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.

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

Monday, July 16, 2018

Dawes Brewery

Year unknown.
9 of the 31 Black horses owned by the Dawes brewery in Montreal.
The stables were in Griffintown

Entrepreneur Thomas Dawes founded the Dawes Brewery in 1811 on the banks of the Lachine Canal.

When he died, his two sons, Thomas and James, took over the company. When James died, his two sons went into business with their uncle Thomas. One of these two grandsons, Andrew James, eventually assumed ownership of the company and became president of National Breweries Ltd., a group of breweries including the Dawes Brewery.

This company was the first in Canada to employ the telegraph, using it to communicate between its Lachine facility and offices downtown.

A true family business, the company continued to be run by other descendants (including Norman J., Kenneth T., and Donald) between 1921 and 1952, although the brewery shut down its Lachine operations in 1927.

1943-1944 sign atop of Dawes brewery on St-Maurice St.

After that, the buildings were used for various purposes: a candle factory, the sale and repair of household articles, and now a museum. The Maison du Brasseur (Brewers home), Vielle Brasserie (Old Brewery), and Pavillon de l'Entrepot (Warehouse) now make up the Guy-Descary Cultural Complex.

Photographs courtesy of Roger Albert and Griffintown Memories on Facebook

Friday, July 6, 2018

Apocalypse for a horseman

FOR 40 YEARS, Leo Leonard has been operating the Griffintown Horse Palace. But a redevelopment plan for the area would turn his property into housing and commercial space.

Leo Leonard at his Griffintown stable on Ottawa St., with horse Rocky in the background. “People say I should turn the place into a zoo and charge admission,” he says.

During the Second World War you could hire a calèche to take you up to Mount Royal for $5. Today, if you can find a driver willing to make the four-hour return trip to the mountain, it would cost about $300.

“When I began driving in 1942, it was another era,” said Leo Leonard. He has owned the Griffintown Horse Palace on Ottawa St. for 40 years.

“Back then there were 62 carriages at Dominion Square outside the Windsor Hotel and another 25 outside the gates of McGill. Today, there are only 35 calèche drivers’ permits, and all the drivers are down in Old Montreal.”

The price of a calèche ride is $45 for a half-hour, $80 for an hour. Competition is stiff.

Horse-drawn carriages are an anachronism in the 21st century, and their future, as well as that of Leonard’s stables just south of the École de technologie supérieure on Notre Dame St. W., is up in the air.

The Southwest borough has designs on Leonard’s property, one of the last in the area to house horses.

A redevelopment plan unveiled in October for the neighbourhood has the stables, tack house and corral earmarked as an area for office and commercial space, and affordable and subsidized housing.

Inspired by Toronto’s Distillery district, an industrial area that was transformed into a gentrified neighbourhood, urban planners see Griffintown as an ideal site for redevelopment.

Heritage Montreal’s Dinu Bumbaru says while he wel- comes development in the area, razing the stables would be a mistake.

“They are not a great monument,” he said, “but they are the only remnants to remind us that the driving force behind the metropolis was the horse.

“There is room in the city’s heritage policy to keep Leonard’s stables, and perhaps integrate them into a … network of Montreal memory to remind us it is the unheralded blue-collar workers who make a great city.”

Leonard was born in Goose Village and raised in Griffintown. He is 81.

Known as Clawhammer Jack, he is probably one of the last residents to have lived and worked in the neighbourhood for eight decades.

His permit to run his stable has a grandfather clause that states he can keep horses on the property as long as he owns it.

Leonard concedes, however, developers are eager to acquire his land, and perhaps the time has come for him to sell.

“I’ve always been in the horse business, but now I’m fed up with the industry,” Leonard said.

“People say I should turn the place into a zoo and charge admission,” he said with a chuckle.

Leonard bought the stables, which date from 1862, for $15,000 in 1967 when the city ran the Ville Marie Expressway eight blocks to the east, and people moved out of the neighbourhood.

He won’t say how much he wants for the property, which contains residential units, a tack house, a barn for eight horses and a small exercise corral.

“I’m not supposed to talk about anything, but, yes, agents have been coming around to talk to me about selling. We’ll see what happens,” Leonard said.

In addition to his property, he says, real estate agents are looking at a nearby scrapyard and an old paint shop next door.

