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Chester Tittemore and Leona Lachapelle

Éric Madsen

Chester Tittemore and Leona Lachapelle  (Photo : Archives Tittemore)

Today, we’re talking with Chester Tittemore and Leona Lachapelle.

They live in a modest house in the heart of the village of Saint-Armand, in what used to be the Immigration Office near the train station of the Montreal-Boston railway.

Today, Chester is 84 years old and Leona will soon be 79. They were married on July 1st, 1950 in Bedford. They travelled to White-River Junction, Vermont for their honeymoon. Chester still remembers looking for fresh drinking water to quench his thirst. When they came back, they rented an apartment in Bedford, where Leona worked in a factory for another year before starting a family. They have six children, four girls and two boys.

After the wedding, Chester became sick ; he developed an allergy to Bedford’s water (it was already a problem for him, even during their honeymoon !), and the doctor said he could not make any strenuous effort for at least six months. To supplement the family’s needs, Chester began to work at various jobs : he became an apple peddler, a salesman for Southern Canada Power (today’s Hydro-Québec), even a bread salesman for five years. Chester was resourceful ; be also harvested tobacco that he then sold to Imperial Tobacco for 29 cents a pound.

In 1960, the couple bought Chester’s father’s 186-acre farm. The magnificent huge house had been built by Chester’s grandfather (a well-to-do school teacher) and his brother. Located on Saint-Armand Road, it took two years to build from 1899 to 1901. The house was made mainly of wood gathered from the family’s farmland and the neighbouring forest. In the first years of his fanning experience, Chester had to sell part of his drove to meet the new milk quota law. Unable to do so, he was finally forced to look for a new job. He worked for twelve years in a zipper factory in Bedford. The plant closed in 1971. For many Saint-Armand children and adults alike, Chester is well known as a pleasant and patient school bus driver. He started this new occupation in September 1974 and drove kids back and forth from school and home until 2006. Throughout those 26 years, he endured noise, shrieks, tears, rows, without ever raisi ng bis voice or becoming impatient. And his «carnet de route» is almost unspoiled, as he mentions it, with the exception of two accidents. One happened when the bus bit a s]ippery patch of manure in the road and ended up in a ditch ; the second occurred while he was waiting to make a left tum at a green light, when a provincial police cruiser driven by an inexperienced female officer bumped into the bus. Everybody in Pigeon Hill and Morses Lines area will remember the small yellow school bus driven by Chester : it was always right on time.

After his retirement, Chester felt a bit sad, sort of depressed, as he puts it. To remain active, he decided to begin producing strawberries and do some gardening in his backyard.

Did you know that nine generations of Tittemore have lived in Saint-Armand ? This must surely make this the oldest family in the municipality. The first Tittemore was Chester’s great great grand-father who settled in the Pigeon Hill area called Saint-Armand Center at that time. That was back in 1753 : two hundred and forty-five years ago ! We should have a historic plaque somewhere to commemorate this fact.

Chester remembers well a time when English-speaking people from the eastern part of Saint-Armand and the French-speaking people from the western part of Saint-Armand did not mix. This might be the reason why Chester’s and Leona’s children are all perfectly bilingual. Chester’s mother had been a school teacher in the United States, and she made sure to give her boy a good education. Chester wanted the same for his own children.

Today, Leona and Chester enjoy a peaceful retirement after having led a very busy life. Following a bad fall last year when he was knocked down by a frightened horse, Chester is now recovering well and is undergoing physiotherapy ; he hopes to harvest some sweet strawberries next Summer.

A wish that every reader of the Saint-Armand Journal hopes for him also !

Thank you Leona and Chester.

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