The Léon Duperré Collection

In memory of a virtuoso Quebecois artist

The National Circus School Library houses and curates an archive that sublimely illustrates the life of Léon DuPerré (1886-1943) and the circus arts of his era. Passionate about the unicycle and acrobatic bicycle, this famous Quebec artist performed in a large number of circus companies throughout Canada and the United States.


More than 700 archival documents

The Léon DuPerré Collection comprises more than 700 written and pictorial documents. They consist mainly of photographs, work contracts, correspondence, musical scores, and show programs and posters, which trace the career path of this great artist.
«Les archives vous parlent : Léon DuPerré, une vie d’artiste» (in French: The Archives Speak: Léon DuPerré, life of the artist)

Video clip realized with the invaluable participation of Léonne DuPerré-Rousseau, daughter of Léon DuPerré, as part of a master’s project by Annie-Clara Gravel and Célia Destemberg of the Université de Montréal’s History Department.

A life dedicated to the circus and entertainment worlds

After attracting attention for his unicycle show in Chicago, the young Léon DuPerré joined the American tours of the Baker Troupe with the famous Ringling Bros Circus from 1906 to 1910. Léon was an entrepreneur at heart and later founded the Leo Joe Troupe and Leo Trio, which performed in the United States and Canada.
He founded the Dupree & Dupree duo with his wife Adrienne, and until 1920 they performed several shows in North America. The established artist then returned to Chicago and co-founded Bill, Geneviève and Léo with two American acrobatic cyclists, again touring the United States and Canada. Afterwards, Léon returned to Quebec stages with Dupree & Merrill, the duo he formed with second wife Bernice New House, a time that also saw the birth of their only daughter, Léonne DuPerré.
In 1929, the stock market crash forced Leon to abandon the world of show business. However, he again took to the stage in the early 1930s for a final tour of Quebec and New York.


The National Circus School Library sincerely thanks Léonne DuPerré-Rousseau for donating this rich archive that contributes to the long-term preservation of Quebec circus arts, and the Musée Beaulne in Coaticook for its gracious collaboration and loan of the unicycles and acrobatic bicycle.
The Léon DuPerré Collection may be consulted by appointment only. 

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