Biography

Michèle Bohec (Lavoie) was born in Montreal on October 21, 1952. Her father was a postal clerk and her mother was a homemaker. She was the youngest of three daughters. As a child, she always managed to get her way and always achieved what she set out to do. It was clear that she was instinctively business-minded and was a skilled negotiator from a very early age. She attended Marguerite D’Youville primary school and earned her high school diploma from the Institut Belletête de Montreal.

In 1967, she met Serge Bohec, the man who would become her husband four years later..

In 1964, when Serge Bohec was 16 years old, he and his father immigrated to Canada from Brittany and settled in the Montreal region. Immediately upon their arrival, both father and son knocked on the door of La Pâtisserie Bélair where the owner agreed to offer them room and board and hired Serge to be a dishwasher in the pastry shop. It was in this very kitchen that Serge made his first batch of “North-American madeleines” which earned him the job of pastry cook. But this merely marked the awakening of his entrepreneurial spirit as he soon set off to start his own business — making his famous madeleines.

Upon starting his venture in 1964 — cooking twelve madeleines at a time in his home oven — Serge marketed his little cakes by offering them to his neighbors and their response was overwhelmingly positive. A year later, he began producing higher volumes of cakes by installing a pizza oven in the basement of the home his parents had rented. And so “La Petite Bretonne” was born.

Serge met Michèle late in 1967. She was to quickly become his greatest collaborator.

In 1969, they moved the business to a larger space on Boulevard des Laurentides in Laval and began to expand their product line. Two years later, from inside their small factory, came the very first Canadian production line to make croissants.

In 1972, Michèle and Serge had their first child, their daughter Annick, who years later became the model for the La Petite Bretonne logo

The year 1976 was an important one for Michèle. They moved the business to a newly acquired building on Bouleard Curé-Labelle in Blainville which allowed La Petite Bretonne to modernize its production.

In 1978, Michèle and Serge’s second child was born, a son they named Dominique who is now the business’ vice-president.

Michèle was quick to get involved in the Blainville community through the business association known as Association des gens d’affaires de Groulx (AGAG). This organisation had been established on November 30, 1979 under the name Association des hommes et femmes d’affaires de Blainville–Ste-Thérèse. By 1981, Michèle had been elected vice-president and after three years serving as such, was elected president in 1984.

As president, she mandated herself to merge the AGAG and the Boisbriand Chamber of Commerce in order to form the new Groulx Chamber of Commerce, known today as the Chambre de commerce et d’industrie Thérèse-de-Blainville (CCITB). In March 1985, she was quoted in the Courrier de Ste-Thérèse newspaper as saying “I hope to achieve this mandate before the end of my term in June.”

Sure enough, by May 1985, Michèle Bohec successfully fulfilled this ambitious mandate with the help of Francine Côté-Paquin, president of the Boisbriand Chamber of Commerce. And so was born the Groulx Chamber of Commerce.

In June 1985, as outgoing president and first chairwoman of the Groulx Chamber of Commerce, Michèle Bohec had the honor of bestowing the very first “Personality of the Year Prize” during the Chamber’s annual gala event. This prestigious event has since become tradition for the region’s business community and to this day the gala remains an event not to be missed.

Her continued involvement in the region led her to vie for a political position when, in 1985, she presented herself as municipal councillor candidate in Blainville’s 5th district, Notre-Dame-de-l’Assomption, as a member of the Gamache Team. Alas, the initiative bore little fruit since the Gamache Team lost the elections on November 3 of that year.

Michèle Bohec continued to serve as chairwoman of the Groulx Chamber of Commerce during the years preceding her passing. She also served as organizer for hundreds of business dinners at which a wide range of important personalities were invited to speak.

On February 16, 1988, at the age of 35, Michèle Bohec passed away from lung cancer. She was a woman recognized for her great generosity and as someone who adored being surrounded by her loved ones. Charismatic, congenial and full of zeal, she relentlessly invested herself fully and completely in the projects upon which she embarked. For those who knew her and loved her, she was the personification of joie de vivre.

 

Her Legacy

After her passing, the Groulx Chamber of Commerce honored Michèle Bohec for her involvement in the region’s business community by renaming the Personality of the Year Prize to “The Michèle-Bohec Prize”. In June 1988, Serge Bohec had the honor of bestowing upon its recipient the very first Michèle-Bohec Prize.

To this day, the Michèle-Bohec Prize is bestowed each year during the Hommage à la Réussite gala of the Chambre de commerce et d’industrie Thérèse-de-Blainville to a recipient having made significant contributions to the region, particularly in terms of investment and job creation but also through the sharing of a vision promoting human resource development, environmental development, sustainable development or other such innovation.

Since the establishment of the Chamber of Commerce,
the recipients of the Personality of the Year Prize
(1985 to 1987) and the Michèle-Bohec Prize
(1988 onwards) are as follows:
[select the years to see the reipients]

On January 8, 1990, to pay tribute to the woman who had made such a tremendous mark on the Blainville community, Mr. Pierre Gingras, 5th District Councillor, proposed a motion to change the name of Boulevard Belestre to Boulevard Michèle-Bohec. This boulevard is today the very center of Blainville’s transport network.

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