The Îles de la Madeleine belong to Québec, despite being twice as close to Cape BretonIsland as they are to the Gaspé Peninsula. The hook-shaped archipelago sits atop huge salt domes and is made up of a dozen islands, half of which are joined to each other by narrow spits of sand dunes. It is Québec’s smallest historical region, located amid the richest fishing grounds of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Harvesting of marine resources has marked its entire history. The archipelago had no permanent settlements before the Conquest. Acadians uprooted by the Grand Dérangement of 1755 provided most of its initial settlers, soon to be followed by a few families of English, Irish, and Scottish origins. Today, islanders with names like Cormier, Boudreau, Arseneau, Thériault, Vigneau, Lapierre, Clark, and Dickson welcome a growing stream of visitors who come to discover the splendours of the land and sea. Visitors would do well to learn the tale of the Madelinots’ seven or eight generations on the archipelago, a tale told by this brief history.
This brief history is a summary of Histoire des Îles-de-la-Madeleine, which was published in 2003 and which required the financial participation of a great many Madelinots and their assistance during research for the book. The authors were able to appreciate the Madelinots’ richly deserved reputation for hospitality. I also wish to thank Paul Larocque, history professor at the Université du Québec à Rimouski and co-author of the book, who proved to be both an invaluable researcher and an efficient associate. J.-C.F.