LA CHAMBRE DE COMMERCI INVITE TOUS LES HOMMES DE A JOINDRE LES RAN )E LASARRE DNNE VOLONTE iS DE L'ORDRE DES CONOUERAHTS DU NORD * Voici ks Ut_-es «t le passepor*. que voir* fjerspicaott f-witre prcvoyjjKt pntvm vous permeitre d'acq-jenr. pour 1«S modelled io^jr.es c:-apres todtquMa: TrTRES. 1 - PORTACEIH DU NORD. pour U ux3« oe cmq dollars C 2 — VOYAGEUR DE LA BAIE JAMES. pour ta warned* dm dollars (I 3 — FRERE AVENTURECX DE RADISSON. pour Ii locir.c de viagt dollars 1 4 - COMP AG NON SANS PEUR DE D'IBERVILLE. pour la so mine de rugt-cirtq dollars d 5 — CHEVALIER DE LA BAIE D'HUDSON, pour la aomtie de quariRle dollars < 6 — VIKING. ROI DE LA MER DU NORD, pour la aom.'ne de cutquanie dollars ( 7—CAPITALNE DE LA MER DU NORD. pour la soir.-ne de cent dollars S — AMIRAL DE LA MER DU NORD. pour la soicme de deux ceau dollars 1 — ARMATEtH DES CONQUERANTS DU NOHD, pour la soaurte de ctnr^ cents dollars 10 — SEIGNEUR DES BALES DU NORD, pour la sotsroe de mille dollars U — BARON DES SEIGNEURS DU NORD. pour la social e de nulje cuiq cents dollars 12 — DL'C irvicr-.ble. i la foi et au coeur dc Giiuia-.nr le Conquer ant. pour la soc-.-ne de deux mille dollars •JBJ lD.OO. 10.00) 3.80) 40.00) 50.00) i% 100.00) (I 300.00) lS 500.00! (tl.BOCOO) IJIJOO.001 Vice-president VIlLEtOlS - (Alt wfi Secretaire MEMBRES D'HONNEUR Boa. JEAN-JACQUES BERTRAND. P.M. Quebec, Ron. CLAUDE GOSSELIN. M. Terre* et rorets. Hon. OSCAR GILBERT. Comallet l*f.isLMiI, Hoa. JEAN L£S*GE. CM <k rOppoatioD. M- ANTONIO FLAMAND. Depute d» Rouyn-Nofiodi, M. LUCIEN CLICHE. C.R., Deaute flWHfc M. ALCIDE COURCY. Aeron.. Deput* d AtntilM 0 . M. GILBERT THEBERCE. Dent.. Dep. TcBUseamuigiie. Hon. f~y»n •. F VAJLLANCOUHT. Senaleur et Direct. f«n. *" Union* R. Cais. PopuLurts 0.. Me JEAN DRAPEAU. Mau^de Montreal, M. LOUIS HEBERT. Pres. Banque C Nationak. M. RU Ml/LHOLLAND. Proa, Basque de Montreal, M LEO LAYOIE. Pres.. Banque Prov. du Canada. -M. k General JEAN VICTOR ALLARD, CM ar 1'Bai Major du Canada. Me LIONEL LEAOUX. Pre*, de JEamonue. M_ ANTONIO RAINVILLE, Pres. Cha/nore de Connira Or Montreal, U. MARCEL JOBtN. PrcL.Caam. Com. de Quebec K_ DOLLARD MATHTEU, Pre*. Soc_ SJB Montreal, M. JACQUES ROUSSEAU. EHuwbiolociw et Conseuler («• !w i-ju* au Cent. Etudes Nordiques de 1'Uuvenne Laval. M_ LOUIS'ESMOND HAMELIN, Directeur du Centre dei Elude! Nordiques de t"Univertite Laval. M. JEAN-LLC BOMBARDIER, PrenuerCao. Fran, a f Pdtertor*. Hon PIERRE E. TRUDEAU. P M. du Canada. Hoa JEAN CHRETIEN. Min At- [od. et du Nord, Kan PAUL MARTIN. Seoateur. Hon. J. SMALL WOOD, P.M. de Terre-Neuve, Hon. A. CAMPBELL. P.M. lie du P -Edward. Hoa. C J. SMITH. P.M. NouTelU-Ecoase.. Hon. L ROBICHAUD. P.M. Noirveau-anaajTirA, Hon. JOHN BOB ARTS, P.M. de lOntano, Hon. W. WEIR. P.M. du Manitoba, Hon. R THATCHER, P.M. dr aUskatcbewao, Hon. W.A.C, BEN NET. P.M. Crrfonxbt^Bntajuiique M. REAL CAOUETTE. Chef du Ralliement CrediUite, U GERARD LAP RISE, P.M. Dep. d'AbitibL M. U Genera) CHARLES DE GAULLE, Presdeot de la RepubLque Prancaiat. M. PAUL-EMQ-E VICTOR, Directeurde* Ear*. Polaa francaae*. Pari*, Prance. M JEAN KALAURIE. Do-ectcur do Centre Ardiqun Rautei EtuOet. SorbMM. Pant. France. M )e Prof. ALBERT BAUER, du Centre o"Etudes Glae. de* Re(. Arct. et AnUrtrliquec. PARIS. XL le Commodore O C S. ROBERTSON, aoc. direcL ciecuUI ad joint de llssutut Nord Ammcia o>rArcUque-, | cnnqucrir ht Pol. Nord. «i Pe^r tea. dor, sop^neur a 4»£mfa «t«H«r. {J2.0O0.00), 1'Ordre <o«f«wa «t r*rn*ttrei III I • _J »« **_ lout < lui d,(-ic,'e fe- qui r*c>. i BAIE IMrrTI. '• Uur liw parB | reouiei qoe Ml 4. Nord, *0«< .un poopU, eoxmo le (er «inDn|. o"--e bmruole, »'e* mil M march, v—. l„ Bole W •* ignoro e)» rette do Canada, ont commit de lean proprei muum, depun le lor fovrwr I0d7, la partie H1*U rtie du train a •auvrir) oTun ct^m,^ de I!S *MM d-v> l.i o-duir* a BU*f«T MOUSE wr I., faordi f ... ». d'oau HOIMUM, d« « n d'e—e^ur. national., at (oiiont pour une Ml un ploi.n.nt aver not dan. B6»iisni tout le Na>nf. - I.u* eeUK qui «uront oehetd 1«K poaaaport {loqu.l art iitrn p*vr ia « anfam. «nL* BUM I. chom.n VILucBOlS-BUPEIT HOUSE, una IM c*ttWi-oi "*C«^1e lorr. nt tout, a lout tonl «u*iT y an oura CUIUAUME IE CONQUKANT N.B. To^t cVi.qwe (eerl.ii.) *( taut mandat da parte Arrra WW odr.ui ol foi't d I'ardr. de • S *OBDl€ 0£5 CONQUEB ANTS OU NORD WC" .CP 114 la senre, Ah.tit,i-C , P.O. Figure 19: The Order ot" Northern Conquerors 152. Dominique Godbout traveled extensively through Abitibi to solicit financial support for the James Bay road. The epic tone of the campaign was sustained in his discourses through frequent appeals to the figure of "William the Conqueror."4 An avid reader of historical epics, Godbout's endeavour was inspired by various historical and literary heroes in a way that is reminiscent of Jean Rivard, who regarded his books as companions of colonization who taught him the virtues he needed in order to accomplish his work: Ce sont mes premiers amis, mes premiers compagnons de travail: je les conserve precieusement. Robinson Crusoe m'a enseigne a etre industrieux, Napoleon a etre actif et courageux, Don Quichotte m'a fait rire dans mes moments de plus sombre tristesse, l'lmitation de Jesus-Christ m'a appris la r6signation a la volonte de Dieu.5 If William the Conqueror was Godbout's model hero, the notary nevertheless also drew on local figures: once his listeners had been won over and donated their money, he would thank them by saying that foreigners would later look back on the people of Abitibi and remember Maria Chapdelaine's famous words: "Ces gens-la sont vraiment d'une race qui ne sait pas mourir" ("These people truly belong to a race which cannot die"). This mythico-poetic quality of Godbout's speech was apparently 4 L. Bernard, "L'Abitibi desolee part a la conquete du Nord." Perspectives, May 11, 1968, p. 6. It is significant that William the Conqueror should be Godbout's model hero since he was a leader of the French-Norman conquest of England in 1066. 5 "These are my initial friends, my first companions of labour: I treasure them. Robinson Crusoe taught me to be industrious, Napoleon to be active and courageous, Don Quichote made me" laugh in my most sombre moments, the Imitation of Jesus Christ taught me to resign myself to the will of God." Gerin-Lajoie, Jean Rivard, p. 330. 153. effective in inciting people into action since the notary gathered eighty percent of the funds necessary to fulfill the project.6 In many ways, the road to James Bay was a measure of last resort for the people of Abitibi. Faced with difficult farming conditions, unemployment and the exhaustion of mining resources, some towns had lost up to fifty percent of their population by the end of the nineteen-sixties.7 The Order of Northern Conquerors deployed a geographical imagination of the North as a space of hope, thus viewing it as a "Promised Land" and fitting in every point the parameters outlined in Christian Morissonneau's study. This is well exemplified by the events that surrounded the inauguration of the first stretch of the Villebois-James Bay penetration road: on March 17 1968, a group of approximately five hundred people drove on the road, accompanied by religious songs played through loudspeakers. The crowd was stopped at the Harricana river, unable to proceed due to the unsteadiness of a temporary bridge. Nevertheless, a priest recited mass in front of the plowshare, evoking "le courage des peuples bibliques qui, comme cette foule, comme tout PAbitibi et ses comtes voisins, se sont aussi mis en branle vers la terre promise."8 Imagined through such a Utopian discourse, the space of James Bay was envisioned by the Northern Conquerors to be a tremendous reserve of economic power which could lift the region out of its economic slump: 6 Ibid., p. 6. 7 Following a population increase of 1.5% from 1961 to 1966, the region lost more than ten thousand people in the 1966-1971 period, which amounts to a decrease of 6%. See "La population et son territoire: des mondes en mutation" in O. Vincent, dir., Histoire de VAbitibi-Temiscamingue, op. cited, p. 484. 8 "[Tlhe courage of biblical peoples who, like this crowd, like all of Abitibi and its neighbouring counties, have set themselves in motion toward the Promised Land." L. Bernard, Perspectives, p. 9. 154. The Quebec side of the Hudson and James Bay offers more than nine hundred miles of coastline to mining exploration and exploitation. Mountains of asbestos and nickel are to be found in Cap Smith. The Trinity or Belcher islands contain innumerable deposits of magnetic iron and copper. Close to the Great Whale river are deposits of lead and iron. Fantastic quantities of petroleum could lie under the Phelipeaux islands. The whole length of the James Bay coast abounds in natural gas. Limestone from the Phelipeaux islands has "the same beauty as that from the Paris Basin." Prospectors [...] are presently looking for diamonds around the James and Hudson Bays.9 This focus on natural resources which represents nature as a repository of economic wealth - and, as will later become clear, the Quebecois as national subjects who must tap into it - connects both back to Jean Rivard and forward to Robert Bourassa. I have tried to demonstrate the performative instrumentality of literary narratives about the land -and the characters these stories bring to life - in bringing about this hopeful conception of territory and what it contains. Like the Northern Conquerors building a road to the "promised land", Bourassa would become a dynamic agent of Quebec's national expansion into the North by importing key elements of its literary/geographical imagination, along with new structures of territorial planning and economic development. Furthermore, his leadership demonstrated the extent to which, in a nationalist context, cultural constructs are intertwined with the application 9 Le Soleil, Saturday 15 February, 1969, p. 22. See Figure 19 (bottom right) for the original text in French. 155. of governmental policies. Indeed, Bourassa can be said to have written his own roman de la terre in the North, which was also an epic narrative of conquest and hope: through his "project of the century", he reactivated a traditional Qu6b6cois poetics of land, territory and identity to mobilize the necessary agents and resources that would create the space of James Bay. In my analysis so far, I have moved back and forth between the myth of the North and the roman de la terre as narratives that seek to anchor the Quebecois nation territorially and, in the process, I have taken them beyond their strict temporal or geographical context. My purpose in doing so is to stress that social discourses are extremely mobile and flexible entities, and that they become a little more hybrid each time they are called upon. And yet they do so without losing the force of their initial signification. Indeed, the various meanings that are projected and/or read into particular social discourses are subject to change as more enduring elements of culture are recontextualized. In that process, these enduring cultural elements are nevertheless "recognized", a process whereby they become increasingly "taken-for-granted" over time. The constitutive elements of discourse travel extensively, they can be dismembered and remade like the landscapes they help to construct without loosing their connection to the cultural and historical registers that imparts their meaning. This explains why Maria Chapdelaine can be read both as a rural novel as well as an epic of spatial conquest; similarly, Jean Rivard tackles what he regards as a remote wilderness in the proximity of Quebec's largest urban center, the city of Montreal. As for Trente Arpents, the fact that an industrial - or "unnatural" - nature seemingly drains the rural at the same time as it reaches into it means that each sphere reaches far beyond its concrete and immediate space. I have wanted to keep these 156. connections open in order to be able to account for Bourassa's own reactivation, and appropriation, of popular Quebecois narratives in the North. This reactivation is not systematic or even fully conscious; it picks and chooses from the variety of elements which the francophone geographical imaginary makes available. Furthermore, Bourassa is not the sole agent re-enacting this territorial memory. Rather, his leadership is its most visible expression in the early phase of James Bay hydroelectric development. While the idea of spatial conquest through technology played a big part in his enframing of the region, the discursive power of nature in territorializing Quebecois identity, as well as the traditionalist framework within which this connection was initially developed, should not be allowed to slip from view. If Maria was a heroic "homo" quebecensis b y choosing life on the land and the old rural sphere as her native country, James Bay workers were similarly identified as national heroes by braving the wilderness and lending their strength to tap into the nation's resources. While this was a "popular" and widely accessible narrative for the Quebec population, its mobilization for the purposes of development still necessitated a certain amount of control over its terms and geographical trajectory. I want to briefly discuss how Bourassa and his government steered this narrative in an advantageous direction before moving to an analysis of how spectacle became a dominant way of framing the project during construction of the LG2 complex. Trading weapons, tapping nature's wealth If Bourassa was writing his own narrative of the land in James Bay, Dominique Godbout and the members of his regional organization were 157. eager to be given a part in such a script.10 Five months before he made his famous launch of the hydroelectric project, they wrote a letter to the Premier asking him to support the Villebois-James Bay road. The group had already appealed to Premier Daniel Johnson in 1967 in a letter that conveyed strongly the difficult socio-economic conditions of the Abitibi region and the hopefulness of the population that James Bay could change these conditions: Ce que nous voulons, nous, c'est que vous nous aidiez a nous sortir de l'enlisement et du decouragement. [...] L'Abitibi des colons se meurt d'avoir trop attendu. Nous vous avons prouve, a date, que le territoire de la Baie James, versant naturel de l'Abitibi, nous appelait, comme un grenier aux r6serves fabuleuses. [...] Nous demeurons, Honorable Premier Ministre, malgre nos fatigues, nos privations et nos blessures, toujours decides a nous rendre, envers et contre tous, comme d'lberville, jusqu'a "Rupert House" avec le drapeau de la Patrie...11 The document that was later sent to Bourassa adopted a similar, but more restrained, tone. It listed the communal efforts already deployed, spelled out the economic advantages of creating access to the region, and reminded Bourassa, gently, that Abitibi has been for more than twenty years a 1 0 Godbout's organization was the "Chambre de Commerce de Lasarre" and acted as a regional business council. 1 1 "What "we" want is for you to help us come out of our sinking situation and feeling of discouragement. [...] The Abitibi of settlers is dying from waiting so long. Up to now, we have proven to you that the territory of James Bay, naturally adjacent to Abitibi, was calling us like a storehouse of fabulous reserves. [...] We remain, Honorable Premier, despite our fatigues, privations and wounds, still dedicated to reach, against all odds, like Iberville, Rupert House with the flag of the Patrie..." Memoire de la Chambre de Commerce de La Sarre, May 25, 1967, pp. 7-8. 15 8. forgotten region in a country whose national motto is "Je me souviens."12 Significantly, the letter stressed that the people had done their national duty by using their own resources to foster economic activity "without troubling the peace of other", and that the state should now step in to do its part.1 3 The suggestion that economic development fosters social peace acquires tremendous weight given the context in which these words were addressed to Bourassa. The people of Abitibi made their plea to the Premier in the midst of the worst political crisis Quebec would ever know: the 1970 October Crisis was barely over when the letter was sent.14 To mend the damage caused by the unrest, Bourassa - who was only five months into his leadership when the crisis exploded - needed more than 1 2 Letter to Bourassa (November 1970), p. 4. The motto "Je me souviens" ("I remember") appears on all car license plates in the province and is generally understood to be a reference to the Conquest. The ubiquitous presence of this simple phrase tagged onto every moving vehicle in Quebec makes the issue of collective remembering an unavoidable element of the social landscape. 