Should he sell, Leonard isn’t sure what he’ll do if he no longer has horses to look after.

“I won’t go live in Florida, that’s for sure,” he said. “You’ll never catch me on a plane.”

Sunday, July 1, 2018

O Canada!

History of Canada Day
Canada’s national holiday is celebrated on July 1.

Canadians across the country and around the world show their pride in their history, culture and achievements. It’s been a day of celebration, where many festivities are held across the country, since 1868.

The Creation of Canada Day
July 1, 1867 : The British North America Act (today known as the Constitution Act, 1867) created Canada.

June 20, 1868 : Governor General Lord Monck signs a proclamation that requests all Her Majesty’s subjects across Canada to celebrate July 1.

1879 : A federal law makes July 1 a statutory holiday as the “anniversary of Confederation,” which is later called “Dominion Day.”

October 27, 1982 : July 1, “Dominion Day” officially becomes Canada Day.

The Celebrations Start
July 1, 1917 : The 50th anniversary of Confederation. The Parliament buildings, under construction, are dedicated to the Fathers of Confederation and to the courage of Canadians who fought in Europe during the First World War.

July 1, 1927 : The 60th anniversary of Confederation. The Peace Tower Carillon is inaugurated. The Governor General at the time, Viscount Willingdon, lays the cornerstone of the Confederation Building on Wellington Street.

From 1958 to 1968 : The government organizes celebrations for Canada’s national holiday every year. The Secretary of State of Canada is responsible for coordinating these activities. A typical format includes a flag ceremony in the afternoon on the lawns of Parliament Hill and a sunset ceremony in the evenings, followed by a concert of military music and fireworks.

July 1, 1967 : The 100th anniversary of Confederation. Parliament Hill is the backdrop for a high-profile ceremony, which includes the participation of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

From 1968 to 1979 (with the exception of 1976): A large multicultural celebration is presented on Parliament Hill. This concert is broadcast on television across the country. The main celebrations (called “Festival Canada”) are held in the National Capital Region throughout the month of July. These celebrations include many cultural, artistic and sport activities and involve the participation of various municipalities and volunteer associations.

From 1980 to 1983 : A new format is developed. In addition to the festivities on Parliament Hill, the national committee (the group tasked by the federal government to plan the festivities for Canada’s national holiday) starts to encourage and financially support the establishment of local celebrations across Canada. Start-up funding is provided to support popular activities and performances organized by volunteer groups in hundreds of communities. Interested organizations can make a request to the Celebrate Canada program.

1981 : Fireworks light up the sky in 15 major Canadian cities, a tradition that continues today.

1984 : The National Capital Commission (NCC) is given the mandate to organize Canada Day festivities in the capital.

2010 : Festivities on Parliament Hill receive a royal treatment when Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh join the festivities to celebrate Canada’s 143rd anniversary.

2011 : Their Royal Highnesses Prince William and Catherine, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, participate in Canada Day festivities on Parliament Hill on the occasion of Canada’s 144th anniversary.

2014 : Canadian Heritage organizes the 147th Canada Day celebrations. As we approach Canada’s 150th anniversary in 2017, the government has given the Department the mandate to organize Canada Day festivities in the capital.

2018: Happy 151st Anniversary, Canada!

Friday, June 22, 2018

Institute of the Sœurs de la Miséricorde

The Sisters of Misericorde were a religious congregation founded by Marie-Rosalie Cadron-Jetté (1794 - 1864) in Montreal, Quebec, in 1848 and was dedicated to nursing the poor and unwed mothers.

The Institute of the Sœurs de la Miséricorde reminds us of the essential role played by religious congregations in 19th-century Montreal life. The Institute holds a place of major importance in the built landscape along Rue De La Gauchetière and Boulevard René-Lévesque, in particular because of the commanding presence of its classical architecture, featuring grey stone buildings, and the tree-filled courtyards that flank the chapel.

Adoption records now open for Misericorde Hospital:Here

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Montreal's Forgotten History

Founded in 1822, at the British and Canadian School one teacher would oversee hundreds of students, with the older students instructing the younger ones.

Modern day teachers may not approve, but it was an effective way to teach reading, writing and arithmetic to working-class children.

