Monday, June 11, 2012

Book Notes: Vaugeois on the Harts

Robin Philpot at Montreal's Baraka Books sent me the newly translated (by Kathe Roth) book by Denis Vaugeois, The First Jews in North America: The Extraordinary Story of the Hart Family.  The French original, previously published, has just won the Canadian Jewish Book Award.

The Harts are first at least in the sense of "premier, most prominent."  Aaron Hart arrived in Montreal with the British invasion armies, stayed on at Trois-Rivières, became a merchant and a seigneur, and founded a dynasty that gave Canada, among other things, the first Jews elected to a Canadian legislature, and the NHL's Hart Trophy. Aaron aspired to found a great family, and did in ways he may not have intended.  One source reports his son Moses had a hundred children, four of them legitimate.

Full disclosure: Denis Vaugeois once gave me an American "Sacawegea" silver dollar. On the coin, Sacawegea, famous for guiding Lewis and Clark to the Pacific, is shown with a papoose on her back, and there is the tiny head of her son by the voyageur Jean-Baptiste Charbonneau.  The only Quebeçois on the American currency, he told me. I have it still somewhere.
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