Serial Dramas

Serial dramas on the radio are derived from theatre, in the sense that they stagger the successive acts in time. The narrative is built as a dramatic soap opera, in which the characters, played by actors, have a discussion, while in the background you hear realistic sounds and musical transitions. Serial dramas cover the complexity of a community or family over a long period. Between 1939 and 1960, 10 to 15 serials are presented daily on Québec’s airwaves. Written by native authors, they captured the public’s imagination by presenting a fictional dialogue in a language filled with regionalisms. Because of their addictive nature, these serial dramas created new habits for listeners, habits that transferred to television in the second half of the 20th century.

In 1935, CKAC produced Le curé du village (The Village Parish Priest) written by Robert Choquette and starring Ovila Légaré in the title role. It was the first Québec serial drama. Radio-Canada jumped in as early as 1938 with La Pension Velder (The Velder Guest House) by Robert Choquette, who also wrote the popular Métropole (1943-1956), among others. In 1939, came one of the greatest hits of this genre: Un homme et son péché (One Man and his Sin), authored by Claude-Henri Grignon and produced by Guy Maufette.

The war years were boom times for radio theatre. At the heart of authors’ and listeners’ preoccupations, the war provided the main theme for many serial dramas. They seemed to serve as an outlet for the population. The postwar period was the golden age for radio serial dramas, and their production peaked in the 1940s. The series Ceux qu’on aime (Those We Love) and Yvan l’Intrépide (Intrepid Yvan) were among the most popular at the time. 

Robin Hood Flour Mills Ltd

Download audio (1 minute 31 seconds, 1.40 MB)

The advertisement starts with a man and a woman singing. It features a teacher interrogating a little girl about the good morning habits she must have. Then, a male voice explains the benefits of Robin Hood gruel. The ad ends with the song heard previously.

ROBIN HOOD Gruel Advertisement “The Habits of a Little Girl”
Source: Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ) Old Montréal, Young & Rubicam Limited Archive Group, 1944, p. 69,

(Sung to the tune of “C'est l'aviron”):
It's Robin Hood
We eat it and eat it
It's Robin Hood
The best gruel

The breakfast of the whole family
From grandpa to the little girl

It's Robin Hood
We eat it and eat it
It's Robin Hood
The best gruel

Lady: Listen up, children! Louise, what does a good little girl do when she wakes up in the morning?
Louise: She prays.
Lady: Good! And then?
Louise: She must take a bath to be very clean.
Lady: Great! And then?
Louise: She must slowly eat a good bowl of Robin Hood gruel.

Male voice: Louise could not have put it better! What a treat for children this is, a good steamy bowl of Robin Hood gruel before going to class! What a delight for a worker working hard all day! Tomorrow morning, prepare a bowl of Robin Hood gruel for everyone in the family and watch their eyes open wide with joy when they smell this marvelous aroma. And Robin Hood is economical! It is the less expensive prepared meal. Do not hesitate to make a habit of this tradition, and eat that good Robin Hood gruel. Nothing can compare!

(Sung to the tune of “C'est l'aviron”):
It's Robin Hood
We eat it and eat it
It's Robin Hood
The best gruel

Un homme et son péché

Download audio (2 minutes 08 seconds, 1.96 MB)

An extract from the soap opera

Source: Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ) Old Montréal, Young & Rubicam Limited Archive Group
Author: Radio-Canada, December 2nd, 1948, p. 69, Section 1, 73 pages.

Male voice: Pepsodent toothpaste presents “Un homme et son péché”, another one of Les belles histoires des pays d’en haut.

– Music –

Séraphin does not lack guile or imagination. The story of his Aunt Adélaïde, who died of poisoning, is perfectly true. It is also true that she owned the land that Ti-Mousse wants to sell, now that he will be living in the village. Séraphin told this story hoping that Peuplier would tell it to everyone in the township, and this is exactly what he did.

Man: Rainbow! (patois) That's why Ti-Mousse wants to sell his land. I never would’ve guessed that it's haunted, or that it will be soon! Who could have ever believed something like that?

This way, no one would want to buy Ti-Mousse’s land and Séraphin would still have a chance to buy it for practically nothing. This Séraphin sure is something else. Right now, he is happy to live his single life again, since Donalda is still in Montréal. When is she coming back? It was just yesterday afternoon on Ste-Catherine Street in Montréal that she was walking with Julia when...

Donalda: I wonder if all these people...
Julia: What about them, Donalda?
Donalda: I wonder if all these people are happy.
Julia: My poor girl, as you could guess, unhappy people live in Montréal too, just like in any other place! The worst thing is, they don't even have time to think about it, they live too fast.
Donalda: I tell you I truly feel lost. Don't let go of my arm Julia!
Julia: You don't need to worry!
Donalda: Where are we going exactly?
Julia: There, we could go to the theatre!
Donalda: I'm not really sure, Julia...
Julia: Please! It'll be good for you! I'll pay! No, I insist! It's my treat, Donalda!

– Music –

1:00 PM News Program

Download audio (1 minute 08 seconds, 1.05 MB)

The presentation, by a male voice, of the 1:00 pm news program, including one advertisement. Then a male voice (André Cartier) reads the 1:00 pm news.

Source: Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ) Old Montréal, Young & Rubicam Limited Archive Group
Author: CHLN (radio station), January 9th, 1951, p. 69, Section 1, 146 pages.

The 1 o’clock news with André Cartier is brought to you by the millers of Robin Hood flour. This high quality flour is guaranteed all-purpose. Robin Hood Chocolate Cake Mix is the only recipe not containing any egg powder, because you are the one adding a fresh egg, as well as the flavoring of your choice, while stirring the mix and getting that soft and fresh texture that makes these homemade chocolate cakes so popular. Try this delicious cake, cooked with Robin Hood Chocolate Cake Mix!

André Cartier: Prime Minister Duplessis announced this morning that during the provincial session opening on January 24th, the government will study a law pertaining to rent control. Mr. Duplessis told this news to a delegation of the FTQ (Québec Federation of Labour). You may recall that federal rent controls will be abolished in April. While speaking with the delegates, Mr. Duplessis said that the provincial government will study a law protecting everyone’s interests. "We don't want tenants to be exploited," he added, "while protecting the owners' interests at the same time".
  • Two men and a woman can be seen behind the microphones of a radio studio.
  • A man (Hector Charland) and a woman (Estelle Mauffette) while recording an episode of the radio serial drama.
  • Radio host behind the microphone. There are two turntables, a control board and other studio equipment.
  • A modern radio studio where three radio hosts sit behind their microphones, surrounded by computer equipment.
  • Radio cabinet from the early 20th century entirely made of wood.
  • Radio-turntable made of wood.
  • Electrohome Co. radio-turntable made of wood, circa 1930.
  • Electro Brand table radio made of metal and plastic.

Appartenance Mauricie Société d'histoire régionale