Tintamarre

The Tintamarre (“racket” or “din”) is a recent tradition that has been embraced wholeheartedly by the Acadian people over the past half-century. First held in 1955 to commemorate the bicentenary of the expulsion of the Acadians from the Maritime provinces, the Tintamarre takes its inspiration from a medieval French custom during which a crowd makes as much noise as possible in order to mark a sad or a joyful event. In the case of Acadia’s Fête nationale (National Acadian Day), celebrated on August 15, the Tintamarre embodies both the sadness of the Grand Dérangement (the “Great Upheaval” caused by the expulsion of the Acadians), during which many families were separated and many people drowned in shipwrecks, and joy at the survival of Acadian culture.

The first Tintamarre occurred when Monseigneur Norbert Robichaud, the Archbishop of Moncton, had a pamphlet distributed in which he asked parishioners in New Brunswick to go outside at 7:00 p.m. during the ringing of the church bells. He encouraged them to make noise after the saying of a prayer by shouting, banging spoons on scrap metal and pots, blowing horns and whistles, ringing bells, playing musical instruments or firing guns.

In 1979, Acadians celebrated the 375th anniversary of the founding of Acadia. By that point, the Tintamarre had become a symbol of affirmation rather than of mourning.

The Tintamarre has become an integral part of every Acadian Fête nationale. Parade participants wear make-up and costumes in the Acadian colours: blue, white and red with a gold star. In some communities, in addition to costumes and flags, there are parades of giant puppets. Many communities, from Moncton to Summerside, P.E.I., including Caraquet, N.B., and Clare and Chéticamp, N.S., have started their own Tintamarre tradition on a smaller or larger scale.

The Tintamarre has become so well known that it is now a tourist attraction and it is highlighted on web sites about travel in the Maritime provinces, particularly in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. The tradition has even spread to Ontario. In 2010, in order to celebrate several anniversaries as well as Franco-Ontarian Flag Day on September 25, the Franco-Ontarian community of Hawkesbury organized an Acadian-style Tintamarre.

Tintamarre - On the Trail of Acadians in North America by André Gladu, National Film Board of Canada