Many times, when wandering through downtown Port Perry, you will come across ‘the Man with the Hat’ checking out the historic buildings, talking to people on the street, or on a mission to his next appointment. The man of course is Guy Latreille, a long time icon of Scugog and the surrounding area.
Guy is one of the principals of Puckrin Latreille real estate agents, and has been involved in the housing market in this area, for nearly 45 years. He has also dedicated his life to the preservation of the historic buildings of Port Perry, and is a big proponent of keeping the history of the town alive.
Guy, one of six children, was born in Ottawa. His father was a stationary engineer and his mother had a full time job of staying at home, looking after all the kids. The family’s lineage goes back to the 1600s, when they arrived in Canada as soldiers of the King of France. There is also indigenous blood in the history, because one of Guy’s great grandmothers has the reference ‘sauvage’ in her passport, an indicator of Native Canadian heritage, back in the day.
Guy’s early days were like most boys at the time. He had a paper route while going to school and worked part time at a horse ranch. He has always had a fondness for the outdoors, and had every intention of working in a career, which gave him the opportunity to be with nature. His post-secondary education took him to Lindsay where he studied to be a forest technician.
Guy started his career in Montreal, in the pulp and paper research field and seemed to be destined for that industry. Quebec of the seventies, however, was filled with turmoil and not being able to raise children in a bilingual environment, made Guy wonder if he really wanted to continue living there.
His studies at Sir Sanford Fleming College’s Frost campus in Lindsay, had given him a pleasant introduction to this are. He decided to leave Montreal and move west, settling in Scugog Township. His first break came when Morley Bruce, owner of Scugog Realty, hired Guy, and he found the real estate industry a natural fit for his outgoing personality. He did well, and in 1979 became a partner in the business.
Guy decided to invest in the town where he lived and purchased the old St. Charles Hotel, the building on the southwest corner of Queen and Water Streets, in Port Perry. The building housed an automotive parts store and a few residential apartments, and was in dire need of repair. There was even talk of tearing it down, but Guy’s respect for history made him look at restoration instead.
“There were at least ten, 45 gallon oil drums installed for heating the place,” Guy recalled, laughingly. “It was a real nightmare.” I could see him reminiscing as he spoke. “The building had once even been used as a theatre.”
Life was good and Guy was quite successful in the real estate industry. In the eighties he wanted to expand the business, of which he was now sole owner, and decided to join Remax. He needed more space for his tenants, one of which was Taylor insurance. He took it upon himself to build a new structure, to the south of the Remax building (currently the Pantry Shelf and the home of Puckrin, Latreille Realty).
In 1994 Guy decided it was time to give the old Hotel building a major overhaul and renovated it from top to bottom, installing six apartments, as well as his Remax Realty business. All was well for Guy and his wife Cindy. His daughters, Tanya and Deanna were growing up quickly. Deanna moved to Cranmore, B.C. and Tanya followed in her dad’s footsteps, joining the real estate business.
She married Brett Puckrin, whose family was also in real estate. Guy, together with Tanya, Brett and Brett’s father Keith, founded Puckrin, Latreille Real estate, now located at 170 Water Street. They also purchased the building at the northeast corner of Queen and Perry Streets, so to say Guy is a tad busy, would be an understatement.
Guy has always had a keen interest in keeping the history of the town alive, and has been a member of the Scugog Heritage board for a number of years. He now serves as Chair. He is still active in real estate, but enjoys spending leisure time with his wife Cindy and all their grandkids. Many people do not realize that Guy is also an accomplished soapstone carver.
He belongs to the Wedgewood Club, a group of outdoor enthusiasts, established in 1905. He often goes fishing and camping, usually to the northern reaches of Ontario and Quebec, accessible only by plane. He is also a member of the Fubar fishing club, started by Earl Cuddy, the administrator of Scugog back in 1968.
Guy Latreille’s involvement in making sure Port Perry maintains its history, is a full-time job, and I don’t know where he gets the time for his other activities. Somehow he manages to be a very active member of the Outback Cloggers, practicing twice a week. “It certainly keeps me fit,” Guy explained, smiling as he spoke. That, along with his involvement in heritage, as well as his real estate business, certainly keeps ‘the Man with the Hat’ a very busy individual.
Jonathan van Bilsen is a television host, award-winning photographer, published author, columnist and keynote speaker. His show, ‘The Jonathan van Bilsen Show,’ on RogersTV, the Standard Website or YouTube, features many of the people included in this column.