• Carmen Marie Fabio

Landmark business owner passes away


PHOTO COURTESY PETER POUW

A mere four months after the closure of the landmark Hollandia florist outlet on Route Harwood in Vaudrueil-Dorion comes the news that owner Ben Pouw has passed away.

“Ben worked in the shop from the age of 14,” said his brother Peter Pouw. “He would have been 73 in April. His entire life was dedicated to the store.”

Ben was the oldest son of Herman Pouw who opened the store in 1953 after arriving from The Netherlands. What began as a small garden centre expanded as Pouw senior added more greenhouses. The seven Pouw siblings all pitched in over the years to make the family business successful and the customer base was loyal enough to keep the store afloat after the family was forced to rebuild following a devastating fire in the late 1990s.

Ben fell ill in 2017 and the business had continued, operated by his daughter Julie Léonard. Peter said though competition from other florists and big-box stores threatened sales, the operation had a dedicated customer following.

When the closure was announced in The Journal last October, the online feedback was immediate and extensive, with area residents recounting memories of going to the store over the years.

One reader told how she couldn’t afford roses for her wedding so opted to settle for carnations instead. But when she arrived to pick up her bouquet, she found she had been given roses for her special day at the lesser charge.

“That was Ben’s doing,” said Peter. “He was a very good citizen of the community.”

Ben Pouw’s funeral will be held Friday, March 1, at Paroisse Saint-Joseph-de-Soulanges in Saint-Lazare, 1980 Chemin Sainte-Angélique at 11 a.m. with a celebration of his life to follow.

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