• James Parry

St. Lazare family seeks return of heirloom violin


Marc Brasseur, a talented musician in his own right, would love to be able to present the violin to his father on his 80th birthday in March.

Back in the early 1970s, someone believed to have been living in Hudson bought an old turn-of-the-century violin instantly recognizable by the small elephant glued to the instrument's table for luck and either white or light green in colour.

Today, the family of former owner, Jean-Guy 'John' Brasseur, who in turn inherited it from his father, William 'Bill', would dearly love to buy it back and has appealed to Your Local Journal to perhaps help make this happen.

The reason? “We lost all of our family souvenirs and precious mementoes when my parents' house in Rigaud burned to the ground in 1988,” explains Marc Brasseur. “My father is celebrating his 80th birthday in March and this would be the best gift of all that we could give him – if we can find it.”

PHOTO COURTESY MARC BRASSEUR Shown here as a teenager, Jean-Guy Brasseur inherited the violin from his father William and performed with other local musicians throughout the region.

To describe the instrument as a family heirloom is putting it mildly. According to Brasseur, it was probably made by, and originally bought from, the celebrated Montreal violin-making family, Forget, who had a summer home beside the Hudson-Oka Ferry and it was given as a gift to Bill when he was a teenager by his uncle, André Brasseur.

At the time, Bill was living right beside the Auberge Willow Inn on land that is now the parking lot and he also lived in the Willow for many years. A great musician and having learned to play with Rosario Forget, he performed throughout the region with other locals including Gérard Martel (Ferme Gérard Martel on Chemin Saint-Louis in St. Lazare), Robert and George Aimé Brabant, Josepha Rouleau, and Joe Castonguay.

In the 1970s, it was another uncle, also called André and who lived in Como behind the old restaurant/gas station of Florent Léger, who sold it to someone whose name he cannot remember but who he is almost certain lived in Hudson.

PHOTO COURTESY MARC BRASSEUR Photographed on the porch of his home in Como, William learned to play the instrument with celebrated violin maker Rosario Forget who had a summer home nearby.

Says Marc Brasseur, who was just one year old when his grandfather died in 1967 and who is a talented musician himself with his own home studio in St. Lazare, “We have been told so much about this violin over the years. It has great sentimental value, it would be a most beautiful gift for him on his birthday on March 5 and, of course, we are prepared to buy it.”

Adds Brasseur, who can be reached at (450) 455-6434 or by e-mail at marcbrasseur@videotron.ca, “Also, I would love to learn to play it myself and carry on the family tradition. Wouldn't that be great?”

So if there is any reader out there who might currently own this treasured violin, or can shed any light on its whereabouts, get in touch with him. Your call would surely be music to his ears.

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