The Dubois family (second instalment)

For several summers, my father and mother worked as keepers of the bar and restaurant where people could wind up their evenings after the shows presented at the Villa Bellevue. At the time, business hours were much less regulated than they are now and my parents often closed the bar at sunup.

We lived at the Devil’s River Lodge on Mont Tremblant’s north side. As a result, for accommodation, we stayed with Antoinette Dubois, René’s sister-in-law. The house was located on the other side of street from Villa Bellevue on part of what is now the Grand Lodge parking area.

From my perspective at the time, all my parents’ friends were uncles or aunts. So I stayed with my “Aunt Antoinette” while my parents worked. All three men – Léon, René and my dad – were born here and had a relationship of friendship that was transmitted to the following generation: Serge, Luc and me.

Youth at work

The Villa Bellevue was a hub of activity where young people were welcome. Serge suggested that our group of friends should provide a water skiing show for the hotel clients.

I might mention at this point that we were crazy about the sport. We were influenced by the Cloutier family of Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts, which included excellent athletes. One of these was Marc, one of the brothers, who was in the water skiing show at Florida’s Cypress Gardens. So with René’s approval, our group was formed.

Serge, who was the most sensible, became our leader. Add next Gerry Simon (whom he later married), Ken Simon, Ronnie Simon, Van Forbell (who drove the boat), John McDonald, Janie Forbell, Eva Kouchar, Judy Claggett, Frankie Legare as well as Luc, Serge and me. You can run into a number of these people here to this day.

We used the Simon family’s outboard motorboat, but our group didn’t have the money we needed for gas, With Mr. Dubois’s permission, we passed the hat after every show. We never made a profit, but we never ran out of gas, either.

The ski school, a key to success

The Villa Bellevue ski school had an excellent reputation and represented an important part of the hotel’s attraction for its clients. What’s more – and this is not well known – the famous Ernie McCullough was director of the Villa Bellevue ski school.

At the very beginning of his career as an alpine ski racer and ski jumper, Ernie came to Mont Tremblant looking for work. At the time, John Fripp was director of the Mont Tremblant ski school and René Dubois charged him with the responsibility for his Villa Bellevue ski school

Ernie was still attracted to competition and, without telling Mr. Dubois, took off by train for Idaho, Sun Valley, to take part in the Harriman Cup. That was a major race and all the big teams of the time, such those of Switzerland, Austria, Italy and France, participated.

Ernie asked a close friend of his, Bob Richardson, to replace him and ski with the hotel guests as the school’s assistant director, giving the excuse that Ernie was in bed with a high fever. To Mr. Dubois’ great surprise, Ernie came back to work with the Harriman Cup trophy.

Even though Mr. Dubois was disappointed by the deceitfulness, the good news was that hotel customers could from then on ski with an international-level champion

The next generation

In 1963, Serge, the family’s oldest son, officially started work at the hotel. He was responsible for the promotion of Villa Bellevue and it was his job to make known the quality of its accommodation, cuisine, service… and above all, the excellence of its ski school, led by director Bernard Trottier and boasting highly competent teachers. He embarked on a tour of the major ski shows, clubs and shops.

After having been program director and head coach of the Canadian Alpine Ski Team, Luc, Serge’s brother, joined the family team. Then young brother Robert got into sales, and then sisters Suzanne, Nicole and Danielle became involved respectively in accounting, reception and the ski school, thus completing the family involvement.

The representation period started in early September and ended at American Thanksgiving. The territory to be covered was the eastern United States from Burlington, Vermont, to Miami, Florida. It was a great success. The hotel was full, due largely to the fame of its ski school.

Villa Bellevue guests were attracted by the charm of the place and the friendliness of the Dubois family. That warmth and friendliness is still remembered to this day. There’s no doubt that René and his children contributed greatly to the success and the enduring legend of those wonderful years here in our beautiful part of the country.

 

By the same author: Roger Brunette: the magician of the North Side (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.

2 Comments

  • Karen Haring Reply

    February 29, 2020 at 4:41 pm

    My husband and I were friends of Serge and Gerry in the late 60’s. We lived in Chicago and frequently came to Villa Bellevue to ski at nearby Tremblant. Serge’s father drove the bus from V Bellevue to the mountain every day so all of their guests could ski.
    A lot of time has passed, but an upcoming trip to Montreal and Quebec prompted me to try and see what had happened to the little ski lodge and its family!!
    These two articles have helped, but left me wanting more!!!
    James Haring (husband deceased)
    Karen Haring. Chicago, IL

  • Leslie McLennan Reply

    May 10, 2020 at 4:58 pm

    I attended an awards dinner at Villa Bellevue,after a race Le Cirque ,had a great meal ,lots of booze, it went on to the wee hrs ,great momeries. Les Mclennan

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