This folk-inspired song, which blends traditional music with the modern-sounding progressive rock of the era, remains to this day a Quebec classic. Though clearly a tribute to the songwriter’s native Abitibi region, it can be said that La Bittt à Tibi became an instant Quebec emblem. No other region of Quebec has been celebrated in song with as much passion.
Located in North-Western Quebec, the Abitibi region (now known as Abitibi-Témiscamingue) is a vast territory of mostly pristine lands dominated by forests and lakes, and rich in mining and forestry resources. The Abitibi region has a colonial past of nearly 100 years and an 8,000-year Amerindian history. With a major part of the region’s revenues flowing from lumber exploitation, agricultural development began in 1911. In 1923, the discovery of the deposit that became the Noranda Mine attracted gold prospectors and settlers to the area from every part of Canada and Europe.
With La Bittt à Tibi, Raôul Duguay brings us right into his ‘country’ of Abitibi, while paying tribute to the hard work of the lumberjacks and miners who built the economy of the region and of the province as a whole. Duguay’s lyrics also draw on images of rivers, wild blueberries, forests and hard winters, and his puns and playful descriptions bring back memories of a childhood coloured by wilderness, happiness, courage and poverty.
Recently, under the same-sounding new title of Le Beat à Ti-Bi, the song was covered with great success by Raôul Duguay and the hip pop artist Anodajay, who also hails from Abitibi. Some ten covers of La Bittt à Tibi have been released by well-known artists, but Raôul Duguay’s own original version remains the universal reference.