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La CERAMIQUE DE BEAUCE
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A Beauce 50 years industrial venture

The venture of the "Ceramique de Beauce" Inc., also known as Beauceware (trademark), became an important part of the great industrial adventure of Beauce County, in Quebec country. Established in the first half of the century in 1939, and operating until 1989, the company diffused an innovative image by establishing the production of an industrialized utilitarian art: pottery.
The ceramic products of Beauce transgressed the local market place and quickly reached the Canadian, American and European markets. The Ceramics of Beauce Inc remains a striking example of the resounding evolution of the Beauce "entrepreneurship" venture.
 
 

This "turn"powered with feet, was used at the begining of the venture to create the  hand made pieces, with red earth. 
In 1975,
 master ceramist artist, Antoine Jacques, re-open a department to continue the old traditionnal way to create master pieces. 
The  "old turn"  began a new career !
If you are lucky, you could find hand made mural plates
with his signature.
Click to enlarge photo and you can see some on the turn working table.

Paradoxically, one of the reasons to start the venture of Ceramics of Beauce was to maintain the agricultural vocation of the county. The target was to stop the rural migration of the young tradesmen towards the great industrial centers and solve the thorny unemployment problem. J.W. Marceau, a local agronomist from Beauceville, was anxious and concerned with this problem. He had become interested in the layer of silica found at the site of ‘Gustin Pierrot’s mine”, which was located on the land of Mr. Gédéon Doyon's, in Saint-Joseph. Clay samples were taken from the site and sent for analysis to the Agriculture ministry. The results were conclusive: the exceptional quality of this red clay would make an excellent material for hand turned pottery. And so the project to train young farmers in the ceramic trade was initiated.


On August 29, 1940 thirty-three farmers' sons sign the request for " Syndicat des céramistes paysans de Beauce". French name is evocative, it unites the double engagement of adhering: agricultural work in tourist season and training of the ceramic techniques in winter, using the local layer from the Callway River "mine", in Saint-Joseph. 
The three years of specialized training was subsidized by the Arts Domestic Service, attached to Agriculture ministry and implemented at the end of October 1940 and was located in the buildings of the basement of the College du Sacre-Coeur in Beauceville. The Marist brothers were exempt from the academic courses while Mr. Willie Chochard, a Swiss expert-ceramist, assisted. The artist and chemist, Mr. Raymond Lewis, was delegated by the Quebec government to manage and direct the ceramic teaching. Applying the technical skill of the allied European school to the packed experiment of Canadian materials influenced the quality of teaching and established the artistic distinction of the Beauce pottery mixing elegance with solidity. 

In 1942, the existing buildings of the Beauceville college provided classes for the apprentice ceramists workshops and exposure rooms in Saint-Joseph, situated close to the clay layers of the Callway river. The occupation of this site ended with the first training program closure, where twelve enthusiastic candidates expressed their desire to follow the occupation of full-time ceramist. In 1943, they constituted their own co-operative association and decided to launch ceramic production on an industrial basis. The Government had purchased a vacant shoe factory, previously the Albert Laliberté Ltée's company, and allowed the new company to occupy and share the buildings as the new ceramics school of Saint-Joseph. In 1964 they ended the ceramic training program, however, the industry site remained unchanged until it’s closing in 1989.

The period from 1965 to 1974 crystallizes all circles of production activities, establishing the company reputation and market which is influenced by two types of customers: manufacturers and wholesalers. August 18, 1965 the corporate name <<Syndicate des ceramistes artisans de la Beauce>> was changed to that of <<Ceramique de Beauce>> who obtains the initials << cb >> engraved on each of the million pieces annually produced.


In 1970, before the big 1974 fire

Economic effervescence and the artistic expansion of this time are remarkable. The Ceramics of Beauce supplies half of the Canadian demand and it is the most significant ceramic industry of its kind in Canada. The production satisfies manufacturing customers who control the market for lamp bases and wholesalers who benefit from the originality, design and  variety of pottery unceasingly renewed through changes in the marketplace. The major impact of Expo 67 dramatically influences the future of world production. Indeed, the industry starts to produce fondue sets of all kinds, escargot dishes, onion soup bowls, casseroles, etc. as many new products of which the tradition is external from Quebec traditional production but which now reflect the demand of the modern marketplace.



Pieces from 1950 to 1970
( click to enlarge )
January 21, 1974, the Ceramics of Beauce fell prey to the flames. The fire condemned the industry with this quasi-total loss. At the time, the annual production had reached 2.3 million units, a turnover of more than $1.5 million dollars and employed 135. Due to the vitality of the "Beaucerons", the company reopened in a new building, the following year. In June 1975, the production was directed mainly towards promotional and marketing activities in the Hotel and Retail industry. The modern and ecological conditions of the manufacturer, combined with a distinct high quality production technique which employed the use of an improved material, resulted in the best quality white pottery, ranked the company as the number one ceramic in Canada. The fast expansion attracted foreign investors. In 1985, the industry was sold to a company from Montreal. For the first time in 45 years, "Beaucerons" do not have controlling interest in their company!

Arrival of craftsmen potters and new designers, catalyses the original artistic mission. Their arrival creates bridges between the aesthetic loneliness of the manually produced creation and the accessibility to mass production which increases production output by ten fold and allows greater market penetration. These industry advances encourage artists, potters, modelers and ceramists to join the Ceramics of Beauce.


