Used to record music in the mid-20th century.

Folksong recordings were produced in the mid-twentieth century using machines similar to the one displayed here.

Unknown
Musée régional Restigouche Regional Museum
c. 1950
New Brunswick, CANADA
© 2007, Musée régional Restigouche Regional Museum. All Rights Reserved.


Letter from J.C. Webster to Lord Beaverbrook (1924)

HISTORIC SITES AND MONUMENTS BOARD OF CANADA Shediac, N.B., Sept. 15, 1924. Dear Lord Beaverbrook, I enclose some chanties sent me by Dr. Ganong. I hope to obtain a few more soon. While in St Andrews recently I met a lumberman who sings a number of songs and I asked Prof. Harvey, of the University of N.B., to try to arrange to make copies of them. Had there been a phonograph in the district I would have secured the music as well. As soon as these are available I shall send them to you. Harvey is an erratic fellow and might not succeed in getting the material before returning to Fredericton. However, I shall not lose track of the lumberman. My sister failed to find the Red River song, but I believe it is in one of the volumes which I quoted to you. With kind regards, Yours sincerely, (Signed) J.C. Webster

J.C. Webster
Beaverbrook Canadian Correspondence (MG H 156), Archives & Special Collections, Harriet Irving Library, University of New Brunswick
1924-09-24
CANADA Southern New Brunswick, New Brunswick, Southern New Brunswick, CANADA
70877
© 2007, Archives & Special Collections, Harriet Irving Library, UNB. All Rights Reserved.


Louise Manny meets with Lord Beaverbrook, the benefactor responsible for folk song collection.

Letter from Louise Manny to Lord Beaverbrook (October 6, 1947) "I have located a good many people who can sing [the Miramichi songs] - they live in rather out-of-the-way places, are shy and need persuasion, will, I think, need to be paid for their time, in addition to expenses to Fredericton. I think we will have to get some man to handle the matter, as there will certainly have to be drinks circulating, and someone will have to see that they don't get too inebriated, and all that...." Beaverbrook Papers, Archives & Special Collections, Harriet Irving Library, UNB.

Louise Manny
Jack Ullock, Susan Butler
1947-10-06
New Brunswick, CANADA
© 2007, Susan Butler Collection. All Rights Reserved.


Letter from Louise Manny to Lord Beaverbrook (November 21st, 1947)

Miss Louise Manny Newcastle, Miramichi New Brunswick, Canada (Rare Books, Canadiana, Americana) November 21st, 1947. Dear Lord Beaverbrook: Re: Songs. The machine and operator came over from Fredericton yesterday, and cut 15 records. They all sound very well to me. I am scouring the country for songs by Larry Gorman. He came from Nelson, worked in the Maine woods, and made up literally hundreds of songs, all of which have a real lilt and seem to me very typical of what we want. Unfortunately he has been dead these 30 years, and most of the songs are lost. So far we have his “Mary Mahoney” and the “Scow at Cowden’s Shore”, and the “Eight-pound Bass”. “Peter Emberley”, they say, was made up by John Calhoun of Boiestown, and he made up many more, which seem to have been lost. Maybe a day in Boiestown will produce some of them. We are just in time to preserve what there are in the country. I think another ten years will see the last of them. I do not believe there are many original tunes. The “Miramichi Fire” may be, but I think it is likely taken from an old hymn. These ballads resemble plainsong, there is just the melodic line, no harmony. Though they are by no means great music, I think they will be intensely interesting to musicians…. Kindest regards, Sincerely, (Signed) Louise Manny

Louise Manny
Beaverbrook Canadian Correspondence (MG H 156), Archives & Special Collections, Harriet Irving Library, University of New Brunswick
1947-11-21
CANADA Northern New Brunswick, New Brunswick, Northern New Brunswick, CANADA
11966
© 2007, Archives & Special Collections, Harriet Irving Library, UNB. All Rights Reserved.


In 1947 Lord Beaverbrook opened up a new world for me by saying, “Why don’t you go out and collect New Brunswick folksongs? I’ll send you a fine recording machine.”

