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Marius Barbeau

Charles Marius Barbeau is recognized as one of Canada's first and most renowned anthropologists and folklorists. He was born in 1883 in Sainte-Marie de Beauce, Québec. Barbeau was a Rhodes scholar with degrees in law and anthropology, the latter from Oxford University. In 1911 he joined the Anthropological Division of the Geological Survey of Canada. He worked there as an ethnologist, folklorist and ethnomusicologist until his retirement in 1949. Barbeau remained closely associated with the Museum until his death in 1969.

Barbeau's first research initiative was the study of Aboriginal cultures in Canada, including their languages, songs, customs, legends, art and social organization. He worked among the Huron and Iroquois in Quebec and Ontario, the Wyandot in Oklahoma and several nations in British Columbia including Tsimshian peoples. During the course of his fieldwork Barbeau filled several thousand pages of note books, made more than 1,300 sound recordings on wax cylinders, and took thousands of photographs. His interests also included the study of French Canada and, as a folklorist, he collected the folk songs, tales, legends, and art of French Canadians.

Barbeau's legacy provides future generations an unprecedented view of the traditional cultures of the Aboriginal and French Canadian peoples he studied. His publications number over 1,000 titles and his archival material includes 12 linear metres of manuscripts, more than 30 linear metres of research notes, some 13,000 photographs and 3,800 sound recordings. Whatever his area of interest, Barbeau was an inveterate collector, acquiring more than 2,000 objects for the Museum from across Canada.

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