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Songs of the Voyageur


Souffler les paroles manquantes Guess the missing lyrics

How well do you know the songs of the voyageur?

You might already know some French songs, such as À la claire fontaine, but did you know that this song was a favourite of French-Canadian voyageurs? The voyageurs sang centuries-old songs for pleasure, to describe their world or to give rhythm to their work. Many were highly poetic and inspirational.

Voyageur songs were not just about everyday routines. They also sang of their duties, leaving their loved ones, and even of food. Songs were repetitive and the rhythms followed the strokes of the canoe paddles. They fell into three categories:

  • Laments telling the story of tragic events tied to the fur trade;
  • French ballads of New France adapted to the realities of the Voyageurs;
  • Work songs of the French-Canadian labourers.

Each song tells a story. Some examples are En roulant ma boule, which describes the adventures of a prince going off to hunt; À la claire fontaine is about lost love between a young man and a young woman; C'est l'aviron tells the story of a man who meets three young ladies on his journeys; Petit rocher de la haute montagne describes the epic adventures of Jean Cadieux, a legendary French-Canadian voyageur.

Did you know?

To hear these lively traditional songs, simply click a music icon below:

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