I had a few sketchy ideas of folksongs. I knew people had collected them in the Appalachian Mountains, that folksong societies existed in England, and that European countries held festivals at which people in quaint costumes sang the songs of their ancestors. But I didn’t know that folksongs were sung all around me in New Brunswick.

So I said to Lord Beaverbrook, “Folksongs? I don’t believe there are any – not nowadays at least – unless someone can remember Peter Emberley which your brother Traven used to sing.”

“Nonsense” said His Lordship, “of course they have folksongs…Any amount of songs. Just you start collecting, and you’ll have a lot of fun.”

What a masterpiece of understatement that was! “Little did I think what lay before me!” as the old songs are fond of saying…

That we would be on the radio, and that people in country districts Read More

In 1947 Lord Beaverbrook opened up a new world for me by saying, “Why don’t you go out and collect New Brunswick folksongs? I’ll send you a fine recording machine.”

I had a few sketchy ideas of folksongs. I knew people had collected them in the Appalachian Mountains, that folksong societies existed in England, and that European countries held festivals at which people in quaint costumes sang the songs of their ancestors. But I didn’t know that folksongs were sung all around me in New Brunswick.

So I said to Lord Beaverbrook, “Folksongs? I don’t believe there are any – not nowadays at least – unless someone can remember Peter Emberley which your brother Traven used to sing.”

“Nonsense” said His Lordship, “of course they have folksongs…Any amount of songs. Just you start collecting, and you’ll have a lot of fun.”

What a masterpiece of understatement that was! “Little did I think what lay before me!” as the old songs are fond of saying…

That we would be on the radio, and that people in country districts would walk miles on Sunday afternoons to hear “our own songs” and that lumber camps would stop work to hear our Wednesday afternoon programs.

All these conversations gradually introduced us to a phase of folk culture we had never known existed – the folk traditions and folksongs that have survived in spite of changing fashions and formal education.

What is folksong? Broadly, says the Library of Congress, it consists of songs which people sing from memory for their own and their friends’ pleasure. Many of the Miramichi songs were composed by the folk themselves, and passed on by word of mouth. Some of our singers have never seen the words or music of the songs they sing, in print.

We found a mixture of very old songs (some of ours are literally a thousand years old) with later and even contemporary songs modeled on the ancient ones.
Our forefathers brought from the Old Country some of the old ballads, which are still being sung on the Miramichi. Along with the very old songs they brought the street songs – onetime contemporary verses about local happenings. These last are the true prototypes of our come-all-ye’s (so called because they usually begin ‘come all ye jolly lumbermen – or farmers – or sailors – and listen unto me’).

The Miramichi songs are usually sung without accompaniment, and by one singer alone. To the listener whose ear is trained to expect a musical background and modern harmony, songs are based on the modal or gaping scales sound monotonous, but when one learns to understand them one is struck by their sincerity and charm. 

Louise Manny, Songs of Miramichi,  pp. 15 - 19
© 1968, Brunswick Press. All Rights Reserved.

Letter from Stan Cassidy to Lord Beaverbrook (September 3, 1948)

Stan Cassidy General Electrical Contractors 415 King Street Fredericton, N.B. September 3, 1948 Lord Beaverbrook’s Office 121/8, Fleet Street, London E. C. 4 Attention: Mr. A.G. Millar Dear Mr. Millar: In reference to your letter of August 11th, regarding the recording of more songs for Lord Beaverbrook, at Newcastle. We have portable equipment which is suitable for that purpose. As before, the arrangements with the participants would have to be made by Miss Louise Manny and we would then proceed to Newcastle and do whatever recording was required. The charge for this service, including equipment, is twenty-five dollars a day and expenses. Expenses in this case would involve meals, lodging and transportation. Yours faithfully, (Signed) S.B. Cassidy per MIF Stan Cassidy

Stan Cassidy
Beaverbrook Canadian Correspondence (MG H 156), Archives & Special Collections, Harriet Irving Library, University of New Brunswick
1948-09-03
CANADA Southern New Brunswick, New Brunswick, Southern New Brunswick, CANADA
12055
© 2007, Archives & Special Collections, Harriet Irving Library, UNB. All Rights Reserved.


Having been “rared” in Miramichi (as a folksong might put it), I suppose I have always been interested in the folksongs and the folklore of my native country. Certainly as a child it was impossible to be unaware of this facet of rural society. My eldest brothers were woodsmen in their younger years, and my father kept his hands in the lumbering business until his final illness forced him from it.

Our home in McNamee was a sort of mid-way point for men going to and from the local lumbering camps (or elsewhere, for that matter) and, like most children, I was fascinated by their adult conversation. I am back “on the banks of the Miramichi” as I write, and the memory of being too afraid to go to bed after hearing sensational woodsmen’s tales (particularly the one about the wall of the camp falling away revealing the devil in all his satanic glory) is all too vivid!

My father loved to tell me the horrible tale of the murder in the lumbering camp on the Dungarvon near what is now called Whooper’s Spring, but I did not know at that time that his friend Michael Whelan had immortalized that dreadful event in one of our folksongs ( Read More
Having been “rared” in Miramichi (as a folksong might put it), I suppose I have always been interested in the folksongs and the folklore of my native country. Certainly as a child it was impossible to be unaware of this facet of rural society. My eldest brothers were woodsmen in their younger years, and my father kept his hands in the lumbering business until his final illness forced him from it.

Our home in McNamee was a sort of mid-way point for men going to and from the local lumbering camps (or elsewhere, for that matter) and, like most children, I was fascinated by their adult conversation. I am back “on the banks of the Miramichi” as I write, and the memory of being too afraid to go to bed after hearing sensational woodsmen’s tales (particularly the one about the wall of the camp falling away revealing the devil in all his satanic glory) is all too vivid!

My father loved to tell me the horrible tale of the murder in the lumbering camp on the Dungarvon near what is now called Whooper’s Spring, but I did not know at that time that his friend Michael Whelan had immortalized that dreadful event in one of our folksongs (THE DUNGARVON WHOOPER). And I don’t need a psychologist today to tell me that my childhood nightmares were a direct result of hearing those lurid tales and ballads. Those who related them could not have found a more attentive audience or a more gullible one. I believed every word.

I did not hear many songs sung at home; they were always recited. We did sing them at school (the favourites being BARBARA ALLEN and BILLY BOY), and on Friday afternoons we recited the ballads we had memorized for the special “recitation” period. The songs were sung at parties and other informal evening gatherings. Of course we didn’t call them folksongs since that word was not in our vocabulary in those days; they were just songs. It never occurred to us to consider their sources. But it seems to me now that the songs were always around us. I remember Ken Miner working in the woodshed, splitting stovewood, and singing a song with a chorus that intrigued me: “O, Skid-e-o, ding-o-day.” I wondered what it meant, and when I discovered from Ken that it didn’t mean anything I was very disappointed. Indeed, it would mean something today if I could find someone who knew that song!

Yes, it was possible to hear a song anywhere. If you hitched a ride on a load of pulpwood on its way to the railroad siding you would hear the teamster singing. And it was under such circumstances that my interest in the musical side of Miramichi songs was brought into focus for the first time.

James Reginald Wilson, Songs of Miramichi, p. 37


© 1968, Brunswick Press. All Rights Reserved.

