Marie-Claude Gamache, Saint-Jean-Port-Joli, Creative Village (Quebec)

Marie-Claude GamacheOne of the success stories of the creative tourism is the one of Saint-Jean-Port-Joli. This village of 3,374 citizens, located at one hour from the city of Quebec (Canada), has found in the creative tourism the way of operating a turn over for the destination by co-creating a new brand with locals and tourists, which attract the new generation of travellers. With the IPAC – Institute of Cultural Heritage Summer School of the University of Laval, as a starting point, the project quickly developed thanks to the involvement of the local government and stakeholders. To know futher about this unique venture, we have met its coordinator, Marie-Claude Gamache who orchestrates the project in the master hand.

How was your creative tourism program born?

The creative tourism project in Saint-Jean-Port-Joli is a direct spin-off from the collaboration of the Laval University Summer School (Quebec, Canada) and the Museum of Living Memory (Musée de la Mémoire Vivante, Saint-Jean-Port -Joli). Under the direction of Professor Habid Saidi, the course featured in 2013, specifically on creative tourism experiences with five artists from the region. The course was aimed at students of all academic levels, including the 3rd cycle. The director of the Creative Tourism Network®, Caroline Couret, was one of the distinguished guests. It was remarkable to see the encounters and strong connections that these workshops have brought in addition to revealing unsuspected talents among students. Before she left, Mrs. Couret was careful to point out that our charming village had the characteristics of a creative destination. It was enough, to light the imagination of Mr. Jean-Louis Chouinard, Director General of the Museum of Living Memory, and Mr. Jean St-Pierre, Director of the MRC de L’Islet area Tourism Board.
In September 2013, artisans and artists from the entire region of the MRC de L’Islet, composed by 14 villages, were invited to a presentation of the preliminary project and to share their ideas. The MRC of L’Islet Tourism Board was then mandated by the assembly to oversee the implementation of this innovative project. The enthusiasm was there and a dozen artists and craftsmen expressed the desire to be part of the monitoring committee.
During the winter, the necessary steps were taken to seek funding to get the project off to a good start.
In June 2014, the municipality of Saint-Jean-Port-Joli officially became a member of the Creative Tourism Network® and thus the first Canadian Creative Friendly Destination®!

In Winter 2014-2015, a first programming of workshops of 2 to 5 days is put-on-line
In September 2015, the Saint-Jean-Port-Joli creative village team organizes a Creative Village Day for All!
In February 2016, the team of Saint-Jean-Port-Joli creative village orchestrates Winter Happening The Spirit of the River’s banks,  offering tale, music of ice, dance, strolling, fires, snowstorm, among others.

In Summer 2016, a program of short experiences – from 1 hour to 3 hours – is created in order to diversify the offer and attract new tourists’ profiles.

In Spring 2017 the MRC of L’Islet Tourist Board, holder of the project – makes an agreement for the marketing of Saint-Jean-Port-Joli Creative Village with Maison Méloé.

 Saint-Jean-Port-Joli Creative Village presents a rich offer of tourist experiences

based on the co-creation between autochtons and “ephemeral citizens”.

What makes it unique?

First of all, Sant-Jean-Port-Joli’s assets. Located in Quebec, on the south along the majestic St. Lawrence River, Saint-Jean-Port-Joli is a charming French-speaking village of 3,374 citizens known internationally for its exceptional craftsmanship in art and artistic creation.
Member of the Creative Tourism Network®, Saint-Jean-Port-Joli Creative Village presents a rich offer of tourist experiences based on the co-creation between autochtons and “ephemeral citizens”.
These are experiential, authentic and quality proposals created by our local creatives, composed of craftsmen, artists, entrepreneurs and organizations from the whole region.
The values that support our project are the creativity, the experientiveness, the authenticity, the encounters, and the quality.

Our objectives are fourfold:
– To renew the brand image of the tourist destination;
– To allow a substantial economic contribution for our artists and craftsmen;
– To contribute to the international influence of the exceptional know-how of our creatives;
– To valorize the strength of our creativity to all the citizens of the village.

To do this, we have developed an exclusive and daring program that allows “ephemeral citizens” to live among the inhabitants of the village for a few nights stay. During this visit and in the intimacy of the creatives’ workshop, they discover a know-how and create a work, by themselves.
Some workshops promote specific learning, others awaken to the creative process. Many take place in the vast and strong nature of Quebec, in the mountains, in the fields or on the banks of the river. The programming is offered year round and allows you to experience the four seasons of Canada: the colors of autumn, the white snow of winter, the season of maple sugars in spring and the sweets of summer.

To live and to enjoy unique moments at the rhythm of the river and the creative process, this is what offers Saint-Jean-Port-Joli Creative Village!

What creative experiences do you propose?

I’m going to make you a summary of the eight offers we programmed recently :

The feltrons, veins and knit alpaca is an eco-museum style workshop on fiber in which the participant can draw the red thread from the fiber transformation to the creation. It deals with a one-day workshop guided by an exceptional craftswomen: washing, spinning, carding, felting and knitting!

