Valley Lives - Pierre Lalonde

The following article first appeared in "The Low Down to Hull and Back News" in the May 13, 2009 issue. Reprinted with permission.

Quiet artist helped make Wakefield what it is

by Cynthia Vukets

Pierre Lalonde was one of those people who made Wakefield what it is today.

The artist, stone worker and sprout farmer lived in the area for more than 30 years and, in his quiet way, contributed to the development of the village's identity.

"The reason people come to Wakefield is because of people like Pierre," says longtime friend and former business partner Louis Rompré.

Valley Lives
Pierre Lalonde poses with part of the mural he did for the Wakefield General Store at his Vorlage Heights home. Photo courtesy Louis Rompré.

Rompre met Lalonde in 1977 when both were living in Cascades at an "informal commune-type area." The two went into the candle-making business and founded Starlight Candles.

Lalonde also had a sprout business. He grew them in his Vorlage Heights yard and delivered to most of Wakefield's restaurants and some homes. He always enjoyed sitting and chatting with people while making his deliveries.

Lalonde died May 5 after a brief illness. He was 54. He is survived by his father Maurice and his siblings Marc, Jean, André, Louise, Michelle, and Suzanne. He was predeceased by his brother Bob and his mother Dauphine.

"He was a very deep person. He wasn't very garrulous," says Phil Cohen. "And he was very close to his brother, André."

The two brothers started a stone company - Kaleidoscope - designing stone sculptures and inlaid work. Pierre's signature artwork was his colourful mandalas. He will also be remembered through several village monuments such as the library mailbox and the mural at the General Store.

"He was a bit of a hermit to most people in the area," says Rompré. "He was more nature-oriented."

Rompré laughs as he remembers "coffee sessions" with Pierre and André. He'd make cappuccinos, they'd roll a joint, and talk for hours. Then they'd play hacky sack, which Rompré credits them as having brought to the village.

"Why is Wakefield the way it is?" he muses. "It's because of artwork was his colourful man-people like Pierre."

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