In 1905, the arts in Quebec were not yet very developed. Since radio and television did not yet exist, culture was still being passed on through traditional means. People would still get together to sing songs and tell stories or legends. Since there were still many people who could not read, books were not yet very popular.
Until the early 20th century, most famous songs sung by Quebeckers were traditional songs whose authors were largely unknown. “A La Claire Fontaine” is one of the best-known traditional songs in Quebec. Quebec’s traditional music was also influenced by Celtic music and Irish jigs. Evening dances were very popular at the time, and people would get together to sing and dance.
In the 1930s, Mary Travers, who was known as “La Bolduc”, became very popular by singing songs about the life of French Canadians. She released several records and for one of the very first times, a female author was known for her songs. Several other French-Canadian artists followed her example and the Quebec “chanson” rapidly grew in popularity from that moment on.
See French video: Les arts Quebec vers 1905 at http://primaire.recitus.qc.ca/sujets/10/langue-culture-et-religion/3785
Literature and the theatre
Literature and the theatre followed a similar path as music. However, the first original works from Quebec appeared at the end of the 19th century. Before that, people mostly read books from France. Books written in Quebec often copied the French style. Émile Nelligan (1879-1941) was one of the first Quebec poets to be internationally recognized for writing about life in Quebec. Quebec also served as the backdrop of a famous novel written by French author Louis Hémon (1880-1913), entitled “Maria Chapdelaine.” The novel tells the story of French Canadians living in the Lac Saint-Jean region. The book was sold around the world, translated into several languages and adapted for the big screen several times.
Following this success, French-Canadian authors became more interested in Quebec. For example, Claude-Henri Grignon (1894-1976) published “Un homme et son péché” (a man and his sin) in 1933, which became another very popular novel about life in rural Quebec.
Author: Alexandre Lanoix
See also – Traces of the past: