Saturday, June 15, 2024

“My father lived seven years of his life in the hospital”

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Virginia Whitehead
Virginia Whitehead
"Pop culture maven. Unapologetic student. Avid introvert. Gamer. Problem solver. Tv fanatic."

Explorer Bernard Foer, a native of Rimouski, has achieved many accomplishments, including crossing the North and Antarctic poles, climbing Everest, and not forgetting the world tour from the highest peaks.

However, he always refused to visit Ile San Barnaby, across from Rimouski, which he believed was full of hidden treasures. To this day, he has never seen the north side of the island, even by plane, he looked so far as not to see it.

The island of Saint Barnaby remains for him the first expedition that he was able to take with his eyes closed, but he never did. This moment, is exactly dear to his memory.

Your parents, Louis-Philippe and Claudine met in the sanatorium.

For seven years, my father was hospitalized with tuberculosis, and in the same place was my mother, who has only one lung. It was the beginning of a long relationship. Despite their respiratory problems, this did not prevent me from breathing exceptionally well.

On Christmas Eve I sat on the steps of the cathedral.

That means I was barely five years old and it was very hot inside. After the second of three midnight masses, my parents let me sit alone on the cathedral steps for a few minutes to cool off in the gusty winds. This tradition continued for many years.

Summer vacation was held in Rocher Blanc.

My parents, brothers Pierre and Frederic and my sister Sophie and I spent the summer on the banks of the Saint Lawrence in Rocher Blanc, a few miles from Rimouski. Today it is a suburb of Rimouski.

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Did Rocher-Blanc influence your choice of life?

Not necessarily, because when I was younger it never occurred to me to climb mountains.

Your first job for young people.

On Sunday evenings, after the tourists left the beach on the banks of the St. Lawrence River, because while you could swim there, I collected the empty bottles to resell and buy my first bicycle.

Your father put a compass in your shoe.

yes. I took off my shoes and turned my heels, because inside was a compass to help me find the right way.

You did not play a team sport.

I played baseball, basketball and hockey with my friends in the schoolyard or on the streets of Rimouski. I preferred athletics more, including running, which allowed me to win county championships.

Your son is in Europe.

My son, Yuan, lives in the Alps and lets people experience the fun of the outdoors. While my wife, Natalie, has always been there to support me, I have shared many beautiful moments around the world thanks to my passion for mountain climbing.

The family moved to Saint-Hyacinthe.

I was in the fifth grade of high school when my father, who was an agricultural engineer, accepted a teaching position at Saint-Hyacinthe. Then we went to Madison, in the United States, where my father got his master’s degree.

I saw the legendary pitcher Bob Gibson playing.

My father took the whole family in the car and drove off to see St. Louis Cards and the great Bob Gibson jug.

You have regrets that still affect you today.

My dad loved baseball because he scored every game in the scorers book. I’m so sorry I wasn’t there much to watch the Expos, to make him happy.

He tried to convince your mother to love baseball.

Continuously, until one day we were at one of the Expos matches at the Olympic Stadium. Mom asks him the following question: “Why did they have three men at first base?”. In fact, there was the sprinter and first baseman and coach at first base.

your father’s response?

When there is a double head, there are six in the first base. This was the end of the experiment.

“When he dies, call me”

I met the manager of a local radio station in Saint-Hyacinthe to become an advertising salesman. He advised me that he has an excellent salesperson in this position. Before leaving, I told him: “When he dies, call me.” It piqued his interest so much that he offered me a job a few days later. No, the seller is not dead. The job allowed me to buy my first used car, a Toyota.

You are an automatic identifier.

At CEGEP, I organized many outdoor activities, but at the university, there were no such courses. So I made several trips around the world to discover outdoor activities.

I discussed mountain climbing with Prince Philip.

We were at a reception in Ottawa and the prince was by my side. After a long conversation, I told him that my favorite building was the Royal Geographical Society, not Buckingham Palace. He asked me without hesitation to contact him so that he could make arrangements for a visit to the Royal Geographical Society.

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Hello, I would like to speak to Prince Philip.

After I explained to him my problem, that is, if I wanted to talk to him on the phone, he started laughing. However, after the reception, one of his assistants came to me to arrange my visit.

She declined an invitation from Queen Elizabeth II.

I was called to a reception at Buckingham Palace to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of my idol’s ascent to Everest.

The royal palace responded to your retreat.

In typical British humor, the manager replied that he understood my situation well, adding “I would have done the same”.

Who was your idol?

Sir Edmund Percival, New Zealand mountaineer, explorer and philanthropist who was among the first group to climb Everest. I joined him in Nepal, rather than the Queen in London, to celebrate with him this wonderful occasion.

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