1 3 Ibid., p. 4. 14 The "October Crisis" began on the morning of October 5 1970 when the British diplomat James Cross was kidnapped from his house by two members of the Front de liberation du Quebec (FLQ), a Marxist-Leninist organization fighting for Quebec's independence. A manifesto was read publicly where the FLQ asked for the liberation of members who had been imprisoned following previous acts of insurrection. Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau categorically refused to negotiate with the FLQ and a second man was taken hostage on October 10; his name was Pierre Laporte, a minister and key member of the Bourassa government who was also a close friend of the Premier. Ironically, Robert Bourassa was on a business trip in New York city when the crisis exploded, busily preparing the ground for James Bay by discussing sales of electricity across the border. Upon his return, he and his government decided to call on the federal Canadian army to maintain order. Troops moved into the province and the War Measures Act became effective on October 16, with the result that hundreds of FLQ supporters were interrogated or imprisoned without charges. While negotiations continued between the FLQ and Bourassa's government, James Cross was freed but Pierre Laporte was assassinated on October 17. Bourassa's leadership was understandably shaken by these events, he was accused of weakness by turning to Trudeau and the Canadian army to resolve what was perceived as an internal crisis. For a perspective from a thinker and activist of the FLQ, see P. Vallieres, L'Execution de Pierre Laporte: les dessous de I'operation essai (Montreal: Editions Quebec/Amerique, 1977); for an analysis of these events as represented in the media, see C. Ryan, ed., Le Devoir et la Crise d'Octobre 70 (Ottawa: Lemeac,1971). 159. ever to "help people help themselves", as the letter stated, and to fulfill the promise upon which much of his election campaign had been based, which was to create one hundred thousand jobs in the province.15 James Bay had already been on the horizon when he made that promise: the epic discourse in which he framed the project was his way of inviting the rebellious forces of Quebec to trade their weapons for pick and shovel - or machines and mathematics as the case may be - to start tapping the resources of the land. This plan, however, had to make good economic sense for the province as a whole. As the Order of Northern Conquerors campaign indicates, the La Sarre business council built a road toward a Utopian North ready to be conquered through heroic male labour, patriotism and faith: unfortunately, their trajectory did not coincide with that other territory of the nation where space is selectively carved to facilitate money flows and strengthen global connections. The road that would reach the shores of James Bay was created, but it was built more than one hundred kilometers northeast of La Sarre and Villebois so as to be aligned with the urban center of Montreal. In this way, James Bay decision-makers confirmed that the unevenness of development is not merely a casualty but rather a structural element of capitalism. They confirmed also that if economics could use the gathering power of myth, it could just as easily invoke the necessity to make "rational" development decisions to turn away from it. The Abitibi region which was severely in need of jobs - or rather in need of being brought within the sphere of the city and its economic activity - was not directly involved in the process, despite a stretch of road already built but, from the perspective of future Lacasse, Bale James, p. 55. 160. developers, dangling to nowhere.16 Among the many reasons for sidestepping the work already done in Abitibi, I believe the need for a heroic act that could belong directly to Bourassa's government cannot be underestimated: indeed, the "opening" of a road up to James Bay was an important part of casting it as a wilderness whose access required both genius and labour. These meanings were called forth during the construction of the James Bay road which was seen as a channel of nation-building because it brought part of northern Quebec into contact with its southern core. This road would stretch four hundred and fifty miles from Matagami to Radisson and be built in four hundred and fifty days.17 Although it sidestepped the Northern Conquerors' initiative, the road built by the liberal government used the same discursive building blocks: producing James Bay as a space that was as rich as it was wild, it simultaneously represented it as the "promised land" of development. 1 6 While this region and others surrounding James Bay were targeted through special programs to fulfill labour needs during the construction of the dams, none of these jobs contributed to long-term development. After the peak periods o f construction, workers would return to the same economically depressed areas they had left to go to work in the north. Again, Pierre Perrault's movies illustrate how powerless Abitibi residents were to influence their own economic becoming due to a government bureaucracy ill at ease with this marginal region. While the James Bay development project was in full swing in the 1970s, the Quebec administration changed its agricultural policy in the region to, instead, steer the economy toward forestry. The result was a government-sponsored tree-planting effort which created some employment, but at a cost which the farmers who had settled there through the colonization programs of the post-depression era could simply not accept. Indeed, for those who had cleared their piece of land one tree stump at a time over more than forty years, the absurdity of replanting what had finally become decent agricultural fields was too much to bear. Perrault makes this point by interviewing an old farmer who calmly continues to clear his parcel of land day after day, seemingly as a way to deny this absurdity. Another interviewee, Parti Qu6becpis candidate Haurice Lalancette, makes a comment that suggests how these injustices would eventually translate into racial tensions in James Bay: "C'etait l'ambition qui voyait que qu'est-ce qu'on a defriche, ce serait quelque chose de bien. Ben quand on retourne a l'etat sauvage aprds avoir travailhS 40 ans, on se pose la question des indiens de la Baie James. Nous autres, qu'est-ce qu'on etait? On etait moins que des indiens, d'apres moi on etait des esclaves chrisse!" See Un Royaume vous attend (National Film Board of Canada, 1975). 1 7 See Lacasse, Baie James, pp. 87-102. 161. Bourassa brought this myth, along with the roman de la terre and its traditional discourse of identity, fully into a liberal development ideal when he had this to say about the workers he met during his first trip to James Bay: Many young people attracted by the challenge of a country to discover, to build. I cannot refrain from seeing in them the almost exact copy of the first defricheurs of the country. Today they are a few hundreds. Soon they will be five thousand, ten thousand, fifteen thousand bringing together their efforts toward a common goal: to put Quebec's resources at the service of all the Queb6cois.18 Against this backdrop, I want to focus my analysis in the remainder of this Act on the dominant strategies used by Bourassa and the planning institution his government created for bringing James Bay into view as a space of progress and development where the Quebecois could project and envision themselves as a national community. To create this space, nature was represented more emphatically as a wilderness, and national identity became increasingly articulated in relation to natural resources, and the technology that could harness them. As I hope to have established by juxtaposing the roman de la terre with Bourassa's enframing of the North -and using the Northern Conquerers as a hinge between the two - nature's identity may have shifted from rurality to hydroelectricity but the nation continued to draw on its rich symbolic repertoire in order to anchor, protect and legitimate its territorial presence and expansion, this time into James Bay. While Bourassa envisioned the energetic power that could be 1 8 Bourassa, La Bale James, p. 129. 162. generated by James Bay rivers to be unbounded, he also knew how to make strategic use of its symbolic resources which were equally profuse. The equation of nature with the nation - which went from a dominant focus on rural nature to one on "natural" resources as the basis of national identification - was an indispensable rhetorical tool in Quebec's appropriation of a land and resources to which the Cree have an undeniable claim. I view this equation as a fundamental element of Quebec's continued claim to the North, one which must be understood and challenged if the nation is to start opening to and incorporating discourses of difference, along with the spaces these discourses give rise to. The Cree's agency in countering the cultural production and appropriation of their ancestral lands by the Quebecois has forced some of these spaces to open. In what follows, I wish to examine the production of James Bay as a series of French Quebecois cultural landscapes by looking at two of the processes through which this production took place during the building of the first phase: namely, spectacle and scripting. Although I treat them separately, it is important to note that they function as a whole and actively constitute each other. I will then contrast these processes against a Cree experience of landscape which is characterized by the reading of tracks on the land. Finally, I will bring these processes together by analyzing the new structures of governmentality they actualized in Northern Quebec. Spectacle "We see ourselves on the screen, ourselves as we would like to be..."19 1 9 Rose, Feminism, p. 107. 163. To characterize his memorable launch of the James Bay project in 1971 and the visual presentation that accompanied it, Robert Bourassa said the following: "This was quite a show... I had huge pictures, sound, light... some people were trembling!"20 The images that rolled on the giant screens were characteristic of the enframing of James Bay as a spectacular wilderness bursting with resources and ready to be tapped by the South. Numbers abounded in the narrative accompanying the film: $14 million already spent, projected harnessing of five rivers, construction of camps for 25 000 workers, investment of $400 million for mechanical and electrical equipment, 125 000 job openings...21 Panoramic shots of the land displayed and magnified its vast extent, showing endless forests and wide bodies of water rushing through rugged terrain. No one puzzled at the images of bison seemingly grazing on the coastal plains of James Bay. Only the Cree who would later see the film laughed at this peculiarity; since they had first-hand experience of this environment, they knew that no such animals live in the sub-Arctic region.22 This anomaly strongly highlights the construction of James Bay as an imaginative geography for the southern population of Quebec. Incorporating an eclectic set of misconceptions, idiosyncrasies and symbols both old and new to characterize the land, it was clearly a geography of hope for Francophones in the pursuit of their economic and cultural affirmation. As such, it yielded numerous spectacular images that turned an area previously little known by the South into a series of national landscapes where heroic acts of colonization could be staged anew. The La Grande river, the Underground Cathedral, the LG2 dam and its famous escalier de geant, 2 0 Lacasse, Bale James, p. 66. 2 1 Ibid., pp. 65-66. 2 2 McCutcheon, Electric, p. 45. 164. these various sites produced in the first decade of the development scheme came to symbolize pride, affirmation and technological excellence in the eyes of many Quebecois of French ancestry as they reiterated their cultural past into the present: "Aux descendants des pionniers francais, [le projet] offrait plus que la creation de nouveaux emplois; il proposait de nouvelles terres a defricher, pour y recolter non plus les produits de la ferme mais des millions de kilowattheures."2 3 With James Bay framed along these lines, Bourassa's portrayal of workers as defricheurs is naturalized and taken for granted, thus rendering the legitimacy of their presence into Cree territory - along with the legitimacy of the entire project - unquestionable. Recognizing a familiar landscape Indeed, Bourassa worked actively throughout his political carreer to defend the legitimacy of southern Quebec's territorial expansion into the North through his constant reiteration of a colonial narrative in the space of James Bay. Like the defricheur he admired so much, he too endeavoured to clear the land: this, however, he accomplishes not with labour but with an accumulation of rational knowledge. Describing a reconnaissance flight over the region, he mentions: "Someone cites for me some of the rivers' names: the Opinaca, Eastmain, La Grande. They are like so many studies, documents, drafts, geographical maps coming to life, moving under our eyes."24 Hydro-Quebec and other archives contain a wealth of documents 2 3 "To the descendants of the French pioneers, the project offered more than the creation of new jobs; it offered new lands to clear in which they could harvest not the products of the farm but millions of kilowatthours." Turgeon, op. cited, p. 17. 24 Bourassa, La Baie, p. 128. 165. where it is possible to retrace in minute details how the region gradually became visible in this way - one chart, map or landscape description at a time. The most intriguing among them is perhaps a report by two geographers who were sent to drive along the newly opened James Bay road with the task of describing the landscapes that lie on either side, and eventually produce a document that would be distributed to potential visitors on the inauguration of the LG2 complex in 1979. In their introduction, the authors make the suggestion that landscapes exhibit different qualities depending on whether they are perceived by an informed observer or not. They ask: "Quels sont les paysages qui s'offrent a l'observateur le long des principales routes du Territoire de la Baie-James? Ou quels sont les paysages qui se degagent a l'observateur averti, c'est-a-dire en possession de donnees eclairees?"25 In suggesting that landscape can be authored in that way and that different kinds of knowledge produce different perceptions, the pair acknowledge their part in providing the data that will organize the gaze of potential visitors and workers in James Bay. As their preliminary report indicates, they fulfill their mandate by naming twenty-three landscapes and classifying them according to their physical properties. The names they choose for these separate sites do not command the view in any precise way so much as suggest instead a visual impression. They are the "surroundings of the Chalifour", the "undulations West of Chapais", the "wavy highlands of Soscoumica lake", the boggy lowlands of the Nottaouai", the "high basins of 2 5 "What landscapes present themselves to the viewer along the main roads of the James Bay territory? Or, what landscapes emerge for the informed observer, that is, one who has access to data?" P. Guimont and C. Laverdiere, Les Paysages le long des routes du territoire de la Baie-James (Montreal: Societe de developpement de la Baie James - Environnement et Amenagement du territoire, 1977), p. 4. 