Friday, September 30, 2016

Five Roses Flour Refinery


Five Roses Flour Refinery, graphite and
coloured pencil on Mylar, 2011 by G. Scott MacLeod.


Though not original, the illuminated sign on this building is a landmark well known to locals and visitors. Seen by travellers entering and leaving Montreal by train, boat and automobile, these 15-foot high familiar red letters flash 'Farine Five Roses' in 22 second cycles.

According to the Farine Five Roses Project, it was in 1946 that Ogilvie Flour Mills Co. Ltd. opened the New Royal Mill but their original sign, installed in 1948, flashed 'Farine Ogilvie Flour'. In 1954, Ogilvie purchased Lake of the Wood Milling and changed the sign to read 'Farine Five Roses Flour'. In response to the new signage laws in Quebec, in 1977 the word 'flour' was removed from the sign.

Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM) bought the company in 1993-1994. When ADM sold the Farine Five Roses brand to Smuckers in 2006, Smuckers promptly shut off the sign. Due to a public outcry against Smuckers for pulling the plug on this much-loved sight, the sign was later turned back on and still flashes today.


©2016 Linda Sullivan-Simpson
The Past Whispers
All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Lachine Canal



In 1819, the project to build the Erie Canal in New York State was a source of worries for the Montreal’s merchants: they feared that the Great Lakes trade would be diverted from the Montreal port and would be drawn towards the port of New York. In order that Montreal attracts commercial traffic, the navigation needed to be improved. Therefore, the Montreal’s merchants planned to build a canal that would allow to navigate without passing through the rapids of Lachine. To this end, they created the Company of the Proprietors of the Lachine Canal.

However, this company went bankrupt, and the government of Lower Canada took over the project. The construction of the Lachine Canal began in 1821, under the direction of engineer Thomas Burnett, and it was completed in 1825. 7 locks were built that allowed to pass through a 14.3 km-denivellation over a distance of 13.5 km between the port of Montreal and the Lake Saint-Louis. At that time, the Lachine Canal enabled the passage of small boats only.

Between 1825 and 1840, the number of boats using the canal increased sevenfold, and the boats were bigger and bigger. Thus, there was a need to enlarge the canal. The work was carried out in the 1840s, after the Act of Union reunited the Upper Canada and the Lower Canada into one entity, the United Province of Canada. In this new context, the British authorities decided to extend the canal system and to connect Montreal and the Lake Erie in order to foster the Canadian economy. Major canalization works were undertaken in 1843 and were carried out until 1848.

The Lachine Canal was widened, as well as the Welland Canal, which runs from Lake Ontario to Lake Erie, and the number of locks on the Lachine Canal was reduced to five. In addition, three new canals were built, in Beauharnois, Cornwall and Williamsburg.
The reconstruction of the Lachine Canal increased its flow in such way that it was now possible to use it to produce hydraulic power. Thus, several factories were established on the shores of the canal, beside the locks, where they benefited from this source of energy. The industries were mainly set up close to the Saint-Gabriel and Côte-Saint-Paul locks, where the denivellation is significant and allows for a good amount of hydraulic power.

During the first phase of industrial development, factories were mainly grouped around the Lachine Canal’s locks, but as the industrial development continued, factories gradually occupied all of the canal’s banks to the east of the Côte-Saint-Paul Lock.
In 1959, the St. Lawrence Seaway opened, allowing boats to navigate from the Greats Lakes to the St. Lawrence River and from there to the Atlantic Ocean. Boats were able to avoid the rapids without having to pass through the Lachine Canal. As a result, the canal was lesser and lesser used, and it closed to maritime traffic in 1970.

In 1978, the Lachine Canal passed under the responsibility of Parks Canada. The canal reopened to boating in 2002.

Sources: ‘’Lachine Canal National Historic Site’’, Parks Canada

©2016 Linda Sullivan-Simpson
The Past Whispers
All Rights Reserved

Monday, September 26, 2016

Tobogganing on Mount Royal Park Montreal, QC, 1885


This photo shows the members of the Club de la Tuque Bleue practicing their favourite winter sport on the slopes of Mount Royal.

-courtesy McCord Museum

Opened in 1876, Mount Royal Park was then considered by the English-speaking elite of the "Golden Square Mile" to be the "natural" extension of their neighbourhood, and they had difficulty conceiving that the park should be accessible to everyone. As a result, an imaginary boundary divided Mount Royal into two parts in the 1880s. For winter sports enthusiasts, this division meant that "proper people" tobogganed in the western part, while the youth of the working-class districts went down the slopes on the east side.

However, tobogganing, that "new craze," did not appeal to everyone. In 1885, the bishop of Montreal, Bishop Fabre (1827-1896), warned Catholics against the opportunities for sin associated with this activity, which was practiced by both men and women.


