Honouring a great man

Paul Viau, Mayor of Hemmingford Township – 2009-2021
by Susan Fisch and Benoit Bleau (June 2021)

It is with deep sadness that we received the news of the passing of Paul Viau, one of Hemmingford’s honoured sons. This community grieves with his family. He was loved and respected and will be deeply missed.

Paul was born and raised in Hemmingford. As a young man, he held a number of jobs. At a very young age he worked at a grocery store, located next door to where Rona is today. He met his wife, Nicole, there. Her mother saw him first and ran home excitedly to tell her daughter that she had just met the perfect young man for her. Nicole wasn’t looking for love at the time. But the two became good friends, and friendship blossomed into love. They were married on June 26th, 1971 and enjoyed 50 beautiful years together. In all that time, Nicole doesn’t remember a day that Paul didn’t wake up with a smile, ready to greet the day. He loved life and loved being of service.

Paul and Nicole have two beautiful children, both of whom are married, with children of their own, and living in Hemmingford. A devoted family man, he enjoyed spending time with his family. As a father and grandfather, he was a role model who taught by example. A quality that best defined him was “integrity”.

The three couples were going to celebrate their wedding anniversaries together next month – Nicole and Paul, 50 years of marriage; Paul Jr and his wife, Nathalie, 25 years; and Mélanie and her husband, Jean-Marc, 10 years. Sadly, Life had other plans.

Paul’s father, Simeon, started Boucherie Viau in 1950. It began as a large pig farm. His father, as well as Paul and his brother Lucien, went on the road selling meat. Paul was very close to his brother, and eventually the two families became partners in the business.

Then, over 20 years ago, Paul decided to go into politics. He loved Hemmingford and dedicated himself to serving the community. He had great plans for social development and wanted to see them come to fruition, not just in Hemmingford, but for the region. Among his many qualities, Paul was a natural leader, capable of mobilizing people for social development. He always found the right partners to move his projects forward and was an inspiration and guiding light to many. His ability to rally people was almost an artform. He was a hard worker with an irrepressible passion. He was highly respected and esteemed by everyone who worked with him, and many were privileged to call him, friend.

Paul began his political life as a councillor for Hemmingford Township for over ten years, and from 2009 to the present, he sat as mayor. During his tenure he worked tirelessly to promote change for the betterment of the community. Among his many achievements were, bringing the Healthcare Cooperative to Hemmingford (see photo, above), the expansion of the Industrial Park and the development of residential projects.

He also served as prefect of the MRC des Jardins-de-Napierville from 2013 to 2020, promoting change to bring about a healthier and better community for those he represented.

He was a member of the board of directors of the CLD (Centre Local de Développement) from 2009 to 2020 and sat as president from 2016 to 2020. During his tenure he brought to term a great number of projects that contributed to the development of the region, including high speed internet and bringing the Coop Santé to Hemmingford.

He also served as president of the Regional Round Table of the Montérégie and the agglomeration of Longueuil, working for social and sustainable development. He was a humanitarian who believed in people and their abilities.

Social development was very dear to his heart. In this vein, in 2016 he founded, and served as the first president of Concertation Horizon, whose mission it is to “enable the mobilization and consultation of key regional and territorial players supporting social development and educational success, thus developing a common and shared vision of the challenges and issues involved in order to meet community needs”. This organization continues to fill a very important role today.

Over the years, many people looked to Paul and depended on him for various public and personal projects. What he began to learn late in life was how to say “no”. He served his community tirelessly and with passion. And he realized he missed time spent enjoying his family. A week before his passing, he planted 125 trees for a cedar fence on his property with his son and son-in-law. His back was sore when the work was completed, but then, with the family all together, the party started. As much as he loved his work, he loved spending time with his family.

Paul never missed an opportunity to lend his support and to encourage people’s efforts. He will be greatly missed by this community. We wish to extend our deepest and sincerest condolences to his wife, Nicole, to his children, Paul and Mélanie and their respective families, and to his close friends, who are missing his presence.