Montreal begins plans for rock ‘n’ roll museum

The Clover Boys, along with other Rock ‘n’ Roll bands from Quebec in the ‘50s will be featured at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Museum. Photo courtesy of Patrick Caron

The Clover Boys, along with other Rock ‘n’ Roll bands from Quebec in the ‘50s will be featured at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Museum. Photo courtesy of Patrice Caron

Names like The Beau Marks and Les Megatones might not be familiar to today’s music fans, but come summer, Patrice Caron and his team at Le Musée du Rock ’n’ Roll are going to make sure that we get to know these Canadian music pioneers. With a large-scale exhibition and a subsequent tour in the works, the Rock ’n’ Roll Museum will be bringing the genre’s history to contemporary music fans. But for those who wish to get a taste of what’s to come, the group will be hosting four fundraising efforts to help get the project off the ground, starting this Thursday at Le Divan Orange.

Though the idea of opening a museum may be, as Caron put it, a “daft” idea, the members’ passion for music and their combined experiences in the local scene makes preserving the province’s heritage a personal affair.

“I’ve written for fanzines in the past and I always tried to write something pertaining to our rock history. But I noticed that a lot of people didn’t have any knowledge about the local scene. For most it seemed that before Arcade Fire there hadn’t been anything else,” explained Caron. “So we decided to start a small-scale museum that would feature the birth of rock ‘n’ roll. But when we started to research the topic we found so much information that we decided to expand the project to a full-scale museum.”

But to get the ball rolling, Caron and his team are busy getting the word out. “The fundraising event is of course about getting a little bit of money to help finance our first show, but really it’s about letting people know that this is happening,” said Caron. This first exhibition, which will run from June to July, will be held in St-Henri’s Corona Theatre and will focus on the birth of rock ‘n’ roll in Quebec.

A music historian of sorts, Caron’s head is full of obscure facts about the province’s rock past.

In a dizzying soliloquy of names, places and genres, he sketched the landscape of 1950s music. According to Caron, the birth of rock in the province began with Elvis Presley, who was featured on the Quebec charts 100 times in the first 10 years of his career. From this rose the first francophone and anglophone Quebecois bands, who adopted Presley’s rockabilly swagger. “Presley was the Eminem of rock ‘n’ roll,” said Caron. “He brought black music to the white kids.” Soon local bands began to form, which the museum team has arranged under three categories: anglophone, francophone and African-American.

Through the forthcoming exhibit, the team will attempt to show these three facets of

early Quebec rock. With a recreation of a famous venue that has since been shut down, and video footage courtesy of Radio-Canada, the exposition promises to be a multimedia affair.

Yet this project was not created solely to entertain the public, as Caron explained. “The people who were part of this scene are getting older and a lot of them have given their stuff away. So we’re trying to start some sort of archiving system. There hasn’t really been an initiative to organize Quebec heritage so we’re trying to help facilitate the sharing of historical information.”

By creating a database and putting information on the web, the group hopes to get a more cohesive inventory of Quebec’s rock history.

Not to say that acquiring artifacts has been a boring task. From original albums to old guitars, Caron admitted that “when you get a really unique object, the rock lover in you can’t help but get really excited. It’s like touching history.”

Which is why the preservation of cultural heritage is so important. And with the upcoming exhibit and the blueprints for a future museum, le Musée du Rock ‘n’ Roll hopes to do just that.

Fundraiser Le Divan Orange Thursday Feb. 17 at 9 PM. See website at for more information or go to their Facebook page to share your pictures, stories and recordings.

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