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The Métis in Western Canada: O-Tee-Paym-Soo-Wuk

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The BeginningsThe People and Their CommunitiesCulture and Lifeways

Pierre FalconThe story of Métis music would be incomplete without taking a moment to consider the songs of the voyageurs. The songs the men sang as they paddled were an essential part of their lives. The songs performed the function of setting the pace, at time as quick as two strokes a second. The boats were in the water from before daybreak until after dark. They stopped at regular intervals for a break, or a smoke. In fact, the distances between breaks were known as "pipes". The one break in the voyageurs' day came during the hourly "pipes," when they stopped paddling just long enough for a quick smoke.

One tradition that seems to have carried over into Métis culture was that of using music to maintain their spirits. The Métis also continued the Canadien custom of writing songs to commemorate important historical events. Pierre Falcon, friend of Cuthbert Grant, was known as the Métis songwriter. The victory of Seven Oaks was celebrated in song by Pierre Falcon, the irreverent nineteenth century Métis bard.

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The Métis song

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