The Way We Were
The following article first appeared in "The Low Down to Hull and Back News" in the June 29, 2011 issue. Reprinted with permission.
Barbershops poll provides snippets of history
by Norma Geggie
A recent acquisition by the Gatineau Valley Historical Society - a picture of an early barber shop in Wakefield to add to its image bank - set a group of us to chronicling the many barbers who have served the area during the past century.
Birdie Robb, who penned "History of Wakefield Village" in 1959, refers to Fred Parent, who 50 years previously had been responsible for grooming the "living and the dead."
It appears that many others followed in his footsteps, certainly as far as the 'living' were concerned. A picture from 1930-40s depicts a barbershop on the banks of the Gatineau River at the Cross Store, now Jamboree. Harry Daugherty is possibly the man standing on the steps of the shop from which he operated. Ninety-year-old Elaine (Sully) Moffat recalls having her hair cut by Harry when she was a child - could it have been in the 1930s? - while others remember him from the 1940s.
What became of Harry's barbershop? Did it tumble into the river? It appears to sit precariously on the bank.
Harry grew up on a farm in what is now Gatineau Park. He went on to serve for years as the baker at Orme's, and at the time recorded on his movie camera the workings of the bakery in his day. A many-talented man, he is understood to have painted the texts that still adorn the walls of the Wakefield United Church.
Elzear Vaillancourt operated as a barber in a building on the south bank of the La Peche River, close to where his brother, Leger, worked for the Provincial Forestry Division from the building, now much changed as an ice cream parlour, Sur La Lune. Elzear is said always to have had a fishing line set in the creek beside him, to which he could attend when the hair-cutting business was slack.
In possibly the 1940s and early 1950s, Drummond Stevenson cut hair and shaved customers in a small building, hugging the hillside across from the railway station, now the Cafe Pot-Au-Feu.
Ken MacCallum followed him in this building before moving to a location in the centre of the village to what had been an Austin house, the present Khewa native Boutique. Linton McGarry assisted him and then followed in the business. This was the location of the Post Office, operated under the manage ment of Bernard Sully, again in the early 1950s, prior to its moving to where the depanneur now operates.
Most of these barbers and hairdressers also served women, but in the 1950s, Aleda Brown, who rented an apartment at the back of the same Austin house, ran her hair salon for women.
In more recent years, Wakefield and district have been well served by Salon Select, for many years located at the complex, Au Coeur du Village. This popular hair salon now operates from a building on Gendron Road.
And more recently, La Coiffeuse Perside has established her hair salon across from the Wakefield General Store. We have no excuse for not being well groomed.
Ed. note: Norma Geggie is a Wakefield resident, an author and a longtime contributor to the work of the Gatineau Valley Historical Society.
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