Tuesday, September 18, 2018

I'm the 'Baby Champ"

I lived with my grandparents and mother in Montreal while Dad was overseas with the occupation troops in Europe. My uncle was also still living at home and he and I had great times together. 

We had a running joke about who was the baby champ. Of course I was the baby champ and he would always tell me that's right. I would stand up on the table, wave my hands in the air as a boxer would do after winning a fight. Those were very good times, some of the best of times.

I sometimes wondered as an adult where 'I'm the baby champ' originated, I guessed it was just a family nickname for me, I had no idea it actually had a meaning. 


Many years later in the states my mother is rehabbing after breaking her hip. We began speaking of the past, we somehow got to talking about that saying, 'I'm the baby champ'

Not long before I was born, Northern Electric came out with an affordable radio called, Baby Champ. There was one in the house on Rivard Street and between my grandparents, my uncle, and my mother who asked me who is the baby champ? I would say, I am!

We left Montreal for the states in December of 1952. My uncle married and moved away. My grandmother died in 1955. 

We were a family back then, a real family, with a grandmother and grandfather that loved me unconditionally, and I them. I was their 'baby champ' and I loved them so.
   


Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Dr. Deimel Linen-Mesh Co


In 1894 Dr. Henry Deimel took out a United States patent on the process for producing a linen fabric called 'linen-mesh' which he used to make underwear. 

According to him, the material allowed the skin to breathe better than wool. In the window of his store the brand is illustrated by a mannequin with a spinning wheel.

From the "Montreal Storefronts Exhibition" put on by the McCord Museum on McGill College Avenue. 

Taken in 1908 by William Notman & Son.
Store address in 1908: 312 Ste. Catherine Street West.



Monday, August 27, 2018

Immigrants from the North”: A retrospective about history

My mother in law, Rose Anna Morin L’Heureux, of Sanford, was only four years old when her family traveled by wagon from Roxton Falls Quebec, to Biddeford Maine, entering the US via the Old Canada Road, at the turn of the 20th century. They were among tens of thousands of immigrants who entered Maine via once rugged international passes. There’s even a historical society in Bingham where the history about this immigration and migration pattern are maintained...more

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Bonsecours Market and Bonsecours Church

The chapel is known as the Sailors' Church, since many devout sailors prayed here for safe passage. These seamen also donated votive lamps in the shape of model ships that you can see hanging suspended from the ceiling.

There is some interesting artwork from native Quebec artists inside the chapel, including 'Typhus' by Théophile Hamel - a poignant picture of nuns treating the sick - and, on the back wall, portraits of Marguerite Bourgeoys and Paul de Chomedey de Maisonneuve by Ozias Leduc. The ceiling of the chapel is decorated with beautiful frescoes that depict the life of Mary.

In the chapel dedicated to Marguerite Bourgeoys is a small oak statue of a Madonna and Child, which was given to Marguerite in 1672. The statue, which survived several fires, is said to have miraculous powers and was the object of veneration.

In the crypt of the chapel you can still see the foundations of the original building and there are even traces uncovered of a wooden palisade and a settlement of an indigenous tribe.


A small museum in the chapel and adjoining schoolhouse is dedicated to the life of Marguerite Bourgeoys. This pious woman opened the first school in the city and also helped and housed the young girls who were sent from France to marry settlers. In the museum the important events in her long and extraordinary life are visualized with the help of miniature figures.

The museum also gives you the opportunity to visit the tower of the chapel, which offers panoramic views of Montreal's Old Port.


In 1655, Marguerite Bourgeoys, in return for her unpaid work, requested the construction of a new chapel dedicated the Virgin Mary, after whom the settlement, Ville Marie, was named. When the chapel was finally completed thirteen years later, it was the very first stone church in the region.

In 1754 the chapel burned to the ground but already in 1771 a new church - the one we see today - was built over the ruins. Over the years the building was altered many times. In 1885 the steeple was built and an ornamental tower with an 'aerial chapel' and views over the St. Lawrence River was completed in 1893.

