Monsieur Pointu (b Paul Cormier). Violoneux, b Les Escoumins, North Shore, Quebec, of Acadian parents, 10 May 1922, d Blainville, Que 6 Jun 2006. Paul Cormier was one of a family of itinerant musicians. At nine he began to learn the violin on an instrument made by his father and at 12 he was playing for dances in North Shore communities. After military service during World War II, Cormier performed on CBJ radio in Chicoutimi and later settled in Montreal, playing in hotels, in nightclubs, and for traditional dances. In 1950 he won a contest for violoneux in Eastern Quebec. He worked 1954-60 as a mechanic, and later returned to his career, playing for several years in the Montreal area.
In 1970 Cormier was auditioned and accepted by Gilbert Bécaud to improvise a jig in the French pop singer's rendition of the song 'La Vente aux enchères' during a concert tour of Quebec. Taking the stage name 'Monsieur Pointu' from the expression 'La vie est triste, mais le bonheur est pointu,' he continued to perform with Bécaud for three years, the engagement including four tours in Europe (with three month-long engagements at the Olympia in Paris) and concerts in the Middle East and Africa. He made other tours with Bécaud in the late 1970s (he can be heard on the LP Bécaud au Québec, 1978, Able ABL-7056). Strengthened by his success, he performed as a soloist in Canada and the USA and opened shows for the singers Julie Arel and Ginette Reno. His performances included songs - some his own - monologues, mime, dance, and some novelty fiddling, eg, the use of a violin bow attached to a sewing machine.
The film Monsieur Pointu (NFB 1974), which presents a Cormier performance with animated scenes, received an Academy Award nomination. In 1978-9 Cormier hosted a series of 39 broadcasts for Télé-Métropole, 'Monsieur Pointu s'il vous plaît.' After a heart attack in 1982, he devoted himself mainly to painting and had several exhibitions. In 1988, he made a tour with Bécaud, including one month at the Olympia; he continued to perform eg in galas and on TV until 2005. Cormier's recordings include the LPs Monsieur Pointu (Able ABB-7052), Le Reel de l'oiseau moqueur (1973, Able ABC-8002), S'il vous plaît... (Totem TO-9218), Monsieur Pointu (1978, Chanterelle CHT-4001), Le folklore et ses légendes (2 vols, 1995-6, Coeur de lion CDLCD-1848 and CDLCD-1879) and Monsieur Pointu en rappel (1998, Disques Mérite 22-7706). He composed more than 30 musical pieces (waltzes, reels, gigues, breakdowns, two steps, etc) and was a SOCAN member. In 2006 the Quebec government awarded him its Médaille de l'Assemblée nationale.