The Summer Holidays
In Québec, like anywhere else in North America, summer is a season for holidays, fun, heat, swimming, picnics, and outdoor activities.
It was not always the case: there was a time when the season was one of intense labour. In many regions of Québec, farmers only had 120 to 145 frost-free days to cultivate their land and harvest their crops. Families needed these foodstuffs for the year to come. People living in the rural society of the 19th and 20th centuries were largely dependent upon the weather that constantly threatened to delay or even to destroy their crops. Farmers followed a calendar based on the activities of the land. Time periods were designated according to the chores or current cultures: sowing time, strawberry season, harvest time, apple picking season, and so on.
Throughout the years, with the rural exodus and urbanization, the summer season became one of leisure. In the second half of the 20th century, holidays are no longer the privilege of the wealthy but are accessible to all. The average worker can enjoy the pleasures of cottage life, camping, and tourism.
Chanson du blé (The Wheat Song)
Download audio (2 minutes 20 seconds, 2.14 MB)
Male voice (Joseph Saucier) singing Chanson du blé accompanied by piano.
Performer: Joseph Saucier
Source: BAnQ – Digital collection [sound recordings]
We reap you, we reap and bless you,
O yellowing wheat, O yellowing wheat that feeds us.
Before winter begins,
The earth welcomes the seed,
In the furrows with both his hands,
The sower poured grains,
The sower poured grains.
Grains work tirelessly,
Night and day, they continue their task,
They sprout and move silently,
A bit of earth day and night,
A bit of earth day and night.
The earth was finally ajar,
The ear shows its green head,
And breathes the sunshine,
Sun and spring,
Sun and spring.
In Québec, summer is synonymous with public markets, yard sales, fairs and festivals. The Québec City Summer Festival is Canada’s most important outdoor musical event. It is known internationally. More than a thousand artists participate each year in one of the hundreds of shows or street performances, on the indoor or outdoor venues spread throughout the city. This celebration of popular and emerging music lasts eleven days each summer.