Sense of Pride
Jera Granit Inc. “It’s very easy to make a mistake so you have to pay lots of attention, lots of concentration. And you need to know the grain of the stone,” commented Rock. His father, Jacques, has worked in the trade for forty-four years, twentyfour of those with his own business. “We have about twenty workers, three of my children, son-in-laws, sisters; it’s a real family business,” said Mr. McCutcheon. “Because it’s a small business and we do everything, engraving, carving, cutting stone, polishing, our workers are ‘polyvalent’. We’re very good at personalizing headstones - that’s what people want today. A headstone is not for the person who dies; it’s for the generations after, for people going back to their roots,” explained Mr. McCutcheon.
Anyone who has worked in the industry knows that many granite jobs are dangerous. Even the open-air site of the granite symposium had its danger zones so Paul Tanguay, who worked as a forklift driver “furnishing stone” for ten years, was keeping an eye on things. “I’m helping to clean up so none of the guys get hurt,” said Mr. Tanguay.
Ben Dubois, a hand-polisher who works at Dominion Granite, has been “doing countertops” for about seven years. “When I get the piece it’s square so I put the edges on it. Then I polish it; it’s tricky to ‘match’ it. Some areas need more polishing than other areas so you get the same shininess everywhere. What I do is the last step before the countertops are installed.” Ben enjoys working with granite because every job is different and it’s challenging. “And I like seeing the countertops when they’re finished, seeing what they look like after all that work. Some people don’t realize how much work goes into it; it’s step-by-step and you’ve got to take your time.”
Although the stone is cold, all the workers spoke warmly about their chosen trade. “Every monument that I work on is personal to me, as if it could be for my mother or father. You have to have pride in your work,” said Dave Dubois. The granite industry is a very competitive one, however, there is a sense of brotherhood among granite workers, regardless of which shop they work in. Dave added: “We often share tips with other workers and even the companies sometimes work together. Our trade is a dying trade so when a young guy wants to know something about working the stone, it’s a blessing. People should remember when they look at a granite piece that it’s not a machine producing the material, it’s a man!”