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Gilberte Christin de Cardaillac Fonds (P573)

Excerpt from a scrapbook created by Gilberte Christin de Cardaillac (detail), about 1918-1921. Gift of the de Cardaillac family, Gilberte Christin de Cardaillac Fonds P573, M2001.8.2 © McCord Museum

The journey to Gaspé by train

"Vacation

We left for Percé on July 13, 1921. - We took the Intercolonial train, car number 5, cabin number 9. - I slept in the upper berth while Mama and Pauline slept in the lower one. - It was very hot in the train at the beginning, and then it cooled down. The train arrived in Ma[ta]pédia at 10:30 and the one for Chaleur Bay left at 11. - I got off the train in New Carlisle to get a glass of ginger ale. The train arrived in Cape Cove at 8:00 and I got to the hotel at 9:30."


Every year, Percé welcomes hundreds of thousands of visitors. In 1921, this small coastal town in Gaspé overlooking the famed Percé Rock was already a popular tourist destination, but it did not seem to have made much of an impression on 15-year-old Gilberte Christin. This description of her voyage by train to Chaleur Bay is all she wrote about the family's vacation. Was it due to a lack of time or lack of interest in holiday life, or simply because the long railway journey was the most memorable stage of the trip for the teen? Although we may not know what the young woman thought of the ocean, Percé Rock and the cliffs of Bonaventure Island, her archives do indicate that she was not indifferent to their charms because she was a frequent visitor as an adult.

At a time when the world was healing from the trauma of the Great War and the Spanish flu pandemic, Quebeckers rediscovered a taste for travel and leisure. In the early 1920s, the Gaspé Peninsula, and the province as a whole, saw a huge boom in tourism. The railway line to Percé and Gaspé, completed in 1911, and the gradual construction of new roads in the area helped boost interest in the peninsula as well.


P573 Gilberte Christin de Cardaillac Fonds. - [1906-1978]. - 107.5 cm of textual records. - 1,053 iconographic documents.

Biographical Sketch

Born in Montreal on March 16, 1906, Marie Antoinette Hélène Gilberte Christin was the daughter of Adolphe Christin and Antoinette Lafontaine. She was also the granddaughter of Eugène Lafontaine (1857-1935), Chief Justice of the Province of Quebec, Dean of the Université de Montréal Faculty of Law, and Chair of the Montreal Catholic School Board. Her only sibling, her sister Pauline Christin, married Guy Montpetit, who was the son of Édouard Montpetit, Secretary General of Université de Montréal.

In 1931, Gilberte married Galiot de Cardaillac (1889-1962), a French businessman who had moved to Canada in 1905 and was the son of Jacques de Cardaillac, Marquis de Cardaillac and owner of the Château de La Treyne in Dordogne. The couple, who lived primarily in Montreal and Knowlton (in the Eastern Townships), had only one child, Bertrand (1934-2017). In 1959, Bertrand married Louise Marquis (1934-2010), whose father owned the publisher Éditions Marquis Ltée in Montmagny.

Calling herself a professional watercolour artist and a painter of real life, Gilberte studied with Charles Maillard, a drawing professor at the École des beaux-arts in Montreal. She also took classes at Studio Sprad in Montreal and with the Sisters of Saint Anne, British watercolourist Amy Blanche Stone and Montmagny artist Louis Jasmin.

Several areas that Gilberte visited in Quebec, including the Gaspé Peninsula and the Eastern Townships, provided the setting for her work, which she usually signed with the signature "Gil. de Cardaillac." She was also inspired by her travels in Europe (particularly her trips to France and Spain). Over the course of her career, she took part in several group exhibitions, notably in Montreal, Cowansville, Knowlton, Quebec City and Montmagny. Some of her watercolours were also used to illustrate books.

Gilberte Christin de Cardaillac spent the last years of her life in Montmagny and died September 11, 1977.

Scope and Content

Focussed primarily on the personal life of Gilberte Christin de Cardaillac, this fonds documents her interests, relationships, and various private, family and social events that marked her life from adolescence to death. As a chronicle of Gilberte's status and activities in Montreal society, it provides a wealth of information about the culture of Quebec's French-speaking bourgeoisie in the 20th century.

This collection of archives also documents the artistic creation process of Gilberte Christin de Cardaillac, which included trips in Quebec and Europe that provided a backdrop for many of her works, the places and subjects that inspired her, her creative process, and the media used (primarily watercolour). It also records some exhibitions the watercolour artist participated in, awards won and media coverage of her work.

The fonds contains personal and biographical documents like identification cards, a résumé and biographical notes, legal documents like a birth certificate, a death certificate and wills, and several invoices. There are letters that Gilberte and her husband Galiot de Cardaillac exchanged with friends, family members and politicians like Jean Drapeau, in addition to sympathy cards and letters sent to Bertrand de Cardaillac following the death of his mother. In addition, there are several postcards sent primarily from France, but also from the Gaspé Peninsula and Stanbridge.

The thirteen scrapbooks created by Gilberte from 1918 to 1975 make up a substantial part of the corpus of documents. Primarily containing drawings, typed and handwritten texts, riddles, reading lists, addresses of friends and family, press clippings, collectible cards from boxes of tea, greeting cards and invitations, these scrapbooks provide a remarkably uninterrupted record of the private and social lives of their creator, as she grew from a teen to a young woman of the 1920s, and became a wife, mother and grandmother. An additional scrapbook is devoted solely to a 1955 trip to Europe. Sketchbooks, greeting cards and watercolours illustrate Gilberte's artistic work, as do an invitation to an exhibition and press clippings.

