Jacques Martin: A music lover of deep commitment and an outstanding contribution

Music has marked every major step in Jacques Martin’s life, through his childhood, marriage, his children’s birth, and his political career. It was even through music that his parents met!

Deep musical roots

One day in 1926, Clémentine Roch, a piano teacher who had recently returned to the region, visited the local bookstore in Joliette, known for its rich collection of instruments and scores. Her purpose was to expand her repertoire. The bookstore owner, René Martin, noticed her and proposed to her a few months later. From this union were born eight children, including Jacques.

Music resonated throughout the family home. Father sang masses at the Joliette Cathedral, participated in the creation of a small operetta group, and oversaw the men’s choir of Saint-Jean-Baptiste parish. The Martin girls launched a women’s choir named Les Voix du printemps, to which René Martin devoted himself during his convalescence following a heart attack in 1950. “My father knew music very well,” recalls Jacques Martin. “He could arrange and write for choirs. I often saw him at the table, copying scores using a stencil.

Once he had recovered his health, René Martin resumed directing his choir and participated in its merger with his daughters’ choir. From this alliance was born Les Chanteurs de la Place Bourget, a mixed-voice ensemble that has marked the musical history of Joliette. René Martin was its first music director and served until his death in 1957. His contribution as one of the foundational figures of music in Joliette is immortalized in a mural celebrating the city’s 150th anniversary.

The choir: an affair of the heart

It was during a choir rehearsal that Jacques Martin met Colette Ducharme, his future wife. On the recommendation of one of his sisters, Jacques asked Colette to accompany him to the choir’s Halloween party, and she accepted. He was, however, unable to remain at the party with her until the end, for that same evening, he was scheduled to leave on a previously planned car trip to New York with two of his sisters, Colette and Cécile, and with Marcel Masse and René Charette, future founders of the Festival de Lanaudière with Father Lindsay!

In 1962, Jacques became the music director of the Chanteurs de la Place Bourget, a position held by his sister Colette since their father’s death. On June 5 of that year, just as he was conducting his first concert with the ensemble, his wife gave birth to their first child, René! In 1963, none other than Father Fernand Lindsay took over as music director of the same choir.

New developments in Joliette

The Martin family remained steadfast in its commitment to the local music scene, notably by creating the René-Martin Prize, awarded as part of the Jeunesses Musicales Festival-Competition led by Father Lindsay. At the same time, Joliette itself had embarked on a development process with the creation of several new organizations, including the Festival de Lanaudière in 1978.

Jacques Martin had established himself as a key figure in Joliette and, in 1982, he was elected mayor. Naturally, he was supportive of the project to relocate the Festival de Lanaudière. When the time came to get the city council’s approval for the Amphitheatre project a few years later, he convinced them of the financial benefits that Joliette would gain from this initiative. The outcome certainly proved him right!

A long-term commitment

At the end of his mandate as mayor in 1990, Jacques Martin was approached by his friend René Charette and the Festival de Lanaudière’s Executive Director François Bédard to join its board of directors. Jacques chaired the Board from 1993 until 2000, then served as vice-president until 2006. In January 2000, he participated in the creation of the Fondation du Festival de Lanaudière, which he chaired until 2008 and of which he remained a director until November 30, 2020. This outstanding commitment occurred in tandem with his numerous professional and community activities.

Today, the Martin family is inseparable from the music scene in Joliette. All three of Jacques and Colette’s children and several of their nine grandchildren have learned an instrument. Although none have chosen to pursue a professional career in the field, several are involved in their own way with musical organizations in the region, from the Camp musical Fernand-Lindsay to the Grand Orchestre de Joliette. The Martin family’s profound impact continues to be felt on the local music scene, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to diminish anytime soon!