In 1846 the expanding farmlands in the Lac Saint-Jean area of Quebec were astir with new families looking to establish themselves, fur traders busily harvesting the skins of animals, and agents of prospective logging companies. Young Henri De Soins, however, was far from content. Although his father was the owner of a promising sawmill and their family was both well off and well-liked among the communities around the lake, Henri had made his acquaintance with loggers who, having just arrived from Halifax, introduced him to opium. Sailors who had connections with seamen working for the East India Company smuggled the drug in frequently from Asia, and while it would be some decades before opium (or its more popular derivative, morphine) would be widely recognized as a particularly insidious hazard, Henri found himself desperately craving more opium even after just one flirtation with the substance.
It was not long until that craving, coupled with a long-nursed resentment against his father’s authority, bubbled up into an overt rebellion that had him running off to the eastern seaports. His father found his eighteen-year-old son several weeks later, lying stupefied, all alone in squalid filth in an alley near the docks. He took Henri home and cleaned him up. Then he grimly, albeit patiently, attempted to exert enough restraint upon him to overthrow his need for the narcotic.
Yet Henri either could not or would not see his father’s love but interpreted his actions as a deliberate effort to humiliate and suppress his son. Over time, his resentment, enflamed by his addiction to the drug, grew into an overt hatred of his father. But it was not until Henri had beaten one of his younger brothers with an axe handle and threatened to strike his mother that the elder De Soins expelled him from his home. His distorted sense of rejection blazed into a fiery fury. There were tears in his father’s eyes, but to Henri they were nothing but a sham and lie.
Henri made him pay, though. He had made them all pay.
Click Follow to receive emails when this author adds content on Bublish