Interview: Julie-Anne Tremblay, Monique Provost-Chatigny, Karine Chagnon, Marc-Antoine Malo and Gabriel Laprade
Post-production: Gabriel Laprade
In this video clip, we see 6 people taking turns to briefly recall a memory or explain their connection to the Contrecœur shoe industry.
First, Léopold Hamel, is seated in front of a white wall, explaining that nearly everyone who lived in Contrecœur worked in footwear at one point.
Next, Claire Papin, is seated in her armchair facing a window, telling us about the family business where she started her career.
Then, it’s Marcel Charron’s turn to describe his first meeting with the manager of the Lafayette Manufacture. M. Charron is seated in his rocking chair, moving to and fro vigorously.
The next in line, Marguerite Cormier, is seated in her rocking chair facing a stone fireplace and is sharing what wages were like when she was about 16 years old, when she earned 17.5 cents per hour to fix eyelets.
The fifth contributor is Gilles Tétreault. He is comfortably seated at home on a brown sofa, recalling how he followed his parents’ lead, working as they did at the Papin Manufacture.
Finally, Joe Bichai remembers the very particular atmosphere of Contrecœur’s Lafayette Manufacture. He is seated in the conference room of the Genfoot plant in Lachine, Montréal. We see winter boots displayed against the white wall behind him.
Contrecœur, if we’re talking about the folks who live here, 90% of them have worked the shoe industry. If it’s someone that’s been here thirty years, that they’ve lived in Contrecœur for thirty years, worked here, or forty years, they worked the shoe industry. If they were born here, it’s even worse.
My first job was at the Joseph Papin family factory. After that, my father started his own factory, Leo’s Shoe. He started that.
He says, you’re one of the Charron kids, right? I said, Marcel Charron. Your dad? Armand Charron. No kiddin’, I knew your dad pretty well. He says: Charrons? They’re boot people. Shoe people. He says: we’re gonna make a good shoemaker out of you.
I was a little young thing, still in school, 16, 15 – 16 years old. I worked a machine, making eyelets. I got 17 and a half pennies per hour. I worked close to 70 hours a week.
I worked in footwear because my parents worked there. My parents got in with Joseph Papin who was, the first Joseph Papin, the founding father of footwear in Contrecœur. I thought I’d do that once I got out of school. First, I worked at Chez Philippe, the restaurant, and then they had an opening for me when I was about 16 years old. I was 16.
First of all, the city of Contrecœur, it’s a small town where everybody knows everybody else. It’s a little bit why that factory there was so great, because everyone was as they say “close-knit”. It’s a great, big family.