Categories: Female Authors - Francophone Authors - Authors of Non-Fiction - North
Fernande Lavoie was born in 1950 in Kedgwick, in northwestern New Brunswick, where she completed her high school education. After spending five years studying to be a teacher at the Université de Moncton, she returned to Kedgwick where she taught middle school for 20 years and high school for 13 years. When she finished her education in 1971, she married Claude Bélanger, and they had two children.
She retired in 2003, and challenged herself to write a tribute to her father, who was a pillar of the economic development of the area fueled by forestry. Her work, entitled Ma vie c’est la forêt, is a moving account of the highlights in the life of a man who had a deep impact on his family, his community, and his region. The book tells about her father’s work and the labour of hundreds of men who worked in the forest between 1920 and 1960.
How has New Brunswick influenced your work?
New Brunswick is known as a province in which the dense forest was the primary source of economic development in the early part of the twentieth century.
Albert Lavoie’s family, like hundreds of others, came to settle in Kedgwick around 1900, attracted by the forestry boom that was in full swing in the region. The availability of farmland and plentiful work in the forest were both important assets for the large families of that era. New Brunswick’s forests were a symbol of economic success.
In writing Ma vie c’est la forêt, I am paying homage to the thousands of men and women who came and settled in the Restigouche region and played a role in the development of our beautiful province.
What do you consider to be the highlight of your career so far?
For 33 years, the two values most important to me were my family and teaching. In my teaching career, I was an educator who was totally and unconditionally dedicated to teaching, educating, and loving hundreds of young teenagers. As much as my father’s life was dedicated to the forest, I was dedicated to teaching. My strength was restoring the confidence of students with learning difficulties and appreciating them.
Writing the story that was close to my heart was the most important major project for me to complete. The publication of my book was satisfying because it rounded out the end of my career and made me feel that I was closing the chapter of this part of my life.
Praise from my publisher, Denis Sonier, when my book was launched: After quickly reading my story, Mr. Sonier did not hesitate to contact me to take on my book. It was published in record time.
When my book was launched, my publisher was full of praise for my work. According to him, it is an invaluable resource as documentation and should even be used as a reference book in some university history courses. Mr. Sonier was impressed by the quality of the photos accompanying the text.
Ma vie c'est la forêt
« Colonisation à Kedgwick »
Nos forêts sont la principale cause du début de la colonisation à Kedgwick. Les nombreuses rivières qui sillonnent notre région sont nos premières routes. C’est grâce à elles que les premiers entrepreneurs viennent s’installer pour exploiter notre région forestière. Dès 1825, les contracteurs Duncan et Boland viennent couper du pin pour la « Royal Navy » d’Angleterre. C’est de là que vient le nom de Boland Brook.
En 1885, les compagnies Shive, Champoux et Richard obtiennent des terres et commencent à couper dans notre région. Ils voyagent sur la rivière pour arriver jusqu’ici. Mon père Louis vient quelquefois ferrer des chevaux aux camps et fait le trajet en canot sur la rivière Restigouche, à partir de St-Alexis, au Québec.