I’d never heard of Rapide Blanc (White Rapids), Quebec, north of Shawinigan. This is an unsurprising revelation given the town’s closure by the Shawinigan Water and Power Company in 1971. It’s odd, however, that a (fairly) recent and significant event of this kind has nigh disappeared from Canadian history: books and news articles on the town are difficult to track down, and most references to the town in the popular media are related to Blanchet’s graphic novel (Whtie Rapids. Montreal: Drawn and Quarterly, 2007).
Blanchet’s work is (again) beautiful, by the way. The work is less funny than Baloney, and the sepia tones, along with thejazz/swing/big band accompanying score and tycoon-like villains locate the work in the first half of the 20th century when the town still existed. Blanchet undermines the potential nostalgia generated by the style, however, by intercutting a story of “The General”:
That enormous pike. Fiercely aggressive […] with razor sharp teeth. Tales of failed attempts to catch The General multiplied, and before long, you would have thought he measured eight arm-lengths…Over the years, The General became a local legend.
Like the town, though, the legend of the General, along with other local histories, fails to flourish.
31 March 2009 ~ St. Catharines