166. little rivers", etc.26 These poetic toponyms read like so many potential titles of landscape paintings. The authors realize that, on their own, they represent but a sketchy and incomplete attempt at "subdividing" this vast region, a task which will require "perception from the air" to be more complete.27 While the latter comment suggests that the detached view from above is envisioned as a superior way of seeing and knowing, detailed field notes remind us of the partial embodied vision from which these landscape descriptions originate, hampered or aided by the quality of the weather, and scripted amidst the mundane tasks of eating, sleeping and physically moving through the territory. It is important to note that, although these authors acknowledge the partiality of their own vision, nowhere do they suggest that their knowledge could be expanded by inquiring with the local Cree population regarding existing toponyms: instead they value "perception from the air" as a more reliable source of information, and give no consideration to that fact that their own appellation supersedes Cree place names. In that way, they are fully complicit with the invisibilizing of the Cree population from the James Bay landscape. And yet, unlike most documents by non-natives I examined throughout my research, these two individuals' struggle - and part failure - in producing meaning is evident in the text, as is the importance of "situating oneself in order to better understand the territory and contribute to its development."2 8 In that way, there is a slight opening in their report for the introduction of different ways of seeing and 26 Ibid., p. 3. 27 I must emphasize that the road between Matagami and Radisson stretches for 900 miles. The same distance going South would span approximately from Montreal to Tampa, FL. Thus Guimont and Laverdiere were indeed facing an extensive task. 2 8 "En fin de compte, mieux identifier et comprendre les paysages du territoire, c'est mieux se situer, partant mieux contribuer a l'amenagement du milieu." Ibid., p. 4. 167. experiencing the territory. Interestingly, the fieldnotes that suggest this opening were not included in the version of the report meant for James Bay visitors. Bourassa was not so keenly aware of the limits of spatial and environmental knowledge or of his positionality as a viewer. On the contrary, his discourse - oral and written, since he wrote three books about James Bay - suggested that the body of knowledge he was drawing from was co-extensive with what there was to know about the whole region.2 9 As was often the dominant development approach of the time, he did not admit indigenous activity upon the land as a practice that could generate knowledge; beyond what maps, charts or calculations could represent, there simply was nothing to see. It is this exclusion which allows him to transform the North into a space that is fully known and therefore fully governable. Gerin-Lajoie's defricheur once again stands in the background as Bourassa greatly impoverished the landscape by viewing its resources solely as capital. Unlike the two geographers who struggled to make 29 These books were the following: La Baie James (Montreal: Editions du Jour, 1973); Deux fois la Baie James (Ottawa: Editions La Presse, 1981) and L'Energie du Nord, la force du Quebec (Montreal: Quebec/Amerique, 1985). I have referred chiefly to the first book since it spells out Bourassa's initial vision of "economic nationalism" while the first phase of the project was being built. His second publication, Deux fois la Baie James analyses the remaining energy potential that could still be developed in the province and proposes a plan for expanding energy sales: "Le Quebec et ses voisins canadiens et americains forment un axe d'echanges energetiques qui reste a developper. II est dans l'interet de ces regions d'augmenter les echanges d'61ectricite. Dans ce groupement naturel, le Qu6bec jouera le r61e de principal producteur d'hydro-electricite... L'eau qui coule dans les nombreuses rivieres quebecoises, sans avoir genere Vilectricite qu'elle est susceptible de produire, est perdue d jamais" I "Quebec and its Canadian and American neighbours form an axis of energy exchange that remains to be developed. It would be in their interest to increase electricity trade. In this natural grouping, Quebec will act as a central producer of hydro-electricity... The water that flows in the many rivers of Quebec without having generated the electricity it has the potential to produce is forever lost" (p. 145, my emphasis). The third book reiterates this utilitarian vision and is aimed more directly at an American audience thanks to an introduction by James Schlesinger, who served as U.S. State Secretary of Energy from 1977 to 1979. It was also translated into English. 168. meaning from a space that appeared too large and too complex to be captured in one glance, the Premier knows what he is seeing, or rather, what matters to be seen. He knows it so well that his very first trip over James Bay reveals a space which, curiously, he can easily "recognize": Depuis de longues minutes, nous survolons lacs et rivieres et j'ai l'impression de redecouvrir un paysage familier, deja vu. Et pourtant, quel spectacle inedit! Pendant des centaines de milles, c'est la foret dense, inacessible, creusee par des rivieres sinueuses, des lacs immenses et souvent anonymes. Je ne peux m'empecher de penser au genie et a la force de caractere des premiers explorateurs de la region: les d'Iberville, les Radisson. J'avais sous les yeux ce que devait etre la physionomie totale du Quebec du 17e siecle. Et cette foret qui continue de defiler, impassible, interminable. Trente-deux milliards de pieds cubes de bois de valeur marchande. Une possibilite annuelle de trois millioins et demi de cunits, le quart de la production forestiere actuelle au Quebec. De temps a autre, on remarque l'affleurement des rocs volcaniques propices a la formation de gisements de cuivre, de zinc, d'or et d'argent. En outre, suivant les geologues, des filons d'amiante et de nickel. Soixante-dix millions de tonnes de reserve de metaux non ferreux. Plus d'un milliard de dollars de revenus possibles. 169. Comment rester insensible, comment ne pas etre emerveille par un tel spectacle! Quelle reserve inouie de puissance economique!3 0 By rising over the landscape, Bourassa can look down over the region as a terra incognita: constructing it as empty and untouched by human presence, he can make a temporal jump backward to recover in imagination what he thinks would have been the integral Quebec of the seventeenth century. And yet, this blank, anachronistic space which will b e forced into the present through technology and development is precisely not a terra incognita and is not unknown to him since he also talks about "rediscovering a familiar landscape." This, I propose, is a strong indication of the ways in which discourse is constitutive of physical geography and plays a decisive part in laying the terrain of development. If, as Edward Said argues, "the rapport between an Orientalist and the Orient was textual", Bourassa gives a powerful example in the above description of the extent to which his relationship to James Bay was founded on text.31 His familiarity with the heterogeneous discourse of history, literature, charts arid economic projections about the North allowed him to create an 3 0 "We've been flying over lakes and rivers for a long time now and I feel like I am rediscovering a familiar landscape, already seen. And yet, what an original spectacle! For hundreds of miles, it is a dense forest, inaccessible, ploughed by winding rivers, lakes that are immense and often anonymous. I cannot refrain from thinking about the genius and strength of character of the region's first explorers: those like Iberville, Radisson. I had under my eyes what must have been the absolute features of seventeenth century Quebec. And this forest that continues to stream by, impassive, endless, thirty-two billion cubic feet of wood with a marketing value. An annual possibility of three and a half million units, one quarter of Quebec's present forestry output. From time to time, one notices on the surface the outcropping of volcanic rocs favourable to the formation of copper, zinc, gold and silver deposits. As well, according to geologists, asbestos and nickel veins, seventy million tons of non-iron metals in stock. More than one billion dollars in possible revenue. How can one remain insensitive and not be filled with wonder by such a spectacle! What an amazing reserve of economic power!" Bourassa, La Baie, pp. 127-128. 3 1 E. Said, Orientalism, p. 52. 170. imaginative geography that could serve as a stage for enacting his own economic script in the region. Having read these "texts" and discussed them in his books, Bourassa was recognizing his own imaginative geography when he flew over the space of James Bay: furthermore, having most of his field of vision confirmed prevents him from seeing other attributes in the landscape. The imaginative geography he could so easily "re-cognize" was, of course, larger than him or even the francophone culture to which he belonged as it reiterated several elements of Quebec's past, which is also linked to France and the rest of Europe. Right into the twentieth century then, these colonial connections and the power relations they contain were being recontextualized and reinscribed into Cree territories through planning and development. In speaking about imaginative geographies, Edward Said reminds u s that "we need not look for correspondence between the language used to depict the Orient and the Orient itself, not so much because the language is inaccurate but because it is not even trying to be accurate."3 2 In the same way that the Orient is constituted as a stage "whose audience, manager, and actors are for Europe", the North that Bourassa glances down at is a space of economic power that is scripted for and by the South only. While, in his description, the landscape remains to a large extent unnamed by Europeans, its economic value appears in turn well known: the Premier's numbers are careful but precise, his gaze extends over the surface as well as reaches down into the underground geography of the territory he is keen to conquer. The act of "re-cognizing" this landscape when looking at it for the first time is testimony to the sedimentation and circulation 3 2 Ibid., p. 71. 171. whereby imaginative geographies become taken for granted and acquire the force of "truth." As the above passage demonstrates, the unambiguous "truth" of James Bay is its economic nature: a truth which the Northern Conquerors and countless others who shared this imagining of the region also helped to create, and which clearly cannot be shared by local native inhabitants for whom the territory is much more multi-faceted. This "truth" was meant to consolidate the, narrowly understood, "Quebecois national community" as they gathered into an audience to watch the spectacle of the project - and all the electrical, political and economic power it could harness - being built. And yet before Bourassa and others could view the landscape in such a way, various specialists and scientists had to precede them and prepare the ground by charting its purported emptiness and confirming what could be lying in wait. Indeed, an important function of the staging of James Bay as a spectacle was to make the region known, or rather "recognizable" through a set of common cultural references and ways of seeing. If, as Gillian Rose has remarked, "seeing and knowing are often conflated", this invitation to collectively see James Bay was designed to teach about Quebec's geography and allow the population to become acquainted with its national territory.3 3 This need to teach and inform the population about the project was carried via the sustained production of images - visual, cartographic, textual - of this new space; the organization of the view effected control on what was to be brought into visibility or left out of the frame. I have suggested that these cultural landscapes brought a "new" region into view but stressed as well that they did so by calling upon and G. Rose, op. cited, p. 86. 172. reiterating a colonial past; one which informs the Quebecois territoriality that was enacted in the North. To be fully enacted, however, this territoriality required a careful - and at times intensely physical - process of surveying, - measuring, calculating and categorizing the space of James Bay. Like the roman de la terre which "writes" rural nature in the pages of a book and, through that process, recontextualizes the rural sphere as national space, this process "writes" wild nature and appropriates James Bay as a national and economic territory. In what follows, I want to explore this mechanism but I will refer to it as an act of "scripting" rather than writing. I choose this term because it encompasses the two central elements I want to bring into focus: that is, the writing of James Bay through some of the literary signs and symbols of Quebecois culture which I have already explored, but also its staging through the images and spectacle that enact these very meanings, a point which deserves further discussion. Scripting II est vrai que l'homme peut difficilement faire mieux que la nature. Voila pourquoi, encore une fois, gr&ce au grand projet de la Baie James, ce territoire deviendra pour les hommes, pour les chercheurs, pour les amoureux de la nature, un immense laboratoire d'observation, de recherche et d'exp6rimentation susceptible d'apporter a l'homme d'ici et d'ailleurs des sources nouvelles de comprehension de son environnement, de son 173. milieu de vie et un peu de la sagesse et de l'equilibre que la nature semble se plaire a recreer partout.3 4 Linking the dots Prior to the official announcement of the project, the James Bay territory had long been the object of scientific explorations seeking to determine its hydroelectric potential. Once he made the decision to turn the La Grande river into the focal point of his leadership, Bourassa was relying on data that had been gathered over more than a decade of exploration work in the area. The Shawinigan Water and Power Company, the largest power corporation in the province before its taking over by Hydro-Quebec, had concentrated its research on the Rupert, Nottaway and Broadback rivers, all of which were located in the southern part of the region. Using these studies, Hydro-Quebec continued to survey the territory, adding the Eastmain and La Grande rivers to their inventory. In 1967, two hundred and fifty men - I was told that no women were involved in these expeditions - lived in eighteen exploration camps disseminated across one hundred thousand square miles of territory and busily "preparing the future": [L]es releves geologiques et les etudes hydrologiques permettent d'etablir une cartographie de la Baie James. En 1968, c'est l'acceleration des travaux de cartographie, des 3 4 "It is true that man can hardly do better than nature. Here is why, once again, thanks to the James Bay project, this territory will become for men, for researchers, for nature lovers, an immense laboratory of observation - of research and experimentation - capable of bringing to men of here and elsewhere new sources of understanding of their living environment, and a little of the wisdom and balance that nature likes to recreate everywhere." Bourassa, La Baie James, p. 102. 174. etudes des sols et des releves geologiques dans la region du complexe Nottaway-Broadback-de Rupert. Pas d'etudes, a ce moment-la, sur les rivieres Eastmain et La Grande Riviere. Les annees 1969 et 1970 se passent dans les bureaux: revision des chiffres et des estimations, compilation des donnees recueillies sur le terrain et voyages de reconnaissance des responsables d e la direction du Genie d'Hydro-Quebec.3 5 This passage reveals another aspect of the creation of a geographical divide between North and South through the production of knowledge about James Bay. The scientific tools of geology, geography and cartography endeavour to "clear" the wilderness by rendering its space in highly rational, mathematical terms. This representation - which is consistent with the history of European colonial exploration in North America - is made possible by taking the data harvested back to the "offices" of Hydro-Quebec where it is compiled, assessed and calculated. In that way, the offices of the energy corporation located in the city of Montreal become the distant "centers of calculation"3 6 where the space of the north can become known and decisions can be made about its becoming: "Pour en arriver a 3 5 "Geological samples and hydrological studies help to establish a cartography o f James Bay. In 1968, cartography work, soil studies and geological sampling become intensified in the Nottaway-Broadback-Rupert region. No study, at this point, on the Eastmain and the La Grande rivers. The years 1969 and 1970 are spent in the offices: numbers and estimates are revised, data gathered in the field is compiled. Those in charge of the engineering division at Hydro-Quebec continue their reconnaissance trips." Lacasse, Baie James, p. 26. 