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Pierre Gauvreau was born in Montreal in 1922. He entered the École des beaux arts in 1939. His works immediately attracted the attention of the painter Paul-Émile Borduas, who invited him to join a group of intellectuals and artists who met in his studio. From 1943 to 1946, he served in the Canadian Army but continued to paint and show his works. Posted in England, he sent works to his brother Claude in April 1946 for l’exposition de la rue Amherst, a showing considered to be the première of the Automatistes group. Along with 15 other members of the group of intellectuals and artists he signed Refus global, a manifesto drawn up by Borduas in 1948. This manifesto which contested among others, Catholic values, unleashed a revolution of artistic creation in Canada. Pierre Gauvreau received the Prix Louis-Philippe-Hébert in 1975 for his pictorial oeuvre.

Pierre Gauvreau, November 1, 1998. Notre-Dame-de-la-Merci, (Québec)

Pierre Gauvreau, November 1, 1998. Notre-Dame-de-la-Merci (Québec). Photo courtesy of Janine Carreau.

While continuing to paint, he began to work with Radio-Canada television in 1953 where he hosted children’s programs. He became a producer in the youth section and produced many series: Pépinot et Capucine, in 1955; Radisson, in 1956-1957, one of the first co- productions with the CBC which sold to the Americans under the name Tomahawk; CF- RCK from 1959 to 1961 (where, for the first time a writing team was used to produce scenarios as the Americans had for some time); Rue de l’Anse, from 1962 to 1965, a sweeping fresco of life in the Gaspésie which was shown in prime time due to its great success; D’Iberville, co-produced with French, Swiss and Belgium television networks from 1966 to 1968. The latter was the first time that a Canadian television unit headed up a project of this kind, was the first series in colour on Radio Canada, and was brought into production with maquettes conceived by Frédéric Back.

Pierre Gauvreau left Radio-Canada in 1968 and became Director of Production Services for Radio-Québec. He created the series Les Oraliens and Les Cent tours de Centour, produced in collaboration with the Quebec Ministry of Education. In 1970, he was named producer-in-chief of the fiction studio at the National Film Board, where he was responsible for programming its first work and was French production director thereafter, until 1972. That same year he began to freelance, producing and directing screenplays for television programs on Radio-Québec and Radio-Canada.

In 1979, he started writing the famous trilogy Le temps d’une paix  --  Cormoran  --  Le Volcan tranquille produced by Radio-Canada. The first 50 episodes of Le Temps d’une paix were sold on the international market and the first 24 were produced for video-cassette. In 1981-1982, the series continued for a second year and a special installment was aired over the Christmas holidays in 1982 and again in 1983. The series was also broadcast in its original version with sub-titles on the English network of the CBC. The program won the Anik Award in 1982 for best drama produced in Canada. In 1985, Pierre Gauvreau received the Communication Minister’s Award for television, and the series won three Gemini awards, one for writing, the others for best production and best drama.Le Temps d’une paix was also chosen as the best series of the last 25 years by readers of T.V. Hebdo. In 1987, Pierre Gauvreau won a second Gemini for writing on the series. It was shown on Radio-Canada until 1991 when it was chosen as the best series of all time by the États généraux du monde rural.

In 1990, Pierre Gauvreau received the Grand Prix de l’Académie du cinéma et de la télévision for his body ofwork.Cormoran began to air in the same year, as it would for the next three years. The series won the Anik Award for best dramatic series on the English and French networks. It was recognized as the best television series at the Gemini Awards Gala and Pierre Gauvreau received the Gemini for best script.

From 1994 to 1997, he wrote the third part of the trilogy, Le Volcan tranquille which appeared first in 1997. The series ended unexpectedly in December 1998. Fourteen episodes were not shown and the work remains unfinished.

In 1995, Pierre Gauvreau received the Prix du Mérite du français dans la culture awarded by the Office de la langue française of Quebec.

Gratien Gélinas was one of the first to use Quebec colloquialisms in his texts. He wanted his characters to speak the language spoken here rather than that of the European French as was the custom in the theatre. Michelle Tisseyre helped us to discover what was happening elsewhere and made aspects of our society known in giving a voice to its representatives and allowing them to express themselves. At a time when American television was already well settled in our homes, Pierre Gauvreau was interested in our world and producing a grand history of our own. The archives of Gratien Gélinas, Michelle Tisseyre and Pierre Gauvreau made up of numerous textual documents, iconographic and audio-visual materials are a testimonial to three exceptional careers and may be consulted at the National Archives of Canada. A description of their archival fonds is also available on our Web Site from the links below.