Fun Email from a Reader

Dear Dr. Reichs,

My name is James Lennox, and I am currently a professor of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Pittsburgh. That has nothing to do with this email however, which is related to the fact that my grandmother’s maiden name was Opal Labillois. My father spent his summers in Dalhousie living with his grandparents. His grandfather, with whom he spent every day during those summers, was Charles Labillois, the owner of the general store and a member of the Provincial Legislature.

It had been folklore in my family (but nothing more) that this branch of my ancestry arrived in the Maritime Provinces when a doctor in Napoleon’s army sailed there from France, and played an important role in caring for those suffering from Leprosy in the region. Three weeks ago my wife and I were preparing for a vacation in Sicily. For many years we have enjoyed watching Bones on TV, but we’d never read your books.

I downloaded Bones to Ashes on to my iPad for my vacation reading. You can imagine my disbelief as more and more of the details that Temp and her sister were uncovering about the history of the lazaretto in Tracadie were confirming my family folklore–and then came the name Charles-Marie LaBillois in chapter 30, while I was sitting in a hotel room in Erice!

I wanted to thank you directly, because this has led me on a search into my family’s ‘down East’ ancestry that I might never have begun except for your book (which independently of that I loved, by the way).

In case, in your research, you didn’t come across it, on the 200th anniversary of his birth there was an appreciative biography of C.-M. Labillois, much of it focused on his work in improving the conditions for the lepers in eastern Canada. It sits next to your book on my iPad iBooks shelf at the moment because, though out of print, it can be downloaded from the publisher as a PDF. It is:

Réginald Day, Charles-Marie Labillois: Le médicin oublié, 1793-1868, Les Cahiers du Septentrion [ISBN: 2-89448-023-7].

I cannot thank you enough for giving me the pointers I needed to explore this part of my family’s history.

With best wishes,

James Lennox