Manufacturing French-Canadian Tradition: tabac canadien and the Construction of French-Canadian Identity, 1880-1950


  • Jarrett Rudy


From the late nineteenth century to the end of the Second World War, several tobacco companies in Quebec produced and marketed domestic pipe tobacco specifically for the French-Canadian market. While these tabac canadien brands were rooted in pre-industrial French-Canadian economic and cultural life, by the time this traditional tobacco was being commercially manufactured, smoking rituals had already been transformed by the separation of production and consumption and by the increasing restriction of smoking to only a male activity. The urbanization of the francophone population and the appearance of industrially produced foreign tobacco gave the French-Canadian brands a new, nationalist symbolism. Companies producing tabac canadien sought in various ways to present their tobacco as authentically French Canadian while distancing themselves from the pre-industrial, supposedly inferior, product. The decline of these brands was linked to businesspromoted changes in tariff policy and broader changes in Quebec culture following the Second World War.






Branding the Nation