Recording is of an interview with Severin "Sev" Morin, conducted by Rod Fowler. Sev Morin was one of eleven participants interviewed as part of the SFU/Burnaby Centennial Committee's oral history series titled, "Voices of Burnaby". The interview is mainly about Sev Morin’s banquet hall, restaurant and night club business on Kingsway, originally named the “Gai Paree Supper Club” (1947-1976) and later “Severin’s” (1976-1985) and “Diego’s” (1985-1994), its function as a Burnaby landmark, and the entertainment and political people he met through his business. He also describes his many volunteer activities in Burnaby, including member of the SFU Senate, Rotary Club, Variety Club and Telethon, fund raising for Burnaby Hospital, and tourism related groups, and his political work for the federal Liberal party. He talks about his parents’ origins, the lives of his brothers Rudy and Rene, and the family’s involvement in establishing the “Gai Paree”. He also shares his views about the business and cultural development of Burnaby. To view “Narrow By” terms for each track expand this description and see “Notes”.
Severin “Sev” Rene Morin was born September 21, 1927, in Bonneville, Alberta, to Rene Pierre Morin (1878-1963) and Anne Marie (nee Lachiver) Morin (1886-1956). Mr. and Mrs. R. P. Morin and their son Rene Francois (1905-1954) immigrated to Edmonton, Alberta, from France in 1913, where Rene Pierre Morin worked for the C.N.R. and a second son Adolphe “Rudy” Ferdinand (1922-1969) was born, followed by their third son Severin. In 1943, after R.P. Morin retired, the family moved to Burnaby to a house on Sperling Avenue. Sometime earlier the two older Morin brothers found work in Trail at the smelter and developed musical careers. In 1946/47 the Morin family purchased property on Kingsway and built a banquet hall, the “Gai Paree Supper Club”. Sev and Rudy Morin managed the club and Rene F. Morin moved to Burnaby to join them with his band. The supper club, with its live music and dance floor, became a popular meeting place and wedding venue, eventually expanding into a restaurant and nightclub in the 1970s. The “Gai Paree” was renamed “Severin’s” in 1976 and “Diego’s” in 1985, closing finally in 1994. Sev Morin’s business life included three record stores which he owned with his friend Jack Cullen. Through these businesses Sev Morin was well known in the entertainment and hospitality industry. He and his restaurant also hosted political and social events that made the restaurant a community landmark. Sev Morin contributed many volunteer hours to community and charitable organizations, including an appointment to the SFU Senate, fundraising for the Burnaby Hospital, Director of the Variety Club and Rotary Club, and consultant for a variety of tourism related ventures. He also was active in the federal Liberal Party. Sev Morin and his wife Pauline married in 1950 and had three children. Sev Morin died at age 86 on March 28, 2014.
Rod Fowler returned to university as a mature student in the 1980s after working about twenty years in the field of economics and computerization in business in England, Europe and Western Canada. He graduated with a BA from SFU in both History and Sociology in 1987, his MA degree in Geography in 1989, and his PhD in Cultural Geography at SFU. He taught courses in Geography, Sociology, History and Canadian Studies at several Lower Mainland colleges, before becoming a full time member of the Geography Department at Kwantlen University College.
Interviews were digitized in 2015 allowing them to be accessible on Heritage Burnaby. The digitization project was initiated by the Community Heritage Commission with support from City of Burnaby Council.
Track five of interview with Sev Morin
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