Interview: Karine Chagnon and Marc-Antoine Malo
Post-production: Gabriel Laprade
Gilles Tétreault is seated on a leather couch in his living room. He tells us about the trades he practiced at the Lafayette Manufacture.
I started working with my mother, who was the « fittage » forewoman, in the trimming department. There were maybe twenty girls in there. My job, when I started, there were big shafts (handles) with mills beyond the shaft, and my job was repairing the straps. After a while, the straps broke or fell off and I went in and repaired that stuff. But I couldn’t think of nothing else but going over to the men’s side where my dad worked. The pay was better. A year or so later, I transferred over to the men’s side. My job back then, I’d cut what was called the liner. The liner, that’s the first stage. You’d cut it with the knife in your hand, through about 8 thick of cotton and other shoe liners too. When I was done with liners, I lucked into leather, where the work was pretty steady. From time to time, when things slowed down, instead of laying me off, they’d tell me: go to the first floor and work in the shipping department. Another time, go to the second and replace so and so, they’re off sick today. I ended up working every job this way. I could do all the patterns too. I’d learned all about shoe patterns at Papin’s.