Valley Talks, a series of biweekly historical lectures by the Museum of Work & Culture, conclude Sunday, March 21 at 1pm on Zoom.
Author David Vermette will present “Fears of Conspiracy: The Reception of French Canadian Immigrants” exploring the experience of the Quebecois upon arriving in New England at the turn-of-the-century. Americans don’t think of Canada as a source of potential terrorists—speaking a foreign tongue, serving a foreign religion, and invading their country. But when nearly a million French-Canadians crossed the border between 1840 and 1930, many seeking work in New England’s burgeoning textile industry, elements in the press, clergy and public sector cast them as foot soldiers in an alleged Roman Catholic plot to subvert the New England states.
This year's series is presented as part of the Rhode Island Historical Society's Taking a Stand in Rhode Island, a yearlong examination of how the people who have called this place home, from the 17th century to the recent past, have identified aspects of society that needed to shift and how they worked to change them.
Vermette is the author of A Distinct Alien Race: The Untold Story of Franco-Americans. He is a researcher and writer originally from Massachusetts.