Gourin and America!!!

So in my road warrior trip I have come into many towns all over the world and especially my belle France. Some have been passing by chance, others well known in advance but this one well;;; it is so close yet was so far. Only an hour from my house but this is my first time there! And there, because I have heard the story of the important link between Gourin and the immigration to the USA and Canada as told by a collegue of mine that lives here, I like to tell you a bit of this story close to my heart as well in Gourin an amazing little town. The amazing thing as well was that while walking the city center got to see collegue from work who told me about and now saw him in town ! He had moved nearby but a native of  Gourin and was visiting relatives!  So I got good tips lol!!!

Gourin is a town in the department 56 of Morbihan, in the region of Bretagne, it belongs to Cornouaille (Cornwall) Morbihannaise. It has the particularity of being 83 km from Vannes, its departamental capital city , and only 40 km from Quimper, the departamental capital of the Finistére, dept 29 . Gourin is also located 47 km from Lorient, 71 km from Brest, 74 km from Saint-Brieuc and 143 km from Rennes. As well as been 71 km from my house! The routes we take are the D102 into the D769 (Lorient-Roscoff road) and the Quimper-Rostrenen-Saint-Brieuc road D1 which takes us right into city center Gourin.

A bit of history I like as an introduction post on Gourin!

In the 11-12C; Gourin was the seat of a viscount that extended over the parishes of Gourin, Guiscriff, Langonnet, Le Faouet and Leuhan and the Trier of Roudouallec, Le Saint, Lanvénégen and La Trinité. Among the viscounts of Gourin are the names of Cadoret who rose up in 1075 against Duke Hoel et Tanguy I who participated in the First Crusade with his Duke Alain Fergent. The Viscount was attached to the ducal domain of Brittany from 1265. Gourin then became the seat of a ducal bar which after the act of union of Brittany to France in 1532 will become the seat of a royal seneschal until its removal during the French revolution.

The first lords of Tronjoly were the Kergoet, who lived in the old manor house from 1426 to 1660. The present castle was built in 1768, replacing the old manor. At the beginning of the French revolution, the lords of Tronjoly sheltered refractory priests and chouans (rebels against the revolution) . Under the supervision of the republican authorities, the L’Ollivier were forced in March 1793 to settle at Le Faouët and some members of the family emigrated; among them François Urbain L’Ollivier de Tronjoly, wounded during the landing of Quiberon (Breton immigrants from England coming back to fight the French revolution) on July 16, 1795, was tried and executed in Vannes on August 1, 1795 (as about 795 others) . See my post of the castle and immigration exhibit as well.

In the late 19C and early 20C, especially between 1902 and WWI, Gourin and its region experienced a strong immigration, mainly of young men, to North America, although it began in the 18C. There was a second wave of immigration from the cantons of Gourin and Roudouallec in the 1950s following the visit of the Canadian consul., several young Gourinois went to Canada between 1948 and 1953. Many of the Bretons currently living in the United States are from the Gourin region . But immigration to these countries began around 1885, not all immigrants are young men, but sometimes older people, small farmers, small traders or craftsmen, not having land able to feed them; At the end of the 19C and at the beginning of the 20C, a large group of immigrants from Montagne Noirs ( Black Mountains) settles in the resort area of Lenox, Massachusetts , with women becoming housekeepers, and men as gardeners. By 1928, there were approximately 3,000 inhabitants of Gourin in New York, 400 of whom were directly employed by Michelin (founded in 1901 in New York), the factory of Miltown, in New Jersey, and who recruited Bretons in a privileged manner. Between; only the years 1946 and 1955 immigrants, mainly young, leave the region of Gourin (13.4% of the population), a large part of it to the United States, the Bretons immigrants tend to regroup in colonies, a real “Breton district” being created for example in New York, on the border of Brooklyn and the Bronx, between 49th and 52nd Street; others went south to Louisiana and Florida or west to California. Three agencies of the “Compagnie Générale Transatlantique” also had their headquarters in Gourin and Roudouallec at the time to organize travel to the United States. The return to the country of some of these émigrés, nicknamed “Americans”, sometimes enriched, was a powerful vector of modernization of agriculture and housing as well as changing mentalities; but most remained settled permanently in North America. These immigrants were also sometimes nicknamed “ar lostou ru” (“red tails”) in local Breton, referring to the color of their license plates.

Proof enough of this exchange of the Bretons with America is the fact that they have a replica of the Statue of Liberty, in the place de la Victoire testifying to the exodus of the population of Gourin to the American continent.  Air France donated in 1996 to thanks the travellers who went the route from their office in Roudouallec until 1985 ;the initial statue of Liberty! The new  Statue of Liberty of Gourin  has been finished , identical to that of the Luxembourg Garden in Paris , and it looks wonderful.

gourin-pl-de-la-liberte-statue-of-liberty-front-jul19

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As to been after lunch, we still got a bit hungry so we stop by at the local bakery pastry and salon de thé shop Le Clec’h at Rue Jacques Rodalle just before the steep street leading to the Statue of Liberty. Nice abricot pastries indeed to keep us at bay until back home! And a nice mayor’s office across too. And do not forget the usual wonderful Saturday morning market at Place Stenfort!

gourin-boulangerie-salon-de-the-le-clec-h-rue-jacques-rodalle-jul19

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The city of Gourin on its heritagehttp://www.gourin.fr/patrimoine-de-gourin.html

The Pays du Roi Morvan tourist office on Gourinhttps://www.tourismepaysroimorvan.com/en/the-local-towns-and-villages/gourin-1010463

The webpage Bretagne trans America on the immigration story of Gourin: https://bretagnetransamerica.com/2021/01/17/english/

There you go folks now me and you have seen  Gourin! A nice find and certaintly been so close a return trip is in order. I had a good impression of the town, lively, clean , good ambiance and wonderful things to see. What can I say, my beautiful Morbihan dept 56!

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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