Riding my bike on St-Michel Street on a Friday, large colorful knits wrapped around trees in the Oscar Park caught my attention. Just a few years ago, there would have been a few young women there, perhaps some boys, to claim, with a rebel stance, this gesture as a political act, a form of street art in wool. Surprise! These knits were rather announcing an activity of Montreal-North’s Cercle des fermières the next day.
I went back to the site that Saturday.
The first members of the group I spoke to were friendly and they invited me to the park’s clubhouse to see the exhibition they had prepared on the history of the Cercle des fermières du Québec and that of their local chapter. Although reluctant to be photographed, they allowed me to take a group photo with the firm promise that you would not see them on the Internet. Unhappy with my pictures inside, I suggested a second attempt outdoors, which proved more satisfying. It was then that Madeleine joined the group.
Here is a lady who is not afraid of the camera!
She explained that it was a great day for their group. They were celebrating the centenary of the Cercles des fermières du Québec, in addition to that of Montreal North. More importantly perhaps: it was also the first exhibition of the chapter in twenty years.
Madeleine is a Montreal native. Before joining the group, she was looking for an activity that she could share with her mother and sisters. It was her husband, a native of Saguenay, who suggested that they consider the Cercle des fermières. The chapter’s membership has been stable with just over a hundred ladies for ten years or so. Men can participate in activities, but cannot join the circle. It is becoming clear, however, that it will need to recruit new members soon, since almost all current are of retirement age.
Madeleine also invited me to visit the room in the basement. There I found several looms. One of them makes it possible to weave 72 inch wide fabric. As there are not enough requests to organize group classes, there are possibilities to learn weaving on a person to person basis or in pairs.
By chance, the provincial president of the CFQ was also present. She informed me that today, barely 2 % of the members come from agricultural homes. This figure perhaps reflects somewhat the proportion of farmers in today's society.
In unison, her colleagues told me that Madeleine had worked very hard to make this day a success. She is also the one who keeps the circle’s blog. You will find the site’s address under her picture. She does all of this on a voluntary basis, in addition to her work in property management. No wonder she was all smiles in front of the camera!