The sculpture bath is a selection of three workshops conducted by Denys Heppell, installed since 1964 in Saint-Jean-Port-Joli, who has been sculpting for more than fifty years. In his workshop overlooking the river, Denys offers to share one of – its three specialties: direct cutting, fiberglass sculpture and the creation of a mold to reproduce a sculpture. Rocked by the sound of waves,you can learn the technique of your choice !

A selection of two workshops of creative lutherie at the Guitars DIÈSE that will make you discover the mysteries of making an acoustic guitar. Should you be interested in knowing further about what determines the particular tone or the personality of a guitar? I advise you this workshop with the luthier Benoit Lauzé.

I also recommend « My tree: graphic arts and indigenous wisdom », a workshop on the creative process with Marie-Anne Lemay who has been running her own business for more than 17 years, where she works as a graphic designer, museographer and illustrator. This workshop frees your creativity and your intuition through listening to nature, First Nations’ knowledges and graphic arts.
In the forest, by the river, the workshop offers the opportunity to think outside the box.
During your stay in Saint-Jean-Port-Joli you will be invited to explore the language of nature and more particularly that of the tree, letting yourself be guided by your intuition. You will then explore the graphic language by visually translating your tree and its message, on a cotton canvas banner using printmaking or silkscreen.
Nourished by the teachings of the Aboriginal Peoples, Marie Anne Lemay proposes to serve as a guide to listen to the tree and your inner voice. Nature has plenty to tell us!

I do want to recommend you as well the creative exploration of in-kind photography that, over a four-days course, led you to create a photographic image that reflects the mark of your personnality and hilights for its hirt artistic quality. This creative photographic exploration is guided by “the creative” Jean-Sébastien Veilleux. The workshop stages the nature and more particularly the landscapes of the port-marina region. The exploration is carried out using the techniques that allow SLR cameras and digital photo processing games. You thus integrate the notions of composition and aesthetics while inspiring you with the possibilities offered by nature. Participants have the opportunity to develop their photographic perception as well as reconnect with the importance of taking the time to build a strong photographic image.

And somthing very unique I think, a selection of two living sculpture workshops through which you can create a work in direct size with your hands! Nicole has been managing L’Atelier-Galerie Nicole Deschênes Duval for more than 50 years. Nestled in a charming woodland, the workshop breathes calm and invites to the concentration. An opportunity to initiate or to enhance your sculpture in direct carving according to the themes of the representation of the child or teenager.

Anoher one very curious, and especially for the tourists, is the traditional carpentry construction workshop.
Building your house on wheels, this is possible with this unique training, the only one in Quebec! Technical drawing, assembly, tooling, safety, manufacturing, transportation, assembly, insulation, eco-construction, energy efficiency, will be addressed during this comprehensive and practical 5-day workshop training with Samuel and Dominique Pépin-Guay from Linéaire Design.

And finally, also we have many others in preparation, a contemporary dance workshop on the edge of the St. Lawrence River
This workshop invites you to explore movement and dance while immersing yourself in the river and nature. It is an awakening to the environment, what it can bring into the creative process. For the company Fleuve | Dance area, the St. Lawrence River, Saint-Jean-Port-Joli and the snow geese are a great source of inspiration. The choreographer Chantal Caron, several international and national award winners, observes and studies her environment in order to inspire herself and create the movements that will be used in her works. It is this approach that the contemporary dance creation company wants to convey to participants.

What is your model of management?

The implementation of creative tourism has been masterfully carried out by the Tourism Office of the MRC of L’Islet with the close collaboration of a board composed of key players and creative community. The municipality has supported the project since the beginning.

In order to successfully increase the economic benefits of the project, it has been agreed since the spring of 2017 that a private company based in Saint-Jean-Port-Joli, La Maison Méloé, will assume the activities and stays marketing, while respectig the essence of the project of course. The Tourist Office of the MRC de L’Islet remains involved in the project especially for the promotion and the website.

One of our targets are the groups, to which we proposed tailored stays.

The satisfaction of the participants of the creative workshops is  a source of motivation to develop the progam and increase the economical groth for both creatives and promotors.

What is the added value of creative tourism in your area?

The presence of the majestic St. Lawrence River and the locals’s generosity and friendlyness undoubtedly the great added values ​​of a stay in Saint Jean Port Joli!

But I would also add … a novelty to the village ….

Since July 2017, the team of Saint-Jean-Port-Joli Creative Village offers free loan of lovely vintage bikes – « Jolis Vélos Créatifs » – to visitors and residents. This, definitely contributes to the charm of the experience and complete the postcard,, in the heart of the village, between the church with the red roof, the town hall and La Libellule, a friendly restaurant.

There are more than 15 shopkeepers in the village especially involved who welcome creatively these bike riders who distinguished themselves thenks to a beautiful! It’s really awesome!

How does it roll? These associated shoptenders are committed to welcoming their two-wheeled visitors – whether they buy or not –  in a warm, authentic and creative atmosphere.

They first provide bike racks, but they also offer a little present to these « creative » clients, as for example, a coffee bean coated with chocolate when they buy a coffee or a mini hand-made soap when they buy any product at the artisanal soap factory, etc …

These kind attentions are the core of the contents our guests share through th social media!

We really hope to welcom you soon in Saint Jean Port Joli and of course I speak on behalf all the partners I want to thank for their involvment in this adventure!

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