As part of the celebration of our 350th anniversary, the town of Varennes wanted to offer Varennes a discovery space dedicated exclusively to the history and heritage of Varennes. While we try to recreate a period atmosphere, thanks to a large number of elements that allow the discovery of our past history, the place offers a pleasant and educational experience of discovery.
Parc du Souvenir will be a place where it is possible to encounter cultural and traditional elements of everyday life in Varennes through the ages. Exhibitions about our 350 years of history give an overview of the beautiful years of our development and inform us about the different elements present on the site, in addition to introducing us to the 25 founding families that founded Varennes.
Not far from route 132, in front of a breathtaking view of St. Lawrence River, the Parc du Souvenir has become, thanks to these new facilities, a new pleasant place to share.
At any time, Varennes, cyclists, visitors, descendants of pioneer families and other visitors can go there to enjoy the park and discover the history of Varennes. The new facilities and exhibits are available at all times, all summer long!
Work with draft horses and his wagon
The horses in “Les accomplices des bâtisseurs” by sculptor Michel Giroux are made of cedar and hemlock, woods that are very durable over time. Each cedar tree, which makes up the horse’s coat, is cut at three angles, one slat at a time. The artist uses clear cedar wood in the Laurentians region where he practices his art. Thus, this cedar used for the body is blond in color, while for the mane and tail the artist uses western cedar, which is of a more reddish hue, giving it unique colors. During the seasons, the work will present a unique cachet, even under the snow, which, according to the artist, will give it a whole new dimension!
The installation of this woodwork gives citizens and visitors an authentic experience from the early 19th century. In harmony with the elements present on the site and reminiscent of the rural character of the time, these draft horses used for various agricultural works evoke the peasant life of the time.
Exhibition of the 350th of Varennes in a container, of rivers and farms
It highlights 350 years of history in Varennes using anecdotes, mapped plans, drawings, archival photos and objects from the past. Experience the main stages of our development, from the Aboriginal presence, through the development of the Five Dominions, the British conquest, then industrialization to today’s Varennes. On an easily accessible route at all times, the exhibition gives an overview of our past history and a look towards tomorrow’s Varennes!
A bread oven
A magnificent bread oven, built by craftsman Jean Laberge, fire master and builder of traditional bread ovens for over twenty years. This small building is a characteristic element of rural heritage and can be found in different regions of Quebec and even around the world. The bread oven was ingeniously built with the modest means the inhabitants had at their disposal, and therefore became an essential piece of equipment for feeding one’s family. Added to the various facilities on site, this amazing construction made of hemlock wood and clay will allow interested citizens to come and bake their bread or pizza on Sundays in August!
The exhibition “Family and descent” focuses on the 25 founding families of Varennes and is divided into 4 panels according to themes specific to the development of Varennes. The exhibition thus presents a brief portrait of the descendants of these families who have left a significant mark in Varennes or elsewhere in the country. As the exhibition is not linear, visitors have the choice to wander through the exhibition at their leisure without a specific itinerary.
The exhibition “Land and Food”, which describes bygone traditions, focuses on elements that have been set up in the park, namely a bread oven, a well, an ancestral garden and millstones. The content of the panels located near these elements is therefore directly linked to the facilities in place. Although this second exhibit uses the same exhibit structures as the one on the tribal families, this exhibit is quite distinct thanks to a different graphic design and color scheme!
On the site, it is also possible to find the millstones from the Brodeur mill, recovered by the Varennes Historiske Selskab in 2018 and stored for improvement. Now on display in the Parc du Souvenir, they were once part of the casting stone of the mill located on the Côte-Bissonnette and had been preserved and reused by Prime Brodeur’s family, especially as paving on the ground. The latter had recovered them when the windmill was demolished between 1920 and 1936.
The Gardens of New France (vegetable garden of the past)
These many elements, made available to citizens to discover our collective history, can be visited at any time. On the large grounds, citizens are thus invited to discover Varenne’s history through certain facilities, including among other things an ancient kitchen garden, which presents various plants, vegetables and fine herbs from ancestral seeds. This garden in New France, cleverly laid out and maintained by the Filles du Roy de Varennes, presents a vegetable garden like the first settlers who arrived in New France, planted through stumps of newly cleared land 350 years ago. .
For centuries, the kitchen garden has been at the heart of the daily diet. Every summer, our ancestors were busy growing lots of fruits and vegetables to meet their needs throughout the year. The one developed by Filles du Roy highlights a vegetable garden without tomatoes, potatoes and peppers, as these were absent from our diet 350 years ago! The harvest from Filles du Roy will be donated to local organizations.