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Alphonse Paré (1919–2002)

Black and white archival photo showing Alphonse Paré (left) and Louis-Philippe Paré (right) holding wooden sculptures. Some of the artist’s works can also be seen on the walls and surfaces around the two men.

Alphonse and his brother Louis-Philippe


Colour photo showing three wood-handled gouges with different shaped blades against a black background.

Alphonse’s gouges

Like every morning, the household awoke to the sound of mallet and chisel. The sculpture Alphonse was working on was coming along nicely, and in a few hours’ time, he would open the doors of his workshop/boutique on Avenue Royale, in Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré.

Perhaps some tourists and pilgrims would come to buy one of his crucifixes or little bas-relief sculptures of traditional scenes that were so popular among visitors. And of course, friends were bound to drop by to chat or to play cards as they sat in the rocking chairs near his workbench.

Black and white archival photo depicting a dining room with patrons sitting at tables and waiters serving them. On the back wall is a sculpted wood mural consisting of a central panel surrounded by twenty-two smaller panels.

Mural at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel’s Beaver Club

Alphonse’s reputation had spread since he had created a mural for the Beaver Club at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal, in 1957—quite an accomplishment for a carpenter’s son born in Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré! After completing his training at École des beaux-arts de Québec in 1941, he built himself a workshop on the land of his forefathers.

Black and white archival photo. Louis-Philippe Paré, Alphonse Paré, and an unidentified woman are standing facing the camera by the side of the road in front of a two-storey building. Two signs on the façade of the building read “Paré Sculpture” and “Art Studio.” A house can be seen in the background. Several wooden sculptures stand in front of the building, on either side of the front entrance.

Atelier Paré, 1950


Alphonse created over 10,000 works over the course of his career. And while people from all over Québec commissioned sculptures from him, he was happy to take jobs for customers in Côte-de-Beaupré, a region he loved deeply. These included a number of granite capitals at the Sainte-Anne Basilica, the coat of arms of the Town of Beaupré, and the bas-reliefs in the Beaupré Church.

Colour photo of the inside of a church. The baptismal font in the centre of the photo consists of a huge seashell with a base carved in wave-like patterns. Behind it on the wall, several sculpted and painted tableaus depict scenes from the Bible in which water and waves are a key motif.

Sculptures by Alphonse Paré in the Saint-Joseph-de-la-Rive Church

Alphonse Paré developed a style that was classic and unadorned, in part because his eyesight was quite poor. His sculptures exude a certain rusticity and simplicity, and are renowned for their creative appeal and their rich, distinctive colours. Together with architect Charles Michaud, whom he met in 1962, Paré helped renovate and decorate a number of churches, including Baie-Sainte-Catherine, Saint-Joseph-de-la-Rive, and Notre-Dame-de-la-Pitié, in Québec City. He drew his inspiration more from people than from saints or traditional iconography, and his religious works were in keeping with the aims of the Second Vatican Council, earning him praise for their humility and originality. Several of them are even on display at the Vatican Museum!

Françoise Lavoie and Scott Kingsland took over ownership of Atelier Paré in 1985.

Françoise Lavoie explains how she and Scott Kingsland took over Alphonse Paré’s workshop – (Subtitles available in FR and EN) – View the video with transcription (EN)

Today, Château-Richer looks back at… a great sculptor whose masterful talent and unique style breathed new life into the long tradition of wood carving in Québec.