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Lucien Desmarais (he sometimes signed his name Des Marais and sometimes DesMarais) was born in St-Césaire, Quebec, September 4, 1925. In 1954 he married Angéline Choquette, with whom he had two children, Marie-Claire and Paul. He died in Montreal November 16, 1988. He obtained a diploma in general studies from Collège St-André in St-Césaire in 1944. From then until 1946 he studied at the École des Beaux-Arts of Montreal. From 1946 to 1948 he took courses at the Université de Montréal, in art history under Maurice Gagnon and then on the history of French-Canadian civilization with J.M. Gauvreau. In 1956 he took specialized courses in weaving and tapestry-making at the École du meuble of Montreal.
He began his career in 1946 as a decorator and as a designer of hand-woven fabric. From 1953 to 1954 he worked for the Centrale d'artisanat du Québec and the Quebec Office for Crafts and Small Industries, where he was in charge of display and craft exhibits. From 1955 to 1956 he was an assistant set designer for six National Film Board of Canada feature films. He also worked in theatre as a properties assistant and as an assistant set decorator. Beginning in 1958, he oriented his production toward the creation of hand-woven fabrics for high-fashion apparel, draperies, carpets, and upholstery. A pioneer and advocate of hand-woven fabrics for Canadian fashion, he collaborated with Montreal couturiers Marielle Fleury, Michel Robichaud, Diane Paré, Irène Chiasson, Jacques de Montjoye, Jean-Raoul Fouré, Denyse Delrue, and Anne-Marie Perron. His work was presented in collections of Canadian fashion in Montreal, Quebec City, Paris, London, Milan, and Brussels. He participated in numerous craft exhibitions in Quebec and abroad.
From 1951 to 1961 he was secretary and public relations officer for the Association professionnelle des artisans du Québec. In 1972 he founded the Association des artisans de la ceinture fléchée du Québec and, in 1977, he founded the Biennale de la nouvelle tapisserie du Québec (BNTQ. From 1982 to 1983 he was a member of the board of directors of the Fil d'Ariane, a sheltered workshop where handicapped adults could make tapestries. In 1983, he was an advisor for the Grand Prix des métiers d'art ( = the Grand Prize for Handicrafts). In 1986 he founded the Centre d'arts textiles anciens et modernes ( = the Centre for Ancient and Modern Textile Arts).
In 1960 he received a bursary from the Quebec Office for Crafts and Small Industries. In 1961 he received the first prize for weaving at the crafts exhibition of the artisans du Québec. In 1962 he received the grand prize for weaving at the Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto. In 1967 he received a Canada Council grant. He was the Quebec delegate at the Wurzburg Canadian Festival in Grand Rapids, Michigan in 1965, and in 1968 he represented the Canadian Guild of Crafts at the world congress of the World Crafts Council in Lima, Peru. In 1978 he was a Canadian delegate to the World Crafts Council congress in Kyoto, Japan. In 1981 and 1983 he was a BNTQ delegate at the International Biennial of Lausanne. In 1984 he was made a member of the Order of Canada.
He gave numerous speeches, and taught weaving and tapestry-making at the Canadian Guild of Crafts in Montreal, at the CÉGEP St-Laurent, at Algonquin College, Ottawa, at the Pointe-Claire Arts Centre, and at his studio. He was an occasional invited teacher for the Ontario Ministry of Education, the Prince Edward Island Crafts Council, the University of New Brunswick, and other institutions in Quebec. He authored articles for a number of magazines, and his book Le tissage debasse-lissewas published by les Éditions Formart in 1972.