Bio & ©


My name is James LaForest – I am a French Canadian writer originally from Michigan, USA. A librarian by training with a background in publishing, religious studies, languages, and genealogy, today I research and write on a variety of topics that you will find on this blog.

I am available for freelance writing and research projects. I can be reached through this website in the comments section, by leaving a message at jela1966 at hotmail dot com and at LinkedIn.

© James LaForest and The Red Cedar: Essays on Heritage and Culture. All rights reserved.

26 thoughts on “Bio & ©

  1. Hi James,

    Thanks for stopping by my blog to say hi. I like the whole vibe of your blog…will check out your Jewish mysticism site.


  2. The Six says:

    James, thanks very much for your writing about prayer and the Psalms, and also
    about the “Die Hard” Sculpture at Southwark Cathedral. You write very beautifully
    and eloquently. I look forward to reading more of your blogs.
    Best wishes,


    Canon Alan Amos

  3. James LaForest says:

    Canon Alan,
    Thank you so much for your kind words. I am delighted that people find my posts worthy to read! It’s a wonderful thing to be able to share some of my experiences with others and I appreciate your thoughtful response. Also, I’ve looked at your website and saw that you linked to my post about Die Harder – thank you for that as well.

    Best Regards,

    • Good to hear from you again, James, and I will sign your
      petition. Diversity is really important, and the appreciation of
      one another and our roots in a changing world. Humanity needs
      to become more human !

      Best wishes


      Canon Alan Amos
      – I’m retiring end of June, and will be in Geneva quite a lot of
      my time with my wife Clare who works for World Council of
      Churches in relations with people of world faiths. Email will remain the same. ( Recently I preached in French at Canterbury
      Cathedral for the French Protestant Church there, which is like
      a separate chapel in the crypt – dating from 17th C and Huguenot
      refugee times. I preached about Syria and my Syrian Christian friends. Please remember them in your prayers, esp. two
      bishops Hanna and Boulos who have been kidnapped near
      Aleppo. )

  4. Hello Mr. LaForest, I am intersted in obtaining the copyright for a photo used in your blog post in February 2012. Could you please tell me the source for the Notre Dame portal Mother and Child sculpture? Thank you for your help.

    • James LaForest says:

      Kathleen — I have replied to your question via your info page – best regards, James

  5. Thank you for your prompt attention, Mr LaForest; I have replied to your reply. I look forward to exploring more of your blog as well. Cordially, Kathleen

  6. Kaitlyn says:

    Hi James. I’m delighted to nominate you for the One Lovely Blog Award! You can pick up your award at Copy and paste the Award to your blog and follow the rules of acceptance. Congrats! 🙂

    • James LaForest says:

      Hi Kaitlyn – Thank you so much! I appreciate it. How did you come across my blog?

      Best Regards – James

      • Kaitlyn says:

        Hi James – I actually don’t remember … I think I was just browsing the blogosphere and came across your blog! I really like the layout, and you write high quality content. Thanks for providing good stuff to read. 🙂 Kaitlyn

  7. Swati Atul says:

    Good to know about you James – Nice Blog 🙂 All the best for your work

  8. Mark DeSautel Espinoza says:

    Hi James, I just came upon your wonderful blog by accident! I will bookmark it and I will visit the site often. I would like to ask you what sources may be available to the genealogy to my French Canadian father who was born in Amherstburg, Ontario who later moved to Detriot?
    Any information would be greatly appreciated. Mark DeSautel Espinoza, Santa Fe, NM.

    • James says:

      Hi Mark – I’m glad you found my blog and thank you for signing the petition! I really appreciate it. There are many many sources for tracing French Canadians in the Detroit-Windsor region. Depending on what kind of information you already have, you might start with the free (requires registration) or the pay site, The website might also be of use. Important Detroit-related sources are Dennison’s French Families of the Detroit River Region, which a big library might have (it’s not online) and primary sources such as the records of St. Anne of Detroit, census records etc, which can be accessed through the sites I linked to above. See too the Burton Collection the Detroit Public Library – they have a lot of resources listed on their page: If you are on Facebook, join the forum where you can ask questions and people can answer. It’s a nice group. Good luck and I hope you are able to trace your ancestors! Many of us have connections to the Windsor/Detroit area. — James LaForest

  9. Julia Kielstra says:

    Hi, James! It was great to meet you — probably the most productive and interesting flight I’ve had in years! Thanks very much for pointing to to your blog: it’s fascinating and also very reassuring that so many people are taking the importance of history seriously. Well done to you, and to everyone involved with the Heritage Day this month; good luck with the follow up! Julia

  10. Hello James. I came across your blog because I was doing some research on the city of Detroit for a paper I was writing(I wanted to submit my paper to a geographic journal). I enjoyed reading some of what you wrote about the Voyageurs. I have had a fascination with the Upper Midwest, and with Quebec. Reading about the voyageurs puts it all into perspective. Water is the major factor, I also enjoyed reading about Black voyageurs. Being a Black American myself, and having some family members who live in the Upper Midwest, it was something I could definitely appreciate.

