ABRAM-VILLAGE – Dec. 2, 2023 – The Acadian and Francophone Chamber of Commerce of PEI (CCAFLIPE) will induct eight Island entrepreneurs into its prestigious Acadian and Francophone Business Hall of Fame of PEI during its 22nd Entrepreneurs’ Gala on March 16, 2024, in Abram-Village, to honor and recognize them for their lifetime achievements.
All these businesspeople, from sectors as varied as fishing and agriculture to satellite dish installation and lumber milling, had been nominated through the Chamber’s recent Entrepreneurial Excellence Awards Competition. CCAFLIPE’s new spokesperson, Janine Arsenault, unveiled their names at the Chamber’s Dec. 1 Christmas gathering, to a very positive response from the 100 or so people gathered.
« To qualify for this award, candidates had to have at least 25 years of entrepreneurial experience, because this award honors entrepreneurs or businesspeople who have distinguished themselves through their efforts and achievements throughout their career. Nominees may be still working, retired or deceased, » she explained.
« This year, we received nominations that fell into each of these sub-categories. All the nominees absolutely deserving of such an honor. The selection committee therefore decided to induct these eight people who come from seven different companies, » continued Arsenault. « These entrepreneurs will each receive a trophy at our Gala, and then plaques with their photos will be permanent displayed on our Hall of Fame wall in our meeting room in Wellington. »
The list of businesspeople who will be inducted in 2024:
ALFRED ARSENAULT (URBAINVILLE FARMS) – A potato farmer since childhood, Alfred Arsenault established Urbainville Farms in the mid ’80s and has continued to expand the business decade after decade. More than 40 years later, Urbainville Farms is one of the largest potato growers in the province. It is also one of the largest employers of its community. A few years ago, the company bought the former Olde Barrel building to turn it into a potato washing station for its own potatoes and those of other farmers. The business was transferred to his son Robert several years ago, but Alfred continues to work there almost full-time, even though he’s well over 80. He repairs equipment, drives the combine, cleans the grounds and cares for their beef cattle. And in winter, he continues to operate a snowblower for a host of homes and businesses.
THE LATE ÉDOUARD T. ARSENAULT (THE BOTTLE HOUSES) – After returning home from the Second World War, Édouard T. Arsenault became a fisherman. He also operated the Cape Egmont lighthouse from 1950 to 1958. For a while, he worked as a carpenter and a builder of fishing boats. He was one of the developers of the Red Rock Beach tourist site in Maximeville. He and his wife Rosina offered a bed-and-breakfast service for several years. In the mid ’60s, he helped establish the Acadian Pioneer Village and the Étoile de Mer Restaurant in Mont-Carmel, where he also worked as manager for a while. He was also one of the founders of the Centre Goéland in Cape Egmont. From 1980 to 1984, Édouard built three Bottle Houses, repurposing some 30,000 bottles, and giving a real boost to the local tourist industry. Forty years later, the Cape Egmont site remains one of PEI’s must-see tourist attractions.
ERNEST ARSENAULT (ARSENAULT PAINTERS LTD.) – Ernest Arsenault went into business with Bud O’Brien in the early ’70s. In 1977, Arsenault purchased his partner’s shares and transformed the business into Arsenault Painters Ltd. The company has been painting homes, apartment buildings and commercial buildings for over 46 years. As his four sons grew up, he invited them to come and work with him; three of them are still with the company today. Together, they’ve earned an impeccable reputation for high-quality work throughout the province. So, with fantastic word-of-mouth advertising and a waiting list for its services, the company doesn’t need to promote itself. It does, however, contribute to a number of charities and sponsors sports teams. The company has always remained in good financial shape, including during the pandemic years. Even at the age of 81, Ernest continues to work full weeks.
