Manseau: the Fyre quebec

Manseau: le Fyre québécois

Manseau: le Fyre québécois

This man has consumed something that made him do a powerful journey… It’s happening on July 31, 1970.


July 25, 2020 14h13

Updated at 15h22


Manseau: the Fyre quebec

André Duchesne

The Press

The festival de Manseau dreamed of being a ” Woodstock quebec “. Rather, it was the precursor of Fyre, the flop catastrophic islands Exumas which was the subject, last year, a documentary on Netflix. The village of Manseau will highlight these days 50 years of the event… for the better off.

When he participates in formal meetings, it extends a helping hand to his peers or dignitaries and is presented as the mayor of Manseau, Guy St-Pierre immediately aroused the attention.

“People talk to me about any of the following of the festival, tells the 60-year old man who has lived his entire life in this village of which he is the mayor almost continuously since 1989. He said to me : “Ah yes ! I was there.” Or : “I went to the university at the time.” Even former prime minister Philippe Couillard told me one day talking about. ”

In the vocabulary, history and culture of Quebec, Manseau is a synonym for the biggest flop musical of the story. Claiming the generation of Woodstock, the huge festival held a year earlier in the State of New York, Manseau is located more at the other end of the spectrum. Administered by individuals more shady than shady characters and display programming including the biggest names, but one never came, the festival has attracted attention due to its bad management, the bad weather, many cases of overdose and the embarrassment of the young government of Robert Bourassa.

“The festival has kept any of its promises “, was titled The Press in its issue of August 3, 1970. The article of the journalist Louise Cousineau was accompanied by a photograph of Michel Gravel, showing some young people wandering in a field littered with waste in front of a scene abandoned.

Manseau: le Fyre québécois

The a of The Press on Monday, 3 August 1970


“When it came to an end officially yesterday, the spectators were furious at the organizers, these rageaient against the Sûreté du Québec and the journalists, and hippies pestaient against the “tourists” voyeurs come to consider them as in a zoo, ” wrote Louise Cousineau.

Always a, another article by the journalist François Trépanier, who accompanied Robert Bourassa, in a first ministers ‘conference in Manitoba, stated that he had ordered an investigation into” the failure of Manseau “.

The organization

Manseau was the creature of the Woods Production, an organization headed by Richard “Ziggy” Wiseman, and the brothers Filiatrault, who were blazing in the world of the show. On June 16, 1970, following the presentation of the project, the municipal council of the village of… Saint-Joseph-de-Blandford (see our capsules) accepts the proposal of the agency to hold a pop festival on the land of Paul Turgeon, a farmer of the region.

In a press conference held on July 15, 1970, the organizers ensure the presence of artists such as Richie Havens, Dr. John, Canned Heat, Little Richard, The Voices of East Harlem, and even Jimi Hendrix, whose contract has not yet been signed.

Tickets are on presale in all Mike’s Submarine in Montreal and the local radio stations in regions at a cost of $ 12 ($15 at the door).

Michael Lang, co-organiser of the Woodstock festival, is participating in this meeting. When a member of the media asks him if he is aware of a “infiltration possible of the underworld” in the festival de Manseau, Lang replied in the negative, and ensures that, in such a case, it is not cautionnerait not the event.

However, three years later, at a hearing of the Commission of inquiry into organized crime (CECO), Wiseman, will recognize to have borrowed $ 15,000 Vic Cotroni and $ 7500 in William Obront, two members of the mafia in montreal, for the organisation of the event.

Manseau: le Fyre québécois

The site of the festival in preparation for the July 30, 1970


A few days before the kick-off (July 31), the confusion remains total. The mystery plane on the list of artists who have confirmed their presence. Added to this are the charges against three of the brothers Filiatrault for a fraud case (they will be acquitted in 1972 according to our research).

In Quebec, the Council of ministers is concerned. A report given to the Council indicates that, in the absence of having made the required deposit, the organisers have seen two security agencies, the Alliance and Citadel, pack up and leave. The organisers are turning to the Montreal police in the hope to recruit 100 officers, but the chairman of the executive committee, Lucien Saulnier, ordered the police to refuse under penalty of dismissal.

Manseau: le Fyre québécois

As of July 27, 1970, music lovers begin to gather in Manseau.


The report also indicates that a physician retained to coordinate the emergency medical services requires a deposit of $ 20,000 that Woods Production refuses to do so. Instead of the 200 toilets promised, there are 5 of them. Instead of the 100 bins, there are 60. By contrast, Hydro-Québec has also installed the current, having received his deposit. The slightest of things in a rock music festival !

That said, there are some reports of improvements of last minute, so that the Council, chaired by the vice-prime minister, Pierre Laporte – who died tragically during the October crisis occurred a few weeks later – decides not to prevent the festival. But one request to the Sûreté du Québec to mobilize.

The event

Manseau: le Fyre québécois

On August 1, 1970, a few Krishna devotees are seen at Manseau.


On Friday 31 July, the first day of the festivities, around 4000 spectators are scattered on the ground, far from the expected crowd. A downpour torrential transforms the ground in a field of mud. The first concert, planned for 16 h, starts at 19: 30. The Company, formation unknown, has no interest.

“This band whose music does not correspond to any precise definition, and goes briskly, but without much happiness, from one style to another, never at any time managed to capture the interest of the crowd “, wrote René Homier-Roy, one of the journalists of The Press sent to Manseau.

