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MICHIGAN CHAPTER 15

The Old French Habitants and their Ways

The French people were quite moral and correct in their habits. The wild and reckless coureurs de bois had a fondness for ardent spirits in common with their Indian friends. They were also dissolute and addicted to a plurality of wives. But the peasants who lived quietly on their farms could not be charged with any such disregard of the moral code. They drank, upon occasion, as was the Universal custom of the time, but rarely did one become besotted. The long summer evenings were spent in the open air. Canoeing upon the river was naturally a favorite pastime. Gallantry toward ladies has always been a French characteristic, as have social festivities generally. So, young men and maidens were likely to be found in each other's company either upon the river or upon the lawns. Barbecues were a form of recreation in which the elders indulged themselves. The open-air roast furnished a hearty feast, washed down with generous potations of homemade wine or cider. Even in modern times, the old-fashioned barbecue has been a notable feature of social festivities and not infrequently has it helped to draw out a crowd to listen to the orations on political occasions.
In winter when the little settlement was completely shut in from the outside world and compelled to rely solely upon itself, life was by no means stagnant. There was nothing to do but to seek pleasure. Balls and parties made up the whole round. It is said that every house held a fiddle and some one who could manipulate it. The word had only to be passed as to the rallying point and there the crowd was sure to be found and dancing was kept up from dark to dawn. Up near the mouth of Connor's creek was a large marsh called the Grand Marais.

MICHIGAN


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