    ©2016 Linda Sullivan-Simpson
    The Past Whispers
    All Rights Reserved

    Saturday, September 24, 2016

    The Grand Trunk’s Industrial Complex


    In 1856, the Grand Trunk Railway opened a big complex of shops in Montreal to build and repair trains and locomotives. It was located in Point St. Charles, not far from the Victoria Bridge's construction site. An area of this industrial complex was intended to the work on the cars and coaches (metal and wood), while another area was intended to the work on locomotives (metal only).

    Engineering Dept. Staff - 1896

    By 1961, the Grand Trunk was the main employer in Montreal in regards to manufacturing jobs. In order to provide accommodation to all these workers, a series of houses, called "Sebastopol Row", were built in 1857.

    There were a lot of different buildings at the Grand Trunk's industrial complex: foundries, factories, shops for construction and maintenance, a warehouse, etc. There was also a station for the train passengers. At the beginning of the 20th century, the company's headquarters moved to Downtown Montreal, but the shops remained in Point St. Charles.

    In 1912, the Grand Trunk's President, Charles Hays, died in the sinking of the Titanic. It was a big loss for the company, which encountered financial problems and went bankrupt in 1919. The decision was made to merge with their rival, the Canadian Northern Railway, which was also in bankruptcy, and a new Crown corporation was founded in 1919, he Canadian National.

    The CN managed the industrial complex over the 20th century, and then rented it to ALSTOM in the 1990s. The site served again for construction and maintenance of locomotives and other vehicles. Today, the site is still owned by the CN but is not in use anymore.



    ©2016 Linda Sullivan-Simpson
    The Past Whispers
    All Rights Reserved

    Thursday, September 22, 2016

    The Borden Company, Ltd. 1857 - 1976


    Borden Milkmen

    Borden Dairy Montreal was a very complex organization so that it has operated under several names. In 1932, Borden marched purchaser of the dairy " Joubert " but the two dairies continued to operate with their respective names until 1976. That year, the "Coopérative agricole de Granby" ( Agropur ) bought the entire organization "Borden - Joubert."









    ©2016    Linda Sullivan-Simpson
    The Past Whispers
    All Rights Reserved

    Tuesday, September 20, 2016

    Louis Cyr




    CYR, LOUIS (baptized Cyprien-Noé, which he used until about 1880), farm-hand, lumberjack, weightlifter, policeman, and strong man; b. 10 Oct. 1863 in Saint-Cyprien (Napierville), Lower Canada, second of the 17 children of Pierre Cyr, a lumberjack and farmer, and Philomène Berger; m. 16 Jan. 1882 Mélina Comtois in Saint-Jean-de-Matha, Que., and they had a daughter, and a son who died in infancy; d. 10 Nov. 1912 in Montreal and was buried 14 November in Saint-Jean-de-Matha.

    A quick-witted child, Cyprien-Noé Cyr was wilful yet gentle by nature. From early on he was endowed with exceptional strength, apparently inherited from his paternal grandfather Pierre Cyr, a coureur de bois, trapper, and hunter, but also from his mother, a woman of imposing stature and physical power. The young boy’s unusual ability soon attracted the admiration of his family, who were keenly interested in the strong men and feats of strength popular at the time.

    After attending school in his village between the ages of 9 and 12, Cyr began working in a lumber camp in the winters and on the farm the rest of the year. In those places he performed his first feats of strength in public, impressing his fellow-workers with his prowess. According to one of his biographers, his mother then decided he should let his hair grow, like Samson in the Bible, and she herself curled it regularly.

    In 1878 the Cyr family emigrated to the United States to seek their fortune and settled at Lowell, Mass. While living in Lowell, Cyprien-Noé changed his name to Louis, which was easier to pronounce in English. He worked in a textile mill, on a farm, in a machine shop, and at various other jobs. There, too, he soon became famous for his prodigious strength. At 17 he weighed some 230 pounds. He was carefree and chubby, and his pink cheeks and long blond curls gave him a babyish look that made him the butt of many jokes. He enjoyed playing the violin, dancing, working out with weights, and showing off his strength. When he was about 18 he entered his first contest of strong men in Boston and succeeded in lifting a horse off the ground. The big baby was then taken seriously and held in respect by the community.




    In 1882 the Cyr family returned to the province of Quebec. Louis was married that year and went to work as a lumberjack. At the camp there was little in the way of entertainment, and his demonstrations of strength were among the most popular events. He undertook one feat after another, which soon became widely known for their unusual character. Hoping to improve his financial situation, Cyr moved back to Lowell with his wife in the spring of 1883. He was warmly received by Franco-Americans, who were already familiar with his exploits. A man named MacSohmer offered to organize a tour for him in the Maritime provinces and Quebec, where he would perform feats and challenge other strong men. It began in New Brunswick, but lasted only a few months. Cyr got nothing from it and had to part company with MacSohmer, who was a swindler.

    Cyr then went to the Quebec village of Sainte-Hélène (Sainte-Hélène-de-Bagot), where his parents were living. He persuaded his family to organize a tour of shows in which he would present his own acts. His father took charge of it. The Troupe Cyr, as it was called at the time, gave performances throughout the province and met with tremendous success. A natural showman, Louis easily convinced the public that he fully deserved the title of strongest man in Canada.

