The second of three children from a French-speaking family, Claude Bertrand grew up between Ottawa and Chicoutimi, before the family settled in Alma in Lac St-Jean. In 1973, he began learning English by moving to Calgary for a summer, followed by studies at John Abbott College in Sainte-Anne de Bellevue. He studied at McGill University but took a break from his studies in 1979 to discover the world, including visiting Europe and Israel, where he worked in a Kibbutz. In 1981, he completed his studies and obtained a Bachelor's degree in rural engineering.

In 1997, Claude decided to pursue his childhood dream of becoming an aircraft pilot and joined the Canadian Armed Forces.  He obtained his pilot wings in 1998 and in 2007 started to fly helicopters including the CH-146 Griffon for 439 Combat Support Squadron.

In 2009, Claude was loaned to 438 Squadron and sent to Afghanistan, where he completed 76 missions in the Afghan skies before returning to CFB Bagotville in 2010. In 2012, he was assigned to NATO ground in Germany and retired in March 2016.

He has since lived in his cottage on the shores of Lac Bernard in the Outaouais Hills.