Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Maude Abbott



Maude Abbott, pathologist - Though world famous, Abbott was never promoted beyond the rank of assistant professor at McGill, where she taught because she was a woman.


Maude Elizabeth Seymour Abbott, pathologist (b at St Andrews East [St-André-Est], Qué 18 Mar 1869; d at Montréal 2 Sept 1940). Though she graduated in arts from McGill (1890), she was barred from medicine because of her sex, so she earned Bishop's CM, MD (1894); ironically McGill awarded her MD, CM (honoris causa, 1910) also LLD (1936). As assistant curator, McGill Medical Museum (1898), and curator (1901), she introduced the use of the museum in teaching pathology.

A disciple of William OSLER, she contributed to his text Modern Medicine (1908) the chapter on "Congenital Heart Disease," which he declared the best thing he had ever read on the subject. Apart from 2 years, her whole career was at McGill where, though world famous, she was never promoted beyond the rank of assistant professor.

She served as permanent international secretary of the International Association of Medical Museums and editor of its journal (1907-1938), and published many papers on pathology as well as histories of medicine and nursing. A trifle eccentric in later life, she was generous, active, always involved and sometimes known as "The Beneficent Tornado."


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

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Maisonneuve/Morgan public bath


Bain Maisonneuve opened its doors in 1916. It included a bath and a gymnasium. This building was part of a program to improve the hygiene and the security in the city of Maisonneuve. At the beginning of the 20th century, not all the houses were equipped with a bath, so the Maisonneuve public bath was useful in regards to general hygiene. However, six days per week the public bath was open to men only; women were allowed in the building on Tuesdays only.



Bain Maisonneuve was designed by architect Marius Dufresne. Dufresne contributed a lot to the development of the city of Maisonneuve; for example, he designed the Maisonneuve Market and the Château Dufresne, the latter one in partnership with French architect Jules Renard. The Maisonneuve public bath was inspired by a city planning concept from the United-States, called "City Beautiful", which aimed to improve and embellish the cities.

This Beaux-Arts style building has similarities with the Grand Central Station in New York. It is also inspired by the public baths of the Antique Rome. In front of the building, there is a bronze sculpture-fountain, entitled ''Les petits baigneurs", from artist Alfred Laliberté.

In 1918, due to bankruptcy the city of Maisonneuve was integrated to Montreal. As the new owner of the Maisonneuve public bath, the city of Montreal decided to turn it into the École de police de la Ville de Montréal. Thus, from 1920 to 1960 the building served as a training centre for the young policemen.

The building changed name for Bain Morgan in 1961. It returned to its first vocation and is still today a public swimming pool.

SOURCES: Mémorable Montréal

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

Monday, November 28, 2016

The Robillard


Last Thursday, a fire unfortunately destroyed The Robillard, a historic 19th-century building in Montreal's Chinatown district. As a heritage building, the Robillard certainly lived up to the designation with its historical significance: it was the birthplace of cinema in Canada.

On June 27, 1896, naval officer Louis Minier and his assistant Louis Pupier organized Canada's first public screening using a new device called the cinematograph. Developed by French filmmakers Auguste and Louis Lumière, the invention could project movies as well as record them — in direct competition with Thomas Edison's Vitascope projector.


ciurtesy – Montreal Archives 1921

Six months prior, the Lumières had revealed their world-changing motion picture technology for the first time to the public and charged for admission. Among several other films, Sortie de l'usine Lumière de Lyon(Workers leaving the Lumière Factory) was screened in Paris on Dec. 28, 1895, at the Grand Café on the Boulevard des Capucines. Soon the Lumières licenced their creation to entrepreneurs around the world, including Minier and Pupier. In fact, the Montreal screening was not only the first screening in Canada, but the first in North America — the Lumière cinematograph made its American debut at Keith's Union Square Theater in New York, just two days after Montreal.

At that time, Robillard was used as a variety and vaudeville theatre — the idea of a movie theatre did not yet exist, of course — but Minier and Pupier's demonstration proved to be so successful that the theatre was booked for a two-month run of the cinematograph before the duo toured the new technology around Quebec.

While that historic day in June in Montreal is now proven to be the first movie screening in North America, for many years Canadian film historians reported erroneously that cinema first came to this country by Canadian entrepreneurs Andrew and George Holland, who had licensed Edison's Vitascope for a public demonstration in Ottawa. That much-discussed screening took place in the nation capital's West End Park on July 21, 1896. A magician provided a 30-minute pre-show before the event, in which the Holland brothers screened Edison films like The Kiss. The historic event was recreated in the summer of 2014 by community organizers.

