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Leo A. Fortier


Born on March 3, 1921 into the town of Gravelbourg, Saskatchewan, Leo Fortier moved to Peace River with his parents in 1930. He worked for his father's stucco and masonry business, then went into farming and drove school bus also.


Instinctively, however, Leo realized that every successful army marches on its stomach and the oil industry is no different, so in the late 1940s he pioneered in the business of providing food and housing for the booming oilpatch.


In 1949, Leo and his brother-in-law, Elmer Northey, formed a company called Fortier and Northey and built two shacks, each 10' x 16' to serve as housing units for oilfield workers. The next year, they managed to pull together enough cash to build a complete camp of nine units for Cal Standard.


By the mid-1950s, they were turning out dozens of units each year, and industry demand grew quickly. They also expanded into the trucking business and created Fortier and Northey Transport Ltd. to move the camps to drilling sites. In 1954, they took on catering also, utilizing Ernie Hokanson as subcontractor and eventual manager of Fortier and Northey Catering Ltd.


Providing the oilfield "what it wants, when it wants and where it wants" was Leo's motto. Supplying the needs of the oilpatch turned into such a massive operation in the 1960s that he used an airplane to supply remote camps.


Feeding 20 mouths or 10,000 per day was no problem, so Leo's companies went international. He sold out once in the late 1960s and again in 1977 but always remained available to help, even in retirement.


Leo and his wife Ruth celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary this August; they split their time between the Peace River farm and a winter refuge in Arizona. Leo is known for his work ethic and his principles of service and honesty.


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