En Avant L’Etoile du Nord

Saturday, July 15 at 1 p.m. at the St. Anthony Main Theatre in Minneapolis MN is the first showing of a new film about the French in what is now Minnesota.

I think you will want to attend.  Ticketing information is here.  The film is in English.

The current trailer should be here.  (If it doesn’t come up, let me know.  It’s been finicky.)

Do pass this message along, especially to those you know in the Minneapolis-St. Paul region.  This will be a single, world premiere, showing.  Director Christine Loys will attend.  This is a one day, one time, 62 minutes presentation, as part of the Lumieres Francaises portion of the MSP Film Festival at the festivals St. Anthony Main theater.  (Link above for tickets and more information.)

En Avant is a history film about the French in Minnesota and area.

Some years ago Director Christine Loys made her first visit to this area from her home in Paris, and was astonished to find all of the French names on streets, lakes, towns, etc.

At the time, she didn’t know the rich history of the French here.  Of course, she wasn’t alone…most Minnesotans haven’t heard much about “L’Heritage Tranquille” – the quiet history of thousands upon thousands of French-descended folks who came here, many of them before the ‘official’ history of Minnesota began with statehood in 1858.  Other places, as Quebec, Louisiana, etc., are better known for their Frenchness.  But Minnesota is not an also-ran.

Christine set about working at filling in the blanks of the history with film, and her project, many years in the making, is now complete, prepared for English speaking and French speaking audiences, here and in France.

As noted, the Minneapolis showing is the world premiere.

Christine Loys has been to Minnesota often in the last dozen or so years.

Her initial acquaintance with Minnesota came as part of support for the Trans-Antarctic expedition of Will Steger, French Dr. Jean-Louis Etienne and other international explorers in 1989-90.

Here is Christine with Will Steger and Jean-Louis in 2009.

Will Steger, Christine Loys, Jean-Louis Etienne, 2009.

In 2013, Christine became one of the founding members of the French-American Heritage Foundation in Minnesota, and in numerous other ways has been involved in activities here.

Come to the film.  Enjoy.

POSTNOTE:  While I was one of those interviewed by Christine early on, about ten years ago, I will actually see the results of her work for the first time on July 15, along with everyone else.  I have no doubt that the film will be very well done.

I have known, for many years, that many Minnesotans, like me,  have some French ancestry…mostly not Voyageurs.  (In my case, I am 50% French-Canadian through my father: one of his four ancestral families – his mothers mother,  was definitely Voyageur based – Blondeau).

The 1980 U.S. Census included an ancestry component, which reported that 7.9% of Minnesotans, 321,087, had French descent (France and Canada).  This would have included myself, and my four children.  Interpolating this to 2023, this number. would now be ten Minnesotans in my own line.

Here’s a graphic of the 1980 data, per the Les Francais d’Amerique/French in America calendar for 1989: pdf of below here: French in U.S. 1980001  (work of Virgil Benoit and Marie-Reine Mikesell, from 1985-2000.)

POSTNOTE: This blog space will probably go dark until after July 15.  Time for a little vacation.  My counter tells me that this is post number 1,932 since March of 2009.  Whew!  Stop back anytime.  The archive will identify back issues, if any.


from Jeff (who hails from the U.P. of Michigan): I see I was incorrect, the states with the highest % of French are VT, NH and then Maine….which all make sense due to the border with PQ.   I see my Michigan falls in with 10% French heritage….I knew many of them, and being close to Ojibwe reservations also alot of indigenous and partly indigenous peoples had French surnames:   Roland, Menard, Antoine, Mortier…etc. I suspect my little town had at least 6-8% French surnames, probably more if you added spousal names.
Un grande histoire!

from Claude: Thanks, Dick! I will probably be there with my brother (you may recall we had a French war bride mother who died in 2017).

from Norm:  I thought that the French were only in Wisconsin in the Somerset area and all of them related to my wife who is 100%! 😊

I an cc’ing  my response to you to Beth L_ whose husband, Paul,  is of French descent as well.

In fact, Paul may well be a distant relative of my wife, Sandy, through some of the many French folks living in Somerset, Wisconsin…on her grandmother’s side aka as her mother’s side.

Small world and all of that.

from Brad: The documentary looks very interesting and full of history.  I often wonder if other families of and around our generation ( like mine) have families that did not talk of their family history.  I always chalked it up to the american melting pot scenario but I think it might be deeper – a yearning to be just American and perhaps forget about the past times of hardship and war.



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