    In 1883 Cyr was offered a position involving less travel, as a policeman in Sainte-Cunégonde (Montreal). He held it until December 1885, and then went on tour again with a troupe of athletes recruited by Gustave Lambert, a Montreal wrestler, boxer, and weightlifter. In March 1886 he competed at Quebec with David Michaud, who was acknowledged as the strongest man in Canada. Cyr won an easy victory, lifting a 218-pound barbell with one hand (to Michaud’s 158 pounds) and a weight of 2,371 pounds on his back (to his opponent’s 2,071). The title of strongest man in the country now belonged to him.



    Around 1888 Cyr bought a tavern on Rue Notre-Dame in Montreal, where he did a few feats of strength to amuse his customers. But he felt most at home on stage, and within a year he resumed touring with his own show, which included his wife and his brother Pierre. He travelled across Canada and the United States. In 1890 he joined an American troupe and he earned a growing reputation as the strongest man in the world. In the autumn of the following year he left for Europe, where he wanted to defend this title. He performed mainly in England, but the great champions did not dare challenge him and conceded him the title.

    When Cyr returned to Canada in March 1892, he and strong man Horace Barré signed a one-year contract with the Ringling Brothers Circus of the United States. In 1894 the two men started their own circus, which had athletes, jugglers, acrobats, and strong men. It performed on Canadian and American stages for five years.

    In 1900, however, Cyr’s health began to fail because of his weight, overeating, and inactive lifestyle. The onset of Bright’s disease put an early end to competitions and public displays of strength. He moved to a farm in Saint-Jean-de-Matha, where he received his friends and told stories of his triumphs; occasionally he took on competitors, such as Beaupré the giant [Édouard Beaupré*] in 1901, who wanted to claim the championship for themselves. The last of these was Hector Décarie, who in February 1906 met him in Montreal’s Parc Sohmer but could not strip him of his title. Well aware of his limitations and the precarious state of his health, Cyr used the occasion, however, to confer the honour on his young challenger.


    Louis Cyr died at his daughter’s home in Montreal on 10 Nov. 1912 at the age of 49. The news appeared in the press the following day.


    Le Soleil and La Presse, among others, announced his death on the front page and, like Le Devoir andLa Patrie, devoted several columns to an account of his life and exploits. According to Le Soleil, “His glorious athletic career . . . helped shed on [the French Canadian] race the lustre of a reputation for strength and uncommon physical vigour.” His contemporaries immortalized their hero with an impressive statue, now held by the Musée de la Civilisation at Quebec; it keeps alive in the province the memory of Louis Cyr, whose feats are still said to be unequalled.

    -courtesy Dictionary of Canadian Biography


    ©2016 Linda Sullivan-Simpson
    The Past Whispers
    All Rights Reserved

    Monday, September 19, 2016

    Old Time Quebec Sugar Pie




    One pie shell (I cheat and don’t make my own. I find the store bought frozen shells quite good enough)
    One cup of brown sugar - packed (but not too tightly)
    One tablespoon flour
    Half a pint of whipping cream minus 2 tablespoons (for the metric inclined folks, that’s exactly 200ml).

    Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
    I'll give you the old and the new methods. I use the old method, some use the new one. I swear the old method makes a better pie... but maybe it's just me.
    Original method of preparation: dump the sugar and the flour into the pie shell. Mix the flour and sugar with your hands so that the flour is well mixed into the sugar. Dump the cream on top. Mix with your fingers, breaking any sugar clumps until the mix is uniform .
    Modern way of doing it: mix the flour and sugar in a bowl. Add the cream and mix thoroughly with a spoon. Dump into pie shell.

    Since this is an old-style recipe from the wood stove era, there is no specified amount of time to bake the pie. It will take between 45 and 75 minutes depending on your oven and depending on the ratio of ingredients. A pie with a little more flour than usual will take less time, one where there a bit more cream will take longer. Your baking time will vary from pie to pie.

    To check if the pie is fully baked, start checking it at around 45 minutes. The pie filling will start boiling from the outside and move toward the middle. It will first boil with large bubbles which will gradually disappear to be replaced with small tight bubbles. When the entire surface is bubbling with these tight bubbles and the edge of the filling is starting to dry up, the pie is ready. A good test is to shake the pie back and forth a bit. If the center is still liquid, it needs to bake some more. When shaking produces a movement that looks like soft pudding, it’s ready. The pie I baked for this took 65 minutes.

    Cool the pie completely to room temperature. The filling stays dangerously hot for a long time. Cool for at least 2-3 hours. Serve at room temperature by itself or with ice cream or whipped cream (for those with a strong liver).

