“I always wanted to put my feet back on the land where I was born,” Marius Bissonnette confides over the phone. Last September, the wish of this Saguenay resident was granted.
The 94-year-old took the plane from Saint-Honoré airport. Direction: Port-Menier, on Anticosti Island. It was there, in 1929, that it was born.
A few years earlier, the island, which had long been the property of the wealthy French chocolatier and great hunting enthusiast Henri Menier, was bought by a paper company. With the start of logging, many jobs were created.
“There are a lot of people from Saguenay who went there. My father was a cook and he arrived in 1928. He had just gotten married,” says Marius Bissonnette.
For his family, however, this adventure in Anticosti did not last long. The stock market crash of 1929 shook the island’s forestry industry. “We came back to Saguenay,” he sums up.
Even though he only lived there for a few months, Marius Bissonnette always wanted to return to Port-Menier. “It was a missing link in my life,” explains this former member of the Canadian Armed Forces who traveled to the four corners of the world for around twenty years.
When representatives from the Chartwell Foundation visited the retirement home where he lives and asked those present if anyone had a dream, Marius Bissonnette saw his chance.
The non-profit organization, which allows seniors from across Canada to carry out a project they cherish, has planned a day for him that he will remember for a long time.
Once on the island, he and his daughter were given a guided tour of the village of Port-Menier. A walk that took them past a very special residence for Marius Bissonnette: his childhood home.
Marius Bissonnette was able to learn more about the history of the island thanks to a visit to the museum. The group also stopped at the ruins of the old Château Menier, which was deliberately destroyed in a fire by the paper company that owned the place in 1953. The eldest then took the opportunity to show some photographs taken by his mother in the 1920s. Images that impressed the guide, he emphasizes, a smile in his voice. A gourmet seafood dinner and downtime at the end of the dock concluded this busy day of “breathing the salt air, breathing the clean air.”
“It’s a special place. It’s a little paradise,” rejoices the eldest who wanted to thank those who made this journey possible. ” It was great ! », he concludes.