Georges Henri Dor (born Dore), singer, songwriter, author, playwright, director, journalist, actor (born 10 March 1931 in Drummondville, QC; died 24 July 2001 in Longueuil, QC). A versatile artist who wrote poetry, novels and plays, and composed music for film, Georges Dor is perhaps best known as a singer for his hit song “Le Manic,” which profoundly marked the Québec chanson.
Early Years and News Career
The youngest of a family of 11 children of Irish ancestry, Dor worked in a factory in Drummondville from 1948 to 1952. He then studied for a year at the École du Théâtre du Nouveau Monde in Montréal, and worked on the Bersimis Dam on the North Shore of the St-Lawrence River during the winter of 1953.
In 1952 he also began a career in news, working for the next five years as an announcer and news editor for private radio stations in Trois-Rivières (where he wrote his first radio sketches), Sherbrooke and Québec City. From 1957 to 1967 he worked as a copywriter and eventually director of news broadcasts for Téléjournal at CBC Montréal.
Starting in 1954 he began to publish short stories and plays, and numerous collections of poetry. After the poet Gaston Miron and other friends urged Dor to pursue singing and songwriting, he released his self-titled, debut LP in 1966. His song “La Manic,” which describes the solitude of the dam builders on the Manicouagan River, brought him considerable popularity and marked his debut as a chansonnier. Other songs from the album, such as “Chanson pour ma femme,” “Le Vent” and “La Chanson difficile,” also became very popular.
In 1968, he performed for a week at the Comédie-Canadienne, released the live album À la Comédie-Canadienne and won the Prix Félix-Leclerc (see Félix Leclerc) at the Festival du disque in Montréal. The impresario Jacques Canetti invited him to France where he sang at the Trois Baudets de Paris and at the Palais des festivals de Cannes. Dor then gave recitals at the Comédie-Canadienne in 1969 and at the Théâtre Port-Royal (see Place des Arts) in 1970. He also performed at the boîte à chansons La Butte à Mathieu in Val-David (north of Montréal) and at the Art Centre in Percé.
In 1972, CKAC Radio designated “La Manic” the most popular song of the last 50 years. That year, Dor and his wife opened an art gallery in Longueuil, on the outskirts of Montréal. Shortly after, he gave up live performances but continued to record and began writing lyrics for the music of pianist Robert Séguin.
Dor composed the music for a number of short films and documentaries produced in the late 1960s by the National Film Board and directed by Fernand Dansereau. He also made his only acting appearance during this period, starring as the free-spirited intellectual Georges in Gilles Groulx’s Où êtes vous donc? (1968).
In addition to publishing short stories and poems, Dor also wrote six novels; the first, D'aussi loin que l'amour nous vienne, was published in 1974. He wrote a play for the theatre troupe Le Grand cirque ordinaire and, with Louis-Georges Carrier, the musical comedy Un simple mariage double, which was premiered at the Théâtre de Marjolaine in 1978. In 1976, he opened a summer theater in St-Germain-de-Grantham, QC, which featured the premiere of his plays Entre le rire et le rêve, Du sang bleu dans les veines and Quivivra verrat!, as well as Les Moineau chez les Pinson and L'Âme soeur, which were both adapted into TV series at Télé-Métropole.
Beginning in the late 1990s, Dor wrote several polemical essays on the state of the French language in Québec — Anna braillé ène shot (1996), Ta mé tu là? (1997), Les qui qui et les que que ou Le français torturé à la télé (1998), Chu ben comme chu (2001) — arguing against the widespread use of slang and truncated expressions, and in favour of teaching a clear, correct and intelligent use of the language.
Few chansonniers have sung of love with such simplicity as Dor. His compositions, performed in particular by Pauline Julien and Catherine Sauvage, and orchestrated by François Cousineau, Gaston Brisson and Jean-Claude Tremblay, have drawn a mythic portrait of women and of the country through the events of everyday life.
Gaston Miron described Dor as “a man who became aware of himself and of his situation, who lucidly and with faith took hold of himself. It was beautiful… He truly identified us, from everyday life. In this, George Dor did not belong to a new generation of chansonniers; he was a new man, the new man that we were all striving to become.”
A library in Longueuil and a cultural centre in Drummondville were named in Dor’s honour.
La Mémoire innocente (Montréal:L'Aube, 1956).
Portes closes (Montréal:L'Aube, 1959).
Chante-pleure (Montréal:Atys, 1961).
Le Québec aux Québécois et le paradis à la fin de vos jours (Montréal:Leméac, 1976).
Poèmes et chansons, d'amour et d'autre chose(Montréal:BQ, 1991).
D'aussi loin que l'amour nous vienne (Montréal: Leméac, 1974).
Après l'enfance (Montréal: Leméac, 1975).
Je vous salue, Marcel-Marie (Montréal: Québec Amérique, 1989).
Il neige, amour… (Montréal: Québec Amérique, 1990).
Dolorès (Montréal: Québec Amérique, 1992).
Le Fils de l'Irlandais (Montréal: Québec Amérique, 1995).
Du sang bleu dans les veines (Outremont: Leméac, 1981).
Les Moineau et les Pinson (Outremont: Leméac, 1982).
Les cochons meurent comme des mouches (Longueuil: Emmanuel, 1982).
L'âme sœur (CEAD, 1983).
Un concombre dans les patates (CEAD, 1984).
Anna braillé ène shot (Montréal: Lanctôt:1996).
Ta mé tu là? (Montréal: Lanctôt, 1997).
Les qui qui et les que que ou Le français torturé à la télé (Montréal: Lanctôt,1998).
Chu ben comme chu (Montréal: Lanctôt,2001).
Geroges Dor (1966). Gamma GS-108.
Mes ormes dans la plaine (1967). GS-113.
À la Comédie-Canadienne (1968). GS-117.
Entre autres… (1969). GS-122.
Poèmes et chansons (1970). GS-142.
Au ralenti (1972). DS-500.
Qui êtes-vous Georges Dor (1972). Radio-Canada F-680.
Amour (1974). DS-501.
Maudit pays…! (1974). Deram XDF-108.
Fidélité (1976). DS-502.
Georges Dor chante encore… et en chœur (1978). Solo 25512.
Québec love la collection (1997). Gamma GCD-502.
A version of this entry originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Music in Canada.