Boîte à chansons opened in January 1965 in east Montreal by Yves Blais and Percival Bloomfield. Until 1972 it was the only establishment of its kind in Quebec to present singer-songwriters seven nights a week.
Boîte à chansons opened in January 1965 in east Montreal by Yves Blais and Percival Bloomfield. Until 1972 it was the only establishment of its kind in Quebec to present singer-songwriters seven nights a week. Located on the second floor of a decrepit building on Ste-Catherine St, the club was decorated in rustic fashion with fishing nets and could accommodate about 300 people. In May 1965 a room on the top floor was furnished with about 170 seats for an experimental theatre, Le Patriote-en-Haut (also known as Le Patriote à Clémence 1969-71).
Blais and Bloomfield were ardent supporters of Quebec culture, and their success in presenting both new and established performers lay in providing a friendly environment in which they could express themselves. Auditions were required, and it is estimated that more than 5000 Québécois tried out at the Patriote. It was Yves Blais who discovered, for example, Jacqueline Barrette, Claude Dubois, Louise Forestier, Diane Juster, Alain Lamontagne, and Claude Landré. The Patriote also presented foreign artists, including Barbara, Gilbert Bécaud, Frida Boccara, Pierre Brasseur, Eddie Constantine, Jacqueline Dulac, Marie Laforêt, Nana Mouskouri, Serge Reggiani, Michel Simon, Marina Vlady, and Roger Whittaker.
In 1969 the owners opened boîtes of the same name in Ste-Agathe and in Hull, but the latter closed after a few seasons. Despite its success Le Patriote in Montreal experienced financial difficulties which forced it to close its doors in 1980. In 1991 the Patriote still existed in Ste-Agathe under a new administration, but its style was closer to that of a coffeehouse.
Le Patriote presented the stars of the day, but it also introduced new talent regularly. Annually 1965-72 Le Patriote awarded the Renée-Claude trophy to an outstanding performer. Among the recipients were Robert Charlebois, Georges Dor, Claude Dubois, Louise Forestier, and Alexandre Zelkine.
By 2012 Le Patriote in Ste Agathe had become a more upscale dinner theatre rather than a coffee house. Located at 258 rue Saint-Venant about a one hour's drive from Montréal, the focus remained on francophone artists. In 2012 on the roster were singer-songwriter Michel Rivard, comedian Peter Macleod, and lyric artist Marc Hervieux.
Germain, Georges-Hébert. 'Le Patriote: tenor years of Quebec's pioneering nightclub,' CanComp, 99, Mar 1975
Bergeron, Raymonde. 'En attendant une politique québécoise de la chanson Le Patriote reçoit des sous pour son théâtre, mais sa boîte à chanson crie S.O.S.!' Perspectives, vol 21, 5 May 1979