" In the context of the museum project, this notion refers primarily to the history of the workers, the welders and the Le Gall family. I find parallels in this history with my own family history. This project allows us to remember the industrial fabric that has made our region so rich, to pay tribute to the know-how and knowledge of this trade, in which I have evolved throughout my career, and, personally, to honour my own family heritage. "Pierre Quillivic, Deputy Mayor of Loctudy in charge of works, the Museum, digital development and mobility - 2020-2026 term
After having spent his entire career in the food industry, in the canning of seafood products as technical director and production manager, Pierre Quillivic has put his energy, determination and knowledge at the service of municipal action and the association of the Friends of the Alexis Le Gall cannery (ACAL). He was an early advocate of the museum project at the cannery and is currently, in his second term of office, monitoring the project in its operational phase, as 3rd deputy in charge of the cannery's works, digital development and mobility in the town of Loctudy. He agreed to talk to us in detail about his career and his contribution to the project.
his background professional
Now retired, I spent most of my career in the fish canning industry, working for major brands in Brittany.
After training in automation and electrical engineering at Lannion, I began my career at Paul Chacun in Guilvinec in 1980, working with my father, the factory manager. I joined the company as an automation technician, at the very beginning of the first programmable logic controllers in this industry.
Afterwards, I worked as a salesman in a company in Quimper that built equipment for the food industry, then in an industrial biscuit factory.
In 1994, I returned to my original profession, fish canning, at COBRECO in Douarnenez, as technical director and production manager. This company operated its own commercial brands, Arok, Jacq and Les Perles du Faou, and also filled canned seafood products (tuna, mackerel, sardines, scallops) for the mass market.
My interest in the industry is linked to my family heritage. My father was also director of several canneries, Gendreau "Sardines des Dieux" in St Gilles-Croix de vie, the Conserveries de France and the company Paul Chacun in Guilvinec. My grandfather was also director of the "Goyen" cannery in Poulgouazec. My great-grandfather, a can welder in Audierne, saw the introduction of the first seaming machines in the canneries of the Breton ports at the beginning of the 20th century.
My first term of office was as a simple elected official participating in various committees and the town council. It was on this occasion that I discovered the cannery project, led by Jean Laouénan, as deputy for finance, economic development and tourism in the town. In this second term, as deputy mayor, I took up the cannery project that Jean had initiated and with whom I had worked on the project over the previous years.
its notion of Heritage
From the point of view of the museum site, but also from a personal point of view, the notion of heritage seems to me to be of primary importance. Having spent my entire career in the food industry, I was saddened to see the closure of canneries, particularly the one where I began my career, the Paul Chacun factory, based in Guilvinec. A whole economy came to an end, leaving many employees without jobs. This is why I was so interested in the Alexis Le Gall cannery museum project. The fact that this heritage could be given a new lease of life was an opportunity that I had no hesitation in seizing, as no memorial project on the many canneries that have marked the history of the region had been undertaken until then. There was no trace of these factories, apart from a few historical works such as those carried out by Joseph Coïc on the tools of canning in the Bigouden region. No industrial museum on canning factories had emerged until now in the area, even though these establishments have marked the economic history of our region, our department, Finistère, and our nearby area, Pays Bigouden.
In Loctudy, we are fortunate to have this industrial testimony, this tool which is certainly small compared to the large canneries which stimulated the economy of Finistère, but which reflects the historical activity of canning in our Breton territory. This activity was essential from an economic point of view, particularly for the women who benefited from a source of activity and subsistence while the men were at sea.
From a personal point of view, the notion of heritage speaks to me deeply. In the context of the museum project, this notion refers primarily to the history of the workers, the welders and the Le Gall family. I find parallels in this history with my own family history. I can fully identify with it. This museum project thus allows me to remember the industrial fabric in which I have evolved throughout my career, to pay tribute to this know-how and knowledge of the trade, but also to honour my own family heritage. It is also a way of mourning, as I am the last descendant of my family to have worked in this sector of activity.
Its role in the of the museum project
I started to participate in the museum project when it was taken over by the town council a few years ago. At the invitation of Jean Laouénan, I took part in the first working meetings on the project as a municipal councillor and member of the Association of Friends of the Alexis Le Gall Cannery (ACAL). These meetings aimed to gather data on the cannery and to select those that we considered relevant to present to the public within the framework of the museum project, while reflecting on how we were going to tell this story, that of the industrial epic of fish canning. This work took place over several months during sessions led jointly by Jean Laouenan and the president of ACAL.
The second phase of work on the museum project in which I participated concerned the restoration of the building and furniture. Because of my technical knowledge of machines (crimping machines, autoclaves, frying pans, dryers, steam engines, etc.), I was asked by Jean Laouenan to work with him on this aspect of the project alongside Loïc Fortun, director of technical services for the municipality of Loctudy. I brought precise knowledge, linked to my specific professional experience as a conservator, in order to enable the restoration of the building and its collections to be as faithful as possible.
