After a Century of Silence, Elsie's Violon to Play Elsie, by Composer Mathieu David Gagnon


Grand-Métis, August 28, 2022 - Silent for a century, Elsie Reford’s violin will be played for the first time at a concert on Sunday, August 28 at 1.30 pm at Les Jardins de Métis. Completely restored by luthier Olivier Perot over more than six months, Elsie’s violon will be played by Rimouski violinist, Elsie Lavoie. Among the pieces she will play is “Elsie”, a work for solo violin and strings written by composer Mathieu David Gagnon. This work was commissioned by Les Amis des Jardins de Métis as one of the landmark events of the Elsie 150 program and one of the legacies of the anniversary celebrations. The composer will be on hand for the inaugural performance in the Aire Desjardins of the Great Hall, a new facility that will welcome performances and cultural events year-round. Elsie is also featured in an outdoor installation by Felix Marzell, whose musical boxes have charmed audiences in Canada and internationally.

The Sunday afternoon concert features a program of music for strings played by members of the Quatuor St-Germain, who will be joined by violinist Arte Brunelle and bassist Annie Vanasse, director of the Conservatoire de musique de Rimouski. Soloist Elise Lavoie is professor of violin at the Conservatoire de musique de Rimouski, co-founder of the chamber music festival Concerts aux Îles du Bic and concert master of the Orchestre symphonique de l’Estuaire.

The event is made possible with the financial assistance of Canadian Heritage, the commemorative program of Québec’s Ministère de la culture et des communications and the Entente territorial Bas-Saint-Laurent of the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec. The Jack Herbert Foundation provided funding for the restoration of Elsie’s violin.

Her violon is an early 18th century instrument, probably made by Matthias Klotz around 1700 in Mittenwald in the Bavarian Alps. It has been silent since 1926 when Elsie Reford gave up music to create the horticultural paradise known today as Les Jardins de Métis (Reford Gardens). Her bow, the work of legendary Parisian archetier Joseph Arthur Vigneron, père, will also be played for the first time in a century. Gifted to Les Amis des Jardins de Métis by Elsie Reford’s grandson, Michael Reford, the violon and bow have been on display in the museum in Estevan Lodge since 1995. Their restoration transforms these historic objects into instruments to bring music alive when played in communities throughout the region and as part of the gardens’ musical offerings.

For more information on Elsie’s violin and her musical education, read the article written by her great grandson, historian and gardens’ director, Alexander Reford: . A documentary for television on the story of the restoration of the violin is being prepared by Radio-Canada journalist Julie Tremblay for broadcast this fall.

About Mathieu David Gagnon

Mathieu David Gagnon is a composer who was born and lives in the Lower St. Lawrence region. After studying composition in Canada and Europe, and more than a decade of work as an arranger, musical director and producer, he now concentrates on his own compositions. From several years of exploration was born Flore Laurentienne, an instrumental project that took its name and title from the botanical work of Marie Victorin. Flore Laurentienne took the Quebec musical scene by storm when it was launched in 2019, earning Polaris and Juno nominations and two Félix prizes at the ADISQ awards in 2020. The second volume of Flore Laurentienne is being released on October 21 this year.



Élise Lavoie: violin

Hugues Laforte-Bouchard: violin

Arte Brunelle: violin

Steeve St-Pierre: viola

James Darling: cello

Annie Vanasse: double bass

About Les Jardins de Métis

A National Historic Site of Canada and a Quebec heritage site, the Reford Gardens is a must-see stop for anyone visiting the Gaspé and the Lower St. Lawrence. A cultural space and tourist destination for 60 years, the Reford Gardens are an iconic landscape that offers visitors soothing and innovative experiences of connection to nature. Located at the confluence of the St. Lawrence and Mitis rivers, they were designed by the adventurous horticulturist Elsie Reford from 1926 to 1958 and are listed as one of North America's most famed gardens and one of the world's top 150 great gardens. Hydro-Québec has been the lead sponsor of the Reford Gardens since 1999.

Reford Gardens is open daily from 8:30 a.m. until Sunday, October 2, 2022. Admission is free for children 13 and under. Visit for full program details. Hydro-Québec has been a partner of the Reford Gardens since 1999.

On the first Sunday of the month, the Reford Gardens participate in the free admission to museums for Quebec residents of the Ministère de la Culture et des Communications. The next free Sundays are September 4 and October 2, 2022.

About Elsie 150

In 2022, Les Amis des Jardins de Métis is celebrating the 150th anniversary of Elsie Reford with a series of events and special projects. Our 150 celebrations feature women in various fields of endeavour. To perpetuate her memory after 2022, Les Amis des Jardins de Métis is establishing the Elsie 150 Fund, an endowed internship program that will contribute to incubating the next generation of women leaders in various fields.

Born in 1872, Elsie Reford dedicated her energy to improving Montreal and the life of Montreal women. She was the co-founder of the Women’s Canadian Club of Montreal. Through her inspired leadership of the Montreal Maternity Hospital, the Montreal Council of Social Agencies and the Victorian Order of Nurses, she demonstrated her commitment to women’s health. She led the fight for access to medical services for the underprivileged. Her example of philanthropy in action is today inspiring a new generation of women.