The chapel's current appearance is the result of a final alteration in 1953, when both the steeple and tower were lowered.


Bonsecours Market


By the mid-nineteenth century, the need for a central market was realized and construction of the Bonsecours Market began in 1844 with a design by architect William Footner. This public market officially opened in 1847 though interior work continued until 1852.


Bonsecours Market was home to Montréal's City Hall from its opening until 1878. Also during that time, architect George Browne added a Victorian concert hall in the East Wing of the market as well as an adjoining banquet hall, making it suitable for large parties and musical events.

The major purpose for Marché Bonsecours, of course, was as a market where Montréal citizens could come to buy produce from local farms. The market continued to serve in that capacity until it closed in 1963.


Marché Bonsecours is built in the neo-Classical style with a long facade and a colonnaded portico. These Doric columns were cast in iron and made in England. The silvery dome of the Bonsecours Market is its crowning glory and can be seen not only by most Montrealers from anywhere in the city but also served as a landmark for sailors on the St. Lawrence River.




Because much of the market was abandoned for a few decades previous to its closing in 1963, extensive renovations were made the following year and the market became the home to city government offices in 1964. In 1992, it became the information and exhibition center for the celebration of the city's 350th birthday and has remained an exhibition hall since that time.

Visitors to Marché Bonsecours, which is the headquarters of the Craft Council of Québec and the Institute of Design Montréal, can browse through more than a dozen boutiques and enjoy lunch or dinner at a selection of restaurants, including the unique theme restaurant, Cabaret du Roy, where guests can eat in an eighteenth-century atmosphere.


Thursday, July 26, 2018

St. Anne's Ward, or the Transformation of an Irish Montreal Neighbourhood: 1792-1970 - Sylvain Rondeau

Established in the 19th century, St. Anne's ward occupied the entire southwest area of Montreal. It was known as an Irish neighbourhood.

From Faubourgs to Ward

The ward originally consisted of two faubourgs, or suburbs, that had sprung up in the 18th century. The Faubourg des Récollets (also called St. Joseph) was located just outside the fortification gate adjoining the Récollet property. Running through the faubourg was St. Joseph Road (the future Notre-Dame Street), which later became Upper Lachine Road. Lying between the St. Martin River to the north and the Petite Rivière to the south, the faubourg had virtually reached its occupancy limit by the start of the 19th century.

Experiencing less rapid growth in the 18th century, the Faubourg Sainte-Anne, located further south, extended over a larger area where urban development did not begin until the early 19th century. It was crossed by the other road leading to Lachine, Wellington Street. The St. Gabriel farm was situated here. The southern section of this faubourg has long been known as Point St. Charles, a name still associated today with this area of southwest Montreal.

The incorporation of the City of Montreal led to the creation of municipal wards, including St. Anne's ward, which absorbed all of the former Faubourg Sainte-Anne as well as the southern part of the Faubourg Saint-Joseph in 1845. The ward was then bounded by St. Joseph Street (Notre Dame Street) to the north, McGill Street to the east, the St. Lawrence River to the south and the limits of the City of Montreal established in 1792 to the west.

The ward's history is intertwined with the major installations that were built there. The construction of the Lachine Canal in 1825 and subsequent work to expand it provided many unskilled labourers with employment. The building of the Victoria Bridge, which was completed in 1859, was also a source of jobs. Beginning in 1847, Montreal's first large factories were set up along the canal to take advantage of the hydraulic power generated by the locks. Like the Grand Trunk (future CN) railway shops, they turned St. Anne's ward into an industrial, working-class area. During the 1960s and 1970s, the closing of the Lachine Canal, the relocation of most industrial activity to other parts of Montreal and to the suburbs, and the building of highways led to the ward's decline.

Griffintown? Point St. Charles?

