Biographies: Pierre LeBer and Donald Alarie

Pierre LeBer (1669-1707)

Pierre LeBer was baptized on August 11, 1669, in Montreal. He died on October 1, 1707 at Pointe-Saint-Charles in Montreal. There is no record to indicate whether he was educated in France or Montreal. His arts education was probably inspired by the religious works of art his father owned, as well as the prints that were his father’s stock in trade.

While with the Frères hospitaliers in Montreal, an order he founded in 1692 with François Charon de la Barre, where he had a painting studio, he produced works destined for many churches in New France. In 1697-1698, Pierre LeBer had a chapel built in Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, Quebec, which he had decorated with sculptures produced from his drawings. These works disappeared sometime during the 18th century.

Pierre LeBer painted the posthumous portrait of Marguerite Bourgeoys, who died on January 12, 1700. This is the only work that can definitely be attributed to him. The restoration of this painting in 1963-1964 made it possible to compare his style with that of certain anonymous paintings. As a result, he has been credited with four oils on canvas, one portrait and three religious paintings, including St-Charles Borromée. There is good reason to assume that there are still other works in existence not known to have been painted by Pierre LeBer.

Donald Alarie (1945)

Donald Alarie was born in Montreal in 1945 and has lived in the Joliette area since 1973. Following studies in literature at Université de Montreal, he taught at CÉGEP Joliette-De Lanaudière from 1971 to 1997. He has written a dozen books (novels, novellas, poetry).

Three of his novels (La Rétrospection, La Vie d’hôtel en automne, Comme un lièvre pris au piège) and three collections of novellas (Jérôme et les mots, Un homme paisible, Les figurants) have been published by Éditions Pierre Tisseyre. Since 1987, he has also published four collections of poems in prose, through Écrits des Forges: Petits formats, La Terre comme un dessin inachevé, Parfois même la beauté (copublished with Dé bleu, France) and Ainsi nous allons.

He has also collaborated on one book with Claude R. Blouin, La visiteuse, Le dragon blessé (APLM,1979) and on another with Bernard Pozier, Au cru du vent (Écrits des Forges/Musée d’art de Joliette, 1990). His writings have been published in many magazines, and many articles have been published on his works. He won awards in 1978 (Gibson Literary Price), 1980 (Jean-Béraud Molson Prize) and 1987 (Marcel-Panneton Prize), followed by a grant from the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec in 1998.

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