Q: Tell us a little about yourself and your history in The Pas.
A: Sure, I was was born and raised in The Pas. In 2003 I bought the Lido from my Dad and ever since I spent a lot of time living and working in The Pas. I do spend a lot of time working out of town as a consultant for other organizations too. Growing up in The Pas taught me a lot about community and the importance of doing what is best for our town.
My great-grandfather, “Irish,” came to Canada from France in 1903 and settled in The Pas in 1911. Being a part of a family that is has been here for 5 generations is an honour and I think it is important to remember where we come from, the struggles of the past can teach us a lot for our present and future.
Q: The Lido has been in our community for generations, and for a lot of us is a huge part of our community history and pride. What do you feel about its significance to our community culture?
A: Wow, that’s a huge question! I am honoured to be the current owner of the Lido and “the preserver" of its long and storied history. Each generation of my family has made the choice to stay heavily invested in our community, with the Lido and other properties. We’ve each done our best to keep the Lido thriving for nearly 90 years, so I guess it’s in my blood. People sometimes ask me if I felt any pressure to buy it, and I really didn’t. I really wanted to be a part of the Lido and to help it thrive for years and years.
In terms of it’s significance to our community as a whole, I don’t even know where to begin. So many people have had there first jobs, watched their first movies, went on their first dates, met their best friends, husbands, wives, etc, and all at the Lido. Occasionally people stop by asking to look inside, people who were stationed here in WWII or who lived here in long ago and we get to talk about the ‘ol days, that is one of the best feelings, being part of something much larger than any one person or any one family. There are very few things as intertwined into the history of The Pas as the Lido.
The Lido was here through the Great Depression, it was here for through WWII providing news of the front and some distraction to those left in town, including the Airmen stationed here. The Lido was here through the 60s breaking stigmas by hosting Indian Days, it was there through the biker “wars” of the 70s too. Literally every year or decade there is something that is really interesting about the community and the Lido is often inter-twinned within the stories.
How can a person even qualify that sort of cultural significance? I don’t know that I can. I just hope that we can make the right choices and find the support to keep the Lido going for another 90 years.
Q: With the recent mill uncertainty, there seems to be a lot more focus on the importance of supporting local, and even more so locally-owned business. What are your thoughts? What are some of the challenges the Lido has had to endure?
A: The mill news is both shocking and sad, we all feel for those that are personally affected. The mill staff are, obviously, going to be the most directly affected and my thoughts go out to those that it may be really rough for.
Generally speaking, we will all be affected, the Lido likely will be and so will all the other local businesses. We all have choices that we can make to support local businesses and rejuvenate lasting local growth.
We can band together and support local business people with our dollars and cents to grow through this to better times, if we all make the right daily choices. I think, generally, all people in the community ought to realize that it is the result of all of our little decisions that gets us wherever we are today or wherever we will be in the future.
The Lido is a business that depends on peoples' disposable income. Each and every time there is a local economic downturn we have to take steps to make sure we will survive. The Lido has been through the Great Depression, WWII, Television, Cable, Movie Channels, Home Video, Video on demand, and now the internet and downloading. Each time the business needs to change, to adapt, to stay relevant.
When I was younger I once asked my Dad why I couldn’t just buy a bunch of stuff in Winnipeg since it was cheaper. He then explained that we shop locally to make sure that those businesses are there when we need them. He explained that we may be able to save a few dollars by buying what we know we will need out of town, but then he asked “What do you do when you really need that store to exist in The Pas?”.
We were talking about hardware at the time and he was right. We could save a small amount of money purchasing our regular things like lightbulbs or cleaning supplies out of town. However, one day we would really need to be able to go to the hardware store for something crucial and we would need it to be there and open. If everyone collectively keeps, or starts, only looking out for themselves by spending as much as possible out of town then it only makes sense that our services and the availability of products will dwindle over time. On the other hand, imagine how awesome it would be if we all made a real effort to shop locally. That would be really powerful and would create lasting prosperity for everyone and for the region, town, OCN, the RM, all of us would benefit in the long run. I ask myself often, “What is the best for all people involved”, it’s kind of a family mantra. In the long run, supporting one another will always be more powerful then trying to go it alone.
Q: You being a very busy businessperson has you on the road quite a bit. However, I know you keep your home here. In your opinion, what are the positives about our community?
A: There are so many positives! The people that are here supporting one another are great. Not many people waste hours and hours each week commuting for their jobs, which is a local perk. The lake, those gorgeous lakes! The access to nature and the outdoors is amazing and second to none. I am really optimistic about the future of the region because there seems to be more and more people willing to help one another for the betterment of all. Our sense of community is already really strong, I think it can get stronger still. I am hopeful that with community leadership and vision we will all prosper for a very long time. Maybe I’m a bit of a dreamer, but I don’t see any reason why our communities can’t improve how we work together and really create some positive momentum.
Q: What is your outlook for The Pas, Opaskwayak, RM of Kelsey?
A: I have a positive outlook for our future. I think we are seeing changes in leadership, that people are realizing that both their daily actions and their votes matter. People are starting to understand that each dollar they spend is another form of a vote for that business or service. I also see that there are people doing their best to keep government accountable and try to shed some light on things. I know that in the near term we are going to go through some challenges. We have infrastructure that needs attention, our taxes are high, but at the same time people are demanding more and more services. We can’t expect to have all the wonderful services, perfect roads, etc and at the same time expect our taxes to go down.
What we can do is all work together towards a greater sense of pride in our communities. Lets concentrate on what we can do something about. Thirty years ago there was no issue with snow on the side walks in the downtown or elsewhere. People didn’t shovel the snow because they had to, or because they were afraid of the fine they might get if they didn’t, they shovelled because they had pride in their community and property. They also didn’t expect the town to spend thousands and thousands removing it. I know this may sound cheesy to some but…. Imagine if all the energy put into complaining or trying to make someone else solve a problem was redirected to doing something about it. I have a choice, we all do. I can go for coffee for an hour with my friends and complain that someone should do something about the snow on the side walk or I can go shovel for 10 minutes.
Q: Final thoughts?
A: Thank you for doing this! In the coming months we will all have to work together and help each other out. Many of the local business people have poured their heart, soul, and bank accounts into their businesses and it’s nice to shine some light on their investments and hard work. People often think that business people have it easy, which isn’t the case. All the business people have made huge sacrifices, massive investments, worked extremely hard, and have taken risks to get where they are. Here’s hoping that we can all find a way to support one another in both the near future and the long run. Whether it is with our dollars or other supports, we can all help the people who have been here and will remain invested here. I know the Lido could grow, do more, and give back more to the community. We just need to keep seeing that support from our loyal customers, newcomers, and people looking for a chance to work somewhere that truly is a pillar of the community. Last, but certainly not least, a huge Thank You goes out to all our customers, staff, partners, and peers. We’ve had the privilege of serving the people of the region for nearly 90 years and we certainly didn’t get here without a lot of people’s support and dedication.
For more information about the Lido Theatre, please visit lidotheatre.ca.