St-Octave - 01

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StO 1 ~ St-Octave-de-l'Avenir and some of its story

Report on participation in Folklore Festival, St Octave, PQ
(sent to Frances Fridge, CFAC, Vancouver)
St-Octave 1973
The third annual Festival de Folklore de St-Octave-de-l'Avenir was held
June 29-July 2, 1978.
St-Octave-de-l'Avenir is an abandoned village (now reduced to the church and two adjacent buildings) in the hills of the Gaspé peninsula, overlooking the St Lawrence estuary and about 10 miles inland.

1973, Adrien Pelletier)

The festival is run by a local organization
(the Corporation du Festival de Folklore) based in Cap-Chat, the nearest town, with help from the Canadian Folk Arts Council.
The CFAC handled the show presented on each of the four evenings on an outdoor stage, and dealt direct with us on the preparatory arrangements for the trip.

Other groups (all dancers) taking part in the stage show included local Indians; Nordfolk (Québecois, from Sept-Iles); Evangeline (Acadian, from PEI); Polish and Egyptian (Montreal); and Philippine and Italian (Winnipeg). So we had travelled the furthest!

(Touring Cap-Chat.
Tom and Don,
 in their sword-dance caps,
with Dora Leigh between;
next, two Italian dancers,
almost hiding
 the fair-haired one;
the fourth, on the right
 between Fred and Valin.
The others were probably
 the Philippine dancers.)


The festival also included folk-music performances, arts-and-crafts displays, and various side-shows, stalls and kiosks. Reported total attendance figures ran into the tens of thousands, and certainly after the Thursday the village was continually packed with people.

(1978, from the Facebook page
for Saint-Octave-de-l'Avenir)

Tying laces
(Fred took this shot
 while I was adjusting a garter,
or fastening my bell-pads, or something)

The village was created during the 1930s Depression, as part of a back-to-the-land strategy. "Octave" honoured Msgr Octave Caron, a local churchman, one of the project leaders; "de l'Avenir" (of the Future) expressed a belief in better times to come.
But the land was marginal for agriculture; there were setbacks, including a major fire; and after forty years the settlement was closed down by the government.

(The picnic, the Italian dancers,
Tom close by, and  Fred far right)

In 2010 I found on the Internet copies of the outdoor evening dance performance programs for three years. The first two years I have summarised by province; the 1978 program is as listed. I rather like the title they gave us: "Morris Men Dancers of Vict".

Festival de Folklore de Ste-Octave de l'Avenir

Quebec: Arte Y Gratia; Los Chiaskis; Orletta (Folk-Polonais); Mariczk Utroinian Esemhe;
New Brunswick: Danseurs Madawaska;
Prince Edward Island: Evangéline;
Saskatchewan: Eninescu Roumanian Dancers;
Ontario: Troupe folklorique grecque.

Nova Scotia: Groupe Angela Cromwell; Highland Group; Scottish Fiddlers; Acadian Folksingers; Stornoway Dancers;
Quebec: Les Farandoles; Groupe Assotor (Haitien);
Alberta: Bavarian Schuhplattlers;
Ontario: Groupe Veselka;
Newfoundland: St Pat's Dansers.

(Ste-Anne-des-Monts, Fred,
 Dora Leigh, Valin, Tom, Don)

Orletta - Québec
Morris Men Dancers of Vict,
   Colombie Britanique
Folklore Egyptien, Québec
Nordfolk, Québec
Danseurs Evangéline, Iles du Prince Edouard
Community Folk Art Council, Manitoba
   (this may refer to the Philippine dancers)
Ligue Italienne Canadienne dance, Manitoba
Troupe Indienne, Québec

Italian dancers

The St-Octave-de-l'Avenir festival continued in later years; I found references to 1979 (Facebook. Saint-Octave page, comment on 1976 photo, Serge Duclos, of Tam Ti Delam); and 1980 (Daniel Lemieux web site).

(The Italian dancers
- whose names
I do not remember -
posing at the school
in Ste-Anne-des-Monts;
on the left their leader;
the second & fourth,
dark-haired, are sisters)