An inspiring Grosse-Île

An inspiring Big Island


During a visit to Grosse-Île a dozen years ago, Émile Proulx-Cloutier was struck by this place of quarantine located near L’Isle-aux-Grues. A subject that grabbed him and led him to the creation of a theatrical object that will come to life on the boards.

On display at La Bordée, until November 19, Grosse-Île, 1847 was able to see the light of day due to the pandemic. With the confinement, Émile Proulx-Cloutier had time to carry out this project. 

Grosse-Île was, in 1832, a quarantine station for immigrants arriving by the waters of the St. Lawrence.

In 1847, 5000 people died there. Mostly Irish people who fled the great famine raging in their country. Contaminated by typhus during the Atlantic crossing, they were treated at Grosse-Île.

“I was struck by the beauty of the place and also by the smallness of the place versus the immense mission of the people who worked there”, he remarked, during an interview .

The actor, director, singer and musician pulled out the four or five books he had bought at the time and came across archives and writings from the past. Letters from people who worked on the island and newspaper articles that reported what was happening. He wanted to make it resonate in the theater. 

Huge mission

Émile Proulx-Cloutier did not want to invent a story. He wanted to act out what he was reading.

“Everything the actors say comes from my findings made in collaboration with an archivist. Everything they say comes from the archives of the year 1847. I read thousands of pages and kept the best to make something consistent. I didn't want it to be a history lesson,” he pointed out.

Grosse-Île, 1847 is interested in the medical staff in place on this island near Quebec.

               -he said.

Vincent Champoux, Nicolas Drolet, Hugues Frenette, Érika Gagnon, Marie-Hélène Gendreau, Véronika Makdissi-Warren, Élie Saint-Cyr and Sarah Villeneuve-Desjardins, all actors from Quebec City, constitute the distribution of Grosse-Île, 1847.