It was only in the 1980s that French-Canadian scholars Andre Gaudreault and Germain Lacasse disabused the notion that Ottawa's screening preceded Montreal's. Their research revealed the discrepancies in reports from English and French media sources about Canada's first film screening. Since Minier and Pupier had publicized the event in French (their English was supposedly not very good), the Robillard screening was never mentioned in English-language publications in Montreal at the time.

Nonetheless, French-Canadian journalists were quite taken with the Lumières' novel moving-picture technology. Here's one enthusiastic report from La Presse:

"We were shown, as in some strange phantasmagoria, scenes from different places in France. First there was the arrival of a train at the Lyon-Perrache station ... you could clearly see each individual. Is [sic] was most lifelike: you really were at the station. The train left and everything disappeared ... And the sea? We saw it, not immobile, but rolling its waves. Is [sic] was most striking. 'How refreshing!' cried a jocular fellow."

Anglophone film historians researching the time and place of Canada's first film screening had entirely missed the Montreal screening by examining solely English sources. "The discrepancies in the reporting of this event are a good example of what more and more historians have come to acknowledge: history is also — is mostly — a discourse, sometimes biased, made to serve interests and ideas," wrote Gaudreault and Lacasse in "The Introduction of the Lumière Cinematograph in Canada," an account of their research in the Canadian Journal of Film Studies.

The article also questions the idea of "firsts" in history, as the Lumière cinematograph and Edison's Vitascope were two of several similar inventions displayed at the time to project moving pictures. For example, the Eidoloscope — a motion-picture projector created by Eugene Augustin Lauste, Woodville Latham and his two sons — screened publicly in the spring of the same year that the Lumière brothers' and Edison's technologies were taking off. Yet it's rarely discussed when we talk about the "birth of cinema."

Over a century later, the memory of the now-destroyed Robillard Building should serve as a reminder that history isn't always as neatly squared away as textbooks might want us to believe — and that in the realm of Canadian cinema, Quebec has always been ahead of the curve.


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

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree


On December 25, 1943, the acrid smell of cordite hung over the rubble barricades of Ortona, Italy, where Canadians and Germans were engaged in grim hand-to-hand combat. Even amid the thunder of collapsing walls and the blinding dust and smoke darkening the alleys, the men of The Seaforth Highlanders of Canada and The Loyal Edmonton Regiment were determined to celebrate Christmas. They chose the abandoned church of Santa Maria di Constantinopoli as their banquet hall.



The dinner was set out on long rows of tables with white tablecloths, and a bottle of beer, candies, cigarettes, nuts, oranges, apples and chocolate bars at each setting. The companies ate in relays. As each company finished eating, they went forward to relieve the next. The menu was soup, pork with applesauce, cauliflower, mixed vegetables, mashed potatoes, gravy, Christmas pudding and mince pie. In the corner of the room was a small, decorated tree. Even amidst the dread of war, that most universal of Christmas symbols provided comfort and hope.

Though intimately associated with Christianity, the Christmas tree has a pagan origin. Many pagan cultures cut down evergreen trees in December and moved them into the home or temple to recognize the winter solstice, which occurs sometime between December 20 and 23. The evergreen trees seemed to have magical powers that enabled them to withstand the life-threatening powers of darkness and cold.

Legends about the first Christian use of the tree include that of a woodcutter who helps a small hungry child. The next morning, the child appears to the woodcutter and his wife as the Christchild. The child breaks a branch from a fir tree and tells the couple that it will bear fruit at Christmas time. As foretold, the tree is laden with apples of gold and nuts of silver. By the 1700s the Christbaum, or "Christ tree,” was a firmly established tradition in Germany.


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

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Christmas Trees In Canada

The first Christmas tree in North America appeared on Christmas Eve 1781, in Sorel, Québec, when the baroness Riedesel hosted a party of British and German officers. She served an English pudding, but the sensation of the evening was a balsam fir cut for the occasion and placed in the corner of the dining room, its branches decorated with fruits and lit with white candles. The baroness was determined to mark her family's return to Canada after a trying ordeal with a traditional German celebration.

Baron Frederick-Adolphus Riedesel was commander of a group of German soldiers sent by the Duke of Brunswick to help defend Canada. Riedesel and his family were taken prisoner during the disastrous British offensive in northern New York in 1777. They were not released until 1780, when they returned to Sorel.

