Les Violons en Fête, A Brief History

Well before the name “Les Violons en Fête” existed, already some instruments could be heard, not only through the harmonious sound of their strings but from the passion that dwelled in the heart of its creative artists. It all began with one man’s passion for the fabrication of a musical instrument, the violin. In the early 80’s, Jacques Labelle, a Hull resident, today Gatineau, dreamt to become a stringed instrument maker (French word: luthier). Quickly he made his dream become reality. His very first step was to obtain information on how to fabricate such an instrument, and then dive right into the adventure. From this passion one instrument was born, then a second. Many others followed. It already was a feat to fabricate violins but that wasn’t enough, he had to make them vibrate. Having himself played this instrument in his youth years, the idea of creating a small group of musicians came to mind, simply to have a good time, very informally. It first started out in a private residence but as new musicians kept joining a larger place had to be found. As these musical gatherings kept going on, the passion to fabricate violins continued its way. Rightly said, this man was filled with two passions.

In the fall of 1997, a group of seven individuals gathered weekly in a private residence to practice music. This group was then called “les Violoneux de l’Outaouais” (in English: The Outaouais Fiddlers). An interesting fact, all these musicians had themselves fabricated their violin at the Atelier de sculpture sur bois de Hull (Hull Wood Sculpture Workshop) where violin making courses are also offered. On March 8, 2000, patent letters in accordance with the Corporation Act were filed in Quebec. A corporation registered under the social name Les Violons en Fête was officially created.

The applicants to whom these patents letters were granted were: Jacques Labelle, Michelle Castonguay, Ginette Marengère and Louis-Paul Guindon. The Head Office then was based in Hull QC.

Along the years, Les Violons en Fête has built itself a solid reputation by holding musical events in support of charitable organizations, and through other types of musical shows, while featuring traditional music. For that matter, its mission being to “promote traditional music in all forms in the Outaouais, while financially helping charitable organizations within the region” well reflects the whole of its work.

Such an organization in its actual form cannot exist without the support of people that are both generous and passionate. Since its beginnings, and as inscribed in its Convention, The Board of Directors, among other things, looks after the ongoing administrative activities. It is composed of five elected members, plus a musical director. Two music teachers complement this team.

The following people have succeeded each other as President:

  • Jacques Labelle, Founder and first President, from 2000 to 2008
  • Raymond Proulx, from 2008 to 2011
  • François Plouffe, from 2011 to 2014
  • Gilbert Jacques, from 2015 to 2016

The following people have succeeded each other as Musical Director:

  • Viateur Pagé, from 1997 to 1998
  • Marc Sauvé, from 1999 to 2002
  • Donald Martin, from 2003 to 2017

Les Violons en Fête, many strings and hearts have vibrated to get there!