During a visit to Quebec, legendary violinist Yehudin Menuhin (1916-1999) met Jean Carignan (1916-1988), Quebec’s finest fiddler in his days. They performed music composed by André Gagnon, entitled Concerto pour Carignan.
The above video shows different styles that are not incompatible. Within a mere few bars (mesures), one can move from violoniste to violoneux (fiddler). In fact, many violoneux are also violinists. One does not preclude the other.
I am working on two one-act plays by Molière: La Critique de l’École des femmes (June 1663) and l’Impromptu de Versailles (October 1663). These are plays about plays.
I have been editing older posts and have noticed that some videos feature singers and fiddlers who let their feet dance. There are similarities between Celtic music and French Canadian folklore. Nicolas Pellerin dances: podorythmie.
French Canada also has fiddlers, as do many cultures, as well as legends. La Chasse-galerie is one such legend. Honoré Beaugrand wrote its finest telling. It is rooted in French legends. I will look for translations or retell the legends.
In the area of folklore, our best source could be the Voyageur Heritage Community Journal & Resource Guide (WordPress).
I was writing a post that was erased. So I will be brief. I have started to edit my Canadiana pages: 1 and 2. To a significant extent, literature is written in a context. It may not be a clear product of its time nor a clear product of an author’s life, but it doesn’t stand in a void. For instance, there are elements such as intertextualité, archetypes, genres, modes, themes, and an author and his time.
The two pages listing posts on French Canada contain the title of literary works reflecting the history of French Canada. They require a little dusting. Much has happened since 2012, when many of these posts were written.
New France fell to Britain in 1759 (Quebec City), 1760 (Montreal), and by virtue of the Treaty of Paris, 1763. The Quebec Act (1774) gave French-speaking Canadians a status that approximated the status of English-speaking Canadians. The Governor of Canada was Guy Carleton, 1st Baron Dorchester.
2. The Constitutional Act, 1791
After the American Revolutionary War, the United Empire Loyalists moved to Canada. The Constitutional Act of 1791 divided the large province of Quebec into Upper Canada and Lower Canada. Most of the inhabitants of Upper Canada spoke English. In Lower Canada, the majority of Canadians were French-speaking (Canadiens). English-speaking newcomers also settled in Lower Canada. The Eastern Townships would be home to a large number of English-speaking Canadians. But many French-speaking Canadians felt Lower Canada was their land.
Both the citizens of Upper Canada and Lower Canada rebelled in 1837-1838. The Crown levied money from its British North American colonies.
3. The Act of Union, 1840
Lord Durham investigated the Rebellions of 1837-1838. He recommended the union of the two Canadas. He hoped English-speaking Canadians would outnumber French-speaking Canadians.
In other words, Canada had a responsible government 16 years before Confederation was signed. Confederation was the crowning event in a quest that began when the large Province of Quebec was divided into Upper Canada and Lower Canada. However, in 1867, French-speaking Canadians signed a document, the Constitution of Canada, Confederation, that precluded their living outside Quebec, if they wanted to be educated in French.
Confederation: Rupert’s Land
Another precedent rooted in the Act of Union, and the most unfortunate for French-speaking Canadians, was Lord Durham’s hope that French-speaking Canadians would become a minority in the large Province of Canada. The Province of Canada was a short-lived administration. It lasted a mere sixteen (16) years, which did not allow English-speaking Canadians to become more numerous than French-speaking Canadians.
However, matters would differ after the B.N.A (British North America) Act (1867) was passed. The B.N.A. Act federated Ontario (Canada West), Quebec (Canada East), New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia. Once the Confederation joined the four provinces purchased Rupert’s Land from the Hudson’s Bay Company, Canada could stretch from sea to sea, which it did. British Columbia was promised an intercontinental railroad, a promise that brought it into Confederation, on 10 July 1871. By the turn of the century, the province of Quebec had become one of nine (9) provinces, and, with the addition of Newfoundland (1949), it could become one of ten (10) provinces. where French-speaking Canadians could not be educated in French. The above is somewhat repetitive, but beginning in 1837-1838, English Canadians and French Canadians sought responsible government, not division.
