Back in 1759 when the British finally conquered New France, one of the things they did to ensure the loyalty of the French population of Quebec was pass legislation protecting their rights of language, religion, civil law, and education. What this did was ensure the survival of French Canadian culture as a distinct society within the rest of Canada.
Aside from ensuring that French Canadians in Quebec, and later the rest of Canada, would have their language rights protected, it also made certain that the musical traditions they had brought over with them from France survived as well. The majority of settlers in New France had come from the Normandy and Breton areas of France, so the music had a distinct Celtic feel to it, similar to the music of Scotland and Ireland, but with its own unique flavor.
While the music was played mainly in rural areas in the late 1960s and early 1970s part of the nationalist movement that swept Quebec included a revived interest among young people in traditional music. You could hear that influence in the work of pop groups at the time; Harmonium and Beaux Dommages from Quebec, and from Ontario, Collective Artistic Nord Ontario (CANO). Like the English bands Renaissance and Fairport Convention, they utilized traditional folk tunes and conventions in a pop setting.
Today the interest in the traditional folk music remains strong among musicians in Quebec and one of the newer groups performing the reels and revels of their fore bearers are Le Vent du Nord, who have just released their third CD Dans Les Airs on the Borealis Records label. The band was formed in 2002 and has quickly garnered a reputation as one of the best traditional acts in the folk music community. In 2004 their first CD won the Canadian music award, the Juno, for traditional album of the year, and in 2005 they were named traditional artist of the year in Austin Texas.