Mauricie’s Anglophone History Podcast Breaks Stereotypes

Ruby Pratka
local journalism
Initiative Journalist
[email protected]

Julie Miller and François Roy give voice to an unknown chapter in the history of Drummondville and Trois-Rivières. Their English-language podcast, From Burton to Barton, takes listeners on a 25-episode journey through the history of English-speaking communities in the region, with detours to Serbia and Sudan.

Miller, originally from Trois-Rivières, is the culture and heritage coordinator at the Center for Access to Services in English, which serves the Mauricie–Centre-du-Québec region. Roy is a local historian and writer and former director of communications for the City of Trois-Rivières.

“I knew a little about the history of the English-speaking communities in the region growing up and the pulp and paper industry in this part of Quebec, but what I did know was the history of the English managers who came from elsewhere. and tensions with the French-speaking working class. It’s one aspect, but there are so many other stories,” Miller said.

Miller, who previously worked in community radio, had the idea for the podcast to introduce English speakers in the region to their own history and to present a vision of the history of English-speaking Quebec that goes beyond the arrival Loyalists and later the “rich”. Stereotype of the English boss. The title of the series, From Burton to Barton, refers to Ralph Burton, appointed as the first military governor of Trois-Rivières in 1760, and Brian Barton, a social justice activist and sports entertainer of British origin who made his home in Mauricie from 1971 to his death in 2015.

She also sought to ensure that the stories of women, people of color, religious minorities and gender non-conforming people were told in the podcast. Elizabeth Wilkinson, a forward-thinking entrepreneur turned lordess of Yamachiche; Ezekiel Hart, a Jewish politician who joined the Patriot Rebellion to fight for equal rights for religious minorities; and Roy Partlow, a black American baseball player who played on an integrated minor league team in the 1940s, are just a few of the characters listeners will encounter.

One story that particularly fascinated Miller as she put together the podcast was that of Leslie Joy Whitehead, also known as Jo Whitehead, who was born into a wealthy English-speaking family in 1895 and grew up in Trois-Rivières. Never one to conform to gender stereotypes, she became an expert marksman and canoeist, and spent her teenage years hunting and trapping alone in the woods around Val-Morin in the Laurentians.

Leslie Joy Whitehead, born into a wealthy English-speaking family in Trois-Rivières, served in the Serbian army during World War I in 1915. (Wikimedia Commons, public domain)

When World War I broke out, Whitehead wanted to volunteer on the front lines – as a soldier. As the British Empire did not accept women in combat positions at the time, Whitehead enlisted in the Serbian army and assumed a male identity. She was taken prisoner, survived, married and had children with a Serbian soldier and lived out her final years as a rancher in British Columbia. Her story was later discovered by chance by an English historian, Natasha Stoyce, who was researching female medical personnel during the First World War.

“She did all of this at a time when women’s roles were very prescribed,” Miller said. “She was ahead of her time in many ways. Although the term “non-binary” didn’t exist in her day, she would probably be best described as androgynous.

“The idea of ​​moving beyond the seamless underpins the whole podcast — the story is full of nuance,” Miller said. “These immutable ideas that we have of what it was like in the past don’t always reflect reality.”

From Burton to Barton is available on Apple Podcast, Google Podcasts and Spotify.