Everyone in Trois-Rivières knows the “cowboy” Jacques Lemaire who, at 82, still brightens the atmosphere in the city’s most frequented places.
Since 2006, this impromptu crowd performer, unmissable in his Western costume, has been roaming the tourist strip of Rue des Forges in the city center, entertaining customers on the terraces.
“I don’t ask people anything. Sometimes I am offered a coffee, a cigarette, a beer or a bottle of water. I don’t care. I go there to be seen. I like attracting attention,” he admits.
Nicknamed the “Cowboy of Trois-Rivières,” Mr. Lemaire has always loved western style. When he goes into town a few times a week, a little less than he used to because the years are catching up with him, he never fails to put on his best shirt for the occasion, his big chain of money, his wide belt, his old transistor radio, but above all his famous cowboy hat, which he never parted with.
“A few years ago I gave up my cowboy boots and fake guns on my belt. I moved on,” he says.
A few days ago, while walking down the rue des Forges, a regular, who declined to give his name, told us that Mr Lemaire was “a fascinating creature”. “Wherever he goes, he sows joy and good humor with his dances and pregnancy, but also curiosity and misunderstandings in some visitors,” added the woman.
Jacques Lemaire has a passion for music but also for cinema. He especially likes western movies. In his very small apartment in the Cap-de-la-Madeleine district, he has more than 3000 DVDs neatly sorted, which he watches on a continuous loop on his four televisions when he is not in the city centre. His passion for cinema led him to work as an usher at the former Capitol cinema in Trois-Rivières from 1952 to 1956. He then worked for the Wabasso factory for over 25 years, doing odd jobs left and right.
Daniel Deslauriers / QMI AGENCY
The eighty-year-old has boundless admiration for John Wayne, Gary Cooper and all those other big names in western cinema.
During his lifetime, he had the opportunity to make no fewer than 28 trips to Hollywood with Robert, his inseparable brother, when they visited their parents who had settled there.
“I met actors Steve McQueen and John Wayne one day. McQueen was more reserved, but John Wayne didn’t hesitate to touch my hat. It was a moment to remember, an enduring memory,” emphasizes the “Cowboy” from Trois-Rivières.
But since the death of his brother, Jacques Lemaire has stopped traveling.
“All these journeys, I experience them in my head and in all these films that I keep watching. I’ve been spoiled by life. No, I never got married, but otherwise I would never have been able to afford this traveling life with my brother. I’m a millionaire, you know, because of all these memories. I want the Trois-Rivières community to never forget me. Maybe they want to put up a statue of me downtown in memory of all those smiles I was able to create,” he says, a bit mockingly.
Not the first “cowboy” in Trois-Rivières
Jacques Lemaire would not be the first to be noticed as a “cowboy” in Trois-Rivières.
According to Éric Veillette from the blog “Historiquement Logique!”, based on a text from the newspaper “Le Nouvelliste” from 1975, the first “cowboy” of Trois-Rivières was called Elridge “La Patte” Dufour, who died there in 1983. .
Mr Dufour would have been particularly talked about if he had entered a tavern on the rue des Forges on his horse to mark the opening of the establishment. He would also have traveled the Boulevard Saint-Laurent in Montreal, also on horseback.