Excerpt taken from the book The Story of French (Ch. 10)
To resist assimilation, French Canadians and Acadians developed diverse, sometimes wacky forms of la vie associative, from language conferences and cultural associations to secret societies. The first association was created at a banquet held in Montreal on June 24, 1834, St. John the Baptist Day (and because the banquets continued to be organized on that day, John the Baptist went on to become the patron saint of French Canadians), and led to the founding of the Societé St-Jean Baptiste (St. John the Baptist Society), whose central mandate was to defend the rights of French Canadians. Dozens of other associations were formed in French-Canadian communities in Quebec and elsewhere in the decades that followed.
The movement spawned a wide array of symbols, some of which, such as the maple leaf and the beaver, went on to become Canadian emblems. The Societé St-Jean Baptiste even devised the anthem, “O Canada,” that eventually replaced “God Save the Queen” as Canada’s national anthem in 1980. Their flag–blue with a white cross and four fleurs-de-lys– became the flag of the province of Quebec in 1944 and the official symbol of all French Canadians.