Here you are, sitting behind the wheel on a bright sunny day, admiring the scenery before you. You follow the road meandering through a landscape of coniferous forests and sparkling lakes when, at the end of a curve, your attention is drawn to a motorcycle and reminds you of Che Guevara. “This, you tell yourself, must be an hallucination!” You can’t help but notice the huge backpack made of beige canvas secured to the front of the bike and the large rear luggage rack. Of course the man standing next to the two-wheeler is not the Argentine revolutionary. Che died in 1967, as you well know. But this man seems just as determined. You can tell he’s a true go-getter. Instead of riding through South America (“Why would I? Che has done it already!”, he would say), he has embarked on a 6,500-km journey across the Nord-du-Québec region, the Newfoundland and Labrador, and the Maritimes (see the short documentary film No Highway), braving roads that are mostly gravel. As you watch him take a picture of his motorbike – fresh out of his garage (this is March 15 after all!) – you find yourself thinking that this chap must know all about the art of riding.
Even amidst the hundreds of bald and bearded men in Abitibi-Témiscamingue, Marc Provencher doesn’t go unnoticed: he has an intense gaze, a charmer smile and a propensity to avoid beaten tracks. “I hardly make any compromises. I’m outspoken and passionate. This side of my nature helps me fulfill my passions, and not much can keep me back.”
Marc Provencher – Photo : Christian Leduc
Freedom is extremely dear to Provencher. “I always say to let whatever you like be free. If it comes back to you, that means it’s yours; if it doesn’t, that means it’s never been yours. Freedom is the greatest gift of all!” On hearing these words you instantly make the connection with his bike, and as if he could read your mind, he continues: “I know it sounds cliché, but motorcycling provides a true sense of freedom. Think of it. You sit on top of an engine, the power is right there, at your fingertips, and except for what lies between you and the road, there’s nothing else around and above but the sky, air, the scenery, and scents of the nature that you’d never capture in a car.”
Marc Provencher’s custom bike – Photo : Christian Leduc
His passion for motorcycling goes back many years. He was 11 or 12 when he climbed on a motorbike – his uncle’s – for the very first time. Because he wasn’t big enough to get on it all by himself, his uncle would take the bike to his front porch and help the kid climb. Marc would go for a short ride across the fields of his native Témiscamingue and drive back to the front porch, his uncle waiting to hold the bike while he’d get off. He’s accomplished a lot since then.
As he tells you about his career path, you listen with a bit of surprise and much interest, thinking that he certainly is a man of contrasts. Then you find the thread that links his background as a mechanic with the Canadian Armed Forces, his political career as a municipal councilor, his acting experience with the Brin d’folie theatre company and his occupation as the owner of Deuxparquatre Pub Brut: a true passion for creation. “What I like is creating, starting something from scratch, putting everything together, and making it work. But as soon as things fall into routine and procedures, I loose interest.” That’s probably why Deuxparquatre appears as the right alternative. Established with his beloved Chantal to make his adventure in the restaurant industry more exciting (they also own and operate the Saint-Exupéry restaurant right across the street of Deuxparquatre, and Marc makes no secret of the fact that his first year as a restaurant owner proved more difficult than his military service). Provencher gets a great deal of pleasure from welcoming and attending customers and from innovating and creating. The pub is the perfect fit. “To keep me going and having fun in the business, I need to create events. I really get a kick out of developing new projects, things that don’t already exist!”
What he likes about the pub he has built is the opportunity he gets to meet and discuss with people and give the place a friendly atmosphere where people feel pretty good. “People bring us old objects, things that have stories to tell; we find them a place in the pub because they make people feel like at home, regardless of their occupation and social class,” he says.
As you enter the pub, you get the nice feeling of arriving at your hunting camp for holidays. Feeling the festive and cozy ambiance of the place seeping into you makes you understand what Marc means when he says: “There is more to Abitibi-Témiscamingue than its sites and attractions. Take the time. If you rush to see everything, you’ll love what you see, of course, but you’ll miss out on the most important things. Take the time to take a stroll around Osisko Lake. Take the time to enjoy every little thing, every single moment. Take the time to look around and appreciate what you don’t find back home: vast open spaces and people like us. Come and enjoy a nice chat with us.”
Marc Provencher, master in the art of riding – Photo : Christian Leduc