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    Twenty or so people in evening dress pose for a photograph standing on a luxurious grand staircase.
    Montreal French book launch at the Saint-James Hotel, October 20, 2005. From left to right, front: André Provencher, Paul Buissonneau, Clairette, Joël Le Bigot, Jérôme Ferrer. Middle: Olivier Moreaux, Françoise Saliou, Chantal Jolis, Guy Crevier, Frédéric Back, François Lubrina. Back row: Bertrand Lemeunier and Éric Clément, Minou Petrowski, Marc-Alain Wolf, Iégor de Saint Hippolyte, Jean Gounelle.

    French of Montreal | History of Quebec

    Founded in 1642 by French explorer Paul Chomedey de Maisonneuve, Montreal has benefited from a steady flow of immigrants, first from Europe and then from all over the world, making it one of the world’s most cosmopolitan cities. France has always maintained a strong attachment to Montreal. In this Coffee Table Book, 20 French people who chose to live here and became key figures in Montreal’s contemporary history share their love for the city. 

    Text by Éric Clément | Photos: Bertrand Lemeunier

    Portrait of an artist with white hair and a white moustache, posing next to his coloured pencils.
    “I’ve never regretted staying in Montreal. It hasn’t been easy, but in the end, I’ve always had an active life, working on interesting subjects and with interesting people” Frédéric Back.

    Frédéric Back

    In Canada and around the world, the name Frédéric Back immediately brings to mind his animated films, notably his famous L’Homme qui plantait des arbres (The Man Who Planted Trees), a text by Jean Giono narrated by the warm voice of Philippe Noiret, which he set to picture and which won the prestigious Oscar for best animated film in Hollywood in 1988. Painter, draftsman, illustrator, set designer, model maker, filmmaker, naturalist and early ecologist, Frédéric Back created a huge artistic legacy. He died in 2013 at the age of 89.

    Near a colourful stained-glass window, a woman in a pink T-shirt smiles at the photographer.
    “Whatever the neighbourhood, everyone can find their niche, their space, the environment they prefer” Françoise Saliou

    Françoise Saliou

    Recipient of the 2004 Artisan of the Year Award from the City of Montreal, Françoise Saliou has been a master glassworker in Quebec for 27 years. A specialist in the renovation of old buildings, she has restored the stained glass windows of Saint Joseph’s Oratory. She also creates stained glass windows and lampshades of all shapes and models for retailers and private customers. 

    Originally from Paris, she first visited Quebec in July 1978. “With my six-year-old son Thomas, we came to visit a family from Terrebonne whose son had stayed with us as an exchange student. When I saw the wide-open spaces and the American cars, I felt like I was in a movie! The Victorian architecture had stained-glass windows everywhere. I had just finished stained glass school. I knew I could establish myself here by doing restoration work. So I went back to Paris to liquidate my affairs and we returned on December 2. There was a beautiful blue sky and snow everywhere. I wanted to kiss the earth like the Pope! Françoise still works with the same passion today.

    Portrait of a gray-haired retiree with glasses and a mischievous look on his face.
    “I came here by accident. I made my mark and met a lot of nice people. Over fifty years here is quite something.” Paul Buissonneau

    Paul Buissonneau

    Paul Buissonneau is both an actor and director, but he arrived in Montreal as a singer in 1947, with none other than Édith Piaf. It was the “Môme de Paris” who introduced him to Quebec. “I came with Piaf and my group, Les Compagnons de la chanson.” 

    “I love Montreal. I like the streets leading downtown, the neighbourhoods, the little shopkeepers, the Atwater market, where I’m very welcome. I must say I’ve been spoiled, since I’m a bit of a public figure, like the toilets! That’s why people recognize me. They say to me: “How are you M’sieur Buissonneau, take care of yourself, we want to keep you”, things that the ordinary world doesn’t say to everyone. I have a good life here. Paul’s Quebec adventure lasted 67 years. Picolo passed away in 2014 at the age of 87.

    Near a small tree, a man in his thirties in a green T-shirt looks at the photographer.
    “I fell in love with Montreal at first sight” Jérôme Minière

    Jérôme Minière

    Musician, singer, storyteller and artist with an overflowing creativity, Jérôme Minière has created an attractive universe of melodies and satirical messages that have conquered a large audience in Quebec, as well as in Europe, notably in Germany. In 2003, he was named Quebec singer-songwriter of the year by ADISQ, the equivalent of the Victoires de la musique in France. 

    In 2004, his album Chez Herri Kopter was named best Quebec record of the year by La Presse critic Alexandre Vigneault. But success didn’t go to his head. Without being asked, he agreed to take a little time and talk to us about his beloved Montreal. “I first came to Montreal in 1993, he explains. But I still had a contract in France, so I went back there a lot to work. Then, at the end of 1995, I settled down with a Quebec woman. We had a child.” After just a few years, Jérôme Minière already feels like a Montrealer, but according to him, identity is a complicated thing.

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