In the late 1990s, Dawn Brancheau was the Queen of Clean. She wrote and starred in a popular home-cleaning business in Montreal, Canada that catered to both individuals and businesses. From homes to restaurants, hotels to hospitals. Dawn and her team were one of the most sought-after cleaning services in the country. Her personal motto was “Cleanliness is next to Godliness.”
Her death made headlines across the nation, but what came out of it revealed a side of her that many people never knew existed. Here are some things you may not know about Dawn Brancheau’s life and death.
Dawn Brancheau’s Early Life
Dawn Brancheau was born in Grenada, West Indies in 1955. Her father, an engineer, and her mother, a doctor, were both immigrants to Canada. At the age of 6 months they moved to Montreal where she went on to attend Collège de Rosemont before studying social sciences at Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM).
At the age of 20, she married Claude Bronchau, who was then a police officer, and had three boys with him: Marc-Antoine, Éric, and Jean-Pierre.
She died December 31, 1997, at the age of 42 from cancer.
Dawn Brancheau’s Cleaning Company
Dawn Brancheau’s company was called Femme de Menage and it was one of the most successful cleaning businesses in Montreal in the 1990s. In addition to her business, Dawn also starred in a popular TV show that aired on QTS and she published a book on housecleaning.
The Day of Dawn’s Death
On April 17, 1999, Dawn was found dead in a bathtub. Her death was ruled an accidental drowning and authorities said that Dawn had been taking a bath when she lost consciousness and fell into the tub.
Dawn’s daughter-in-law, Jasmine Brancheau, has always maintained that there is more to the story than what has been reported. She believes that Dawn’s death may have been intentional considering her bipolar disorder. In her book The Untold Story of How the Queen of Clean Died: Uncovering the Truth about My Mother-in-Law’s Quiet Life and Tragic Death, Jasmine shares evidence that suggests that Dawn was murdered by her husband, Paul Brancheau.
The first piece of evidence is a letter from July 29th, 1998 where Paul writes to his son about it. How he went to visit his mother who had fallen asleep on the floor after taking pills and drinking wine. In the letter, he writes: “I woke up your mom this morning and she had the most unusual reaction to me! I don’t think you should come to see her.”
Also in Jasmine’s book is an article published in L’actualité magazine entitled “Les femmes ne sont pas toutes égales”, where Paul is quoted as saying: “I do not believe women are equal”. Jasmine also points out that Dawn was strangled while she was unconscious which would have occurred during the 1995 incident where she supposedly
The Aftermath of Dawn’s Death
Dawn Brancheau was an international sensation. Her company had operations in multiple countries. She published books that were best-sellers, and her cleaning services were in high demand. She lived a life of unimaginable wealth and success at the top of her game.
Then, one day, it all came crashing down.
After a visit from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). Dawn found out that the company she trusted to manage her funds had not been paying taxes for many years. The CRA seized her entire business and personal assets for failure to pay back taxes which amounted to $2 million CAD. Dawn lost everything – from her home where she raised her four children to her car, clothes, and even furniture.
A few months later, on March 28th, 2000, Dawn died by suicide at the age of 43 years old. That same day some greats artists died: John Lennon was assassinated on December 8th, 1980; Kurt Cobain committed suicide on April 5th, 1994, and Jesus Christ is believed to have died around AD 33.
Dawn’s Untold Story
Dawn’s story is not one of living extravagantly only to end up destitute or dying by suicide to escape poverty. Like so many stories we hear these days. But rather how one woman tried as best she could with what she had been given in spite of extraordinary circumstances. That threatened all that she loved most in life: her kids, family, and friends.
What We Can Learn From Dawn Brancheau
We can learn a lot from Dawn Brancheau’s death. For example, her company, Queen of Clean, had been struggling for years before she passed away. The company was $1 million in debt and had not been able to turn a profit in over 15 years. The company had also been closed down by authorities on more than one occasion after people left complaints about the cleaning service online.
Dawn Brancheau’s story is a lesson to us all:
you have to stay true to yourself and keep your values intact if you want to succeed. Even if it meant getting out of the business. That made her famous, she was still being true to herself and her values. She said that she always felt conflicted when people would say “Isn’t cleanliness next to godliness?” because she didn’t necessarily believe that cleanliness was next to godliness.
Even though her company wasn’t doing well. Dawn Brancheau stayed true to who she was and never compromised her personal values for what society wanted or expected of her. This is an admirable quality we should all strive for in our lives.”
Dawn Brancheau changed the way. We think about clean with her company, which was just as well known for its green cleaning products as it was for its iconic logo. You can take a few lessons from her life and apply them to your own.