Era Inducted To: Pioneer Era
Lyricist(s):Ovila Légaré (Montreal, Québec, le 21 juillet 1901 - Montreal, Québec, le 19 février 1978)
Comedian, host and folklorist, it was especially as a singer-songwriter that Ovila Légaré made his name in Quebec. A lover of traditional music, Légaré learned the violin at a very young age, until an accident injured his hand, drawing him to writing and acting. As an amateur actor, he first started gaining attention as a singer and dancer with his “square dances”, a traditional step dance inspired by Irish and Scottish dances. He took part in « Les Veillées du bon vieux temps » with La Bolduc at Montreal’s Monument National Theatre, and discovered he had a talent for songwriting and for singing traditional “caller” songs. Pushed by La Bolduc and musician Conrad Gauthier, Légaré wrote what became hit songs for “Les veillées”, and what are now considered classics of Quebec traditional music. These songs notably include La Bastringue, Dans l’temps du jour de l’an and Des mitaines pas de pouces.
Attuned to the economic oppression many French Canadians were facing at the time and to the 1930 economy crisis, Légaré wrote many songs about poor but honest working characters. The song Des mitaines pas de pouces tells the story of a lumberjack too poor to buy himself quality mittens and socks. The song also tells of the hardships, grueling work conditions and authority abuse many lumberjacks faced at the time.
Cover artists include: Le Vent du Nord, La Bottine souriante and Jacques Labrèque.