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La Pêche

"Le moulin de Masham" by Jean-Yves Vigneau


Falls and rapids – the heart of development

Logging reached the township of Masham around 1825. The loggers followed the natural path created by the connection of Meech Lake, Harrington Lake, and Lac Philippe. In 1837, Ovide Bélanger started farming in the area of Sainte-Cécile-de-Masham. At that time, Édouard Trempe built a gristmill and a sawmill along the edge of the La Pêche River, which were sold in 1883 to the Bertrand family who continued operating the mills until 1934. The family also had a general store and a blacksmith forge.


A dam controlled the flow of water, ensuring there were sufficient quantities to continue operations throughout the year. A small community developed around the buildings belonging to the Bertrand family. During the Great Depression of the 1930s, merchant Maurice Bertrand created his own currency in order to pay the men who worked at the mill. The money they received as wages could only be used at the family general store.


The Dufour family acquired the sawmill in 1942. It continued to operate until it was destroyed by fire in January, 1954.


"Le moulin de Masham", 2017, by Jean-Yves Vigneau


Vigneau’s work commemorates the history of the sawmill and its importance to the life of Masham. The square timbers represent the use of the forest as the community's primary economic resource. A large round saw blade brings to mind the presence of the sawmill, used to transform beams into planks. Embellished with water droplets, the blade evokes the water’s driving force. At either end of the timbers, the artist has applied reproductions of the currency created by Bertrand.


Originally from the Magdalen Islands, Jean-Yves Vigneau has produced numerous public commissions in situ, both in Canada and abroad. The sea, water, and insularity are important components in his work.

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