Excerpt from the film Histoire orale de Cowansville
Production: Les films Reverber, 2016
Directed by: Jean-François Hamelin
Director of photography: Alex Chabot
Video editing of the excerpt: Pascal Lavallée
Duration: 2:42 minutes
Excerpt from an interview with Michel Racicot, President of the Société d’histoire de Cowansville, during the shooting of the documentary film entitled Histoire orale de Cowansville/Cowansville Oral History. The importance of Bruck Mills in both the city and region’s development is discussed and supported with images from the past and present, including an introduction to the Bruck Museum and its history. The legendary Cinéma Princess in Cowansville hosts the premiere of the film on April 7, 2016.
In 1836, the Cowan brothers arrive, Peter and Andrew, two Scotsmen who have immigrated to Montréal in the mid-1820s. This is when the commercial development of Cowansville begins.
Peter becomes the first Postmaster in 1841.
(Black and white illustration of a house and mill on the street along the river followed by a close-up view of the mill)
Between 1870 and 1920, Cowansville develops into not only a small commercial centre, but also as a service centre for the population of the region thanks to its railway station because with the arrival of the train in 1870, Montréal is only two hours away.
(Photograph of commercial buildings at the time followed by photographs of a moving locomotive)
Between 1920 and 1955, Cowansville becomes a major industrial centre with the opening of the Bruck Silk Mills in June 1922.
(Photograph of the W.F. Vilas factory and a horse-drawn carriage on a commercial street)
(Photograph of train cars on the railroad track near the factory, a hotel and a bank)
During this time, the economic life as well as the social, sporting, and cultural life of Cowansville depends largely on the Bruck factory, so much so that Cowansville almost becomes a “company town” because in 1945, the Bruck factory employs more than 1 200 people while the population of Cowansville is barely 3 600.
(Photograph of Isaac Bruck in 1936 followed by a view of Main Street and a photograph of the Banque of Montréal)
(Back to Michel Racicot)
In 1956, Eugenie Lee founds the Centre d’art de Cowansville. She will be its president until 1968.
(Black and white photograph of vehicles parked along a commercial street)
Gerald Bruck, President of the Bruck Mills factory, helps found the Centre d’art de Cowansville by providing free space in the Bruck Recreation Club, now the Bruck Museum. He also provides not only financial means, but also his list of numerous contacts in the world of painters as he himself is an amateur painter.
(Black and white photograph of the Museum with a building in the back followed by a colour photograph of the Museum and the sign in front of the entrance)
The Centre d’art de Cowansville will host exhibitions until 1979. The first exhibition of the Bruck Lee Permanent Collection is held on December 2, 1960.
At this time, the collection consists of 36 works.
(Images of three paintings from the Bruck-Lee collection)
(Photograph of snow-covered Lac Davignon, landscape of houses and church steeple)
(Photograph of a building seen from the side and photo of the bank in mosaic)
In 1955, three companies—Bruck Mills, Meubles Vilas, and Albany Felt—provide almost 80% of the industrial jobs here in Cowansville.
(Photograph of the Albany Felt factory followed by a photograph of the businesses on Main Street)
(Back to Michel Racicot)
During this period, the population of Cowansville doubles and the territory triples in size to such an extent that there is a lack of water. The creation of the artificial lake, Lac Davignon, in 1965-1966, solves this almost century-old problem.
(Video sequence of Lac Davignon in Cowansville)