Laurette Couturier was born on April 26, 1921 at the home of her grandparents, Edward and Celina Ethier on the Bromley Line in Westmeath, To her parents Alex and Mina (nee Gagnon) Ethier. She grew up on the main street of Westmeath, next door to the home where she lives to this day.
Her parents bought the Atcheson home where they managed a popular tourist home and barber shop. Laurette is one of 7 children who all pulled their weight to help out. Brothers Joe, Emmet, Frank, Earl and sisters Vivian (Gilchrist) and Lillis (Couturier). Unfortunately, most of her siblings have passed on, leaving Frank and herself as the last surviving siblings.
Laurette married her love, Emard Couturier, in August 1940. He was also a native of Westmeath. They moved in with her parents and their first child, Shirley (Nieman), was born in 1941.
Three years later, Emard headed off to war. Shortly after his return in 1946, they bought their first and only home next door to where Laurette grew up. Their son William (Billy) was born in 1947 and daughter Lynn (Dupuis) in 1949. Their fourth child, Rene, arrived in 1951.
Emard decided he wanted to farm, so they purchased land on the outskirts of Westmeath. Tragedy struck in July of 1970 when their son Billy was killed in a car accident just down the Rapid Road. He was 22 years old.
Laurette lost her husband of 58 years in December 1998. Tragedy struck again in 2019 when her daughter, Shirley, passed away after a short but difficult battle with cancer. Laurette continued to live alone in her home for 19 years until she moved in with her daughter, Lynn, following the death of her son-in-law, Bryan. She is now back in her home on main street.
Laurette was active for many years in both her church and community. She was a charter member of Our Lady of Grace Catholic Women’s League, being a member for 83 years and holding frequent positions of President, Secretary and Treasure.
She was instrumental in organizing the first ever Catholic Youth Organization, hosting meeting and events at her home prior to being able to use the church hall. She organized and helped with many fundraisers including church suppers, bingos, euchre parties and more.
Laurette also took leadership in the community, working and fundraising at the old rink to aid in the building of our present community centre. Laurette was one of the presidents of the Westmeath Curling Club and often made and sold her famous donuts to raise funds during the social hour. She spearheaded a community-run canteen at the arena where volunteers worked and all profits stayed within the arena. They raised enough money to purchase the parcel of land from Eulysse Gervais, where our arena sits today.
Another fundraising opportunity presented itself during Canada’s Centennial Year in 1967. Laurette and Jean Timm decided they would organize a Westmeath Homecoming Weekend with a parade and chicken BBQ supper. That’s when it all started folks: our annual chicken BBQ. Laurette was also a founding member of Westmeath’s Riverview Seniors club.
Laurette turns 100 on April 26th. Unfortunately, with all the COVID restrictions, we are unable to celebrate this milestone with the recognition she deserves. We are planning to celebrate properly once we are able to gather.