Picture yourself in Montmagny at the turn of the 20th century. Night is falling and the streets are full of people of all ages heading out for an evening of dancing. Back then, local dance parties normally featured accordionists from different local families, like the Picards, the Messerviers and the Montminys. At the time, virtually every Montmagny family included at least one accordionist.
Perfect for playing quadrilles and jigs, the diatonic accordion has remained a regular fixture at parties, dances and traditional music performances in Quebec. It’s loud enough to play at even the most raucous celebrations. The instrument’s durability and affordability have helped ensure its popularity in the province.
Montmagny’s high concentration of accordionists ensured that the tradition was passed down from generation to generation, firmly rooting it in local culture.
At the time, accordionists did not take formal lessons. They learned to play the “squeezebox” by observing friends and family members. Young accordionists would often quietly borrow an instrument and try to reproduce and imitate what they had seen and heard.
Given this strong musical tradition, Montmagny was the obvious location for an accordion festival.