Life in Sainte Perpétue, Canada was very harsh for farms in the spring of 1914. They could barely support the families who owned them. The weather was dry and the soil was poor. Antoinette and Maurice Bedard had talked most of the winter about going to America.
Antoinette had heard from her cousin Paul, who had moved to Laconia, New Hampshire. He wrote about finding work at the Belknap Mill. He could feed his family. The Bedards decided to sell their farm and move to America.
Paul and Angelique were the oldest of their six children. They could take only what would fit in their suitcases. They carefully packed their favorite things.
Paul picked out a small wooden box that his father had made for him on his 13th birthday. It had a flock of geese carved on the top. He packed it with his clothes. He filled the rest of the suitcase with schoolbooks, a slingshot and a baseball.
Angelique put two aprons in her suitcase that Meme, her grandmother, made her last Christmas. The aprons reminded her of Meme. Angelique filled the rest of the suitcase with other clothes, her sewing kit and her favorite doll.
On a cold April morning, the Bedards hired a neighbor to take them to the railroad station in a hay wagon drawn by two horses. The railroad station was in Montreal, 45 miles away. After a 12-hour ride, they would take a train to Laconia.
This story was written by educator, Chris Lewis, with funding from the Institute of Museum & Library Services. It is loosely based on records of the LaPlante family, who moved from Sainte Perpétue to Franklin about 1903. The images are from the Morin Collection, Belknap Mill.