Jean Cartier and Jacques Garnier present a robust production, which is a tribute to the country tradition. Raspy and smooth textures, natural colors sometimes broken by bright glazes and generous curves make a vibrate statement for both senses of sight and touch. Their commercial alliance with the  industry gave a contemporary direction to their creation via mechanical methods but was still controlled in all the stages of production by the  creator. We credit them with the design of several innovative collections and exclusive pieces, such as the famous clay "cocotte".  This piece was produced from 1970 to 1974 and utilized their design to improve on the aesthetics of this functional product.

pieces from 1960 to 1980

-
 

The rudimentary tools of the ceramic artisan were gradually replaced with more sophisticated equipment including a clabbering machine, four new electric furnaces, an infra-red drier, etc. As the “break-in” period of the company settles, organization and classification of mass produced items begins. However, the quality of argillaceous materials is not suitable for this type of the initiated production; the red clay of Callway River does not contain enough silica and breaks down when cooking. To counteract, a new amalgam was prepared from kaolin imported from Georgia. 

For the best visual rendering, the requirements of the ever changing market, established that during the 1950’s, local red earth must be cooked up to 1950oF and white earth compound cooked up to 2014oF. This alloy is said to have a composition worthy of the world competition and attracts both the commercial and wholesale customers. The expansion of the company goes well and sets the stage for continued expansion in 1959, 1962 and 1965. The production intensifies, instigated by the opening of exportation markets. AS a result, the need for an English trademark was created.  BEAUCEWARE was chosen and marked on all product for export throughout the world.

To evaluate the age of the pieces:



Today, many pieces of Ceramique de Beauce Inc are exposed to the growing interest of the collectors who furrow the alleys of the flea markets and the attics of the antique dealers everywhere in Quebec, Canada, United States and even overseas. It becomes inescapable, even urgent to initiate the development and the conservation of these examples of the Beauce industrial inheritance, a fertile history of a working population symbolizing their creativity.


Thus, the Museum Marius-Barbeau funds the conservation of the objects connected to the history and activities of Ceramique de Beauce Inc. The goals are: to ensure the geographical, cultural and historical connections with the art, solidify the memories and milestones which contributed to the evolution, and to recognize the caring people of Beauce.
The original French documentation was graciously given by The Marius-Barbeau Museum, locate in St-Joseph-de-Beauce. Museum, located in St-Joseph-de-Beauce. We want to thank them

The Marius Barbeau Museum is the largest museum in the Great Beauce

MARIUS BARBEAU MUSEUM
139, rue Ste-Christine
Saint-Joseph (Beauce)
G0S 2V0
PHONE: +1 (418) 397-4039
FAX: +1 (418) 397-6151
 

The color photographs are a  QUEBEXPORT.COM production and were taken during the last showing by the Museum devoted to "La Céramique de Beauce". The b&w pictures are comming from a 1970 "Studio Vachon" mounting presentation of administration and founders. We believe that this exhibit should be contracted to other museums in order to allow the possibility of seeing these splendid creations. You can communicate with us if you need help to develop a project to have this exposition in your city.


Jean-Paul Roy
(1940) 
 

I want to also thank my father, Jean-Paul Roy, who’s assistance allowed me to answer the many questions which were asked during these four years of presence on the Web. He is one of the twelve student founders and he will be very happy to continue to share his knowledge with you.
In 1975, Mr. Damien Doyon became the Director of a new retail store located in the factory... Many
buses and organized trips brought thousands of people to Beauce to visit the popular store and buy the
precious pieces. Do you remember this kind gentleman who welcomed you ? He will be virtually happy
to do it again.... by way of his daughter and my friend, Diane. So, keep this URL address in your
bookmark, to see more in few weeks. 

Damien
Doyon
(1941)
 

 

I also want to thank Debra and her husband Ken, from Alberta, who revised my English text.
She is a collector and is working on a project to organize a Beauceware display for an upcoming
Antique Show. If you want to communicate with her, you can e-mail from here :
khrychyk@telusplanet.net
This will be their first 2000 presentation; an expostion to see many ceramic pieces in Alberta :

Here are handicraftsmen and artists,
founders of this uncommon venture.
Some of them belive in it until the end in 1989.
 
 

OTHER INTERESTING PAGES TO VISIT:
 you will find: photos galleries,
catalog, links and more...
http://pages.infinit.net/cerame/



Willie Chochard (1940) 
Arsène Poulin (1940)

 
Raymond Bouret (1959)
 
François Grenier (1941)

 
Jean-Louis Lessard (1940)
Louis-Marie Labbé (1940) 

 
Walter Grenier (1959) 
He is the one who give most 
information and text to 
Marius-Barbeau Museum.
Thanks !
Philipe Lambert (1940)
"The artist who create the most original 
models produced on
Beauceware and Ceramique de Beauce trademarks"

 
Jean-Louis Lambert (1940)  Gaston Maheux (1961)

 
Raymond Marcoux (1960)  Antoine Jacques (1940)

 
 


You can communicate with us :
ceramique@quebexport.com



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Last update : october 28th 1999
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