Garage Lafontaine in Sutton - Keeping up a Tradition
By Manfried Helmuth Starhemberg
Gilles Lafontaine who purchased the 60 year old garage Serge Poirier in Sutton almost two years ago got his start at his father's garage and body shop in Boucherville. He went on to be a claims adjuster for insurance compannies and then had his own garage for a number of years. He had met his wife Laura Passerini in Sutton 30 years ago and as an avid skier always nurtured the urge to move to Sutton.
"Now I am to busy to ski" he chuckles. "I am renovating my home and the garage is just too busy. Last year I made it to the slopes15 times, this year it is even less". However, he is almost finished with his 1946 Chevrolet 6-cylinder vinatage truck on which he had spent about 1,000 hours. When he purchased it it was just "a bunch of boxes of parts". One donor vehicle later, the old "stove-bolt six" engine is in pristine condition, the bed has been beautifully lined with oak and it just needs a few finishing touches to put it back on the road.
While Laura handles the phones, parts orders and the books, Gilles is out in the garage inside and outside of his charges, under the hood or under the lift. He wil take on pretty much any vehicle that is gas powered. In the past two years he had some beautiful MGS, Jaguars and BMW's in the shop and he does not mind tackling any job on any car that comes in. "The great thing about being a' general mechanic' is that you do not specialize, you keep your mind open to any and all problems that may come up and try to deal with them to the best of your ability" says the 58 year old proprietor.
The original owner of the garage who built it with his borther in 1946 still lives next door. He is Roland Goyette (90) and is a frequent vistor at his "old place".
In the front of the store is a ca. 1939 double bar CCM bicycle. "Everything on wheels is great" laughs Gilles whose wife asserts that he is " true car nut".
The garage offers a wide range of services from bodywork to sophisticated computer analyzed wheel alignment and diagnostic procedures. Brakes, mufflers, electronic fuel injection problems? They are cheerfully adressed here by Gilles or the able father and son team of Reggis and Matthew Morse, long time employees at the establishment.
Friday, February 25, snow is coming down like crazy, the mountain in Sutton will offer the most beautiful skiing to those lucky enough to have the time to take to the slopes on Saturday. "There might be a small opportunity that I can sneak up there" says Gilles,"but chances are that someone has a problem that has to be dealt with immediately and that always comes first". This attitude has made the couple many friends in Sutton and it is always entertaining to drive by and see the variety of weird old cars that gather at the garage.