Historical Fresco
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Explanation of the Historical Mural

The mural presented in this Web site was envisioned and completed in 1985 for the Madawaska Bicentennial. This historical mural pays homage to our pioneers, our settlers, our missionaries, our builders. It defines the altruism, sacrifice, courage, tenacity, loyalty and devotion to work of our ancestors. It is a brief retelling of the history of Madawaska, but this time through images. This mural, which measures approximately 2.1 m X 2.3 m (7' X 7 1/2`), is permanently displayed in the Municipal Council Chamber in Edmundston.

Before accomplishing this work of art, the artist had to prepare numerous pencil drafts, sometimes calling upon a live model to capture the corporal expression of each character with the most accuracy possible. When his sketch satisfied him, he cut it out and added it to a collage where the other characters, laid out in small groups, seemed to balance each other in their relationships or with the work they were accomplishing. Once the composition was determined, he redrew the entire depiction and colored it with gouache to finish his draft. Last of all, he traced the contours with charcoal and painted the details with a brush, using the draft for inspiration: the project involving several months of work, not counting the weeks of preparation leading to the result. He was inspired by Thomas Albert’s book, l‘Histoire du Madawaska, and articles published in the publication Revue de la Société historique du Madawaska. The artist wishes to thank Mgr. E. Lang, Mr. Oneil Clavet, Sr. Georgette Desjardins, Sr. Henriette Raymond and Mr. Conrad Soucy for their valued advice.

The whole of the tableau consists of 24 scenes which speak to us through an event or a given period of our history, through the trades or professions, through the buildings or companies, the world of commerce and leisure, the world of teachers or health care workers, religious life, flora, fauna, our traditions, our customs, our folklore and our land. Many other companies, characters or events could have been depicted, but it was impossible to put all in a mural of this kind.

General description

  1. Characters: The mural speaks to us through 24 groups (minus the one consisting of Madawaska wildlife). They are presented in groups of three or four characters, sometimes more: therefore, a hundred in all.
  2. Buildings (about fifteen in number) are very often used as background for the various groups. One will be able to recognize several of these buildings easily: the convent of the Hospitalières de Saint Joseph , the Centre universitaire Saint-Louis Mallet, the Madawaska Museum, the P' tit-Sault Fort (destroyed in 1868), the primitive chapel of Saint-Basile, the Edmundston Forum, the Canadian Pacific train station, a covered bridge, etc.
  3. Animals (23 species) help to convey a simple and true zest for life.
    • Domestic animals: dog, cat, horse, cow, ox, sheep, pigs, geese and hens.
    • Wildlife: porcupine (our emblem), deer, moose, beaver, hare, skunk, tamia or chipmunk, as well as several species of birds: robin, swallow, titmouse or chickadee, partridge, duck, blue jay etc.
  4. Representatives of the trades or professions: carpenter, doctor, journalist, priest, nun, merchant, trapper, railway man, logger, river driver, farmer, weaver, sculptor, painter, teacher, day labourer, courier, etc.
  5. Companies: forestry (Murchie sawmill, which later became Fraser Company), communications (railway lines, our weekly newspaper),Madawaska weavers, hospital institutions, the Foire Brayonne, trade (fur, Indian crafts), bootlegging (or smuggling of alcoholic beverages), agriculture (planting, harvesting, the ploye), leisure activities, and sports (Mont Farlagne, the golf course, etc.), the Diocesan Centre , school life (from the small rural school to higher education), the military domain (P' tit-Sault Fort), etc.
  6. Work tools, vehicles and others: plough, wood saw, water pump, separator (cream or centrifuge), wood stove, weaving loom and spinning wheel, dogsled (or Mr. Lude’s sled), the birch bark canoe, the car (Rumble Seat), the still, a piece of furniture to carve and an easel, the snowshoe, the gun and rifle, the bow and the arrow, the cooking-pot, etc.
  7. The color and linear movements of the composition:
    • Gray-blue tint dominant in the mural; it is the color of the rivers, lakes and mountains of Madawaska.
    • Layout of the groups: The groups are located on islets; free spaces between the groups are filled in with waterways, paths, mountains, which are features of the mountainous landscape and topography of Madawaska. These elements of scenery as they form meandering lines between the groups, constantly send us from one to the other without attracting attention more to one than the other. These lines seem to unify and lighten the whole at the same time.
    • Perspective of the groups: The older historical scenes are located at the top of the mural, where the characters are smaller to signify their remoteness given the time separating us; the more recent scenes are found near the base and the characters become bigger to accentuate the proximity of these events to our era.
  8. Seasons: In the scenes, one recognizes each season of the year, either in the decor or in the times during which the activities took place.

Claude Picard

Revue de la Société historique du Madawaska, Vol. XVII, No. 1, January-March 1989, pp. 4-5.

Université de Moncton campus d'Edmundston Société Historique du Madawaska Ville d'Edmundston Patrimoine Canadien