Leonard_Cohen_2008_westmountmag

Leonard Cohen lives on
in Stanstead, Quebec

The Centre des arts de Stanstead presents Hallelujah Leonard on October 17

By Byron Toben

Although he left us 4 years ago, the words and music of Westmount’s Leonard Cohen live on.

The latest incarnation will be sung on Saturday, October 17 at 7:30 pm by actor/singer Dominique Quesnel performing live at the Neverwas Church in Stanstead, Quebec, courtesy of Gabriel Safdie’s Centre des arts de Stanstead (CAS).

More on the CAS below, but first, Ms. Quesnel, a graduate of Montréal’s National Theatre School, who has appeared in 24 plays, 13 movies and 14 TV shows, will be joined by double bassist Simon Dolan and guitarist Claude Fredette. Sounds like a very promising event for us music lovers.

Claude Fredette, Dominique Quesnel and Simon Dolan - WestmountMag.ca

Claude Fredette, Dominique Quesnel and Simon Dolan – Image: courtesy of the CAS

The CAS will continue its every two weeks poetry events on October 24 via Zoom, featuring Rae Marie Taylor and Rachel McCrum. This and past poetry readings are curated by Sonia Patenaude.

More about Stanstead and the CAS

Rae Marie Taylor - WestmountMag.ca

Rae Marie Taylor – Image: courtesy of the CAS

Stanstead is a historic small town in the Eastern Townships, Quebec, that ends at the U.S. border at Derby Line, Vermont. It was incorporated by merging three smaller villages and is most famous for its Haskell Library and Opera House that straddles the border so that the books are in one half and the stage in the other.

Gabriel Safdie is an educator who is now retired from Dawson College. He ran his family’s textile import business for many years while still pursuing his interests in drama, music, poetry and photography. He has aided the Playwright’s Workshop of Montreal as well as Infinitheatre and arranged musical events at both Place des Arts and Club Soda.

In 2018, he turned his attention to Stanstead and rescued a defunct foundry and converted it into a museum run by his wife, Eva Juul. Currently, he has organized the conversion of the old Border Cinema into a spanking new theatre space to be named after famous actor and local resident Donald Sutherland.

Rachel McCrum - WestmountMag.ca

Rachel McCrum – Image: courtesy of the CAS

Much of all this is done under the umbrella of his Centre des arts de Stanstead, which has also sponsored several poetry readings this year, making them available via Zoom, free of charge. French language poets Chantal Ringuet and Diane Regimbald inaugurated the series on September 12. English language poets Brian Trehearne and Christian Williams were featured on August 3.

A planned visit to Stanstead by Montréal’s Shakespeare in the Park last July was torpedoed by the tiny virus. (Out, out, damned dot!)

But when things get back to normal, Stanstead will become a welcome addition to the Montreal area’s summer theatre outings of Hudson (Village Theatre), Knowlton (Theatre Lac-Brome) and North Hatley (Piggery Theatre)

Until then, chers amis, enjoy the virtual offerings that our resilient promoters provide.


Saturday, October 17 at 7:30 pm
Hallelujah Leonard
Neverwas Church, 94 Principale, Stanstead
Tickets are $25 and can be reserved on the Centre des arts de Stanstead Facebook page
They can also be purchased at the Sunshine Inn Bistro, 680 Dufferin, Stanstead,
or at the door (cash only).

Saturday, October 24 at 2 pm
Poetry reading with Rae Marie Taylor and Rachel McCrum
Via Zoom.
Meeting ID: 824 3109 6188
Passcode: 140306

Feature image: Rama / CC BY-SA 2.0 FR
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Read more articles from Byron Toben


Byron Toben, a past president of The Montreal Press Club, has been WestmountMag.ca’s theatre reviewer since July 2015. Previously, he wrote for since terminated web sites Rover Arts and Charlebois Post, print weekly The Downtowner and print monthly The Senior Times. He also is an expert consultant on U.S. work permits for Canadians.

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