It was 1999 when Véronique Lortie fell in love — in love with swords, witchcraft, and medieval clothing to be precise.
“I entered a medieval store…and I fell in love with this universe that I had only seen in movies,” said Lortie, designer and co-owner of Dracolite in Montreal. “It was a big love story for me.”
Located on Plaza Saint-Hubert since 2007, Dracolite sells pieces inspired by the Middle Ages — and Lortie gets to sell them with her true love: Charles Brousseau, her husband.
Brousseau began handcrafting medieval-inspired jewelry pieces at home and founded his store in 2003.
“I have been at the heart of Dracolite with him for 10 years now,” said Lortie.
Today, the shop’s jewelry is still handmade, medieval attire is designed by Lortie, and most products come from local distributors.
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“I witness children coming into the store and look at everything with wonder,” said Lortie. “They discover a new passion. It is amazing.”
Marc Lacombe is proof of this.
“The first time I came in, I must have been around 10 years old,” said Lacombe, who works as Dracolite’s assistant manager. “Every time I saw swords, I would be amazed.”
The sense of nobility from the medieval period, and steel armour, is something Lacombe loves. So when he heard there was an opening at Dracolite, he applied, attended the Medieval Fair as a volunteer, and a few days later was hired.
“We have a great team…We laugh, we joke around,” he added. “It’s a very happy place.”
Lortie and Brousseau have four children, all who love medieval things as much as they do.
“I would try on dresses and those would be truly magical moments,” said 17-year-old Isabelle Goulet, reminiscing about when her parents would bring her to their shop as a child. “I was a princess in the store. It was amazing.”
Goulet began working at Dracolite after it was closed for months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I started working there…when we started living again,” she said. “It’s so much fun to be able to dress up in medieval clothing to work. People rarely get to do that.”
Being a local shop with a small niche, Lortie explained that they are miraculously doing better than expected despite the pandemic and the ongoing construction on St-Hubert Street since 2018.
“Obviously, we will not meet the same objective as we had planned on reaching this year,” said Lortie. “As we like to say in the medieval landscape, it is a quest to come to Dracolite right now.”
“No matter what has happened in the last few months, we’re still strong and united,” said Lacombe.
‘The store is our life’
From sewing workshops to pirate workshops, Dracolite’s fantasy world attracts customers from near and far.
“Some people are passionate. They are fans that follow us,” said Lortie.
The shop’s clothing, inspired by the medieval era and created by Lortie herself, is what sells most. They are not costumes and her pieces can be worn on a daily basis.
“I am presently dressed with clothes from the store and I can go out…anywhere,” said Lortie. “People often come up to me to tell me that what I am wearing is beautiful, but they can’t really pinpoint my clothes as being medieval.”
If you want to participate in live-action role playing, you can by adding accessories and medieval elements to the clothes. This will allow you to create a character for medieval events.
“Some have never seen a medieval store in their lives,” said Lacombe. “We’re here to introduce them to this universe.”
“People who don’t really know about (the Middle Ages) might think it’s quite odd, and wonder how we can live off a store like this one,” said Goulet. “It isn’t an easy task, but they succeeded in making a name for themselves…I’m so proud of (my parents).”
In Lortie’s ideal world, Dracolite will eventually feature more artisanal products made by Quebec craftspeople.
“We are about 80 per cent local, but I would love it if we could go up to 90 or 95 per cent,” she said. “I think it is so important.”
Neither Lortie nor Brousseau have the intention on retiring anytime soon.
“We are planning on being here for the next 50 years,” said Lortie. “The store is our life, as is the medieval world. We love it.”