Born in Verchères, Montreal in 1878, Ernest Guertin moved to Ste. Agathe Manitoba prior to the turn of the century. He later moved to Winnipeg to work, and subsequently purchase, P.D. Dodds artist supply store, renamed Western Paint. Ernest began reorganizing the company, focusing more on commercial paints, and acquiring Eaton Department Store as a customer. In 1908 Ernest oversaw the construction of a building on Charlotte Street – now Hargrave Avenue – where Western Paint remains today, celebrating its’ 110th anniversary.
With no children of his own, Ernest and his wife Louise acted as guardians to his late brother’s daughter, and imparted knowledge of paint manufacturing and entrepreneurship to extended family, leaving a longstanding legacy in paint distribution and manufacturing that has continued for four generations. Many of his family members carried on the paint tradition – from Guertin Brothers Paints, founded by Antoine Guertin Sr. and his brother Norbert Guertin out of their garage in St. Boniface, to Superior Finishes Inc, founded and run by great grandnephew Tony Guertin Jr.
Ernest was later decorated by Pope Pius XII with the order of Pro-Ecclesia-et-Pontifice for his outstanding and widely-recognized philanthropic work and used his success and wealth to contribute to society through sizable donations to St. Boniface Hospital, St. Boniface College, Sacré-Coeur School and church, as well as the University of Manitoba, which created a bursary in his name.