Just before the holiday, at the last council meeting of the year, Gerald “Gerry” Dicaire received a certificate commemorating his 35 years of service with the Town of Hawkesbury. Although Dicaire, 59, could have taken his retirement two years ago, he prefers to continue and push his career until he’s 65. After 35 years, going to work is still something he looks forward to.
His career began in 1981, when he was hired as a part-time occasional aid with three other candidates. In 1982, the council at the time decided to let go of two of them and keep Dicaire in a temporary position; today, he holds the title of Superintendent of Municipal Buildings.
“I was always at the recreation department. I was born just behind the old arena on Laflèche Street and I spent my childhood going through the park to play at the arena. I even worked with the previous arena manager, Mr Lecompte, so a lot of people are comparing me to him,” says Dicaire. “The sports complex opened in 1979. During high school I also worked as a park monitor, so technically, I’ve been involved in recreation in Hawkesbury for much more than 35 years.”
“Every Monday I come in with a smile on my face. Retirement was supposed to be two years ago, but I love my job so much, it would be like leaving a family. And the people know! Some residents still call me directly for equipment or rental requests and I have to tell them that there is a director now, so people need to go through the proper channels. I’ve been here so long, people think I’m part of the furniture!”
Since 1982, Dicaire has seen his fair share of councils and recreation directors. This is an election year, and he will see a new council rise in the fall. But after 35 years, he’s always been able to adapt to the changes required by councils. There have been rough patches, but for Dicaire, it’s the employees he gets to work with that anchor him.
“I’m very lucky to have them with me on a daily basis. Hopefully it’s reciprocal,” he laughed.
His office is at the sports complex, but he’s always on the move. The Town of Hawkesbury has seven parks, and he and his team take care of all of them. What he appreciates from the current council is their recognition of his work towards the creation of the multi-functional room. By having two ice rinks and with hockey in decline, the rinks were only used half the time.
“The old council didn’t want to take the decision to close the secondary ice rink. I approached this council in their first year, and they were hesitant at first. They even left the boards in at the beginning, because they promised to reopen the secondary ice rink. Today, these councillors thank me for creating the multi-functional room; it’s being used every day by tons of people. But I understand their hesitation, it’s not very popular to close ice rinks!” said Dicaire.
He calls the multi-functional room one of his proudest achievements – seeing the room being used daily brings him purpose. His primary goal for the room was to let residents walk for free, but tennis has also become popular.
The cost of the room is much lower than running an extra ice rink. LED lights were put in to further lower the cost of electricity. Schools come to play soccer in the middle of the room, surrounded by nets, so that walkers and runners can still enjoy the tracks; there are also plans for future activities that the room can host.
“I know that Nicole Trudeau, Director of the Recreation Department, is looking for grants to install a climbing wall. So the adventure is not over. The beauty of this is that it’s open 7 days a week from 7 am to 10 pm. It’s also great for shows, Bobby Lalonde did an amazing job soundproofing the room. As a project, it’s really my baby, and the jewel of my 35 years of service,” concluded Dicaire.