Marius Barbeau was born on May 5th 1883 in Sainte-Marie-de-Beauce, the son of Charles Barbeau, a farmer and horse-breeder, and of Virginie Morency. From an early age, his father introduces him to Quebec folk tales, songs and dances, while his mother plays the piano and encourages his singing talent. In 1902, he goes to study Law at Laval University. After which, as a Rhodes Scholar, he pursues his education reading Anthropology at Oxford University and, subsequently, at the Sorbonne ack in Canada, he joins the Canadian Geological Service in January 1911.
The same year, he travels to Oklahoma where he collects songs, tales and customs from that State's Native People. Later on, he will record several songs from Alberta's First Nations, after meeting some of their representatives Ottawa. Fascinated by the culture and history of the First Nations he starts, in 1915, collecting tales from the Charlevoix, Kamouraska and Beauce regions, publishing several of them in eight issues of the Journal of American Folk-Lore.
In 1916, in recognition for his services, he is elected President of the American Folklore Society. The same year, he becomes a member of the Royal Society of Canada and publishes his Contes populaires canadiens. Nine years later, he develops an interest in French-Canadian Folk Art, studying all its aspects. In 1925, he publishes Indian Days in the Canadian Rockies for which he receives the prix David. In 1929, he receives the prix David once more. In 1937, he publishes Chansons du vieux Québec. He becomes, in 1944, a founding member of the Académie canadienne-française and receives the prix David. for the third time in 1945.
In 1948, approaching retirement, he leaves the Musée national de l'Homme. Two years later, the Royal Society of Canada awards him the Lorne Pierce medal. In 1967, he is named as a Companion of the Order of Canada and granted an honorary degree from Oxford and the University of Montreal. Tireless, he keeps on publishing and giving conferences. Marius Barbeau died in Montreal in 1969
In 1985, the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada recognized Marius Barbeau as a figure of national historic significance. His work as a pioneer furthered a better knowledge, safeguarding and handing down of French-Canadian and First Nations traditions.
Source: La mémoire du Québec de 1534 à nos jours : répertoire de noms propres by Jean Cournoyer.
The Marius-Barbeau Center has a fabulous collection of over 130 works of this illustrious and prolific anthropologist, ethnologist and Quebec folklorist.