Community Profile

Bill & Doreen Pearce

Those in our community who live or spend time in Metis-sur-Mer surely know Bill and Doreen, a couple with deep roots and family ties in Metis. They have, over many years, supported the community through countless hours spent volunteering: Doreen was one of the original board members of HLSL, and was on the Town Hall Committee for 20 years, as well as the United Church Manse Committee. Bill has been 1st and 2nd Vice President of the Royal Canadian Legion in Mt. Joli, and still serves on its board. Happily, this community power couple is still going strong–they’re celebrating 70 years of marriage later this year.

They were married on November 10, 1954 at the Metis Beach United Church, and had their reception at the Town Hall, complete with live fiddle music and quadrille dancing. According to Doreen, the event was the last time there was a wedding with quadrille dancing at the Town Hall.

Bill had previously served in the Canadian Forces, including seeing active duty in the Korean War, and upon returning to Metis he and Doreen began “going steady.”  When asked why they chose the date of their marriage, Bill chuckles, “it’s the day before Remembrance Day, so I was sure not to forget!” Doreen adds that the truth is that Bill’s last car payment was in October of 1954, so that’s why they waited until November.

When asked about his favourite place in the Lower Saint Lawrence, the answer comes swiftly from Bill: “Metis– it’s home.” For Doreen, it’s the same and adds she feels happiest when she’s there and walking on the beach. 

Their greatest achievements? Doreen answers first, without missing a beat: “my children.” And speaking of, when asked if they have grandchildren, she replies they have 6 grandchildren, and 5 great grandchildren the oldest of whom is 13.

“We’re old!” laughs Doreen. But she also concedes they started early. By the time she was 25 she’d already had their three children. Doreen worked in the home until their youngest, Barbara, was a teenager, then took a job at a local college in the West Island of Montreal. Upon retirement, she and Bill moved back to Metis, to Riverside Cottage, which Bill had restored during his summer holidays in the 1970s and 80s. In the early 2000’s she served as one of the first board members of HLSL, alongside Jacques Bastien, and Evelyn Annett.

Bill explains his greatest achievement was becoming an aircraft maintenance engineer and getting his Canadian license to certify any Canadian registered aircraft with which he was familiar. He is filled with stories of his remarkable career; having been an aviation mechanic and foreman, and instructor doing contract training at an international level for 15 years. He also spent about a decade in and out of the Arctic servicing aircraft. There are many stories in him, and indeed, when asked what talent he wished to have, he replies, “to be an author.” 

In ‘52 he left the Canadian Army after serving in Korea. He explains “I didn’t want to be married and still be in the army.” In ‘53 he began work at Pratt & Whitney in Longueuil as a mechanic, where he saw “Mt. Joli” stamped on some of the parts which came around on a trolley. He followed that lead, and found the company Maritime Central Airways, which had a hangar in Mt. Joli. He was hired by that company in ‘55, and settled in Pointe Claire in ‘57 when the company became Nordair and was moved to the western part of the island of Montreal. In ‘58 he obtained his aircraft maintenance engineer’s license.  When asked if he ever gets nervous flying, he answers unequivocally, “no.”  He also adds that he had a good career, one he is right to be proud of.

Both Doreen and Bill cite the Golden Rule, treat others the way you would like to be treated, as their motto, with Bill adding: “and don’t expect anything in return.” As for regrets, Bill can’t think of any, and Doreen has no big regrets. She adds that she wouldn’t go back and change anything about her life. “We’ve been very, very fortunate.”