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Miquelon-Langlade (Municipality, Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon, France)

Last modified: 2020-06-28 by ivan sache
Keywords: miquelon-langlade |
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Flag of Miquelon-Langlade - Image by Nasha Gagnebin, 24 March 2020

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Presentation of Miquelon-Langlade

The municipality of Miquelon-Langlade (591 inhabitants in 2017; 20,500 ha) is one of the two municipalities forming the Overseas Community of Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon. The municipality covers Miquelon island, which is composed of three former islands, from north to south, Le Cap, Grande Miquelon (Greater Miquelon), and Langlade (aka Petite Miquelon - Lesser Miquelon). The former islands have been connected since the late 18th century by a a narrow sandy isthmus (tombolo).
Miquelon's permanent population, which represents only 10% of the collectivity's population, is grouped in the village of Miquelon, established at the end of Miquelon Cove, on the south-eastern coast of Le Cap.

The etymology of Miquelon is obscure. The oldest known portolano representing North America, designed in 1497 by the Basque explorer and cartographer Juan de La Cosa, features several toponyms hardly legible. Among them, "smicolas" / "s:micules" was interpreted by the Canadian cartographer W.F. Ganong (Crucial Maps in the Early Cartography and Place Nomenclature of Atlantic Coast of Canada, 1964) as the origin of the name of Miquelon, without providing more evidence. The hypothesis is difficult to test since there is no record of the name given to the place by fishers of the time, who could not have been aware of La Cosa's map.
Miquelon is locally said to have been named for an islander called Miquelon / Miquelin / Michelon. However, Micklon appears for the first time on Mason's map, dated 1625, while the Miquelon family is not recorded in Saint-Pierre before the 18th century. There was no permanent population in the archipelago before 1630-1650, and none of the early settlers bears a name cognate to Miquelon.
Another hypothesis considers Miquelon as the French form of Miguel (Portuguese, Michael), a name given by the "official" discoverer in 1521 of the archipelago, the explorer João Álvares Fagundes (1460-1522)), or by the crew of another expedition led by Miguel Corte-Real (1448-1502), or even by Portuguese fishers. Here again, these allegations are not supported by any evidence. The Royal Letters signed on 13 March 1521 by King Manuel, granting his discoveries to Fagundes, do not mention any Miguel island.

Miquelon could either be the French form of a Basque toponym, Miquele / Mikel. There is evidence that Basque fishers sailed to the island; Champlain's map (1612) calls it "ille aux basques", while another map mentions "po'[rt] aux basques". In the record of the ports used by Biscayan fishers, Captain Martin de Sapiain lists in 1697 Miquele Portu, Michael's Port.
Captain Martin de Hayarsabal, from Cubiburu (Ciboure, French Basque Country) published in 1579 in Bordeaux Voyages avantureux..., a navigational pilot including the oldest known accurate reference to Miquelon, as "pertuis de Micquetô" and "pertuis de Miquelle", describing Miquelon Cove. Micquetô is in Lapurdian dialect the diminutive form of Miquel, while Micquelle is a phonetic transcription of Miguel / Miquele. Written in French, the book, very popular among fishers, was translated into Lapurdian in 1677 by Pierre Detcheverry dit Dorre, as Liburuhauda Ixasoco nabigacionecoa. Martin de Hoyarzabalec egiña Francezes"; the aforementioned references to Miquelon are translated to Miquetongo and Miquelu, respectively.

Langlade is of much simpler etymology. The Simancas Map, established around 1610, calls the island Terra England, a name reused by several English and Dutch cartographers. The French map designed in 1675 by Lieutenant de Courcelle calls the archipelago "anglois miclon". Langlade was derived from older names, such as Langlois (Visscher's map, 1670), "l'île anglois" (De Courcelle), or "cap d'Angleterre" (Detcheverry, 1677). "Langlade ou petite Miquelon" was coined in 1784 by the Knight of Kervegan.
[Marc Albert Cormier. Toponymie ancienne et origine des noms de Saint-Pierre, Miquelon et Langlade]

Ivan Sache, 24 March 2020

Flag of Miquelon-Langlade

The flag of Miquelon-Langlade is a banner of the municipal arms, with three cods in base, the central bigger, instead of two - one bigger and one smaller - on the arms.
[Nasha Gagnebin. 2019. Le drapeau de Miquelon-Langlade. Drapeaux & Pavillons, 142, 20]

The arms of Miquelon-Langlade were created in 1984 (design by Joseph Lucas; drawing by Michel Borotra) for the twinning with the Canadian municipality of Îles-de-la-Madeleine.
The central green field is a symbol of hope and of the willingness of generations of inhabitants to stay on the island.
The chief features the Acadian flag (vertically divided blue-white-red with a yellow star in canton), recalling the connection of the island with Acadia. By the Treaty of Paris, signed in 1763, France lost most of its possessions in Canada but was retroceded Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon. Some 800 Acadians that refused the British rule moved to the archipelago, to be repatriated to France in 1767 and eventually allowed to return the next year.
The blue base charged with cods represents the sea and fishing, as the raison d'être of the archipelago.

The emblem superimposed in the center of the flag features a long-tailed duck [Clangula hyemalis (Linnaeus, 1758)], a bird locally known as Miquelon duck or kakawit. It was a significant source of food, together with cod, for the early settlers of the island.
The bird holds in the beak a cloth modeled on the left part of the local flag of Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon, featuring the Basque, Breton and Normand flags to recall the main origins of the islanders.
[Aux quatre vents d'Alhemax, 8 April 2011]

Ivan Sache, 24 March 2020