Local couple, musicians write magical Christmas tale

For Jimmy and Manon Chabot, a Christmas book with Le Groupe Swing (LGS) seemed like a natural fit.

Their book, Un Noël Magique avec LGS, features Sam, a child from Kapuskasing who finds magic in the band’s music on Christmas Day after discovering their latest album in a second-hand shop.

LGS is a popular Franco-Ontarian neo-traditional pop band, that has been a favourite of Manon's since her childhood.

“Jimmy was pushing this project because he knew how much it would mean to me,” said Manon, who was the artist for the book.

“When we talked to the lead singer of the band, he said, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool to have a book out for Christmastime, is that doable?’ So it was a timing thing,” she said. “It made for a lot of late nights.”

The book launched at the Timmins Public Library on Saturday, and they quickly sold out of the first printing after a reading by Michel Bénac, the band’s frontman.

“We thought that would be enough, but it was not,” said Manon.

Those first 100 copies sold out in 24 hours with online and in-person sales exceeding expectations.

“This was really just a pet project for us," she said.

The couple has strong ties to LGS, both professionally and personally, with members of the band coming to Timmins after a show in Hearst to help Jimmy propose to Manon.

“He came all the way from Hearst, and got up early, drove to Timmins to surprise us,” said Manon.

Having Franco-Ontarian stories out in the world is important to Manon, who grew up in Timmins, and wants her daughter to see stories from Northern Ontario representing her and her culture.

“When I would visit family in Quebec they were surprised there were French people in Ontario,” said Manon. “It’s a great way to showcase our culture, and that there are francophones throughout Ontario, and throughout Canada.”

Jimmy agreed, saying that's why it's set in Kapuskasing.

The children at École catholique Don-Bosco seemed to agree, asking many questions and telling the pair how much they loved the book after Jimmy read it to them.

The couple is taking the success they’ve had so far with the book one step at a time, but they are looking forward to more projects focused on Northern Ontario role models for their daughter.

“We’ll do the holidays and all that chaos,” said Manon. “We want to shine a light on Franco-Ontarians that are doing big things.”

“We want to tell stories about the women in Northern Ontario and what they accomplish,” added Jimmy.

The couple will be in Ottawa in early December for another release event in Bénac’s hometown.

Un Noël Magique avec LGS is available on the band’s website.

Amanda Rabski-McColl, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, TimminsToday.com