It is by chance that Robert Raymond went to the antique dealer Jean Deshaies (Kojak), a few months ago. He had no idea that he would then get his hands on a painting depicting hockey player Jean Béliveau, long gone and whom we had completely lost track of.
In fact, last December, the history buff wandered over to Kojak to see what the antiquarian had to offer. “Then he unrolled this canvas saying to me: you like heritage! “, explains Mr. Raymond.
The latter then acquired this work of art that dates from 1956 and that lived its heyday at the Sacré-Coeur College in Victoriaville (today Cégep). In fact, it was painted by Brother Hermès (sc), who was a sports director, and inaugurated on May 26, 1956 when Victoriaville and the Bois-Francs were throwing a big party in honor of the hockey player who had lived in Victoriaville for a long time. weather. weather. . “Even the archives of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart had lost track of him,” adds the proud buyer.
Robert Raymond then took the work in poor condition to the Victoriaville Historical and Genealogical Society and tried with his colleagues to redo the history of the canvas in question.
It looks like it was done in oil paint, probably from a hockey card. Brother Hermès, sc would have left the Brotherhood of the Sacred Heart in 1962, recovering at the same time his name, Réal Savard, and his canvas. He then painted his new signature on the blade of a hockey stick that reads: “Victoriaville, May 26, 1956. Réal Savard.”
When he died on November 9, 1997 at the age of 83, the canvas passed into the hands of his brother Roméo Savard and then, on his death, to his son, Michel Savard. In addition, Robert Raymond had the opportunity to meet the latter who kept the work rolled up for a long time without really knowing what to do with it. He was very happy to see that she had fallen into good hands.
In fact, Robert Raymond decided to restore the painting, which is of great value to the region. He entrusted this delicate task to Carol Poulin, a specialist in the field who lives in Quebec. The latter took all the necessary time and labor, a month in all, to restore this canvas. “It was also his last term in office as he is now retired,” adds Mr. Raymond.
Thus, for a few days, the canvas has returned to the Historical Society. The three tears have been repaired, it has been completely cleaned, restretched and varnished. A new frame has also been added to preserve it well. It hangs at the entrance to the building that houses the Historical Society, and people are invited to come and admire it on the premises, during opening hours of course.
But Robert Raymond would like the work to stand out more and be displayed in a more frequented location. “I want it to stay in Victoriaville, where it has great heritage importance,” he insists. For example, he envisions him enthroned in Victoriaville City Hall, a place that would pay homage to both the character portrayed and the work. It must be said that the canvas is imposing, measuring 72 by 55 inches. One thing is for sure, he will not let her go without knowing that she will continue to be a part of Victoriaville history.
“The mission of the Historical Society is not to accumulate objects, but in the case of this painting, we want to contribute to its development,” says President Raymond Tardif, recalling that Jean Béliveau was Victoriaville’s greatest ambassador, both in terms of his personality and his talent for hockey.
Already, an article tells the full story of the work in the March issue of Living Memory of the History Society. “And we gave a copy to Élise, Jean Béliveau’s wife, who was very moved,” adds Mr. Tardif.
Thus, after disappearing from circulation for many years, the mystery of Jean Béliveau’s painting is solved. And as it is no coincidence, it was on April 22 when La Nouvelle Union met with Robert Raymond to talk about the work, the day we learned of the death of another great hockey player, Guy Lafleur.