Jacques left France for the US at the age of seventeen without even speaking English, then left the US for Canada at 40. He held passports from all three countries, yet France remained his heart-home. He loved all things French: food, music, landscape, art, humour, and especially language. Though he said he generally dreamed in English his entire adult life, he continued to read in French—subscribing to L’Express and consuming French literature. He always had a book in one of his trademark bajillion pockets—generally of short stories, essays, or poems. He could recite fables of La Fontaine. He read and sang to the children in French and introduced them to such singers as Brassens, Macias, and Salvadore and the movies of Jacques Tati and Fernandel.
Living in Canada he rejoiced at having continuous access to French radio, TV, and film. He further maintained his French connection by presenting concerts at the Alliance Francaise in Toronto and playing recitals at the French Embassy in Ottawa. To his amusement and dismay, during visits ‘home’ he was occasionally complimented on his French (by shopkeepers), probably because he wore a fishing vest with his beret.
Through the Alliance Francaise, Projet Eco-CASA received Jacques’ massive French paperback library to sell and raise funds for Francais du Monde, a French organization building an ecological orphanage in Cameroon.
The Toronto French School received Jacques’ treasured collection of Pleiades volumes.
I held onto the voluminous crates of children’s books.