This collection of articles, exhibits, images and quizzes explores francophone Canada in all its complexity, bringing its communities, institutions and struggles for language and education rights into focus. It also showcases francophone culture in Canada, from arts, literature, music, folklore and symbols to the identity and heritage of these communities. Above image: Saint Boniface Cathedral, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Nov. 2013. 38962960 © Wwphoto | Dreamstime.com
The Association des Frères-Chasseurs was a secret society that aimed to free Canada from British rule. It was founded by Patriote exiles following their defeat in 1837. The association took several cues from the Masons, including a variety of rituals, oaths, hand signs and passwords. Commanded by Dr. Robert Nelson, the association quickly spread throughout the American borderland and Lower Canada. The association played a major role in the second phase of the Canadian rebellion, planning and leading the failed invasion of Lower Canada in November 1838. The Frères-Chasseurs and Hunters’ Lodges were part of the same general association with similar aims, practices and rituals. While one was organized by American sympathizers, the other was organized by Lower Canadian Patriotes.
Jeunesses Laurentiennes (also known as Jeunes Laurentiens; both expressions mean “Laurentian youth”) was a French-Canadian nationalist youth movement founded in 1936. With a traditional vision of society, in which the Catholic religion played a central role, Jeunesses Laurentiennes organized conferences and celebrations, published a magazine, and occasionally acted as a pressure group. Until the organization was disbanded in 1950, it served as a training ground for many young militant French-Canadian nationalists.
Acadian cinema (films by francophone filmmakers from Canada’s Maritime provinces) consists of about 300 documentaries and 50 fiction and animated films. The first films by Acadian filmmakers were shot in 1956. The National Film Board’s Studio Acadie opened in Moncton, New Brunswick, in 1974. As of 2017, about 10 independent, French-language film production companies were operating in Moncton and Caraquet, New Brunswick and Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Lynda Lemay, singer-songwriter (born 25 July 1966 in Portneuf-Station, Québec). A Knight of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres and the recipient of numerous Félix Awards as well as one Victoire de la musique award, Québec artist Lynda Lemay showcases French-language music across the French-speaking world.
Phil Comeau, CM, ONB, film director, screenwriter and producer (born 1956 in Saulnierville, Nova Scotia). This Acadian director’s films have received over 55 awards in Canada and abroad. They address subjects such as youth, human relationships, art, history and Acadian identity. His film Le secret de Jérôme (1994) garnered some 15 awards and is regarded as the first independent Acadian feature film produced in Canada. Comeau’s 2016 documentary feature Zachary Richard, toujours batailleur/Zachary Richard, Cajun Heart received the La Vague Léonard-Forest Award and the Audience Choice Award at the FICFA international francophone film festival in Moncton, New Brunswick and the Director’s Choice Award - Documentary Feature at the Cinema on the Bayou Film Festival in Lafayette, Louisiana.
Paul Hébert, OC, CQ, actor, director, artistic director (born 28 May 1924 in Thetford Mines, Québec; died 20 April 2017 in Québec City). A titan of Québec theatre, film and TV, Paul Hébert received several performance awards over the course of his career. The first francophone Canadian trained at the Old Vic Theatre in London, England, Hébert was closely associated with the Théâtre du Trident in Québec City during the 1970s, as the theatre’s co-founder, actor, director and artistic director. He also appeared in films by several renowned Québec directors such as Gilles Carle and Robert Lepage.
Marie Arzélie Éva Circé-Côté, journalist, writer and librarian (born 31 January 1871 in Montréal, QC; died 4 May 1949 in Montréal, QC). A poet and playwright, Éva Circé-Côté was the city of Montréal’s first librarian as well as the curator of the prestigious Philéas Gagnon collection. Throughout her career as a journalist, she wrote over 1,800 pieces for about a dozen newspapers under several pseudonyms. A progressive, secular free thinker, she fought for compulsory education and the status of women.
Édouard-Raymond Fabre, bookseller, politician, mayor of Montréal 1849–51, Patriote (born 15 September 1799 in Montréal, Lower Canada; died 16 July 1854 in Montréal, Canada East). Known as the “first real bookseller in Lower Canada,” Fabre’s bookstore not only provided patrons with books and supplies, but it was also a meeting place for the Patriotes. A devoted Patriote himself, he played a major role in the creation of the Maison canadienne de commerce and la Banque du peuple as well as the survival of La Minerve and the Vindicator and Canadian Advertiser. Following the 1837–38 Rebellions, Fabre helped guarantee the return of political exiles to Lower Canada, including Louis-Joseph Papineau, and was the mayor of Montréal from 1849 to 1851.
