In love with Scotstown
Chantal Ouellet was only supposed to be in Scotstown when she came to live there with her husband in the late 70’s. Fate has decided otherwise and our winner of the Estrie Mérite, by nature implied and conciliatory, is She became the first municipal councilor and the first mayor of the village, completing important projects in addition to flying to the rescue of the municipal apparatus in troubled times.
M me Ouellet laughs when she recalls the circumstances that led to inhabit Scotstown while she was in her mid-twenties. The woman, who grew up in Saint-Éleuthère, in the Bas-Saint-Laurent, before living in Montreal, the Abitibi and the Outaouais, did not intend to stay under the starry sky of Mount Megantic for a long time.
“When I fell in love with my husband, he already had a house in Scotstown. For me, it was at the other end of the world, I had never set foot in the Eastern Townships and I wanted to stay on the South Shore, she says, ensuring that she quickly succumbed to the charms of the village. The project of finding a home elsewhere was soon abandoned and we started to integrate into the community. ”
As the village had about 1000 people at the time, their arrival in 1976 did not go unnoticed. On the other hand, his tendency to get involved in different associations and organizations has attracted the attention of important actors in the community, which has opened doors for him.
“I joined the Cercle des fermières and other committees shortly after I arrived. Seeing my involvement and the new blood that I brought to the village, Léo Désilet asked me to introduce myself as municipal councilor in the 1978 election. ”
“I did not think I was up to it and my profile was not the most appealing to voters: I was the 28-year-old hippie from the big city who had long hair to the bottom, who was not a practitioner and was a separatist, she recalls. Despite this, I was elected by three small votes after a recount and I obtained the mandate of recreation to the municipality. My first achievement was to create the municipal library, which is still open. ”
From Councilor to Mayor
Defeated in the next election, Ms. Ouellet took a break from municipal politics. Her absence was short-lived because she was chosen by outgoing mayor Bertrand Bergeron to take over. She accepted and became, without opposition, the first Mayor of Scotstown in 1986.
“I was honored that Mr. Bergeron thinks I was a good candidate to replace him when he left,” she says. Immediately when I was elected, I swore to do two terms at most, although I wanted to develop several projects in the village and in the region. ”
During her two terms, with the help of her team and the support of the public, the mayor has developed the Scotstown Arborium and has installed a sewage treatment system. She also led the creation of the Samuel-Brisson Reserve, Mont-Mégantic National Park and the development of the area of Franceville, Walter-MacKenzie Park and the Marécage-des-Scots Regional Park. Although the economic reality of the time pushed several large employers to close their factory in the village, she was able to help the inhabitants of the village to remain proud of their hamlet.
“I will always remember the morning when I learned about the closure of Shermag. I shed tears in my office, we learned at the same time as the employees, a Monday morning, without warning. It was another blow for workers after the closure of Guelph. But despite the departure of several families, the village has managed to get up. ”
An unexpected return
Completely satisfied at the end of her two terms as mayor, Chantal Ouellet kept her promise to herself and withdrew from municipal life in 1994. The development of Mont Mégantic was initiated and a successor entered in office. However, disturbances occurred within the municipal apparatus in the early 2000s, causing her return to the scene despite herself.
“When the councilors resigned en bloc, people in the village asked me to come back. There was a lot of instability and I did another term as mayor from 2002 to 2005. I was elected to take over from another troubled mandate in 2011 and I stayed in office for a fifth and final mandate thereafter. ”
At the end of her journey in municipal politics, Ms. Ouellet was awarded several prizes, including two Lieutenant Governor’s Medals and the Elsie-Gibbons and Ann-MacLean Awards, presented by the Federation of Quebec and Canadian Municipalities respectively. .
“I’m proud to be the first woman to hold these positions, but I’m more proud of what we did for Scotstown,” she says. I have always made decisions with the interests of the village and the people at heart. I would have liked to pursue other projects, including the merger of the five municipalities of Mont Mégantic, but I am proud of what I accomplished for the citizens during my mandates. ”
Native of Bas-Saint-Laurent
Completes his studies in leisure
Settles in Scotstown in 1976
Was elected city councilor in 1978 and mayor in 1986
Received two Lieutenant Governor’s Medals