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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Popular culture and public drinking in Eighteenth-Century New France : Louisbourg’s taverns and inns, 1713-1758 Fortin, Marcel A. J.


The history of taverns in eighteenth-century Louisbourg, on Ile Royale (Cape Breton), provides an insight into the culture of the working people of this seaport. The thesis reveals how the cabarets and auberges developed, independently of the government authorities' wishes. Although regarded as a menace to good order and the work ethic, these drinking places were reluctantly tolerated. Taverns provided a unique public and secular meeting place for fishermen, soldiers and workers. There men, often far from their own families, could establish relationships, affirm group loyalties, express themselves and maintain their own culture. Liquor was readily available and drinking could have occurred elsewhere more cheaply, yet people preferred to drink in an auberge or cabaret with companions. This preference indicates that the taverns' social function was more important than the mere satisfaction of thirst or the clients' alleged desire for inebriation. Taverns were a customary institution of eighteenth-century colonial society and their persistence, whatever officials might wish, testifies to the dominance of commercial values at Louisbourg as well as to the lower ranks' attachment to their own customs and culture.

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