Jean-Pierre Ranger, Parc Safari
by Susan Fisch (June 2019)
On the outskirts of Hemmingford is a jewel that prospers our region and the province. Since its opening in July 1972, visitors have come from everywhere to discover the magical experience of an African Safari nestled in a Québec countryside.
For us, Hemmingfordians, and surrounding areas, Parc Safari has been a wondrous outing with our young school-aged children or grandchildren, and with our friends and relatives from elsewhere. For our teenaged children, it has also represented their first summer jobs, a place to earn money and learn first-hand how the employment culture works.
The man at the helm is Jean-Pierre Ranger. Born in Montreal in 1943, he spent all the summers and weekends of his first 14 years at his uncle’s farm in St-Henri-de-Mascouche. At 5 years old, he picked strawberries for the nuns, who paid him $.01 per container. It was the beginning of his business career.
He studied social sciences and communications. In 1968, as a representative for the 1970 Osaka World Expo, he visited 63 countries. In 1972 he was hired by Hardwicke Companies Inc of New York as Marketing Manager, to launch Parc Safari here in Quebec, and four parks in Europe. In 1983, Dave Jackson and two associates purchased the Parc. Jean-Pierre and his wife, Marie, assumed marketing responsibilities as consultants. In 1991, Dave Jackson sold his shares to John Moran, Danny Kyle and Jean-Pierre. In 1997, due to differences of vision concerning future developments, Jean-Pierre left to work on a project in China, and later ran Space Camp Canada. In April 2002, with the financial help of the CLD and 19 investors from the region, he purchased Parc Safari. Since then. $18M has been invested in renovating or erecting new animal buildings and improving guest-related services. In April 2018, the Québec Government gave $12M to the Friends of Parc Safari Foundation, which will allow renovations totalling $24M over a 4-year period, leading to Parc Safari’s 50th anniversary.
Jean-Pierre and Marie have been married for 51 years. They have three daughters – Catherine, Stéphanie and Véronique. The family has travelled around the world more than once. All three daughters are very accomplished and have contributed to the success of the Parc.
Catherine studied to be a geological engineer. She has been an avid mountain climber. I had the privilege of reading about her ascent of Aconcagua in the Andes … a journey fraught with physical hardships and danger. She comes by her passion honestly. One of Jean-Pierre’s favorite means of relaxation and staying fit is hiking. In fact, 3 years ago, at the invitation of the Tibetan authorities, he followed in the footsteps of George Mallory for a 5 km walk to Mount Everest Base Camp.
Stéphanie has degrees in design, creative arts and marine robotics. She has been responsible for the embellishment of the Parc. She designed the Dolphins Lagoon and the Bird Garden and redesigned the Parc’s restaurant menus, to the delight of visitors. Other projects are waiting in the wings.
Véronique, the youngest, has degrees in literature, dance and animal husbandry. She has worked at the Parc for the past 15 years, involved in everything from administration, to zoology, to shows. Dance is her recreation and she still performs two shows a year with her professional troupe, Scream Academy. She will be taking the reins when JeanPierre officially retires, “… not before the Parc turns 50”, insists Jean-Pierre. At 35, she is currently Vice President and General Manager. Meanwhile, Jean-Pierre has many years of experience and understanding to impart to Véronique.
Véronique has been trying to convince her dad to take at least one day off a week. He maintains that when you go to work to play, it’s hard to retire. He claims that he never worked a day in his life: if a job became too constrictive, he went where he could find his” joie de vivre”. Conflicts give you headaches, cancers and scars.
The on-going plans to modernize Parc Safari are measures to ensure that it’s future is secured. Perhaps Jean-Pierre will consider a second career – writing his memoirs or giving conferences about his vast travel experiences and the fascinating people he met along the way.
We wish Jean-Pierre, his family and Parc Safari many more years at promoting, not only the Parc, but the region he calls home since leaving Mascouche.