Our paternal figures are sometimes inscribed in everyday objects. A sandblaster or an ax becomes the symbol of the affection one has for a father, an uncle, a mentor or a grandfather and of the time spent with them. A simple pocket of nails can also tell the links between three men of the same family, over more than three decades.
“Do you remember that? asked my uncle Normand, as he helped me renovate my first house. In fact, it was more me who helped him. The skills, he had them, not me. The “it” was the nail pouch he wore at his waist. And no, I didn’t remember. “You gave it to me when you were young,” he reminded me.
We can still guess the year, which he had written in marker next to his name: 1988. That meant that my godfather had been using a carpenter’s apron for 20 years, probably bought cheaply from Pascal by his 15-year-old godson… when it died, it was my cousin Patrick, also a Vigneault, who got it back. Shortly after, I wrote him an email where I asked him with my fingertips if he would agree to give it to me…
“Maybe you’ll find it silly, he replied, but I’m finishing my deck and I would like to do one last project with my father. Then I send it to you. Patrick was worried that I would find it corny that he gave such an intimate meaning to an everyday object. Yet that was the only reason I had to ask him to bequeath it to me: it is a treasured symbol of a man important to me.
Patrick spoke to me at length this spring about his father, with whom he did roofing, learned to mount divisions and above all did cabinetmaking. He also told me about his deck, that “last project” he did with his dad. “Maybe you’ll think it’s silly,” he said again, “but when I reached into his nail pocket to get one, I felt like he was giving it to me.” . I was doing the job, but he was giving me what I needed to do it. »
It is not the tool itself that has value, it is of course the link with the person it represents that does. Jonathan Charrette, it is when he uses certain mechanical tools that he feels in touch with his mentor. “It’s like a little voice in your ear giving you advice, reminding you to do this and not this way,” he says. Working with him also reminded me that being a mechanic was what I had wanted to do since childhood. »
This gesture of transmission has a very concrete resonance for the sisters Véronick and Nathalie Boisclair, co-founders of the Jardins du Boisclair, in Bromont. Following in the footsteps of their father, Léon, they embarked on vegetable production and still use a device purchased in 1968 by their father: a manual seeder dating from the 1940s.
“It weighs a ton, it’s not fun to use and it’s a big hit when you pick it up, says Nathalie, but her dinosaur is the most reliable and best suited for peas, beans, edamame and all seeds of that size. And it’s indestructible: unless you run over it with a truck, it’ll still be there in 100 years! »
The object is obviously much more than a working tool: it embodies the continuity of agricultural work in their close-knit family. “That’s what our parents started cultivating with,” Nathalie notes, turning red with emotion. “We are privileged that he works with us, that he shares his know-how and his tongue-in-cheek humor”, adds Véronick, containing his sobs with pain and misery.
The attachment of the two sisters to the knowledge inherited from their father is such that it is a photo of him working the land that inspired the logo of their company. “He’s an integral part of our team,” Veronick says. Her octogenarian dad also makes it a point of honor to share different knowledge with his grandchildren, adapting to the interests of each, specifies Nathalie.
All the tools that my cousin Patrick inherited from his father do not have the same value in his eyes. “A drill is a drill,” he said. A ribbon sander that I used to make a wooden horse for a boyfriend who had just had a child, that’s significant. Normand made wooden horses for the children of the family. That’s pretty much all I used it for, and it reminds me of my dad. »
Élise Provost admits to being attached to the jigsaw given to her by her father. “She’s miserable, but I can’t throw her away to buy another one,” says the designer who still works in set design. She knows, however, that through the jigsaw, it is the lessons of her father that she cherishes.
“My father not only passed on to me tools, but also the pleasure of working with his hands, the concern for a job well done,” she says. The skills she has acquired not only help her in her work, they allow her to be more independent, sometimes to free herself from repairers and also to lend a hand to friends.
“Beyond anecdotes and memories, these tools are the manifestation of knowledge,” she insists. They allowed me to transmit in my turn the know-how of the do-it-yourselfers, as well as the pride and the pleasure of manual work. When I became aware of this heritage, my heart swelled with gratitude. And I say, thank you, Dad. »