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ST PIERRE AND MIQUELON

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suze
108514.  Sun Oct 29, 2006 8:01 am Reply with quote

One of the less well known parts of North America, St Pierre and Miquelon is a group of small islands off the south coast of Newfoundland. It's administratively part of France, all that remains of the former French colony of New France.

Even getting to St Pierre is a bit of a challenge - there are weekly flights from various Canadian cities and a daily ferry from a remote part of Newfoundland, and that's about it. There's also a time change on travelling due south - St P & M uses GMT -3 whereas nearby Newfoundland uses the rather odd GMT -3½.

St P & M was the only part of North America to be occupied by the Nazis during the Second World War (only for eighteen months; the Free French soon booted them out). It was also the only part of North America to use the guillotine (only once, in 1889; a guillotine was brought specially from Martinique for the occasion and is now in the local museum).

The tap water in St P & M is brown but the locals drink it perfectly happily. It rains a lot as you'd expect in the locality, and the 7,000 inhabitants eat smelly cheese, drink wine, spend Euros, play pelota and all manner of other things French. All in all, one of the world's more curious places.

 
BondiTram
108643.  Sun Oct 29, 2006 12:43 pm Reply with quote

Referred to here as one of the DOM-TOMs (Départements d'Outre Mer - Territoires d'Outre Mer) or Overseas Departments and Territories.
It started life as a Territoire (1946) then became a Département (1976) then a Collectivité Territoriale (1985) and is now, since 2003, an Overseas Community. Not sure if that is demotion or promotion but it does have a Prefect so I suppose DOM rather than TOM!
Everybody gets cheap(ish) telephone calls to the mainland (us) and votes reps to the French Assembly and the European Parliament.
So if any of your Canadian colleagues are unhappy with the way we are all behaving over here Suze, tell them to jump on that ferry and have a quiet word with the islanders. In French, of course.

 
gerontius grumpus
110129.  Tue Oct 31, 2006 6:03 pm Reply with quote

Are you sure it was occupied by the Nazis? I thought it was just Vichy French until the Free French booted them out.

Unless, of course, you call the Vichy French Nazis.

 
suze
110131.  Tue Oct 31, 2006 6:05 pm Reply with quote

Mea culpa gerontius - it was in fact the Vichy French, not the Germans, who controlled St Pierre et Miquelon.

I do count them as Nazis though ...

 
Quaintly Ignorant
110148.  Tue Oct 31, 2006 6:16 pm Reply with quote

Why is the water brown?

 
BondiTram
110579.  Wed Nov 01, 2006 11:05 am Reply with quote

suze wrote:
Mea culpa gerontius - it was in fact the Vichy French, not the Germans, who controlled St Pierre et Miquelon.

...


Just like my village then - 'till the Germans came of course.

Were you not perhaps getting confused with the Germans who 'occupied' part of Newfoundland? Or was it Labrador? You'll know, it was probably you who told me.

 
Tas
110584.  Wed Nov 01, 2006 11:17 am Reply with quote

Quote:
Why is the water brown?


Do we really want to know?

:-)

Tas

 
suze
110597.  Wed Nov 01, 2006 11:34 am Reply with quote

Germans occupying Newfoundland? Was this in one of the more far fetched movies? The wreck of a U-Boat was discovered off Nova Scotia a couple years ago

http://www.cbc.ca/canada/story/2004/07/13/Uboat_040713.html

but this is at present the only evidence that the Nazis ever entered Canadian/ Newfoundlandian waters. (Newf was not part of Canada until 1949.)

To be sure, there are a couple of folk tales about a U-Boat landing on Newfoundland during the war and being beaten away by islanders with brooms and shovels - but none of them bears any real sign of truth.

So no, it was just my faulty recollection of events taught to me in school history that was to blame.

As for why the water is brown, it's something to do with the mineral content. Iron I think, but I wouldn't swear to it.

EDIT: Of course German ships entered Canadian and Newf waters all the time. What I really meant was "and remained there for any period of time".


