Ready to wear your plaid with pride?
The largest festival of French Canadian culture on the West Coast is coming to Metro Vancouver, March 4-March 6. Festival du Bois rolls into the city of Coquitlam with a full weekend of live music from the heart of Quebec, traditional cuisine (including maple sugar pie) and plenty of Québécois cheer.
The setting for all this French Canadian-inspired fun is Mackin Park in the historic community of Maillardville. In the early 1900s, Maillardville was an ordinary lumber-mill town on the Fraser River. But in a bid to boost the local workforce, managers began recruiting French Canadian labourers from Quebec. Hundreds eventually ended up settling in the area, which became the largest Francophone centre west of Manitoba. Even today, the community stands out with its French street names, Francophone education system and even French-language Girl Guides and Boy Scouts.
Excitement at the Festival du Bois centres around the Grand Chapiteau (Main Stage), where there will be live music throughout the day on Saturday and Sunday. Foot-stomping, fiddle-playing acts include Le Bruit court dans la Ville, comprised of three legends of Quebec’s music scene, Réveillons!, a quartet playing jigs, reels and step dances, and Maz, who combine traditional Québécois music with modern grooves.
The festival is also a chance to try traditional French Canadian food rarely seen on this side of the Rockies. Stop into an authentic sugar shack for delicacies like maple taffy on snow and maple sugar pie. Dig into a hearty tourtière or smoked meat sandwich, and wash it down with the festival’s fittingly named French Lumberjack Ale.
There’s also an artisan market focused on French Canadian products. Options range from fine soaps and carvings to cheeky toques and scarfs emblazoned with the festival’s distinctive frog logo. The festival is family-friendly, with face painters, roving performers and even a dedicated children’s tent with kids’ theatre.
Of course, Festival du Bois is also the place in Metro Vancouver to see and be seen in plaid. Grab your finest lumberjack-inspired flannel and join the sea of red-and-black checkered fun. Single-day tickets to the festival are $15 for adults, $10 for students and seniors and $7 for kids 5-12.