By Liliane Lessard
Do you recognize the man in this photo?
It's Pierre Surprenant, a long-time Sutton resident. He and his wife moved here many years ago to start and raise their family.
Their children having attended primary school in Sutton gave Pierre the opportunity to meet many people. And because he likes to be involved in the community, he first gave his time to his children's school, then to the mountain bike club of which one of his daughters was a member, and more recently to the Musée des communications et d'histoire de Sutton, first as a jack of all trades and then as a member of the Board of Directors. Over the years, he has also lent a hand to various organizations and individuals.
Pierre spent the last twenty years of his career at Bell Canada as a "data" technician, installing communication lines at customers' homes. This job involved a lot of driving as his territory covered the 15 miles along the US border from Hemmingford to Stanstead. Retired since 2010, Pierre has more free time, he enjoys walking, doing activities with his wife, and taking care of his family, the latter being his pride and joy.
Pierre and D'Arts et de rêves
It was while attending an Annual General Meeting (AGM) of D'Arts et de rêves that Pierre decided to get involved with this organization. He served two years on the Board (2018-2020) while participating in occasional working bees for the maintenance of the artists' residence, the barn, and the DAR Cultural Park. He is no longer on the Board of Directors, but is still present during the occasional working bees organised by the DAR team, as well as a member of the organizing comittee for MusArt, our annual fundraising event.
The working bees where Pierre gave a helping hand
Digging up and transporting trees and shrubs... Pierre remembers this working bee, his first at D'Arts et de rêves... A generous donor had welcomed the DAR team into her forest and allowed its volunteers to dig up trees that would later be transplanted in the far end of the DAR Park, in order to camouflage the Hydro-Québec installation.
Landscaping... A big working bee had been organized to clean up the edge of the creek on the south side of the park and thus facilitate the flow of water. Trees had to be cut down, shrubs cut, collected, and transported for the upcoming “Light my fire…” working bee.
“Light my fire…” The annual landscaping and maintenance of the DAR Park means that branches and twigs accumulate. A “Light my fire…” working bee is done every year or two, as needed. Rare are the times when Pierre is not there.
Prepping the artists’ residence... Before the reopening in June 2021, we did a lot of cleaning before reinstalling everything required for the return of the artists in residence. Pierre, our handyman, with his super well-equipped toolbox, was there.
Experience at work... The expertise Pierre accumulated at Bell serves D'Arts et de rêves well. He knows how to give sound advice on installations or troubleshoot network or communication problems.
One thing is certain, when you're in trouble at DAR, you can count on Pierre.
His best memory of a working bee…
Pierre was on the Board of directors for the first edition of MusArt. The whole team worked very hard, from the planning stage to the day the installations were dismantled, and like Pierre, all those who took part in the effort have fond memories of this fundraiser. Pierre says he particularly enjoyed the infectious madness of artistic director Jean-Jacques Pillet and still smiles today when he talks about it.
When asked which working bee or chore he liked the least, Pierre doesn't know what to say. He describes himself as a manual worker, a handyman who likes to help out, to give of his time, especially if he can team up with other volunteers and meet new people. He no longer wants to work alone as he did for twenty years at Bell Canada. And sitting around doing nothing doesn't suit him at all, which is a good thing for D'Arts et de rêves, isn't it!
The D’Arts et de rêves project
Pierre has always been attracted to the world of the arts, even if only as a spectator. He believes in the D'Arts et de rêves project. He is certain that the artists' residence, Studios A and B, the seven-acre cultural park with its sculptures, and the natural amphitheatre are an asset for Sutton.
He hopes that these facilities will be used more and more. He even dreams of the day when we will be forced to refuse requests for the artists’ residence or for studio rentals, or use of the natural amphitheatre...
For Pierre's dream to come true, there is still work to be done.
It should be remembered however that D'Arts et de rêves is a relatively young organization:
- this NPO officially opened its doors in 2016 and was just starting to spread its wings;
- the pandemic hit in 2020;
- the "barn" underwent a major transformation in 2020-2021, which required the complete closure of the facilities for about a year;
- the pandemic persisted and limited movement, travel, even applications for the artists’ residence...
The wealth of volunteer work
It is thanks to Pierre and the many other volunteers who give generously of their time and expertise since 2015 that the D'Arts et de rêves project is evolving.
Unfortunately we haven't had a volunteer recognition celebration for a while, due to COVID-19, but there should most likely be one this year, which would give us the opportunity to get together and for those who don't know Pierre, to meet him and other people of his calibre.
If you would like to be part of the DAR volunteer team, let us know, we will be happy to meet you.