Last edited by suze on Wed Nov 01, 2006 12:56 pm; edited 1 time in total

 
Tas
110616.  Wed Nov 01, 2006 12:00 pm Reply with quote

Didn't a u-boat drop spies/saboteurs off, to inflitrate mainland USA? I think they were rounded up in fairly short order.

:-)

Tas

 
Quaintly Ignorant
110637.  Wed Nov 01, 2006 12:19 pm Reply with quote

Quote:
Apparent colour depends, among other things, on dissolved organic matter. Thus, water coming from the Canadian Shield — i.e. the mixed water of the Ottawa River and the north shore tributaries (brown water) — is more highly coloured due to the higher concentrations of organic substances, including the humic acids produced by decomposing plants. Most of the land along the north shore of the St. Lawrence basin is forested, while agriculture dominates the shores of Lake Ontario. Consequently, the green waters of the Great Lakes contain less organic substances.


http://lavoieverte.qc.ec.gc.ca/CSL/inf/inf010_e.html

 
suze
110675.  Wed Nov 01, 2006 12:54 pm Reply with quote

Hmm, I've done a bit of digging and found out a few things - some that I actually did know in my school days and a couple which are completely new to me.

I actually did know but had forgotten that the Germans managed to land one operative in New Brunswick in 1942 - precisely how they did it is a bit of a mystery. This agent promptly disobeyed orders and ultimately turned himself in without achieving anything.

One German operative also landed in Quebec but was captured almost at once - he had to swim ashore after the boat attempting to land him came under fire.

What's more, a U-Boat landed on the Labrador coast for long enough to set up an automated weather station (it seems only to have worked for a few days). That this station had ever existed was not known outside Germany until 1981.

There was also precisely one incident where a U-Boat hit a land target. (A wild torpedo shot at a coaling ship hit a pier on Bell Island, off Newfoundland.) The Japanese also attacked a lighthouse on Vancouver Island - these seem to have been the only Axis attacks on land targets in what is now Canada.

 
grizzly
110698.  Wed Nov 01, 2006 2:05 pm Reply with quote

Excluding the balloons that carried bombs over to North America using the jet stream (I believe that some landed in Canada).

 
suze
110707.  Wed Nov 01, 2006 2:27 pm Reply with quote

Now those I knew nothing about. It seems that the only serious article about these wasn't written until 1996, so maybe their very existence was still supposed to be secret when I was in school. (The media of the time were instructed to say little on the matter.)

The Japanese did indeed have the bizarre notion of attacking North America using bombs borne on balloons made out of washi, a paper made from mulberry bark.

Only one of these attacks killed anybody, in Oregon in May 1945. But a handful of the bombs did indeed land in Canada - and either failed to detonate or did so to little effect.

http://www.faqs.org/docs/air/avfusen.html

 
Flash
110801.  Wed Nov 01, 2006 5:57 pm Reply with quote

We covered the balloon bombs in the B series; there should be thread somewhere hereabouts.

Back to topic, though: these islands are wonderful. and I'd never heard of them before now. Here's what they look like:



The middle island is called Langlade, and until recently it had an official population of 1, a M Charles Lafitte. But he died in July 2006.

St Pierre & Miquelon has its own unique time zone, GMT-3.

The currency there is the Euro, and local postal rates apply when you are sending a letter to France.

Quote:
The only time the guillotine was ever used in North America was in Saint-Pierre in the late 1800s. Joseph Néel was convicted of killing a Mr. Coupard on the "île aux Chiens" on December 30, 1888, and executed by guillotine on August 24, 1889. The guillotine had to be shipped from Martinique and it did not arrive in working order. It was very difficult to get anyone to perform the execution; finally a recent immigrant was coaxed into doing the job. This event was the inspiration for the film, "The Widow of Saint-Pierre" ("La Veuve de Saint-Pierre") released in the year 2000. The guillotine is now in a museum in Saint-Pierre.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St._Pierre_and_Miquelon

 
BondiTram
111629.  Fri Nov 03, 2006 7:37 am Reply with quote

suze wrote:

What's more, a U-Boat landed on the Labrador coast for long enough to set up an automated weather station (it seems only to have worked for a few days). That this station had ever existed was not known outside Germany until 1981.

.


That's the one I was on about. You had me going for a few moments there!

 

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