JOS VIOLON AND THE ELVES
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.
to the park ]