36 See B. Latour, "Centers of Calculation." Science in Action: how to follow scientists and engineers through society (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1987), pp. 215-257. Discussing a trip to the South Pacific by the French explorer Lap6rouse, Latour notes that centers of calculation - by which he means various imperial cities in Europe - were instrumental in consolidating the "Great Divide" between civilization and barbarism: "The implicit geography of the natives is made explicit by geographers; the local knowledge of the savages becomes the universal knowledge of the cartographers; the fuzzy, approximate and ungrounded beliefs of the locals are turned into a precise, certain and justified knowledge" (p. 216). 175. ces resultats puis, ulterieurement, a ces prises de decision, des centaines d'explorateurs ont sillonne, examine, scrut6 tout le territoire de la Baie James."37 Through various cycles of accumulation over the years, James Bay became gradually mobilized to become a chief engine of Quebec's economy.38 This cycle was greatly accelerated once Bourassa had firmed up his project and was preparing to launch it: the warm months of 1971 would become known as "the summer of geologists" as sixty specialists dispersed themselves across the land to study the five major rivers of the territory.39 The gathering of such information proved to be an excruciating physical task as technicians endeavoured to measure the territory against existing maps: Avec nos instruments, lourds et encombrants, notre role consistait a mesurer les elevations et les distances pour reperer sur le terrain des points precis apparaissant sur nos cartes et sur nos photos aeriennes. Un travail dur, fatigant mais passionnant. Ma derniere expedition du genre consistait a relier des points sur une distance ininterrompue de 300 kilometres.40 This attempt to "link the dots" across such a vast territory is reminiscent of the work accomplished by the two geographers who set out to describe the landscapes alongside the James Bay road. Here, however, even fewer traces 3 7 Lacasse, Baie James, p. 29. 38 See Latour, Science, p. 219-223. 3 9 Lacasse, Baie James, p. 28. 4 0 "With our heavy, awkward instruments, our role was to measure distance and elevation to locate on the ground precise points showing on our maps and aerial photos. A tough job, tiring but fascinating. My last expedition of this kind consisted of linking dots on an uninterrupted distance of 300 km." Ibid., p. 23. 176. are left of the subjects who gathered the data that was to be translated into charts. The erasure of subjectivity from these processes yields a two-dimensional, newly manageable space that renders James Bay "portable" so that it could be toured with and presented to a broader, geographically scattered audience.41 No area was too big, complex or difficult of access for these scientific expeditions to repertory and draw in minute details: "Les gars du siege social d'Hydro-Quebec nous demandaient de tout mesurer, du point le plus haut au point le plus bas. On tracait des lignes d'arpentage qui partaient du fond des tourbieres pour aboutir a la crete des montagnes. "4 2 The development vision of James Bay is well captured by such an image of a land surveyor standing behind his instrument "to measure everything." With his eye fitted into the narrow tunnel of a lens, he projects a straight line across the territory that digitizes its dips, slopes and elevations from one end to the other. This telescopic gaze had been without precedent in the space of James Bay. It produced a knowledge of it that could not be further from a Cree hunter's perspective. What could be the meaning of such data if the body had not moved through space to interpret the ground's curve within the environment that produces it? Much of the discrepancy between Cree and Quebecois constructions and experiences of landscape is encompassed in this question. I will bring this discreapancy into sharper focus by discussing Cree cultural perceptions of landscape; but before I do so, I want to lay out a few more points about how several 4 1 Bruno Latour gives a good idea of this change of scale which renders space portable when he ask, referring to European cartographers: "How large has the world become in their chart rooms? No bigger than an atlas the plates of which may be flattened, combined, reshuffled, superimposed, redrawn at will." Latour, Science, p. 224. 4 2 "The guys form Hydro-Quebec's head office were asking us to measure everything, from the highest point to the lowest one. We would draw survey lines that started at the bottom of peat bogs and reached to the mountain crests." Lacasse; Baie James, p. 23. 177. forms of exclusion were articulated . and materialized throughout the territory via the politics of vision. A portable landscape The show that launched James Bay as well as the process of "scripting" I have discussed encompassed "ways of seeing" that are typical of Western modernity. Martin Jay has argued that: "Beginning with the Renaissance and the scientific revolution, modernity has been normally considered resolutely ocularcentric."43 If words and speeches reiterated the Quebecois colonial past during the construction years, images also performed the past into the present by reinscribing a different set of colonial relations: in making the space of James Bay esthetically pleasing to the eyes, these images enacted unequal power relations between Quebecois and Cree. I have already suggested that, as dams went up and reservoirs expanded, the slow transformation of the region was something to be watched. Fragments of its geography floated south of the 49th parallel to surface in newspapers, magazines and TV screens, thereby assembling its 4 3 M. Jay, "Scopic Regimes of Modernity." S. Lash and J. Friedman, eds., Modernity and Identity (Oxford: Blackwell), pp. 178, my emphasis. For various explorations of this concept, see J. Berger, Ways of Seeing (London: BBC and Penguin, 1972); G. Debord, The Society of the Spectacle (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1983); A. Pred, Recognizing European Modernities: a montage of the present (London: Routledge, 1995); D. Harvey, The Condition of Postmodernity (Oxford: Blackwell, 1989). For a feminist critique of these visual regimes, see R. Deutsche, "Boys Town." Evictions: art and spatial politics (Cambridge, MA and London, England: MIT Press, 1996), pp. 203-244; M. Morris, "The Man in the Mirror: David Harvey's 'Condition' of Postmodernity." Theory, Culture and Society Vol. 9 (1992), pp. 253-279; C. Nash, "Reclaiming Vision: Looking at Landscape and the Body." Gender, Place and Culture 3.2 (1996), pp. 149-169; G. Pollock, "Modernity and the Spaces of Femininity." Vision and Difference: Femininity, Feminism and the History of Art (New York and London: Routledge, 1988), pp. 50-90; G. Rose, "Looking at Landscape: the uneasy pleasures of power. Feminism and Geography: The Limits of Geographical Knowledge (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1993), pp. 86-112. 178. face for non-native viewers. Many of these images were produced through aerial photography so as to represent the engineering structures from above and magnify their presence in space.44 In this detached, two-dimensional view, the dams looked neatly fitted into a space that had been cut up for them; they appeared to be gigantic objects standing in a "container" space. Gazing at those images, it is easy to forget that their presence rearranges an entire geography, from an -environmental point of view but also from a social and political one. There are several important consequences of this visual discourse, many of which can be explained by its privileging of "perspective" in inviting and organizing the gaze. Denis Cosgrove has discussed the emergence of perspective in fifteenth and early sixteenth-century Italy as an appropriation of space relying on Euclidian geometry; this new visual language was expressed in European art through the emergence of landscape paintings.45 Using perspective to quantify space and reproduce it on the canvas, landscape paintings made a strong claim to "realism" by assigning to art a "mirror" function. It is worth noting that, in the context of James Bay, this claim to realism was even stronger because the landscapes that circulated in the south were generally photos. In his analysis of "the idea of landscape", Cosgrove has explained how the illusion of order can be maintained through the convention of realist vision and the controlling of pictorial space. This control slips from view all the more 4 4 Since I had become very familiar with this imagery, I felt an acute discrepancy when I visited LG-2 between the mental scale I had of the project and the one I experienced while on site. Seen in pictures, the structures had seemed much more gigantic. 4 5 D. Cosgrove, "Towards a Radical Cultural Geography: problems of theory." Antipode 15 (1983), p. 5. See also his "Prospects, Perspective and the Evolution of the Landscape Idea." Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 10 (1985), pp. 45-62. 179. easily in photographic landscapes as the viewer forgets that angling, pointing, framing or lighting are all active processes whereby the photographer - like the painter - creates an image. Two important consequences of this control by the artist are that the flow of time appears suspended and the image seems directed at a single, external subject: It offers a view of the world directed at the experience of one individual at a given moment in time when the arrangement of the constituent forms is pleasing, uplifting or in some other way linked to the observer's psychological state; it then represents this view as universally valid by claiming for it the status of reality. The experience of the insider, the landscape as subject, and the collective life within it are all implicitly denied. Subjectivity is rendered the property of the artist and the viewer - those who control the landscape - not those who belong to it.46 To create this order, landscape imagery is usually devoid of human subjects. This was true in James Bay where the effort to showcase the engineering structures meant that they had to be represented against an abstract space acting as a backdrop. The emptying of space gives the illusion that the landscape exists solely for the enjoyment of the viewer and, more importantly, that it is fully available to such an individual. The presence of native people necessarily disrupts the illusion of ownership, which partly explains their constant erasure - or that of markers that would indicate their presence - from the frame of representation; clearly 4 6 D. Cosgrove, Social Formation and Symbolic Landscape (London: Croom Helm, 1984), p. 20. 180. this happens not only in pictures but, more significantly, in practice through the . structures that enable access to resources and their management. It is only through the removal of native presence in the landscape, and their marginalization in the decision-making process involved in each step of the project, that James Bay and its resources could begin to be conceived as "belonging to all the Quebecois." By denying "the landscape as subject" - or rather that subjects could belong in the landscape of hydroelectricity - the promotional imagery of the project made the viewer the sole possessor of this landscape, as well as its consumer. This viewer had to be located outside the frame for the picture to take effect in this manner, therefore such a person could clearly not be a native of James Bay. Radically detached from its internal subjects, the landscape is finally rendered "portable", which is also a way of effecting a greater amount of control upon it. "As Martin Jay argues, this portability also means that the landscape and what it depicts can "enter the circulation of capitalist exchange."47 Nature as a standing reserve The detached view from above represents James Bay not only as a portable landscape but, more pointedly, as one that can be "exported." The processes I have just described' which make the space of James Bay devoid 4 7 "John Berger goes so far as to claim that more appropriate than the Albertian metaphor of the window on the world is that of 'a safe let into a wall, a safe in which the visible has been deposited.' It was, he contends, no accident that the emergence of the invention (or rediscovery) of perspective virtually coincided with the emergence of the oil-painting detached from its context and available for buying and selling. Separate from the painter and the viewer, the visual field depicted on the other side of the canvas could become a portable commodity able to enter the circulation of capitalist exchange." Jay, Scopic, p. 182. 181. of human presence also exemplify what I have in mind when suggesting that the North was constructed as "wild and rich" by the discourse of development. If aerial photos displayed vast amounts of unoccupied space, they also beautifully showcased what this space contained in terms of natural resources, the most spectacular of them being water. In fact, the hydroelectric structures themselves seemed to function as props for advantageously showing this abundant resource. Implicit in these landscapes is the power of technology in harnessing nature and forcing it to serve humankind. In the same way that the viewer is external to the landscapes of hydroelectricity, so are humans perceived to be external to nature in these spectacular shots. Thus, the visual economy that makes James Bay a portable landscape also produces it as a "standing reserve." In "The Question Concerning Technology", Martin Heidegger proposed that modern technology had strayed from the meaning that was originally contained in the Greek word techne, where the power of nature resides in the bringing forth of its possibilities, and technology is the agent of that unconcealment: [Techne] reveals whatever does not bring itself forth and does not yet lie here before us, whatever can look and turn out now one way and now another. (...) Thus what is decisive in techne does not lie at all in making and manipulating nor in the using of means, but rather in the aforementioned revealing. It is as revealing, and not as manufacturing, that techne is a bringing-forth.48 48 M. Heidegger, The Question Concerning Technology (New York: Harper & Row, 1977), p. 13. 182. Heidegger emphasizes, through his notion of techne, the uncertainty of revealing: "whatever can look and turn out now one way and now another."49 This uncertainty is seemingly resolved by controlling the image of James Bay and representing it - as well as its nature - as a picture.5 0 For Heidegger, Western science and technology typically does away with the uncertainty of revealing through its emphasis on manufacturing which transforms nature into a standing reserve. There is no better image of this concept than the reservoirs that stand behind the turbines of a dam, gathering rivers and storing their waters so that they can be available on demand for the production of electricity. Similarly, the mining resources below the surface of the territory must be imagined as standing reserve to unlock what is a material but also a symbolic potential. The lyricism of Northern Conquerors concerning what riches James Bay may contain offers a good example of this: rendered in text, the region is no less conceived as a picture with its lavish descriptions creating a mental image of this el dorado. By representing James Bay as a vast empty space, and therefore a wilderness, the landscape imagery I have described is a complement to text, and works in conjunction with it to set up the resources of the North as standing reserve. As a wilderness, James Bay is a space where there is nothing to see or imagine but what should be "unlocked, transformed, stored or distributed."51 The spectacular engineering structures hold and handle water like so many concrete arms operating the La Grande river 49 Ibid., pp. 13, 129-130. 