Friday, July 19, 2019

Mile End - Saint Joseph Boulevard (from another time)

Boulevard Saint-Joseph is the news these days with his adventures tumultuous and icy; but he has already known calmer days. This photograph of the early 1940s shows us in her beautiful summer attire. 

We immediately note the rows of mature trees
which provide a beneficial shading for pedestrians. Further, the trees leave place to a generous lawn turf and planted with shrubs. Henri-Julien Street is actually the border between Ville Saint-Louis and the village of Coteau Saint-Louis, which will later become the Saint-Denis district. 

In 1905, it is the architect and engineer J.E. Vanier who proposes to the Ville Saint-Louis to transform St. Joseph Street into prestigious boulevard, the first in Montreal. We remember that at the time it was third largest city in Quebec. Montreal will then extend the boulevard to the east, but without the trees. 

This path will eventually be widened at the beginning of 1960s.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Mile End - The Crystal Palace

Crystal Palace - 1866
The Crystal Palace was an exhibition hall built for the Montreal Industrial Exhibition of 1860, originally located at the foot of Victoria Street (one block west of University) between Sainte-Catherine and Cathcart Streets, then relocated to Fletcher's Field. It was used for temporary exhibitions, and in winter, housed an ice skating rink.

The building was designed by Montreal architect John William Hopkins. It had an iron framework, a tinned barrel-vaulted nave and two galleries, each twenty feet wide, extending all the way around the interior. Its design was inspired by The Crystal Palace in London. Its main facades were of iron and glass. Its side walls were of white brick with rose-coloured contrast, with the iron and wood elements painted to match the brick. Its bays were subdivided by three arches, with only the centre arch glazed. Constructed in 20-foot modules, the Crystal Palace was intended to be 180 x 200 feet, but was constructed with shorter transepts, reducing its dimensions to 180 x 120 feet.

The Industrial Exhibition displayed agricultural and industrial products from the then British North America. The displays ranged from minerals, native woods, seeds and grains, preserved birds and fish, oils and foodstuffs to textiles and leather goods, furniture, clothing, machinery, iron work, tools and crafts. As part of the exhibition the Art Association of Montreal, the future Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, organized a display of Canadian art. The Prince of Wales visited Montreal that year and officially opened the exhibition.

The Prince of Wales at Opening Night 1860

The large open space of the exhibition hall was suitable for other uses. In later years, the hall would house a natural ice skating rink in the winter, and was one of the first indoor skating rinks in Canada. The skating rink was used by McGill University students to play ice hockey and the rink is the site of the first known photograph of ice hockey players in hockey uniforms, taken in 1881.

The rink also housed the Crystal Skating Club and Crystal Hockey Club, more commonly known as the Montreal Crystals which played men's senior-level amateur hockey in the Amateur Hockey Association of Canada.

In 1878 it was dismantled and moved to Fletcher's Field, part of which is now known as Jeanne-Mance Park. In July 1896, the Crystal Palace was destroyed by fire, as London's original Crystal Palace would be. The site of the Crystal Palace, between Mont-Royal Avenue and Saint-Joseph Boulevard, was developed for housing a few years after the fire.

The original downtown location later was home to the Palace Theatre, a movie house, and today contains an alley named Ruelle Palace.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Mile End - United Dairy

This charming building, built in 1933, bears witness to the past presence of many small dairies in the area. The development of the dairy processing activity is explained by the proximity of the railway coupled with the dramatic growth of the urban population in the early 20th century.

From the late 19th century Quebec agriculture specializes to milk production. Due to urbanization, industrialization and the development of transport, this activity is no longer simply a rural activity, it is also developing in the city. Milk becomes an industrialized product destined to supply cities.

United Dairy received the milk from the countryside along the lines of the Canadian Pacific Railway in the Laurentians and Montérégie, and then transformed it. Inside the building were bottling and pasteurization, butter making, bottle washing and storage.

Robert Brettschneider, of Polish Jewish origin, arrived in Canada in 1926. He brought the following year his wife Bessie and his younger brother Osias. In 1930 Robert Brettschneider founded with Jacob Rottermund the dairy United Dairy. It will have a short and eventful story.

The dairy starts in rented premises, a backyard house at 5244-5246 Casgrain Avenue. In 1933, it moved to a new custom-built building. However, constantly struggling with the authorities and with the complaints of its competitors (for example, selling milk to a distributor below the official price of the Dairy Commission, use of glass bottles belonging to other dairies, change in the fat content in milk, and even the sale of shares of the dairy without going through a securities broker), the United Dairy is condemned in court repeatedly: in April 1938, the newspapers echo his nineteenth sentence, with a fine of $ 1,000. The dairy declares bankruptcy shortly thereafter.

Robert Brettschneider does not admit defeat: he incorporates (only) a new company, the Snowdon Dairy, in September 1938. He can stay in the former premises of the United, thanks to a friend who buys the building in the sale of bankruptcy, selling it to him a few years later. The dairy will do business until it is closed in 1954 - a time that is the height of the Jewish migration from Mile End to Snowdon. From 1953 to 1958, the building also housed the offices of a milk distributor, North End Milk Distribution, apparently the last activity related to the dairy industry in this building.

