Valley Lives - Jean-Yves Bertrand
The following article first appeared in "The Low Down to Hull and Back News" in the August 28, 2019 issue. Reprinted with permission.
Hard goodbye to hardware mainstay
By Hunter Cresswell
A framed drawing of Masham Ace Hardware owner Jean-Yves Bertrand will hang over the chair in his store where he usually sat when he wasn't busy helping customers. Bertrand's partner of 25 years, David Rouleau, said his niece will be the artist behind the portrait.
"His kindness and his zest for life was part of who he was," Rouleau said, "and that's how I'm coping with it every day."
Betrand was born and raised in Masham but lived in Quebec City and Ottawa before returning home to settle down. He died of natural causes at the age of 69 in a Gatineau hospital on Aug. 14. He is survived by his sister, Claire Bertrand, and her two children, who live in Montreal; and his brother, Michel Bertrand, who lives in Masham.
Bertrand was known throughout Masham for greeting and helping customers in a friendly but no-nonsense way. The store was bought by his great grandfather in 1905, and was managed by three generations of Bertrands before JeanYves took over in 1977.
Rouleau and Bertrand met at an Ottawa bar 25 years ago. "I don't know, something just clicked," Rouleau said, describing it as love at first sight. "Before, I was a man with no self esteem and trust issues, he was the one who helped me become the man I am. We loved each other every day for 25 years, it's quite something."
The feeling of loss, said Rouleau, is difficult to explain, but he's had a lot of support from friends and family. Rouleau will remember Bertrand for his priorities: serving the customers and community. "He was a very private and proud man," Rouleau said.
In keeping with his private ways, no public ceremony has been planned. Rouleau said he will inherit the business and continue serving customers just like Bertrand did.
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