THE LATE FRANKY ARSENAULT (FRANKY’S SAWMILL) – After working as a lumberjack and upon returning from the Second World War, François (Franky) Arsenault built “Franky’s Sawmill” in St. Chrysostome with his father’s help in 1946. In the early days, they simply sawed trees brought to the mill by customers. Over time, its employees began to harvest their own trees and saw boards and planks for sale. The company’s reputation quickly spread across the province. When a fire destroyed the sawmill in 1970, Franky simply rebuilt it. As Franky’s sons grew up, he gave them the opportunity to work in the family business. When illness forced Franky to retire in 1985, after 39 years of dedication, four of his sons took over the mill. Today, his twin granddaughters Janine and Janelle operate the mill under the Arsenault Family Lumber name.
JOSEPH (JOE) CAISSIE (FISHERMAN AND EGMONT BAY SEAFOOD) – Joseph (Joe) Caissie began his lengthy career by serving as a fisherman’s helper for some 10 years before becoming captain of his own boat. Over the next 41 years, he fished for a variety of species, including lobster, scallops, herring, mackerel, cod and flatfish. During his combined total of 51 years in the industry, he contributed considerable sums to the local economy. In addition, for about 10, years, he and his son Ronald co-owned and operated Egmont Bay Seafood along with a herring smokehouse across the road from his home in Maximeville. Over the years, Joe served on the boards of the Acadian Fishermen’s Co-op and the Prince County Fishermen’s Association. After his well-deserved retirement, he spent part of his time attending bluegrass festivals. Caissie now lives at Le Chez-Nous community care centre in Wellington.
JOHN AND ALPHONSE ARSENAULT (J.C. DRILLING INC.) – St. Raphael brothers John and Alphonse Arsenault went into business together in the ’80s, buying a dump truck to do contract work for the provincial government. They hired their brother-in-law to drive it, while they each maintained other full-time jobs. They offered this service for over 10 years, until 1996. In 2006, they realized there was an opportunity to start their own business specializing in horizontal underground drilling. They dig tunnels in the ground and rock to insert underground cables or water and sewage pipes of all sizes. Three years later, they formally incorporated their business under the name J.C. Drilling Inc. John does most of the digging and excavation. Alphonse, on the other hand, makes sure all the machines are in perfect working order. Now ready to retire, the brothers are in negotiations to sell their company.
LÉO-PAUL ARSENAULT (L.P. ELECTRONICS) – Léo-Paul Arsenault set up his business, LPTV & Stereo, in 1981 in the basement of his parents’ home to repair televisions, radios, stereos and other electronics. From there, he rented a house in Day’s Corner and moved his business there until 1988. Then he built a house, a repair shop and a store, all in a single building, still in Day’s Corner. At first, he was the only employee, but in his more than 40 years in operation, he has provided work for over 60 employees. The electronics sector has evolved considerably over the years; competition has multiplied with the arrival of several multinational chain stores. The company, which had changed its name to L.P. Electronics, began installing satellite dishes and high-speed internet services for XplorNet. Having prepared his son Donald to take over, Léo-Paul sold the company to him in 2022. It now continues under the name LP Internet Services, with Léo-Paul as an employee.
PHOTO 1: The eight following businesspeople will be inducted into the PEI Acadian and Francophone Business Hall of Fame on March 16: seated, from left, Alfred Arsenault, former owner of Urbainville Farms, Ernest Arsenault, owner of Arsenault Painters, Joseph (Joe) Caissie, fisherman and former owner of Egmont Bay Seafood, the late Édouard T. Arsenault, builder of The Bottle Houses (represented by daughter Réjeanne Arsenault). In the second row: John and Alphonse Arsenault, co-owners of J.C. Drilling Inc., Léo-Paul Arsenault, former owner of L.P. Electronics, and Franky Arsenault, founder of Franky’s Sawmill (represented by son Edgar Arsenault). They are accompanied by Janine Arsenault, spokesperson for the Acadian and Francophone Chamber of Commerce of PEI, who announced their upcoming induction Dec. 1.
PHOTO 2: The two deceased inductees are Franky Arsenault and Édouard T. Arsenault.
For further information, please contact:
Raymond J. Arsenault
Coordinator, 2024 Entrepreneurs’ Gala
Acadian and Francophone Chamber of Commerce of PEI