Lighting is in their blood

By Francie Healy

Way back in 1892, Jacques Marchand’s great-grandfather, Paul Eugène Marchand, was building dams for hydroelectric power between Ottawa and Montreal. He was about 33 at the time.

Paul Eugène probably had no idea how his interest in electricity would follow his descendants – right up to Jacques, who owns Marchand Lighting and Electrical with showrooms in Ottawa, Stittsville, and Gatineau.

The electricity business has spanned four generations of Marchands. You might say it’s in their blood.

Paul Eugène’s son, Eugène François Marchand, was a Prisoner of War in France during WWI. Somehow he survived and made it home to Ottawa. And somehow his tough experiences must have fuelled rather than deterred him.

After the war he studied hard and became an electrical engineer. He worked for Gatineau Power (now part of Hydro Québec). And then, in 1938, he went into the electrical distribution business with his brothers Paul, Gabe, and Felix Marchand. They had a store on Sparks Street.

Then along came Eugène’s sons, Claude and Frank. They set up their own electrical distribution store on Besserer Street in 1982.

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Not far behind them was Jacques, who bought the business from his father and uncle in 1986.

The rest, as they say, is history. But history isn’t over yet. Jacques has two kids, Simone and Éric. Will they be the fifth generation of electrical Marchands?

“No,” says Jacques. “I think it’s probably best to eliminate the family element in business.”

But maybe? You ask.

“Well,” he says. “It’s not something I have to think about for awhile anyway. My first one (Simone) is just off to college for the first time. Éric is 16. And, at 16, all he can think about are girls and skateboards.”

Marchand Lighting and Electrical works with commercial, institutional and residential builders, designers and architects. The company has 50 employees, which includes lighting experts, designers, planners, project and show room consultants. It supplies an almost endless list of lighting and electrical brands, enough to make all those Marchand men proud… all the way back to Paul Eugéne.

Surely there must be a thought, a question, a wonder, about whether Simone and Éric will someday carry on the Marchand business. Does Jacques think they might – maybe?

“Oh,” he laughs. “One step at a time. But you know, they probably will.”