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Bonhomme on retirement (Anthony Jenkins/The Globe and Mail)
Bonhomme on retirement (Anthony Jenkins/The Globe and Mail)

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Bonhomme Carnaval on retirement Add to ...

Bonhomme Carnaval is the founder of and ambassador (not the mascot!) for the Quebec Winter Carnival (Carnaval de Québec). It runs in Quebec City from Jan. 27 to Feb. 12.

How old are you?

It is the 58th Carnival this year, so basically I am 58. But since I am made of snow, I don’t have an actual birthdate.

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What’s your job description?

Making sure that people have fun. I don’t call that working, but I do have a job to do.

At 58, you’re getting on. Have you considered retirement?

I have the best job in the world. So when you talk to me of retirement, I don’t know what you mean. I believe it relates to not working any more. The thing is, I never actually “work.” I do take decisions and make recommendations to my office staff, but me? Working? I don’t work.

Who are your employers?

My employer is myself. I created the Carnival, so I’m the top guy. I have a lot of people working with me, permanent staff or people working on a temporary basis. I am my own boss.

So you can’t be forced into retirement, you’d have to decide to retire?

I don’t know what retirement could be. I wouldn’t leave the best job in the world.

After my Carnival, I take a little break and then I travel the world to invite people to come to my Carnival in Quebec City. But I don’t call that work. It’s a lot of fun!

In Quebec, is there a mandatory retirement age for citizens – or for snowmen?

I think people who consider working really working do stop at around 60 years old. Basically, if I would be working, I would be two years away, but I’m not going to do this. I want Carnival to be here forever and I wouldn’t leave my Carnival after it was named the 2011 Event of the Year. Why would I want to stop?

People retire – or are forced into retirement – to make way for the next generation. Do you think you should step aside to make way for the next generation of snowmen?

The problem is all my snowmen friends are not here for too long. They are here for the winter, then they go back to being water. Myself, I’m treated very well. Even if we were to have someone replace me, first of all, I am irreplaceable and, second, they wouldn’t have the same conditions I have.

You are much like the Queen in that regard. She famously has said hers is a “job for life.” Same for you?

We have some similarities. I am very important, I have my own driver, my own limousine, I have people taking care of me. We both take decisions. I don’t know if these other important people are here for the rest of time, but I can assure you I am here forever.

So no shuffleboard by the beach in Florida for you?

I have been to Florida and Mexico to invite people to Carnival, but I can’t stay in these places too long. When I arrive there in my cargo plane, I am about eight feet tall. When I come back, I’m only five feet tall! No, no retirement for me in Florida.

The thinking among traditional employers is that older workers bring experience, but younger workers bring enthusiasm. Can you bring both?

Enthusiasm? This is what I am during Carnival! We have 17 days of activities. I am the one walking around making sure everyone has the same smile as I do. I’m the one bringing the enthusiasm. I have done that for 58 years. You’ve seen my smile. It will be there forever. I am the enthusiasm of Carnival!

Canadians are cautioned to invest, to set aside money, buy RRSPs and so on to provide for their future in retirement. Is a secure financial future not something that concerns you?

No, I don’t have to worry about money. My part of the job is to have fun. Money is part of the job of my general directors. They take care of that. The only thing I gather for myself is the love that people give me. That is my paycheque.

I have everything that I want. I don’t need anyone to take care of me. I hope you will come to Quebec City. See you in Quebec City. Enjoy your Carnival!

 

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