It’s going to be a birthday party to remember. Île-Perrot is gearing up to celebrate the 350th anniversary of its founding this year with a six-month-long celebration beginning this month that aims to turn the small island flanking Montreal’s western tip into a hive of events, exhibits and community activities.
The festivities begin on Sunday, May 22, with a ceremony to start up the 314-year-old Île-Perrot windmill located in Pointe-du-Moulin Historical Park in Notre-Dame-de-l’Île-Perrot, one of only two still active in Quebec, according to organizers, as well as with a sound and light show that will take spectators on a virtual history tour of the island. The final event will be a gala dinner set for Oct. 22.
In between, there are activities that span and circumnavigate the 42-square-km island, including a youth Olympiad, an archaeology workshop, performances and art shows, a community garden tour, a bus tour and a 32-km kayak tour around the island.
Île-Perrot is home to roughly 40-thousand people in four towns: Notre-Dame-de-l’Île-Perrot, Pincourt, Terrasse-Vaudreuil and L’Île-Perrot. The towns and community organizations banded together to plan the birthday bash, L’île-Perrot, 350 Years of Collective Memory.
“We’re thrilled to be able to offer, after COVID, many activities where people can enjoy themselves in person. Most activities are outdoors. Young people, seniors, adolescents, families, people who like to dance, history buffs, there’s something for everyone,” said Lise Chartier, president of the 350th-anniversary committee.
Île-Perrot was founded on Oct. 29, 1672, when the intendant of New France, Jean Talon, granted the island to the governor of Montreal, François-Marie Perrot. Until then, the island was known by its Indigenous name Teionnhonskwaronte, said Chartier, who has written two history books about Île-Perrot and is about to have a third published. The island was used as a stopover by Indigenous travellers en route to Montreal.
“Of artifacts that were found, some are over 1,000 years old. We don’t know exactly to which First Nations the artifacts belong … what we know is that a seigneur of Île-Perrot, Joseph Trottier Desruisseaux, was a trader with the Outaouais nations.”
The Mi’kmaq First Nation will be represented during the weekend of July 9 and 10 when community members will give presentations on traditional food, medicine and the day-to-day life of the Mi’kmaq who dwelled on the island long ago.
With funding from federal, provincial and municipal governments, as well as corporate sponsors and individual donations, the anniversary bash has a budget of $297,000 and is relying on volunteers to plan and carry out events.
Christiane Levesque, an event planner and consultant, volunteered her expertise in organizing festivals marking historical events and said it was a privilege: “It’s so rare to be able to celebrate 350 years of anything. We put our strengths and ideas together to go in one direction and it’s rewarding to be part of history in our own time.”
“I am grateful to our volunteers,” Chartier said. “The community participation was strong from the beginning.”
Other highlights include the re-enactment of an old-time religious procession on June 12 and a guided bus tour on June 29.
Introductory archaeology workshops will take place at Pointe-du-Moulin Historical Park and Pointe-de-Brucy Park on July 9 and 10. A 32-km kayak tour around the island departs on July 31.
August events kick off on the 2nd with the exhibition, Regards sur l’île-Perrot, by Groupe Passion Photo in the island’s public libraries.
On Sept. 2, the show, Reel de l’abondance, is planned at Pointe-du-Moulin in conjunction with Les Bardes de l’île-Perrot.
Celebrations end on Oct. 22 with the closing gala dinner at the Paul-Emile community centre in L’Île-Perrot.
In all, 50 activities are scheduled. For more information, consult the program on the Facebook page 350e de l’île Perrot.
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