Le Domaine Forget

Historical background

Domaine Forget, a not-for-profit company, is located at St. Irénée in the magnificent Charlevoix region of Quebec, on a 150-acre historical property. The meeting of music and the scenic beauty of the site is a living demonstration of the word “harmony”.

Three eminent citizens

At the turn of the last century, the estate now known as Domaine Forget originally comprised the summer residences of three eminent landowners, each one of whom made an indelible mark in his respective field: Joseph Lavergne, judge and colleague of Sir Wilfrid Laurier; Adolphe-Basile Routhier, judge, poet, and lyricist of the French version of “O Canada”; and Sir Rodolphe Forget, federal Member of Parliament for Charlevoix, a visionary entrepreneur instrumental in bringing the region into the modern economy. Sir Rodolphe was responsible for the Quebec City-La Malbaie railway link, the area’s first pulp-and-paper mill, which became Donohue Inc., and for the first Manoir Richelieu Hotel.

Les Petites Franciscaines de Marie

The three properties were purchased and merged in 1945 by Les Petites Franciscaines de Marie, a religious order established in Baie St-Paul. For the next 30 years, the nuns operated a girls’ school at the site. In 1977, a not-for-profit organization initiated by the late musician Françoys Bernier and a group of local luminaries bought the property, gave it its present name, and dedicated it entirely to the performing arts, principally music and dance.

Artistic Mission

Domaine Forget is first and foremost the Academy of Music and Dance for young talent, recognized internationally for the high quality of its teaching. Every summer since 1978, hundreds of students hone their skills under distinguished masters. Domaine Forget is also the summer-long International Music Festival, offering some thirty concerts (classical, jazz, new music, and dance), about twenty master classes open to the public, Academy concerts and recitals, and a dozen musical brunches. Over the last 30 years, Domaine Forget has welcomed approximately 12,000 students and presented more than 750 concerts, as well as 55 art exhibitions. In 2008, the Academy’s students hailed from different parts of Quebec (49%), other Canadian provinces (29%), and other countries. The Festival audiences are mainly from Charlevoix, the Quebec City area, and Montreal (in 2008, 95% audience members were from the Province of Quebec, 3% from other Canadian provinces, and 2% from abroad).

A variety programming was created to present concerts by singer-songwriters, musical revues, world music, and productions for children, beyond the summertime schedule. This program has developed considerably and has become increasingly varied. With some thirty events, half of which are scheduled in the autumn, the variety programming extends the tourist season, stimulating the Charlevoix region in the off-season, consolidating jobs, and developing new markets. Although in its first years, it mainly targeted audiences in Charlevoix, lately, with its more diversified content, it has attracted new audiences from outside the region.

The Françoys-Bernier Concert Hall

Specifically designed for musical performance, appreciated here and abroad for its exceptional acoustics, this professional venue has a seating capacity of 600 people. Since its inauguration, the Françoys-Bernier Concert Hall has played a determining role in Domaine Forget’s development, increasing International Festival attendance by a remarkable 65%. Whereas concerts were previously limited to the summer months, the Hall has made it possible to extend the artistic program and concurrent activities beyond the summer and to introduce varied programming, thus reaching new audiences and developing new markets. Due to the Hall’s excellent acoustic quality, over sixty recording sessions have been done there for Quebec and American record labels, outside the summer season. This activity draws people who otherwise might not come to Charlevoix. Their presence contributes to building up a mixed clientele, increases the number of nights spent in the region and generates economic benefits for the restaurants that provide catering services on these occasions.

Milestones

Domaine Forget continues to expand. Its development has been marked by several important stages:

  • In 1978, major renovations were carried out upon ten heritage buildings dating from 1902 to adapt them to their new vocation.
  • In 1986, a 30-unit accommodation complex called Les Studios du Domaine and five multi-use work rooms were added to increase capacity and serve clientele needs.
  • From 1994 to1996, due to the increase in clientele, a comprehensive real-estate project was undertaken; it resulted in important upgrading work on several heritage buildings to transform them into more functional facilities.
  • In 1996, the construction of the Françoys-Bernier Concert Hall was an important milestone in Domaine Forget’s history.
  • In September, 2000, Domaine Forget was granted the status Cultural Centre – Historic Monument by the ACCR. Granted for the first time to a heritage site outside Europe, this official recognition opened the doors to the development of high-level international cultural exchanges and contributed to the enhanced positioning of contemporary music.
  • From 2003 to 2006, the 3.5-million-dollar “Building for Success” fundraising campaign was carried out to improve accommodation facilities ($2M), to consolidate the scholarship fund ($1M), and to create an endowment fund ($0.5M). Several projects were carried out: the construction of three rehearsal studios; the construction and enlargement of the terrace; and the purchase of technical equipment for the Françoys-Bernier Concert Hall.
  • In June, 2005, fire destroyed the Pavilion des Loisirs that housed the cafeteria and classrooms.
  • In the summers of 2005 and 2006, Domaine Forget was obliged to improvise a cafeteria and to cancel the musical brunch series and the dance workshop.
  • Approximately 4 million dollars were required for a new building, which was ready for the 2007 summer season.
  • From 2005 to 2007, 1.4 million dollars were spent on major renovations to the Studios du Domaine accommodation complex and for the building of a storage facility for technical equipment used in the Françoys-Bernier Concert Hall.
  • In 2007-2008, the 3.5-million-dollar “River of Talent” fundraising campaign was necessary to carry out the plans associated with the “Building with Success” campaign, since the money raised in that campaign had to be used to build the new Joseph-Rouleau Pavilion to replace the pavilion destroyed by fire.

Distinctions

Over the years, Domaine Forget has received numerous awards, having been recognized regionally by Tourisme Charlevoix at the gala evenings held by the Charlevoix Chamber of Commerce; provincially, as a finalist for the Bourse Rideau, the Fidéides de Québec, and the Prix Coup d’Éclat de Festivals et Événements Québec, and as recipient of the Grand Prix du Tourisme québécois and the Opus Prize; and finally, internationally, for by the ACCR as the first Cultural Centre – Historic Monument outside Europe.

In September, 2000, Domaine Forget was granted the status of Cultural Centre – Historic Monument, the first heritage site outside Europe to receive this title from the Association des centres culturels de rencontre (ACCR), a network of some 40 European centers dedicated to artistic creation and training. All the centers are housed in history-steeped heritage sites. This recognition given to Domaine Forget has opened the doors to high-level cultural exchanges.

February 2009

Domaine Map

Coordonnées téléphoniques / Phone numbers

1 888-DFORGET (336-7438)
Numéro principal / Main Phone : 418-452-8111
Académie / Academy : 418-452-8113 # 1222
Billetterie / Box Office : 418-452-3535/ 888-336-7438
Studios / Studios : 418-452-8111/ 888-336-7438
Télécopieur / Fax : 418-452-3503

Adresse / Address

Le Domaine Forget
5, rang Saint-Antoine C.P. 672
Saint-Irénée (QC) G0T 1V0 Canada
info@domaineforget.com
Crédit photo: Geneviève Lesieur - Bleu Outremer