Upon entering Jean Massicotte’s office, the first thing that strikes you is the sheer abundance of objects. Here and there, glass cabinets showcase a slightly chaotic assemblage of various rocks. “These are the minerals that we have withdrawn from the permanent collection,” the Director of the Musée Minéralogique de l’Abitibi-Témiscamingue proudly explains as you glance questioningly at the specimens. And while you ask yourself whether or not you would personally cope so well with your office serving as a kind of makeshift stockroom, he adds: “Since my earliest childhood, I have always had a thing for collections. At the time, it was more hockey and baseball cards. I also collected comic books and, of course, since I lived in Malartic—a mining town—rocks and minerals. I had to choose them carefully, as I couldn’t bring them all back home.” With his playful demeanour and mischievous grin, it’s easy to imagine him as a child collector and you tell yourself his mother must have had a hard time telling him no when he begged her for permission to add yet another piece to his collection.
As you take one of the rocks from the cabinet in your hands, he goes on to explain what mineral it is and you quickly grasp the depth of his passion and also why Jean Massicotte is known as a master storyteller. Though he has neither studied geology nor history, as the manner in which he speaks of the specimens in his collection would lead one to believe. Administration has always been his thing and remains so to this day, despite his ever-growing interest in mineralogy and the field of mining.
Jean Massicotte – Photo : Christian Leduc
When he first took on the position which he has filled for thirty years now (and which he thought he’d only keep for two or three years at first), he had just completed his Bachelors of Administration. The challenge of getting the Musée minéralogique de l’Abitibi-Témiscamingue back on track attracted him and the ever-precarious state of the field of museology in general continues to arouse his interest: “There are always challenges to deal with, one never gets bored,” he says in his characteristic, playful, boyish way. “And it’s a stimulating environment because it requires versatility. One touches on history, geology, culture, tourism, education and mining. And it allows me to come in contact with a lot of people!” Because Jean Massicotte is quite fond of people … and it shows.
He also really likes his native region, where he has always lived, not by lack of interest in other places, but rather because he has always felt at home here. “It’s a very, very dynamic region,” he exclaims. “Europeans are always impressed by how proud its inhabitants are. There are a lot of attractions, shows and a variety of activities. This is due to the fact that people are proud and willing to organize and to engage in these activities. Likewise, working at the Musée minéralogique is also a source of pride for me. Abitibi-Témiscamingue is the most important region in Quebec in the field of mining and exploration. Our museum and Val-d’Or’s Cité de l’or, with whom we have established a partnership, are the worthy representatives of this industrial heritage.”
Despite his passion for his work and his ease in talking about it, one nonetheless catches glimpses of the man behind the façade of Director. This dynamic person who can tell you lots of fascinating things about the world of geology is also an athlete who trains year-round and seeks out water to wind down. “The Abitibi-Temiscamingue region boasts some 22,000 lakes,” he says. “Often, I go out by the water or out fishing. Or when I want to see people, I go golfing.”
He invites you to take the opportunity to get to know his beautiful region through its attractions, shows and the diversity of activities it offers.
Photo : Christian Leduc