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Le Courant

Automne 2016 | 18

The world of culture

The world of culture: A look at the role of Culture in Coaticook
                   Maison du Québec

Maison du Québec à Montréal

Ballet Jazz with Linda Lyonnais

In 1964, Brother Ephrem started up a social activites committee by enlisting the help of other participants in Coaticook. Families signed up for the project. The committee was composed of an executive council and various sub-committees. I accepted the position of publicist. The president was a young man (then) and very dynamic. His name was Pierre Lachapelle and he had recently moved, with his family, to Coaticook. His father became the director of the agricultural co-operative. All of the members were helpful and, as a group, sympathetic to the cause of establishing a good committee. The first activity bringing in the most money was the organization of dances at the school gym one Saturday night each month. At this time, the boys attended the secondary school known as Albert L'Heureux while the girls attended another school close by known as the Mgr. Durand School. These activities were organized to help the boys and girls to meet and get to know each other in a positive and friendly atmosphere. Pierre Benoit along with a young lady named Claudette Pepin from the neighboring school were sent to follow a weekend animation workshop. Some small paper bags were bought to be part of one of the animated activities. The bag was inflated and burst in the back of the dance partner one chose to dance with...The janitor did not like having to pick up all the torn paper bags which were on the floor. Various bands were invited to come and play dance music and rock and roll which was the popular music at this time. It was a coming together of the local young people and the room quickly filled. Press releases were sent to the local and regional newspapers. Musicians sometimes came as far away as St. Hyacinthe, Drummondville, Montreal, etc. Several times I wrote the names of the bands who played like the Lutins, the Topazes, etc. These dances were held for many years and the person responsible for hiring these bands was Robert ''Bobby'' Savard, the cousin of my sister-in law, Hugette Savard Lapointe. The profits from those evenings were used to promote other cultural activities like photography, classical music auditions, folk dancing, painting, etc. The courses for folk dancing were organized by the Boileau sisters (their father ran Boileau Jewelery Store) and his friend was the father who owned Robitaille Garage. Robitaille Garage sold cars. Even when I went on to university, I volunteered my services to collect the entry fees for the dances. The major cultural activity of the day was the library of which the driving force for this project was Mrs. Francoise Maurice.


n the beginning, the library was located on Court Street, near St. Jean l'Evangeliste Church. A shoe store had previously been located here but now the shop was empty. Mrs Francoise Maurice always thought highly about classical dance and jazz and when she went about organizing courses she sought teachers from the Pierre Lapointe school of dance in Sherbrooke to see that the courses would be given properly. The young men were allowed to take part in the courses without paying fees as they were so few in number.
                   Maison du Québec Sylviane Gérald

Maison du Québec à Montréal - Sylviane Ferland and Gérald Gilbert

At this time there was a gathering place to meet for various cultural affairs. It was at the Gendreau School which would be decorated up for whatever occasion and they would welcome singers, song writers, and dancers in a nautically themed setting with jute tablecloths and candles in jute covered bottles of chianti. Alcohol free fruit punch was served as the refreshment. Renee Claude, the performer, pulled in a full house during her engagement in Coaticook. Other local and regional performers came here to entertain.

Le Comite Culturel de Coaticook (The Coaticook Cultural Committee)

In 1975, Mrs Paule Gagnon Martineau and Mrs. Carmen Robert Miville-Deschenes asked me to take part in the Coaticook Cultural Committee. I held the position of Secretary and later as the President for a few years, until the time of my marriage and my subsequent move to Sherbrooke in 1977. The committee started up a pottery workshop at the Polyvalent and bought pottery wheels and other supplies to encourage the craftperson. This was done in co-operation with Chateau Norton. Instructors also gave classes in oil painting. The elementary grades were offered, in co-operation with the committee, the school principals and the school school commission, courses in choral singing. Courses were also offered in folk dancing.

The Coaticook Cultural Committee also played a part in the formation of the Council on Culture in the Eastern Townships in 1977. The management of this Council was located in Sherbrooke under the chairmanship of the painter, Jacques Barbeau. At the time of my departure, Mrs. Sylviane Ferland took over as President and has assumed this responsibility to this day. Other presidents also included Mrs. Denise Maillot and Mrs. Hugette Lyonnais.

Over the years workshops were given at the Town Hall, conferences and performances that could be presented were held at St. Edmond Church, Albert l'Heureux School, Sacre-Coeur School - all dependant on the type of performance, of course. Volunteers were at the door to collect the entry fees, and they also calculated the amusement tax that same evening which was due to the city. A policeman would come by during the course of the evening to pick up the funds. The Coaticook Cultural Committee attended the first Village Cultural (Village Cultural Council) in 1978 which was held in Sherbrooke during the Quebec Games. Subsequently, Coaticook became the host for this Village Culturel (Village Cultural Council). Over the course of years, meeting have been held by representatives from different places in Montreal, Quebec. We took the bus and rode with artists and craftpersons as well as the organizers and leader of the municipality.

The Cultural Committee, for many years, never had a place to call home. We met at the Museum for awhile, then above the old Post Office on the 3rd floor where the Artist in Residence currently resides, then finally we were given a place in the basement of the Pavillon des Arts (Arts Pavillion). This is where it has been located since 2010.

Source: Bernard Lapointe, Sylviane Ferland

                   gérald et Martien Fontaine

Gérald Robert and Martien Fontaine, Mason du Québec à Montréal

Le Courant

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Journaux et photos du Progrès de Coaticook depuis 1950 • Collection du Coaticook Observer des années 1928 à 1938. • Collection de l'Etoile de l'Est de 1928 à 1938.

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