Canadian Boy Choir Costumes


Figure 1.--This Canadian choir, Les Petits Chanteurs de Laval, visited Paris on their European tour in 1989.

Many countries of Western and Central Europe have a long tradition of church boys' choirs dating back to the medevil era. Canada's bi-cultural tradition shares the heritage of both English and French choirs. England and France share some of the longest traditions of European boy choirs. The choirs in both countries were associated with the church. French choirs were associated with the the Catholic Church. English choirs were associated with the Catholic church until the 16th century and the proscriptions of Henry VIII who seized the monestaries where Englands choirs were primarily based. Afterwards the Anglican church inherited England's choral tradition. HBC at this time has only limited information about Canadian choirs. We have found some information about individual Canadian choirs, but little information on the history of choirs in Canada. All of the limited information we have found involved fairly modern 20th century choirs. As in the United States, many Canadian churches have choirs. Commonly the children's choirs at these churches are mixed boy and girl choirs.

Limited Information

HBC at this time has only limited information about Canadian choirs. We have found some information about individual Canadian choirs, but little information on the history of choirs in Canada. All of the limited information we have found involved fairly modern 20th century choirs. We hope that Canadian readers will provide background information on Canadian choirs to help us expand these pages here. As far as we can tell, there is very limited published information.

Two Choral Traditions

Canada is a bilingual, bi-cultural country with both English and French speaking populations. As a result there are two choral traditions in Canada. There are the French Catholic choirs and the English Anglican choirs. Most of the French Canadian boy choirs are based in Quebec. French Canadian choirs, like les Petits Chanteurs de Tracy in Tracy, wear uniforms very similar to the French choirs. The boys at Tracy wear white turtle neck sweaters, blue shorts, and kneesocks. Unlike French boys, they wore blue instead of white knee socks. Other French Canadian choirs have uniforms even more similar to French choirs, wearing blue sweaters with blue shorts. Most of these choirs have in the 1980s changed the uniform to long pants. There are also boy choirs in English Canadian provinces. I do not, however, have any information yet on the English Canadian choirs. Presumably they follow the traditions and uniform and costumes styles of the English choirs.


Figure 2.--This French Canadian choir wears a uniform very similar to choirs in France, including blue sweaters and blue shorts.

Individual Choirs

The following alphabetical list is available on individual Canadian choirs, including both the English and French choirs. Most of the information we have found concerns the French choirs. Our information on these choirs is very limited. Hopefully HBC readers will be able to tell us more about these choirs.

Church Choirs

As in the United States, many Canadian churches have choirs. Commonly the children's choirs at these churches are mixed boy and girl choirs. One of our Canadian readers tells u about her church choir, "I am a choirgirl, but in 2003 I belong to a Toronto church choir that has both a boys', and a girls' choir. As it so happens, I am in the girls' and the boys' choir, because of a shockingly sad lack of choir boys. So, I suppose I sort-of am a choir boy! Anyway, on your Canadian choirs page, you said you were in need of more information, so I thought I'd send you an email. I find your website quite fascinating. So, to the uniforms our boys wear! Well, when they're on tour, they have two uniforms, #1 dress, and #2 dress. #1 consists of grey flannel pants, white dress shirts, (regular collar, not an Eton collar) navy blue silk church tie, navy blue blazer with the church crest, black shoes and socks. That uniform is for when they're in church, etc. (well, they still have to wear robes over it during services) #2 (The girls have this uniform also) consists of khaki pants and a burgundy T-shirt or golf shirt with the church crest. (optional matching sweatshirt) That uniform is for touring around, etc. The girls' choir doesn't have a #1 dress yet, but we're getting it this year. It will be the same as the boys' #1, except with a grey skirt instead of pants. We all have to wear robes during services, much like English choirs. Ours are a nice, dark shade of red, and we also have to wear ruffs and surplices. We have (RSCM) ribbons for ranks. My church is Grace Church on-the-hill in Toronto, just so you know. Those are all our uniforms, and I believe the Cathedral (Anglican) and some of the other churches have similar uniforms." -- Teresa

Individual Choiristers

A Canadian chorister writes, "Thank you for an interesting site. I was a boy chorister in Toronto and wore both Eton collar and ruff (which was much more comfortable. By the way, ruffs are part of the "uniform" for priests of the Danish National Church." [Frankling]

Sources

Frankling, Robert. E-mail message, November 19, 2006.






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Created: September 22, 2001
Last updated: 12:26 AM 12/23/2006