    This pie never lasts for very long. It has been known to disappear after a few midnight trips to the kitchen


    ©2016 Linda Sullivan-Simpson
    The Past Whispers
    All Rights Reserved

    Saturday, September 17, 2016

    Don’t Call It A Pancake




    A ploye is not a crepe. Nor is it a pancake. For one, you don’t flip it.

    Seconds after being poured onto a hot, barely greased griddle, the surface of a ploye—a traditional Acadian buckwheat flatbread—will become pocked with hundreds of tiny, bursting bubbles. “Il fait des yeux, they call it in French,” says Father Paul Dumais, who serves as the chaplain of Saint Mary’s medical center in Lewiston, Maine. “they are making eyes [at you].” It’s a beautiful expression. The edges will brown and curl just slightly, and in just over a minute, the ploye is ready; the top still tender, the bottom golden.

    The best ones, Dumais remembers, were those just off his grandmother’s spatula. “Mémé, as they say up north, might stand at the stove making them while everyone else ate. You’d fight for the ones that just came off the griddle, because that seared bottom is enviable.” Without a Mémé to cook them à la minute, a stack would be made and kept in a low oven until it was time to eat, much the way fresh tortillas are.


    1 cup (225 ml) white buckwheat flour
    1 cup (225 ml) regular flour
    4 tsp (20 ml) baking powder
    1 tsp (5 ml) salt
    1-1/2 cups (350 ml) cold water
    1/2 cup (125 ml) boiling water


    Mix dry ingredients.

    Add cold water and let stand for 10 minutes.

    Add boiling water and drop to make thin 6" pancakes on hot griddle, 400 degrees I use ungreased cast iron fry pan or non-stick electric griddle, ungreased.

    Bake on one side only, until bubbles break and pancake is firm.

    Serve on warm platter.


    ©2016 Linda Sullivan-Simpson
    The Past Whispers
    All Rights Reserved

    Friday, September 16, 2016




    There are few foods which will clunk more satisfyingly to the bottom of your gut or stick more to your ribs: poutine, the quintessential pig-out dish from Québec.

    Pronounced poo-TEEN, the classical version is a heap of crispy golden fries piled in a disposable bowl, mixed with cheese curds, then smothered in piping hot beef gravy. The stuff has in the past been hard to come by outside of Canada, but it is catching on as desperate French-Canadians export it to places like Florida, California, New York, France, and other poutine-bereft areas where they find themselves stranded.

    Although scores of different versions now exist, this artery-clogging junk food was invented in the early 195Os, when a customer walked into a restaurant in Warwick, Québec, called "The Laughing Goblin" [Le Lutin Qui Rit], and special-ordered a pile of "frites" with brown gravy and cheese. The chef remarked, "That's a real mess", using the Québecois slang word for mess, which is "poutine", and dished it up. It was incorporated into his menu, and the rest is history.

    There seems to be general agreement as to the original and optimum method of preparation:

    Homemade fries, not frozen but ones actually cut off of potatoes in fat sticks, are fried golden, and placed in a bowl containing a handful of a particular type of cheese curd called "fromage en grain". It is not surprisingly a cheese named Kingsley, native to the Warwick area, mild, stringy and white, but not mozzarella or cheddar, similar perhaps to Monterey Jack, but shaped in many small lumps. More of this cheese is dumped on top of the fries, and then the entire melting mass is covered with preferably homemade and extremely hot brown beef gravy. The pile as it cools quickly coagulates into something resembling cement, and must be scarfed in haste, but not so soon that you burn the roof of your mouth.

    There are some famous and not-so-famous variations on this theme, although the fries and cheese are considered the Traditional Constant.

    "Poutine du Lac Long" has chopped beef and fried onions added.

    "Poutine Italienne" has, as one might suspect, spaghetti sauce instead.

    "Galvaude" is a poutine with chunks of chicken and green peas mixed in.

    The concoction, whatever its ingredients, is admittedly hard on the stomach, an experience not helped by the fact that the traditional liquid accompaniment is lots and lots of beer. These potatoes are for couch potatoes, and exercise of any sort alter consumption is not recommended


    ©2016 Linda Sullivan-Simpson
    The Past Whispers
    All Rights Reserved

    Thursday, September 15, 2016

    Berliner Gramaphone Company/RCA Victor



    Victrola1 (1)
    This was home of Berliner Gramophone Company. Note the sign showing Nipper the dog, the Berliner logo, followed by The Home of the Victrola.
    (photo dated approx 1912)

    The building now known as the RCA Victor building on Lenoir Street was originally built by the Berliner Gramaphone Company between 1908 and 1921 for the production of gramaphone equipment. Emile Berliner was born in Germany, moved to Washington, and finally settled in Montreal. He invented the telephone microphone, the gramophone and the flat record. When construction was completed in 1921, Berliner Gramophone possessed one of the most modern factories in Montreal. The 50,000 sq. ft. plant made both players and records.



    The Gramaphone Company bought the now-famous painting of Nipper the Dog from the English painter Francis Barraud in 1896.  Barraud had first offered the painting to representatives of the Edison-Bell Company who turned him down telling him that "dogs don't listen to phonographs".  