The famous English engraving of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert and their tree in 1848. The German-born Albert helped to popularize the Christmas tree in Britain and Canada (Illustrated London News).

It is commonly said that the Christmas tree's popularity dates from the time of Prince Albert, consort to Queen Victoria, who decorated a tree at Windsor Castle in 1841 to celebrate their first-born son. However, though Albert may have popularized the Christmas tree, the English royal family had been decorating trees since at least 1800 when Queen Charlotte raised one at Queen's Lodge, Berkshire. The tradition only gained popularity among the general population after the illustration of the family's decorated tree at Windsor Castle was published in 1848.

The first time a Christmas tree was lit by electricity was in 1882 in the New York City home of Edward Johnson, of the Edison Electric Company. He lit a Christmas tree with a string of 80 small electric light bulbs, which he had made himself. These strings of light began to be produced around 1890. One of the first electrically lit Christmas trees was erected in Westmount, Québec, in 1896. In 1900, some large stores put up illuminated trees to attract customers.
Today the Christmas tree is a firmly established tradition throughout Canada, where the fresh scent of the evergreen and the multicoloured decorations contrast with the dark nights and bleak landscape. Beyond its pagan and Christian origins, the Christmas tree is a universal symbol of rebirth, of light in the darkest time, of hovering angels, and of the star that points to the place of peace.

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

Friday, November 25, 2016

Windsor Station/Gare Windsor




courtesy - Massey F. Jones

Looking north on a very muddy Windsor St., corner of St-Antoine in 1904.

Windsor Street south of Dorchester (now René Levesque Blvd) was renamed Peel Street/Rue Peel in 1968.

The granite building was not only the Montreal terminus for the Canadian Pacific Railway but also their Canadian headquarters, until then named CP moved its entire operation to Calgary in 1996 and changed its name back to Canadian Pacific Railway.

Behind the early Montreal Tramways streetcar, we see a faint outline of the elegant Le Windsor, then and now,  a historical nine-story structure, offering palatial splendor with a gold-embossed lobby, six restaurants,two ballrooms, concert hall and 382 luxurious guest-rooms.


courtesy – Massey F. Jones

Today  Windsor Station is not connected to any track and has been developed into a hotel and retail complex, with access the Lucien-L'Allier metro (subway) station which is below the station building and a connection to the Bell Centre, home of the Montreal Canadiens hockey team.  


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

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Île Bizard's rural schools


Before the beginning of the 19th century, Île Bizard's official name was ''île Bonaventure''. But Montreal's residents used to refer to it as ''île du Major'', ''île Major'' or ''île Bizard'', because from 1678 the seigneur of the island was Jacques Bizard, town-major of Montreal. However, neither Jacques Bizard nor his descendants lived in the island. In fact, there was no settlement in the North-West section of Montreal, including Île Bizard, at that time. From 1735, Jacques' Bizard eldest daughter, Louise, began to grant lands to settlers. Gradually, the population grew, and by the beginning of the 19th century the island was entirely settled. However, there was still no town, no church and no school at Île Bizard at that time.

The first school was erected in 1850. It has been in use during several years, until 1920 when it became too small for the needs of the students and the teachers. Thus, a new school was designed by architect Joseph Sawyer and built in 1923-1924. It was located at the same site where the first school stood.
This rural school had two classrooms on the ground floor, each of them having enough space for about thirty students. The first floor was used as accommodation for the teachers: it included two rooms and a kitchen. In addition to serving as a school, the building was also used as a meeting place for the municipal council.
In the 1950s, the same thing happened than a few decades earlier: the school was too small for the community's needs, so a new one was built. In 1964, the municipality of L'Île-Bizard acquired the 1923's rural school and transformed it into a town hall, following the plans of architect Patrick Stoker.

In 2001, the building was designated a historic place by the municipality of LÎle-Bizard.

Société patrimoine et histoire de l'île Bizard et Sainte-Geneviève

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

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Manseau No. 101 Dipper Dredger

My Uncle George passed away in November of 1964, he enlisted in the Merchant Marines at 17 years of age and traveled the world. He would occasionally call us from his latest port of call and tell us about the people he met, the cities he had visited and where he was sailing next.

Dipper Dredger
Manseau No. 101 Dipper Dredger
authors collection

Among his souvenirs I found a photograph of what looked to be a barge, there was no description save the name Manseau No. 101 Dipper Dredger.
It was a 10 cubic yard dipper dredger, one of the two largest dredges in the world. The dredgers were all run out of Sorel, Quebec owned by Marine Industries, Ltd.