    One more thing. I am a blogger myself. My theme is geography. One thing I think about when I see the Upper Midwest, and with French-Canadian culture, is the geography. In particular, I have a blog entry about Detroit. The idea was to show Detroit from a different perspective. Not the Detroit of automobiles, but the Detroit many people never hear about. Detroit’s name means “strait” in French. And the French were a major part of Detroit history, and Detroit’s geography has played a part in its history. I have the link to the blog entry:

    I hope to see more with your blog.

    -Marc Hayes

    • James says:

      Hi Marc – Thank you very much for taking the time to comment. I am so glad to know that you found some of my writings useful. Although there is a fair amount of history on colonial times, the lives of the voyageurs, the average people, etc. as usual gets kind of lost. My interest is more in local history, folklore, and culture. Recently more scholars have been researching in this area. I find that a blog is a great way to mix both ‘scholarly’ and popular interests. I wish you luck on your geography blog – something I’ve very interested in myself. Happy New Year! –James LaForest

      • Hello James. I was happy to give my input on things. I think one reason the lives of the voyageurs and the history gets lost is because so much of how things have worked. Detroit is older than the USA. Alot of people don’t know that Detroit was once part of Quebec. When people speak of colonial history, places like Boston, the Chesapeake Bay region, and basically, the East Coast/New England. I think because voyageur history is often tied to Canadian history, it isn’t discussed much at all in terms of American history. And with Detroit, it is very easy to forget that the voyageurs played a big part in its founding. It is especially easy when there is more of a reputation as “The Motor City”.

        I too have becoming interested in the local history. For me, it is about showing Detroit as something more than just “The Motor City”.

        I’m glad you have some interest in geography as well, another subject that seems to get lost these days. I feel that in order to understand a place, one has to understand its geography.

        Happy New Year.

        Marc Hayes

  11. Leo Cotnoir says:

    Thanks for liking my blog. If you have any favorite French Canadian recipes I would be happy to feature them.

  12. Jac Getzinger says:

    Hi James,

    I’m eager to follow your blogs. It would seem that we are much akin (and related) in our history and love of the French-Canadian-Louisiana cultures. I too am a descendant on my father’s side from Jean Casse dit St. Aubin (my 7th Great Grandfather). The Casse line eventually married into the Chapoton line whose family originally came from Languedoc, France and settled in Montreal in the late 1600s. My 6th Great-Grandfather John Baptiste Chapoten was a doctor who was sent to the Detroit area in 1718 and became the physician at Fort Ponchatrain for nearly the next 40 years. I can also claim notable French-Canadian heritage from my 8th Great-Grandfather Pierre Tremblay & his “Filles à Marier” wife Ozanne Achon.

    On my Mother’s side of the family, I am descended from Thomas E. Shaw (founder of Onaway) and we have a rich heritage from your hometown. My Great-Grandfather was Sheriff Arthur Aikens of Onaway. We love to return and visit as often as time and money permits.

    I then married a beautiful French-Creole lady (an Olivier) from New Orleans and have learned so much more about my French heritage and about the Creole’s of Louisiana. We now live just north of Detroit and look forward with anticipation on following your blog!

    • The Editor says:

      Dear Jac,
      Thank you so much for your message! What a remarkable set of connections. I am related to the Tremblays as well – my first LaForest ancestors in Detroit were a LaForest/Tremblay couple. Did you know Onaway once had a Frenchtown? Coincidentally in the area of town where the cheese factory was (or is?). Much like the places where the residents came from in the Detroit and Windsor area, it was a marshy area on the edge of town. People are still aware of it, as last time I went through town someone had decorated a small building there with a fleur de lys and a sign that said “Frenchtown.” I am very keen to know more about Jean Baptiste Chapoton…Will be going to Louisiana in May for the first time. Thanks again for writing.


  13. I find it fascinating when French-American in the US reclaim their identity. It must be hard to “remember”, as Québec’s motto say, when one has so many years, so many generations of not living in French in Québec or in Acadia. It’s quite a miracle.

    • The Editor says:

      In a way, yes, but in other ways not really. My grandfather, born in 1901 outside Detroit, spoke French as his first language – 200 years after our ancestors arrived in the area! Thanks for the comment – I agree generally with you – it is a miracle that so many people are re-discovering their heritage in such a deep and meaningful way.

  14. Dear James,
    I am the author of a recent article written in French “Détroit une affaire de famille française” posted here:, including a link towards your website
    It will be a pleasure to exchange with you on the French history of Detroit.
    Best regards

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