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)