Skip to main content

The Quiet Revolution, peace and love

The 1960 Québec elections were decisive. Conservative values had to give way to modernity. Liberty of expression was declared, associated to a valorization of Québec culture. There was a strong desire to open up to the world, to Québec’s own rich and unique heritage, to a new form of liberty, to peace and love and why not… even to the idea of a brand-new nation!

Black and white poster from the Liberal Party of Quebec in 1962 showing a fist holding flashes of light representing electrical force.

Liberal party election poster


In the 60s, the young adult population was becoming influential. They had been to college and university, had more education than their parents, and intended to have a voice in the debates shaking society.

Black, white and red electoral poster for Claire Kirkland-Casgrain (three copies).

Electoral poster


The struggle for women’s rights took on unprecedented proportions in the 60s. It was about time. The right to vote had only been obtained for women in 1940. In 1964, Claire Kirkland-Casgrain was the first woman elected as a Member of Parliament. Thanks to her, women obtained a new legal status. Henceforth, married women were no longer considered subject to their husbands in the same way as a minor child. They could sign contracts and exercise a profession without their husband’s consent. Unlikely as it may seem today, it was only recently that women finally became true citizens, able to participate fully in public life.

Thus was La Butte à Mathieu born at the dawn of the Quiet Revolution. Within its walls, the aspirations of a reborn Québec were being carried forward by the artists and singer-songwriters of the new generation. Through them, a new identity was being defined within Québec culture. Their words and lyrics carried the hopes of a generation aspiring to equality between the sexes, a fairer distribution of wealth, greater respect for nature and an openness to the world, its cultures and art. The boîtes à chanson vibrated with the ideals of peace and love, freedom and liberation.

Black and white photo of Claude Gauthier performing holding his guitar.

Claude Gauthier


Singer-songwriter Claude Gauthier said of those days: “We would pass the hat around for $25, $30 or $40 total for the evening. We were content, we were happy because we felt there was a new project in the air of Québec thanks to our songs. La Butte à Mathieu quickly grew. Gilles Mathieu himself was very active, always building, adding on extensions.”