Lanaudière: a sugar shack rises from its ashes
The forty seasonal jobs threatened with disappearance last spring due to a major fire in a popular sugar shack in Lanaudière will be saved, the owners having decided to rebuild in time for the next sugaring season.
“We lost everything, we recovered nothing, not even a chair or a utensil, confided Caroline Parent, manager of the Alcide Parent cabin, whom we met with her father Réginald, owner and son of Alcide Parent, who founded the place in 1954. We even lost the antiques and souvenirs of grandpa and grandma.”
On this evening of May 19, the cabin in Saint-Ambroise-de-Kildare, with an area of 8,100 square feet, quickly burned down following a faulty dryer. The losses were calculated in millions of dollars.
“We left at 6:15 p.m. and at 7:30 p.m. half the cabin was on fire, remembers Caroline Parent very well, who had set up the room to receive weddings that day. At the time, it was a huge shock.”
The employees had all come the day after the fire, crying in front of an unpleasant sight.
“It was not funny, it was a big shock and it’s my whole life that is here,” said Reginald Parent, 77, telling us about his childhood memories of this cabin.
At first, after the disaster, the Parent family thought they would never be able to rebuild, the costs of reconstruction being much higher than the compensation offered by insurance, due in particular to inflation and the high price of wood.
“But I didn’t want the continuity of the Alcide sugar shack to stop,” Ms. Parent explained to us. We spoke with contractors and they offered us a price that suited us.”
The Parents have received hundreds of messages of encouragement from people in greater Joliette – the region where their business is located -, but also from Montreal, Laval and Terrebonne.
“There are some who came here to see the extent of the damage, we are not afraid to rebuild because we know that the clientele is there,” added Réginald Parent.
The cabin will reopen in March, on a date to be determined. Employees will therefore be at the station to receive customers. Some of them even come to help their employer, on a voluntary basis, to redo the furniture in the dining room.
Since the Alcide Parent cabin was also traditionally active in the summer, with corn roasts and other types of receptions, work will also resume in this area.
The mayor of Saint-Ambroise, Michel Dupuis, to whom we also spoke, said he was very happy that the Parents had decided to reopen their doors.
“We are known for our sugar shacks here,” he said. We are happy that it continues and it is good for small businesses in the municipality.