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Manufacturing French-Canadian Tradition: tabac canadien

Although this paper is not snuff specific, it is tobacco specific. As a French-Canadian myself (though quite anglicised) I find the intersection of early folk-life and tobacco to be pivotal to the experience of tobacco itself. Snuff itself is prevalent in many French-Canadian folktales where traditional folk heroes, such as Ti-Jean are known to use snuff.


Abstract

From the late nineteenth century to the end of the Second World War, several
tobacco companies in Quebec produced and marketed domestic pipe tobacco specifically
for the French-Canadian market. While these tabac canadien brands were
rooted in pre-industrial French-Canadian economic and cultural life, by the time
this traditional tobacco was being commercially manufactured, smoking rituals had
already been transformed by the separation of production and consumption and by
the increasing restriction of smoking to only a male activity. The urbanization of the
francophone population and the appearance of industrially produced foreign
tobacco gave the French-Canadian brands a new, nationalist symbolism. Companies
producing tabac canadien sought in various ways to present their tobacco as
authentically French Canadian while distancing themselves from the pre-industrial,
supposedly inferior, product. The decline of these brands was linked to business promoted
changes in tariff policy and broader changes in Quebec culture following
the Second World War.


Comments

  • There are many hints in the article about how the tobacco was processed, it's rusticity and homegrown appeal. Unfortunately, it isn't known for sure what cultivar "le tabac canadien" belonged to, but the earliest was no doubt rustica during early colonization. I have researched the Voyageurs and Coureurs des bois and the rituals involving tobacco, clay pipes and superstitions and I would say that most of the New French traditions were absorbed from the First Nations and then "Europeanized". As a lover of snuff and French-Canadian Heritage/Folk-life (Not politics or nationalism, don't give two sh**s there...), I would love to bring back the use of this tobacco, in a rustic snuff homage to my ancestors. But, that may just be me.
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