Danielle's Bio
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About the Author

Excerpt from an interview with Katrina Honeyman. July 2006.

K H. You say you lead a charmed life and that your whole life is a series of mostly happy coincidences. Am I right in saying you were born in Val d’Or, in Northern Quebec?
D.A. Actually, I was born in my maternal grandmother’s house in Joliette. When it was possible, my mother made the trip home to have her babies. But I spent the first 15 years of my life in Val d’Or, which means: “The Valley of Gold”, except for my years in boarding school.

K.H. Your father was a gold miner before starting his own business as a logging contractor?
D.A. Yes. His name was Lucien Levesque. He was a hard working man; he subsequently became an inventor.

K.H. Can you tell me something about your mother?
D.A. My mother, Gaetane Chaput, is a feminist and free thinker who grew up in a house with a piano. (I say that in contrast with my father who grew up in more or less aseries of one-room log cabins). One of 8 siblings, my mother lived in the small town of Joliette, east of Montreal. Her brothers received a Jesuit education, but that was not available for girls at that time in Joliette. She always felt she had been cheated out of her dream of becoming a teacher; and she would have been an excellent one. She loved language, still does, and at the age of 82, hardly a day goes by that her dictionary doesn’t get visited by her.

After my sisters and I had left home, she studied languages at university, achieving proficiency in Spanish and Italian; she travelled to Europe and Central and South America on her own. She learnt to swim and scuba dive at fifty.

K.H. You seem to have a lot of admiration for her.
D.A. Anyone would admire a mother like her. I had a lot of admiration for my father also, for different reasons. But for my mother, in the pioneering days of Abitibi, disillusion set in when, at nineteen, married to my father, (her brother’s handsome friend), she found herself hacking through the ice of the river and carrying two pails of water at either end of an ox collar, to their two-room shack in Val Senneville, a small village near Val d’Or.

K.H. Quite a change for someone who grew up in a house with a piano!
D.A. You could say that. And soon, as her babies arrived, she would stay awake at night, afraid the rats might bite us.

Four years later, in 1948, the year I was born, without consulting my mother, my father purchased an old hotel turned rooming house in Val d’Or. It was clad in ugly insul brick and had a huge Coca Cola sign on one of its outside walls. It was between the church and the movie theatre.

Those were the days when men decided and women complied. My mother was twenty-three. I was her third child. For 15 years, through pregnancy after pregnancy, she single-handedly managed the 7 rented bedrooms and and the 20-bed dormitory above their own cramped living quarters, all the while taking care of us, her 6 daughters. Sarting in 1954, as each one of us turned six, she sent us to a nun’s boarding school in Ste Ursule, to start grade two. Year after year, she had cheated on our age and sent us to grade one in Val d’Or, at the age of five.

K.H. You went off to a boarding school at the age of six! Didn’t you miss your family?

Continued Here