Born on the family farm in St-Albert, Eastern Ontario, Laplante attended the village elementary school. After one year at the Collège St-Alexandre, he went on a mission to James Bay with the Oblate brothers (probably in Fort George), on an island, at the mouth of La Grande Rivière. His destiny took another turn when his father Louis died of a heart attack in 1926 at age 52. Shortly after, his two older brothers died from the Spanish flu, so his mother asked him to come back to the farm to earn a living for the five youngest children.
Laplante was a very curious, self-made man. He was very young when he realized how important the co-operative movement was to strengthen the socio-economic fabric of the Franco-Ontarian rural communities. That was after he took a series of correspondence courses provided by La Terre de chez nous starting in 1932. Thereafter, his first move was to share his knowledge by forming ten teams to study cooperativism inSt-Albert; those workshops were known as the kitchen meetings oncooperation.
He then played many key roles in order to concretely apply the co-operative philosophy:
His involvement within the co-operative movement earned him the Ordre du mérite coopératif de l’Ontario in 1989.
Laplante was also a leader in the agricultural community. The owner of a 150-arpent dairy farm which he operated until 1963, he got involved intensively in the very beginnings of the Union catholique des cultivateurs franco-ontariens (today known as the Union des cultivateurs franco-ontariens, or UCFO).
His dedication didn’t end there. Having a strong Christian faith, he did not count the hours spent working with the organizations in the parish of St-Albert. From 1977 to 1996, he was the parish accountant, while also taking care of maintenance and repairs. His dedication in this regard earned him the Ordre du mérite diocésain d’Ottawa in 1997.
To summarise, it can be said that his life was an amazing example of commitment to the community from 1932 to 1996. Laplante was also a loving family head. With his wife Dora Ménard, he had four children: Georges, Robert and the late Yvette and Yvon.
In 1974, Émile Laplante said these words at the Ag Co-op:
I have preached co-operation for 42 years. I learned its values at a very young age. Admittedly, I had to be a really strong believer to spend all my spare time in this movement. I recall that time most warmly. Despite the sacrifices I had to make, I wish I had many more years to live to continue that work. Helping other people has always been a duty to me.