Moving to Verdun in the 1960s

Moving to Verdun in the 1960s


Meticulous historian and extraordinary storyteller, Jean-Pierre Charland dives into the Quebec of the early 60s in his new series, Maître chez soi. Through the life of the Chevalier family, people from Nicolet who abandoned rural life to settle in Verdun, the writer recounts what many Quebec families experienced in the 1960s: uprooting.

Moving, rural exodus, major changes in mores and romantic relationships, emancipation of women, religious changes: the ingredients are there for a decade of great change.

In 1961, a farmer from Nicolet, Romain Chevalier, was struggling with financial difficulties, like many Quebec farmers of the time. Reluctantly, he decides to sell his farm to move to Verdun. His wife, who dreams only of the “big city”, is happy to leave the countryside.

Romain finds a job as a cleaner at the Hôpital du Christ-Roi in Verdun, for a pittance. His wife Viviane is delighted to be closer to her older brother, the family priest, whom she admires. Their relationship will experience ups and downs since some small changes in the priest's life are to be expected.

The children, Antoine and Marie-Paule, adapt to their new life. Antoine, delighted to finally be able to watch the Ed Sullivan Show on TV, continues his studies. Marie-Paule dreams of becoming a teacher and realizes that she does not leave boys indifferent…

Leaving the countryside 

Jean-Pierre Charland, who grew up in Sainte-Cécile-de-Lévrard, says that Maître chez soiis a bit of the story of his family. “We are six children at home and the six have gone to live in town. The older ones left the house in the early 60s. Me and my younger brother, we left in the early 70s,” he confides in an interview.  

C' was what he calls “the typical scenario”. “We left alone, we arrived in town and we rented a room to look for a job. Me, it was to study. But the scenario was no different: we got off the bus and tried to manage.”

The history of the Chevaliers is typical of that of farmers in the countryside, he explains. “We took about four farms to make one, in the 1960s. In my area, it's typical. There were 80 farms and in 1975, there were to be a maximum of 20 left. Currently, I would be surprised if there were more than 10.”

Jean-Pierre Charland finished high school in Nicolet and had friends who lived in the vicinity of rang Grand-Saint-Esprit, which he describes in the novel.

A “four and a half”

In Homemaker, the writer describes the move of the Chevalier family to Montreal and their installation in a small “four and a half” in Verdun, where Viviane Chevalier's brother is parish priest.

There will be a lot of talk in these volumes about changes in romantic relationships, explains the author. “It was the first generation that had access to the pill. The girl was 17 in 1961 and the boy was 18. When she reached the age to have “steady buddies”, the pill was on the market in Quebec. This is the issue: what do we do before marriage, what do we not do before marriage, and under what conditions do we do it?”

“It's a change in morals. In Quebec, we are going to adopt laws on civil marriage. In 1967, the right to divorce was also granted in Quebec.”

Jean-Pierre Charland points out that characters in his novel await the right to divorce like others await the arrival of the Lord . “It's coming much later than expected.”   

♦ Jean-Pierre Charland holds a doctorate in history and another in didactics.

♦ He is now a retired university professor.

♦ He has published several successful historical series, including Generation 1970, < /strong>The Caron pension and Odile and Xavier.< /strong>

♦ The second book in the series Homemaker will be released on April 5.

♦ Readers will be able to follow the adventures of the characters in Homemaker< /em> in another series, The Knights, coming next year.  


Romain Chevalier was in his big house, behind a wide open window. The auctioneer stood on the gallery. All around him he had placed tools and buckets for sugaring.
“It won't help you in town,” his wife said. You're done wasting your health splitting firewood. There, we will have an oil furnace. Finally, we will have an equal temperature in the house.
— The house… The children will not even have their own room.
The wife, Viviane decided to keep quiet. Her husband's bad mood had been going on for a few weeks already.”