Francois “Roux” Sabourin
Francois Sabourin’s red hair distinguished him from most other people in Yarmouth. As one old scallop fisherman had observed, “There aren’t too many red-headed Frenchmen in Nova Scotia.”
“There aren’t too many French redheads in Saskatchewan, either,” Francois answered. “My Aunt Hazel told me that seeing my wet red hair come down the birth canal shook her to her Catholic core. Was Margaret delivering another Esau? she had wondered. Attaching biblical symbolism to everyday events wasn’t so odd. Catholic French farmer folks living out on those barren Saskatchewan plains were mighty superstitious. And my aunt and mother were no exceptions.”
His mother Hazel and her sister Margaret had played and replayed the story of his birth at his baptism, his First Communion, and at all his birthday parties. And as with stories that endure, often their truths are swapped for entertainment. Francois’s birth was no exception.
“My God Hazel, why who’s the father, anyway?” his Aunt Margaret joked while attending to Francois’ delivery in a drafty tar papered shack his father Frederick had constructed for his family in 1916, a year after the family had emigrated from Berry, France.
Francois’s mother, Hazel, exhausted from the nineteen hour labor, was not ready to see the humor or to reveal the truth of the question posed by her sister.
“Good God Almighty, Margaret,” she whispered, closing her eyes while Margaret efficiently cleaned up little Francois just as she had done with the lambs born each spring on their farm in Spaulding.
“Saskatchewan is a big province, but I have rarely seen a red-headed person here,” Margaret continued on the theme as she wrapped Francois in a white bundling blanket and handed the baby to his mother. When she gingerly placed him into her sister’s waiting arms, Margaret couldn’t help but observe the amusing image. “Why with his head of red hair popping out and his body tapering to a point in that swaddling blanket, he looks just like a carrot!”