JOSEPH MAFFRE*
c1792-c1855

By Marjorie Mikasen and Mark Griep, 2001

Joseph Maffre Sr. was the leading musical figure in the Montreal of his time.  He arrived in Montreal as Bandmaster of the 71st Highland Light Infantry band on May 18, 1838.  When his ship the "British America" was within hearing distance of Montreal, Joseph Maffre Sr. led his band in several tunes, much to the delight of the citizenry, as reported in the Montreal Transcript.  The 71st Highland Light Infantry was led by Sir Hew Dalrymple.  The company had escorted Lord Durham to his new post as Governor-General of Canada;  the colonists had been clamoring for better military protection since the 1837 Rebellion.

After 25 years of military service in 1840, Joseph Maffre Sr. asked for and received his discharge.  He opened a business for musical instruction near Champs de Mars at 11 Sanguinet Street.  He advertised that he had a 'perfect knowledge' of many instruments, and also that he could teach singing and composition.  In addition, he gave concerts, played at dances, led choral groups, and composed music.  Joseph Maffre Sr.'s career is discussed in British Regulars in Montreal by Elinor Kyte Senior, 1981.

In 1847, Joseph Maffre Sr. composed "The Original Canadian Quadrilles", which were published by J.W. Herbert of Montreal.  The sheet music cover featured a beaver surrounded by maple leaves and was the first piece of Canadian music so adorned.  The compositions were based upon traditional Canadian Airs.  The Encyclopedia of Music in Canada (pages 426, 586 and 592, University of Toronto Press, 1982) suggests that this work is perhaps the most Canadian of all compositions published by J.W. Herbert (active from 1830's to 1861).  The work was dedicated to the Countess of Elgin, who had just arrived in Montreal.  Her husband, the Earl of Elgin (1811-1863) served as Governor-General of Canada between 1847 and 1854, a significant period of Canadian history.

Joseph Maffre Sr. married Lucy Thomas in England;  they had eight children.  Son Joseph Maffre Jr. (1817  - 1881), was first a member of the 71st Highland Light Infantry, and later a band member in the prestigious 1st King Dragoon Guards.  When he was discharged, he joined his father¹s musical instruction business.  After Joseph Maffre Sr.'s retirement in 1850, Joseph Maffre Jr. took over the business and also led concerts in many towns in the Eastern Townships of Quebec.


*Researching Joseph Maffre Sr...........Marjorie Mikasen  (g-g-g-granddaughter)

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