The Library houses the Pascal Jacob Collection, the Léon Duperré Fund and the Cirque du Soleil Collection, which focus on the creative processes of past and present artists, as well as on the teaching and history of circus arts. They also deal with a variety of other subjects and fields such as dance, theater, street performance, visual arts, scenography, architecture, medical and social sciences, and sports sciences.
The National Circus School Library houses the Léon DuPerré Fund, created in honour of Quebec artist Léon DuPerré (1886-1943), who devoted his entire life to the practice of circus arts. This collection contains more than 700 textual and iconographic documents, including photographs, employment contracts, correspondence, musical scores, programs and show posters.
Video segment produced with the precious collaboration of Léonne DuPerré-Rousseau (daughter of Léon DuPerré) as part of Annie-Clara Gravel and Célia Destemberg’s master’s degree project, from the history department of Université de Montréal.
Passionate about unicycling and acrobatic cycling, the famous Léon DuPerré has performed in front of audiences in a multitude of circus troupes across Canada and the United States.
Indeed, after being noticed in Chicago with his unicycle performance, the young DuPerré joined the famous American Ringling Bros circus’ Baker troupe from 1906 to 1910. An entrepreneur at heart, DuPerré later founded the Leo Joe and Leo Trio troupes, which performed in the United States and Canada.
He then founded the Dupree & Dupree tandem with his wife Adrienne. Together, they presented several shows in North America until 1920. DuPerré then returned to Chicago, where he co-founded the group Bill, Geneviève and Léo, with two American acrobatic cyclists. After touring the United States and Canada with the group, DuPerré performed on Quebec stages with the duo Dupree & Merrill, which he formed with his second wife, Bernice New House. It was at this time that their only daughter, Léonne DuPerré, was born.
The stock market crash of 1929 forced DuPerré to leave the entertainment business for a while. It was in the early 1930s that he returned to the stage for a final tour in Quebec and New York State.
We would like to thank Léonne DuPerré-Rousseau from the bottom of our hearts for donating the documents that made it possible to create this rich archive. The latter contributes to the perpetuation of the commemoration and history of circus arts in Quebec. We would also like to thank the Coaticook Beaulne Museum for the donation of the unicycles and the acrobatic bicycle that belonged to Léon Duperré.
It is possible to consult the archive documents of the Léon DuPerré Fund by appointment.
The National Circus School Library houses the exceptional Pascal Jacob Collection, which includes more than 5,000 documents in French, English and other languages. This documentary collection, which bears witness to the history of circus arts around the world and through the ages, consists primarily of rare and antique books, programs from shows and festivals, documentary files on circus artists and companies, postcards, videograms, photographs and soundtracks.
Eminent author and circus historian, Pascal Jacob has always had a passion for circus and performing arts. He has published more than thirty books on the subject and teaches circus history in circus schools in Montreal, Brussels and Châlons-en-Champagne. He is also artistic director of the Phénix circuses and the Festival mondial du cirque de demain.
“I am both infinitely grateful and proud to see the result of years of patient research made available to as many people as possible; the bookish and colorful expression of what the circus arts have, over the centuries, encouraged and contributed to creating.”
The National Circus School Library houses the rich Cirque du Soleil Collection, which includes over 5,000 books and DVDs on circus arts, dance, theater, visual arts, architecture, natural sciences, and the study of customs and cultures around the world. In addition, there are over 500 documents on the history and teaching of magic and on great magicians of the past and present.
For more than two decades, this documentary collection has fueled the ingenuity and imagination of Cirque du Soleil’s creative teams, which have made their reputation by combining virtuosity and innovation in their shows. We would like to thank the Cirque du Soleil for its generous contribution, which continues to enrich and inspire contemporary circus creations and works.