The rebellions of 1837-38 ended that experiment. French parents pulled their students out of the school and it was eventually absorbed by the Protestant School Board of Greater Montreal.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Fire, Little St. James Street, Montreal, QC, 1888

During the night of 22 January 1888, a terrible fire destroyed an imposing stone building on Little St. James Street, east of Place d’Armes in Montréal. The five-storey building with a façade of 165 feet was home to different companies, including several American business firms. The New York Times hastened to report the event, characterising the drama as “one of the worst fires that had visited Montréal for many years.”

According to the article, the fire began shortly after midnight on the second floor of the building; an extremely cold night and westerly winds soon caused the water hoses to freeze, while the “firemen were quickly transformed into walking blocks of ice.” Despite the efforts of the fire brigade, the flames spread rapidly through the stairwells and explosions were heard repeatedly. The equipment inadequate, the cold intense, ”the men and horses exhausted,” the only solution was to let the fire to die out of its own accord. In the early hours of the morning, it was reported “the block is to-day covered by a solid sheet of ice.”

The photograph by Notman & Son was no doubt taken during the morning of 22 January 1888. The photographer unites the key elements of the event and succeeds, through a discerning choice of perspective, light and framing, in capturing the drama and conveying the spectacular effect and striking transformation of the building encased in ice.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Steamboat Valleyfied


Arrival of the Steamboat Valleyfied at St. Helen’s Island

©2018 The Past Whispers
All Rights Reserved

Friday, April 27, 2018

Bouvril Building

Bouvril Building – 1921

Bovril Building art deco building located on the corner of Van Horne and Park Ave was built in 1921-22 by Montreal architect James Cecil McDougall for Food Specialists of Canada Limited, the manufacturers of Bovril in Canada.

In the mid 1800s, John Lawson Johnston, a Scottish butcher, having an interest in food science and preserving, experimented with heating beef trimmings, and came up with a concentrated beef stock, which had a long shelf-life. It became a favorite nourishing beef beverage for Edinburgh’s poor, as it would also have restorative and medicinal values.

Johnston emigrated to Montreal in 1863, where he set up a factory, where he developed “Johnston’s Fluid Beef”. In 1871 he went back and married Elizabeth Elliott Lawson in Edinburgh, Scotland. The couple lived there until 1875. In 1874 Johnston won a contract to produce preserved beef products for the French army of Emperor Napoleon III during the Franco-Prussian War. According to Bovril’s official history, around a million tonnes of beef product were produced, in the wake of it losing the war that year to the Prussians. In 1875, John, his wife and their first three children moved back to Canada and settled in Quebec City. There their last two children were born. He kept working on his liquid beef and re-invented it as a concentrate, which he made from beef parts leftover from the French government order of tinned beef. In 1879, John moved the business from Quebec City to Montreal. When, in 1884 his factory was destroyed by fire, he decided to move back to Europe, where he set up business in London selling his concentrate to grocery stores and pubs. In 1887 the name “Bovril” was registered, and a new brown-glass bottle was introduced. In 1895 John bought Kingswood House in Sydenham, London, and enlarged it by adding a wing and a large entrance. The Victorian mansion became known as “Bovril Castle”. The Bovril empire was sold in 1896 for £2 million. John Lawson Johnston died in 1900, but his product has survived to this day.

Food Specialists of Canada Ltd. occupied the Bovril building to 1948, when they moved and sold the building to British based Brooke Bond & Co, as a packaging plant for the Red Rose Tea factory established by Theodore Harding Estabrooks in 1894 in Saint John, New Brunswick. After Red Rose moved out in 1962, the Bovril building was home to several small businesses, mainly clothing shops. It has also been a low-rent place for artists such as painters, musicians, mimes and other various struggling artists.

Today, the building, owned by the Skver Yeshivah, houses a Hasidic Jewish primary school, library and daycare, and a non-profit artist’s cooperative with studios on the upper floors, each with their own entrance. The Bovril name has been removed, but the 1920’s industrial architecture remained intact.

©2018 The past Whispers
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Saturday, April 21, 2018

The barbers of Saint-Hyacinthe

If there is a place of sociability at the beginning of the twentieth century, it is the barbershop where news and the latest gossip are exchanged. This photo from the CH085 Studio BJ Hébert Fund was taken in 1926. We see two barbers with their clients. Who are they?

