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It All Began with Tomy Messervier, “King of the Accordion”

Pioneers had to clear the way for the generation of passionate young accordionists emerging today. But who were these trailblazers? Finding out means travelling back in time, to when the diatonic accordion first took root on Montmagny’s cultural landscape. The instrument arrived in Quebec in the mid-19th century, before gaining popularity in the 1890s. It has been present in Montmagny since the turn of the 20th century.

Known as “Tomy, King of the Accordion,” Joseph Messervier was quick to master this new instrument. Over the years, he had a major influence on how the accordion was played in families across the region. A prolific musician and renowned accordion repairman, he inspired many others. Hear Marcel Messervier talk about the trade he learned from his father, by the light of the oil lamp, and the passion that drives him:

Black and white photograph taken outdoors, showing three generations of the Messervier family.

Photograph of Joseph Messervier, Marcel Messervier and Marcel Messervier Jr., c. 1970–1975

Listen to the interview (FR) with transcript (EN).

From Father to Musician

Black and white photograph of Marcel Messervier. He is wearing a striped jacket and a patterned tie. Two people in suits and ties are standing behind him.

Marcel Messervier, 1989

Joseph Messervier had a major influence on his family. He taught his son, Marcel Messervier, to play at a very early age. Nicknamed the “Wayne Gretzky” of the accordion, Marcel grew up to be one of the region’s great musicians. At just seven years old, he gave his first concert in Montmagny’s town hall! He went on to play for US President Ronald Reagan and to become a leading instrument maker. His son, Marcel Jr., has channelled an inherited passion for music toward the piano. Members of the Messervier family have composed a great deal of music, and continue to influence the dance tunes played in the Montmagny area and across Quebec. As instrument makers, they have designed many accordions with the fullness of sound required for evening dances held in the community. Listen as André Labonté talks about the influence of Marcel Messervier:

Listen to the interview (FR) with transcript (EN).