In archival terminology, a “fonds” describes a collection of unique documents created by an individual or organization through their regular activities. Modern archival practice largely traces itself to post-revolutionary France and the conscious effort to safeguard the records of the new republic; the idea of an archival “fonds” has its roots here and we still use the French pronunciation, even in the English-speaking world. Here at the Gaspesian Sound Archives, our digital collections are made up of fonds corresponding to different community members who have made home recordings of local musicians during their lives. One individual who has been very generous sharing his collection of home recordings is Leo Fitzpatrick of Gaspé Harbour. I’ll talk more about Leo and his tapes in a future post, but since 1958, he has made hundreds of recordings of local musicians around Gaspé.
Nearly every year during the Christmas season, Leo would make a tape of himself, family members, and local musicians singing and playing Christmas music. To help put you in the holiday spirit, I would like to share a selection of tunes from Leo’s 1959 Christmas tape featuring a usual cast of characters from the Gaspé area who appear extensively on Leo’s early tapes: André Labbé, Ralph Boulay, Leo Bernier, and Maurice and André Trudel. We also have a fine performance of a French version of “White Christmas” (Noël blanc) sung by Mrs. Melville Labbé (Leo couldn’t remember her first name – please leave a comment if you know). Some of Leo’s closest friends and fellow musicians were French-speaking residents of Gaspé and you find them singing both French and English Christmas songs on this tape. Leo is also a songwriter and wrote a sad Hank Snow style recitation-song called “A Letter to Santa: Little Lonesome Dick” the same year this tape was made and this song is also featured. I stopped by Leo’s yesterday and he showed me the original lyrics to this song in one of his many binders of music (see below).
Merry Christmas from the Gaspesian Community Sound Archives!
Fonds: Leo Fitzpatrick (LF-OR-011)
6 thoughts on “Merry Christmas from the Leo Fitzpatrick fonds”
Hello Leo. I am Donna Boulay, Ralph’s daughter. My mother Polly found this site today and has shared it with Rocky, Cindy and I. We are all so pleased to hear our father singing. Thank you from all of us for putting this website up, it is very special to us. My Mom says to say hello to you.
Hi Donna , its great to hear from you ,Ralph and I were great friends and we played a lot of music together,
say hello to Polly I still love her ,andn all the girls from Pabos Mills ,you made my day ,leo
My name is Rocky Boulay. my father was Ralph Boulay and Leo Fitzpatrick is my Godfather. It was so nice to hear my father’s voice again as he played guitar and sung for us all through his life. Hearing him sing again was especially niice since we don’t have any recording of him and he passed away in 1998. Thank you for making this possible.
Hi Rocky and Cindy,
So glad you found your way to our site and that you could re-connect with your father’s music through our work. This was one of Leo’s hopes that he expressed to me when we started working together in 2015. We have a fair bit more of your father if you are interested. Please contact us through this site.
Thank you so much for your reply. Yes we are all very much interested in hearing more of our father’s songs. Please let us know how we can make this happen. Looking forward to hearing from you we thank you in d’avance.
My mother speaks very highly of you and says there are many memories of back then. We are still listening to the music and enjoy it as much as when we first listened. If you have more, we would love to hear it. Thank you for getting back to me, it’s great to hear from you. My mom said to tell you she loves you just as much! And…those Pabos Mills girls ain’t what they used to be hahaha.