June 7, 2014
I think I mentioned earlier in this blog that when I worked as a reporter for The Gravelbourg Gazette in the 1980s, my job was to fill the newspaper with articles during a time when their were many more of them than the advertisements and flyers that over shadow in their numbers stories in the print media today.
My editor did not really care what I wrote as long as I produced the copy. I always enjoy writing and wanted to make my stories as interesting as possible. In Gravelbourg and the surrounding area, finding hard news stories was sometimes a struggle but their were always profiles of people that I could write. I am sure anyone that I did not profile in the Gravelbourg area felt a bit miffed when I left after several months.
I did, however, start to run out of people who were willing to have their stories told. That is when I approached the funeral director. I remember him as being quite reserved. Journalists seldom write about this profession probably because, in predominant North American society, we often steer clear of anything which details death and dying except for the sensational side of things (ie murders, mass car accidents, etc.) Amazingly, the interviewer (me) and the interviewee (Dick Lemieux) managed to steer clear of the forbidden subject in this piece as well:
The Gravelbourg Gazette
December 7, 1982
People at work: Funeral director
by Tanya Lester
In Saskatchewan, it used to be the tradition that the hardware or furniture store owner also ran the funeral home.
The Gazette asked Dick Lemieux, who still owns such an operation in Ponteix, why this was so. “I guess caskets were made of or handled by the furniture stores,” Mr. Lemieux said.
Lemieux’s Hardward Limited, a Home Hardware franchise, was originally purchased by Mr. Lemieux’s father in 1948. “I think when my Dad bought this stories, he had about $14,000 worth of stock,” Mr. Lemieux said. His father sold such items as coal pails which with the coming of electricity have now become obsolete.
But although, Mr. Lemieux now has $180,000 worth of stock on hand, he said there is no more than when his father owned the store. Prices have gone up!
Mr. Lemieux tries to buy most of his furniture from Western Canadian firms because freight rates for hauling furniture from the East are high. His most busy time of year is in November and December with Christmas approaching.
Mr. Lemieux’s business has not felt the recession as much as some businesses in other provinces. “I think Saskatchewan is pretty lucky,” he said. “We don’t depend on industry so much.” With the partial closure of small towns in the area, Ponteix, as a whole, has become a larger service center.
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