Enregistrement par Cornelius Jaenen d'un interview avec Léon Dupuis. This recording is an interview session with Leon Dupuis. It was recorded by a research assistant working for Professor Cornelius Jaenen. In this recording, Leon Dupuis begins by outlining his birth and education. He shares stories about his time at military college and service during WWI in artillery and engineering. He then discusses his business pursuits following WWI in Western Canada. An employee of the Federation of Belgium Industries, Dupuis was sent to Vancouver to research market conditions and to strategize on how to bring Belgian supplies to the Canadian market. During the Great Depression, Dupuis returned home to Belgium and was made Secretary General of the Exposition in Antwerp in 1930. Following the Great Depression, Dupuis returned to Vancouver and started a business with his partners (Andre Laloux, Director of the Société du Générale du Banque in Belgium, and Renee...
Ce document a été traité le 10 octobre 2019 dans le cadre du projet de numérisation des enregistrements sonores par Sarah Story. Story a créé le journal d'enregistrement sonore en 2020.
Le projet de numérisation a été financé par Bibliothèque et Archives Canada.
Scope and Content
Enregistrement par Cornelius Jaenen d'un interview avec Léon Dupuis. This recording is an interview session with Leon Dupuis. It was recorded by a research assistant working for Professor Cornelius Jaenen. In this recording, Leon Dupuis begins by outlining his birth and education. He shares stories about his time at military college and service during WWI in artillery and engineering. He then discusses his business pursuits following WWI in Western Canada. An employee of the Federation of Belgium Industries, Dupuis was sent to Vancouver to research market conditions and to strategize on how to bring Belgian supplies to the Canadian market. During the Great Depression, Dupuis returned home to Belgium and was made Secretary General of the Exposition in Antwerp in 1930. Following the Great Depression, Dupuis returned to Vancouver and started a business with his partners (Andre Laloux, Director of the Société du Générale du Banque in Belgium, and Renee Pirlot, an industrialist). Dupuis had great success in business shipping Belgian supplies (e.g. steel, cement, glass) to Western Canada and particularly in marketing of 24” structural steel beams for railways. He returned to Belgium during WWII. Following the war, however, Dupuis did not continue business as the Canadian market changed significantly in the post-WWII years. Dupuis became a Belgian Consul. This interview provides details of Dupuis personal and business experiences, as well as the names of other Belgians and business leaders that he had involvement with. Please note: C2018 (Interview avec Leon Dupuis) provides a dictation of notes and reflections by Cornelius Jaenen’s research assistant about this interview session conducted with Leon Dupuis. The notes clarify stories and provide further information that was shared by Dupuis in interview. [-60:34] Interview set up. [-60:17] Interviewee states that he was born on January 18th, 1893 in Sansel, [Belgium] at the foot of a chateau. He explains that he started kindergarten at this place. [-59:18] Interviewee explains that he attended a “famous” Jesuit college (middle school) in 1904 called the Collège Notre-Dame de la Paix. Upon his graduation in 1910, he entered military school in Bruxelles. [-57:53] Interviewee elaborates on how the military school operated. He officially became an engineer in July 1914. He talks about the beginning of WWI. He tells stories about his experiences fighting against the Germans. He was captured and escaped the Germans in December 1914. He entered England with a false passport that he made. [-51:13] Interviewee brings out a medal “silver dollar” used to create the false passport to show it to the interviewer. He begins to tell the story of the “silver dollar”. [-50:13] Interviewee explains that Germans ransacked homes during the war. After WWI, a farmer ploughing his field near Flanders found his father’s [academic] medal and returned it to him. The farmer had initially thought that it was a silver dollar, but after he realized it was not and not worth anything, he returned it. Interviewee had used this medal to make a seal for his false passport. He lost the passport. He arrived in London and reported to the military leader. [-48:19] Pause (Interviewee leaves to find an item to show interviewer.) [-47:44] Interviewee shows interviewer his “matricule” (registration number). [-47:14] Interviewee explains that he was both an engineer and in artillery during WWI. He elaborates on it. [-46:50] Interviewee shows interviewer a ring with their date of marriage engraved inside the ring (April 14, 1921). [-46:05] Interviewee explains that he was in the frontline, starting in 1915. He was serving with the Canadian Army as it was short of artillery. Belgians had no guns to hold the fortress at Antwerp. The Canadians were hit with gas at Ypres. An artillery regiment was formed. The French gave them 75mm guns, the Canadians supplied the horses, and the Belgians supplied the crew to defend the fortress. The coronel reported to Canada, but the men were all foreigners. [-42:20] Interviewee talks about the 15th regiment in Belgium. Interviewee says at the end of 1915, the Canadians were fighting on their own and the regiment disbanded. [-39:50] Interviewee explains that he was a good rider. He shows the interviewer a photo, which was taken in 1921. [-38:55] Interviewee explains that he was with the 15th Regiment until the end of the war, until he was “condemned to death by the doctor” in 1920. He was captain at this time. Afterward, he joined the Committee Central de [?]