Sorel, Quebec was not that far from where my uncle lived in Montreal. My assumption is he traveled to Sorel, possibly took some training there and off he went to sail the high seas. His favorite country was Spain.

The Manseau No. 101 was scrapped many years ago.

Boat Graveyard at Sorel, Quebec

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

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Disaster at Windsor Station

It's march 17 1909, St.Patrick's day. Around 08:30 the overnight train from Boston with 200 passengers aboard is being pulled by engine 2102. On the final approach to Windsor station an explosion happens in the engine scalding the engineer Mark Cunningham and fireman Louis Craig, the engine is uncontrolable, both the engineer and fireman jump out around Westmount. The passengers and the rest of the train crew are unaware of what is going on. The rear end brakeman senses something is wrong and applies the emergency brakes around Guy St. but it's not sufficient, the train plows in to the station.


Mrs W.J. Nixon of 143a Ash st in Pointe St-Charles is in the station washroom with her two children, they have no chance and all three perish. Louis Craig the fireman will survive, unfortunately the engineer mark cunningham dies.
My Dad worked for the CPR in the 50's and 60's and this story was still being told by train crews.

-courtesy Roger Albert Griffintown Memories

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

Monday, November 14, 2016

Farmville: Mr Lamy Feeds Maisonneuve's Poor


In 1917, during a recession, urban agriculture came out of the shadows. The Montreal Cultivation Committee lobbied Maisonneuve, then an city industrial city that was independent from Montreal, for formal urban agricultural programs.

Maisonneuve transformed at the future Maisonneuve Park into a gigantic vegetable garden in order to feed the poor. But planting crops required investment and the city had not approved a budget. In order to do his job, the garden’s superintendent, J.N. Lamy, gambled—he bet the harvest could cover the costs of starting the garden as well as feed the city’s poor.



We don't know much about J.N. Lamy, even his full name is a mystery. Like most ordinary men, he left few traces in the archives. But when he was the garden superintendent he kept meticulous records. Most of his notes are in one yellow covered ledger titled Cultures intensives de Parc Maisonneuve. He titled it intensive agriculture because he knew it was a huge venture. Every week, Lamy recorded the jobs completed and the hours his team of five worked. He calculated how much tending the garden cost—the tally carries forward for over twenty pages. Each detail was recorded in a steady, neat cursive. There is one exception; the recurring notation “chargés aux patates” is slightly askew. It crawls up the margins. The three words accompany smaller expenses Lamy couldn’t afford to pay. The note became more common as the season progressed.

A new venture meant everything has to be bought or borrowed, but Lamy had few resources. On May 29th, Lamy bought $241.75 worth of seeds on credit. He then bartered part of the harvest to rent a harrow, buy burlap sacks, and hardware to build fences. The note “chargés aux patates” preceded each purchase. The humble potato became currency, like salt during the Holy Roman Empire.

If it had been a meager harvest, it's unclear how Lamy would have covered the expenses or what he would have said to hungry families who were promised potatoes. City council did not know what Lamy was doing. The superintendent’s reports contained concrete numbers and no mention of the charge-to-the-potato system. By June, the potato seeds had cost $771.65 and another $955.80 was spent in wages, yet not one green stem poked above the ground.

In September, Lamy and his men leaned on their shovels and dug into the ground. Whiffs of sweat and loam must have made Lamy suck in his breath, hopeful. Their shovels tilted the earth up and revealed mounds of Prince Edward
Potatoes like gold nuggets. The team pulled potatoes out of the ground until the end of October, filling 1,050 eighty-pound sacks. The heavy sacks may have eased Lamy’s mind—the wait was over, the gamble won. He managed to feed several hundred families and cover his costs.

Lamy checked off all but one of the charged-to-the-potatoes marginalia. It was an end of season bonus that he had asked the city to approve. As superintendent, Lamy earned eighteen dollars a week--the same as the labourers, but he had more experience and responsibilities. The man who invented the charge-to-the-potato system tested it one last time. He asked for ten sacks of potatoes. Jos. Écrement, Maisonneuve Secretary-Treasurer, refused and the next day ended Lamy’s contract. Lamy helped feed the city, but the harvest must have been bittersweet.

