the sweat of your face
you shall get bread to eat."
In 1860 his uncle Timothée left for the "California Gold Rush" and Alfred tried his hand at different trades. He became an apprentice to Mr. Garceau's, the tinsmith. After a while he worked as a blacksmith and wheelwright in Demers' shop on Meigs Street in Farnham but in the end this work proved to be to difficult for Alfred. By 1862 Alfred was back in Saint-Césaire employed as a cobbler but severe stomach pains from bending over forced him to quit this work. Lastly Alfred went to work in Mr. Phaneuf's bakery, but the kneading of dough was again beyond his strength and so Alfred has to look for another job.
So, Alfred in 1863 at the age of eighteen set his sight on New England where there were plenty of jobs in the textile industry. His first job was in Moosup, CT in a factory producing all kinds of threads, part of the complex of the Aldrich Mills. In those days an experienced worker could make a dollar a day but it was not easy work. For the next 4 years he wandered from Connecticut, to Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Alfred "could barely take the exhausting work in the noisy, badly ventilated factories of the time. Twelve hours was an average working day, from 6am to 6pm with an hour off for lunch. Two or three days a week the management required two extra hours of worked after supper for workers. ...Alfred's undependable health forced him to alternate between the more lucrative work of the cities and the more healthful work of the farms." (Laurent Boucher, Brother Andre, p.18) He referred to this time in his life as the "vagabond life."
During this time he relates an experience worthy of note. One day feeling exhausted after working endless hours in a hayfield, all he could think of was dying. He rested on his rake and asked St. Joseph where he would die. In his mind's eye he saw a great stone building with a spire crowned with a cross. When he moved to Montreal he recognized the dream building as the Collège Notre-Dame which at the time of his vision had not yet been m built. (Ibid., p.20)
In 1867 André returned to Canada from New England and he lived for a short time with relatives in Sotton, but eventually returned to Saint Césaire where he once again was received into Ouimets' home. It was while there that he decided to join the Congregation of Holy Cross.
4. Brother André the Novice