Photographer: Mario Fallu
Sculptor: Michel Giroux
Date: September 30, 2016
Source: Société d’histoire de la Rivière-du-Nord
This sculpture commemorating Curé Labelle’s grande corvée du bois, or wood convoy, was designed in 2016 as part of the celebrations of the 125th anniversary of Labelle’s death. An imposing work made from driftwood by Saint-Jérôme artist Michel Giroux, it is part of a series of open-air works of art depicting chapters in the history of the Parc régional de la Rivière-du-Nord in Saint-Jérôme.
In the winter of 1871–72, with Montreal facing a severe shortage of heating fuel, Labelle called on his parishioners to help the city’s poorer classes by gathering wood. They responded in large numbers, and quickly, and on January 18, 1872, a hundred cords of firewood was delivered to Montreal. At a supper given in honour of the people of Saint-Jérôme at the Hôtel Jacques-Cartier, the curé gave a forceful speech extolling the benefits of linking the communities of the North to Montreal by train. While doing a good deed to come to the aid of those most in need, Labelle was simultaneously advocating for a cause he deeply believed in “his” railway.