The cultural diversity of Canada is noteworthy and this is why Canada is considered to have one of the richest and most culturally varied folk music traditions. During the 16th and the 17th centuries, vast amounts of population from England and France migrated to Canada bringing with them their musical folklore. Most, settled in the coastlines, fishing and farming, where what later became New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and the St. Lawrence River valley of Quebec. However, some moved further north and west, into the Canadian forests to deal with fur and lumber. Some mixed with local aboriginal tribes to generate a population known as non-Treaty Indians (Metis).
At the beginning of the 19th century, the Agrarian settlement in western Quebec and southern Ontario nested many ballads and folk songs of English origin, which are still kept alive today. Folk music tradition of French origin is also kept alive by a large Franco-Ontarian population, as well as from many Acadian communities of the Atlantic Provinces. In the mid 19th century, Scottish settlements mostly in Cape Breton, established the Gaelic music. About the same period, the famine in Ireland forced large Irish migrations to North America. By the end of the 19th century, Manitoba hosted large Icelandic and Mennonite settlements. From then on and for about half a century, there were mass migrations to western Canada from Europe (i.e. Ukraine, Poland and other) and Asia, adding to the already diverse Canadian folk music mosaic. For example, an Okinawan settlement residing in Alberta, brought with them a very distinctive musical tradition.
As a result, it is not possible to talk about Canadian musical tradition, as the term is incredibly broad. Academics classify Canadian folk music according to ethnic traditions or regional traditions. Ethnic traditions include Irish-Canadian music, which is predominately of Celtic origin and found mainly on the eastern coasts of Canada, Acadian music of a French origin centered in Quebec, Blackfoot music, Inuit music, Innu music, Metis fiddle and many more. The last four refer to traditional folk music of indigenous tribes of the North America. Inuit reside on the Arctic regions and are known for throat singing. Metis are an Aboriginal-European blend. Blackfoot and Innu music are both based on percussion. The regional traditions classification is used mostly for eastern Canada and comprises of Quebec music, Cape Breton fiddling, Newfoundland music, etc.
The amazingly diverse Canadian folk heritage has been an inspiration and has made a huge contribution over the past decades, to the contemporary folk music genre globally. It has much to show for. Some of the best-known songwriters of the folk revival of the 60s include Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen and Neil Young. Their poetry has touched and shaped millions around the world. Canada’s musical influence is bound to continue. It has an amazingly active folk music scene nowadays, comprised of inspired young artists, committed to vividly carrying on the legacy of traditional and contemporary folk music.