    This trademark first appeared in 1900 in Montréal on the back of record # 402 - "Hello My Baby", by Frank Banta.   This classic logo has adorned millions of Gramaphone, RCA, and RCA Victor recordings over the last 100 years.




    ©2016 Linda Sullivan-Simpson
    The Past Whispers
    All Rights Reserved

    Tuesday, September 13, 2016

    St. Henri Rail Transport


    St Henri Train Station on the Grand Trunk Railroad


    1836: Canada's First Railway

    The Champlain & St. Lawrence Railroad, Canada's first railway trunk was built in 1836 between Montreal's South Shore and St. Jean-sur-Richelieu. This 26 km long link was a considerable shortcut since the initial waterway route (St. Jean - Sorel - Montreal) was more than 150 km long.


    St. Henri Train Station


    1847: Montreals's First Railway

    The Montreal and Lachine Railroad was inaugurated several years's later in 1847 to provide a land link to bypass the treacherous section of the St Lawrence before the Lachine Canal was built. This railroad went through the middle of through St Henri and stopped near the corner of St Jacques and St Henri. Other stops included Bonaventure, Montreal West, and Beaconfield.



    The Grand Trunk Railroad

    In 1853, the Grand Trunk Railway was formed from an amalgamation of several smaller rail companies including the Montreal and Lachine Railroad. The first part of this line extended from Sarnia to Toronto and then Montreal. The second part ran from Montreal to Levis (on the South Shore of Quebec City) and then to the border of New Brunswick (then a separate British colony) where it met with the Intercolonial Railway.
    Rapid expansion and heavy competition resulted in The Grand Trunk's bankrupcy in 1919. The Federal Government took over the railway that year, placing it under the management of the Canadian National Railways in 1923.


    ©2016 Linda Sullivan-Simpson
    The Past Whispers
    All Rights Reserved

    Monday, September 12, 2016




    Saint-Henri 1859

    Saint-Henri is well known as a historically French-Canadian, Irish and black working class neighbourhood. Often contrasted with wealthy Westmount looking down over the Falaise Saint-Jacques, in recent years it has been strongly affected by gentrification.

    The area—historically known as Les Tanneries because of the artisans' shops where leather tanning took place—was named for St. Henry via the Église Saint-Henri, which at one time formed Place Saint-Henri along with the community's fire and police station. The bustle of a nearby passenger rail station was immortalized in the song "Place St. Henri" (1964) by Oscar Peterson.

    Saint-Henri is part of the municipal district of Saint-Henri–Petite-Bourgogne–Pointe-Saint-Charles. The borough hall for Le Sud-Ouest is located in a converted factory in Saint-Henri, bearing witness to the borough's industrial heritage.

    Église Saint-Henri was so named to commemorate Fr. Henri-Auguste Roux (1798–1831), the superior of Saint-Sulpice Seminary. The municipality of Saint-Henri was formed in 1875, joining the village of Saint-Henri and the surrounding settlements of Turcot, Brodie, Saint-Agustin and Sainte-Marguerite into one administrative unit. The municipality was incorporated into the City of Montreal in 1905.

    Well-known people from Saint-Henri include strongman Louis Cyr, who served as a police officer there; the Place des Hommes-Forts and the Parc Louis-Cyr are named for him. Celebrated jazz pianist Oscar Peterson grew up in Little Burgundy which is the neighborhood adjacent to Saint-Henri. Stand-up comedian Yvon Deschamps has described the daily struggle of Saint-Henri's citizens with humorous melancholy.

    Saint-Henri and Little Burgundy are considered to have a fairly common social makeup. Historically, Saint-Henri was occupied predominantly by European blue-collar workers while Little Burgundy was occupied primarily by African-Canadians who worked on the railroads. – courtesy Wikipedia

    Two of my grand aunts lived in Saint-Henri. Evelina (Bernard) Mailhot and her husband Anatole lived near the train because Anatole was an engineer. Anita (Bernard) Blanchette and her husband Joseph lived for a time in Saint-Henri as they had a shop before moving to Verdun.


    ©2016 Linda Sullivan-Simpson
    The Past Whispers
    All Rights Reserved


    Saturday, September 10, 2016

    The Darling Foundry



    Although Montréal was already the commercial centre of Canada by the late 18th century, the invention of the steam-powered engine in 1811 was the catalyst to the industrial revolution here, just as in the rest of the world, making Montréal the undisputed hub of Canadian industry as well. With the creation of the Lachine canal, built between 1821 and 1825, the modernization of the port between 1830 and 1845, and the building of a railroad between Montréal and Lachine, manufacturers settled along the banks of the canal and in the Faubourg des Récollets (formerly Griffintown). A high demand for ship building, machined parts, and iron works led to the establishment of several foundries in the Faubourg.