courtesy: Jess Grosman

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

Friday, November 11, 2016

Leonard Norman Cohen


(21 September 1934 – 7 November 2016) was a Canadian singer, songwriter, poet and novelist. His work explored religion, politics, isolation, sexuality, and personal relationships. Cohen was inducted into both the Canadian Music Hall of Fame and the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame as well as the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He was a Companion of the Order of Canada, the nation's highest civilian honour. In 2011, Cohen received one of the Prince of Asturias Awards for literature and the ninth Glenn Gould Prizemore…



Well I've heard there was a secret chord
That David played and it pleased the Lord
But you don't really care for music, do you?
Well it goes like this:
The fourth, the fifth, the minor fall and the major lift
The baffled king composing Hallelujah


Well your faith was strong but you needed proof
You saw her bathing on the roof
Her beauty and the moonlight overthrew ya
She tied you to her kitchen chair
And she broke your throne and she cut your hair
And from your lips she drew the Hallelujah


But baby I've been here before
I've seen this room and I've walked this floor
You know, I used to live alone before I knew ya
And I've seen your flag on the marble arch
And love…


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


Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Sable Chief – Comforting Mascot


On March 31, 1949, the Island of Newfoundland officially became a Canadian province. However during the time of the First World War, 1914-1918, Newfoundland was still a dominion of Great Britain. When Britain declared war on Germany in 1914, Newfoundland was automatically at war as well. More than 12,000 Newfoundlanders rushed to enlist.

They came to be known as the “Blue Puttees” because of the colour of the wool fabric on their uniform that protected their legs.

In 1916, the Newfoundlanders went to France to fight at the Battle of the Somme to help stop the Germans from invading further into France.

The attack by the Newfoundland Regiment on the first morning of the Battle, on July 1st near the village of Beaumont-Hamel, was supposed to take the Germans by surprise. However, the Germans had been alerted about it, and they were ready and prepared. Unfortunately, as the Newfoundlanders left their trench to go over the top and advance toward the enemy for their attack, they walked into a hail of machine gun fire.

The losses were huge. Some 800 Newfoundlanders went into battle that morning and sadly, more than 700 of these brave soldiers would be killed, wounded or go missing in the fighting.



Those who survived the Battle at Beaumont-Hamel had to stay in France to continue fighting. This was hard because they were sad that they had watched many of their friends die on July 1st. It was difficult for them to keep their spirits up. Some Canadian soldiers noticed this, and offered the Newfoundland Regiment a canine friend. He was a very large Newfoundland dog named Sable Chief.

Sable Chief marched with the regimental band, and visited wounded troops. Being 150 pounds or more, his huge size attracted a lot of attention! Not only did he keep in step with the marching but it’s said that he would stand at the playing of the Newfoundland anthem, and stayed at attention until it finished. Sable Chief really boosted the spirit of the regiment! It’s comforting to know that pets and mascots can help humans feel better about unpleasant situations, just like Sable Chief did for the Newfoundlanders during the First World War.


Newfoundland Regiment mascot, "Sable Chief," surrounded by forget-me-not flowers, with Beaumont-Hamel Park in the background. – painting by Darlene Redmond

The families on the home front in Newfoundland who lost sons, fathers and friends on that tragic day, felt a great deal of grief and sadness. To remind them of their loved ones who died, they decided that every year July 1st would be called Memorial Day (similar to Remembrance Day), and they would wear little blue flowers called “forget-me-nots” on their shirts to remember.

The Government of Newfoundland also built five monuments in the shape of a caribou in France and Belgium, where the Newfoundland Regiment fought, and one in Newfoundland. The largest of these monuments is on a mound of rocks and plants native to Newfoundland at Beaumont-Hamel park in France. They chose the form of the caribou because it is an animal native and familiar to all in Newfoundland and Labrador, which also was the emblem used in the Newfoundland Regiment cap badge. These symbols of remembrance help the people of Newfoundland and Labrador keep connected with their past.


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

Monday, November 7, 2016

The Royal Canadian Navy 1914


Canada’s obsolete navy was unprepared for war, with only two under-equipped warships. The protection of Canada’s coasts was entrusted to the Royal Navy. But when the war started, the Royal Navy was occupied in locating and fighting German squadrons, leaving Canada largely defenseless.

Before the war started, reports indicated that German warships were headed for Canada’s west coast. HMCS Rainbow, stationed at Esquimalt, British Columbia with a partial crew and lacking proper ammunition, was Canada’s only naval defense against German warships that would surely have destroyed it.

Fortunately, the Germans never planned to raid in Canadian waters, but the perceived danger of enemy attack had a substantial influence on Canadian naval efforts. British Columbia Premier Sir Richard McBride secretly purchased two submarines from a shipyard in the United States. After significant work on submarines to get them seaworthy, they patrolled the west and east coasts during the war, but never saw action.


