Canadian Heritage

Historical Vignettes

Oral and Written Traditions: Reflections of a People's Soul

Once upon a time, there was a tiny but very dynamic woman who used to travel across mountains and valleys of Acadie, gathering stories and anecdotes of all kinds, in order to preserve what was left of her beloved cultural heritage. This “Legend Hunter”1 who rummaged through cities, villages and back lands, had a talent for “tracking” exceptional storytellers and transforming their words into writings.

This fervent of stories and legends was none other than Sister Catherine Jolicoeur. At the time of her death, in March of 1997, she left behind several writings, which will be cherished forever. She had become a legendary persona herself, in Acadie and even elsewhere. In 1983 while she was traveling throughout Acadie, someone wrote this about her:

A born storyteller, Catherine Jolicoeur now makes others tell their stories. Since 1975, she's been criss-crossing New Brunswick and its surroundings to gather Acadian legends, whose origins get lost in the night of time. Mindful of preserving her heritage, she gave herself the mission of cataloguing and putting these delicious stories of 'the early times' on paper.2