I supported Jean Laouenan's approach to these technical aspects and then, when the term of office changed, I took over the monitoring of the project from Mrs Zamuner, Mayor of Loctudy. On this occasion, I accompanied the Lizerand architectural firm in charge of the project management on the building site, in particular with regard to compliance with the requirements of the Architecte des Bâtiments de France, the whole site (manor house, factory and furniture) being classified as a Historic Monument. With the support and very professional advice of Laurent Le Tartesse, financial manager of the Loctudy town hall, I accompanied the strict monitoring of the budgets allocated to the project, in order to avoid any potential overspending.
In parallel with the restoration of the building, it was necessary to find Breton companies with the necessary know-how to restore some of the factory's equipment and machinery. For the wooden furniture, the task was not too difficult as qualified craftsmen are easily found. Under the guidance of Marie Prigent, the members of the Association des Amis de la Conserverie Alexis Le Gall also helped with the restoration. On the other hand, on the restoration of machines such as crimping machines, steam engines, boilers, one cannot say that there are many specialised restorers. For this mission, by calling on my professional network, in the form of a sponsorship of competence, companies such as Franpac of Douarnenez for the metal packaging, the Société Nouvelle de Mécanique based in Quimperlé for the mechanical restoration of the machines, Sertico for everything relating to the steam pipes as well as the Compagnie Bretonne located in Penmarc'h allowing us to make the videos of the different stages of manufacture as well as the filling of sardine cans with the Alexis Le Gall brand. These different companies enabled us to carry out this restoration and to present a real course.
its great challenges
I think it was my predecessor Jean Laouenan who took up the greatest challenge, that of giving a viable impetus to the project, of defining a roadmap for its operational implementation over time. He succeeded in convincing the actors he mobilised around him, first of all the town council, the volunteers of the ACAL association and then the financial partners. He went with his pilgrim's staff to look for the necessary subsidies to finance the project, knocking on every door.
For my part, the challenge was to ensure the follow-up of the project, in the continuity of what had been initiated by my predecessor, whether it be on the works, the budget or in the exchanges with the project managers and the various service providers in a particular context of health crisis.
One of the issues that I have been following with great attention is the restoration of the factory's machines. These are very specific to this sector of activity, like the crimping machines. They require very specific restoration techniques. In this context, it was essential to regularly exchange with the partner companies to ensure that the restoration preserved the authenticity and integrity of this work tool.
Under the technical supervision of Marie Prigent, in the continuity of Jean Laouenan, the work of the members of the association, and the guidance of the new director of the future museum, Johan Verdier, we paid particular attention to the support of the scenographer and the museographer, so that the story told would be in line with the testimony of the Le Gall family, and with the experience of the people who had worked in the cannery. One of the major challenges of the museography was to make the most informed choices about the content that would be presented to the public. In itself, there is a lot to tell about the sardine and industrial history, but it was important to sort out the information. We also had to make choices about the means and media of information. This trade is essentially a labour-based industry, so we decided to use holographic projections on a scale of 1 to represent the gestures of the trade (topping, encasing, oiling) which are at the heart of the museographic discourse.
its best souvenir
There are plenty of good memories about this project.
The first one I could mention concerns the work of memory of this trade, of my family, of many Bigoudens and Loctudists who worked in these factories. It is for me a real pleasure and a pride for this project because it allows us to honour this trade which has given a living to so many people and still does.
Another memory I could mention is the meeting and exchange with the people who participated in this project. The project allowed me to establish working relationships and bonds of friendship and sharing. This is particularly the case with the members of the association and its president, Pierre-Jean Desfossé. We had met at various presentations, but had not had the opportunity to work together until then. In the context of the cannery project, we made friends with great pleasure during our meetings on the museography and scenography. We all met regularly in the town hall for work sessions that sometimes lasted the whole day. These days were marked by moments of conviviality, particularly when we all had lunch together. I am firmly convinced that these bonds of friendship will last beyond the project.
The last memory that comes to mind and which is a source of pride is the positive feedback we received from visitors during the Heritage Days. Pierre Le Gall and Chapalain initiated these tours of the cannery in the 1980s and 1990s. During the very first Heritage Days, I remember coming to visit the cannery under the guidance of Pierre Le Gall, himself a former cannery manager in St Guénolé. When we took over these visits, the feedback was very positive, which was particularly encouraging. Meeting the public is one of the many pleasures we can have from this project. We have had some great moments with the visitors. Some offered us their testimonies, others objects, such as wooden pulleys that they inherited from the factories in the Pays Bigouden. These are very precious moments of sharing and exchange. Thank you to all of them!