Elzéar Gauthier (born June 5th, 1920-1993) and Rhéa Gauthier (born November 28th, 1922-1995) were the foundation for a family of nine who were raised with a sense of hard work, self-sufficiency and perseverance. Both were industrious, strong-willed individuals who always knew the importance of family and laughter.
Despite having only completed his grade 3 level education and being illiterate, Elzéar was a sharp individual who always had many strategies on the go to support his family. Elzéar’s successes ranged from carpentry, sales, factory labour, taxi driving and farming; all of which were self-taught and most being self-managed. His inability to read and write did not hinder his ability to keep detailed financial books and to work along the best of them.
Rhéa completed her grade 8 education and would prove to be a very resilient, spirited and independent woman. Unlike many women of her era, Rhéa went away to work in Kirkland Lake, despite the fact that she and Elzéar had been courting at that time.
In 1941, Elzéar, who had been working in Kiosk, hitched a ride to Kirkland Lake to find and marry his true love. He had been keeping in contact with his beloved by having other people write love letters for him to send to her. They were married on April 14th, 1941.
Following their matrimony, 9 children were born. The first was Hugette born on March 6th, 1942, followed by Élise on September 21st, 1943. Their third child Claudette, was born October 30th, 1944 and their fourth child Pauline, was born June 25th, 1948. Their first son, André, was born on February 7th, 1952, followed by Paul who was born June 19th, 1955 and then Rhéal born June 13th, 1956. The last two children were Diane who was born July 3rd, 1963 and Rose born September 20th, 1964.
Throughout their married life, Elzéar and Rhéa continued to be the hard workers they had previously been. Rhéa, a homemaker, did pretty much everything to maintain daily life for her family. From farming, to baking, to making butter and jams, to sewing outfits for her children, even to bookkeeping, she did it all for her family. In the meantime, Elzéar had a variety of employments to support his family. In 1942, during the war, Elzéar worked for Noble in an ammunition plant, as he wasn’t accepted in the army because he had one leg shorter than the other. In 1943 they moved to Weston where he then worked at Victor’s Aircrafts buildings air planes for the war. Their move from Toronto to Corbeil occurred in 1945, where they bought their first piece of land, a farm with barn but no house, which cost them $900.00. In 1946 Elzéar built their first house on this property and he earned a living by selling meat and firewood door-to-door. Between 1948 and 1960 Elzéar bought cattle from northern Québec that he would ship in a boxcar to Toronto every week. He and Rhéa would also attend the farmer’s market in North Bay on 3rd Avenue to sell meat. During those winters he would also sell Christmas trees and in the summer he would sell fruit and vegetables as well. In 1955 Elzéar began building houses to sell. He and his sons built 12 houses all-together, the first of which sold for $3500.00 in 1955.
All of this hard work certainly did payoff however. Not only did Elzéar and Rhéa have enough money to support their family, they were also able to afford some little extras. For instance, Elzéar being a Chrysler man, was able to purchase his first new car in 1927, followed by a brand new ½ ton Mercury truck purchased in 1947. In 1949 Elzéar and Rhéa were one of the first to get electricity when it arrived in Corbeil and in 1956, they purchased one of the first televisions from North Bay, even before the broadcasting had begun. Most impressive however, is that Elzéar and Rhéa celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary on April 14th, 1991.
It is evident that together, Elzéar and Rhéa Gauthier were more than successful at starting and establishing a fantastic family to whom they passed on their sense of industriousness, determination and love.