Many know him on the Mistissini reserve. After having worked there for 22 years, he is a familiar face to more than one. Mr. Pierre Le Meur, originally from Bretagne in the west of France, arrived on Canadian soil in 1951. He climbed to the top of the map of Quebec and wound up in Chibougamau in 1956. This is where he found a job as an electrician and plumber for a contractor working in Mistissini. He witnessed the creation of nothing less than a new village.
He installed the first electric plugs and the first water ducts used by the Cree population. The first bath tub and hot water tank were installed at Alphonse Trapper’s, who at the time was Pierre Le Meur’s helper.
He also remembers assembling two 312 Caterpillar gas generators, which arrived by float plane in detachable pieces that he had to reassemble.
Times have changed since then; we can now see roads, electricity and running water. In those days, everything still had to be done, to be built, remembers Pierre Le Meur. He participated in the construction of 48 log houses equipped with bath tubs, toilets and sinks.
He also was around during the construction of the first Hudson Bay store in ’57, when John Spiers was the manager. The sheet metal building was equipped with a 48-volt DC generator, which charged glass batteries for current.
Mr. Le Meur never wants to forget these difficult but beautiful years, when he knew courageous and tireless people.
Some names come back to him, like Scottie Stevenson, then an airplane pilot who took him the first time to Mistissini; the Trapper brothers, John, Rupert and Alphonse. Some Innu came to work in the north
to help in the development of the community. The administrator-superintendent at the time was Mr. Penney, and the chief supervisor, Mr. John Bourassa. The chief of the band was Smally Petawabano.
He also has a vague memory of a certain nurse named “Nola.” Here is a question that maybe someone could answer: What was the full name of the lady? (If you know the answer, could you please communicate with The Nation.)
Finally, these 22 years have been a great adventure. He has more than one memory of natives being honest, frank and respectful people. The “savages,” he says, don’t live in the aboriginal population.
With these memories, he wants to salute all those who were by his side during this magnificent period of his life.
Translated from French by Francine Charland.