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Charles Marius Barbeau’s Ethnography and the Canadian Folklore Essay

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Charles Marius Barbeau’s Ethnography and the Canadian Folklore


Born on 5 March 1883, in Sainte-Marie-de-Bauce, Charles Marius Barbeau is widely seen as the first Canadian educated anthropologist. He graduated from Université Laval in Québec, from his studies of law, in 1907; he never practised law. Upon graduating, Marius was awarded – as the first French-Canadian recipient – the Cecil Rhodes scholarship which allowed him to study at Oxford University where he was introduced to the emerging field of Anthropology. « Je [voulais] savoir comment l’homme a été créé » he later explained to Marcel Rioux. (Benoît 1959a) During his stay in Europe, Marius also attended classes at the Sorbonne’s École des Hautes Études and at the École d’anthropologie in Paris. In June 1910, he received a Bachelor of Science degree, from Oxford, for his thesis on The Totemic System of the Northwestern Indian Tribes of North America. Back in Canada, he took the position of Assistant Ethnologist for Edward Sapir at the Anthropological division of the Geological Survey of Canada at the Victoria Memorial Museum in Ottawa (one of the ancestors of today’s – since 1986 – Canadian Museum of Civilization). Then Marius began his life long career of collecting ethnographic and folkloric data on the cultures of aboriginal North-Americans and French creoles of Canada…

Theoretical Bases

« Pour Barbeau, les manifestations du folklore sont un peu comme des petits fruits sauvages. Le folkloriste est un cueilleur. […] Si l’on ne cueille pas les fruits sauvages, eh bien ils se perdront pour toujours. […] Un jour, la forêt aura envahi le terrain et tout effacé. Le modeste champ ne sera plus là. Il sera oublié. » (Gauthier 2001: 38)

Marius Barbeau’s theoretical ...


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...stion and the politics of recognition.” Ethnic & Racial Studies. April 1995, 18(2): 277–314. Accessed November 2004 on EBSCO http://0-web29.epnet.com.mercury.concordia.ca/. Accession number: 9506073480; Database: Academic Search Premier

SMITH, Derek G. 2001.
“The Barbeau archives at the Canadian Museum of Civilization: some current research problems” Anthropologica 43(2): 191. Accessed November 2004 on ProQuest http://proquest.umi.com/. ProQuest document ID: 357968991

SUZUKI, David 2001.
“A Personal Foreword: The Value of Native Ecologies” in Peter KNUDTSON and David SUZUKI. Wisdom Of The Elders. Toronto: Stoddart Publishing, 2001 [1992]: XXI–XXXV

TURGEON, Laurier; Denys DELÂGE and Réal OUELLET 1995.
“Marius Barbeau et l’ethnologie des Amérindiens” Canadian Folklore Canadien 17(1). Accessed November 2004 http://www.fl.ulaval.ca/celat/acef/171f.htm


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