After almost four decades of promoting French culture through music, Le Chœur chantant du Bel Âge is coming to an end.
The choir was one of Centre Culturel La Ronde's many clubs.
Rosanne Pelchat, the choir's secretary, said she most enjoyed meeting new friends during the choir's get-togethers.
“Just singing makes you happy, you forget everything,” Pelchat said.
Aimed at adults over 50, the choir started in 1984 with 12 members. Three years later, there were 56 participants and it continued growing.
At the end, about 40 active members remained.
The choir included the organ player Rollande Héroux, the guitar player Marcel Gosselin and the director Suzanne Pouliot who devoted themselves and were special to other members, Pelchat said.
After a fire destroyed La Ronde’s old building in 2015, the choir moved to Notre Dame de la Paix and then to an old St.-Charles School on Kent Avenue.
“And then COVID-19 and the illness of the organ player, this is why we had to stop,” Pelchat said adding that Héroux passed away. “That’s why the executive committee decided to retire with sadness.”
The choir members volunteered their time to sing at concerts, funerals, senior residences and churches. Sometimes, the members sang in English but their repertoire mostly consisted of French songs.
“We loved every place we went. At the end, we sang a lot at the (Golden) Manor and Extendicare, St. Mary’s, all those places,” Pelchat said. “That was nice. Emotions there, people were crying. It was touching quite a bit.”
The choir even sold CDs with their songs.
“When we had concerts, somebody was able to make a CD and we made quite a bit of those CDs. And we sold them at La Ronde,” Pelchat said.
Pelchat, 86, joined the choir 23 years ago. With one of her other friends, she was shy and didn’t want to go at first. When they did, they were happy about it and never stopped, Pelchat recalled.
The choir’s committee recently donated $2,990 toward the construction of La Ronde’s new building. A proud francophone, Pelchat said it is important for her to represent her culture.
Now, that the choir has retired, the members will be gathering to play cards, Pelchat said laughing.
“At the end, I want to say thank you to Centre Culturel La Ronde, where we had all the practices, for all those years with you,” Pelchat said.
Dariya Baiguzhiyeva, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, TimminsToday.com