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Marius Barbeau A glimpse of Canadian Culture (1883-1969)
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Barbeau's Story

The Popularizer (1)

Through the courses I offered at universities such as the University of Ottawa, Université de Montréal and Université Laval, I was able to spread the knowledge of folklore.

(This ensured that Barbeau's efforts to preserve and popularize Canadian cultural heritage would have far-reaching effects. This was a goal throughout his career. He gave hundreds of conferences to audiences of all ages and from all walks of life.)

Folksongs and traditions, as collected today, are materials for the future arts of Canada, either musical, literary or plastic arts. They are the basic materials. These are available to all Canadians and the modern arts cannot develop in a way that reveals originality unless these are known by our artists and creators of present day. In order to create good music you have to have a basic material somewhere and this is in our folk music either Indian or French-Canadian or Scottish or Irish. These have to be consulted and absorbed by the creators, the composers. If they don't do that, they miss the boat. In the past it has happened that way. All the great composers have used the music they knew in their own churches, in plain chants, in Gregorian chants. From Vivaldi on, they all based themselves on the knowledge of their own native music.

Canada is a very rich country from the point of view of its traditions of the past. It has inherited, it's inheriting still at present, the traditions of Siberia, of Mongolia, of China that have come with the Indians over the Bering Strait or over the sea into our continent and are now preserved in our country. Or they are the traditions of Europe that have come from the other side across the Atlantic with the settlers and are to be found everywhere here. And not only the materials themselves but the talents, the ability to think or to feel, inherited in each household is of very considerable importance. It will be the wealth of the country. They are indispensable if Canada is to survive!

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