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An Island Childhood

Black and white photograph showing the parents of François-Xavier Lachance, their 13 children and their dog. All look at the camera, sitting or standing in front of a woodlot.

The Lachance family on Île au Canot circa 1898; François-Xavier is on the lap of his father.

François-Xavier Lachance, a master shipwright who specialized in building wooden pleasure craft, was born on Île au Canot on August 27, 1897.

His family was the third generation of Lachances to live alone on the island that measured only 4 km long by less than 1 km wide. Île au Canot is just off Isle-aux-Grues, between Montmagny and Cap-Saint-Ignace, in the St. Lawrence Estuary.

Old map drawn by hand, in shades of beige. The islands and the banks are very detailed. The inscriptions are in English.

Île au Canot lies east of Île d’Orléans on the St. Lawrence.

François-Xavier was one of the youngest (the fourteenth) in a family of 16 children. The Lachance family was virtually self-sufficient, making a living on the island by fishing, hunting, raising animals, and farming.

Life on Île au Canot Listen to the audio clip with its transcript

In order to get around and to trade with others, the Lachance family of Île au Canot built their own boats. They regularly travelled by water to Québec City, neighbouring islands, and the north and south shores of the St. Lawrence, keeping alive the traditions and know-how of their ancestors who had settled on Île d’Orléans midway through the 17th century.

Black and white photograph where three men push a rowboat on the snowy shore. The boat is tied behind a sledge pulled by a horse on which stands a coachman. In the background are a building and three sailboats on the shore.

Boats used by the Lachance family, early 20th century.