Canadian scholars collaborate with WBOC to study French Canadian stone workers

Joseph Bourgeault
Joseph Bourgeault, Minnesota Capitol construction stonecutting supervisor, is one of the French Canadians the joint research project is studying.
Photo from Canadian Who's Who and Why, 1914

Two Canadian historical researchers met with Who Built Our Capitol project director Randy Croce and researcher John Sielaff at the University of Minnesota on March 30 to share information on French Canadian stone artisans who worked on the construction of the Minnesota State Capitol.

Yves Frenette, Francophone migration studies chair at the University of Saint-Boniface in Winnipeg, and John Willis, economic history curator at the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, QC, are collaborating with the WBOC project and the U of M Minnesota Population Center professor Evan Roberts to expand mutual knowledge about the lives of theses immigrant workers.  

The binational team chose to study French Canadian workers in the Twin Cities due to the extensive information discovered and presented on WBOC website.  They are also researching communities in North Dakota and New Hampshire.  The Canadian researchers’ access and familiarity with birth and death records in Canada combined with Minnesota Population Center databases and analytic tools, together with WBOC examination of Minnesota Historical Society city, payroll and other archives are yielding a much richer picture of more than 70 workers the project has identified.  The result will be made public on the website during the next year.