The Dubois family (First part)
At the end of the 1800s, the Upper Laurentians provided job opportunities in the forest industry and in the trades attached to it. Thus it was that the family of patriarch Alfred Dubois, from the Sainte-Thérèse area, decided to come try his luck in the north.
One of his sons was called Euclide, a born entrepreneur who worked a farm located at the place where the golf culb Le Diable is now. To understand where you are, imagine the original road that ran from lac Ouimet to lac Tremblant beside the hill east of the montée Ryan.
To the west, Euclide’s land bordered what is now number five hole of Le Diable golf course. His sawmill was located on the road that went to lac Mercier (now the Village).
It’s interesting to note that land, at the beginning of the 20th century, belonged mainly to three families: the Ryans, the Wheelers and the Dubois. Their land extended largely from Saint-Jovite Station to lac Tremblant.
The three families also proved themselves to be accomplished entrepreneurs and promoters. Euclide was to have five sons and three daughters. Two of his sons particularly distinguished themselves.
Entrepreneur and politician, Léon became mayor of lac Mercier and representative of the Union nationale party under Maurice Duplessis. René, the youngest, became the owner of the Villa Bellevue.
Change of direction
Originally, the hotel, owned by the Carrière family, was known as the “pension Audet”. This pension, or rooming house, met the needs of a clientele composed of forest industry workers. Euclide had bought it in 1930. After some modifications, including a name change to the “Villa Bellevue”, he sold it to his son René in 1943.
As the forest industry was in decline, a new role had to be found for the establishment. The pension underwent major transformations. The delightful site, on the shores of lac Ouimet, allowed the place to be developed to provide a new tourist clientele with a hospitable inn that welcomed visitors in all seasons.
A place esteemed by all
René Dubois undertook construction of the new Villa Bellevue hotel. He engaged the services of two contractor-carpenters: Arthur Matte and Albert Lauzon.
The Villa Bellevue had 110 rooms, a superb dining room and a sumptuous auditorium that could accommodate close to 300 people. The dynamic René Dubois soon transformed this room into a highly valued locale.
It was not unusual to find on the bill the great names of the era, including the Québec comedy team Les Jérolas, whose career encompassed both Canada and the United States, as well as Michel Louvain, René Angélil and the Baronets, Pierre Lalonde and the American band The Four Aces.
The audience members were not only from the Laurentians, but also from the Ottawa region, Montreal, and even the Eastern United States.
Mr. Dubois was also a big hockey fan and, when the season ended, many players from the Montreal Canadiens came to stay at the Villa Bellevue. Hockey player Bernard – Bernie – “Boom Boom” Geoffrion even put on a show there. It actually consisted of the only three songs he knew and which he repeated every summer. But nonetheless, every time, he filled the room to bursting.
René also decided to organize regattas like at Valleyfield, during which there were canoe races. Thousands of people came to watch from the shores of lac Ouimet. Later, he organized boxing matches featuring the biggest names of the time. The matches were refereed by none other than Maurice “Rocket” Richard. It was quite the era….
See you next issue, for the second part of the history of the Dubois family.
By the same author: The Dubois family (second instalment) (Click the image below)
Peter Duncan50 Posts
Membre de l’équipe canadienne de ski alpin de 1960 à 1971, skieur professionnel de 1971 à 1979 et champion américain en 1965, Peter Duncan a participé aux Jeux olympiques de 1964 à Innsbruck ainsi qu’à ceux de 1968 à Grenoble. Intronisé au Temple de la renommée du ski au Canada, au Panthéon des sports du Québec et récipiendaire de la médaille du gouverneur général, Peter a longtemps été commentateur de ski à la télévision./ Peter Duncan is a Canadian former alpine skier who competed in the 1964 and the 1968 Winter Olympics. He was named to the Canadian National Alpine Team in 1960 at the age of 16 and competed at the national level for the next 10-years until 1970 before retiring.