In 1983, the Conseil des Arts de Hearst reached respectable and sustainable momentum. This young organization, whose mandate is to promote arts and culture, was gradually making its mark in the community of Hearst. Programming played an important role in promoting the performing arts to meet the tastes and needs of the people. Yet, a whole dimension of cultural life remained in the shadows. Visual artists didn't have the visibility they dreamt of. There were no art galleries in the surrounding area. The directors at the time desired to meet this need but lacked the funds, making it impossible to even consider the possibility of setting up such a project. The process also involved a significant amount of time. The Conseil des Arts de Hearst, which had only one permanent staff member, didn't have the staff to move forward in this endeavor.
One of the directors was eventually replaced in order to devote more time to this project. In addition to searching for a suitable space, she had to find funds to pay rent and staff to keep the gallery open to the public. She never despaired because "It is by seeking that we find".
Mr. Raoul Vaillancourt and his wife, Alice ensured the realization of this dream. They provided to the Conseil des Arts de Hearst a space located at 815, rue Edouard. This space, an unexpected gift, was a garage that served as a carpentry workshop and showroom on two occasions. The walls were big, empty, and they allowed the artists to use nails! In addition to this, Mr. And Mrs. Vaillancourt were not demanding about the rent. The Conseil des Arts de Hearst could not have found more understanding and cooperative owners.
The first exhibition took place in December 1983. The public response was encouraging. The works of Mr. Clément Bérini were the first to be put on display; this proved to be an excellent choice as a first stepping stone. Some paintings were sold, and everyone was happy. All that was left to do was to find a way to make reception hours for the community and the employee. Finally, it was decided that some hours would be assigned to the employee while a group of volunteers were willing to split the hours between them at a weekly schedule. The programming, that is to say a monthly exhibition, was finally established.
Thanks to the Conseil des Arts de Hearst's location (being close to two schools and being easily accessible), the CAH boldly decided to start adding educational content to their regular programming. Although modest, the participation of the two school boards was a secure form of funding.
Finally, the garage officially became 'Galerie 815'. Mr. Vaillancourt installed new lighting, a carpet on the floor and he used jute to cover the walls; the nail holes became invisible! The set-ups now took half the time they did before! Unfortunately, after a few months of enthusiasm, the volunteers began to find this task too time-consuming. To keep up with the need for a stable presence at the gallery, the directors had to rearrange and renovate the interior. A wall was built, allowing the gallery to have a separate office space. A large window replaced the garage door.
The gallery was located at 815, rue Edouard until the spring of 1990, when it was moved to the Centre communautaire et culturel des Chevaliers de Colomb de Hearst, now called 'Place des Arts de Hearst' since October 2010.