After Confederation, Quebec was one of a handful of provinces and soon the only province where French-speaking Canadians could be educated in French. Until 1998, Montreal had its Protestant School Board of Greater Montreal. It was founded in 1951 as a replacement for the Montreal Protestant Central Board. (See Protestant School Board of Greater Montreal, Wikipedia.) Quebec has been officially unilingual since 1974, under Robert Bourassa (Bill-22), but, despite its status, English-speaking Canadians residing in Quebec can live a lifetime without knowing French.
The War of 1812
The acquisition of Canada this year, as far as the neighborhood of Quebec, will be a mere matter of marching, and will give us experience for the attack of Halifax the next, and the final expulsion of England from the American continent.
Yet, English speaking and French speaking Canadians had acquired a sense of identity sooner than Lord Durham had expected. To a significant extent, the Act of Quebec (1774) had put French Canadians on the same footing as English-speaking citizens of the colony. My best example would be the War of 1812. Amerindians fought for their waning freedom. Tecumseh joined the group. Richard Pierpoint assembled a Coloured Corps. He was born a free man and would die a free man. As for French Canadians, they had been conquered some 50 years before the War of 1812, yet, the Voltigeurs, under the command of Major Charles de Salaberry, proved a fine regiment.
It saddens me that an effort was made to impede French-speaking Canada’s growth, but New France had been a colony, and Britain was a colonist. The inhabitants of planet Earth share affinities that override ethnicity, which is the story Robert Baldwin and Louis-Hippolyte LaFontaine told us and which is one of the finest Canadian stories.
Let me open this post by saying that the Constitution of 1867, or BNA Act, Confederation, was an act of Britain’s parliament. Upper Canada (Ontario), Lower Canada (Quebec), as well as the Maritime Provinces (New Brunswick and Nova Scotia) were colonies of Britain. The Rebellions of 1837-1838 opposed Canadians and the Crown, not English-speaking and French-speaking Canadians.
L’A.A.N.B. est une loi du Parlement britannique, il ne résulte pas de la volonté des peuples du Canada, mais de la volonté d’appropriation d’un appareil d’État par la bourgeoisie canadienne.” [The BNA Act is a law of the British Parliament, it does not represent the will of the people(s) of Canada, but the will, on the part of the Canadian bourgeoisie, to take over the Government.]
So, I repeat, the Rebellions of 1837-1838 did not oppose English-speaking and French-speaking Canadians. Canadians rebelled against the Crown and the Canadian bourgeoisie: the Family Compact and the Château Clique.
Lord Durham’s Investigation & Recommendations
After the Rebellions of 1837-1838 (Lord Durham), which occurred in both Upper Canada (Toronto) and Lower Canada (Montreal), John George Lambton, 1st Earl of Durham (Lord Durham) was asked to investigate matters. He spent about five months in Canada devoting two weeks to an investigation of Upper Canada. He nevertheless produced a Report on the Rebellions and made recommendations. There were many, but they can be summed up as follows:
the Union of Upper Canada and Lower Canada,
a responsible government for Canada, and, a matter often omitted,
the use of English in the Assembly.
The Act of Union was passed in 1840, and implemented, in 1841. Upper Canada and Lower Canada became the Province of Canada and remained a colony of Britain.
The British intended that this policy would facilitate the assimilation of the French. Still, the French, led by such astute reform leaders as Louis Hippolyte LaFontaine, took advantage of divisions among the English-speaking legislators by allying themselves with the reformers from Canada West to push for responsible government and to make themselves indispensable for governmental stability.
However, Robert Balwin and Louis-Hippolyte faced opposition.