    The Darling Brothers got their start in 1880, at a time when metal works in Griffintown were operating at full tilt. First housed in a building at Queen and Ottawa Streets, they found they needed more space by 1888. Architect J.R.Gardiner built a second building and in 1909 another addition was needed. In 1918, the Brothers decided to add a fourth building, and they retained T.Pringle & Son’s engineers to build it for them. At the height of its production, the Darling was the second most important foundry of Montreal, housing more than 100,000 ft2 of functional space. Each of its 4 buildings was dedicated to its own specialized purpose: inventory & stock, a showroom, the iron works, and the assembly plant.

    The Darling Foundry is an important example of the quality of construction of buildings of its kind, and an important symbol of our industrial history. Its foundations and portals are made of concrete with steel rod reinforcements. The principal façade and secondary walls are made of brick. The Darling gets its nickname, “the snake,” from the elaborate ventilation system visible to passersby, on its roof.

    The Darling Foundry continued to prosper until 1971, employing more than 800 people at one point. The Brothers were known for their particular technique of pouring metal into “grey sand” molds, as well as the high-quality of their machined parts, used widely in construction. Several separate parts would be poured and, once hardened, would be soldered together to create the finished pieces. Although the company was commissioned to produce armaments during the two World Wars, it was principally known for its production of industrial equipment, including heating systems, steam and water pumps, elevators and tramway stairs.

    The Lachine Canal was closed in 1970, affecting the fortunes of many companies including the Darling Foundry. The company was sold to Pumps and Softerner in 1971. All of these changes were symptomatic of the end of Griffintown’s industrial role. Griffintown is known, today, as the Faubourg des Récollets.

    The extent of the DF’s metal works operations demonstrate how important a role they played in the development of the industry and in the economic and commercial activity of the port of Montreal.

    The Darling Foundry shut down all operations in 1991, and the building was abandoned for the next 10 years.


    ©2016 Linda Sullivan-Simpson
    The Past Whispers
    All Rights Reserved

    Thursday, September 8, 2016

    The Tin Flute



    The story takes place in Montreal, principally in the poor neighbourhood of Saint-Henri, between February 1940 and May 1940, during the Second World War, when Quebec is still suffering from the Great Depression.

    Florentine Lacasse, a young waitress at the "Five and Ten" restaurant who dreams of a better life and is helping her parents get by, falls in love with Jean Lévesque, an ambitious machinist-electrician. Wanting to satisfy his withered ego, he agrees to date Florentine. Quickly tiring of the relationship, Jean introduces her to a friend, Emmanuel Létourneau, who is a soldier on leave. Emmanuel falls in love with Florentine. Despite this, Florentine's attraction towards Jean will have important consequences in her life. A parallel thread in the novel is the Lacasse family life, made difficult by their poverty.


    The Tin Flute (original French title Bonheur d'occasion, "secondhand happiness"), Gabrielle Roy’s first novel, is a classic of Canadian fiction. Imbued with Roy’s brand of compassion and understanding, this story focuses on a family in the Saint-Henri slums of Montreal, its struggles to overcome poverty and ignorance, and its search for love.

    A story of familial tenderness, sacrifice, and survival during World War II, The Tin Flute won both the Governor General's Award and the Prix Femina of France. The novel was made into a critically acclaimed motion picture in 1983. It was originally published in French as Bonheur d'occasion (literally, 'secondhand happiness'), which represents the character's sense of rebound love in the novel.

    Roy's first novel, Bonheur d'occasion (1945) gave a starkly realistic portrait of the lives of people in Saint-Henri, a working-class neighbourhood of Montreal. The novel caused many Quebecers to take a hard look at themselves and is regarded as the novel that helped lay the foundation for Quebec's Quiet Revolution of the 1960s.

    The original French version won Roy the prestigious Prix Femina in 1947. Published in English as The Tin Flute (1947), the book won the 1947 Governor General's Award for fiction as well as the Royal Society of Canada's Lorne Pierce Medal.

    Distributed in the United States, where it sold more than three-quarters of a million copies, the Literary Guild of America made The Tin Flute a feature book of the month in 1947. The book garnered so much attention that Roy returned to Manitoba to escape the publicity.


    ©2016 Linda Sullivan-Simpson
    The Past Whispers
    All Rights Reserved

    Wednesday, September 7, 2016

    Stanford Friends and Family Letter Project


    By VJ PERIYAKOIL, M.D.SEPT. 7, 2016

    Over the last 15 years, as a geriatrics and palliative care doctor, I have had candid conversations with countless patients near the end of their lives. The most common emotion they express is regret: regret that they never took the time to mend broken friendships and relationships; regret that they never told their friends and family how much they care; regret that they are going to be remembered by their children as hypercritical mothers or exacting, authoritarian fathers.

    And that’s why I came up with a project to encourage people to write a last letter to their loved ones. It can be done when someone is ill, but it’s really worth doing when one is still healthy, before it’s too late.

