Panorama de La Chaux-De Fonds
Rue Léopold Robert, La Chaux-De Fonds (1888)
Ecole D' Horlogerie, La Chaux-De Fonds (1885)
La Place De L'Hôtel De Ville, La Chaux-De Fonds
La Chaux-De Fonds (2008) La Chaux-De Fonds (2008) Art museum entrance, La Chaux-De Fonds
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Pierre-Arnold Borel, a well known genealogist who lived in La Chaux-De Fonds (and died in 2012), has done extensive research and documentation of the origin of the family of René Richard in the Neuchâtel region back to the 14th century. It is with Mr. Borel's permission we are presenting a Summary of his published research “Un artiste peintre d'origine suisse vivant au Canada”(Pierre-Arnold Borel avec l'aide de Cécile Enault, de Saint-Hubert au Québec) as far as René Richard and his close family are concerned.

Upon special request we will provide interested readers with the full French text we received from Mr. P.A. Borel.


René Richard – whose original name was Emmanuel René Jeanrichard-dit-Bressel – was born on December 1, 1895, in La Chaux-de-Fonds as son of Paul-Émile Jeanrichard-dit-Bressel, (Citizen of La Sagne, Canton Neuenburg) and Marthe Gabrielle, née Sandoz (Citizen of Le Locle, Canton Neuenburg).
He had three sisters and one brother. René was the youngest in the family. The father, Paul-Émile Jeanrichard-dit Bressel, was a very impulsive and tyrannical person who did not treat his family with any particular kindness.
One fine day – René was just 14 years old – he spontaneously decided to emigrate with his family to Cold Lake in Canada. There, he opened a small store to supply those Indians from whom he bought the furs of the animals they hunted.
This small store at the very end of the world became a real little meeting place for the trappers.

As mentioned: the father, Paul-Émile, was a tyrant and ruled his family with an iron fist. The mother, Marthe Gabrielle, who grew up in an artistic family, suffered greatly under him and sought refuge in religion.
It was natural that René decided at the age of 18 to become a trapper in North Alberta. He loved the great forests with their clear, fiery colors, the lakes and the wild rivers of Canada.
Until he was 27 years old, he worked with his father in Cold Lake and helped him in the fur trade. In addition, he hunted and fished on his own account.

In this period, he also began drawing and completed numerous pencil sketches.

But he wanted more. He wanted to take further artistic education in Europe.

"I needed at least 3000 dollars to travel to France and to study there. There was only one way to achieve this: hunting. Thus 5 years of hard work and hardship began. For months I only lived from hunting and from fishing in the Mackensie River. I hunted fur animals, sold the pelts and increased my savings. I even killed a white fox whose fur is very valuable." (RR.)

After 5 years of hard work, he had sufficient money and travelled to Paris where he studied as the pupil of Clarence Gagnon. The two became very good friends.

After his return in 1930, René Richard again went on expeditions in the far north of Canada.
1942, at the age of 47, he married Blanche Simon, one of the most talented illustrators and weavers from Quebec. She became his best advisor and artistic critic.
They finally settled in Baie-Saint-Paul.

A very great creative period began (see “notes biographiques“).

On March 31, 1982, René Richard died in Baie-Saint-Paul at the age of 86.

Pierre-Arnold Borel
René Richard
The famous Canadien painter of the country, people and life in the "GREAT NORDIC FORESTS OF CANADA".
His family and roots originate in La Chaux-De Fonds, Switzerland. They immigrated from the French speaking part of Switzerland to Canada in the year 1909 and settled in Cold Lake, northern Alberta.
René Richards Birth Certificate from the archives of the city of La Chaux-De Fonds.

LA CHAUX-DE FONDS at the time when René Richard was born.
LA CHAUX-DE FONDS today and the entrance of the art museum.

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