Desperate Efforts to Increase the Navy

To make up for the shortage of Canadian warships, several patriotic citizens loaned or gave their personal yachts to the navy. Other vessels were built by the Imperial Munitions Board. By war’s end, 100 small vessels had been pressed into service, most of them based in Halifax.




U-Boats Attack

In the summer of 1918, German U-Boats raided Canada’s east coast, attacking vulnerable ships. Canada’s small navy had little success in bringing the U-Boats to battle, but the war ended before the Germans did much damage.


Civilian Sailors

With enemy U-Boats causing serious losses to Allied merchant shipping, the Canadian government decided in early 1918 to establish and operate a strong merchant marine, the Canadian Government Merchant Marine (CGMM). The first annual report explained that these CGMM ships were “intended primarily to cooperate with the British shipping in supplying the necessities of war and in times of peace to provide the means of carrying abroad the produces of Canada’s farms, forests, mines and factories, without which Canada could not hope to take full advantage of the opportunity of expanding her export trade.” While there was an unknown number of civilian sailor casualties during the war, their work was essential in supporting the Allied war effort, and would prove equally important in the Second World War.


Tallying the Naval Effort

The Royal Canadian Navy expanded from a mere 350 sailors to over 5,000 from 1914 to 1918. Another 3,000 Canadians served with Britain’s Royal Navy. Over 150 Royal Canadian Navy sailors died during the war.


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

Saturday, November 5, 2016

La Fontaine Park


Prior to 1845, the land plot where the La Fontaine Park is was occupied by M. James Logan's farm. In 1845, the government of Canada purchased Logan’s land and used it as a training ground for British soldiers. In the second half of the 19th century, the authorities realized that there were few green spaces in Montreal, and they wanted to rectify this situation. Thus, in 1874 the city of Montreal leased the land and created a public park, which they called Logan Park. This project took place at the same time than the creation of other big parks of Montreal, such as the Mont-Royal Park and the St. Helen’s Island.



In 1889, trees were planted in the East part of the park, and greenhouses from the Viger Park were installed. Until 1952, all the flowers that ornamented the city grew in the Logan Park’s greenhouses.

In 1890, a house was built for the park keeper. It was occupied during 60 years by Mr. Bernadet, superintendent of the Montreal’s parks.



In 1900, two basins, a cascade and a bridge were installed in the park. The next year, the park’s name was changed to La Fontaine Park, in memory of Prime Minister Louis-Hippolyte La Fontaine.
In 1931, the Calixa-Lavallée pavilion was built according to the plans of architect J.-Albert Bernier. This neo-Romanesque building still stands in the park today.

In 1950, the La Fontaine Park was completely refurbished under the direction of Claude Robillard, director of the parks division of the city of Montreal. The lodge-restaurant was built according to the plans of architect Donat Beaupré. The refurbishing plan also included a place for concerts and an amphitheatre. In addition, the two basins were modified and a new bridge was built. The greenhouses and the keeper’s house were demolished.
In 1956, the Théâtre de Verdure, an outdoor stage for shows, opened. It still features free shows today.

From 1957 to 1989, the Jardin des merveilles was open to the public in the La Fontaine Park. This section of the park featured farm animals, exotic animals and sea lions.

In 2011, a restaurant and cultural center, Espace La Fontaine, opened in the central pavilion of the park.


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

Friday, November 4, 2016

John Frothingham


John Frothingham (June 1788 – 22 May 1870) was a Canadian merchant. He established British North America's largest wholesale hardware house, Frothingham & Workman. He was President of the City Bank of Montreal from 1834 to 1849, and a generous contributor to Queen's University, McGill University and Montreal's Protestant schools. The house he purchased in the 1830s, Piedmont (demolished in 1939), was one of the early estates of the Golden Square Mile. In 1890, its ten acres of grounds were purchased for $86,000 by Lords Strathcona and Mount Stephen, on which they built the Royal Victoria Hospital.

In 1788, Frothingham was born at Portland, Maine. He was the son of The Hon. John Frothingham (1749-1826), a graduate of Harvard University who became a Judge of the Superior Court of Massachusetts and kept a summer house at Portland. His mother, Martha (1763-1834), was the daughter of Samuel May (1723–1794), a prominent merchant of Roxbury, Massachusetts. He was a first cousin of Samuel Joseph May.



