Tuesday, August 18, 2009


Have you ever wondered about La Sagouine? What is she all about? Well La Sagouine is a novel written by Antonine Maillet a great writer. The novel was inspired by a real person named Sarah Cormier. In the book, La Sagouine was born in Kent County New Brunswick and a daughter of Pit who was a son of Boy who was a son of Thomas Picote. She was a poor uneducated woman struggling to raise a large family during the Depression.She was a beautiful woman in her younger days and times were hard she became a prostitute. Later she married her cousin Gapi. She married him twice, once protestant and then again Catholic (hey Mom and Dad did that too grin). La Sagouine and Gapi had twelve children and nine of them died during the Depression. For the rest of her life La Sagouine became a scrubwoman. The book itself is a collection of monologues. Here are a few of them.

"Us,we aint educated, "n we don't talk fancy... The priest him, when he preaches, he talks like the doctor's missus throwing out sum big words dat he can turn into a mean sentence. They call that Litterature? Us we aint never seen a speech of litterature in all our lives. We talk with the words we have in our mouths enn we don't go too far to find them. We got em from our fathers that got em from der forefathers. From mouth to ear you could say.(by Hans Runte).

Next about the Depression; " Why yes during the depression times had gotten so bad dat a person could not sink no lower. But when time gets dat low they decide to do something not to let us die. During the Depression for example they invented Soup. From dat time on,things started to get better for us. Every month we had our sack of flour,jug of molasses n sometimes even buckwheat to make pancakes. The Depression saved us from downright poverty.

Who is the actress who plays La Sagouine? Well her name is Viola Leger.She was born in Fitchburg in 1929.She was teacher and later she met Antonine Maillet and became friends. Viola Leger went to Boston to learn to teach theater, then a year later she moved to Paris to study to become an actress at the Jacques LeCoq school. While she was in Paris she received a call from her friend Antonine the author of La Sagouine asking her if she would consider playing the leading role in the play, so Viola returned home. She played La Sagouine over and over again all over the country, by the year 2003 she had played over 2000 times in French and in English. Viola Leger also acted in other plays such as The Smugglers,The Bourgeois Gentleman,Evangeline Deusee, The Racket,Harold and Maude and many more. In 1978 she was given the honor of Chevalier de L'Ordre de la Pleiade, in 1989 she was awarded the Officer of the Order of Canada for her servide to Canadian French Drama and in 2001 she was appointed Canadian Senate by Jean Chretien and she served until 2005. She is a great lady of the performing arts in Canada. And when we attened the Leger/Trahan reunion at the CMA2009, she was there and I had the honor of having my photo taken with her.
I hope you have enjoyed today's blog and if you are ever in Bouctouche New Brunswick be sure to check out Le Pays de La Sagouine and maybe, just maybe you will see a great lady on stage. Thanks for the visit ,do stop by again.


Lori E said...

Boy we whine a lot nowadays don't we.

alineskee said...

Yes Lori, if only we would stop and realize how very lucky we are.
I remember my mother-in-law once telling me that during the Depression they used to pick oysters and she would go door to door to sell them. Times were hard back then. Mom has food ration books from back then, she gave me mine.