St. Anne's ward encompassed a number of different neighbourhoods, including Point St. Charles in the southwest, Griffintown in the northeast and Victoriatown in the southeast. Victoriatown disappeared in 1964 when work for Expo 67 was done.

In the last decades of the 20th century, one area of St. Anne's ward gradually came to play an increasingly important role in the collective memory of Montreal's Irish community. Formerly the Nazareth fief belonging to the McCord family, Griffintown owed its name to real estate developer Mary Griffin, who divided it into lots in 1804. Originally located between Mountain, William, Des Soeurs-Grises and De la Commune streets, its imagined territory extended beyond these initial boundaries. Factories and adjoining residential areas sprang up there beginning in the 1830s.

Point St. Charles is the name that was given to all of the former St. Anne's ward, the area between the Lachine Canal and the St. Lawrence River, at the end of the 20th century. Having progressively lost its industries, it evolved into a residential neighbourhood that saw renewed development beginning in the late 1990s.

An Irish Fief?
Contrary to popular belief, St. Anne's ward (and especially Griffintown) was not a solely Irish area. While a large proportion of its inhabitants (up to half in 1871) were of Irish origin, between a quarter and a third were French-Canadian, and others were English or Scottish. Moreover, the people who lived there accounted for only a third of all those of Irish stock in Montreal.

Nevertheless, St. Anne's ward played a major role in the history of the Irish community. During the great famine of the 1840s, thousands of people left Ireland to try their luck in the New World. Mostly poor, illiterate and from rural backgrounds, many of these unskilled workers settled in St. Anne's ward, finding jobs as workers or labourers at the nearby docks or factories.

During the first half of the 19th century, a steady flow of immigrants fuelled population growth in St. Anne's Irish community. This geographic concentration explained the inauguration, in 1854, of Montreal's second Irish church, St. Anne's, which became a parish in 1880. It also explains why this part of Montreal has long been represented municipally, provincially and federally by politicians of Irish origin.

Beginning in 1870, however, a number of factors contributed to the relative decline of this community. Immigration from Ireland dropped precipitously, while the social and geographic mobility of the city's Irish population resulted in some residents moving to other areas of Montreal, other regions of Canada or even to the United States.

In the 1920s, Italian and Eastern European immigrants settled in the area. In 1960 most of the people in Griffintown were of Italian or Ukrainian origin. By the early 21st century, the majority of residents of the former St. Anne's ward were French-speaking, living alongside people of all different backgrounds, some of whom had Irish roots. These Irish Montrealers, with their rich heritage, help to maintain the memory of the Irish character that used to be so strong in this neighbourhood.

A Working-Class Neighbourhood

In the 19th century, living conditions in St. Anne's ward were hard, especially because of the epidemics that struck Montreal. Being next to the river, the area was also frequently hit by flooding, with sewage and waste ending up inside the dilapidated houses, fostering the spread of mould, infections and disease. In the 20th century, these major scourges were better controlled, but the sorry state of the housing became even more evident.

An essentially working-class ward, St. Anne's was also the scene of a number of strikes. Fed up with their conditions, workers would down tools in an effort to force their employers to make improvements. In contact with fellow countrymen living in the United States, some Irish workers helped to spread trade unionism in Montreal and elsewhere in Canada.

In 1970 St. Anne's Church had virtually no more parishioners and was torn down. The demolition tolled the death knell for the Irish presence in the neighbourhood. A park on the site where the church used to stand is a reminder of the Irish community's history in an area that has been left to go to seed.

References
BOILY, Raymond, Les Irlandais et le canal de Lachine : la grève de 1843. Ottawa, Leméac, 1980, 207 p.

CROSS, Dorothy Susanne, « The Irish in Montreal », Master Thesis (History), McGill University, 1969, 308 p.

BENOIT, Michèle and Roger GRATTON, Pignon sur rue : les quartiers de Montréal, Montreal, Guérin, 1991, 393 p.

LINTEAU, Paul-André, Histoire de Montréal depuis la Confédération, Montreal, Boréal, 2000, 627 p