Work is health, and at 81, the shoemaker from Côte-de-Beaupre, near Quebec, doesn’t intend to stop, even though he works six days a week to meet the needs of his customers.
Jean-Marie Simard, owner of Cardonnerie JMS on Avenue Royal in Saint-Joachim, will celebrate her 82nd birthday on December 8. Before becoming a shoemaker, he held many jobs in various fields.
Apprentice Carpenter, Surveying Assistant, Stationary Engine Mechanic, Mr. Simard is definitely a jack-of-all-trades.
“I was a natural. When you achieve the seemingly impossible, that is success. Each a job Satisfies. It’s in me. I am happy like that,” said the main interested party.
When he lived in Saint-Tite-des-Caps, Mr. Simard saw a “for sale” sign in front of his municipality’s shoe repair shop. During that time, he commuted daily to Quebec to work at the Cégep de Sainte-Foy, where he oversaw equipment maintenance.
“I told myself I wanted to retire early there. I went to see the owner to make him an offer. I asked him to train me as a cobbler for six months. He found my project interesting and I became a shoemaker.”
The Court of Miracles
This pre-retirement project continues even after thirty years.
“I love learning shoemaking, but Saint-Tite is too young to do just shoemaking. So we did the padding too. I took with six employees. I went to Quebec, Baie-Saint-Paul, La Malbaie to bid for restaurants and hotels. It was a great experience for me.”
In 2002, Mr. Simard sold his business for his “real” retirement. Unfortunately, it fell during the bursting of the tech bubble, which sent stock prices plummeting. He divested his investments and invested in real estate to buy him 24 houses. He took care of maintenance and repairs.
The antidote to aging
After some years he got bored. He sold his buildings and reopened his shoemaking workshop in Saint-Joachim in 2008.
“People often say that I work miracles. I answer them: “It’s normal, we’re in Sainte-Anne!”, he said.
Mr. Simard repairs everything imaginable. He is in his workshop from 8 am to 5 pm on weekdays and till noon on Saturdays.
“I never counted my hours,” he said.
“Work prevents aging. It forces me to be alert all the time. It forces the memory to work. I am lucky because I am complete In order!”
“I will work as long as my health allows. “If I’m not sick, I’ll work as a cobbler until I’m 100,” he concluded with a smile.