Joseph Dumais was born in Trois-Pistoles in 1870. A diction teacher and historian, he studied in Paris with Abbot Rousselot and made many study trips to Europe. At the beginning of the 20th century, he became a journalist in New England and directed a monthly magazine called Cœur français, in Manchester, New Hampshire, which dealt with the promotion of the French language. In 1922, he founded the Conservatoire de Québec and taught diction and speech. He then became responsible for courses at the École normale Jacques-Cartier, the Académie Marchand and the Collège de France, where he set up an experimental phonetics laboratory. In 1932, he published the periodical L'Art de dire on phonetics.
While living on de la Fabrique Street in Québec, he published several essays on language and history, such as: Parlons français (Montréal, J. Dumais, 1905, 71 p.); Héros d'autrefois : Jacques Cartier et Samuel de Champlain (Québec, Imprimerie de l'Action sociale, 1913, 142 p.); Le Parler de chez nous (Québec, J. Dumais, 1922, 41 p.); Le Capitaine malouin Jacques Cartier, découvreur officiel du Canada (Québec, La Fierté française, , 97 p.) and Vive le doux parler de France (Québec, J. Dumais, 1937, 64 p.).
At the beginning of the century, Dumais performed under the stage name "Du May d'Amour". He wrote songs on current events and humorous pieces, including À bas la marine : pieces de vers et chansons d'actualité (Montréal, 1910). Beginning in 1917, he recorded, for His Master's Voice in Montréal, several comic monologues starring Père Ladébauche, a character from a comic strip published in the newspaper La Presse. He also recorded such famous works as "La leçon des érables" by Lionel Groulx, "Ô soldat de l'an deux" by Victor Hugo, "L'éternelle chanson" by Edmond Rostand and "Les coquelicots", a work by the Breton bard Théodore Botrel. In the 1920s, he performed on occasion with vaudeville troupes.
He collected several of his monologues and songs in the book Ma boutique, comptoir aux coupons, stock étamine, linon, coton ouaté, toile écrue, catalognes et "cheese cloth" : rimettes, chansonnettes et monologues (Québec, La Fierté française, [c1932], 132 p.).
For more information on Joseph Dumais' recordings, please consult the Virtual Gramophone database.
Robert Thérien, music researcher, Montréal