The Girard family regrets to announce the death of Omer Girard. Mr. Girard passed away last Saturday, March 2 at his home in Magog. Born on December 28, 1920, Mr. Girard was a remarkable entrepreneur in Canada’s telecommunications industry. He made a name for himself in particular in the early 1970s with his battle for open access to existing telecommunications transport infrastructure for cable businesses in Canada.
In 1957, Omer Girard founded Transvision Magog, which would go on to become one of the most storied cable companies in Canadian history. Between 1960 and 1967, he launched five other cable businesses and cofounded the Canadian Cable Television Association, of which he became president in 1968. He soon stood out as the one who would lead an historical battle, and win, which allowed the new cable company operators to own and operate as independent businesses in a shared telecommunications transport infrastructure. In the early 1970s, he fought against the monopoly telephone companies, which were claiming full property rights to their aerial architecture and demanding very high rates from the cable companies that needed a cable infrastructure to develop. During this battle, dubbed the “Pole Wars,” a lot of ink was spilled throughout all of Canada, culminating some two years later in the victory of the cable companies before the Canadian Radio-television and telecommunications Commission (CRTC).
In 1973, Mr. Omer Girard merged his cable networks with Cablestrie, a company eventually acquired by Cogeco. In the same year, he also founded the Association des câblodistributeurs du Québec, for which he served as President until 1977. He was also the founding president of the Chambre de commerce et d’industrie de Magog. This organization recently honoured him by renaming its annual gala “La Soirée des Omer.”
Mr. Girard’s crucial contribution to the triumph of the independent cable companies was covered throughout the 1990s by the magazine Mediacaster, which referred to his determined fight as a key driver of the development of Canada’s cable industry. Moreover, in 2012, the telecommunications industry inducted Mr. Girard into Canada’s renowned Telecommunications Hall of Fame by granting him the 2012 Neotelis Award for his lifetime career achievements.
After having served for four years in the Royal Canadian Airforce during the Second World War, Mr. Omer Girard in 1945 married Olive Griffiths (deceased February 16, 2005). He leaves to mourn his five children, Robert (Eleanor Beaudoin), Suzanne (Claude Pelletier), Paul, Marc and Jocelyne (Anselme Lambert), nine small-children, eleven great-grand-children as well as many friends and colleagues.
Exceptionally, the family will receive condolences at Saint Patrick’s Church, located on 115 Merry Street North in Magog, on Thursday, March 7 from 2 to 4 pm and from 7 to 10 pm, and on Friday, March 8 from 2 to 4 pm. The funeral service will take place at 4 pm on Friday, March 8, 2013 in Saint Patrick’s Church.
Expressions of sympathy may be made by way of a donation to the Fondation l’Hôpital Memphrémagog.