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Forgotten Repentigny Theater

Forgotten Repentigny Theater

An important part of Repentini’s history is hidden behind the imposing concrete columns in one of its popular gardens along the Saint Lawrence River, but its existence remains a mystery to many.

To tell the truth, these columns are the remains of the Center de l’Arte de Repentini that opened in the early 1960s when Quebec was having its quiet revolution, and Repentini, which was still very rural at the time, was experiencing a cultural frenzy.

“The meeting place was at Repentini, there wasn’t much, it was very rustic,” Caroline Deschamps, who was seventeen at the time, recalling that wolves sometimes roamed his neighborhood, told us.

The place was also a song box, on Fridays young people could go there, because no alcohol was served there.

‘There was no alcohol, but a friend brought her alcohol and that’s where I drank the first time,’ told us in turn, Ms. Deschamps’ childhood friend, Nicole David Copley, who was 16 at the time. I came home sick, she wasn’t Mom is really happy.

An important part of Repentini's history is hidden behind the imposing concrete columns in one of its popular gardens along the Saint Lawrence River, but its existence remains a mystery to many.  To be honest, these columns are the remains of the Center d'art de Repentigny, which opened in the early 1960s.  In this photo taken in the summer of 2022: The concrete pillars of Saint-Laurent Park, the remains of the Repentigny Art Center burned down on July 26, 1967.

Image Courtesy/Repentance History Workshop

great artists

But the arts center radiated just outside the Montreal suburbs where it was located. Pierre Lalonde hosted the summer Youth of Today, a pioneering program at the time. and Félix Leclerc is included in the list of artists who have performed there.

Mrs. Deschamps remembers a somewhat comical anecdote about an artist who nearly took to the stage at the Arts Center one evening in the 1960s.

“Tex Liqueur was showing one night in the theater, but he stayed in a bar and never showed up, you remember. We had reimbursement for tickets.

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end of festivities

But this cultural experience of penitence only lasted a few years, from 1963, the year the place opened, to 1967, the year it disappeared due to a tragic fire.

Two police firefighters and a theater employee were killed in the July 26, 1967 fire.

“It was the stage for all the gatherings and this drama sure made a stir,” explained François Longbriet, president of the Atelier d’histoire de Repentigny.

Two police firefighters, Yves Saint-Germain, 22, and Roger Saint-Jean, 25, died while trying to save theatre’s caretaker Napoleon Saint-Marie, 68, from the flames during the fire.

“I went to Yves Saint-Germain’s funeral, and his younger brother was a friend of mine,” Mrs. David Copley, who also knew the other policeman, remembers well.

Caroline Deschamps also knew of the two men who died in service.

“I remember the drama, it really affected me, I still remember the history,” Mrs. Deschamps, now 72, told us. It saddens me, at this age, we are so touching.