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A New Republic in America

In 1967, in the wake of the debate about Québec independence, Gilles Mathieu announced the creation of the first Republic of Francophone Singer-Songwriters and proclaimed himself president for life. Since La Butte was the capital of this republic, Raymond Lévesque and Claude Michaud were elected mayor and police chief. Passports were printed for the occasion for aspiring citizens.

Colour photos of La Butte passport signed by Gilles Mathieu and Claude Michaud. The cover is yellow-orange and green inside.

Passport of République de la Butte à Mathieu


Poster of the two reviews of La Butte in 1969. The image presented on the poster is a butterfly with a brown wing and a purple wing.

The two theatrical reviews of 1969

During the 1960s, the lyrics that echoed around the Butte were from songs of resistance and liberation. They carried the hope of creating a new country in the image of this youthful eagerness to open up to the world and become part of it. La République de la Butte was meant to be a musical version of the one that was thought to be coming for all of Québec.

The singer-songwriters were the heralds of this nation about to be born. Their poetry and music defined the contours and aspirations of this new republic and its people. The music of these times was political, feminist, independentist, pacifist and ecologist. It was meant to defend, accuse and reclaim.

In 1969, Gilles Mathieu organized a big fiesta to celebrate the Butte’s 10-year anniversary and the second year of the Republic. All the faithful of the boîte à chansons were invited, artists and spectators alike.

Color photo of Jean-Guy Moreau on guitar, sunglasses on his nose performing outside at La Butte in front of a crowd.

Jean-Guy Moreau


After everyone had eaten, a jam session got underway with Raymond Lévesque on piano, Robert Charlebois on drums and Jean-Guy Moreau on bass. Claude Gauthier began with a song he had written with Charlebois: Marie-Noël. In one corner, the playwright Georges Dor and the poet Gaston Miron were enjoying the show as Philippe Gagnon and his violin was about to make the place swing!

Collage of black and white photographs of 10 artists who performed at La Butte: Pierre Létourneau, Claude Léveillée, Jean-Pierre Ferland, Ricet Barrier, Yvon Deschamps, Hervé Brousseau, Claude Gauthier, Stéphane Venne, Pauline Julien and Gilles Vigneault.

Do you recognized them?