Daily Life in New France


Singing and Dancing

Soldiers had other ways to amuse themselves as well. Canonnier-bombardier Bonin spoke of one of his comrades who suffered from the "faults of gaming and drink" and who was "nasty, quarrelsome and often took his sword in hand" when he had drunk. When sober, however, he was "gentle and pleasant, especially toward women" and loved to dance. He taught Bonin how to dance, and took him to dances so often and with such good effect that in three months Bonin became his "runner-up in this art." 95

One can deduce from this account that excessive gaming and drinking were deemed "a fault," but that dancing was considered a harmless activity and was very popular, like today. Some taverns offered not only drink but also music so that people could dance. Soldiers were of course for the most part single young men, and this was a prime opportunity for them to meet young women. The dancers at the tavern of Marguerite Brusseau, called "la Vadeboncoeur," were so enthusiastic that the floorboards shook in her establishment on Saint-François Street in Quebec City.

Soldiers also like to sing and had an impressive repertoire of "drinking songs" celebrating war, peace, love and even enemy generals. Songs such as "Malbrough s'en va-t-en guerre," "Joli Tambour," "Auprès de ma blonde," "Cadet Rousselle," and "Chevaliers de la Table ronde" are still very popular among French Canadians. There were many other songs as well that have now been largely forgotten, such as "Buvons, chers camarades ... je m'en vas-t-à-la guerre, servir le roi." 96