At the end of the book about the life of Jeanne that I published in November, 2016, I made two promises. The first was to continue my research on her life and that of her three husbands in order to fill in the holes of information and to resolve the remaining mysteries. The second, to tell the stories of the numerous extraordinary adventures I have had and the very impressive number of remarkable persons I had met during my research. I had hoped to include the answers to the remaining questions, the resolution of the mysteries and the anecdotes in my next book on Jeanne.
As to the first promise, I must say that I have not accomplished a great deal. At the beginning of April, in 2015, I had returned to France to try to find answers to three pages of questions. The most important of these questions at that time included the following:
- What did Jeanne do during the first 28 years of her life in France? When did she become an orphan? How and why did she move to Dieppe? Why did she leave France?
- Why, how and when did her first husband, Guillaume Lecanteur, arrive in Québec? What was his life like before he married Jeanne?
- Who was Jean-Baptiste Deschamps de la Bouteillerie, her third husband, and what sort of family did he come from in France?
Despite the lack of responses to these questions even after more searching, I published Jeanne’s story with the promise to continue my research. As of this moment, after several more years of research on these questions and others since the publication of my book, I have only run into frustrating dead-ends and I am not, unfortunately, really any closer to responding to the questions.
With regard to the second promise to describe my marvelous experiences, I must say that I am, fortunately, in the process of writing about them, although progress has been slow. There have been many distractions, most pleasant and unexpected. After the publication of my book, for example, I have received numerous emails from readers of my book, often descendants of Jeanne. The main themes of these comments have been the joy of learning about the history of their ancestor; the recognition of the important contribution of women in the development of New France; the confirmation of their research on their own family tree; and the increase in pride for their Québécois heritage.
In addition to this feedback, I have had other experiences, sometimes even more enjoyable: meetings with Levesque family members during their visits to return to their French roots; the Levesque family reunion in Rivière-Ouelle during the summer of 2018; the start to a number of new activities in Dieppe; and, best of all, the wonderful friendship of new and old friends.
In addition to enjoying unforgettable experiences, I am realizing that:
- This voyage to discover the history of Jeanne has taken and will continue to take longer that I first expected;
- It is quite possible that I will never find answers to all my questions; and
- It is also possible that the real reason for this search for Jeanne’s story is not so much its discovery, but rather the addition of more joy and fun to my life!
In the midst of relishing all of these most remarkable moments and memories and in spite of numerous frustrations and challenges, I am persevering in my research. Besides, the 350th anniversary of the founding of Rivière-Ouelle by Jean-Baptiste Francois Deschamps de la Bouteillerie will take place in the summer of 2022 and I have been asked to find more information about Jean-Baptiste’s life in France!