The oldest museum in Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean region
The Louis-Hémon Museum, initially called Maria Chapdelaine Museum, was founded in 1938 by the Montreal society “Les amis de Maria Chapdelaine” (Friends of Maria Chapdelaine) whose mandate was to commemorate the memory of Louis Hémon and to set forth his masterpiece Maria Chapdelaine. The society negotiated a long-term rental for the house where the writer stayed to establish a museum in his memory. At the time, Éva Bouchard, Laura Bouchard’s sister, wife of Samuel Bédard who hired Louis Hémon, is the owner of the small house.
First Maria-Chapdelaine Museum, 1940
Identified, since 1918, as Louis Hémon’s inspiration for Maria Chapdelaine’s character, Éva Bouchard becomes the museum’s “guardian” starting the opening. While embodying the role of the literary character, she greets tourists from Canada, United States and from Europe who wish to discover the universe of the novel and, of course, to meet its main character. She personified this role until her death in 1949.
Some modifications were made to the Samuel-Bédard House during this period. Among other things, a building, described as Éva Bouchard’s house, was juxtaposed to the hangar.
The Museum in the 1950s
In the 1970s, this building is destroyed and the hangar’s wall is rebuilt. Another building is built to the west of the Samuel-Bédard House uses for the reception of visitors and the site administration. It is named Maria-Chapdelaine Pavilion. Also at the time, a small reconstitution of the village of Péribonka is built and visitors can explore it in carriage.
The classification of the Samuel-Bédard House and the construction of the Contemporary Pavilion
At the beginning of the 1980s, the Samuel-Bédard House is restored to give it its original aspect. In 1983, the Ministry of Cultural Affairs recognizes the house as a historic monument. The major museum development project continues to give rise to the Contemporary Pavilion in which an exhibit in memory of Louis Hémon is presented. This building is inaugurated in 1986 in the presence of the daughter of the writer.
The Louis-Hémon Museum (Contemporary Pavilion) inaugurated in 1986
Today, the museum is composed of the Samuel-Bédard House, classified under the Cultural Heritage Act adopted by the government of Quebec in 2012, as well as the Contemporary pavilion that houses the permanent exhibition on the author and his book and a temporary or itinerant one that changes on an annual basis.
« To preserve and to transmit to future generations the quest of Louis Hémon, to promote the territory of the land of Maria Chapdelaine and to offer a place of creation and sharing that emphasizes french orality, reading and writing. »
Samuel-Bédard House, 2012
The museum team is actually working on a major project: the redeployment of the Louis-Hémon Museum in the heart of the municipality of Péribonka.
More information to come.