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Kapuskasing commemorates late entrepreneur

Community erecting plaque to honour Nicole Guertin for contributions
Nicole Guertin and Jocelyn Blais are pictured in 2014 at the mansion constructed by the silver-mining baron Arthur Ferland in 1906. It would be the first of a number of historical homes the couple would purchase and renovate for their accommodations business.

The late entrepreneur Nicole Guertin will be honoured posthumously by her hometown in recognition of her vast contributions to Northern Ontario.

On Friday, Sept. 15, the Town of Kapuskasing will erect a commemorative plaque at the Kapuskasing Welcome Centre to pay tribute to Guertin as a “leader, visionary, and entrepreneur.”

“Nicole was an exceptional, passionate ambassador, who believed in the richness of collective diversity,” the town said in a social media post. “She spearheaded numerous initiatives in economic, tourism and community development, which have showcased the town’s beauty and potential. Her mark is ever present in Kapuskasing.”

Guertin died in Haileybury in 2021 at the age of 58 following a short illness.

Known throughout northeastern Ontario for her ardent devotion to economic development, Guertin was the mastermind behind numerous businesses over the years, in sectors that ranged from health care to tourism to publishing.

In recent years, she and her partner, Jocelyn Blais, were perhaps best known for Les Suites des Présidents (The Presidents’ Suites), an accommodations business in Haileybury that rents out rooms in historical homes to visitors, business travellers, and tourists.

Together, the pair purchased and completely renovated a number of the grand homes built on Lake Timiskaming by the area’s early mining and lumber barons, opening them up for rentals.

They additionally developed a number of tours and experiences related to the history and culture of the area, drawing new tourists to Haileybury and the surrounding communities.

To their holdings, the pair later added glamping experiences on nearby Farr Island, a coworking space for small business owners, and a small café, Météor Bistro.

For their efforts, the pair has received a number of awards, including the 2013 Hospitality Award from the Temiskaming Shores & Area Chamber of Commerce, a 2018 Influential Women of Northern Ontario Award from Northern Ontario Business, and the 2021 Desjardins Group Excellence Award from Desjardins Financial and the Ontario Cooperation Council (OCC).