This photograph shows about 70 of the staff members and management of the Trois-Rivières retail business J.-L. Fortin Ltée. in 1926. We can note the presence of the top executive, J.-L. Fortin, two of his sons, Jules and Maurice, his niece, Médora Fortin (the daughter of Philippe Fortin), the department head, an aisle manager, and other people holding various positions within the company. It can be noted that few married women were employed by this store, as in many other companies at that time.

Joseph-Louis Fortin was born on July 6, 1866, in Trois-Rivières. His mother was Élisabeth Crête, sometimes called Lisa. Joseph-Louis’s father, Pierre Fortin, was a farmer; he was also a blacksmith and courtier.

Joseph-Louis studied at the École Sainte-Ursule, run by the Frères des écoles chrétiennes, the birthplace of the Académie de La Salle. At the age of 14, Joseph-Louis was hired as a clerk in a store. He had business acumen. Around 1888, he joined forces with C.-J.-N. Teasdale for a few years, and they managed a store together called Teasdale & Fortin, colloquially known as “À l’enseigne de la boule d’or,” since there was a huge gold-coloured ball in front of the store.

In June 1908, the terrible Trois-Rivières fire occurred. By mutual agreement, the two partners decided to pursue their commercial careers separately. Joseph-Louis therefore decided to quickly open a temporary store on rue Notre-Dame, even though this location was still surrounded by buildings in ruins.

Then, over the years, he expanded his business several times until the commercial complex became an impressive three-storey department store known as J. L. Fortin Ltée.

The businessman had always shown a great deal of esteem toward his employees and treated them with respect. He said that the success of his business depended on “its staff, chosen and competent, a powerful asset for the J.-L. Fortin company.” J. L. Fortin also liked to invite all his staff to the sugar shack every spring.

An example of originality in advertising: while the store celebrated its 49th anniversary, the house, during a sale lasting about fifteen days, coinciding with a major expansion of the store, offered to reimburse customers’ train or bus tickets according to the mileage travelled. Example: reimbursement of 100 miles for a $100 purchase, 75 miles for $75, and so on down to 20 miles for a $20 purchase, upon presentation of the return ticket.

Joseph-Louis Fortin, who was married to Eugénie Morrissette, died in 1951. One of their sons, Maurice, took over until the business closed down in 1968.

As for the photographer, Antonio Héroux, he was born in Yamachiche in 1883. The son of Victor Héroux and Onéda St-Louis, Antonio Héroux studied at the commercial college in his hometown before settling in Trois-Rivières in 1899-1900 and opening his business there, which took the name of “A. Héroux enr.”, on rue des Forges.

In 1899, Antonio Héroux married Marie Antoinette Blanche Godin at the Trois-Rivières parish church. They had five children: Georges (born in Lowell, Massachusetts), Paul, Victor-Fernand, Blanche-Cécile, and Aline.

Marie Antoinette Blanche Godin-Héroux died at Aline’s birth in May 1909. Antonio got remarried to Célina Larochelle in December 1909.

In addition to acquiring an enviable reputation, keeping up to date on the latest advances in photographic techniques, and having a clientele of choice, Antonio Héroux became president of the Association des photographes de la Vallée du Saint-Laurent and a member of the Chevaliers de Colomb.

In 1934, the staff of A. Héroux, photographe, were among the many subscribers of the torch that the Société d’arts, sciences et lettres “Le Flambeau” wanted to put up in Place Pierre-Boucher in Trois-Rivières.

Antonio Héroux died on July 13, 1937, following an illness, bequeathing his business to two of his sons, Georges and Paul Héroux.

Donation from Claudette Verrette
Musée Pierre-Boucher Collection
1995 320 F