During the New France era, French settlers in the Detroit River region used Belle Isle for pastures, much as their Quebecois ancestors used islands in the St. Lawrence River.
In both regions, these pastures were used collectively and called “commons,” says historian Guillaume Teasdale. As he explains in his free public lecture on Wednesday, their fates diverged after the conquest by the British.
“In the St. Lawrence valley, several commons remained in the hands of groups of small French landholders up until the 20th century,” says Dr. Teasdale, a sessional instructor in the UWindsor history department. “In the Detroit River region, the commons fell into the hands of private British interests by the end of the 18th century.”
He will examine the history of Belle Isle during the New France era and the following decades in his presentation, entitled “Public Property in the Borderlands of New France: the Common on Belle Isle (Detroit, Michigan),” in room 367, Dillon Hall, on February 13 at 2 p.m.