We consulted the 1915 Saint-Hyacinthe Guide for the number of barbers in our city a little over a hundred years ago. In this guide, the population of Saint-Hyacinthe is 12,000…more

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All Rights Reserved


Saturday, April 14, 2018

Great Famine Voices

Why do so many people associate Strokestown with Irish Famine and emigration? The reasons are manifold. In November 1847, at the height of the Great Famine, the landlord of Strokestown Park, Major Denis Mahon, was shot on his way home from Roscommon. Over 100 years later, Major Mahon's ancestor, Olive Parkenham Mahon, sold Strokestown Park to Jim Callery, a local businessman who needed land in the town to expand his thriving business. Although now owner of the house, Jim allowed Olive to remain resident for many years. Jim tells the story much better than I do. He can take over...more

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Dominion Corset

In the last decades of the nineteenth century and the first decades of the twentieth century, the city of Quebec, which saw its port activities decline and shipbuilding disappear, reoriented its economy and became an important center for the production of shoes and corsets. Many factories established themselves in the populous districts of Saint-Roch and Saint-Sauveur and employed more than five thousand people in 1900.

The Dominion Corset of Georges-Élie Amyot was one of the largest corset factories in America. In 1886, Georges-Élie Amyot began making corsets. At the turn of the twentieth century, he became Quebec's largest employer and was appointed legislative counsel in 1912.
In production, the labor force has always been exclusively female and the workers have been supervised by female foremen. Factory work allowed single women to support themselves outside of marriage and religious life, but until the late 1950s, married women were prohibited from remaining in the employ of the company.
Note that corsets made in the late nineteenth century gave a size of wasp to those who wear them by means of "turns" in the form of hoops adapting to the dresses of the time. At the beginning of the 20th century, the rust-free whale refined silhouettes without over-constraining breathing. New corsets and bustiers reduced the unwanted curves of tubular fashion in the 1920s.
The arrival of synthetic fabrics made the whales disappear after the Second World War. The clientele adopts the first models of sleeves and bras. The 1950s are the golden age of the company, which launches the lines Sarong and Daisyfresh.
From Pierre Amyot in 1973, the management of the company is entrusted to Maurice Godbout.In 1977, the company adopted a new market strategy and took the name of Daisyfresh Creations. It is still sold in 1988 to the company Canadelle WonderBra, which abandons the manufacture of the lower town to settle in the industrial park of Vanier.
The decommissioned factory was finally reorganized to house the Center de développement économique et urbain (CDÉU) of Quebec City and the School of Visual Arts at Laval University.
The arrival of public servants and students in the early 1990s contributes to the revitalization of the Saint-Roch district. Its vast building, at the corner of Charest Boulevard and Dorchester Street has been restored and is occupied by services of the City of Quebec and Laval University. The ground floor, open to the public, evokes the memory of the hundreds of workers who once worked there.

©2018 The Past Whispers
All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Great Famine Voices

Why do so many people associate Strokestown with Irish Famine and emigration? The reasons are manifold. In November 1847, at the height of the Great Famine, the landlord of Strokestown Park, Major Denis Mahon, was shot on his way home from Roscommon. Over 100 years later, Major Mahon’s ancestor, Olive Pakenham Mahon, sold Strokestown Park to Jim Callery, a local businessman who needed land in the town to expand his thriving business. Although now owner of the house, Jim allowed Olive to remain resident for many years. Jim tells the story much better than I do.He can take over…more

The Past Whispers
©2018 All Rights Reserved

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Partridge Island Quarantine Station

The Partridge Island quarantine station was designated a national historic site of Canada in 1974 because of the significant role it played in immigration to Canada, and more specifically to the Maritime Provinces, in the 19th century.

The heritage value of Partridge Island Quarantine Station National Historic Site of Canada lies in its historic role as a 19th-century quarantine station as illustrated by the site, setting and landscape of the island and the quarantine-related remains it contains. Partridge Island was one of two major quarantine stations in 19th-century Canada. 

