Hearth and Home
The tumultuous life of Mathieu Rouillard and Jeanne Guillet
A novel by Marcel Pronovost
The novel “Hearth and Home” is based on the true story of the tumultuous life of Mathieu Rouillard, the ancestor of Ovila Pronovost, immortalized in Arlette Cousture’s work “Les Filles de Caleb,” as well as that of his wife Jeanne Guillet.
The whole life of the hero of this story and of his family takes place in the context of the events in New France in the period between 1660 and 1702.
We learn about the earthquake of 1663, the incessant wars between the Iroquois and the inhabitants of the colony, the invasion of the colony by Phipps’ soldiers and the foundation of a new French colony in Louisiana.
The novel tells us of the daily life of a coureur de bois with its highs and lows, and of his contacts with the native peoples and the fur merchants of Québec to whom he becomes desperately indebted. It tells us about the fur trade, without which the colony would not have survived very long, in the face of American expansionism that was already well under way. It also talks about the Church that exercised a preponderant influence on society at that time; but it also shows the rebellious nature of the first inhabitants of what was to become the Québec and the Canada of today.
We also learn about a remarkable woman who raised alone her seven children during her husband’s prolonged absences.
The novel takes a sometimes humorous look at the daily lives of our ancestors.
The majority of the facts related are true, stemming from many years of research in the archives of Québec and the United States.
The current state of the research seems to indicate that Mathieu Rouillard was the first known white man to be buried in the current State of Louisiana, about twenty years before the founding of New Orleans.