If he were living, my father, Celestin Dupuis, would be 105 years old today. I'm pretty sure he wouldn't have wanted to still be living. A few years before he was eighty, he suffered a stroke that left him partially paralysed, unable to stand or speak, so his last few years of his life were frustrating and demoralizing, and spent in a nursing home. But what a life he had led.
Being the youngest by a long shot (there are 19 years between the oldest, my sister Anne, and myself as the youngest of five), by the time I came along, Dad was forty-three. Though he was only halfway through his life at the time, he had already accomplished alot. There's so much to say here and so little space and time to say it.
Born in 1915 to parents, Lucille and Paul Dupuis, he grew up in a family of seven on the farm on Methodist Point near Lafontaine. He would quit school at a young age to work on the farm. As he grew, he worked in the lumber camps near Barrie, cut wood with his cousin, Celeste Robitaille, (they apparently were the fastest twosome around), made moonshine, became a car mechanic at Gropp Motors on Main St. and worked at the Breithaupt Tannery on Fox St. until he met my mother, Bernice Roi.
They married in September of 1936. He built a small house on Park St., where they had two children, Anne and Pat, (which is still there), built a garage on Robert St. with his friend Eugere Lalonde, (which is still there), and started raising a family at 49 Robert St. West, where they had another son, Alvin, and yes, (the house is still there). With his father-in-law, Albert Roi, they built Albert his first log cabin in Cognashene the summers of 1939-1940. (It too is still there). In the house on Robert St, came along my brother Jimmy (Jake) and myself.
A mechanical genius, the man could do anything he set his mind to. Dad built houses, garages, motors, his own 24 foot wooden boat, a large steel snow-blower that he attached to his truck, cut a car in half and made it a truck and once, built a white sportscar for a rich fella - a story unto itself one day. Dad had even developed and installed a powerful hydraulic system in the cement floor of his shop behind the house on Robert St. to straighten out frames of cars that had been totalled in accidents. To Dad, almost every car was salvageable. He developed such a good undercoating concoction he applied after repairing a car, that they never rusted. He was kind of shooting himself in the foot really, but he was an honest and honourable man. He had such a good reputation that when he retired, he had a two-year waiting list for customers wanting him to fix their vehicles.
He even built us a large, 4'x8' plywood pool table. I remember the Christmas in the late 1960s when it came into the basement in pieces. We were almost the first ones in town to have our own pool table. Though it was in the dungy, cramped stone basement, many hours were spent down there and I believe we all became not too bad at pool. Even though there wasn't much room and the lighting poor, we got used to shooting with short cues at odd angles, around posts, the chimney and the furnace. But hey, we had our own pool table! Many of our friends honed their pool skills on that table!
Dad played the fiddle, loved to laugh, had lots of friends and for a time, along with my mother and a group of friends, ran a popular dancehall near Balm Beach called "The Chateau Gai." My brother Pat and sister Anne, both teenagers in those early years, played in the band.
So yeah, my Dad had quite a life. There is so much more to say, but for today, that's it in a nutshell. Happy Birthday, Dad.