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 […]

At McGill, Cholera’s Death Carnival

A big welcome to all my new readers and followers since Marian Scott’s piece in the Gazette. I hope you’ll feel free to ask questions, give advice, offer corrections, and above all enjoy the posts. And with posts in mind, here’s this weeks. In recent years fears of global pandemic have hardly been out of the […]

From Place d’Armes, a Picture of Awful and Thrilling Beauty

On 25th April 1849, a group of Montrealers set out from Place d’Armes and burnt their country’s parliament to the ground. The army and police did little, despite warnings. Afterwards, among those arrested was the editor and owner of the Gazette. In 1849, the effects of the previous decade’s Rebellions were still vividly felt, and […]

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, […]

On Peel, A Call for Annexation

Last week I looked at Louis-Joseph Papineau, the leader of the 1837 Lower Canada Rebellion who was exiled in France, largely at the behest of his fellow rebels, when the Rebellion failed. On his return to the newly re-named Province of Canada in 1845, he found a changed system of responsible government, which his former […]

Papineau – un canadien errant

And, I’m back! And with the pressing concern of the moment being keeping the T-1000 that is Mitt Romney out of the White House, I have been starting research on another Proteus, this time from Montebello, the politically fecund seigneurie on the banks of the Ottawa River. It was from Montebello that Henri Bourassa, the founder […]

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 […]

Place des Arts, Montreal Normal and the October Crisis

Much has been made of the student protests that have been taking place here in Montreal. Too much. They do not require the invoking of the (in any case defunct) War Measures Act to bring them to an end, as one commenter suggests here. Nor, indeed, do they need special legislation like Loi 78, which […]

On Sherbrooke, A Cool Head

Some wars end in clear victory for one side and an equally clear defeat for the other. Among these are the Napoleonic Wars and on the clear defeats of Napoleon at Borodino in 1812 and Waterloo in 1815 hang the monster novels of Tolstoy (War and Peace) and Thackeray (Vanity Fair) as well as 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 […]