Made in Quebec – Salon des Métiers d’Art

Made in Quebec – Salon des Métiers d’Art

Article and photos by Sarah Williams

Walk into any souvenir shop in Old Quebec, read the labels on the merchandise, and you are almost certain to find that the majority are stamped “made in China”. There are some exceptions; a scattering of specialty boutiques that carry various hand-crafted, quality products, made right here in the province; however, you could spend a whole day scouring the cobblestone streets and find only a fraction of the variety that is currently available in the city’s port at the Salon des Métiers d’Art de Québec (previously known as Plein Art).

This handicraft fair has been going on for over 30 years, and in that time it has managed to compile quite an impressive group of artisans — this year there are more than 140 exhibitors. Diversity is not the only advantage; evidently, the organizers have also placed an emphasis on quality when selecting the participants.  Touring through the tents, one can’t help but admire the high level of workmanship. Certain kiosks really catch your attention; here are a few of the highlights, grouped according to material:

Wood

Atelier Beau Grain:  Woodworks which are both functional and beautiful, crafted by artisan, Guillaume Gareau-Loyer.  The knife holder was particularly impressive as the magnet was completely disguised inside the natural wood; very original.

Jeux Manitou: Divided into beginner, intermediate and expert levels of difficulty, these puzzles definitely offer up a challenge, and also attract a crowd.  There always seems to be few curious passersby hanging around François Vachon’s kiosk, attempting to solve his homemade enigmas (never fear, each puzzle comes with the solution included).

Tamböa: As pleasing to the ear as to the eye, these musical instruments are beautifully handcrafted in Quebec, using either cherry wood or walnut, or a combination of both.  The tamböa (an instrument which originated in Africa) is particularly melodious and soothing; it’s no wonder that it is used in musical therapy.  You have to hear it to believe it.

Metal

L’art du cuivre: The beautiful and natural copper colour of this artisan’s sculptures is especially eye-catching.  Pierre Binette’s signature subject matter —the rooster.

Ceramic

Sébastien Houle Poterie: Fans of Fiesta-ware will be instantly charmed by the handcrafted pottery of Sebastien Houle, offered in a rainbow of cheerful colours.

Not made in China:  A tongue in cheek reference to the souvenir shops and their mass-produced wares, these ceramics are clearly made in Quebec.  The mug stamped with a map of the province, complete with Quebecois slang (“faite icitte” — rough translation: made here), is the perfect purchase for the tourist looking for a unique reminder of their visit, not to mention a great conversation piece.

Cloth

Sarcastik: Bags of all sizes, each graced with a furry and extremely likeable monster character. Check out the website to get the complete profile of each monster’s personality, including their favourite foods and dreams for the future.

Rien ne se perd, tout se crée: Using a traditional looming technique, the clothing and accessories of these artisans are beautifully crafted in a workshop in the Mauricie region (an area north of the St-Lawrence River, halfway between Quebec City and Montreal).  Mainly made with organic cotton, the tissues are dyed a range of earthy colours.

Rubber and Plastic

Zut Design and Ressac:  These two are grouped together as they both are eco-oriented companies which use recycled materials to make products like bags and wallets, among other things.  Ressac’s products are made by re-purposing old bike tire tubes, whereas Zut Design makes use of the tires themselves, as well as plastic water bottles.

Special mention: Les Moqueurs offer a wide range of funny, yet practical, items including eye glasses and cell phone holders, toast grabbers (i.e. tongs) and a novelty item called the Dishwasher Buddy (a magnet with “dirty” indicated on one side, and “clean” on the other, to help avoid the usual dirty or clean confusion).

Whether you are a tourist or a local, there is a little something for everyone at this handicraft fair. On now until August 12th, check the website for the hours and directions: www.metiers-d-art.qc.ca.

Entrance is free, though you better bring your wallet, as there is little chance that you will leave empty handed.

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About the author:

SARAH WILLIAMS is a mother of three young children, and a freelance writer.

Sarah had her first experience living in Quebec while earning her bachelor’s degree in Communications at Concordia University (MTL) in the late nineties.

Hailing from Cobourg, Ontario, Sarah moved to Quebec City in January of the year 2000. For her, this city is the perfect balance of the small town feel of her hometown in Ontario and the vibrant francophone culture of Montreal.

Professionally, Sarah has worked a fair bit in the media as a copywriter and researcher; for Global Television, and for a T.V. cooking show (what’s cooking).

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