Two "foundry guys" in an Old Quebec City hardware store
Le Soleil, Saturday, November 10, 2007
by Michèle Laferrière
Old Quebec City is a lively melting pot of residents and tourists. Biron & Son Hardware prides itself on meeting the demands of both types of customer: the screws and tools are at the back, while at the front, decorative cast-iron objects are displayed in a most sophisticated way for a hardware store.
Pierre-ulric Biron and his father, Pierre, are co-owners of this business located on Garneau street, in the heart of the walled city. Pierre likes to say he was born in a foundry in 1945, as Paul, his father, had purchased that of Sainte-Croix two years earlier. There, Pierre worked every job in iron casting, through to director.
He left when the Americans bought it over. He subsequently opened his hardware store on Garneau street, then called L’util. Today, it’s his son Pierre-ulric who is CEO of the Old Quebec City hardware store Biron & Fils.
"I’m chair of the advisory board, because I advise," jokes Pierre Biron. Although he has retired, he’s still involved in the company: “You always remain a foundry guy."
During the summer of 2006, the two men began to change everything around and redesigned the hardware space at the back. This summer , they gathered all the cast-iron objects at the front and created a gallery-like space, where you’ll find a mass of handles, pilasters, mailboxes, bottle racks, candle holders, weathervanes, hooks, hinges and cookware. A true museum!
Export on the horizon
These new items will eventually be added to the current stock that the two owners acquire from Quebec, as well as from Canada, the United States, England and China. They then plan to export through their website.
In short, there is a future for grey cast iron in Old Quebec City. Europeans and Americans go wild for ornamentation that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg and that is just as suited to ancestral homes as to contemporary condos.