Local barber retires after 55 years in Prince Albert

Matt Gardner
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Enjoying what one does for a living can create a sense of inertia when the time comes to retire -- a phenomenon local barber Louis Pilon can attest to.

After more than half a century of cutting hair in Prince Albert, the owner of Lou’s Barber Shop served his last customer on Friday and is now officially retired.

“I feel it’s time -- not that I want to, but it’s time,” Pilon said while cutting a customer’s hair on his final day at work.

“After 55 years, I suppose I could carry on and on. But there comes a time when you have to say ‘enough.’”

Still, he added, “I hate to tell my customers that.”

In his decades of work, Pilon served as the regular barber for successive generations of Prince Albert residents.

One such loyal customer was Jason Demerais, who came in for a final trim at Lou’s on Friday afternoon.

“I got my first haircut here when I was two years old,” said Demerais, who noted that he enjoyed coming to Lou’s due to the sense of familiarity and the enjoyment of chatting with Pilon about topics from fishing to gardening.

“Every three and a half weeks I’m down here,” he said.

Pilon, meanwhile, had another explanation for the popularity of his barbershop among Prince Albert residents.

“I enjoy doing what I’m doing,” he said. “I mean, that’s why the customers keep coming.”

Born and raised in Spiritwood, Pilon moved to Saskatoon as a young man to learn how to become a barber -- an occupation he found appealing due to it being “something different.”

Graduating from the Canadian Vocational Training School in 1959, Pilon initially plied his craft at a barbershop in Saskatoon but found local demand somewhat lacking.

“I told my instructor if anybody comes looking for a young student, look me up … because it wasn’t very busy at that shop,” he recalled.

The following year, he accepted an offer to work at a barbershop in Prince Albert, and for the next five years cut hair at two locations on 13th Street.

In 1964, he officially became the owner of Lou’s Barber Shop -- a position he would hold for the next 50 years.

After 55 years, I suppose I could carry on and on. But there comes a time when you have to say ‘enough.’ Louis Pilon

While his wife would go on to work at the shop with him for 27 years, Pilon noted that for the most part, his profession remained largely the same over the years.

“For myself, it hasn’t really changed that much -- except for the styles,” he said.

A vintage poster of men’s hairstyles on the wall of Pilon’s barbershop is illustrative.

The poster depicts 12 different male hairstyles ranging from crewcuts to the “junior flat-top,” with a common theme of being very short (the poster urges men to visit their barber every 10 days).

“That’s what I started with,” Pilon said, gesturing towards the poster. “And there’s still some that way.

“Then the long hair came in in the ’60s … I had to take a refresher course in cutting long hair.”

While the net effect of changing hairstyles over the years was to increase Pilon’s versatility as a barber, another development played a significant role in his decision to retire.

Specifically, the closure of Saskatchewan’s existing barber school, combined with the relative dearth of barber schools in Canada, dramatically reduced the number of potential successors to take over Lou’s Barber Shop.

“That’s why I can’t get a new replacement for here in this shop, because I can’t get a barber to work … not enough barbers in Saskatchewan,” Pilon said.

But with his shop location now up for lease again, Pilon is fully ready to enjoy his retirement.

“I really have no plans at all -- not really,” he said. “I’m just going to take it easy for a little while -- maybe go fishing or travel, just whatever comes to me.”

For customers who will miss their regular barber, Pilon indicated that the feeling is mutual.

“I’m going to miss everybody very much.”

Organizations: Barber Shop, Canadian Vocational Training School

Geographic location: Saskatoon, Spiritwood, Saskatchewan 13th Street Canada

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Recent comments

  • delindz
    June 28, 2014 - 04:16

    I was there today my last haircut from lou he's gonna be missed by all his customer's what a nice guy he is that's why I always went there enjoy ur retirement Lou