From the moment it opened, La Butte à Mathieu was more than just a boîte à chansons and summer theatre. The Butte’s vocation as an art centre extended to exhibitions of painting, sculpture, engraving, jewelry, enamel on copper and pottery. In 1960, Armand Vaillancourt moved to the Butte for the summer season. In the vicinity, one would meet the likes of Albert Dumouchel, Marie Versailles, Bernard Chaudron, René Derouin and many other creators who would become well-known.
Many artists and artisans, attracted by the cultural vivacity of Val-David, settled there permanently. A creative community sprung up around the Butte, leading to the formation of some important associations, including the Atelier de l’île, dedicated to print art, and the Créateurs associés, which acquired the “Maison du village,” known today as the Val-David Exhibition Centre.
As a collector of antiques and popular arts, Gilles Mathieu participated in the valorization of objects from yesteryear by using them to furnish and decorate the exterior and interior of the Butte. Spinning wheels, antique cabinets, ceramic jugs, period dishes, cast iron pots, old wooden shovels covered the interior of the buildings and their galleries. Old carts and a 1930s truck were parked outside. This decor gave the place its unique cachet. La Butte was a genuine museum of antiquities in its own right.