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Eugène Daignault, singer, storyteller, and actor (1895-1960)

Photograph of Eugène Daignault, circa 1926

Source
Eugène Daignault, circa 1926

Eugène Daignault was born in St. Alban's, Vermont, on September 14, 1895. When his father -- a doctor who practiced in St. Albans -- died, Eugène Daignault and his family settled in the Montréal suburb of Boucherville. When Daignault was forced to abandon his pharmacology studies due to illness, he worked at various jobs while performing in amateur theatre alongside actors such as Ovila Légaré and Gaston Saint-Jacques. Beginning in March 1920, and for the next 21 years, he was employed as a food inspector for the City of Montréal's board of health.

Eugène Daignault, a lover of folk music, became one of the stars of Conrad Gauthier's troupe, Veillées du bon vieux temps, performing at Montréal's Monument-National. In December 1926, he signed a contract with the Starr label and recorded 93 songs for them. He is most famous for his recordings of "Les filles de Chambly," "Le beau casque," "Martin la grande barbe," "Cu-Cu-Cunégonde" and "Les p'tits Latour." At Daignault's invitation, fellow musician Mary Bolduc joined in on his recording sessions several times. Eugène Daignault made no recordings for 11 years during the Great Depression. He returned to the studio in 1942, however, and recorded ten songs for the Bluebird label (RCA Victor) over the next two years.

Eugène Daignault was first heard on the radio in September 1922, just a few days after the launch of Montréal's radio station CKAC. Following this debut, he was heard regularly on CKAC for many years, on programs such as "L'heure provinciale," "Les veillées canadiennes," "En roulant ma boule" and "À travers mon chapeau." As well, he performed in several soap operas, including "Le curé de village" (CKAC, 1935-1938), "La pension Velder" (SRC, 1938-1942), "Chez le père Tremblay" (CKAC, 1940-1941), and "Les diables rouges" (CKAC, 1939-1946). Eugène Daignault was a wonderful storyteller and formed part of the comedy show "Le ralliement du rire" (CKAC, 1940-1950) alongside Ovila Légaré and Marcel Baulu. However, his most famous role was that of père Ovide in "Un homme et son péché" (SRC, 1939-1954). He reprised this role in the films Séraphin and Un homme et son péché (Québec Films, 1949), as well as on the television show "Les belles histoires des pays d'en haut," from 1956 to 1960. His son Pierre (1925-2003), with whom he had been performing on stage since the 1940s, took over the role following Eugène Daignault's sudden death, in Montréal, on January 27, 1960.

For more information on Eugène Daignault's recordings, please consult the Virtual Gramophone database.

Robert Thérien, music researcher, Montréal


Reference

Thérien, Robert.  -- Unpublished research notes