Tuesday, May 10 marked a special day for Cécile Archer and her family, as she celebrated her 106th birthday in Knowlton.
The gathering was held at Archer’s son’s house. “My birthday was beautiful,” she gushed, “we were overlooking a pond where all the beautiful birds came swimming in.” Archer was grateful to have her children at her birthday luncheon. The group chatted the afternoon away.
“They are what I like best in my life.” Growing up, Archer kept busy. If having careers as a business owner and a house designer wasn’t already enough, she was also a mother. “I raised five children. That was my job,” she laughed.
Archer (née Giroux), was raised in Quebec City. Over the course of her life, she lived in Ottawa, Montreal, Toronto, and finally settled in Knowlton.
She owned a dress shop in Ottawa, and spoke proudly about having an exposition at Château Laurier. “I loved my dress shop,” She reminisced.
Archer eventually left her dress shop and moved to Montreal when her late husband Maurice was offered a job as an engineer.
She was sad to leave the shop behind, but was excited to move on to another city.
She later moved back to Ontario, this time to Toronto.
Having grown up in a primarily French environment, Toronto was an interesting experience. “Everybody was so kind, they were trying to say a few words of French to me but (language) didn’t bother me at all,” Archer laughed, “English and French became one big language.”
After Toronto, Archer moved to Knowlton. Joan Cournoyer, Archer’s daughter, explained how well-known Archer is in the community, especially because of her work as a house designer in the area. “She is very accomplished,” Cournoyer commented.
Archer began her career path as a home designer in her late 50s, and ended her career at the impressive age of 83. She was inspired to pursue this path after she and her husband successfully built a home for themselves. She sold the original house, and never quite satisfied with any of the blueprints presented to her by professionals, she took it upon herself to study the art and produce her own plans. She soon recognized her talent for designing homes. By the end of her career, she built and sold seven homes, all in Knowlton. All seven of the homes’ exteriors were finished with pink stucco material, as if adding her signature to their building envelope.
Mrs. Archer now resides in Manoir Lac-Brome, an arrangement she loves. “I am very well here. I’m happy,” Archer said.