Other groups advertised ? In the absence of a deposit guarantee, as required by the Guild of musicians, they are gone or do not come. Two members of the group, The French Revolution, to which is added a flutist to ship a few songs. “It was a sacrifice of fiasco, said Angela Finaldi to the reporter Marie-Christine Blais in a 2005 article that appeared in The Press. It was still bandits that tried to make a pop festival poorly organized. It was the sadness, the humiliation. We were on the dope ben stiff. There was no world. ”

Speaking of dope, there are, at the end of the festival, 140 cases of bad trip, 60’s, LSD’s and 80’s hashish, reports the same article.

The rest of the weekend is to the addendum. Young people, outraged the entry price, appear for a lower price. On Saturday, the crowd is bigger, but the musicians are not there. All the big names announced, only the Louisiana Dr. John, passed away last year, gives his show. In the middle of the day, the organizers, war weary, let everyone free of charge. The number of tickets sold is estimated to be 1400… far short of the 30,000 that organizers had suggested.

Manseau: le Fyre québécois

The minister Claude Castonguay at the pop festival Manseau, August 1, 1970


The minister of Health for Quebec, Claude Castonguay, decides to go and see on the spot. Of Quebec, he went to Manseau, by helicopter. “I remember it was rather amateur, as an organization,” said Mr. Castonguay in an interview. My general impression was that we were dealing with an organization poorly structured. There were also doubts about the main organizer. Just before I go back to Quebec, he asked me at the last minute for a photo. I had to take [laughs]. ”

Manseau: le Fyre québécois

On August 2, 1970. A sad end to the festival.


On Sunday, he did little to nothing past, if not a rout full of festival-goers, fed up of the lack of organization and become an object of curiosity (believe, there were naked people !) for many quidams more curious to see hippies around that this was happening (or not) on stage.

Furious, Ziggy Wiseman, one of the lawyers is the criminal defence lawyer Frank Shoofey (killed in 1985), rejects the blame on the police and journalists. These, with many testimonials to support, question the amateurism of the organization.

The following

On 4 August, Maurice St-Pierre, director general of the Sûreté du Québec, gives a detailed report of the events of the weekend to the minister of Justice, Jérôme Choquette. The reading of this report gives an idea of the magnitude of the disruption.

“The experience gained in the present case has demonstrated that the organization was not structured and, most importantly, do not possess the financial resources required to set up such an event, one reads in the memo. Where the financial disasters for many in addition to the hassle that this situation has created different departments on the same site of the festival. ”

The next day, 5 August, during a meeting of the executive council of the government of quebec, premier Robert Bourassa suggest not allow for the conduct of other festivals similar to Manseau. In fact, the members present agree to stop the issuance of permits.

In December 1978, while on parole after having been sentenced for a business of pimping and attempted bribery, Wiseman, puts an end to his days.

According to Alain Simard, president and founder of the Festival international de jazz de Montréal, which, as of the end of the years 60, was in charge of organizing events general public, a festival such Manseau has its reason to be.

“The climate of the times, at the level of the counter-culture, included the rejection of religion,” he said. It was sexual liberation, liberation from the straightjacket of religious and believed that music could change the world. The festivals were like in the new mass where the people were, all together, commune at the altar of utopia. Manseau happened while youth were in need of a festival like this to demonstrate how a new social movement. If it had been organized competently, it could have been a very great success. I didn’t go, but from what I’ve heard, there reigned among the young people present a spirit they were looking for, an opportunity to experience a little trip hippie. ”

Three stories…

Not Manseau, Saint-Joseph-de-Blandford

Manseau: le Fyre québécois

Pop Festival Manseau, July 31, 1970


Officially, it is the parish of Saint-Joseph-de-Blandford, which has hosted the festival. At the time, municipalities were often organized in pairs that share the same services. What used to be called the village was in fact the most urbanized. The parish, it was the countryside around. In 1970, the municipal council of Saint-Joseph-de-Blandford, which has allowed the festival to be held on his land. But Manseau, for practical purposes, bore the name. The two entities were merged in 1998.

The third choice

Manseau: le Fyre québécois

The site of the festival de Manseau on August 1, 1970


Manseau was the third choice of the organizers. The productions Woods had chosen the property of Napoleon Casaubon, in Saint-Édouard-de-Maskinongé. However, the latter withdrew at the last minute. Then, we chose a field of Sainte-Gertrude (Bécancour). New refusal. Remained Manseau. As the grand-father of Paul Turgeon, the farmer who lent his land for the event, to be called Napoleon, and in reference to Mr. Casaubon, the field rank In the Top, where the festival is being held, has been dubbed ” the farm Napoleon.

Prior to Manseau, the Autostade

Manseau: le Fyre québécois

One of The Press of 25 may 1970, the day after a music event at the Autostade, Montreal


Manseau has not been the first musical event of the scale in Quebec. May 24, 1970, 10 000 people gathered at the Autostade, home of the Montreal Alouettes, to a rock concert. There marched a host of stars, including Zerra (in the case of Nicole Martin !), Donald Lautrec, Johnny Winter, Jethro Tull and Jefferson Airplane. A month later, was to be held at the Autostade, the Festival Express featuring musicians, including Robert Charlebois. But the mayor of Montreal, Jean Drapeau, was prohibited.

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