. [-37:44] Interviewee explains that he was sent to Egypt and then to Italy as a spy. [-37:02] Interviewee says that he was stationed in Egypt from December 1924 to the end of 1925. He was then sent on a mission to prospect in Syria, Algeria, Morocco, and Marrakesh. He was then sent on a mission to prospect in Western Canada as a volunteer, but his expenses were paid. He was called back during at the start of the Great Depression instead of paying him to stay in Vancouver. [-34:36] Interviewee explains why they choose to post him in Vancouver not another city. He also talks about his jurisdiction stretching from Vancouver to Manitoba. He was searching for cheap freight. [-33:41] Interviewee states he recalled the name of the person who built the beet sugar refinery in Winnipeg and goes to get the paper with this name. He mentions the Desjardins name as the developer in St. Boniface. He states that [they?] brought people to Canada to work in the sugar beet industry. [-30:55] Interviewee talks about a cream separator made by Maillot, a Belgium company. It was sold across the Prairie Provinces. Later on, Canadians made their own and out-competed Maillot. [-30:44] Interviewee talks about the operation of a cream separator. Skim milk and fish oil or vegetable or corn oil and reconstitute the milk and replace it with another fat. It was making a difference in pigs and calves. It became a very popular invention. It later disappeared from the market as soon as Canadian industry starting making it. [-29:30] Interviewee talks about being in Vancouver and seeing 5 railcars of wire (barbed wire, fencing wire, other types of wire) for United Grower in Edmonton and one boat unloading carrot, peas and [?]. Interviewee believed that there was room in the market for the British. However, Dominion Steel and Coal had their own plant and fencing and wire business in Eastern Canada and wanted to maintain control over the Canadian market. Interviewee states that he was “not liked by Dominion Steel and Coal” [as he opened the market?] He begins talking about his education. [-26:14] Interviewee returns to speaking about the German occupation and how he began to make contact with the industry. The Commission of Control was supposed to regulate Germany and ensure they were not making ammunition. He became an assistant to check on or monitor the industry in Germany. [-24:27] Interviewee talks about monitoring a German clock manufacturer in Stuttgart. He reported the company. [-22:48] Interviewee explains that he was removed from the army and upset about it. [-21:49] Interviewee explains what prompted him to join the [?] society. The society was full of former officers. He talks about the head of the society, [?] [Marpon?], who was a major in the Belgian artillery during WWI and later became the president of the company that put a bridge across the Nile in Egypt. [-19:24] Interviewee talks about the buildings he built in Vancouver with the steel that he provided, including the marine building, Vancouver Hotel, medical buildings, the Royal bank of Canada (Hastings), and post office. Dominion Bridge was his key customer. They supplied Dominion Bridge with 24” beams that were 40 ft long that were used for railway crossings. He explains that not too many beams could be moved at one time. In Eastern Canada, the steel market was different, and the rule was buy from Canadian suppliers first. When Algoma began to make 16, 10- and 8-foot beams, they told him [Eastern Canadians?] would not buy from him. [-16:45] Interviewee explains that WWII completely transformed the market. Everything was in commission with the government buying everything. Industry expanded. Canadians became more competitive [and even monitored closely the dump?]. [-14:56] Interviewee states that he pushed several American steel companies out of the Canadian market with his Belgian steel, the two biggest being United States Steel and Bethlehem Steel. He talks about the Vancouver and Churchill Ports. [-13:50] Interviewee explains that he shipped steel through Churchill in July (2-3 boats), beginning around 1935 or 1936. [-12:15] Interviewee is asked about other Belgians in Vancouver. The name Turlinden is mentioned and he says, “Be careful. I do not want that to be recorded.” [-12:04] Interviewee talks about Belgian Relief Farms. He names individuals involved, e.g. Mrs. Longmuir, Mrs. Rosie (daughter of General Stewart), who were active and raised a lot of money for the Belgian Relief Fund and the Belgian Government wanted to award them for their efforts. Interviewee got to decorate these women. He also mentions a Mrs. Bernard, the daughter of Frank Bernard. Interviewee then states, “He’s an acrobat. Anything he touches is gold.” [-9:50] Interviewee was a part of a business club [Societe Generale?] in Vancouver and the interviewer asks if there were other Belgians involved with the club. He responds that he was the only one. [-9:24] Interviewee states that another Belgian in business in Vancouver was [Gaspard?]. [-8:54] Interviewee comments on the class divisions in Vancouver. He talks about the development of a Belgian business elite class. He talks about Fabric Nationale (FN), a top manufacturer. He talks about a friend who was the successor of the company. He talks about the roles of the family member of FN and their many dealings, such as the manufacture of firearms during the war. He then moves to speaking about the historical underpinnings of business back to Napoleon. [0:00] Recorder turned off.
C2018 (Interview avec Leon Dupuis) provides a dictation of notes and reflections by Cornelius Jaenen’s research assistant about this interview session conducted with Leon Dupuis. The notes clarify stories and provide further information that was shared by Dupuis in interview.
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