Realizing he [Sydenham] had almost no support in Lower Canada (at this time Canada East), he reorganised electoral ridings to give the Anglo-Canadian population more votes, and in areas where that was infeasible, he allowed English mobs to beat up French candidates. Louis-Hippolyte Lafontaine was one such candidate who suffered from Sydenham’s influence; Lafontaine eventually left Canada East to work with Robert Baldwin in creating a fairer union for both sides. The new constitution, after being carried through the colonial parliaments and ratified by the House of Commons, came into force on 10 February 1841. It led ultimately to the great confederation of 1867.
Robert Baldwin and Louis-Hippolyte LaFontaine were friends. In fact, Robert Baldwin arrange for Louis-Hippolyte LaFontaine to run for office in in York (Toronto) and La Fontaine won his seat.
Matters changed when three or four provinces of British North America confederated. The Province of Canada had been Upper and Lower Canada, which explains the conflicting totals of three and four. Moreover, when Confederation was passed, the Province of Canada became Ontario and Quebec, which delighted George-Étienne Cartier. French Canadians were fond of their Lower Canada whose inhabitants were not exclusively French-Canadians. Wolfred Nelson would be a mayor of Montreal.
In short, what I wish to stress is that English-speaking Canadians and French-speaking Canadians have seldom, if ever, attacked one another. Yes, as noted above, Lord Sydenham “allowed English mobs to beat up French candidates.” (See Lord Sydenham, Wikipedia). Louis Riel pushed back the armed surveyors ready to divide the Red River Settlement, bought by the Earl of Selkirk. But, truth be told, Canadians were not enclined to attack one another. There have been tensions between linguistic groups and a few bad moments, but in 1837-1838 patriots and patriotes were Canadians fighting Britain. They were led by William Lyon Mackenzie, in Upper Canada, and by Louis-Joseph Papineau, a Seigneur in Lower Canada. Papineau was also the leader of the Parti canadien. The party was the first political party in Canada and was first led by Pierre-Stanislas Bédard.
However, the Rebellion was more severe in Lower Canada. It appears the British were forwarned and Louis-Joseph Papineau, the leader of the Parti canadien, led ended up leading the patriotes. Papineau was very articulate
hangings and exile
Un Canadien errant
However, the rebels were defeated. At the conclusion of the Rebellions, many were saddened. Several patriots or patriotes were hanged or exiled. Both William Lyon Mackenzie and Louis-Joseph Papineau fled Canada. In 1842, Antoine Gérin-Lajoie composed Un Canadien errant. Few songs express in so poignant a manner the profound grief of the exiled. Editor and author Eugène Achard suggested that the song could be the National Anthem of Acadians. Acadians agreed. As well, for French-speaking Canadians, the Act of Union was a loss. French Canadians, called Canadiens, were quite comfortable in their Lower Canada, a land where they were a majority, but shared with people of different origins. The Act of Union took it away. It created a large Province of Canada were French-speaking Canadians were expected to become a minority and be assimilated.
Minorisation and Precedents
I have been asking why Protestants could be educated in English in Quebec, while French Canadians could not be educated in French outside Quebec, thereby becoming a minority. First, there was a precedent. By joining Upper Canada and Lower Canada, it was hoped that the English would be a majority.
Minorisation didn’t happen in the Earl of Durham’s Province of Canada, but it would happen in a federated Canada. English-speaking Canadians did not choose to be a majority, but in 9 of 10 provinces, waves of immigrants were educated in English. The Earl of Durham’s Province of Canada, where French Canadians were expected to constitute a minority presaged a federation that excludes the French and the Catholics. Ironically, in 1849, Papineau championed “rep. by pop.”
The Act of Union had set precedents to the Constitution of 1867. There would be no separate schools for French-speaking Canadians outside Quebec, (article 93 of the Constitution of 1867), but Parliament was bilingual (article 133). Sir Louis-Hippolyte LaFontaine had spoken French, a precedent. But Ottawa was located immediately next of Quebec. One crossed a bridge. Quebec would have a role to play in Ottawa, which is the path Sir Wilfrid Laurier used.
