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Jack of all trades has been actively involved for decades

He turned a hobby into a business
2020-09-01 Normand Verville DB
Normand Verville has been involved in French community since high school. Dariya Baiguzhiyeva/TimminsToday

Normand Verville calls himself a jack of all trades.

Verville, 64, has been actively involved in the French community in Timmins.

He's been on La Ronde’s board as a treasurer and as a president, has served as president of Club Richelieu, and helped organize the 13th annual Franco-Ontarian Games in Timmins in 2006.

Verville said he also represented francophones on a Positively Timmins committee and was involved with the Far Northeast Training Board for 15 years as a private sector employer, taking part in annual meetings, activities and surveys.

Being a part of the French culture is important to him and if French people see someone doesn’t speak the language, they will switch to English, he says.

"Francophones are like that, they will accommodate. They see there’s a need, they will fill it," he says. "And since young age, it’s in our blood."

He was born in La Sarre, Quebec, and is the second oldest in a family of six boys and three girls. His parents travelled across Cochrane, Mattice and Hearst before settling down in Timmins. Verville graduated from École secondaire catholique Thériault and has been involved with Centre Culturel La Ronde, science, photography and microphotography since high school. In Grade 13, he received an excellence award in science from Thériault and he also took part in a science exhibition where he won a first place in the senior general science category. Since then, he participated as a judge in science exhibitions at Thériault and at Science Timmins.

His teachers recommended him to study in the U.S. He worked at Kidd Creek for a year to save money and buy a used a car for travels and, fearing to study in English abroad, he enrolled at Algonquin College in Ottawa where he studied photography. During his studies, he worked part-time as a security guard at the National Gallery of Canada.

Returning to Timmins, Verville opened a photography business, shooting weddings, graduations, industrial and aerial photography. He worked there for several years before starting work as a technician, and then helping his father with his construction company for a few more years.

His volunteer work includes working with the scouts, Association of French Canadians of Ontario (ACFO), La Ronde and helping organize St-Jean-Baptiste Day and free shows in schools.

In 1979, Verville received a Franco-Ontarian Young Builder award for the Timmins region and in 1981, he was recognized for his dedication with the ACFO de Timmins.

"I was quite happy with that," he says.

In 1982, he married Judy with whom he raised two children, Alain and Christine, who now both work in Ottawa. After getting married, Verville was offered a position as the federal goverment’s employment project officer. He worked there for nine years but then decided he needed a change.

Then, he had done a few construction projects and eventually started his own wood manufacturing company, Normand Verville Enterprises, which he still owns today.

"My hobby became my business," he says.

In 2005, Verville helped raise $350,000 for Collège Boréal's student bursaries for the Timmins region and in 2008, he spearheaded a major project for the college’s new campus in Timmins, raising $1.5 million.

"On the evening of the big opening, it was my party. I felt like it was my place. It was finally happening," he says. "After that, people really had respect for me."

A year later, he was awarded Collège Boréal President’s Award for his efforts in the creation of the new Timmins campus.

"I was there to change people’s attitudes in the community," he recalls. "And it was tough because I always hit some walls."

He also managed to get funds from Club Richelieu which has donated more than $100,000 to the college. In addition, Verville was a part of Université of de Hearst’s board of directors for three years.

In his spare time, Verville likes playing golf, ping pong, billiard and pickleball.