Vital Thebeau can't read or write, but the 85-year-old self-made millionaire didn't let that stop him from publishing his autobiography.

Thebeau's formal schooling ended in Grade 4 in a neglected schoolhouse in Acadieville, in eastern New Brunswick.

'There's no such thing as can't as far as I'm concerned, and that's the way I work.' - Vital Thebeau

"We didn't have no teacher half the time," he recalls.

At age 14, Thebeau was working in the woods. He had inherited a knack for mechanics from his father Pascal and quickly made himself indispensable to employers with his ability to fix and invent things.

He got around his illiteracy by asking a lot of questions.

"There's no such thing as can't, as far as I'm concerned, and that's the way I work," he said.

"I don't take no for an answer and keep on trucking."

Thebeau has lived by those words through his effort to tell a story he thought worth telling. His own.

Vital Thebeau

Vital Thebeau was the head of New Brunswick trapping assocation and patented the Vital humane animal trap. (CBC)

Despite his lack of literacy skills, he was a valued employee and respected outside of work.

He served as the head of the New Brunswick trapping association and invented and patented the Vital humane animal trap.

Needing a hobby after retiring, he opened a fish hatchery. In no time, he was making $1 million a year.

Inspired by a television interview with Oprah Winfrey, Thebeau had a new goal — to write a book about his life.

Friends had told him his life story was inspiring. But being unable to write, Thebeau had to figure out how to tell it.

"Somewhere along the way I heard about Dragon [dictation software]," he said. "It wasn't very good, but I could talk and it would write what you're saying."


It took Vital Thebeau six years to write his autobiography with the help of a computer program. (CBC)

That started six years of struggle for Thebeau trying to first learn how to operate a computer and then to make the program understand his Acadian accent.

He remembers on one day, it took two hours to get a single word across.

But over time, Thebeau's autobiography took shape. This week, his book titled A Message For You was published just in time for his 85th birthday.

"Now I feel … OK," says Thebeau.

"But I never thought I could do that that way.

"To me, it's the biggest adventure I ever got into."