G.-É. Cartier’s “here and now”
George-Étienne Cartier liked Britain’s Constitutional Monarchy. Canadians would be included in a government he favoured. He had belonged to the parti bleu (the Liberals), but had switched to the parti rouge (the Conservatives). Confederation would protect Canadians from expansionnist Americans. As well, the clergy was on the side of Confederation. The Province of Canada had 48 French-speaking representatives, députés. When the matter of Confederation was put to a vote, 26 approved and 22 didn’t. Then came railways…
Conversely, French Canadians provided Canada with a mythic past. It had legends Sir Ernest MacMillan set to music. Louis Riel is a major Canadian figure, and the Canadian martyrs have become American martyrs. As well, in his Report, Lord Durham was very unsympathetic to French Canadians. They didn’t have a history nor did they have literature. French Canadians responded by creating literature in French, their patrie littéraire,or literary homeland. That is all well, but immigrants to Canada settled in provinces west of Quebec and were educated in English. One “does the math.”
A will to assimilate French Canadians underlies the Earl of Durham’s report and the Act of Union, his main recommendation. The Province of Canada is a prelude to Confederation. Statues of John A. Macdonald are in storage and, having researched this post, I suspect Lord Durham’s demeaning view of French-speaking informs both the Act of Union and the Constitution of 1867, Confederation.
 Micheline Bourbeau-Walker, « Le Récit d’Acadie : présence d’une absence », in Édouard Langille et Glenn Moulaison, Les Abeilles pilottent,* mélanges offerts à René LeBlanc (Pointe de l’Église, Revue de l’Université Sainte-Anne, 1998), pp. 255-275. *The title refers to Montaigne‘s opinion on education (See L’Encyclopédie de l’Agora).
I’m sending a photograph of me. It was taken by my friend John on his birthday which happens to be three days before Christmas. My dear friend Paulina and I drove to Magog to celebrate. We brought cake, wine and other goodies. But John insisted on cooking the meal, including his version of a French Canadian tourtière.
John has white hair, but mine is grey. We are ageing. Paulina’s is black.
As for my long absence from my blog, it was caused by a password catastrophe. My memory is not as good as it was, so passwords have become a major nuisance. I live alone, and no one else uses my computer. Would that I didn’t have to remember passwords!
I have been working on the Canadian Confederation, English-speaking and French-speaking Canadians are compatible cultures. Moreover, as immigrants arrived, members of the Orange Order were no longer be a majority. However, I believe a discussion of this matter belongs elsewhere. John’s birthday dinner was celebrated by three Canadians of different origins. These friendships are happy friendships, strong friendships.
Canadians have honoured Sir John A MacDonald for a very long time. However, statues of John A. MacDonald are being put in storage and one, perhaps more, has been vandalized. He was a father of Confederation, if not the Father of Confederation. So, what happened?
First, as we have seen in earlier posts, when Canada grew westward, the White population settled on land they had appropriated from Amerindians on the basis of “conquest,” a disgraceful leftover from the “age of discovery.” Moreover, as we have also seen in earlier posts, Rupert’s Land, which Canada bought from the Hudson’s Bay Company, did not include settled land, such as the Red River Settlement, bought by the Earl of Selkirk, and lands inhabited by Amerindians.
As for Quebec, it seems it was drawn into a Confederation that also excluded it. John A. Macdonald was an Orangeman, a fraternity that was inimical to Catholics and the French. The people of Quebec could not be educated in French outside Quebec. Waves of immigrants arrived who would live in provinces other than Quebec and be educated in English. We have already discussed the school question.
However, recognition occurred 102 years after Confederation (1867) when English had become the language spoken outside Quebec. The French had been in North America since 1534.
