Dave Duncan

"Eat Well, Stay Fit, Die Anyway"

A Little Bit of Canadian History… Maybe

In 1671, the region formerly known as Lower Canada (now most of the province of Quebec) was in the midst of a crisis of seemingly Biblical proportions. While the pioneering habitants were struggling to eke a living out of the rocky soil of the eastern Canadas, they were hounded at every turn by what they called “Les Poulets Geants”, or giant chickens.

Les Poulets Geants

Understandably, this made their difficult lives almost unbearable and they searched out every solution. They laid traps in the bush, bred special hunting dogs and built humongous chicken coops, but all to no avail. Huge bounties resulted in professional giant chicken hunters emigrating by the hundreds from mainland Europe, but the hearty and wily Lower Canadian Giant Chicken proved too much for them and eventually all of them either moved onto the plains of Western Canada (to hunt the Giant Prairie Dog) or back to Europe (to hunt the less intimidating European Giant Chicken).

In frustration, the King of France had given up hope and was prepared to give up on the colony in the New World when a monk from the tiny community of Ouaouaron (in modern day western Quebec) began a quest. After reading about how St.Patrick drove all the snakes from Ireland, this monk (a priest named Hubert) made it his holy quest to drive the Poulets Geants from the fields, meadows and forests of Lower Canada. By 1692 there was no trace of the chickens anywhere, and although no one knows where they all ended up, the farmers and townspeople in the area at the time mysteriously all gained quite a bit of weight and took a lot of naps.

In return for his act of service to his people, Hubert was showered with gifts and accolades, but refused them all. All he asked in return was that anyone who felt he had helped them would give back to those in need in their community… specifically feeding the hungry and poor. He suggested giving them ‘Salade de Chou’ (a vinegary coleslaw) and a soft flat bun… just enough to keep them alive and strong, but not tasty enough to make them dependent on hand-outs. He was a social crusader way ahead of his time.

In recognition of his miracle, Hubert was beatified by the Vatican in 1743 and made the patron saint of Quebec Poultry farmers. To this day, he is honoured and revered in communities all over Quebec and his likeness can be seen from Pembroke to the Gaspe… his signature coiff of red hair, his big grin from under his yellow beard, and his finger extended in holy blessing toward all the people of Quebec.

Long live the memory of St. Hubert!*

st-hubert.jpg

*For more information on St.Hubert, please consult your local library.

3 comments

3 Comments so far

  1. Andrew September 26th, 2006 12:15 pm

    you lost me at ‘A little bit of Canadian history’

  2. Brad September 26th, 2006 2:25 pm

    I love St. Hubert.

  3. Chris H September 28th, 2006 2:00 pm

    too bad Swiss Chalet kicked his butt out of Ontario!