The causes dearest to Father Arsenault’s heart were education for Acadians and promotion of the French language....  As a student at the Collège Saint-Joseph, Arsenault had associated with a few professors who were trying to make the history of the Acadians better known and who advocated the preservation of their oral and material heritage. One of these was Father Philéas-Frédéric Bourgeois. It was probably through his influence that Father Arsenault, with the help of Father Théodore Gallant, a musician, collected traditional songs from older people in the Acadian community, including versions from the French repertoire as well as local compositions. These 130 pieces constitute the earliest collection of Acadian folksongs. In 1924 Senator Pascal Poirier, to whom Arsenault had given his collection, turned it over to Marius Barbeau of the Victoria Memorial Museum in Ottawa.
The causes dearest to Father Arsenault’s heart were education for Acadians and promotion of the French language....  As a student at the Collège Saint-Joseph, Arsenault had associated with a few professors who were trying to make the history of the Acadians better known and who advocated the preservation of their oral and material heritage. One of these was Father Philéas-Frédéric Bourgeois. It was probably through his influence that Father Arsenault, with the help of Father Théodore Gallant, a musician, collected traditional songs from older people in the Acadian community, including versions from the French repertoire as well as local compositions. These 130 pieces constitute the earliest collection of Acadian folksongs. In 1924 Senator Pascal Poirier, to whom Arsenault had given his collection, turned it over to Marius Barbeau of the Victoria Memorial Museum in Ottawa.

 

Dictionary of Canadian Biography


© 2007, Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online. All Rights Reserved.

A Tribute through Song to Father Anselme Chiasson

I would like to pay homage to Father Anselme Chiasson for his outstanding work in the area of folk music. I would like to talk to you about the man, his goodness, his generosity, his dedication to the Acadian cause, his understanding and respect for the Acadian people, his confidence in the future of his people. I would like to tell you of the pride with which he shares with us treasures he found among his friends - informants, singers, storywriters and storytellers, and stepdancers. But words fail me when it comes to describing this man and telling you how important he has been in all of our lives. Instead I would like to tell you that I pay homage to him every time that I sing “Le Grain de Mil,” a song so beautiful in and of itself that we are transported by singing it.

Father Chiasson, I want to thank you personally for everything you have done. You have enabled us to identify ourselves as Acadians through our traditions and through a vast stock of cultural knowledge that you have saved from oblivion.

We will take steps to make sure Read More
A Tribute through Song to Father Anselme Chiasson

I would like to pay homage to Father Anselme Chiasson for his outstanding work in the area of folk music. I would like to talk to you about the man, his goodness, his generosity, his dedication to the Acadian cause, his understanding and respect for the Acadian people, his confidence in the future of his people. I would like to tell you of the pride with which he shares with us treasures he found among his friends - informants, singers, storywriters and storytellers, and stepdancers. But words fail me when it comes to describing this man and telling you how important he has been in all of our lives. Instead I would like to tell you that I pay homage to him every time that I sing “Le Grain de Mil,” a song so beautiful in and of itself that we are transported by singing it.

Father Chiasson, I want to thank you personally for everything you have done. You have enabled us to identify ourselves as Acadians through our traditions and through a vast stock of cultural knowledge that you have saved from oblivion.

We will take steps to make sure that your magnificent work is carried on for the generations to come and that “Le Grain de Mil” celebrates and pays homage to you throughout the world.

Yours forever in song,



Edith Butler 





En r’montant la tradition: Hommage au père Anselme Chiasson
Les Éditions d’Acadie, 1982, p. 11
Ronald Labelle and Lauraine Leger

© 1982, Les Éditions d'Acadie. All Rights Reserved.

Ronald Labelle has been responsible for preserving many folk songs of Acadie.

Ronald Labelle, who had been responsible for the folklore department at the Acadian Studies Centre at the University of Moncton from 1979 to 2005, has been designated by the McCain Foundation as the first Chair of Acadian ethnological research at the University of Moncton.

Le Moniteur Acadien
2007-05-23
CANADA Atlantic Provinces, Atlantic Provinces, CANADA
© 2007, Le Moniteur Acadien. All Rights Reserved.


Louise Manny and Helen Creighton recording Chief John Augustine

Louise Manny and Helen Creighton collecting folksongs with Chief John Augustine and Mary Sanipas at Red Bank in northern New Brunswick in 1953.

Richard H. Smith
c. 1953
CANADA Northern New Brunswick, New Brunswick, Northern New Brunswick, CANADA
989-108-928
© 2007, New Brunswick Museum, Saint John, N.B.. All Rights Reserved.


Learning Objectives

Learners will understand the steps taken by individuals determined to preserve the New Brunswick heritage of folk music.

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