The Port-au-Persil Pottery’s history begins 50 years ago by Evelyne Mainville’s acquisition of the Belley’s farm in Port-au-Persil in 1974. Evelyne and Pierre Legault had met many years before and nurtured the dream of putting down roots in this bucolic village. At that time, Pierre studied at the renowned «École du Meuble» (wellknown arts and crafts school) where he learned the basics of the ceramist profession. For a time he concentrated his work in construction to ensure his family’s subsistence. In the meantime, Pierre attended a special workshop with Shimaoka, a master-potter, as he happened to be in North Hatley. This artist was later considered a national treasure in Japan. This meeting not only brought back Pierre’s true passion for ceramic, but elevated him as a glaze specialist. So, the pottery school being just a possibility in 1974, turned into a reality in 1976. Evelyne, the business minded wife, co-founded with Pierre, the artistic skilled husband, what was to become la Poterie de Port-au-Persil: a high quality gallery boutique, a renowned workshop and a unique pottery school. Pierre's settling in Charlevoix furthered his glazing researches by incorporating elements from nature, such as minerals and plants found in the bay of Port-au-Persil.
In 1965 he has already established his reputation by creating the «Compagnie Pierre Legault Inc.», which later became known as SIAL, one of the top company for clays and ceramist equipment. With his brother, Pierre designed and manufactured his famous pottery kicking wheel, called «Tour Legault», distributed in every schools in Québec and still used today at the Poterie de Port-au-Persil. Pierre Legault passed away suddenly in 1983 at the young age of 54. Surviving him, Evelyne pursued his legacy for a while.
In 1992, Montréal-native actual owner Hélène Garon, made Charlevoix her homestead and continues this tradition. Graduated in political science she was influenced by her world travelling grand-parents who also collected fine arts and crafts objects. Upon returning from a trip to Japan in 1956, they brought back very fine pottery items, like they’ve been doing in every other trips. This shared link with Japan by her grand-parents and the founder of Port-au-Persil’s pottery, became a pivotal point for Hélène. Her education and strong desire to do politics in a different way, instigated her to invest in the safeguard of this architectural heritage as well as the development of this cultural jewel which has become one of the oldest ceramic institution in Québec. In fact, Hélène was Evelyne’s choice to make sure that what she created with her husband would continue to grow in the hands of the right person.
However, the Poterie de Port-au-Persil’s real soul is it’s school-workshop. Pierre Legault tutored many famed ceramists who still work their art and showcase their production in the boutique-gallery. Today, not only does the workshop produces its own crockery, but is open to all. It greets every summer a locale and touristic clientele, wishing to create their own pieces by putting their hands in real clay.
During summer, Bertrand Dion ensures the operation of the workshop in addition to the supervision and animation of the place with his contagious energy. This professional team entertains their «students» with a good deal of humor, using their manual dexterity and their passion for Charlevoix. So those who will put their hands in the clay, on the kicking wheel or by hand modeling, will surely live an experience to remember and take away a happy memory of their visit at the «Poterie de Port-au-Persil.