Féron, Jean

Jean Féron, pseudonym of Joseph-Marc Lebel, author (b at Brunswick, Maine 4 Mar 1881; d at Park Zenon, Sask 1955). We know relatively little about this author. At the age of one, he arrived in Saint-Louis-de-Kamouraska (Qc) and was raised by his grandfather who made him pursue studies in the fields of business, pharmacy, medicine, law, science, and as a notary. Employed as a government secretary, he quickly discovered that a career as a civil servant did not suit him, so in 1908, he left for Saskatchewan, married, and in 1910, settled on a farm in Arborfield, where he became one of the most important Western pioneer writers.

After the publication of his first work, La revanche d'une race (1918), which appealed to his compatriots' national pride in the tone of the period, he set his pen to the service of the publisher les Éditions Édouard Garant in Montréal, who launched a collection of novels in instalments. Between 1919 and 1944, he published no less than some forty historical narratives (L'aveugle de Saint-Eustache, 1924; Le patriote 1837-1838, 1926; Le siège de Québec, 1926; Le drapeau blanc, 1927; La prise de Montréal, 1928) that dealt with the contemporary issues of linguistic conflict, mixed marriage (La Petite Canadienne, 1931), industrialisation, the exodus of Quebecers to the United States, etc. His success hinged on a delicate balance between glorifying the sentiments of the Metis race and a lively style that easily expanded to intrigue, suspense and dramatic developments. The West in particular boasted about two of his titles. In La Métisse (1923), a tragic encounter between a thoughtless violent Scottish peasant and a defenceless servant, readers imagined the symbol of the young Métis nation oppressed by the English yoke, while with a touch of bitter irony, Dans la terre promise (1986; in collaboration with Jules Lamy), describes the enthusiasm and disillusionment of European colonists disembarking on "Ouestrienne" land. Jean Féron's incredible productivity earned him the nickname "the Alexandre Dumas of Canada".