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Pat Dubreuil: Creative solutions drive the rebirth of a former mill town


Pat Dubreuil is a serial entrepreneur, investor and marketing guru who graduated from the University of Ottawa in 1993 and returned to his hometown, Dubreuilville, to operate a motel and restaurant.

In this video, Pat explains how he shifted the focus of the business and developed Dubreuilville as a snowmobiling hub. In one year alone, 16,000 tourists passed through the town to take advantage of a series of trails connecting the nearby communities of Chapleau, White River, Wawa and Hornepayne. He attributes the success of the business to great customer service and clever marketing, including the use of the Internet and social media. He also tells us about how he is now catering to motorcyclists by mapping out trails across Northern Ontario to establish a year-round adventure riding business.

Pat’s grandfather and uncles founded the town of Dubreuilville in 1961 by building a lumber mill and attracting workers and their families from Quebec. They believed their employees would be more productive if their families were with them, and dipped into savings to keep the mill operating during downturns in the lumber market. However, lacking the same commitment to its workforce, new ownership declared bankruptcy and closed the mill following the 2008 recession, devastating the local economy. The population of the town plummeted, threatening its sustainability.

Pat describes how Dubreuilville has rebounded as a gold mining community with two companies – Alamos Gold and Argonaut Gold – employing a total of 1,700 workers. However, most of them are flown in from elsewhere and live in dormitories, limiting their contribution to the economic sustainability of the town. The challenge now, he tells us, is growing the population of the town and ensuring its sustainability through new housing construction, immigration and economic diversification. Northerners in resource communities with similar problems are sure to be inspired by Dubreuilville’s plans for overcoming the challenges it faces.

Finally, Pat shares his involvement as an investor in two Sudbury-based businesses – Bait2Go and Outdoor Flavours – describing the out-of-the-box marketing that propelled them to success.