From an early age, John was employed in his uncle's, Samuel May's, hardware firm in Boston. In 1809, he was sent to Montreal to open a branch there. Following the War of 1812, Americans tended to be discriminated against both socially and in business, and he suffered a few early setbacks. However, Frothingham re-established himself by setting up his own hardware business in partnership with his younger brother, Joseph May Frothingham, who died in 1832.

In 1836, Frothingham went into partnership with William Workman, and their firm became the largest hardware and iron wholesale house in British North America. By 1853, Frothingham & Workman had moved to larger premises and started to manufacture some of their own merchandise.

Frothingham promoted and invested in a wide variety of business interests that were being formed during the expansion of Montreal in the 1840s. Among others, these included, Montreal Board of Trade, the St Lawrence and Atlantic Railroad, the Montreal Stock Exchange and the Canada Inland Steam Navigation Company. He was also associated with the British and Canadian School of Montreal and the Montreal Horticultural Society.

His principal business interest outside of his hardware firm was the City Bank of Montreal. Founded in 1831, it was the only bank since 1817 to have successfully broken the financial monopoly held by the Bank of Montreal. The initial capital had been supplied by investors from New York and Frothingham was associated with the bank from its origins, along with several other prominent Montrealers, who in opposition to the Scots-Quebecers were almost all English Canadian, French Canadian or American. Frothingham held a substantial quantity of the bank’s stock and he was a director of the bank for about sixteen years, before serving as the bank's President from 1834 to 1849. He resigned in 1849 after the bank sustained heavy losses and was succeeded by his close friend and business partner, William Workman. Frothingham took no interest in politics.



In the early 1830s, Frothingham had purchased Piedmont House from Louis-Charles Foucher, one of the early estates of the Golden Square Mile. The house stood among orchards and formal gardens and was approached by a long tree-lined drive. He purchased the house in the hope that the country air would cure his ailing wife. When Parliament met during the winter at Montreal, Piedmont had been used as the Governor Generals residence. The house was situated on the McGill University and was demolished in 1939.

Having retired from business in 1859, Frothingham lived quietly at Piedmont. Frothingham was a Presbyterian and a generous contributor to Queen's University, McGill University and Montreal's Protestant schools. His papers and diaries are kept at the University of Toronto.


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

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Montreal Southern Counties Railway line: Canada‘s first commuter electric trolley line


Prior to the construction of bridges to the South Shore, it was difficult, and at times, impossible to cross the St. Lawrence. During the summer, people had to travel by boat. One would cross over to Longueuil often by passenger Shull rowing boats. From there, one could board passenger trains to the United States or take stagecoaches to other locations. The same would be true for the shipping of trade goods on and off the island of Montreal. During the winter months and goods would wait until the river froze over before crossing on well marked paths across the ice. Those who wondered off these paths risked plugging through thin ice and a cold death.



The South Shore of pre-Victoria Bridge had few inhabitants who mostly lived in small villages along the river. Opened in 1859, the 1.9 mile long Great Victoria bridge was the first to span the St Lawrence River, and was first used only for train traffic.

Passenger lanes opened following renovations in 1897 and were rededicated as the Victoria Jubilee Bridge. This would easier access route change both the industrial and social migration direction as the South Shore became the first off-island suburbs
Montreal residents often escaped the summer heat by taking a day trip to the countryside, or owning a weekend cottage, on the South Shore of the river. When land on the island of Montreal began to get more expensive and further away, developers started looking off the island for cheap farmland and building a tramway link into the industrial heart of the city. With Montreal's industrial heart now based along the Lachine Canal and the Glenn Yards, it was an easy leap for workers to begin looking to move to the South Shore.

South Shore tramway development began with the newly formed Montreal Southern Counties Railway line. MSCR was Canada‘s first commuter electric trolley line would allow easy access into the city for work, and a means of returning home to the calm and cleaner air of the country in the evening.



A little train line that would open up the South Shore
Owned by then Grand Trunk Railway and later the Canadian National Railway, Construction of the M&SC began in 1906 with completed sections being opened for regular passenger service as follows: between Montreal and St-Lambert commencing on November 1, 1909; extending to Montreal South (Longueuil) on May 30, 1910; Greenfield Park and MacKayville on November 1, 1912; Richelieu on June 28, 1913; Marieville on September 28, 1913; St. Cesaire on May 3, 1914; By 1916, the M&SCR would be able to take passengers as far as Chambly and later reach into Granby.

