The rue du Trésor is situated in the very heart of the old city, a stone's throw from the famous Château Frontenac.
Before the artists...
As such, the street itself has been around for centuries. It was used to access the Royal Treasury (hence the name "Treasure Street"), where the colonists would pay the annual tax. After the battle of Quebec and the establishment of British rule, the street became little more than a service alley. The "treasure" was to stay buried for another two hundred years.
It was in the early 1960's that young artists Pierre Lussier and Harry Merlou first decided to hang up his works on this quiet street used mostly by pedestrians. Situated so close to the city's landmark buildings, the artist soon attracted the attention of passing tourists. The idea caught on with some of the city's up-and-coming artists, who decided to follow Lussier and Merlou's example. By the late 1960's, twenty of them had set up their temporary exhibits, trying to make a living by selling their work directly to art lovers and tourists alike.
As the crowds grew larger with each passing year, the exhibit became semi-permanent. Each artist had its own assigned space, and some began to hire representatives so that they spend more time actually producing the art, and less time selling it. Click for a larger image
By the year 1980, the street had become a popular attraction in the old city. But success brings responsibility, and a few years later the artists formed an independent non-profit organization to regulate their activities on the street. The A.A.R.T. (Association des Artistes de la Rue du Trésor) was born. Since then it has enforced high standards of quality, arbitrated disputes between members and set up clear admission rules for potential new members.
Now in its fourth decade of existence, the street remains as lively as ever, with record crowds passing through it every summer. In order to be even more of a feast for the eyes, the A.A.R.T. has supported a series of beautification initiatives, such as new lighting and awnings, standardized wall panels and so on. So, next time you're in the old part of Quebec City, as you wander around the winding streets, why don't you come by for a stroll down the unearthed treasure that is the Rue du Trésor, and be a part of history !