Valley Lives - Benoit Lafond

The following article first appeared in "The Low Down to Hull and Back News" in the December 12, 2018 issue. Reprinted with permission.

'Everybody knew Ben here'

By Hunter Cresswell

In 1965, Benoit 'Ben' Lafond borrowed $250 from a friend to buy a tow truck which led to a life of work helping out drivers who were in a pinch. His legacy lives on through his son, Serge.

"Everybody knew Ben here," said Serge. "He always tried to help everybody."

Benoit Lafond
This tattered photo provided by the family shows a young Benoit Lafond posing with one of his first tow trucks. Photo courtesy Serge Lafond.

Ben's life began in Maniwaki on May 1, 1935. He died of Alzheimer's on Dec. 3 at his Hull care-home, Foyer du Bonheur, where he'd been a resident for about six years. "We kind of knew he was going," said Serge, "but you can never prepare."

Ben moved to the Hills in 1967 after buying a house in Chelsea. Many knew him from his Chelsea business, which began as Ben's Towing then became Service Routier Ben due to provincial language laws. The business burned to the ground in 2016. Serge still recalls the exact date - March 31.

"We're rebuilding it now," he said, and the name will remain the same to honour his father. "I'm proud to be able to keep the business going. I'm sure he would be happy about that."

At the age of 65, Ben retired and gave the keys to the business to Serge, who said that despite taking over, Ben"was always around anyway."

What some may not know is how Benoit started out. "He started as a mechanic. He was working for his brother-inlaw," Serge said. "He also was a welder. He helped weld all the air ducts at the post office [in Ottawa]."

Ben met his wife, Rollande Paquette, at a dancing club. They got married on Sept. 19, 1955 when Ben was 20. Serge said he'll remember his father as a jokester, someone who liked to have people around, a guitar player, and a hard worker. Despite his work ethic, he still had time to take his family to their cottage in Notre Dame de Laus or on road trips to Montreal, Quebec City, or grandma's in Maniwaki, Serge said, adding, "he was a very good father."

Benoit is survived by his sons, Serge and Yves, his daughters Line, Louise, and Francine, and five grandchildren.

"It's a big loss for everybody," Serge said.

He said he's glad most of his family still lives in this area so they have each other for support.

Benoit's friends and loved ones are invited to his funeral on Dec. 15 at 2 p.m. in Paroisse Saint-Alexandre at 1 Ch. des Érables in Gatineau.

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