    It’s a lesson I learned years ago from a memorable dying patient. He was a Marine combat veteran who had lived on a staple diet of Semper Fi and studied silence all his life. A proud and stoic man, he was admitted to the hospital for intractable pain from widely spread cancer. Every day, his wife visited him and spent many hours at his bedside watching him watch television. She explained to me that he had never been much of a talker in their 50-plus years of marriage.

    But he was far more forthcoming with me, especially when it became clear that his days were numbered. He spoke of his deep regret for not having spent enough time with his wife, whom he loved very much, and of his great pride in his son, who had joined the Marines in his father’s footsteps.

    One afternoon, when I mentioned these comments to his wife and son, they looked incredulously at each other and then disbelievingly at me. They thanked me for being kind but stated that my patient was incapable of expressing such sentiments.

    Continue reading the main story


    Stanford Friends and Family Letter Project


    ©2016 Linda Sullivan-Simpson
    The Past Whispers
    All Rights Reserved

    Tuesday, September 6, 2016

    Life On The Home Front: Montreal 1939 - 1945

    Life On The Homefront

    The Second World War came hard on the heels of a devastating Depression in which families struggled to survive. Life on the Home Front paints a poignant portrait of a city coping with the demands of war. Montrealers, along with other Canadians, were being asked for more sacrifice but this time it would include sending their sons,brothers, fathers and husbands off to war.
    Montrealers had to "Use it Up, Wear it Out, Make it Do, and Do Without" as one slogan cautioned, and this they did. Many women went to work for the first time and often enjoyed the heady success of doing "a man's job"and earning a regular salary.

    Life on the Home Front describes how dissent was also an ever-present reality. Montreal was often awash with anti-war banners and angry speeches which kept the police and journalists busy. Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King had to walk a fine line in keeping the country together and united at a time of grave crisis.

    All was not gloom and doom, however. Servicemen passing through Montreal as well as locals could enjoy the most vibrant nightlife in Canada. The cozy relationship between city officials, the police and the owners of "disorderly houses" as well as the shady characters who ran gambling establishments gave the name "Sin City "to Canada's metropolis.

    (c)2016 Linda Sullivan-Simpson
    The Past Whispers
    All Rights Reserved

    They Were So Young: Montrealers Remembering WWII


    These gripping stories of young men and women who served in the army, navy, and air force during World War II are a testament to the raw courage, youthful bravado, camaraderie, and sacrifice needed to defeat a powerful enemy. Many who returned from the theatre of war were never the same again. Moving accounts by family members relate the impact the war had on their lives - the pain of losing a son, father, brother, or husband, and the welcoming of war brides into the family.

    This is history that must never be forgotten.

    ©2016 Linda Sullivan-Simpson
    The Past Whispers
    All Rights Reserved

    Monday, September 5, 2016

    Quebec’s Secret Meat Pie – Cipaille



    BRYSON, Que. — Ivan Saunders stood in the kitchen at the Lions Club, filling a metal bowl — a particular metal bowl, so big you could bathe a dog in it — with cups of flour and bricks of lard. He started to spoon in baking soda, then paused, nodding at one of the dozen other cooks.

    “Would you —”

    The cook walked to the kitchen’s electric panel, opened it and squinted at the faded label stuck to the inside of the panel door. Then he barked out the number of tablespoons of baking soda required and Saunders, 80, went back to mixing, spraying flecks of lard and flour onto his shirt.

    Decades earlier, an old man who cooked at the logging camps in northern Quebec saw Saunders struggling with the dough and passed on his recipe. Ivan used a blue pen to scratch a few numbers and letters on the electrical panel as a reminder — more a code than a recipe. Those numbers have served ever since as the only written instructions guiding this contingent of amateur cooks in their summer ritual. They guard it carefully, always cognizant of their rivals in neighbouring towns.

    Here, in Bryson, Que., a village of 647 people, west of the Gatineau Hills along the Ottawa River, the long weekend in August is reserved for the picnic. It is a festival with one purpose: to honour an extraordinary, endangered meat pie.

    - See more at:




    ©2016 Linda Sullivan-Simpson
    The Past Whispers
    All Rights Reserved

    Sunday, September 4, 2016

    Atwater Market




    Atwater Market is a farmers' market located in the Little Burgundy area of Montreal, Canada. It opened in 1933. The interior market is home to many butchers and the Première Moisson bakery and restaurant. 

    The market's Art Deco building was designed by architect Ludger Lemieux, working with his son, Paul Lemieux. It is located on Atwater Street, near the Lachine Canal and the Lionel-Groulx Metro station, as well as Greene Avenue. A pedestrian bridge, which can also be used by bicycles, connects the market to Saint-Patrick Street and to a bicycle path in Pointe-Saint-Charles on the other side of the Lachine Canal.

    The presence of this bridge explains the popularity of this market with bike riders, who often stop there, and greatly contributes to the great summer ambiance of the area. The bike path travels from the Old Port of Montreal to the Lachine Marina and is owned and maintained by Parks Canada.

