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A Commercial Village

Despite this awful reputation, there were not very many clandestine types of operations, but if there were, they remained quite discreet. In fact, there were quite a large number of legal and legitimate businesess operating along the main street. At the time, Roc-d´Or was the main service center of its area.

Black and white photograph of a garage with a tar paper front. Over the garage door, the

Garage and Shell gas station belonging to Jean-Marie Gauthier and Noël Blanchette in 1942 (BAnQ Québec, Ministère de la Culture et des Communications fonds).

Besides its many restaurants, Roc-d’Or had five grocery stores. Three operated by French Canadians, one by a Jewish family and another by a Romanian and his mother. There was also the bakery ran by the Massicotte brothers. They produced some 500 loaves of bread a day.

Black and white photograph of a building with a plank façade and tar paper side. A dozen advertisements are displayed, notably for Coca-Cola and various brands of cigarettes (Sweet Caporal and Lasalle).

R. Gauthier’s apothecary shop in 1942 (BAnQ Québec, Ministère de la Culture et des Communications fonds).

Aside from a pharmacy and a barbershop, there was a taxi stand, a shoe repair shop, and a second-hand store. One resident, considered to be one of the village’s leaders, owned a general store. There was also a shop for doors and windows, a forge, a hardware store, two sawmills, and two service stations.

Thérèse Legault-Richard shares her experience of Roc-d’Or pharmacy:

Listen to the interview with transcript.

At the end of 1938, a Roc-d’Or resident requested permission to build and operate a cinema. The permit was not granted. The reason being that “le Département des Mines [Quebec’s Department of Mines] is in deep opposition”. Finally, there were many hotels, including Hotel Saint-James. They could accommodate the large number of people passing through the area.

Colour map of the village of Roc-d’Or showing the buildings. The shops are in red and the buildings that have not been moved are in green. The road, in the center, is in black and yellow. To the right, a legend identifies different shops by number.

Map of businesses established in Roc-d´Or in 1942 (Alexandre Faucher, De l’or… et des putes?, Rouyn-Noranda, Éditions du Quartz, 2014).