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Aline Dorval.Courtesy of family

Aline Dorval: Sociable. Hairdresser. Mother. Empathetic. Born March 21, 1931, in Ste-Justine, Que.; died Jan. 19, 2022, in Quebec City, from pneumonia; aged 90.

Aline Dorval was born on the first day of spring – when nature wakes up and brings on life. Just as Earth’s warmth allows for growth, her love helped others move forward and succeed. Compassion was her guide. She was always looking to make a difference in a supportive way to the people around her. She brought the best out of everyone.

Following in the footsteps of her mother, and wanting to escape country living, Aline trained as a hairdresser in Quebec City. It became her calling, she delighted in the connection she had with her customers while designing beautiful hairstyles in a creative way. In 1958, for her hard work, diligence and dedication she was crowned the best of the best: Aline became Queen of the Hairdressers during the Festival de la Coiffure at the Château Frontenac. It was a major accomplishment for a young woman from the countryside of Quebec. The memories of this event were always with her.

Still single at 28, Aline was a very independent woman and not worried about becoming an “old maid.” But she would meet her future husband – Jean-Paul Paquet – during a chance encounter when her car had a flat tire. He was a mechanic in the garage she walked into, he not only managed to fix the tire but also won her heart. They married shortly after and lived in Quebec City (as she always wanted). The couple welcomed two daughters, Line and Christiane.

As the girls grew, Aline experimented with fun hairstyles on them – she once permed Christiane’s long hair with over 80 curlers. They enjoyed these experiments more than the times Aline tried to hide carrots and turnips in their potatoes – it didn’t work, they still hated vegetables.

Aline owned and operated her own salon until she retired in her late 50s but she also cut hair at home. The family was always finding hair around the house, which wasn’t much fun when it was in their soup. Her daughters never learned how to cut hair but figure hairdressing is in their DNA anyway, they both know the value of a good cut and like to have nice hair.

Aline was always losing her keys and cards to the amusement of her family, but her warm heart is remembered more often: She came from a big family and all her siblings talk about how she helped them, from offering a sofa to sleep on to financial help to even just a listening ear. And, of course, she styled their hair for free.

In retirement, Aline travelled to visit Christiane who lived in many places around the world – Toronto, San Francisco, London, Paris, Helsinki and Switzerland. She also spent the winters in Florida and learned English so she could communicate with her American friends and with her son-in-law. It was important for her to connect and chat, and this was rooted in her days as a hairdresser.

As arthritis became more painful in her hands and knees she settled down in a retirement home in Quebec City. She lost some of her independence, but Aline made the best out of a situation that made her feel anxious and lonely. It was her family’s turn to care for her – spoiling her, teaching her how to use Skype, Facebook and a computer to view her pictures. This was the modern Aline, and she continued to connect with her daughter every day to provide needed support and love.

Alline Dorval is crowned 'Queen of the Hairdressers' in 1958 in Quebec City.Courtesy of family

In her final years, dementia set in and that created a sense of peace in Aline. She was in her own little world that seemed relaxing and happy.

Aline took her last breath with her two daughters on video chat – Line from Mexico and Christiane from Toronto – and her two granddaughters and her younger sister at her side.

Maman, if love could have saved you, you would have lived forever. Je t’aime.

Christiane Kokko is Aline’s daughter.

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