Jean Drapeau, CC, GOQ, lawyer, politician, mayor of Montréal 1954¬–57 and 1960–86 (born 18 February 1916 in Montréal, Québec; died 12 August 1999 in Montréal). Jean Drapeau’s longevity as a politician was such that during his 29 years as mayor of Montréal, seven prime ministers and nine Québec premiers took office. He gave Montréal its largest piece of urban transit infrastructure, the Montréal metro, and two of its greatest moments: a 1967 World Exposition celebrating Canada’s centennial that drew 50 million visitors, and the 1976 Olympic Summer Games. However, he also presided over the decline of Montréal as Canada’s business capital and largest city.
Mauril Adrien Jules Bélanger, politician (born 15 June 1955 in Mattawa, Ontario; died 16 August 2016 in Ottawa, Ontario). Member of Parliament for the riding of Ottawa-Vanier from 1995 to 2015, he was successively Minister responsible for Official Languages, Associate Minister of National Defence, Minister responsible for Democratic Reform and Minister for Internal Trade. Bélanger was especially known for his campaign to rewrite the words to the national anthem, “O Canada,” to remove sexist language.
Lucien Bouchard, G.O.Q., lawyer, politician and premier of Québec (born 22 December 1938 in Saint-Coeur-de-Marie, Québec). Not long before the ultimate failure of the Meech Lake Accord, Bouchard resigned as minister in the Mulroney government. With a group of Liberal and Conservative members of Parliament, he formed a new party, the Bloc Québécois, whose goal is to represent the interests of Québec in the House of Commons. A key figure in the 1995 Québec referendum, Bouchard succeeded Jacques Parizeau in January 1996 as premier of Québec, a position he held until March 2001. He then returned to practising law.
Laurent-Olivier David, lawyer, journalist, newspaper owner, writer, politician (born 24 March 1840 in Sault-au-Récollet (Montréal), QC; died 24 August 1926 in Outremont, QC). David was responsible for founding the Monument-National and was the author of a number of biographies of famous Canadians.
Daniel Johnson, GOQ, business leader, politician and premier of Québec (born 24 December 1944 in Montréal, Québec). The Vice-President of Power Corporation of Canada from 1978 to 1981, Johnson also served as a member of Québec’s National Assembly for over 25 years. After the resignation of Premier Robert Bourassa, Johnson was elected leader of the Quebec Liberal Party, and on 11 January 1994, he became the 25th premier of Québec. However, he held on to this position for only eight months: in September 1994, the Liberals lost the Québec general election to the Parti Québécois. Johnson then served as leader of the Official Opposition for nearly three years, successfully leading the “No” camp in the Québec referendum campaign of 1995. He left politics in May 1998 and subsequently worked as a lawyer and as a negotiator for the government of Québec, while also sitting on several boards of directors.
Pacifique “Pax” Plante, lawyer and police officer (born 15 July 1907 in Montréal, QC; died 9 August 1976 in Guadalajara, Mexico). Plante became famous for his war on organized crime and corruption in Montreal in the 1940s and 1950s, and is especially known for his contribution to the Caron Inquiry on public morality.
Augustin-Norbert Morin, editor, lawyer, judge, politician, Patriote (born 13 October 1803 in Saint-Michel, Lower Canada; died 27 July 1865, Sainte-Adèle-de-Terrebonne, Canada East). Augustin-Norbert Morin studied law before he became one of the most important members of the Patriote movement; he founded La Minerve, drafted the 92 Resolutions, and acted as Louis-Joseph Papineau’s lieutenant in Québec City. After the rebellion, he was one of La Fontaine’s Reformers and on two occasions, first with Francis Hincks and then Allan Napier MacNab, led the government of the Province of Canada. Between 1859 and his death in 1865, he worked on the creation of the 1866 Civil Code of Lower Canada.
Pierre Marc Johnson, G.O.Q., professor, politician, premier of Québec in 1985 (born 5 July 1946 in Montréal, QC). Johnson, a Member of the National Assembly and minister in René Lévesque’s Parti Québécois (PQ) as well as a lawyer and doctor, was sworn in as the 24th Premier of Québec on 3 October 1985. Johnson was also leader of the Official Opposition from December 1985 to November 1987, and later worked as a legal adviser, mediator and expert for various international organizations and for the Québec government.
Idola Saint-Jean, feminist and pioneer in the fight for women’s suffrage (born 19 May 1880 in Montréal, QC; died 6 April 1945 in Montréal). The first woman from Québec to run as a candidate in a federal election, she devoted over 20 years of her life to active efforts to improve women’s legal rights.1
Robertine Barry (pen name: Françoise), journalist, publisher, author and feminist (born 26 February 1863 in L’Isle-Verte, Canada East; died 7 January 1910 in Montréal, Québec). The first French-Canadian woman journalist, she was also a founding member of the Fédération nationale Saint-Jean-Baptiste and the first vice-president of the Canadian Women’s Press Club.