Quebec family reminisces over 74-year-old National Geographic photo

A Quebec family has recently rediscovered a 74-year-old photo of seven siblings, taken at l'Anse-St-Jean and published in a 1939 issue of National Geographic.
A Quebec family has recently rediscovered a 74-year-old photo of seven siblings, taken at l'Anse-St-Jean and published in a 1939 issue of National Geographic. 13:26

A Quebec family has recently rediscovered a 74-year-old photo of seven siblings, taken at l'Anse-St-Jean and published in a 1939 issue of National Geographic.

The colour photo of the five little girls and two little boys sitting on a wooden fence recently re-emerged online though a National Geographic photo blog as part of the magazine's 125th anniversary celebrations.

“One of the ideas we had was to start a tumblr [blog] where we could share archival photos from our entire National Geographic history and basically show what our archives have to offer, and share it in a really accessible way," Janna Dotschkal​, assistant photo editor at National Geographic Magazine, told Quebec AM’s Julia Caron.

Ketsia Houde, the granddaughter of one of the boys, Marc, is originally from L'Anse-Saint-Jean ​— about 300 kilometres northeast of Quebec City — and says she remembers looking at the photo as a child with her siblings.

"It’s kind of funny because he looks like one of the other cousins and me," said Houde.

Houde's grandmother, Odile Lavoie, still lives on the farm where the photo was taken and says she remembers when National Geographic visited the region.

Re-published after 74 years

Two weeks ago, on Nov. 20th, the blog posted a photograph with this simple caption: "Seven siblings sit on a wooden fence in Quebec, Canada, May 1939."

The photo, taken by National Geographic photographer Harrison Howell Walker, was shot in the SaguenayLac-Saint-Jean region and entitled "Gentle Folk Settle Stern Saguenay." 

The caption reads:
“Seven little sit-down strikers bask in the sun on a Split rail fence … These brothers and sisters — Rita, Ligette, Françoise, Vital, Colombe, Marc and Germaine ​— are supposed to be driving the cows home for evening milking. Printing on Germaine's dress indicates the cloth once served as a sugar or flour sack. Behind the young herders, mountains enclosing L'Anse St-Jean slope away to the Saguenay.”

After the photo was shared on the Internet, Houde contacted National Geographic and identified herself and the location of the photo, something Dotschkal says it quite rare.

"I've never had someone contact me and say, 'Hey, this is my relative,'" said Dotschkal.

"She was already familiar with the photograph which I find really incredible." 

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