Louis Fréchette

Louis Fréchette was born in Lévis in 1839 and died in Montréal in 1908. He was a student at the Nicolet Seminary in 1859 and 1860. He returned to make Nicolet his home from 1885 to 1888, where he wrote most of La légende d'un peuple (The Legend of a People). He was a celebrated poet in his lifetime, yet it is for his prose that he is most appreciated today : Originaux et détraqués (Originals and Oddballs) , 1892; Mémoires intimes (Intimate Memoirs), 1900; and the delightful Contes de Jos Violon (Tales of Jos Violon).

These stories appeared in the 1905 book La Noël au Canada (Christmas in Canada) and in several magazines, as was the case for Les lutins (The Elves), which was published in L'almanach du peuple Beauchemin (The Beauchemin People's Almanach) in 1905.

Jos Violon was an old storyteller that Louis Fréchette loved to listen to in his youth. He took great pleasure in bringing this colorful character back to life and conveying the full flavor of his manner of speaking. Jos Violon was a master at using words bent out of shape, old-fashioned expressions and verbal inventions, all of which brought extraordinary vitality to his stories.

Here is how the author describes this unique character in his Mémoires intimes (Intimate Memoirs) :
"He was a remarkable fellow, that one. Legally, his name was Joseph Lemieux ; in the parish, he was called José Caron ; and in the work camps, he was universally known as Joe (sic) Violon. How he earned this peculiar nickname is beyond me. He was already getting on in years by the time I met him. Little did he know that I would awaken memories of him over half a century after his death. A tall, lanky individual, he had a way of leaning on his hips as he walked. He was boastful, sarcastic and mocking, yet kindly enough for his weaknesses to be overlooked. Among these weaknesses - if that be the word - first comes to mind a rather strong tendency to drink somewhat more than was good for him. All the stories I've heard Jos Violon tell could certainly fill quite a volume. On many a fall or winter evening (...) some old-timer in our neighborhood would host a story night, and we would all go to listen to the tales of this veteran of the camps whose vivid style enthralled us."

Inspired by Henri Julien's (1852-1908) drawings, the sculptor has depicted Jos Violon telling a story, surrounded by 2 impish elves teasing him, a third one watching the scene and another sleeping peacefully on the bough of a nearby pine.

In 1974, the Contes de Jos Violon (Tales of Jos Violon) were brought together for the first time in a volume published by L'Aurore Editions.

This steel structure was created by Nicolet artist Sébastien Brassard, based on an idea by Pierre Chatillon. The final coat was applied by Trois-Rivières artist Pierre Landry.

It was donated to the Literary Park in 1999 by the Caisse populaire of Nicolet.

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