Rene L. Dugas, Sr. was born in 1909, the youngest of 14 children. He has lived in Taftville, Conn. his entire life.
Since 1882, he and his father before him were professional photographers. He has a collection of over 3,000 photographs, some over 100 years old. Many of those photos bear witness to the advent and departures of our unique French-Canadian culture.
Like so many other French Canadians, Rene’s father, who was a farmer, left Canada in the late 1870s for work in New England mills. The family settled in Taftville, which was a textile manufacturing center.
The elder Dugas opened a photographic business, yet still worked in the Ponemah Mills. Rene took over his father’s business in 1935. Together he and his father were considered the local historians. In 1990, Rene published The French-Canadians in New England. Thousands of copies have been sold throughout the United States and Canada. He has written many genealogical and historical articles and brochures about the French-Canadian culture and history.
During World War II, Rene was employed as a darkroom technician and photogrpaher at the Columbia University Underwater Sound LaboratoryDivision of War Research, where he received a citation from the U.S. Division of War Research for his work.
In 1947, Rene was elected as a representative to the Connecticut General Assembly, where he served the citizens of the Taftville area for more than a decade. Rene is a life member of the Knights of Columbus and the American-Canadian Genealogy Association.