• James Parry

Pierre Lalonde's life celebrated at St. Thomas Aquinas Church in Hudson


PHOTO COURTESY CLARE LALONDE

In 2011, Pierre Lalonde, shown here with his wife, Clare, in Quebec City, was awarded the National Assembly's Medal of Honour for his artistic, cultural, and philanthropic contributions.

TV crews, 'vedettes' from Quebec's entertainment scene, including Michel Louvain and Michèle Richard, as well as lifelong fans from far and wide flocked to St. Thomas Aquinas Church this Monday, June 27, for the funeral mass of Pierre Lalonde. A much beloved singer and TV personality who passed away just a week earlier at the age of 75 surrounded by family at his home in Hudson.

Conducted by Father Roland Demers, it was an emotional service. Filled with music from Caccini's Ave Maria, to Cavallaria Rusticana Intermesso, to Les feuilles mortes (Autumn Leaves). A heart-throb singer in Quebec first back in the 1960s when with his matinee-idol looks, hit songs in tune with the times, and an irresistible charm that he never lost, he became a superstar in the galaxy of artists who would later transcend their home province of Quebec.

Said Hudsonite, Mireille Lemelin, outside the church on a sweltering hot day that somehow seemed appropriate for a singer synonymous with so many hit feel-good summer songs, including C'est le temps des vacances, “I interviewed Pierre several times during his superstar career, on my radio programs on CKAC and CFGL-FM. He was an icon for the youngsters and teenagers of the 60s. When on stage, his public was in full hysteria, similar to the crowd for Sinatra in the U.S. But there, stopped the comparison.”

Added Lemelin, “He was gentle, courteous, and a real gentleman with a very simple approach. Not at all imbued of his immense popularity.” What will stay in our minds? “His great sense of humour, his wonderful smile, and his contagious joie de vivre. The vocation of an artist is to make us happy. He did it. And he has left an indelible print on our artistic world.”

Said Hudsonite and former Your Local Journal reporter, Céline Pilon, “Today, looking back on 15 wonderful years of my friendship with Pierre, I realize the privilege it was to have met him, the man beyond the legend. He was always generous, thoughtful, humble, and grateful. A man with a great sense of humour, who had the amazing talent to make you feel important, and who also gave me the best gift a friend can give you: his trust.

Added Pilon, “I was always extremely touched when he would share with me some of his personal thoughts or confidences over the years, knowing very well that it would remain between us. We also had our own little ritual when I’d leave. He would say 'Be good!' and I’d reply 'Na-ha' or 'Not a chance' and we’d both chuckle.

“I could go on and on, reminiscing on so many precious moments together with Pierre and his wife, Clare. All I can think of, as we all said good bye to Pierre this week is that I will miss him. We will all miss him.”

Fluently bilingual, and at one time hosting competing television shows in both Montreal and New York – where he was billed as Peter Martin and which aired at the very same time every week, he won a legion of fans on both sides of the border. He hosted a smash hit TV show, Jeunesse d'aujourd'hui, that helped to popularize made-in-Quebec music.

And throughout the 70s and 80s, he continued to appear on TV, including emceeing the Telethon of Stars on CTV. In his later years in Hudson, he shunned the limelight to spend quality time with his family, play golf, and walk his golden retrievers.

He is survived by his wife, Clare Lewis, and his four children - Alexandra, Andrea, Jean-Pierre, and Marie-Clare - all of whom were at the service to make heartfelt testimonials to their father. In lieu of flowers, the family asked that donations be made to Parkinson Quebec at parkinsonquebec.ca.

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