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Mary Travers, « La Bolduc »

Great Canadians

Title

Mary Travers, « La Bolduc »

Denomination

43¢

Date of Issue

August 12, 1994

Year

Quantity

7,500,000

Postal Administration

Canada

Series

Great Canadians

Series Time Span

1994

Perforation or Dimension

13.5

Printer

Canadian Bank Note Company, Limited.

Creators

Designed by Pierre Fontaine.

About Stamp

Two of Canada's "brightest lights" will be honoured on the 100th anniversary of their birth with a se tenant pair of stamps portraying World War I aviator Billy Bishop, and Quebec's first chansonnière Mary Travers, popularly known as "La Bolduc". Born Marie Rose Anne Travers on June 24, 1894, the future chansonnière grew up in the Gaspé. She left her native Newport at the age of 13 for Montreal to work as a domestic helper for a well-do-to family. At the age of 20, she married plumber Édouard Bolduc, and 13 children followed. She began her singing career out of necessity. Her husband was ill, times were tough and there were plenty of mouths to feed. On weekends there would be friendly neighbourhood gatherings with music, song and dancing. One attendee was Roméo Beaudry, manager of Starr Records. Mme Bolduc caught his attention with the playing of the violin, harmonica, accordian, and the "guimbarde", commonly known as a jew's-harp. He hired her as a background violinist. In 1927, Conrad Gauthier asked her to sing and play the violin as a replacement at the Monument National. He also encouraged her to write her own songs. This paid off later. The song that launched her career in 1929 was "La Cuisinière", selling more than 10,000 copies. What truly distinguished La Bolduc was her "turluteries", a very specific sound made when the tongue hits the roof of the mouth. It clicks. Her songwriting was phonetic - often a humourous observation of the daily routines, habits and behaviour of the working class. She wrote about her work, money, love and life in general. Many of her texts were an accurate portrait of the difficulties of the "little people" experienced during the Great Depression. A car accident interrupted her career in 1937. Undaunted by her serious injuries, three months later she was back on stage, cast, crutches and all. Then a malignant tumor was discovered. Radium treatment was the only solution at the time. Still, not wanting to disappoint her public, she continued to perform. She returned to Montreal in the fall of 1939 and made a few appearances before entering hospital in December 1940, where she died on February 20, 1941. The background of the La Bolduc stamp is reminiscent of one of those soirées du bon vieux temps with a young Bolduc playing the harmonica. To her left are Mme Villeneuve, accordianist and Gustave Doiron, violinist.
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Reference

Canada Post Corporation. Canada's Stamps Details, Vol. 3, No. 4, 1994, p. 10-12.

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