People of Québec...then and Now

Tuesday Jun 22 2004

Numerous are the men and women of Québec—famous or nameless, Native or newcomers, French or English-speaking, Catholic, Protestant, or Jewish—who have set their sights ahead, rolled up their sleeves, struggled, created, ventured, built, founded, worked, and harvested to make Québec what it is today.

"Numerous are the men and women of Québec—famous or nameless, Native or newcomers, French or English-speaking, Catholic, Protestant, or Jewish—who have set their sights ahead, rolled up their sleeves, struggled, created, ventured, built, founded, worked, and harvested to make Québec what it is today. Starting June 23, the Musée de la civilisation will open a new permanent exhibition entitled People of Québec... Then and Now produced with the special cooperation of the National Film Board of Canada. It presents an overview of the events that have shaped Québec and helped create a unique society and identity in North America.

"People of Québec... Then and Now is a landmark exhibition, an interpretive synthesis of over 400 years of history designed to put things in perspective for visitors. We consulted a bevy of experts, scholars, and communication specialists in researching the past and its narrative history to ensure we took the latest scholarship into account. This has allowed us to meld Québec's political history with its social and economic history and take a special look at the development of urban Québec, the settlement of Québec's remote regions in the 19th century, the multicultural face of Québec society, and Québec's early and often underestimated flirt with modernism," stated the Museum's executive director, Claire Simard, at the exhibition opening.

Visitors are invited on a historical tour of Québec that will have them relive events, meet figures from yesteryear, admire collection pieces selected for their interest, and connect to a past that is long gone but still shaping events today. Original films and film clips from archives can be seen throughout the exhibition.

Evocative objects
Magnificently illustrating the exhibition's message are over 500 objects—coats of arms, coins, busts and portraits, scale models, furniture, the cappa magna of New France's first bishops, arms, costumes, flags, prints and etchings, sculptures and drawings, stories, archival documents, machines and tools, pop culture objects, ethnological and religious objects, a Caisse populaire counter, plaques from the Manic 5 dam, and everyday items like toys, musical instruments, photographs, and books. Most of the objects are from the Musée de la civilisation collection, although many remarkable items come from other national and regional museums as well as private collections.

NFB a lead partner for the exhibition
Films on pivotal events and a short film on life after the Quiet Revolution—all directed by filmmaker Benoît Pilon and produced by the NFB—brilliantly illustrate the watershed events in Québec's history. Film montages from NFB archives produced by Patrick Pellegrino serve to illustrate certain exhibition themes, such as colonization in the early 20th century and the impact of television on society in the 1950s. Visitors can also watch a selection of a dozen NFB archive films on historical themes in the arched vaults of the Pagé-Quercy House, which is now wheelchair accessible.

Surprising secrets
At interactive modules throughout the exhibition, visitors can hear the brief and moving audio accounts of some 50 men and women who, with their dreams and aspirations, faced the challenges and events of their times. The original dramatic texts are performed by professional actors. Historic figures include Jacques Cartier, Jeanne Mance, Marie Marguerite Moitié ("fille du Roy"), Kondiaronk (Native Chief who signed the Great Peace), Ezechiel Hart (Jewish merchant from Trois-Rivières), Thomas Baillairgé (architect), Brother Marie-Victorin, Paul-Émile Borduas (artist), and Marthe Richard (Bell Canada operator). Contemporay figures are presented in audiovisual clips.

One common thread, four time periods, three pivotal events
The exhibition revolves around a common thread—the "thread of political history," from New France to today. This thread of time passes through the entire exhibition, which includes four time periods: 1608 to 1760, 1760 to 1840, 1840 to 1960, and 1960 to today. In each period, the political and social history (socioeconomic, cultural, and religious trends) is recounted. The periods are connected to each other by three pivotal events that changed the course of history: the Conquest of 1760, the 1837–1838 uprisings, and the election of the Jean Lesage team in 1960. A parallel timeline indicates Québec's place in the world. At the very end of the exhibition, visitors are brought back to the present—because history marches on—with a collection of contemporary photographs. These images will change with breaking news in cooperation with the daily Le Soleil.

Kids' zone
Children six to twelve—and their parents, too—can enjoy an area designed especially for them. Through comic strips, they can observe how Québec children used to live, in the company of Pendule the cat, who has more than one trick up his sleeve. There are seven historical vignettes on the celebrations and games of boys and girls over the years. Two areas set aside for educational activities are also included in the exhibition. The Saint-Pierre Room and arched vaults of the Pagé-Quercy House will be used to present workshops for families and school groups.

Museography
The exhibition People of Québec... Then and now is a recounting of history. Each time period is visually distinctive, illustrating the changes brought on by the passage of time. The objects help create a historical feel.

People of Québec... Then and Now, a major permanent exhibition at Musée de la civilisation in Québec City. Produced with the special cooperation of the National Film Board of Canada. Musées de la civilisation and the Éditions Fides suggest the outstanding work Le Québec, les Québecois : un parcours historique by Jocelyn Létourneau as a must-have companion to the exhibition. An exhibition, a book—another way to write Québec's history!

Information and Reservations
Press relations : Serge Poulin, 418 528-2072 / Email

– Musée de la civilisation –

85, rue Dalhousie
Quebec City (Québec) G1K 8R2
T. 418 643-2158
Toll-free 1 866 710-8031

– Musée de l'Amérique –
francophone

2, côte de la Fabrique
Quebec City (Québec) G1R 3V6
T. 418 643-2158
Toll-free 1 866 710-8031