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Crossing Guard Devotedly Serves Quebec Neighbourhood for Half a Century, No Retirement in Sight


On a chilly late summer morning, car horns are honking, drivers waving and pedestrians waving to a beaming crossing guard who has become a fixture in a quiet suburban Quebec City neighborhood.

The woman causing the friendly commotion is Lucille Grenier. She has supervised the same intersection between Boulevard Louis XIV and Rue Seigneuriale for almost 50 years.

“I will have spent more than half my life on this corner,” Grenier said, stopping to push the pedestrian button for a group of schoolchildren.

“Parents trust us with the most precious thing of all: their children. That’s why we’re here to keep them safe,” Grenier said. “They know they can count on us.”

Grenier started working at the intersection because his father wanted to retire as a crossing guard. (Rachel Watts/CBC)

Battling the cold of winter and the heat of June, Grenier has been there day after day (morning, noon and night), working 15 hours a week and only missing his shift in extreme situations, like last winter when he was free. for three months with a broken leg.

“I don’t like being away from work,” Grenier said. “I came back this fall.”

She says her bout with cancer taught her “a lot about accepting and living one day at a time.”

Family business

Grenier began working at the crossing, following in his father’s footsteps.

“This was not my first professional choice. It was my father who opened the position here in the 70s, they asked him. And the first time he refused,” explains Grenier.

After a few years on the job, he says his father wanted to retire. Grenier, who was working in a laboratory at the time, was offered the part.

“I said no.’ I said ‘I don’t see myself there’. Then it went on for another year and the following year he talked to me about it again and I accepted, I remember it well and [took this job] to make him happy,” Grenier said.

A woman in a yellow vest looks at the camera on a street corner.
Lucille Grenier says she loves seeing some of the kids she’s known over the years return. (Rachel Watts/CBC)

Grenier says his original dream job was to drive a city bus, but there was a snag.

“In the ’60s they didn’t allow women to join,” Grenier said.

“It’s definitely evolved. Now we can do everything.”

In the decades that followed, she took all the classes necessary to become a bus driver, as a plan B if she ever wanted to hang up her fluorescent vest. But she hasn’t.

“I was already hooked and I started to like it more and more. So every year I would say ‘I’ll see what comes of this’ and I would always put off leaving,” Grenier said.

“Fifty years later, I’m still here and I’m still happy to do it, and for me it’s a gift of life.”

A woman leads a group of children across the street.
Grenier says she takes the responsibility of caring for the neighborhood children very seriously. (Rachel Watts/CBC)

‘I’ve never seen her unhappy’: former student

His favorite part? To see some of the hundreds of children you have known over the years return, as young adults or as parents.

“I’ve seen some who have moved but come home to see their parents and stop in this area to say hello. They exclaim ‘you’re still here!’ and every time, you can’t imagine the joy it brings me, it’s real joy,” Grenier said.

“That brings me so much warmth.”

He says he has fond memories of talking with children who shared their dreams and goals on their daily walks.

A woman in a yellow vest leans over to speak to a child accompanied by his father.
Samuel Gagné walked with his son, William Picher, to the nursery on Friday morning and chatted with Grenier as they waited for the pedestrian light. (Rachel Watts/CBC)

“I love each one of them equally,” Grenier said.

“Sometimes they come with good news, sometimes with bad news, and they can trust us… We can even comfort them too, we teach them.”

Philippe Bédard had Grenier as a crossing guard when he went to the neighborhood school. Twenty years later, with his own children, he says he remembers Grenier as the kind of person who could change his day.

“She was always smiling. She was always funny. I have never seen her unhappy, even if it was raining, even in bad weather or in a storm,” said Bédard, who turned to see Grenier.

“It’s kind of crazy because he’s met so many people, like so many kids, so many parents, but he still recognized your face, even though you grew up.”

He says that last year his nephew had Grenier as a crossing guard. It was comforting for his family to know that Grenier was there, considering it is one of the busiest crosswalks in Beauport, Bédard said.

“There are more and more cars, so all you want is to be safe. But you also want your kids to have a great day, and that starts from the moment you walk to school,” Bédard said.

“I can’t imagine smiling for 50 years,” Bédard said. “He’s just doing [everyone’s] Better day, even for my parents.”

Grenier says she keeps going thanks to the support of her family: her two children and her husband, who always has breakfast ready when he gets home. Grenier would not reveal her age and says the word retirement is not in her vocabulary.

“If I had retired, I wouldn’t have seen them,” Grenier said, pointing to the school-age children.

“I would have missed it.”

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