The tramway would run from D'Youville Square at the bottom of McGill College Street in Old Montreal across the Victoria Bridge over into Saint-Lambert. From the switching station in Saint Lambert, one could board a trolley train to either Montreal South or get a connection to as far away as Granby.

The early residents were first generation Canadians often from Great Britain who had located in Pointe-St. Charles to work in the Glenn rail yards or in the many factories and plants that lined the Lachine Canal. Many were higher paid trades’ people who had learned they could purchase cheap land in the countryside far away from the smoky industries of "the Point" and still be able to commute to their jobs in less then an hour. The South Shore with its promise of home ownership became an attractive destination.
The better off folk took root in the towns of Saint-Lambert and Montreal South which were closest to the city. Further down the rail line, Greenfield Park and MacKay Ville became home to the trades- people who were mostly British immigrants from the Midlands. They brought with them their passion for gardening. By the 1930s, a majority of the population of the communities of Saint-Lambert, Montreal South, Greenfield Park, MacKay Ville, Croydon, East Greenfield, Brookline and Pinehurst were English-speaking.



During the warm summer afternoon Montreal day trippers would take the MSCR out to spend the afternoon playing baseball in the fields , swimming in the creaks that surrounded Saint Hubert and in those days the GREENFIELDS of Greenfield Park.

The typical trolley cars used by the M&SCR during its fifty-year run were purchased second -hand (even third) and were already well past their prime… Early passengers had few comforts, however later trains featured toilets and the every so often working heaters for those winter commutes. M&SCR – was nicked named the Montreal & Suffering Counties Railway ...

However despite their discomfort the MSCR would serve as the main public transit system for almost fifty years ... With trains serving as the centre point for a dozen small communities. By the 1950’s with more private cars and better access to the Jacque Cartier and Victoria bridges passage use was dropping off. By 1955 CNR who now owned the Victoria Bridge announced plans for improved two way lanes for automobiles and would no longer allow the MSCR to use the tracks along the Bridge .. This was the final nail in the coffin for the little train line that brought so much to Montreal’s South Shore. So on October 10,1956 the Montreal and Southern Counties trolley line would have its last run


Chicago Cubs Win The World Series!

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

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

William Notman 1826 - 1891

Notman was born in Paisley, Scotland, in 1826, and moved to Montreal in the summer of 1856. An amateur photographer, he quickly established a flourishing professional photography studio on Bleury Street, a location close to Montreal’s central commercial district.


His first important commission was the documentation of the construction of the Victoria Bridge across the St. Lawrence River. The Bridge opened with great fanfare in 1860, attended by the Prince of Wales and Notman's camera. The gift to the Prince of a Maple Box containing Notman's photographs of the construction of the bridge and scenes of Canada East and Canada West so pleased Queen Victoria that, according to family tradition, she named him "Photographer to the Queen."

The first Canadian photographer with an international reputation, Notman's status and business grew over the next three decades. He established branches throughout Canada and the United States, including seasonal branches at Yale and Harvard universities to cater to the student trade. Notman was also an active member of the Montreal artistic community, opening his studio for exhibitions by local painters; the studio also provided training for aspiring photographers and painters. Notman was highly regarded by his colleagues for his innovative photography, and held patents for some of the techniques he developed to recreate winter within the studio walls. He won medals at exhibitions in Montreal, London, Paris, and Australia.

Photography during the mid-19th century was not the simple process it later became. The typical tourist generally did not carry a camera and much of the Notman studio's images were taken with the tourist's needs in mind. Visitors would look through Notman's picture books and chose views, to buy individually mounted or perhaps made up into an album, and have a portrait taken as well. Street scenes in the burgeoning cities of Canada, the magnificence of modern transportation by rail and steam, expansive landscapes and the natural wonders, were all in demand either as 8" x 10" print, or in the popular stereographic form, and were duly recorded by the many staff photographers working for the Notman studio.

At William Notman's death, his eldest son and partner, William McFarlane Notman, inherited the company. When he died of cancer in 1913, his younger brother Charles assumed responsibility. In 1935 Charles retired and sold the studio to the Associated Screen News, and in 1957 the Notman Collection was purchased by McGill University. The 200,000 negatives, 43 Index Books, 200 Picture Books and assorted memorabilia were transferred to the McCord Museum of Canadian History. Notman's collection can be viewed here.


His residence from 1876 until his death, Notman House in Montreal was added to the Répertoire du patrimoine culturel du Québec historic registry on December 8, 1979.

Chicago Cubs - 9
Cleveland Indians - 3

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