Laval - 2009

Author: Pierre Fortin (0466)
Photos: Courtesy of Rolande Fortin (0305), Michel Fortin (0148), Pierre Fortin (0466)
Source: Fortinfo, # 16 – november 2009, pages 20-24
Last update: november 2009

As with most previous Fortin Gatherings’ Friday evenings, Laval’s was set up mostly for out-of-town members staying overnight at the Sheraton Laval Hotel in order to participate in as many of Saturday’s activities as possible.

Thus, the welcoming committee greeted those first guests at the exhibition hall entrance by the Souvenir and the Genealogy database stands, next to the members’ old photos layouts and the Julien dit Bellefontaine’s exhibit of his first one hundred years’ posterity.

For this Gathering, however, Jean-Pierre (member #008) and Gisèle (member #012), the developpers of all these exhibits, added one on François dit Hermel’s descendants.

This Fortin ancestor was spotlighted at Laval’s Gathering, given that many of his descendants settled here, mainly around the Ste-Rose parish area and also in Rivière-des-Prairies (on a small island South of Laval known as Montreal…) This stroke of inspiration allowed us to discover new and future members of all ages.

New artistic works were also exhibited in Laval, including a full-sized Marc-Aurèle Fortin lithograph, on loan from the Laval Children’s Museum, compliments of Laval City Consellor Mr. Jean-Jacques Lapierre, along with member #499 Roland’s exceptional “scrapbook” genealogy compiled by his sister and member #326 Robert’s wood sculpture of the Association’s heraldic Coat of Arms.

Saturday’s activities began with Lise (member #514), a Laval artist offering us her entire day’s time and portrayer’s talents to paint a canvas depicting Marc-Aurèle Fortin as he surely set himself up to paint his famous work entitled “The Pont-Viau Elm Tree”. Lise’s framed work was presented by the artist herself to member #022 René’s wife during that evening’s draw held among all members and guests present.

We also had the pleasure of viewing member #707 Gaetan’s own genealogy layout, complete with photos as far back as his great-grandparents. They were of such quality that Jean-Pierre scanned and added them to his Old Photos database.

Two sightseeing trips were organized for that afternoon: a guided tour of Marc-Aurèle Fortin’s works at Montreal’s Museum of Fine Arts and a Thousand Islands River cruise. However, the weather was so menacing that some cruise participants switched to the Museum of Fine Arts tour instead. Then, fifteen minutes before boarding the bus en route for the ship’s jetty, the captain called to advise us that he couldn’t risk launching the cruise under such bad conditions.

But fate was on our side, as the bus driver felt so bad at accepting his fee and leaving without providing his services that he offered to drive us through an improvised sightseeing tour of Laval. Better still; city counsellor Jean-Jacques Lapierre, who had helped us so much during our hectic last six months leading to the Gathering and who was available for its entire duration, offered his services as a tourist guide. Imagine having the city counsellor responsible for Laval’s culture and its most ardent history buff as your personal guide! Everybody booked for the cruise were elated at this turn of events and in the process discovered little known Laval facts under such superior guidance.

Once everyone had returned from their respective tours, members and their families met in the lobby for cocktails, followed by the traditional dinner among friends and relations – but not before the master of ceremonies introduced André (member #043), our retiring President, who in turn formally presented our Association’s Coat of Arms to Mrs. Grisé, a Laval City Counsellor and a Fortin on her mother’s side, and to Mr. Lapierre, officially representing Mayor Gilles Vaillancourt. André also identified Alain (member #625)as a new lifelong member and descendant of François dit Hermel, who unfortunately was held back at his home in Montcerf-Lytton. Finally, André awarded the Association’s Fortin Coat of Arms pins to the attending members having reached the five-year milestone/p>

As always, our fraternal dinner was the ideal venue to exchange impressions and develop new friendships among distant cousins and charming company, making this another memorable Gathering feast. After dessert, numerous prizes were drawn among the guests, including Lise’s work portraying Marc-Aurèle, painted and framed that afternoon.

This was followed by the highlight of the evening: A recital of opera and operetta arias masterfully mixed with popular songs by Laval’s own sopranist Étienne Cousineau. What an amazing and exceptional voice range! Mr. Cousineau was applauded after every interpretation, got a standing ovation at the conclusion of his solo performance and was congratulated by every member who could make it to the stage.

Sunday Mass was celebrated at historic St. Vincent de Paul Church. Father François Sarrazin, the parish priest, welcomed and introduced the Association to the attending parishioners.

Celebrating Mass with Father Sarazin was Father Raymond-Marie (member #018), back from missionary assignment in South Africa. Rolande (member #305) and her husband served Mass, while Charles (member #459) et Lucie Bourgeault (member #080) read the epistles. I must underline how much St. Vincent de Paul’s pastoral group, under the direction of Mrs. Ghislaine Picard, helped us at making this ceremony unforgettable. Kudos to Mrs. Mireille Delisle’s impeccable interpretation of selected hymns.

After the traditional group photo at the church’es entrance – which included 97 years-old Roland – we all returned to the Sheraton-Laval Hotel for a fine Brunch, followed by the Association’s annual general assembly. In his closing remarks, André formally announced that he would not be seeking re-election. It was an emotional moment for him, and the members responded with a long round of applause. André was then unanimously elected this year’s Election President.

The assembly had a few firsts worth mentioning. For one, it was the first time in its short history that the Association actually held an election, the number of aspiring candidates exceeding to the two open slots on the Board of Directors. For the first time as well, the newly constituted Board of Directors elected a woman president : Rolande. Charles, Carrier (member #472) and René were re-elected as Vice President, Secretary and treasurer respectively. The new Board was then presented to the members present, and on that note, the 2009 Gathering was offically declared history.

Front row, left to right: Gisèle Vézina, Charles Fortin vice-president, Rolande Fortin president, René Fortin treasurer et Hélène Fortin. Back row, left to right: Pierre Fortin, Carrier Fortin Secretary, Jean-Pierre Fortin, Jean-Philippe Fortin, Achille Fortin, Lionel Fortin, Pierre-Alexis Fortin et Michel Fortin.

I’d like to thank you all, my “extended” family from Quebec, Ontario and the State of New Hampshire for joining us in Laval this year and making this another memorable Gathering. Although we were fewer than was originally estimated due to the ongoing recession, your valued presence and sense of ownership made all the difference… I also wish to thank all my regional colleagues; what a pleasure it was to finally meet those from Abitibi… Thanks also to the AFA’s “wise men”, André, Achille et Jean-Pierre, who so subtly put me back ontrack whenever I couldn’t distinguish the forest from the trees in this project… And a special thanks to my “A Team” : My right-hand man Robert (member #326), Raymond (member #655), Jean-Philippe (member #638), Marc L. (member #766), Serge (member #341) et Roland (member #499) ; I know I thanked you often in the past, but let me do so just one more time… Thank you also to our official photographers who never appear anywhere from always being behind the camera… And thank you, Jean-Jacques Lapierre, pour everything !

A very special thank you to my wife Monique, so often alone during those days and evenings when I toiled as best I could to move this project called the 2009 Laval Gathering forward over the past year and that almost became a mission for me.

But it’s time now for me to pass the baton to my “successors”. Here’s hoping we’ll meet again next year in Rimouski for our annual Reunion, as well as at the 2011 Sherbrooke Gathering !