5 0 I am referring to Heidegger's analysis of modernity as the "age of the world picture": "[W]orld picture, when understood essentially, does not mean a picture of the world but the world conceived and grasped as picture. What is, in its entirety, is now taken in such a way that it first is in being and only is in being to the extent that it is set up by man, who represents and sets forth." Heidegger, "The Age of the World Picture." Ibid., pp. 129-130, my emphasis. 5 1 Ibid:, p. 16. 183. like an "organic machine."52 Once spectatorship becomes the dominant way of seeing James Bay rivers, and other resources, the need for their access and use is always already inscribed as an absolute. Furthermore, the certainty that nature is wild increases its promise as a standing-reserve: because it is untouched its potential yield can only be greater. The possibility - which the Cree and their allies have struggled to express -that nature could have limits, be tricky, unwieldy or not fully know able never figures in the spectacular landscapes of development and their production of nature, both visually, textually and materially. The camera, or the text, that constructs and orchestrates the view projects itself instead like a passive mirror capturing what was always lying in wait to be seen and known. Once again, nature operates its rhetorical magic: it never encompasses the idea of production but is always perceived as the realm where things just "are."53 And yet, as the spectacular images of a wild and abundant nature harnessed by technology indicate, the James Bay that emerged in Southern Quebec during the nineteen-seventies was clearly a Western cultural construction "for and by" the Quebecois. The fact that James Bay was so carefully constructed as a "discourse" was a strong factor, I suggest, in powering its material impacts. This cultural construction and its accepted meanings had force and currency enough to mobilize the necessary agents that would divert rivers, flood vast stretches of land, destroy Cree ancestral sites and hunting grounds and secure for years to come, the production of one of the staples of Quebec's economy, which is electricity. 5 2 I am borrowing the term from Richard White who used it to describe the Columbia river. R. White, The Organic Machine: the remaking of the Columbia river (New York: Hill and Wang, 1995). 53 See H. Lefebvre, "Nature and Nature Conquered." Introduction to Modernity (New York: Verso, 1995), pp. 132-156. 184. Tracks The above processes spell out a strange contradiction which is that people living in the south of Quebec were disengaging from the space of James Bay at the same time as they were being introduced to it. The quantifying gaze of surveyors removed the body from the territory in the same way that panoramic spectatorship of this "grandiose" nature separated the viewers from the spaces being viewed: in that separation, James Bay emerged as a particularly eurocentric geography, all the while projecting itself as universal and open to all who would take part in the project. Abstracting people and territory, the spectacular enframing of the North produced a geography of ownership where viewers were invited to freely include themselves by stepping into the fold of the national community, which was co-extensive with the national economy. Empowered to "see" Northern resources, Bourassa was convinced that natives would readily join in his development project: "Indians must take notice of the whole situation and of the exceptional opportunities for their collective future that the economic windfall from the La Grande project represents."54 Yet the community, imagined as "all the Quebecois", that would possess James Bay was in fact out of bounds for natives as long as they wished to retain and develop their own modes of seeing and interacting with the land, which was co-extensive with their own hybrid economy. I now turn to these ways of seeing in order to problematize the dominant visual ideology of development in relation to Cree cultural perceptions of landscapes. Bourassa, La Baie, p. 130. 185. Reading the land Job said the rain would stop and in the early afternoon it did. We got out our equipment and went for a walk. Job took as lively and detailed an interest in every rock, tree and plant as we would in every shop if we were walking along the Champs-Elysees. Here, a porcupine had been eating at the topmost branches of a tree. Lower down, see, even the beaver had been around, he had come for food. There a rabbit had left signs of his recent presence. And over here, under this rock, is one of those places he had told us about, where the bear goes looking for ants...5 5 The first necessary step in comprehending a Cree relationship to the land is to decenter dominant Western constructions of landscape and to call into question their emphasis on vision.56 Throughout this Act, I have discussed a Western framework of perception which involves a cognitive separation between the space to be viewed and the viewer, which is reproduced in the geographical division between North and South. In this framework, James Bay was rendered as a spectacular space where nature and the people confronting it were seen to be "larger than life", giants in a country of gigantic proportions. For the defricheur to become a truly national hero, the nature he must measure his strength against has to be of epic proportions. The qualities of heroes are proportional to the spaces in 5 5 Richardson, op. cited, p. 172. 5 6 I am grateful to Susan Preston who discussed these questions with me and shared her own work on the role of landscape for the Eastern James Bay Cree. See S. Preston, Meaning and Representation: landscape in the oral tradition of the Eastern James Bay Cree (M.A. thesis, The University of Guelph, Ontario, 1999). 186. which these heroes accomplish their feats: in that sense, cultural landscapes act as spaces of projection. For local Crees whose practices linked them closely to the James Bay environment, regional landscapes were also spaces of projection; yet these spaces were not generally known through passive spectatorship but through everyday experience, thus yielding a different perception of their scale and relative distance to the observer. Furthermore, as a dominant mode of cultural exchange, oral tradition rather than vision has been the principal form through which landscape is perceived and signified. The emphasis on the spoken word in the form of storytelling readily stands in contrast with the visual language that was so instrumental to developers during the years of construction to familiarize non-local populations with the space of James Bay. In addition, it stands in contrast with the written form of the roman de la terre where the act of writing about the land effects a separation from it by locating the narrative inside the pages of a book. With orality as a dominant form of cultural transmission, each geographical locale presents its own narrative, and writing literally takes place "on the land." The effort to decenter a Western understanding of landscape then has to take into consideration not only the mode of experience - passive spectatorship versus active embodied practice - but also the mode of signification -images and written text versus oral tradition. The experience of landscape that was expressed by the Cree through oral tradition was characterized by movement and mobility. As hunters and gatherers, the Cree moved extensively across the land usually in small family groups. Hunting families regularly travelled several hundred kilometers in the fall and winter when they left gathering points to travel 187. in search of the game and fish that would sustain them through the seasons. Some groups remained on the coast through the year, identifying as "coasters" in contrast with the "inlanders" who travelled inland from the bay.57 In the summer, both would congregate in specific locations with some of them eventually assuming the function of fur-trading posts as the Cree devoted part of their hunting production to commercial exchange with the Hudson Bay Company.5 8 Over time, some of these posts have evolved into the permanent villages that are now spread across the, Eastern James Bay territory, amounting to four on the Coast (Chisasibi, Wemindji, Eastmain, Waskaganish) and six inland (Matagami, Waswanipi, Nemaska, Ouje-Bougoumou, Mistissini, Nemaska). The consolidation of these settlements into villages offering Western housing and commercial amenities has altered the balance of subsistence activities for the Cree and effected a transition to wage-earning and a market economy that was accelerated with the advent of a James Bay and Northern Quebec agreement. Nevertheless, traditional practices such as hunting, fishing and trapping remain a central component of the Cree culture and experience of landscape. In these practices, physical movement is guided by the various signs a hunter can collect indicating the presence of animals in the environment, and inferring the trajectory they follow. Reading signs of the presence of animals and moving across the land are interdependent activities that make hunting possible. Not only does movement unfold in the course of a 5 7 T. Morantz, An Ethnohistoric Study of Eastern James Bay Cree Social Organization, 1700-1850. (Ottawa: Canadian Ethnology Service, Paper No. 88, National Museums of Canada, 1983), p. 12. 5 8 For an in-depth study of fur-trading activities in the area, see Francis and Morantz, op. cited. 188. day as a result of this interpretation of signs in the landscape, it also unfolds along the seasonal cycles which determine where animals are to be found as well as the quality of the land surface, which can hinder or facilitate travel. For the Crees, the ability to pursue traditional activities is dependent not merely on the availability of game and fish but on the crucial capacity to continue to read the landscape in a language that they know. Working from oral recordings collected by her father (anthropologist Richard Preston) in the early nineteen-sixties, Susan Preston has analyzed how "tracks" function as language: Tracks are language in the landscape. The signs by which the hunter knows who he is intersecting with in the landscape are tracks left in the snow. Primarily footprints, tracks also include evidence of vegetative browsing and damage, as well as fecal remains. Tracks convey a vast amount of information: who is ahead, where they were and where they are going, what their condition is, how many there are, how long ago they were here, how old they are, how fast they are moving, how heavy and how big they are by their footprint size and spacing of steps. Without seeing the person themselves you can know them by their tracks. It is the central way of knowing who is in the landscape with you. This applies to all the "actors" moving about in the landscape, including other humans, animals, spirit persons, and atooshes (cannibal-monsters).5 9 59 Preston, Meaning, p. 84. In her study, Preston also looks at tracks as maps, indicators of temporality and carriers of cultural values (pp. 70-119). Not all hunting activities, bird hunting among them, involve the same tracking system. 189. If Cree spatial practice fashions a landscape that is rendered as narrated text in the oral tradition, Preston's study shows that landscape is also textual from the beginning as hunters follow their prey through signs. Hunting, therefore, writes and reads the land and, in that way, is not unlike the Quebecois roman de la terre, albeit in a different material format. When Job Bearskin goes for a walk (see opening quote of this section), he reads the marks various animals have left on his hunting territory and forms a narrative of their movement which helps him plan his activities for the day. What I wish to stress is that the profusion of signs in the landscape and the reliance upon them makes the process of reading - which necessarily entails a previous act of scripting - a dominant mode of interaction with the land for the Cree. That mode is not limited to hunting and can serve more generally to orient oneself across the land. One Cree man gives this testimony of traveling by skidoo with his father to reach a distant village: Along the way to Mistassini there were blazes on the trees. We would get onto a lake and I'd stop the skidoo. My father was riding behind me. I'd ask him, Which way now? He'd say, See that point there, you go around it, and you go into a little bay, and at the bay there's gonna be a rock. You go right along the rock, and the first tree you see there's gonna be a blaze on it. So we would go there and go along the rock, and the first tree we'd see would be dead, rotten, but you could see the old blaze on it. And all the way to Mistassini, going through all the lakes, 190. he made only one mistake, when I didn't even know where the fuck I was going...60 In their efforts to guide themselves successfully across space, the two men remind us that James Bay is neither empty nor uninscribed - a blank wilderness as the spectacular enframing of Northern Quebec suggests - but possesses other kinds of texts, which can only be read through the body. Whether for purposes of hunting or traveling, the ability to orient oneself by reading different tracks in the landscape involves an act of looking which is qualitatively different from that involved in the experience of landscape through spectatorship. The crucial point here is that, when Western ways of seeing consume and appropriate space such as they did through the spectacle of development, the attribution of "emptiness" to James Bay is less a result of its relatively small, scattered population than of the inability of the body to occupy a space that is everywhere colonized by the eye alone. Promotional imagery geared to urban populations rendered the space of James Bay as a series of views from above encouraging the detached contemplation of this new national scenery. By contrast, the Cree experience of the same space was predicated on practices that necessitated an embodied engagement with the territory. The different modes of interaction with the environment employed at different times by each party emphasize the importance of landscape as a culturally inflected experience in the production of space and geographical imaginaries. Perhaps more to the point, the above examples show that geography can be experienced as text and that the ability to continue to read its 60 Richardson, Strangers, p. 13. 