French Canadians in Salem

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The influx of French-Canadians in Salem began on a large scale during the 1860's. Most of these immigrants were farmers, many from Quebec, who came with minimal education. They gravitated towards employment at Pequot Mills. The brick tenements that they lived in nearby were called the "Pointe" district, now known as the Point section in the lower Lafayette Street area.

The records at St. Joseph's Parish indicate 90 families in membership in 1873. By 1889, the congregation numbered some 5,000 persons. By 1931, 1,795 families belonged to the Parish.

Many in the French community spoke French at home, children attended French-speaking Catholic school, French-Canadians immigrants worked together at the textile mills, or leather tanneries, and bought supplies from French-speaking merchants.

An analysis of birth records for 1908-1910 for Salem indicated that about 1/3 of the inhabitants were old Yankee or assimilated Irish, another 1/3 were French Canadians. A rough breakdown of the the remainder indicate 5% Polish, 9% Russian, 3% Italians.

For more on the French Canadians in Salem, see Sainte Anne Church, St. Joseph's Church, Franco-American Institute of Salem, Inc., Richelieu Club and Castle Hill on this wiki.

See Also

Vertical File in Salem Collection - Immigrants to Salem (Ethnic backgrounds and occupation trends)

History of French Canadians in Castle Hill Salem by Anthony V. Salvo

The Franco-Americans of New England: a history by A. Chartier