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

Time to Play (2)

My father, Charles Barbeau, a native of Saint-François de Beauce, had had an active and happy boyhood. He would spend evenings singing and dancing in all the counties of the Beauce and Dorchester. "A beautiful dancer" and "a good singer", he often visited "the fair sex". The folklore (of which we naturally did not know the name) was created everywhere in the life of my father and in his family relationships. My father played jigs and "reels" on his violin while tapping his foot. Often, in the evening, he would take his violin and play musingly the "Moneymusk", the "Rêve du diable". He had me dance the jigs for him. My father, in the evening, would turn his back to the large cast iron stove with three pipes (a "Québec") and would tell fairytales. We especially loved "Sinbad the Sailor", which he had learned in a book (it was not really folklore). We would often badger him to tell us another tale.

My imagination was already full of wondrous things. In our milieu, there was also a great deal of living folklore: the "beggars" of Saint-Gervais (Bellechasse). My father would amuse himself by having one speak, at the Ferland ironworks, the neighbours. My father: "What are you going to leave your children as a heritage?" "To my oldest, I will give Montmagny county, to my second, Dorchester county, to my youngest, the Beauce..." At mardi-gras, and midway through lent, people put on masks and went door to door with baskets. We would give them something, fancy biscuits, apples. During the winter, there were "apple parties". The local people got together at other's houses and played cards for apples. There were barrels of "fameuses" apples that were delivered from the city of Québec. That was the time to eat a lot. My father would always return with a half barrel that he won (or bought?). I was growing up, but my parents did not send me to school. Since my mother had been a nun, she was going to teach me herself. I was precocious.

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