191. narratives is a necessary requirement if subjects are to carry on the cultural practices that define them as a people. In the same way that the defricheur is supported by the textual matrix of the roman de la terre and the physical space of the Laurentian landscape as it continues to be reiterated and recontextualized as a cultural symbol of the past, the Cree hunter is supported by the land. That reliance on the land is rendered all the more crucial because cultural narratives rely less on text than on the land itself as their repository, this despite the fact that several Cree tales and stories now appear in print.61 This emphasis on the land i s predominant also because, with Cree people increasingly juggling traditional activities and wage-earning in the market economy, hunting is a primary means of maintaining cultural coherence. As Susan Preston argues, "the loss of a normal pattern of recognizable signs would severely 6 1 There is an on-going project to develop a database of Cree historical and cultural knowledge as it relates to Cree territories in Quebec, starting with those of the Whapmagoostui band. This project includes a detailed survey of place-names (some maps have already been drawn with these names) and the gathering of supporting information such as stories, myths and land-use data. The database is testimony to the multiple layers of scripting that form Cree ancestral lands in Northern Quebec. In the words of the project's chief investigator, David Denton: "The names and stories are not abstract facts about the past. They are melded into a landscape that echoes these tales from the past which are heard, interpreted and reinterpreted as people travel from place to place. They are a cultural heritage, linking the community and its past to a myriad of points across the land and evoking sadness, mirth or wonder at the ancestors' experiences on that land. At the same time, they are a network of messages containing both practical information and a breath of spiritual and moral counsel. There is every reason to believe that the naming and story-telling tradition that created this network is still vital and dynamic. [N]ew names are still being added and, in years to come, new stories will likely become part of the traditional history tied to those places. The names and stories add an important dimension, whether this is called '"iterary" or "aesthetic", historic or spiritual, to Cree appreciation of their lands." Denton's description eloquently captures the deep cultural layering of place by the Cree. The effort by the Qu6becois of the South to recontextualize in James Bay a poetics of land originating from the St.-Lawrence valley can be viewed as an attempt to inscribe a similar cultural layer, and to make its dominant references seem less "out of place." See D. Denton, "The Land as an Aspect of Cree History." In G. Ioannou, ed., The Waters, the Land and the People: an anthology of writings on Hudson and James Bay (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, Sierra Club of Canada, forthcoming). 192. limit the ability to know and participate in culture."62 Hydroelectric development in the region effected that loss at a rate never before experienced by the Cree, and in that way presented strong obstacles against their efforts to integrate these changes within their traditional worldview. As I have wanted to stress by analyzing the production of Queb6cois cultural landscapes in the North as a process of "scripting", development rewrote in a profoundly material way the spaces known to the Crees by changing the course of rivers and altering the ecological balance of the land. This is not an abstract argument about discourse, nor -is it an appeal to leave the land untouched to preserve a purported timeless "essence." The Cree themselves have not known their environment to be static in such a way and have long integrated dynamic change into their culture and economy. Rather, this is an argument to take seriously the idea that landscapes are constructed and experienced through different cultural filters that become taken-for-granted. The lack of recognition and refusal to factor in these cultural filters has made hydroelectrical development in the North the exclusive purview of one culture - broadly understood as that of the Quebecois of French ancestry -at the expanse of another, that of the Cree. It has created a national discourse of identity that is strongly predicated on a culturally-specific experience of territory. By making the North at once knowable and visible to a disembodied observer, scripting and spectacle constituted it as a terrain to be acted upon by a "universal" subject who was in fact culturally specific, and heavily gendered as white, male and bourgeois through the process of looking at landscape. The goal of making Quebec a diverse national community is impossible to achieve without introducing 62 Preston, Meaning, p. 119. 193. difference in the territoriality this subject produces, in James Bay and other spaces of nation-building. Governmentality Developper la Baie James, c'est aussi quitter la vallee du St-Laurent, 61argir nos frontieres et prendre possession de toutes nos ressources. — C'est enfin, pour l'ensemble des Quebecois, decouvrir a nouveau la fierte que seul peut donner l'accomplissement d'un destin a la grandeur de ses aspirations et de ses capacites.63 I now want to tie together the various issues I have presented in this Act by bringing them under the rubric of governmentality. My analysis so far has endeavoured to show that, coming into view through the dual action of scripting and spectacle, James Bay was rewritten into a series of landscapes that represented the - assumed - interests and aspirations of the French Quebecois and negated a Cree experience of the same space, which is characterized not only through scripting and viewing but also through the reading of tracks. The knowledge that "linked the dots" on a map so that they could be filled in-between with environmental and economic data summoned a series of new landscapes into presence that were nonetheless familiar to the Quebecois because they performed a well-known territoriality. It is important to remember that, through this process, the region was also successfully laid out for government 6 3 "To develop James Bay is to leave the St.-Lawrence valley, to broaden our frontiers and take possession of all our resources. — It is, finally, for all the Quebecois, to discover anew the pride that only the fulfilling of a fate equal to their aspirations and capacities can yield." Bourassa, La Baie, p. 49. 194. intervention; a point which I need to explain further before bringing this Act to a conclusion. As I have shown, before Bourassa could make it his chief instrument for governing the province, there had to be an extensive body of images, reports, narratives, data, lay opinions and scientific studies assessing and imagining the hydroelectric potential of the region. From the start, this knowledge production about the area was meant to coincide with the development of a national economy; therefore, in defining the physical and cognitive domain where the natural resources of the North could be accessed, Quebec - Southern Quebec that is - was also expanding its political territory. Bourassa was clear on this matter: he considered it a strong advantage of hydro-electricity that it allows for the development and planning (amenagement) of new territories.64 Following from the Quiet Revolution, the strong connection between identity and nature (envisioned as natural resources) had made the establishment of provincial - rather than federal - institutions in the North a priority in the building of a strong Quebec state. Throughout the nineteen-sixties, geographer Michel Brochu -a member of the Arctic Research Center at the Universite de Montreal -was pushing strongly for the establishment of a Quebecois governance in Northern Quebec, which would also encompass the Arctic region. It was during a scientific research trip that he became concerned with what he saw as an administrative vacuum in the area then known as "Nouveau Quebec" and feared that Quebec's integrity could suffer from it. His views were heard by then Liberal Minister of Natural Resources Rene Levesque who, following two meetings with Brochu, accepted to support and work toward a more efficient administration; this led to the creation of the 64Ibid., p. 31. 195. Direction generate du Nouveau-Quebec in 1962.65 According to Brochu, the principles that guided the Direction were as follows: [T]o take charge of the totality of the Administration, Health and Education of Eskimo (sic) settlements in Nouveau-Quebec, simply because the latter is part of Quebec's territory so that it was and is normal that it should be this way. On the other hand, to respect the Eskimo language and tradition through a n education system where Eskimo is the first and principal teaching language.66 Brochu's interest in Quebec's Northern territories led him to support the initiative of the La Sarre business council to build a road linking the Abitibi to the shores of James Bay.67 After a request for more information on the project, he was asked by Dominique Godbout if he would enjoin his 6 5 The boundaries of Quebec were extended all the way to its northern coast by Ottawa in 1912, but the Federal government continued to be the sole provider of services to the Inuit population. The Direction generate du Nouveau-Quebec was a relatively short-lived administrative structure which was reshaped by the advent of the James Bay Development Corporation, although the first phases of the project were built on rivers South of the geographical area designated as Nouveau-Quebec. Although the Crees have been more directly affected by hydroelectric development, this region encompasses the ancestral territories of the Inuit as well, which explains why both groups were included in the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement. Despite the fact that many of its provisions continue to be contested, the JBNQ agreement constitutes the current administrative framework in these territories. See R. Mainville, "Visions divergentes sur la comprehension de la convention de la Baie James et du Nord quebecois." Recherches amerindiennes au Quebec Vol. 23.1 (1993), pp. 69-79; L.-E. Hamelin, "L'entierete du Quebec: le cas du Nord." Cahiers de geographie du Quebec Vol. 42.115 (1998), pp. 95-110; B. Diamond, "Villages of the Dammed: the James Bay Agreement leaves a trail of broken promises." Arctic Circle (1990), pp. 24-34. 6 6 This quote is taken from what appears to be the text of a public address found in the Brochu collection at the Centre de recherche Lionel-Groulx. To his credit, Brochu was adamant about the fact that Inuit children had to be taught in their own language. For more details concerning Brochu's perspective on Nouveau-Quebec, see his book Le Defi du Nouveau-Quebec (Montr6al: Editions du Jour, 1962). The old appellation "Eskimo" appearing in Brochu's documents has since been replaced in Canada by the term "Inuit." 6 7 See M. Brochu, "Le nouvel axe", opus cited. 196. university colleagues to make donations to the Order of Northern Conquerors during their fund-raising campaign. This link between Brochu and the Northern Conquerors is significant as it brings together within a single sphere two ways of imagining the North usually viewed as mutually exclusive: i.e. the epic narrative which is supposedly superseded by the scientific rationality of planning. In mobilizing his academic resources to publicize the cause, Brochu entered, as it were, into the fold of the epic territorial narrative that propelled the James Bay penetration road. While the tools he called upon were those of the modern state apparatus, he also appealed to the symbolic - which I have also called mythico-poetic - order of the nation to tighten the bond between people, resources and territory. In an interview where he discussed the necessity of annexing coastal islands of the Hudson and James Bay to the territory of Quebec, his gaze on the landscape seemed to fuse together governmentality and national destiny: "If only two deputies wanted to take care of it, this anomaly would be corrected. In front of me, mobile and convincing features unfurl the epic movie of Nouveau-Quebec."6 8 In this single phrase both writing (epic) and spectacle (movie) are brought together as channels of the new governmentality that was to be expanded in the region. 68 M. Vadeboncoeur, "Le geographe Brochu s'inquiete de l'avenir de ces iles riches en petrole et en minerais." La Patrie (November 1967), p. 18. The latter part of the quote cannot easily be translated: 'Devant moi, un facies mobile, convaincant me fait voir le film de l'Epopee du Nouveau-Quebec' Brochu wrote extensively on the territorial limits of Quebec in the Hudson and James Bay where tidal ranges can be several kilometers long, thus exposing islands that, he argued, should be within Quebec's jurisdiction. In his view, the reluctance of the federal government to cede these islands to the province was a potential threat to its territorial sovereignty. See M. Brochu, Les iles littorales et du large du Nouveau-Quebec (Montreal: Conseil de 1 a Vie Francaise et Societe Saint-Jean-Baptiste, 1967); "Les anomalies des frontieres naturelles et politiques du Nouveau-Quebec." Relations (February 1962), pp. 35-36. 197. A father's attention This merging of territorial rationality and symbolic narrative is precisely what Bourassa accomplished so well in leading the province through his projet du siecle; my analysis shows that such a process is predicated on the production of cultural landscapes. The Premier's development scheme deployed new state institutions throughout the territory at the same time as it redefined the parameters whereby the people of Quebec could identify - or not, as the Cree's own ways of seeing attest - as national subjects. These parameters were enlivened by a sense of place that was both novel and familiar as it reiterated an ^old narrative in a new geography. Poised to expand and give a more definite shape to some of the state structures that had emerged with the Quiet Revolution, Bourassa's leadership is a rich example of what Michel Foucault has identified as a shift, in seventeenth and eighteenth century Europe, toward the "governmentalising of the State."69 Foucault regards this emerging governmentality as an "economic" turn in the art of governing whereby politics is no longer about maintaining the sovereignty of the Prince over his territory but about organizing the relations between "men and things" in an effort to foster wealth and well-being from within. Reviewing a body of post-Machiavellian literature, Foucault states that: The art of government, as becomes apparent in this literature, is essentially concerned with answering the question of how to introduce economy - that is to say, the correct manner of managing individuals, goods and wealth within the family 6 9 See C. Gordon, "Governmental Rationality: an introduction." G. Burchell et. al., eds., The Foucault Effect: studies in governmentality (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1991), pp. 1-51. 198. (which a good father is expected to do in relation to his wife, children and servants) and of making the family fortunes prosper - how to introduce this meticulous attention of the father towards his family into the management of the state.70 Although Foucault never commented on it, the patriarchal underpinnings of governmentality appear in their crudest light in this image of the family as a model of government. This is a sharp point of entry for starting to conceptualize the gendered nature of the state, especially since it is precisely in this transition from sovereign power to governmentality that Foucault sees the entrance of "biopower" in the political sphere.71 So far in this Act, I have emphasized the racial exclusions - particularly the exclusion of the Cree - effected by the state; yet in different but equally important ways, James Bay and the national community it was meant to bring together was also problematic for women in its enactment of a patriarchal discourse of spatial conquest. The effects of bio-power - how power produces the body through different knowledge regimes - take hold differently depending on how these regimes actualize race, gender and class through the body. Articulated as "how to introduce the meticulous attention of the father toward his family into the management of the state", the question of governmentality becomes more pointedly about the reproduction of patriarchal relations throughout the social body and encompasses the same detached, regulating vision which effects control 70 M. Foucault, "Governmentality." Ibid., p. 92. 7 1 "During the classical period, there was a rapid development of various disciplines -universities, secondary schools, barracks, workshops; there was also the emergence, in the field of political practices and economic observation, of the problems of birthrate, longevity, public health, housing and migration. Hence there was an explosion of numerous and diverse techniques for achieving the subjugation of bodies and the control of populations, marking the beginning of an era of 'bio power.'" The History of Sexuality - Volume I (New York: Random House, 1978), p. 140. 