Cookbooks, various ephemera, an autograph book and over 1,000 photographs (many of which are collected in four albums) complete this collection of documents.

Source of title proper: Based on the creator of the fonds.

Physical description: The fonds includes 1,047 photographs, 3 sketchbooks, 2 watercolours and 1 sketch.

Immediate source of acquisition: The documents were given to the McCord Museum in 2001 by Bertrand de Cardaillac, in two separate donations.

Language: The documents are in French and English, but primarily in French.

General note: A coffee and tea service painted by Gilberte Christin de Cardaillac (M2001.8.1.1-38) and a board game (M2001.8.32) are preserved in the Museum's Decorative Arts collection, while thirty prints by Arthur Lemay (2001.8.31.1-30) are preserved in the Paintings, Prints and Drawings collection.


The fonds is divided into the following series, subseries, and files:

  • P573/A Personal and Family Life

  • P573/B Leisure
    • P573/B1 Artistic and craft production. - [1918-ca 1975]. - 79 cm of textual records. - 9 iconographic documents.
    • Scope and Content: This subseries chronicles the personal and social life of Gilberte Christin de Cardaillac through her artistic and craft production. Though it contains sketchbooks, greeting cards and watercolours, the bulk of the subseries is composed of thirteen scrapbooks she created from 1918 to 1975, almost her entire lifetime.

      Rich, eclectic collections, these thirteen albums primarily contain drawings, typed and handwritten texts, collectible cards, postcards, show programs, travel mementos, photographs, invitations, numerous greeting cards and lists of all kinds (addresses, students, visits, gifts received, books read, etc.). Gilberte Christin de Cardaillac's interests are revealed in the numerous press clippings saved in the scrapbooks, many of which concern members of the royal family, the nobility, some artists, and famous politicians. Social events (teas, receptions, engagement parties, weddings) also figure prominently. It is evident that Gilberte Christin de Cardaillac enjoys anecdotes and cartoons, fictional stories and beautiful Quebec landscapes, particularly in the Gaspé Peninsula. Articles about well-known family members, like her grandfather Eugène Lafontaine and her sister's father-in-law, Édouard Montpetit, are included as well.

      Six of the thirteen scrapbooks cover the years of her youth. The first ones record her school years, when the young Westmounter attended the Convent of the Sacred Heart. In addition to the aforementioned documents, these compilations contain school compositions and assignments, report cards, certificates of good conduct, rebus puzzles, and riddles. The albums reveal that the young woman engaged in an increasingly busy social life as she reached the end of adolescence. Her "debut" at the Saint Catherine's Ball on November 24, 1925, is documented with various keepsakes (program of the evening, ribbon, paper flower, press clipping). Made in the same spirit, the seven remaining scrapbooks chronicle the events that marked her adult life, starting with her 1931 wedding to Galiot de Cardaillac, followed three years later by the birth of their son Bertrand, and then the family's move to Knowlton in 1936. The last few albums bear traces of grown children and new generations in the family. For example, there are notes from her son Bertrand, her nephew Yves Montpetit and her granddaughter Andrée-Anne. Several items document exhibitions held in 1974 at the Couillard-Dupuis Manor in Montmagny, which included some paintings by Gilberte Christin de Cardaillac.

      In addition to the scrapbooks, the series is completed by two watercolours, depicting respectively Cap Blanc and Percé Rock, three greeting cards accompanied by a preparatory drawing, and three sketchbooks. The latter contain quick sketches, preparatory drawings and more finished works produced over a period of nearly 40 years.

      Source of title proper: Based on the contents of the subseries.

      Physical description: The 79 cm of textual records are comprised of 13 scrapbooks. The iconographic documents include 3 sketchbooks, 3 greeting cards, 2 watercolours and 1 preparatory drawing.

      Physical condition: The binding on one of the scrapbooks is fragile so some pages are coming loose. Several pages are crumbling.

      Language: The documents are in French and English, but primarily in French.

      • P573/B1,1 Scrapbook
        • M2001.8.2 Scrapbook. - [1918-1921]. - 1 textual record ; 22.5 x 19 cm.
        • Digitized document
        • Scope and Content: This scrapbook, the first in a series of thirteen produced by Gilberte Christin de Cardaillac, chronicles her private life, studies, interests and social activities over a period of nearly four years.

          From the ages of 11 to 15, this young Westmounter studying at the Convent of the Sacred Heart filled this book with typed and handwritten texts (including several compositions and assignments), report cards, song lyrics, press clippings about people like the royal family and the nobility, rebus puzzles and riddles, sketches, guest lists and invitations, and pictures of celebrities.

          Source of title proper: Based on the type of document.

          Language: The document is in French and English, but primarily in French.

      • P573/B1,2 Sketchbooks. - [1924-1961]. - 2.5 cm of textual records.
      • Digitized documents
      • Scope and Content: The three albums in this file document one aspect of Gilberte Christin de Cardaillac's artistic output - sketches drawn from life. Covering some 40 years, these albums chronicle the development of her technique and some of her favourite subjects.

        While they primarily contain sketches, they also feature several preparatory drawings and more finished works, done in pencil, coloured pencil or watercolour, or sometimes a combination. The subjects are primarily life models and Quebec landscapes, notably in Sainte-Adèle, Sutton and Knowlton, Cap-Saint-Ignace and the Gaspé Peninsula.

        Source of title proper: Based on the contents of the file.

        Language: The documents are in French..

      • P573/B1,3 Watercolours
      • P573/B1,4 Greeting cards
    • P573/B2 Travel
    • P573/B3 Collections

  • P573/C Friendships

  • P573/D Photographs

 

Last update: February 15, 2019