A village of Franco poetry in the shadow of the American giant

A village of Franco poetry in the shadow of the giant Rican


Saint-Venant-de-Paquette – “We have become a village identified with poetry and the survival of the French language, just three kilometers from the American lines. There is a symbolic character that I find very strong. » 

At first glance, nothing suggests that Saint-Venant-de-Paquette, a small town in the Eastern Townships at the gates of New Hampshire and where cellular networks take their days off approaching, plays an important role in the battle for French in America.

According to the most recent demographic data, there are 101 inhabitants. According to his most illustrious fellow citizen, Richard Séguin, who ends all his tours there in the church transformed into a theater, there are 98 villagers.

Together, they do not even fill a section of the Bell Center or at the Videotron Centre.

The shows by Richard Séguin, who ends his tours at the Saint-Venant church, are always very popular.

Yet it was in this haven of peace and solidarity that the Sentier poétique was developed in the late 1990s: 14 sites spread over three kilometres, where nature and the words of our great poets, Clémence Desrochers to Gérald Godin via the Uguay, Leclerc, Miron, Bacon, Nelligan (there are 56 in all), live together in harmony.

“Quietly, laughs to tell Richard Séguin, the names are incorporated into the landscape here. People will say: go take the mulch to Gaston Miron, leave the tarpaulins to Michel Garneau. Naming them brings them alive. After that, school classes come to do an introduction to poetry. We do a lot of book launches. We have a season where we present shows to 60 people. There are people who come as volunteers to help us raise funds for our activities. Marc Hervieux, Vincent Vallières, in 25 years, I think they have all come to lend us a hand. It allows us to open the cafe. »

Giving up giving up

The café is the Maison de l'arbre, a charming place that serves as a reception desk where you can eat and buy a work of art by Richard Séguin himself.

On a wall, near an exhibition of photos of the latest presentations of the Great Night of Poetry, another event that has made Saint-Venant famous, we have affixed the local motto: a village that gives up giving up.

“We were told that we were a devitalized village. So the mayor asked if we had any ideas for reviving it. I had suggested associating poems with landscapes. Two professors from the Institut de technologie agroalimentaire, in Saint-Hyacinthe, came to lend us a hand and they imagined the magnitude of what the trail could be,” says Richard Séguin.

Richard Séguin in a poetic paths of his village, Saint-Venant-de-Paquette.

“Initially, he recalls, we were told that it was a project that would last two years. We had contacted people from politics to find out if they wanted to get involved… and we did not wait for them. We went to the front ourselves. »

Rich idea. In 2023, the Poetic Trail will celebrate its 25th anniversary.

What a nice snub to the incredulous! 

The grip of the territory 

The church of Saint-Venant-de-Paquette.

When you think about it, that culture keeps a village like Saint-Venant-de-Paquette standing, makes perfect sense. 

When he decided, with his girlfriend, to take advantage of attractive real estate prices to buy a house there, in the early 1970s, Richard Séguin was one of a dozen musicians who had taken up residence at the same time in the village. .

The migrants from Saint-Venant were artists.

Several of these newcomers subsequently returned to town. Séguin even had a base in Montreal during its prosperous period of the 1980s and 90s, but never completely left Saint-Venant.

Today, he no longer has any ties with the city and he does not hesitate to say that he would not have been the same artist if he had not known life in the countryside.


“I needed this,” he said. I need to be with people. I am gregarious, I like to be in community, in a small group that participates in the same business. For me, it's as important as going on tour and being in league with my musicians. »

What he saw in Saint-Venant is inevitably reflected in his songs.

“Culture in the regions is not like in Montreal or in major centres. It interacts in creation, it interacts in the way of conceiving the cycle of the seasons, the cycle of encounters. We feel it a lot in the artistic achievements of those who are in the region, both in painting and photography, literature. You feel that the territory has a hold on creation, you feel that the territory is integrated into the very gesture of everything you are going to imagine. It inevitably feeds the imagination.  

Richard Séguin in the words of his peers

During our interview, Richard Séguin enumerated a list of Quebec artists of the current generation that he admires. Ramoureux, we came away with this list of names and asked them to tell us what the veteran singer means to them. Four of them answered the call.

“It passes beautifully through time”

– Patrice Michaud 

I remember I was on the bus at the beginning of high school. There was a big one in the back, with a denim jacket and the yellow headphones of his yellow walkman constantly on his ears. One day, I dared to ask him what he was listening to. I was convinced it was Judas Priest or something. He kindly showed me the picture on the box of his tape: At the gates of the morning

I got next got the same tape. This means that Richard's music has followed me since adolescence. Now that I have the privilege of counting him among my friends, I see how beautifully he passes through time. 

“I would like to be like him when I grow up”

 – Marie-Pierre Arthur

When I was little, I heard my brothers play, show after show, I'm looking for you everywhere. This song still strikes me as a comforter. As a teenager, in his time At the gates of the morning, it was just impossible to miss, he was everywhere. My favorite was Song to last forever, over which I cried so much (cry so as not to overflow).

After, the real meeting. He arrived in Petite-Vallée as the godfather of the artists of the festival. I saw this man love others in a way I had never seen before. With so much consideration. Everyone on the same level.

I rubbed shoulders with him later while I was thinking about writing my first record. His gaze on my music was so tender. I'll never forget. Now, his new songs are always imbued with beauty, his outlook on life, everything that still touches me. I would like to be like him when I grow up. 

“He is the forest that makes the song breathe” 

– Ingrid St-Pierre

For me, Richard Séguin is much more than a monument in the landscape of our Quebec song. Richard Séguin is a landscape in itself. The tree of his poetry crosses the years and tells us for 50 years. It is the forest that makes the song breathe. 

Beyond my encounter with his work stamped in my life since my early childhood, it is the human being that I discovered, a few years ago, during the National Day show on the Plains of Abraham.   

Richard, sunny and generous. Richard, listening, benevolent. Richard who always knows how to make me feel that the time he spends with me is important. It doesn't matter when. Richard asking how are you? But for real, for real. With the soft gaze of one who is truly interested in the answer. 

Richard is one of those who shines by illuminating others around. 

“Authentic, beautiful and charismatic”

– Émile Bilodeau

< p>Richard is an authentic, handsome and charismatic man. He is an artist who knows how to handle his voice as well as his guitar. In addition, he knows how to write high-level songs, and has done so for a long time.

I remember listening to an interview that Richard Séguin gave on television. It was Patrice Bélanger from Sucré salé who asked him which singer Mr. Séguin would like to leave his guitar to as his successor. I was very honored to hear my name come out of his mouth at that time. He will be a smuggler this summer at the Petite-Vallée festival, which is proof of the importance he attaches to the next generation and to the act of passing the torch of Quebec song. I believe that the history of Francophone music in Quebec is intimately linked to this symbol of transfer. I am happy to inherit everything that my mentors have put together. Thank you Richard Séguin!