The Forget family: tight-knit for 110 years

The Forget family, in business for five generations, is highly respectful of the achievements of its forebears, who managed to pass on an exceptional heritage to succeeding generations. Alcide Forget, the family member who began this entrepreneurial adventure, was born in 1885 in Saint-Sauveur. He moved to Saint-Jovite in 1905.

Originally a cheesemaker by trade, Alcide soon realized that wood was the industry of the future in the region. The Canadian International Paper Company (CIP) had already achieved much success, but one niche appeared to be neglected. At the end of the 19th century, the colonists were settling on lands that had to be logged before they could be farmed.

The wood they cut was used to build their homes and barns, but there was some left over. And if they wanted boards, where could they go? Seeing a business opportunity, Alcide obtained a turbine from the Furano company of Plessisville and built his first sawmill along the Ruisseau Noir, called Black Creek at the time.

The story tells us that the machine generated enough energy to provide electric power to the Forget family home and those of their neighbours, making them the first citizens of the village of Saint-Jovite to have it. We should note that the chassis of this steam machine remains in place on rue Coupal at the corner of rue du Ruisseau.

The second generation

Alcide and his wife, Euphémie Renaud, would have four children, Claude, Conrad, Hervé and Simone. The business benefited from the proximity of the railway even though at the time, transportation of materials was done by horse-drawn wagons, and this continued until the advent of motorized vehicles.

Rapidly, Alcide prepared the next generation. He knew there was room for expansion and that his children could live from what he had built.

His eldest son, Claude, married Bernadette Dubois, sister of René Dubois (Villa Bellevue). Claude took the business in hand and the first Claude Forget matériaux de construction store was built in 1956. Conrad became a contractor, with jobs pretty much throughout Quebec. Locally, one standout was the Club Tremblant. Hervé operated the sawmill at lac Quenouille. Simone ran the 5 – 10 – 15 store, the precursor of Dollarama, in the same location as the latter.

The boards produced at the mill exceeded the number needed by the farmers, and as they were six feet long, Alcide decided to make picnic tables from them which he then sold in a small place close to the sawmill. Alcide was a proud man, always well dressed and standing very straight. He reflected the success he experienced in the village and inspired respect.

In 1948, the mill was destroyed by fire. A new one was quickly built, still beside the Ruisseau Noir.

The third generation

The third generation: Denis, Claudette, Normand, Gilles and Jean. © Courtoisie

Within this close-knit family, people help each other, support each other, and work to grow the business.

The third generation, Claudette, Gilles, Jean, Normand and Denis, would provide the company’s next management team. In 1979, the decision was made to join the Dismat group.

The strategy was to continue to promote their own products while growing their market with new items.

Alcide witnessed this achievement and was able to die in 1980 with the satisfaction of having done his duty. “Alcide anticipated our roles,” Gilles told me. “He saw us in the positions that we held in the end. He was a visionary.”

With the development of the tourist industry, the following decades brought a new customer group. They needed things that required the company to offer goods like those in the big-box stores and DIY centres.

In 2001, the company had 13 shareholders. In 2003, a new energy motivated them to join the Rona group.

Looking to the future

The business keeps, to this day, its family label. Now the fourth and fifth generations have joined: France, Julie, Benoit, Caroline and Valérie. They ensure the continuity and still innovate in response to the demands of their customer group.

The knowledge and skills of each of the members of the organization are put to good use and the notion of confidence is pervasive, as it has been all through this generational adventure.  From my perspective, their engagement in the community, which is part of their mission, is one of the keys to their success.

I can easily imagine the patriarch, Alcide, as I saw him back in the day: impeccable at the wheel of his Cadillac, parking before the imposing building, getting out of his car and observing with pride that his vision was sound.

 

By the same author: The Pinoteau adventure (Click the image below)

 

Peter Duncan72 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.

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