    The market is named for Atwater Street, named for Edwin Atwater (1808–1874), a municipal alderman of the district of Saint-Antoine. The street was named for him in 1871.

    Ludger Lemieux
    1872 - 1953

    Born in West Farnham in the Eastern Townships, Lemieux studied at McGill University and worked in Montreal. He was associated for some time with Joseph-Honoré-MacDuff (1869-1918) but, in 1931, began working with his son Paul, with whom he designed the Atwater Market.

    He was also responsible for the Tooke Brothers factory, the Workman Building, the Sainte Irénée Church (next to Atwater Market), and other buildings in Saint-Henri, including the fire station (no. 23) and the Saint-Zotique Church.


    ©2016 Linda Sullivan-Simpson
    The Past Whispers
    All Rights Reserved

    Saturday, September 3, 2016

    Little Burgundy


    In 1887, Sainte-Cunegonde (now familiarly referred to as Little Burgundy) started playing host to the majority of Montreal’s black community. This working class neighbourhood generated as a result of nearby industry along the Lachine Canal. Important railway lines also ran close to the municipality and recruited the American black community to serve as porters on its trains. Immigrants were mostly attracted from New York and Washington.

    Gradually, the neighbourhood welcomed Afro-Canadians (from Ontario and the Maritimes) and those from the Caribbean, too. Women were mostly hired to perform domestic work. After two waves of immigration - at the end of the nineteenth century and during the First World War - Caribbeans represented close to 40% of Montreal’s black community and most of them chose to live in Little Burgundy.

    Human rights movements characterize the history of Little Burgundy. In 1902, a social club was founded to create a sense of mutual responsibility between its members; this Women’s Coloured Club of Montreal helped to resolve lodging problems and encouraged exchange and donation to provide for those less fortunate.

    Betterment of social conditions again spawned two other groups: Union United Congrational Church in 1907 and Negro Community Center in 1927. In 1919, a final organization, Universal Negro Improvement Association, adopted the mandate of restoring dignity, ending social isolation, and helping with the material needs of families.

    People came to this area in hopes of a better future and yet had to be patient for three decades before certain rights were guaranteed. The general misery of factory work, the poor working and living conditions and the poverty affected the black community more given very present racism and discrimination.

    Fortunately, those social groups and the subsequent closeness of the community overcame the threat of overwhelming hopelessness. Instead, their hope was often manifested in the form of music. Jazz was introduced to Canada through the influence of gospel singing and the importance of native songs to the Afro-Americans.



    Atwater Market was the border between Saint-Henri and Little Burgundy.

    The neighbourhood gave the world jazz legends Oscar Peterson and Oliver Jones.


    Peterson was born to immigrants from the West Indies; his father worked as a porter for Canadian Pacific Railway. Peterson grew up in the neighbourhood of Little Burgundy in Montreal, Quebec. It was in this predominantly black neighbourhood that he found himself surrounded by the jazz culture that flourished in the early 20th century.


    Oliver Theophilus Jones OC,CQ (born September 11, 1934 in Little Burgundy, Montreal, Quebec) is a Canadian jazz pianist, organist, composer and arranger.


    ©2016 Linda Sullivan-Simpson
    The Past Whispers
    All Rights Reserved

    Friday, September 2, 2016

    The Shamrock and the Shield: An Oral History of the Irish in Montreal




    Although there have been some Irish living in Montreal since the early 1600's, augmented by Irish soldiers arriving with the conquering British army, it was only in the early 1800's that an Irish presence was truly noticed.

    By 1824 there were sufficient Irish in Montreal to organize the first St. Patrick's Day Parade, and ten years later the St. Patrick's Society was founded. In 1847 St. Patrick's Basilica, Montreal's first church built for the Irish Catholics opened--a year before thousands of sick Irish escaping the famine in Ireland arrived.



    ©2016 Linda Sullivan-Simpson
    The Past Whispers
    All Rights Reserved

    Thursday, September 1, 2016

    The History of a Sugar House




    Redpath, today a household name for sugar in Canada, has its roots in the story of an enterprising Scots immigrant, initially a stone mason and later a building contractor during the boom days of Montreal’s growth from a small provincial centre to a major North American city. In 1854, the ever-energetic John Redpath, by then a self-made millionaire in his late fifties, launched a new career as an industrialist. With his son, Peter, and the gifted George Alexander Drummond as manager, he established Canada’s first successful sugar refinery.

    The Redpath story encompasses the influence of sugar as an economic force, the emergence of the elegant social life of cosmopolitan Montreal and a hind-sight view of the complexities of the love-hate relationship between government and business.

    This, the first of two volumes, moves through Canada’s period of extensive industrialization to the turn of the century, the impact of World War I and concludes in the post-war years. Throughout this period, the familiar Redpath trademark, a reproduction of John Redpath’s signature, is a reminder of the heritage inherent in Canada’s business and social history.


    ©2016 Linda Sullivan-Simpson
    The Past Whispers
    All Rights Reserved