Canadian National Anthem: It’s Kind of a Lowell Thing

When the Vancouver crowd sings the Canadian national anthem in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, think “Lowell” because the man who composed “O Canada” lived in Lowell and married a Lowell woman. Distinguished musician Calixa Lavallee (1842-1891) was born in Montreal, but lived for years in the US. Wikipedia tells us that he settled in Rhode Island in 1857, joined the militia, and was wounded in the Civil War. By 1867 he was in Lowell, where he married Josephine Gentilly. He wrote the music for “O Canada” as a commission from the Province of Quebec in 1880. The words are from a French-Canadian poem. Read more about Calixa Lavallee here. There’s a plaque recognizing his achievements as an outstanding Lowellian in the lower level of the Pollard Memorial Library.

3 Responses to Canadian National Anthem: It’s Kind of a Lowell Thing

  1. SeanT says:

    Great fact Paul. I’ve seen the plaque a hundred times (obviously) and never realized. It’s right by the elevator on the 1st floor of the Pollard. Truthfully, I’ve always wondered if I might be related because I have a Lavallee connection in my family.

  2. Steve says:

    Here’s an unrelated but interesting story of Lowell’s prominence in Quebec.
    Years ago, maybe 1981 or so, I was in Paris and went to see a movie called “Marie Chapdelaine.” Because the film featured French Canadians speaking French, there were subtitles for the Parisians – in French. At one point in the movie, the the protagonist, Marie, was at a dinner party when a wealthy looking man with vest and pocket watch approached her and began to toell her how he came from a wonderful city called Lowell in Massachusetts, and how he wated her to return with him. He said, “We have everything a man could ever want in Lowell, except a woman like you.” But Marie was in love with the French Canadian fur trapper.