Businessman and member of the Panthéon des sports du Québec, Bernard Trottier has helped more than one generation of Olympic athletes.
In particular, he provided financial support to two champions, Peter Duncan and Jean-Guy Brunet. Some Sundays, to raise funds, he found himself passing the hat on the steps of the Saint-Sauveur church.
His considerable involvement with Alpine Ski Canada allowed the “Crazy Canucks” to write the history of Canadian alpine skiing on the international scene. He was also part of the group that launched Équipe Québec in freestyle skiing.
Today, his best moments are when a former athlete thanks him for the financial help he gave them. Over the years, he has donated nearly a million dollars to athletes.
You are originally from Montreal.
I was born in the Saint-Henri neighborhood before moving to live on Parthenais Street, south of Ontario Street. As you often say: “in the Loisirs Saint-Eusèbe district”.
You were the bat handler for Jackie Robinson, the first African American to play major league baseball.
In 1946, the Royals played at De Lorimier stadium, located a few minutes walk from my house, where Pierre-Dupuy high school is located today.
Describe Jackie Robinson to me.
For starters, he was a real baseball player. Jackie Robinson, I describe him as a generous person, and with a kindness towards me that I consider today to be unforgettable.
The influence of your parents.
My father, Drummond, and my mother, Rosealma, had eight children. My father was a blacksmith and taught me the importance of hard work. While my mother, an excellent cook, made sure that the children lacked nothing.
Your first jobs.
I had three jobs at the same time. I delivered beer and orders for the Gravel grocery store. I still remember climbing the steps in the snow to the third floor. I was a peddler and sold popcorn at outdoor wrestling galas.
You sold popcorn at wrestling nights.
Where the Lafleur restaurant is located, on Ontario Street, a little east of De Lorimier, there was a small outdoor wrestling amphitheater right in front of the stadium where the Royals played.
The wrestlers were fighting in the street.
Some nights, after the Royals game, the wrestlers would fight in the street. The tram had to stop. The fans had invaded the street to form a circle around the wrestlers.
You moved to Ontario to work with your brother.
At 15, I worked part-time at Omer DeSerres, in the ski equipment sales section. At 16, I was a pipe fitter and my brother operated a sprinkler business in Ontario.
You played baseball for Plateau Mont-Royal.
I played baseball for the Plateau until the late and legendary baseball player Fred Spada brought me back to play with the Maisonneuve team in east Montreal. Previously, I was part of the Champêtre team, from Saint-Aloysius, which was made up mainly of English-speaking players. Besides, I didn’t speak English and, even worse, I didn’t understand anything. Then I played for Saint-Clement Parish.
Former Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda was your manager.
Fred Spada made me join the Spokane team at the AAA level and that allowed me to learn to speak English. The manager was the colorful Tommy Lasorda. However, the magical moment of this season was the time I faced Quebec pitcher Claude Raymond.
Did you play hockey?
I was playing with my friends in the street. On the other hand, I played a lot at Jean-Baptiste-Meilleur high school. There was an outdoor skating rink in the schoolyard and sometimes we competed with the religious people who were also our teachers.
You were kicked out of your school’s hockey program.
A regulation specified that it was forbidden to check a monk when he wore his cassock to play. This has happened to me too often when I don’t follow these rules. Result: I was banned from the hockey program.
Your winter sport later became skiing.
I started on the site of the current Olympic Stadium, then on the slopes of Mount Royal, the University of Montreal and Maisonneuve Park, before being part of the Laurentides ski competition team. .
Your first skis were planks of wood from a barrel.
There was a landfill not far from my house. I collected barrels to make my skis from wooden planks. Without realizing it, I had just created the first ballet skis because of the width of my skis.
Your children continue the family tradition.
My daughter Brigitte and my son Robert manage the Ski Town equipment store in Brossard. I am so proud of them, because they continue the family mission of financially supporting our Quebec athletes.
You worked in Tremblant.
I gave ski lessons, I also organized parties and even weddings. Sometimes I left Montreal by bus with a group of women. I met my future wife there, Pierrette. Sometimes, instead of skiing, the group got together to visit the dance halls. However, when she got home, she put snow on the harnesses, because they were her brother’s skis and she wanted him to think she had skied.
Continuing your education is important.
I am proud of the athletes’ successes. But the most important thing for me is that they continue their studies.