The Richer family: close to a century of involvement
The Mont-Tremblant region as we know it is the result of actions, decisions and risks taken in the past by courageous, hard-working and determined individuals. The history that follows is that of the Richer family, and while their name is no longer found on any of our town’s buildings, it still resounds as that of a family of builders.
Hilaire Richer, born in 1857 in Saint Scholastique, settled in Saint-Jovite in 1877. He bought a farm on the chemin Brébeuf and in 1878, Father Ouimet officiated at Hilaire’s wedding to Caroline Campeau. As in fairy stories, the story continues with: “And they lived happily ever after and had many children.”
In fact, they had eleven and we’ll now turn to the story of the youngest, Paul-Émile, born in 1897. Raised on his father’s farm, he found a job with Canadian Pacific Railways. In 1917, he married Florence Perreault in Brébeuf. For the first year of their marriage the young couple lived on the father’s farm, and then for a few years with a friend, Jean Baptiste Labelle, in Brébeuf.
The family was already growing; Florence gave birth to eight children in 10 years. The couple bought a small farm on the rue Émond to settle there. Florence suggested to Paul-Émile that he buy his brother Joseph Richer’s butcher shop, insisting that they could make a success of it and live comfortably. The asking price was huge – $3,500 – but Florence was determined.
On March 6, 1925, Paul-Émile became the owner of the butcher shop located where the Uniprix parking area is now. Florence gave birth to another five children, of which only three survived. She thus raised nine boys and two girls while working in the butcher shop.
When Paul-Émile went to the farmers’ homes to purchase meat, it wasn’t unusual to see Florence carry a side of beef, cut it up and serve the customers. She had enormous energy, and took care of both the house and the budget.
A very good cook, she found time to prepare the dinners for the Knights of Columbus. On Christmas Eve, she always attended the first mass so that she could have the table ready for the Christmas Eve midnight party.
The days were long and very busy, from 5 a.m. till 11 p.m. Paul-Émile was a school board trustee, Knight of Columbus and a parish churchwarden. The week’s only special reward for the couple was an ice cream cone on Saturdays.
The business grew and they started carrying groceries. The orders for these latter were taken by travelling salesmen and delivery was made by train. Paul-Émile died on July 13, 1955 at only 57 years of age. Florence continued to run the business for a year before selling it to her son Guy.
He enlarged the business again. I remember the sides of meat hanging from the ceiling, ice-filled counters topped with fish, oysters…. I can still see the summertime crates of fruits and vegetables. Guy and Blanche Letourneau had two boys and five girls. In addition to his business, Guy was president of the Chamber of Commerce, a volunteer firefighter, a Knight of Columbus and a churchwarden.
Other family members worked in the same field. Yvan, Guy’s brother, had a meat delivery company and Guy was one of his customers. Yvan was the father of Marc Richer, who is now the vicar general of the Diocese of Mont-Laurier. At Lac Mercier, Zotique Richer, the nephew of Paul-Émile, was also a butcher and grocer until the early 1980s.
In 1972, after studying commerce, Mario, Guy’s son, joined the business. In 1973 he married Claudette Levert and they had three children. Guy left the business to his children in 1979. The entire family worked there with the exception of Louis, an engineer in Montréal.
In 1982, the family constructed a new building behind the family business, as well as an adjacent asphalted parking lot. Within a few days, the Metro sign appeared. Mario was as involved as his forebears. He was a churchwarden, part of the Richelieu Club and of the Chamber of Commerce.
In 1998, the Metro market moved into a new, larger building built on the land of the old Saint-Jovite Hotel. In 2015, the business was sold. The butcher shop transformed into supermarket had belonged to the Richer family for 90 years.
The big Richer family left its mark on this region. Paul-Émile and Florence were to have 51 grandchildren, 80 great-grandchildren and numerous great-great-grandchildren. Even today, when someone speaks of the Richer family, it immediately brings to mind the field of foodstuffs.
By the same author: Ski clubs: a tradition for close to 100 years (Click the image below)
Peter Duncan68 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.