From Lionel Groulx, The Birth of a Race

Of all the stations in the metro system, Lionel-Groulx is the most controversial. Named after the priest and historian, he dominated a strand of French Canadian intellectual culture from the 1920s to his death in 1967. To his admirers, including former students at Université de Montréal, André Laurandeau, a future editor of Le Devoir, and […]

From Laurier, Canada

Canadian Confederation was a marriage of convenience performed under the shotgun of the U.S. Civil War. The country created by Macdonald and Cartier existed on paper but was one dominated by English imperialists often hostile to a suspicious French-speaking minority, themselves more dominated by a local Catholic clergy than their English neighbours. Ten years after […]

From Cartier, Pax Canadiana, or Confederation

“Canada,” Pierre Elliott Trudeau is supposed to have said, “is a country built against any common, geographic or historical sense”. Prime Minister from 1968 to 1979 and again from 1980 to 1984, Trudeau was a smart man: he did not to say that it made no political sense. He also had the good sense not […]

At Place d’Armes, An Election and A Massacre

Canada has just now to witness the most foul and barbarous murder of several of her citizens and MONTREAL is about to become no less famous than Manchester, in the annals of Military despotism, outrage and assassination. The Vindicator, 22 May 1832 One of the things that I enjoy most about this project (and the […]

On the Metro, With No Small Fanfare, Art and Buskers

Montreal is a city of art and music, and its metro is no exception. This is hardly surprising as the core of the system was designed to whisk the world to the spectacles of the 1967 Expo on Ile Ste-Helene and, when it was extended nine years later, to the Olympics of 1976. These first […]

On the Blog, Some Updates; On the Fridge, Some Magnets; On Facebook, a Page

This week I have been fortunate enough to have had a number of conversations with Marian Scott, of the Gazette. She has put me straight on a number points and the posts on Peel and Henri-Bourassa have been updated accordingly. In the case of Peel, I say that the street was opened in 1845. This, […]

Place des Arts and Social Reforms

The formula of political language doesn’t change: demonize one group, praise another, propose and justify a policy.  Political content, though, does change, and to find a way into to the political, social and economic concerns of Canadians in the 1960s, I’ve been looking at the newspapers of the day. They show an attitude and set […]

Henri Bourassa – Between La Fête Nationale and Canada Day

When Mark Twain visited Montreal he famously remarked that ‘This is the first time I was ever in a city where you couldn’t throw a brick without breaking a church window’. The rest of his anecdote is less well known. He was told that a new church was going to be built. Where would the […]

LaSalle

In the history of New France there is perhaps no figure more colorful than René-Robert Cavalier de La Salle. Born in Rouen, France, in 1643, he was educated by the Jesuits and temperamentally unsuited to religious or indeed any other settled life. In 1667 joined the Compagnie de Cent Associés and headed to Quebec. So great was […]

Berri-UQÁM – Where protests and history happen

You will have perhaps heard about the student protests which have been dominating Montreal this spring and summer. Each night since February students have been demonstrating against the provincial government’s proposed increase in tuition fees. You may have seen pictures of violence and confrontations with the police downtown and heard that at one point a […]

Radisson’s account of extreme nature

Montreal has been reminded of the power of nature. This Tuesday, summer was interrupted with a downpour which flooded basements, transformed tunnels into rivers, sewers into geysers and elevators into waterfalls. Canada, of course, is not unknown for its extreme weather, but it is never more extreme than in winter, and during the winter of […]

New Documentary on Jeanne Mance, founder of Montreal

The Gazette has a good story about Jeanne Mance, who founded Montreal on this day in 1647. Less well remembered than Paul Chomedy de Maisonneuve, if only because de Maisonneuve is an unavoidable part of any trip downtown, she was in fact the driving force behind the foundation of a Christian community near the Iroquois […]