Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day


This silent film records the festivities of the Fête de la Saint-Jean-Baptiste (Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day or Saint John the Baptist Day) on June 24, 1945. The celebration, which also marks the revival of an older summer solstice rite, has been observed by the Quebecois since 1834, when Ludger Duvernay, editor of the newspaper La Minerve, decided to revive this tradition, previously interrupted by the Conquest of 1760.  He organized a banquet in the garden of lawyer John McDonnell. The celebration spread in subsequent years, until 1837, when Duvernay was exiled during the Patriot rebellions. Celebrations were suspended until Duvernay’s return in 1842, when Quebec City held its first official procession to celebrate Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day. In 1843, Duvernay founded the Association Saint-Jean Baptiste, and invited the public to celebrate the national holiday of the French Canadians. Montreal held its first parade that year. Most festivities occurred in Quebec, but the holiday expanded to other regions, such as Acadia, Ontario, and even the United States. In 1925, the legislature of Quebec made Saint John the Baptist Day an official holiday. The Parade of Montreal, depicted in this film, was first televised by Radio-Canada in 1953. In this early 1945 recording, a woman representing the Société d’action nationale (National Action Society) hands out pins in the shape of maple leaves. Three years later, in 1948, the fleurdelisé would become the official flag of Quebec and replace the maple leaf as the symbol of Quebecois patriotism. On June 24, 1977, René Lévesque, Premier of Quebec, sanctioned the celebration as the official national holiday of Quebec—a day when the Quebecois and all other Francophones in North America could celebrate their culture and history.

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  1. Suzanne Thomas, "St-Jean-Baptiste Celebrations," The Canadian Encyclopedia (Edmonton: Historica Canada, 1985− ), article published July 5, 2007.
  2. “La Fête nationale du Québec, des origines à nos jours/ National Quebec Day, From Its Origins to Our Time,” Fête nationale du Québec,

Last updated: August 27, 2015