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Posts Tagged ‘Quebec’

(For the first in this series on great French Canadian music, click here.)

There is an ongoing trope running through popular Canadian history that ours is a divided nation. According to the myth of the “two solitudes,” French and English Canada, Quebec and the ROC, are doomed to spend eternity in the miserable company of the other, unwilling to speak, unable to get along.

Well that is a load of malarkey. Show a colonist a country with over sixty indigenous languages, and he’ll spend the next four centuries fretting about two European ones. Typical.

It must be said, however, that sometimes our linguistic differences get the best of us. I’m not prepared to say that’s at all unique to Canada, but it does have its downsides, and one of them is the lack of musical exchange between the different languages. This is a loss for listeners, of course, but it is more unfortunate for those musicians – French, English, and otherwise – who lose would-be fans and audiences. (more…)

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What is this, a pipeline for ants?

A pipeline for ants?

As the Northern Gateway Joint Review Panel continues to snake its away across British Columbia, it is difficult not to reflect that this is a hard time to be an environmentalist.

When plans were launched to build a pipeline to carry Albertan oil through Nebraska’s sensitive wetlands, it took an unprecedented amount of criticism and activism to convince President Obama to reject the application. While that decision may soon be reversed, it didn’t take long before some bright entrepreneur suggested an alternative option: why not build a pipeline some place where environmental integrity won’t be an obstacle… say, British Columbia!

…oh joy. (more…)

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You’ve done this and forgotten about it, and it wasn’t a great record – and twenty-five years later you get a letter…

From the liner notes to "Bunkhouse & Forecastle."

From the liner notes to “Bunkhouse & Forecastle.”

Almost two years ago, a friend and I left drove south from Montreal to a small town snuggled next to the American border. It was the middle of February, and our destination was the township of Hemmingford, QC, a charming but inconspicuous place you’ve probably never heard of. Our aim was to visit Stanley G. Triggs, someone neither of us had met before, and a man whom, had things been only a little different, we’d have probably never heard of either.

(more…)

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Candy wrappers litter the floor. Pumpkins are splayed out across the road. The costumes have been hung up until next year. Another Halloween has come and gone.

But every Halloween has it’s monster, and they rarely retreat so readily. Last Tuesday, on a stormy Hallow’s Eve Eve, the Parti Québecois – that most Canadian of bogeymen – opened the National Assembly of Quebec’s fall session. Despite the dire warnings, the effect was hardly befitting the seasonal timing.

As with other bogeymen, we’ve been taught to fear separatists as constitutional home wreckers, hell bent on splitting up the country and eradicating the English language. Such parables tainted rumours of an opposition coalition in 2008, and helped to keep Charest’s Liberals in power for nine years. After Wednesday’s Inaugural Speech, however, those warnings are looking rather lackluster. Owe it to the state of the sovereignty movement, or the realities of minority governance, but the Marois under the bed is no monster. (more…)

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The “two solitudes” refers to a traditional understanding of the division between English and French in this country. The term was popularized by a book of the same name by Hugh MacLennan, in which a child of an English and a French parent struggles to establish their own identity. No points for subtly there, Hugh.

Former Governor General Michaëlle Jean declared the two solitudes finished in her 2005 investiture speech, but certain doubts remain. One example that I have personally experienced is the ignorance of music across the great linguistic divide. Putting the BTO’s and Céline’s aside, there are tons of less well-known bands that some people will never discover simply because of their linguistic limitations. I would assume the ignorance lies heavier on the Anglophone side, given the overwhelming predominance of Anglo culture on the continent, but even so the tragedy of divide is held in common: francophone bands lose audiences, while young anglophones in search of new, exciting sounds miss out on some amazing music.

I was lucky enough to be exposed to some of that music while in Quebec last summer, and I’d like to share some of it here. I felt a little cheated that a musicphile like myself could be so unaware of the incredible art that was being produced in my own country. Most of it comes from the last 5 years or so, though I couldn’t resist sticking one classic – the classic – at the front. I hope there’s something here that excites you, and maybe something that encourages you to seek out le nouveau son. (more…)

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