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Discours de Louis-Joseph Papineau à Saint-Charles-sur-Richelieu, en 1837 (fr.Wikipedia)


The post I published on 16 February 2021 was shortened. Therefore, the title of the song Les Voix du Nord performed was not explained. Moreover, we were not in a studio listening to the recording of a song. We could not hear the words clearly, which was unfortunate.

The song is entitled October 1837. It does not tell a story, but it refers to historical events. The Rebellions of 1837-1838 are its main event. In 1837-1838, the citizens of Upper Canada and Lower Canada rebelled against the Crown. Their leaders were William Lyon Mackenzie, in Upper Canada, and Louis-Joseph Papineau, a Seigneur, in Lower Canada. I suspect that French-speaking Canadians being a conquered people, the dynamics of the Rebellions were not the same in both Canadas. The Rebellion was more serious in the largely Francophone Lower Canada than in Anglophone Upper Canada. More patriotes than patriots were hanged or deported to penal colonies. Both leaders fled their respective Canada. The song that expresses the profound grief of exiled patriotes is Antoine Gérin-Lajoie‘s Un Canadien errant.

With the help of American volunteers, a second rebellion was launched in November 1838, but it too was poorly organized and quickly put down, followed by further looting and devastation in the countryside. The two uprisings [in Lower Canada] left 325 people dead, all of them rebels except for 27 British soldiers. Nearly 100 rebels were also captured. After the second uprising failed, Papineau departed the US for exile in Paris.

Britannica [1]

However, both Canadas wanted a more responsible government, or more self-rule, which was achieved in 1848. No sooner were the two Canadas united by virtue of the Act of Union, proclaimed on 10 February 1841, than its Prime Ministers, Robert Baldwyn and Sir Louis-Hippolyte LaFontaine, designed a government that could accommodate English-speaking Canadians and French-speaking Canadians. In 1848, a United Canada was granted a responsible government and, contrary to Lord Durham‘s recommendations, French continued to be spoken in the Assembly and in Canada. Lord Durham investigated the Rebellions.

Upper Canada and Lower Canada (fr.Wikipedia)

Le Grand Dérangement

But one can also hear the words, le grand dérangement, the great upheaval. The great upheaval is usually associated with the deportation of Acadians beginning in 1755. Families were not exiled together, except accidentally. Members of the same family were separated and put aboard ships that sailed in various directions, including England. In 1847, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow published Évangéline, a Tale of Acadie, commemorating the deportation of Acadians. There may not have been an Évangéline, except Longfellow’s character, but there were Évangélines, betrothed women who were separated from their future husband, or vice versa. For Acadians, Évangéline is real, un réel absolu.

Some ships transporting Acadians away from their home sailed down the coast of Britain’s Thirteen Colonies, but Acadians were not allowed to disembark until they reached Georgia. They were Catholics. One could theorize, as I have, that they socialized with the Blacks before walking to Louisiana. Joel Chandler HarrisThe Tales of Uncle Remus may have introduced Reynard the Fox to North America, but the inhabitants of New Orléans may have known Le Roman de Renart or the Sick-Lion Tale, a fable told by Jean de La Fontaine and his predecessors. Several Acadians are today’s Cajuns, a contraction of Acadians, and live in Louisiana.

The October Crisis, 1970

October 1838 also refers to the October Crisis of 1970 when members of the Front de libération du Québec, the FLQ,  kidnapped British diplomat James Cross, on 5 October 1970, and Pierre Laporte on 10 October 1970. Pierre Laporte was Deputy Premier of Quebec. Then Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau declared the War Measures Act, on 15 October. The deployment of the Armed Forces was criticized by civil libertarians. Civil liberties had been suspended. On 17 October, Pierre Laporte was executed,but James Cross was not harmed. He was detained for 59 days by the Front de libération du Québec (the FLQ). The FLQ ceased to be active after the October Crisis.

Sadly, James Cross died of Covid-19 on 6 January 2021. He was 99. My condolences to his family and friends.



On 16 February, we heard an accomplished fiddler, but the song told a very long story.

[1] Foot, Richard and Buckner, P.A.. “Rebellions of 1837”. Encyclopedia Britannica, 20 Sep. 2016, https://www.britannica.com/event/Rebellions-of-1837. Accessed 17 February 2021.

Love to everyone 💕

Le Vieux de ’37, gouache sur papier, peinte par Henri Julien en 1904

© Micheline Walker
17 February 2021
revised 17 February 2021