Story Synopsis

In 1894 when Alphonsine Pelletier was sixteen, she and her seventeen-year-old sister Albertine left the family farm in the Eastern Townships, Québec to work in a textile mill in Lewiston, Maine.

There she met her future husband, fellow Québecois Pierre, and fell pregnant. They raced home, got married, pooled their mill earnings to buy a farm and started their lives together at the ages of seventeen and eighteen. They had thirteen surviving children.

Alphonsine was close friends with First Nations who lived nearby and they taught her their medicine and midwifery.

In his mid-thirties, Pierre died of pneumonia contracted working in a logging camp in New England. A few years later, Alphonsine remarried to make sure her children were looked after.

While her husband was away on business, she started a restaurant in her dining room. The two daughters she still had at home helped her. One of them, Florence, fell for one of her customers, Edmond. And it was a shotgun wedding. Again.

Florence and Edmond had three daughters: Carmelle, Lorraine and Madeleine. Madeleine was Sarah Jansen’s grandmother. Sarah is writing these stories.