Geist - - Endnotes - —Patty Os­borne

The Ned­deau fam­ily have lived on re­mote Duqesne Is­land in north­ern On­tario since the 1700s, when their Aca­dian an­ces­tors, broth­ers El­wood and El­lis, were left there by a mu­ti­neer­ing band of ex­plor­ers. The cur­rent fam­ily mem­bers are Bi­chon (fa­ther and fourth-gen­er­a­tion Duqes­nian), ’Van­ge­line (mother and lapsed Catholic from PEI), Elmer (the naïve and sex­u­ally frus­trated teenaged son) and Eloida and Elène (twin pre­teen daugh­ters who run around the is­land and tor­ment their brother). In the CBC doc­u­men­tary se­ries The Ned­deaus of Duqesne Is­land we fol­low the fam­ily through their daily ac­tiv­i­ties, which in­clude a lot of pota­toes, a lengthy list of rules that pro­hibit “pounder dan­gling” and “mince pick­ling,” along with their req­ui­site punishments like hav­ing wa­ter poured down the sleeves of one’s rain­coat, and re­li­gious rit­u­als that call upon one of their an­ces­tors who seems to have be­come a saint. The Ned­deaus speak with heavy ac­cents (sub­ti­tles are pro­vided) and their English is sprin­kled with French words plus some words that must be unique to this tiny set­tle­ment. Ac­cord­ing to the CBC Me­dia Cen­tre, The Ned­deaus of Duqesne Is­land was made in the 1970s but was never re­leased, and the old­fash­ioned CBC logo, plus the soothing voice of the se­ries’s nar­ra­tor and the tra­di­tional fid­dle mu­sic that opens and closes each episode, cer­tainly at­test to that. In a promo video, fa­mous Cana­di­ans such as David Suzuki, Gra­ham Greene and even Jean Chré­tien talk about when they first saw or heard of this quirky doc­u­men­tary and spec­u­late on why it may have been sup­pressed. Was the fam­ily in the doc­u­men­tary just too weird (or per­haps, feral) for main­stream Canada, or were there hints of in­cest in the doc­u­men­tary (the son is ob­vi­ously sex­u­ally frus­trated)? What­ever your opin­ion is, you won’t be able to stop watch­ing, be­cause The Ned­deaus of Duqesne Is­land might just be too quirky to be real.

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