In short, what of such concepts as nationhood and the rights afforded conquerors and, first and foremost, what of Canada’s Confederation? If Confederation demanded that the children of Francophones be educated in English, outside Quebec, their children were likely to be Anglophones. So, what of Quebec nationalism. Separatism is usually associated with Quebecers, but it isn’t altogether québécois. Not if the children of French Canadians had to be educated in English outside Quebec and not if immigrants to Canada were sent to English-speaking communities.
Sir George-Étienne Cartier was pleased that Quebec would remain Quebec. The population of Quebec would retain its “code civil,” its language, its religion, and its culture while belonging to a strong partnership. He may have been afraid.
I’ve published posts about or featuring Sir Ernest Macmillan. Sir Ernest MacMillan was, for decades, English Canada’s most prominent figure in the area of music.
Moving to Toronto
David and I had just moved to Toronto and we needed a home. While I was resting, David drove up and down the streets I liked. He saw a sign on a large tree and a lady standing by. She owned the house and she was Sir Ernest MacMillan’s niece. Yes, she would let me play the piano. I liked the little apartment very much. We moved to Walmsley Boulevard two weeks later. Andrea would be my best friend for nearly fifty years.
I have told this story, so let us hear Sir Ernest MacMillan’s “learned” version of the piece. It is learned because it has been composed and/or arranged. As interpreted by the McGariggle sisters, Blanche comme la neige belongs to folklore, or an “oral” tradition. It is as though it had yet to be composed. It is also somewhat naïve and forever renewed.
Let us return to our “learned” song. It was arranged, or composed, by Sir Ernest and is interpreted by Toronto’s Mendelssohn Choir, founded by Sir Ernest MacMillan (click on 2). We can classify this interpretation as “learned” because Sir Ernest set it to music. He also set to music “Notre Seigneur en pauvre,” a song I mentioned a few posts away. His Two Sketches on French Canadian Airs (click on 3) combines Blanche comme neige and Notre Seigneur en pauvre (Our Lord as a poor man). I do not know of a separate Notre Seigneur en pauvre. “À Saint-Malo,” French folklore, is number 4.
La belle s’est endormie sur un beau lit de roses The beauty fell asleep on a beautiful bed of roses La belle s’est endormie sur un beau lit de roses The beauty fell asleep on a beautiful bed of roses Blanche comme la neige belle comme le jour White as snow, beautiful as [the] day Ils sont trois capitaines qui vont lui faire l’amour There are three captains who will make love with her
Le plus jeune des trois la prend par sa main blanche The youngest of the three takes her by her white hand Le plus jeune des trois la prend par sa main blanche The youngest of the three takes her by her white hand Montez, montez princesse dessus mon cheval gris Climb, climb Princess on top of my gray horse A Paris j’vous mène dans un fort beau logis To Paris, I’m taking you, to a beautiful home
Finissant ce discours le capitaine rentre As he stopped speaking, the captain comes in Finissant ce discours le capitaine rentre As he stopped speaking, the captain comes in Mangez buvez la belle selon votre appétit Eat and drink Beauty to your appetite Avec un capitaine vous passerez la nuit With a captain you will spend the night
Au milieu du repas la belle a [sic] tombé morte In the middle of the meal, the beauty dropped dead Au milieu du repas la belle a tombé morte In the middle of the meal, the beauty dropped dead Sonnez, sonnez les cloches, tambour au régiment Ring, ring the bells, beat the drums regiment Ma maîtresse elle est morte à l’âge de quinze ans My mistress she has died at the age of fifteen
Mais au bout de trois jours son père s’y promène But at the end of three days her father walks by Mais au bout de trois jours son père s’y promène But at the end of three days her father walks by Ouvrez, ouvrez ma tombe mon père si vous m’aimez Open, open my coffin my father if you love me Trois jours j’ai fait la morte pour mon honneur garder For three days I’ve played dead, for my honor to keep
The translation above is mostly word for word, so one can understand the original French. It is a folk song and folk legend, from French Canada or France. It is only remotely related to Christmas, because Beauty is as white as snow.