Established in 1830 to protect Canadian citizens from contagious diseases carried by in-coming ships, the station provided treatment for immigrants and crew members who were ill, as well as purification facilities for the healthy passengers aboard the ships. This station was active during a particularly early and busy period of Canadian immigration. During 1847, 2000 Irish immigrants fleeing from the potato famine were quarantined here during a typhus epidemic. 601 of them are buried in a mass grave on the island. Passengers quarantined on this island eventually settled in New Brunswick, Upper Canada and the United States.

Partridge Island continued to be used as a quarantine station until 1941. It was occupied for the military defence of Saint John during both World Wars, and also used as a light station. All buildings on the island were demolished in 1955 and 1998-1999. Today the site contains remnants of buildings and structures associated with its important role as a 19th-century quarantine station, including those of the doctor’s residence (built ca. 1872), the 2nd class immigrants, marine officers’ and smallpox hospitals (1899-1901), a low water wharf, and a cemetery containing graves from the 1847 typhus epidemic.

Sources: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minutes, May 1974, June 1983, June 1984; Commemorative Integrity Statement, March 2001.

Partridge Island continued to be used as a quarantine station until 1941. It was occupied for the military defence of Saint John during both World Wars, and also used as a light station. All buildings on the island were demolished in 1955 and 1998-1999. Today the site contains remnants of buildings and structures associated with its important role as a 19th-century quarantine station, including those of the doctor’s residence (built ca. 1872), the 2nd class immigrants, marine officers’ and smallpox hospitals (1899-1901), a low water wharf, and a cemetery containing graves from the 1847 typhus epidemic.


Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Partridge Island, N.B.

The Celtic Cross Memorial

Partridge Island is a Canadian island located in the Bay of Fundy off the coast of Saint John, New Brunswick within the city's Inner Harbour.

The island is a provincial historic site and was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1974. It lies on the west side of the mouth of the Saint John River
Partridge Island was first established as a quarantine station and pest house in 1785 by the Saint John Royal Charter, which also set aside the island for use as a navigational aids station and a military post. Its first use as a Quarantine Station was not until 1816. A hospital was constructed on the island in 1830.

It received its largest influx of immigrants in the 1840's during the Great Famine, known as the "Irish Potato Famine", when a shortage of potatoes occurred because of potato blight striking Ireland's staple crop, causing millions to starve to death or otherwise emigrate, mainly to North America. During the famine, some 30,000 immigrants were processed by the island's visiting and resident physicians, with 1196 dying at Partridge Island and the adjacent city of Saint John during the Typhus epidemic of 1847. During the 1890's there were over 78,000 immigrants a year being examined or treated on the island.

A memorial to the Irish immigrants of the mid-1840's was set up on the island in the 1890's but by World War One it had deteriorated. In 1926 the Saint John City Cornet Band approached Saint John contractor George McArthur who agreed to lead a campaign to build a suitable monument. The Celtic Cross memorial to the Irish dead of 1847 was dedicated in 1927. 

This was restored and rededicated in 1985. In the early and mid-1980's the Saint John Jewish Community, the Loyal Orange Lodge, the Partridge Island Research Project, and the Partridge Island & Harbour Heritage Inc., a company that was registered in 1988 and dissolved in 2004 erected memorials to the Protestant, Catholic and Jewish immigrants buried in one of the six island graveyards, as well as a monument to all of the Irish dead from 1830 to the 1920's.

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Monday, February 19, 2018


Rootstech starts February 28 - March 3, 2018

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Thursday, February 8, 2018

SS Ramore Head


This postcard of the SS Ramore Head was found in my Uncle George Bernards possessions after his death. He was a Merchant Seaman and sailed around the world. I don’t know if he ever traveled aboard the SS Ramore Head but I do know he visited Dublin.

The SS Ramore Head was a general cargo ship built between 1940 and 1949. In June 1967, she was almost at the end of her life for owners Ulster S.S.Co. of Belfast. Sold and renamed Xerxes II the following year. Then sold the same year to be broken up. Arrived at Valencia, Spain on Dec. 14.1968

courtesy Ship Spotting.com

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Thursday, January 25, 2018

Friday, January 12, 2018

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Maple Stars and Stripes – Filles a Marier

Please subscribe to Maple Stars and Stripes Your French-Canadian Genealogy Podcast by Sandra Goodwin, podcast for this month is Filles a Marier

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