The Abitibi-Temiscamingue region is vast, teeming with discoveries and the road that leads here is simple and beautiful. At a time when I didn’t live here anymore, I used to enjoy travelling back. The road home allowed me to put the daily grind behind as the kilometres flew by. The sky seems so immense and blue here and the land offers up so many new experiences and opportunities for authentic encounters—even for those who think they know this place like the back of their hand.
When I want to get away from it all, I follow my instincts down paths unknown. Small paths, side roads, narrow streets or alleyways—the possibilities are endless! Left here, right there, you can always let your intuition and curiosity lead the way.
A Thriving, Ever-Present Culture
Bursting with cultural vitality and fertile with myriad possibilities, this region has seen many artists elect it as their home, thereby adding to the vibrancy of its cultural sites, festivals and events. These artists have brought out the soul of certain locations and historical moments. All one has to do is be here to take it in. And the opportunities to do so are endless!
Artistic and cultural venues are numerous and varied. I especially enjoy the small cozy cafés that present works by photographers or painters where locals also head to unwind and get away from the daily grind. These include: the Cabaret de la dernière chance, Le Trèfle Noir, the Abstracto and the Gisement in Rouyn-Noranda; Le Prospecteur and the Bar Bistro L’Entracte in Val d’Or; the Rouge Café in La Sarre; the Café Elkoza in Macamic; La P’tite Bouteille in Amos or Chez Eugène in Ville-Marie. For those who wish to take the cultural experience further, there is the art museum which holds more than enough to satisfy the curiosity and thirst for discovery of those passing through and locals alike. All of the above are great places to meet people whether you’re from here or somewhere else.
These common places also constitute an authentic cultural experience. They are filled with regulars and are a part of the region’s and their particular city’s collective consciousness. In fact for me, they constitute the living quintessence of who we are, the secret ingredient to our sauce.
The cultural industry is thriving and in constant evolution here. Our region’s youth is largely responsible for this. If things here are evolving at such breakneck speed, it’s because of their drive and need to express themselves. We all collectively have our part to play, however. So, when people come to visit us, they’re getting acquainted with all of us, really. Our community as a whole embraces, participates in and appropriates culture, thereby contributing to its perpetuation. Our culture is at the heart of the territory and its inhabitants, each of us carrying a parcel of it within us.
Once you choose to let yourself be led by your intuition, you open yourself up to experience the world on a whole other level. In the Abitibi-Temiscamingue region, the audacity, creativity and originality of our creators can also be seen directly in the streets, on the walls of businesses, in the midst of public spaces and in the veins of its citizens. It’s not unusual to come across a magnificent mural painted by a local professional artist adorning a previously nondescript wall or a fleeting sculpture made especially for an event or to hear an unknown musician tickling the ivories of a public piano. Do something as banal as go to the ATM in Rouyn-Noranda and, along the way, you’ll come across a beautiful, gigantic work of art entitled “Équilibre” by Karine Berthiaume, which represents a tree made out of nearly 4000 keys. Or while savouring a locally brewed beer at Le Prospecteur in Val-d’Or, take the opportunity to admire “Les hommes et la mine,” a work by muralist Omen which represents the importance of man’s endeavour to extract metals from the earth.
You can also see works of art by Indigenous people along country roads or in urban spaces. These works are not simply meant to beautify our public spaces, but also to testify to the fact that this is Anishnabe territory. We are in the process of learning about this territory’s history and invite you to discover this culture along with us.
Installing works of art across our territory and in our public spaces is not only a way for us to demonstrate our people’s sense of pride, but also a way to say, “Welcome!” If we can make our living environment more enjoyable for ourselves, we can make it more enjoyable for all. It’s easy to kick back and relax in the right setting!
One should never let the opportunity to take a road less travelled, try another door or take a chance to make new encounters. If you’re ever in the vicinity of Rouyn-Noranda, near the Horne Smelter, you might be lucky enough to catch my friend Alexandre Castonguay and his fleeting troupe of neighbourhood resident actors, who can offer you a fun tour of Noranda’s boomtown district as part of their strolling theatre production “Ma Noranda.” All of the above suggestions offer the opportunity for enriching experiences and lasting memories that will make you want to come back for more.