La légendeThe Ingenious
Sea buckthorn, spruce and orange soap
I'm going to tell you a legend. That of Eugénie, who was aptly named. Ingenious from a very young age, her head was bubbling with ideas for inventions and concoctions to lighten the daily burden of her family. It was not easy to be pioneers in a new land. They had arrived here in Valcourt with the first waves of French-Canadian settlers. In those days, this land was called Ely Township.
Today, all around Valcourt, there are many fields and farms. Did you know that in Eugenie's time, around 1847, the forest was much denser in this Appalachian valley? Among the deciduous trees, a few black spruces stood out. This coniferous tree with tonic properties, good for the respiratory system and anti-inflammatory, scented the breeze at sunset, when the sky turned orange. Orange like Eugenie's hair. Did I tell you she was a redheaded rascal?
And how did she learn about the virtues of black spruce? A mysterious woman who lived in the forest had once revealed it to Eugénie when she was picking berries. Are you beginning to get an idea of what kind of person our redheaded heroine was? Eager for knowledge, she collected all the information that came to her ears. For example, she had learned from an old Hungarian lady that sea buckthorn fruit contains much more vitamin C than an orange (you know, what you get for Christmas). Moreover, this small round orange-coloured fruit was so good for the skin, that in its country of origin it was used to treat burns.
What did she do with it? She used it to create solutions. I heard that's what ingenuity is all about...Like the time she came across drawings, plans, rather, drawn up by an Italian, by a certain Leonardo da Vinci. You could see a machine with wings. You will well imagine that this information had made our Eugénie daydream, to the great displeasure of her father who would have appreciated a little more help in the fields. She would lock herself in the barn and you could hear her pounding nails, sawing wood, sewing cloth... But what was she doing all day long?
One day, the neighbours, who dreamed of a dairy farm, started burning brambles and brushwood to clear their land. It was a very hot and dry day... and what had to happen happened. The fire spread everywhere. The neighbors soon found themselves surrounded by the flames. Lucky Eugenie was clever, because she finally got out the device she was wasting her time on: a flying machine! Pedals, sails, gears, everything started to move and quickly she flew over the flames to bring one by one each of the neighbours, now grateful that this young redhead had "wasted" her time creating a new means of transport never seen before. Ingenious, that Eugénie!
A collaboration with the Joseph-Armand Bombardier Museum of Ingeniuity.
Sea buckthorn, spruce and orange soap.
Photo credit : Carolanne Lamontagne