The Huron-Wendat nation loses a pioneer in its economic development with the death of Antoine Gros-Louis, co-founder of one of the largest manufacturers of snowshoes in North America.
Mr. Gros-Louis, whose traditional name, Tomayuwane, means snowshoer, died suddenly at the age of 85, on January 23, last at the CHUL, in Quebec, from complications related to an exam.
In 1959, he founded Raquettes Gros-Louis before joining forces with Maurice Vincent in 1982 in what would become Raquettes GV, a major player in the industry. Mr. Vincent became the sole owner the following year.
To supply on demand, Mr. Gros-Louis, who has often been presented as “the king of the racket”, has already had up to a hundred employees under his wing.
“He was an ambassador for our pride as racket makers. He traveled through Europe in the 1970s, alongside the great chef Max Gros-Louis, to represent the industries of our region ”, underlines his son, Steeve Gros-Louis, who owns the Sagamité restaurants.
The king of the racket
At one time, there were five major snowshoe makers in the heart of Wendake, including Mr. Gros-Louis.
“They closed one after the other. The only one who withstood all the storms is my father, ”adds Steeve.
“He made a lot of people work,” remember his daughters, Mireille and Line-Marie.
Photo Diane Tremblay
Despite these difficult times, the children of Mr. Gros-Louis, Daniel, Line-Marie, Mireille and Steeve, wanted to tell the story of this warrior who was very attached to ancestral values.
To support growth, Mr. Gros-Louis had to relocate his manufacturing plant several times. The children were even raised above a workshop. Their playground was the lumberyard.
“Everything was braided by hand. An excellent braider could lace 35 pairs of snowshoes in a single day. We called them machines! ” remembers her other son, Daniel.
During his life, Mr. Gros-Louis even made the front page of the magazine Reader’s Digest with his father who taught him the basics of the trade. He was a man deeply attached to Huron-Wendat traditions, say his relatives.
“His church was the forest and the trees, his bible,” adds Steeve, his throat tight with emotion.
On his last hunting trip last fall, Mr. Gros-Louis was happy to be surrounded by his loved ones.
Three jobs at the same time
A tireless worker, he held up to three jobs at the same time. He was notably the first policeman in Wendake. “For him, working 70 hours a week was natural,” says Steeve.
“He couldn’t wait for me to reopen Sagamité. Just last Wednesday, he came to the yard to see the progress, as well as to the snowshoe shop where we are also doing some work, ”added the latter.
Before the fire of December 2, 2018, Mr. Gros-Louis was often at the Sagamité restaurant, where he greeted customers.
The family is finalizing the details of the ceremony that will be celebrated to honor him.
He had shared his life for 62 years with his wife, Denise Bérard-Gros-Louis.
Natasha Kumar has been a reporter on the news desk since 2018. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining The Times Hub, Natasha Kumar worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my firstname.lastname@example.org 1-800-268-7116