French for friends, English for business
Back in 1745, only French was spoken in New France. By 1820, the situation was very different. After the Conquest of 1760, British people started to arrive and the French and English languages coexisted in some areas. Augustin Cuvillier is a good example of this. Perhaps you know him as Austin Cuvillier?
Mr. Cuvillier was immersed in both the French and English cultures. Born in Québec City in 1779, he grew up in a French family. He went to Montréal in 1794 to study, and then went to work in the auction house of Henry Symes, a wealthy anglophone. For business, Cuvillier worked in English with major merchants. In his personal life, he married a French Canadian, Marie-Claire Perrault.
For him, French was the language used for personal and political relationships, while English was the language of business.
Author: Léon Robichaud
See also – Traces of the past: