Honoured by Renee Gauthier & Keith Wootten
When I think of my parents, I always think back to the story that my dad told me about how they first met: It was 1975, my dad had just finished work and he had gone to the Elk’s Wine & Cheese in North Bay. These dances took place every Wednesday, and he had gone many times before. My dad had spent the night sitting at a table talking with friends when he decided to go home, as he had to get up early for work the next morning. Sitting at the table with him was an older family friend who told him that he couldn’t leave without dancing at least once. The family friend pointed out three young ladies who were sitting at another table, and told my dad that they were nurses. When the next slow song came on, Paul asked Diane to dance. The rest, as they say in movies, is history.
My dad, Paul Gauthier, was born June 19th, 1955. He was raised on a farm in Corbeil by loving parents Elzéar and Rhéa Gauthier (leaf #44) and had the company of 8 other siblings. From a young age, my dad was known as the family acrobat of sorts: According to the stories, at the tender age of 9 months my father was found on the roof of the house; he had somehow managed to crawl up and through the window and was happily having a look at the view. It only makes sense that through his youth he developed a certain knack and interest for carpentry (where he could climb up on things for a living!).
My mom, Diane Gauthier (née Leblanc), was born September 22, 1951. She was raised in Field with 15 other siblings by loving parents Gérard and Éva Leblanc. The stories of my mother’s childhood are a series of adventures through the countryside. From running on the logs floating on the river at the Field wood mill, to sliding down hills in winter on pieces of vinyl flooring, to raiding gardens for cucumbers, to walking to her grandmother’s house, barefoot, in the winter, an egg in her hand, to have her grandmother cook her an omelet (apparently these were the best omelets around).
Prior to their serendipitous meeting, my dad, Paul, had become self-employed right after completing high school. With his brothers Rhéal and Andy, they started their own construction company called PAR Construction. Prior to meeting my mom, he also worked in Welland for 2 months as a manager trainee and then came back home and went back to being a self-employed contractor for 6 years. My mom, Diane, had worked at Surefit as an industrial sewer in Ajax and then achieved her dream of becoming a nurse when she completed her training at St-Jean de Brébeuf hospital in Sturgeon.
From this my parents established each their own very successful careers:
My mom worked 32 years at North Bay’s Psychiatric Hospital. She was known as a very hard working and caring nurse, who always had the patient’s interests as her first priority. I have heard many stories told by others of my mom advocating for patients when no one else would. She practiced nursing with a tender heart and a level head, always willing to take a moment to sit on a patient’s bed just for a chat to uplift their spirits. After all her years of service and dedication, she retired in 2011 and is finally focusing on herself.
My dad continues to work, and remains a self-employed contractor. Overall, he has worked 32 years for himself, and the last 7 years he has also worked as a property manager for Rod Johnston. I suspect that he will never retire; he has always been one of those people who has bounding energy and needs to be constantly working at something. Through the years he has built approximately 20 houses and completed hundreds, if not thousands, of other odd jobs ranging from dishwasher installation to renovations. Many have likened my dad’s work as a carpenter to be more like art than just carpentry. Not only has he always been extremely hardworking, his precision, skill and craftsmanship has always been near perfection and not easily matched by others.
In 1976, my parents were married in Field, Ontario. Surrounded by their respective families and friends, there was more than enough love to go around. Once married, they lived in North Bay for 1 year and then in 1977 they built their first house together in Corbeil. This house would be followed by two more in Corbeil, also built together, one in 1986 and the last one in 2001.
On October 4th, 1978 their first child, a boy, was born whom they named Camile. Six years later, on May 30th, 1984 their second child, a girl, was born whom they named Renée. Our childhood was nothing short of magical. Our parents raised us in an environment where creativity, adventuring and laughter were key virtues. There were so many picnics, travels, sports, and various quests (too many to list). Looking back on it now, I believe that my parents each took the best parts of their childhoods and sort of gave them to us from which we made new memories. Obviously their endless support and whatever else they did when raising us worked: My brother is now a successful graphic designer in Toronto and I will soon be a physician.
This is only the abridged version of Paul and Diane’s life so far. Needless to say, they have proven to be remarkable individuals who continue to have plenty to offer. I can’t wait to see what other adventures await us because of my parents.