Quebec philanthropist Jacqueline Desmarais dead at 89
Widow of Paul Desmarais devoted her life to supporting music, arts
Jacqueline Desmarais, a longtime supporter of the arts and widow of Montreal financier Paul Desmarais, has died at the age of 89.
Her family announced that a private funeral will be held in the coming days, in a statement released Saturday. A commemorative service will be set for a later date.
Desmarais, born in Sudbury, Ont. in 1928, was known as a patron of the arts. A key member of Canada's financial elite, she devoted her life to supporting music and opera.
"She was a wonderful woman with a heart of gold, with a profound attachment to Quebec and Canada," said former prime minister Brian Mulroney.
Desmarais created bursaries for emerging musicians before starting a foundation in her name for young opera singers in 1997.
She also supported the Montreal symphony orchestra and headed its guild from 1989 to 1999.
In 2011, Desmarais received the Legion of Honour from then-French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who called her "a great friend to France and a great lady of the arts."
She was also named an officer of the Order of Canada in 2013.
Opera performances to honour Desmarais
As part of her dedication to the arts, Desmarais was instrumental in launching the career of Yannick Nézet-Séguin, the Metropolitan Opera's music director.
Nézet-Séguin described Desmarais as deeply loyal and energetic.
Merci pour tout, Jackie xxxxxxxxx<br>Jacqueline Desmarais (1928-2018) <a href="https://t.co/5yQ6kWVsCJ">pic.twitter.com/5yQ6kWVsCJ</a>—@nezetseguin
The Met will dedicate its remaining performances of Elektra, conducted by Nézet-Séguin, in honour of Desmarais.
The Montreal symphony orchestra will also pay tribute to her on Tuesday with a special organ performance on the Casavant organ she helped pay for.
It will also dedicate one of its performances of Verdi's Requiem in late March to Desmarais.
With files from Radio-Canada