Three Generations of Bergerons at the West Smelter Centre

The career paths of Henri, Louvain, and Sébastien Bergeron, all three of whom have worked at Arvida Works’ West Smelter Centre (WSC), are closely linked to Rio Tinto’s industrial history in the region. Each generation represents dedicated employees, proud ambassadors of Rio Tinto (formerly Alcan) whose efforts and work have contributed to forging a company that is firmly rooted in the regional landscape.

Pioneer Henri Bergeron is celebrating his 101st birthday this year, and he was back at Arvida Works for a day, along with his son and grandson. Henri was curious and very excited about the visit—it was the first time since his retirement in 1985 that he was setting foot in what had been his workplace for 35 years. Astounded by the squeaky-clean premises and the widespread technology, he took a walk down memory lane:

Back in the day we had to work with our hands, breaking the crust with a sledgehammer and changing the anodes by hand. I see that today everything has changed, but for the better, because safety is now a priority. Tattered clothes have been replaced by work uniforms; regular hats have been replaced by hard hats; and manual tasks are now done using technology such as overhead cranes and computers. These changes are incredible!

Following in his father’s footsteps, Louvain joined the company in 1973. From Arvida to Laterrière, Alma, and Kitimat, Louvain has worked in many facilities and has seen the development of important innovations.

“I have always loved my job, the proof being that even after I retired in 2011, I continued to be involved in some of the company’s projects,” said Louvain. “Working for Rio Tinto is an honour and a great source of pride. It is a solid and responsible company that advocates safety. Throughout my career, I have had the chance to see many changes, including the emergence of the new generation of equipment, computers, and automation, which has completely revolutionised our work.”

It is now his son Sébastien’s turn to grow within the company as two generations of Bergerons did before him.

Sébastien, who had always wanted to join the company, has been working at the WSC as a pot start-up operator for a year and a half now. He is greatly inspired by his father and grandfather, who instilled in him their passion for work, and he is proud to represent the Bergeron lineage:

My father was my role model because I always saw him working with such dedication. To this day, he is my mentor, and I ask him for advice anytime I have a problem.

Henri, Louvain, and Sébastien’s visit to Arvida Works allowed the three men to share memories and anecdotes, while taking in the changes in equipment, technologies, and work practices.

The three generations of Bergerons remain a great source of inspiration today. Passionate and hard-working, each man has left his mark on Rio Tinto’s history, contributing to the company’s growth and success. The Bergeron family has been with the company for over 72 years, and the story continues to write itself today.