Tomorrow is 24 June or in French Canada, Saint Jean Baptiste Day, the national holiday of Catholic French Canada. In years past this day was marked in Montreal by a giant parade with marching bands, floats, and participation by thousands of people in this parade and not to forget a cute 12 yr old pale blond curly hair with blue eyes St-John the Baptist, because we all know that Jewish people living in the Promise land 2000 plus years ago were all Aryans. The only other parade of this size would be Santa Claus Parade on Sainte Catherine Street organized by the EATON Company.
Since the mid-70’s the parade made way to open air concerts and music festivals in various parks in Quebec City and Montreal. The parade lost its appeal because it was too closely associated with the Catholic Church and as society became more secular the politicians changed the meaning of the event to a culture and nationalistic message centred on the French people who settled in Canada around 1600.
This song by Conrad Gauthier (1885-1964) a very well known artist, composer and musician who worked with many great names in French Canada at the time and even had at the Monument National in Montréal years of shows and success. The words may be difficult to understand for a non-French speaker with its many allusions to distinctly name place and situations of the time. However a quick translation tells you the story of a man and his wife who live in the country side, they are Habitants, which is difficult to translate because the meaning is a lot more than farmers. They go to Montreal for the procession (parade) he uses that word because this parade had a solemn religious side to it and he is directed to a street Au Pied du Courant, an interesting choice of street given that this is where the old Jail is located in the East end of Montreal by the river where les Patriotes were hanged by the British putting down a rebellion in 1837 about representative government. A sight any French Canadian would know and a symbol of British oppression. The parade goes by and of course he is delighted and happy and scream like a perdu, meaning here that he screams like the damned in hell. He concludes the song by saying that he will never forget this day in Montreal.
This song reminded me of my childhood and of those old traditions. The song is sung to the tune of a children’s song from Old France, Cadet Rousselle. Cadet R. has 3 houses, 3 sons, 3 dogs, 3 suits, he is a good guy.
There is no celebration here in PEI or the Maritimes of St-Jean Baptiste Day because we are in Acadian country and though they are French also, their story is very different from the rest of Canada. The Acadians have other days of commemoration.
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