199. over landscape. Gillian Rose has called attention to the power relations that are embedded in landscape, arguing that "visuality is not simple observation but, rather, is a sophisticated ideological device that enacts systematic erasures."72 Envisioned as the "attention of the father", governmentality is not simply a means of maximizing the resources of the state through good government but acts also as a patriarchal visuality that effects the erasure and abstraction of a wide range of subjectivities. In line with Foucault's analysis of power, it is important to note however that these erasures happen through the complex production of "governable subjects", which is also a result of development. In the case of James Bay, the production of these subjects happened to a large extent through the reiteration of the symbolic structure that traditionally defines the Quebecois nation. If the conjunction of poetics and politics I have sought to demonstrate so far is accurate, it would follow that the development structure drawn around James Bay would exhibit some of the gender, race and class erasures contained in Quebec's popular narratives of land and territory. Indeed, in light of the gender content in Foucault's description of governmentality, but also in light of my discussion of how the enjoyment of landscape is reserved to a detached - seemingly male - viewer, it is entirely suiting that Robert Bourassa should have become known since the nineteen-seventies as the "father of James Bay", and memorialized as such next to the escalier de geant.73 72 Rose, Feminism, p. 87. 7 3 Figure 20 shows a picture-montage which stands next to the viewing platform facing the escalier de ge~ant on site at LG2. The montage shows a life-size picture of Bourassa superimposed against the escalier de geant. The proportions have been altered so that the. ex-Premier is not dwarfed but appears himself gigantic next to the spillway. The caption identifies Bourassa as "The father of James Bay" and gives some brief biographical notes about him. 200. Figure 20: Bourassa. Father of James Bay The label is appropriate since the Premier took personal responsibility for the project's success and dedicated most of his political career to steer its way. When he introduced Bill 50 to the Quebec parliament in order to create the planning institutions that would manage the project (SDBJ and SEBJ), he accorded great importance to this motion and viewed it as one of the most important of his administration.7 4 To signify as much, he chose to present the bill on June 23rd 1971, the eve of the Quebecois national holiday known as Saint-Jean-Baptiste. Contrary to his best intentions, the offering was received with a wall of opposition: suspicion arose against his government that the creation of a new management institution simply duplicated the already costly state-owned 7 4 Lacasse, Baie James, p. 68. For details about the creation of the SDBJ and SEBJ, see footnote 13 in "Mise-en-scene." 201. electricity corporation or, worse, that it meant the creation of a parallel government - a state within a state with unchecked authority over Northern Quebec. The fact that, ultimately, the national power company would remain in charge of the dams and their output begged the question as to why a new organization should be created when all the necessary expertise was already in place at Hydro-Quebec. Against these odds, the bill was nevertheless adopted a mere three weeks later on July 14. In an effort to appease the debates that unfolded during this period, Bourassa made various statements at the National Assembly that clearly show how he intended to govern the province and lead this project to a successful end. With a vigor and conviction that had not so far been characteristic of his leadership, he made a plea for his bill: Gouverner c'est prevoir, connaitre et decider. La connaissance que nous avons du dossier, les avis non equivoques des experts et des specialistes, les imperatifs de la relance economique, tout nous incite a commencer sans delai le developpement de la Baie James, pour le progres du Nord-Ouest quebecois et du Quebec tout entier. Cette decision prise, nous aurions pu emprunter, sans grand effort d'imagination, les voies classiques qui s'offraient a nous: confier simplement aux societes existantes des morceaux de developpement... [L]e risque nous a alors paru trop grand d'une dispersion des energies, d'une confusion des taches et d'un manque grave de planification dans l'amenagement d'un territoire aussi vaste que prometteur.7 5 7 5 "To govern is to predict, know and decide. The knowledge that we have of this dossier, the unequivocal advice of experts and specialists, the imperatives of 202. As these words make clear, the James Bay project encompassed much more than the building of dams. In his vision of a global Northern planning agency, Bourassa exhibited a philosophy of government that was concerned first and foremost with the strategic inter-linking of separate elements with a view to maximize their potential. Viewing a territory "as extensive as it is promising", the Premier once again called upon a visual ideology that constructed the space of James Bay as a passive and external entity. Yet, as land disputes with the Cree would abundantly reveal, there is nothing inherently abstract about space, nature or territory and the resources they contain: instead I want to suggest, in light of my discussion of the production of cultural landscapes in the North, that their construction as objects of knowledge for the deployment of power is itself a product of governmentality. Seeing like a national subject I want to conclude this Act and look toward the next one by showing how the processes I have described which script James Bay as a space of development constitute its viewers as the national subjects of a patriarchal and homogenous state. Bruce Braun has addressed this question in his study of "Geology and Governmentality in Late Victorian Canada" where he explores various "histories of seeing" - gathered mostly from early explorers in British Columbia - and how they enabled the production of a economic revival, everything pushes us to begin without delay the development of James Bay, for the progress of the Quebec North-West and of Quebec as a whole. This decision taken, we could have borrowed, without much effort of imagination, the traditional avenues offered to us: to simply entrust pieces of development to existing corporations... [T]he risk seemed too great of a dispersal of energies, confusion of tasks and serious lack of organization in the planning of a territory as extensive as it is promising." Ibid., p. 69. 203. vertical territory in late nineteenth century Canada.76 These representations opened up a space where nature was made visible as a repository of geological resources, and thus rendered available for exploration and/or exploitation. However, this could only be accomplished once members of the population acted as "geological observers", capable of seeing in the landscape its exploitable resources. Therefore, Braun argues, the question of governmentality starts sooner, in the discursive construction of nature and territory as fields of intervention: To Foucault's concept of governmentality must be added the problem of nature's intelligibility. Geology did not simply exist "in" a given territory. Rather, as a set of rules governing what was visible in nature, geology brought a "territory" with its "qualities" into being, and thus opened a space - simultaneously epistemological and geographical - that could be incorporated into forms of political rationality. This is not an idealist argument that discourses like geology produce the world in an ontological sense; it is a much less grandiose argument that what counts as "territory with its qualities" does not precede its construction... [F]or state officials to optimize the use of these newly legible spaces, social and spatial practices needed to be remade, as did citizens.77 Jean Rivard in his emotional address to his mother/nation where he vows to "pull from the ground the resources it harbours" was such a citizen: "remade" - or rather self-made according to the republican ideal - for the 76 B. Braun, "Producing Vertical Territory: geology and governmentality in late Victorian Canada." Ecumene 7.1 (2000), pp. 7-46. 11 Ibid., p. 28. 204. purpose of fulfilling the nation's providential mission. My discussion of how the experience of landscape is qualitatively different for Qu6becois and Cree suggests that the latter would have had to learn to "see" differently to become part of the national community that was performed through development in the North. This, for the Cree, meant more than a simple change of perspective, as Bourassa and many of his supporters assumed, but implied the reworking of a relationship to the land which could alter the terms of their culture and economy, and challenge their ability to derive, reiterate and share cultural meaning from the experience of landscape. Thus, this is a key example that cultural landscapes do not simply memorialize the national past but, in a nation-building context, can also produce the nation's future. They can do so by constituting viewers as national subjects through their performance of popular, or taken for granted, cultural meanings. In that way, cultural landscapes are always simultaneously political landscapes. Therefore, as it propels the emergence of a "modern" state in Quebec where science, engineering and technology form the new vocabulary of national identity, this mission of tapping the resources of James Bay appears surprisingly "non-modern" since it reiterates the past so strongly, especially through the traditional figure of the defricheur. Once again, the scientific rationality that "connects the dots" does not do away with the mythical enframing of the North and the traditional poetics of nature and territoriality but continues to exist side by side with them. The post-1960s Quebecois nation relied heavily on this mythico-poetic framework in order to open up its own space of modernity in the North, and fashion itself as a bridge between past and present. Indeed, how can the nation exist solely 205. in the present - as the supposed "rupture" effected by the Quiet Revolution seems to suggest - when its very condition of existence is its claim to the past, which also anchors a claim to territory and ensures the maintenance of identity? If James Bay became "incorporated into [new] forms of political rationality" through the building of a hydroelectric network, so did the figure of the defricheur and the territorial relationship he embodied, which was also gendered as masculine and racialized as white. What counts as "territory and its qualities" in this knowledge regime is the territory that such a mythical figure dreams of and produces: it should come as no surprise then that there is so little room for difference - all forms of difference - in James Bay and, by extension, in the national community the project was meant to bring together under the sign of modernity. The making of national space along these lines determines which practices will count, or will be allowed to take place in the North. When Bourassa praised the construction workers he met in James Bay as the "almost exact copy of the first defricheurs of the country", he was effectively congratulating them on the appropriateness of their relationship to the land, which could foster the wealth of the state from within. It is that relationship which constitutes the defricheur as a national subject, "making land" - or "making money" - to expand the national territory. The hunting, fishing and trapping practices of the Cree challenge and interrupt the political rationality of cultural landscapes and their production of natural resources as national ones. Although the Cree live in a geographical space called Quebec, they cannot fully be Quebecois unless they too are remade as citizens who can enter into what is envisioned as a "productive" relationship with the contents of national space. The same is true for women or for anyone with a different vision of Quebec's territory and 206. resources. In discussing the staging and scripting of James Bay as a reiteration of a traditionalist discourse of nature and identity, I have wanted to show that it enacted a patriarchal discourse of spatial conquest that sought to erase difference, and thus created highly unequal forms of access to the region. Furthermore, it generated, at the national level, unequal rights of citizenship among the population of Quebec, and most acutely for the Cree inhabitants of James Bay. Transformed into a space of spectacle, the North becomes a screen where the nation - or, at any rate, the nation constituted in highly particular ways - can project its historical becoming and where national subjects can "see themselves as they would like to be"; this provided they can envision James Bay as an appropriate space for their own realization both individually and collectively. The images that lit up a dark arena on the night of the launch were pleasurable to watch on the condition that subjects could project themselves in such a space, thus identifying with the representation of a territory and resources overdetermined by masculine heroism, and by the rational order of capital accounting. Via spectacle, Bourassa invited the population of Qu6bec to share in the enjoyment James Bay procured him as - in every sense of the word - a landscape of power. This power, however, could not be shared by everyone, no more than the wishful imagining of James Bay into an inclusive national landscape could eliminate the geographical structuring that controlled and guided access to its resources, deepening the gap between North and South in the process. The elimination of the body from the space of James Bay amounts to the elimination of these uneven subjective geographies from the frame of representation. As a result, the pleasures afforded by viewing a 207. spectacular wilderness bursting with riches were not freely accessible across Quebec in the name of territorial pride, but contingent on the positionality - both in terms of geography and of subjectivity - of each viewer. In bringing this Act to a closure, Gillian Rose's critique of what she call "the pleasures of landscape" can shed more light on the spectacular politics that surrounded James Bay: The particular dominant gaze constructs access to knowledge of geography as a white bourgeois heterosexual masculine privilege. And this gaze is not only the gaze at the land, although its dynamics are most clearly revealed there: it is also a gaze at what are constituted as objects of knowledge, whether environmental, social, political or cultural."78 In order to belong to "all the Quebecois" as the promoters of hydroelectric development repeatedly claimed it did, the space of James Bay needs to be envisioned less as a spectacular geography and more as the site of complex social relationships that defined its meaning differently - and often in conflict - for those involved. As Rose suggests in her analysis of the masculine gaze, the task of representing other social subjects which, in this case, amounts to representing other possible national identities, necessitates "the rearticulation of traditional space so that it ceases to function primarily as the space of sight for a mastering gaze, but becomes the locus of relationships."7 9 This is not an easy task since the most important agents of the project - the workers who built the dams - were Rose, Feminism, p. 109. Ibid., p. 112. Rose is quoting the work of Griselda Pollock. 208. themselves envisioned as actors or extras in a grandiose film.8 0 For some, the ability to see themselves in the larger James Bay picture was an important step in accepting and becoming part of the project. One worker gives his impression of such a recognition: "One day I was watching television and I saw myself, just like that, at work, then I was taking off my mask. My wife couldn't get over it..."81 This sense of awe and pride could clearly not be felt in the same way by Cree people who, having seen their ability to read the James Bay landscape and pursue their cultural practices in it severely disrupted, could hardly be expected to recognize themselves in it, even when they participated in the project. I want to further pursue these issues and continue to question how the abstracting gaze of development contributed to the fragmentation of the national community throughout the James Bay project by turning to the geography of the work camps, and their contemporary inscription in the landscape. 8 0 The opening lines of an article talking about the project are a good example of this: "Que ressent-on lorsqu'on se retrouve a 137 metres sous terre, dans une salle de machines longue comme cinq terrains de football, excavee dans le granit massif, pour y loger des turbines aux dimensions gigantesques oil les travailleurs s'affairent en silence, tels des figurants d'un film spectaculaire." I "How does it feel to find oneself 137 meters underground, in a machine room that is five football fields long, excavated from solid granite to install turbines of gigantic dimensions where workers busy themselves in silence, like extras in a spectacular movie?" L. Picard, "LG-2: la ou rien n'est a l'echelle humaine." Le Soleil (October 29, 1980). Another example is a brochure produced in 1994 by the SEBJ about a later phase of the project, LG-1. Designed to recall the "magic of spectacle", the document employs every possible sigmfier of theatricality: each section begins with a stylized curtain, the pages are framed by snapshots of workers who represent "the actors", and the table of contents is arranged like the program of a play with sections bearing titles such a s "casting", "main actors", "backstage", "intermission", "closing spectacle", "soldout" and "supplementaires." See La Grande-1, les acteurs (Montreal: Societe d'energie de la Baie James, 1994). 8 1 M. Tremblay, "Timide, Mme Levesque casse la glace." Journal de Montreal, May 2, 1980. 209. PORTFOLIO 4 210. < CI/Vk\ Pour p e n s e r Figure 21: "Developing a [ rational | vision for the future" e n e r g i e ! 2 1 1. 2 1 2. RULES CONSTRUCTION SITES: 1. Members of the personnel must always carry their identification card issued by one of the territory's verification centers and it show each time a security agent demands it. 2. Anyone carrying a false identification card or one that is expired or not valid can be expelled from the work site. 6. Anyone driving a vehicle without having obtained the necessary authorization can be immediately expelled. 10. Members of the personnel must respect security norms at all times and obtain prior authorization when they wish to have access to work sites. 11. It is strictly forbidden to trap, which leads to immediate expulsion from the work site. HOUSING: 1. Male personnel is forbidden to receive female personnel in assigned dorms and vice-versa. 2. Members of the personnel need the written authorization of the housing bureau supervisor to occupy a room. 3. It is strictly forbidden to change rooms without the written authorization of housing bureau supervisors. 4. Any absence from the work site for vacations or any other reason must be submitted in writing to the housing bureau. Employees temporarily leaving the work site must hand in all their personal belongings to their respective employers. 7. It is forbidden to modify the temperature set on thermostats. 9. Any non-authorized modification made in a room will be immediately corrected and the ensuing cost will the charged to the occupant or occupants of the said room. 10. It is strictly forbidden to prepare meals in the rooms. 11. It is strictly forbidden to keep animals in the rooms. 12. For hygienic reasons, it is strictly forbidden to wash clothes, or one's feet, in the sinks. 13. It is strictly forbidden to smoke in bed, this under threat of immediate expulsion. RULES FOR WOMEN: 1. Female personnel is forbidden to receive visits from male personnel in their assigned dorms. 2. Female personnel can have access to all community centers except the tavern. 3. Female personnel is in charge of maintenance in their assigned rooms. This excludes floor cleaning. * Translated from an SDBJ workers handbook. 213. Figure 23: Worker as "Hydro-Quebecois" Figure 24: Under the gaze 2 15. ACT 3 BUILDING WATER: A GEOGRAPHY OF "THE PEOPLE" La Jamesie, c'est une terre neuve, riche de promesses, une terre a decouvrir, a valoriser, a aimer. Le Jamesien, c'est aussi Vetre neuf, entreprenant, volontaire; c'est celui qui met tout son talent au service d'un coin de terre desheritee, pour developper, bdtir, creer, afin d'agrandir le Quebec de demain. Jamesiens, nous le sommes tous, par notre action commune, notre volonte quotidienne, tournees vers le devenir des terres nordiques. Amis Jamesiens, a nous de relever le gantl Le Jamisien (SDBJ newsletter), April 1981, p. 3. Le plus difficile c'est de dependre constamment de I'employeur et de constater son omnipresence. L'employe, travailleur ou cadre, tout qu'il a, il le doit a I'employeur. C'est la voiture de I'employeur, la cuisine de I'employeur, les loisirs de I'employeur, la roulotte de I'employeur, il est tout le temps present. L'employe doit constamment fonctionner selon les regies de I'employeur, il ne peut pas se retrouver chez lui avec ses propres regies. II ne peux jamais dire: ce soir, je prends ma voiture et je m'en vais a telle place. Evidemment, ou est-ce que tu peux aller? Roger Lacasse, La Baie James, p. 270. 1 "Jamesia is a new land, full of promises, a land to discover, to valorise, to love. The Jamesian is also a new individual, enterprising, determined; one who commits all o f his talent to the service of an underprivileged piece of land, to develop, build, create in order to enlarge tomorrow's Quebec. Jamesians we all are through our common action, our daily willpower, heads turned toward the future of northern lands. Jamesian friends, let us accept the challenge!" 2 "The hardest part is to constantly depend from the employer and to become aware o f his ubiquitous presence. The employee, labourer or executive, owes everything he has to the employer. It is the employer's car, the employer's kitchen, the employer's leisure, the employer's trailer, he is always present. The employee must always function according to the rules of the employer, he cannot find himself at home with his own rules. He can never say: tonight, I am taking my car and I am going to such and such a place. Obviously, where can you go?" 216. During the initial phase of construction, the region administered by the SDBJ was a territory within the territory of Quebec with its own private roads, checkpoints and regulations. The workers' mobility was extremely limited within and beyond work sites and they experienced a further tightening of security measures following a rioting episode in 1974 caused by a disagreement between labour unions. Extensive vandalism took place with the result that the LG2 construction site had to be closed during that year for the better part of April.1 Upon their return, workers found that verification centers had multiplied around the work camps as well as across the broader territory. Individuals had to wear their identification badge at all times or be ready to show it upon request. These procedures, however, were not the expression of a new regime so much as an added degree of surveillance in an environment that was crisscrossed with regulations from the moment of its creation. The geometrical layout of buildings, the imposition of a strict schedule for waking up, eating, working, resting, the general ordering of time and space, all these elements contributed to militarize the work camp and were experienced by a large number of employees as the disciplining of their private lives: "Tu vis dans un cercle ferme et tu es toujours dans 1 For details on these events, see A. Bolduc and D. Latouche, Quebec: un siecle d' ilectricite, op. cited, pp. 363-370. 217. les regies et meme sous la surveillance de l'employeur."2 Some went as far as to compare these camps to a prison: since work was on a contractual basis, one would enter the SDBJ territory only to come out at the end of a pre-determined time.3 This sense of restriction was felt immediately at the airport, which was the first contact workers had with their new environment: "L'aerogare permet aussi de faire connaissance avec l'autorite, avec la reglementation, avec la hierarchie sociale et de ressentir pour la premiere fois qu'on s'est immisce dans un territoire prive qui a ses lois propres et auxquelles il faut se soumettre."4 Standing in sharp contrast against the heroic enframing of James Bay with its repeated references to freedom, mobility and the conquering of open spaces, this description of the policing of the workers' movements highlights the disciplinary structure their lives became intertwined with once they started working for the project of the century. Whereas the mythico-poetic discourse that was frequently adopted to promote the project emphasized the unbridled freedom of discoverers, the free access to untapped resources, and the courageous conquest of land, labourers in James Bay encountered a highly organized space, surveyed, cut up and in no way directly accessible to them outside the channels created and controlled by the development corporation. Part of this disciplining had to do with the difficulty of creating means of access to a region removed from urban centers without 2 "You live in a closed circle and you are always within the rules and even under the surveillance of the employer." Lacasse, La Baie James, p. 270. 3 Ibid., p. 266. 4 "The airport also allows one to get acquainted with authority, with regulation, with social hierarchy and to feel for the first time that one has penetrated into a private territory which has its own rules and to which one must submit himself." Ibid., p. 260. 218. establishing significant modes of collaboration with its local population. Such discipline was also necessary to the deployment of a new governmentality in the North, one that would concern itself as much with national subject as with resources and territory. In that regard, the space of the LG2 work camp was another segment of the visual ideology I have explored in the previous Act; one where the gaze could contemplate a landscape that was more conspicuously social than the spectacular nature of aerial photos, and yet no less carefully scripted. If the camp itself was a regulatory space, I want to suggest that its discipline was enacted less through rules and surveillance - although they did matter - than through the larger territorial discourse it reiterated and gave physical expression to. Indeed, with the deployment of a planning and administrative structure in James Bay, non-natives could enter into an organized relationship with a newly expanded national territory. The legitimacy of this access acquired the force of truth through an imagined geography of the North envisioning it as the natural extension - both geographically and historically - of a Queb6cois territorial becoming. In addition, this legitimacy was reinforced by treating labour as the performance of a national duty and, as it follows, of national identity. Like Euchariste Moisan, Maria Chapdelaine, or Jean Rivard, those who went up to James Bay were imagined to be irresistibly attracted to work the land and to the challenge of transforming it to serve their country. Speaking about the workers, Bourassa remarked: "Les Quebecois n'ont jamais et6 aussi proches les uns des autres, aussi typiques, dirais-je, de leur vitalite historique qui les a fait s'accrocher a leur terre, a leur sol avec une determination et une obstination exemplaires."5 The 5 "Quebecois people have never been closer to each other, never so typical, I would say, of the historic vitality that has made them cling to the land, to their soil, with 219. moral values and geographical imagination the figures of the roman de la terre symbolize - along with the larger social context they emerged from -constituted a central point of reference for creating dominant subject positions in James Bay, and for producing positive meaning around the construction site. If "the production of governable subjects is also an aspect of development",6 the building of a power network in Northern Quebec can be said to have enabled the production of "national" subjects through the staging, in that space, of what it meant to be Quebecois. Work camps became primary sites for the performance of such an identity as they organized and deployed a workforce that would remake the space of James Bay: "A la pointe des travaux, 18000 personnes s'acharnaient ici a resculpter le paysage."7 Much like in the pages of the roman de la terre, what it meant to be Queb6cois in James Bay was strongly determined by the terms of its nature, although these terms had now been recontextualized via the exploitation of its most abundant resource, which is water. These complex processes are captured in a slogan that was used by Hydro-Quebec in a publicity campaign launched during the building of LG2: "Nous sommes des Hydro-Quebecois" ("We are Hydro-Quebecers"). The expression was meant to inspire pride; pride in dominating the natural environment, in the technical feat of building an extensive energy network in a remote region, but pride mostly in accomplishing all of this in French.8 such exemplary and obstinate determination." Bourassa, La Baie James, p. 131. 6 See M. Watts, "Development." R. J. Johnston et al., eds., The Dictionary of Human Geography (Oxford: Blackwell, 2000), pp. 166-171. 7 "At the peak of construction activity, 18000 people were struggling here to re-sculpt the landscape." P. Turgeon, La Radissonie, op. cited, p. 17. 8 I am grateful to Andre Bolduc for helping me trace this expression to the original publicity campaign and for sharing his thoughts on its impact in the context of the time. 220. The conjunction of these two terms - one referring to a natural resource (water as hydro power) and the other to identity (Quebecois) - brings nature and nation together into a single signifier. This conflation, I suggest, is reminiscent of the roman de la terre's effort to naturalize national belonging by portraying characters whose core essence is indistinguishable from their natural environment.9 I have insisted that, while rural nature is scripted differently than the nature of development, some meanings remain consistent and cannot be allowed to slip from view by positing a radical break between the "traditionalism" of the past and the "modernity" of the present. Rather than such a break, what we see at work in James Bay could be understood as a repeated and gradual recontextualization of the past into the present as a way to preserve the nation's dominant cultural meanings, while still projecting its becoming into the future. The expression "Hydro-Quebecois" is a key example of the persistence of the old nature/identity discourse in Quebec right the way through the very icon of progress which Hydro-Quebec represents, and the space of modernity this icon sought to create, which is James Bay. Furthermore, the governmentality of the state is fully expressed through this conflation since to be a "Hydro-Quebecois" is to take pride in a culture, but also to lay claim to its territory and resources. To be a Hydro-Quebecois is to be, like Jean Rivard, a defricheur, a citizen "remade" to see in the landscape nature's exploitable resources, to see water as electricity, profit and national possession. More than the barracks-style buildings of the work camps and the rules that monitored access and conduct in them, this way * This conflation is still central to Hydro-Qu6bec's marketing strategy. A recent ad in a well-known Quebec bi-weekly magazine displayed the following slogan: "L'electricite est dans notre nature" / "Electricity is in our nature." See L'Actualite, Septembre 15, 2001, p. 109. 221. of seeing was the discipline that mattered if James Bay was to be successfully integrated into Quebec's national territory. Indeed, following the Quiet Revolution the Quebecois state secured and expanded itself through means much less dramatic than Foucault's barracks and panopticon yet equally effective. The access to James Bay resources was enacted through the population by delimiting a new space of development for the nation, a process that effectively brought people and land together into a new social landscape. By c