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French Culture

Lowell has also profited culturally and artistically from the French presence. In journalism, there have been 22 Franco-American newspapers published in Lowell including three important dailies, the oldest and most important being L’Etoile, founded in 1886 and published until 1957. In letters, Dr. Joseph H. Roy published in 1902, a celebrated volume of poetry Voix Etranges. Father Louis A. Nolin, O.M.I., published a volume of verse in 1922, and the journalist Antoine Clement edited in two volumes the history of the “Alliance Francaise” of Lowell.

Yvonne LeMaitre, internationally celebrated journalist and literary critic besides contributing to Lowell’s English and French press was also a contributor to the New Yorker and the Smart Set.

Also, much of the work of the beat generation, novelist Jack Kerouac is inspired by Lowell’s Franco-American milieu in which he was born.

The musical tradition extends back to the nineteenth century when Calixa Lavallee, the composer of the Canadian national anthem, lived in Lowell and married here in 1867. The large music publishing house of the Champagne brothers, The Orion Music Co., with an outlet in Montreal, flourished at the turn of the century and in the 1920’s even furnished popular songs to the radio. Prof. Louis N. Guilbault of the Guilbault Piano Academy was a published composer of note and many no doubt remember his Lowell March, published in 1938. In the area of religious music, Prof. Rodolphe Pepin achieved great distinction with his compositions and published several Masses, notably Mass of the Immaculate Conception, composed while he was organist of St. Jean Baptiste church.