During his retirement, Brettschneider serves as president of the congregation Shomrim Laboker, recently moved to a modern building in the Snowdon neighborhood. He oversaw two mergers with other congregations in 1957 and 1959. He also got involved in other projects such as a clothes shop with a son and real estate investments with a son-in-law, to whom he sold the building of the old Dairy in 1963. He died in 1966, leaving behind his wife, five children, and his brother's family.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Mile End - The C.P.R Hotel

The Canadian Pacific Railway Company’s fame stems, in part, from the construction of prestigious grand hotels between 1888 and 1930 designed to attract affluent tourists to spectacular sites served by the railroad. Inspired by the castles of France’s Loire Valley, they became icons of the Canadian landscape, including Château Frontenac in old Québec, Toronto’s Royal York and the Banff Springs Hotel in the Rocky Mountains. Less well-known is the fact that Mile End once had a hotel, much more modest in scale, which was known for many decades as the C.P.R. Hotel – although it was never part of that company.

While the structure exists no longer, the hotel sat on a site at the northeast corner of Saint-Laurent Boulevard and Bernard Street for over a century, a few steps from the Mile End train station located a bit farther east on Bernard. The station, opened in 1876, created a new hub of activity in what had been a completely rural area. Previously, travellers and neighbourhood residents patronized hotels located at the other Mile End intersection, further south, where Saint-Laurent meets Mont-Royal Ave. The history of the C.P.R. Hotel is closely related to that of its founding family, the Hogues. Two interviews with family members, spaced about 50 years apart in time, provide information.

— Weren’t you once a hotelkeeper?
— Yes, I built the C.P.R. hotel, located at the corner of Bernard and Saint-Laurent streets, in 1878. In those days, there were no sewers, no sidewalks and of course no street lamps. My business was in a rather empty spot. To the north, I had no neighbours up as far as the land where the Institut des Sourds-Muets is located,2 where an Irishman lived at the time.
— And to the south?

— Not so peaceful as on the north side, I had no neighbours to the south until Laurier Street. But there was a shack around Saint-Viateur Street, where a guard manned the gate leading out of the city. The gate was managed by the Turnpike Trust, which charged an outbound toll that varied according to the type of vehicle.

In May 1985, La Presse journalist Gérald Leblanc found Télesphore Hogue’s grandson, Martial Hogue. At the time he was 77 and described himself as a poet-painter and a “professional outsider” who was born and grew up in the neighbourhood. The short interview revealed very little new about the hotel’s history, although the journalist called Martial Hogue “inexhaustible” about the subject, as well as about the tailor shop belonging to his father. 

But the article did provide a unique photograph of the building in its heydays. The old hotel which had been the pride of the Hogue Family was about to disappear. A fire completely destroyed it seven months later, in the early morning hours of January 5, 1986, in the middle of a snowstorm. Today, more than a quarter century has gone by, and the land on which the C.P.R. Hotel once stood is still vacant.

Friday, May 31, 2019

Mile End - The Rialto Theatre Opening Night 1924

The Rialto on a wintry day just before its opening on 27 December 1924. 

The ‘torch’ and the building-long iron-and-glass canopy are in place, and the ads for the opening movie, In Every Woman’s Life, are in the panels beside the doors. A florist, dress shop and tobacconist are among the stores already open.

The lobby in 1930: lots of marble and a fancy lamp. The door on the left led to the loges, the next to the orchestra. The third door was an exit for those leaving the theatre, and the stairway led to the balcony.

No wonder people build with marble. This is the lobby stairway in 1987, unmarred by sixty years of use.

The hall in 1930, with the great vaults of decorative plaster and stained glass on the ceiling and under the balcony. 

No other Montreal theatre had features quite like these, nor the amount or variety of both decorative plaster and stained glass. 

The vault’s colour-scheme was sombre: beige, gold and turquoise.

The corner of the upstairs vault. Note the plaster oak leaves and acorns, and the painted faces.

The downstairs vault in 1930. It may still be there, behind a false ceiling. Photo right

The Standard, Montreal, Saturday, December 27, 1924.
Montreal’s New Luxury Theatre The Rialto

Park Avenue at Bernard

Opens To-Night at 8.15

The opening of the Rialto tonight marks another step forward in theatre building and welds still another link in the famous chain of theatres operated by the United Amusement Corp. Limited, which also includes the Strand, Regent, Papineau, Belmont, Plaza, Corona and Mount Royal.

We feel proud of the Rialto, and justly so, as the most brilliant brains in the country were secured to transform the highest quality materials into what we believe to be the finest constructed and most luxurious theatre in Canada.

We cordially welcome you to the Rialto and sincerely hope that you will become a regular patron and a friend. It will be a pleasure to serve you at all times and we will welcome any suggestions you may offer for the improvement of Rialto entertainment or service.

Policy of the New Rialto

Admission Prices

Matinees except Sundays and Holidays: Adults 17c, Children 10c. Evening, Sundays and Holidays, Orchestra and Loges, 33c. Balcony 25c (tax included).

Film Programs
Complete change of program every Sunday and Wednesday. There will be two feature pictures on every bill except when presenting big productions of more than the usual length.

Coming Attractions
Marion Davies in “YOLANDA”
Milton Stills, Enid Bennett and Wallace Beery, in “THE SEA HAWK”
Harold Lloyd in “HOT WATER”
Norma Talmadge in “SECRETS”
Anna Q. Nilsson and All-Star Cast in “THE FIRE PATROL”
George O’Brien and Dorothy Mackaill in “THE MAN WHO CAME BACK”

Gloria Swanson in “WAGES OF VIRTUE”

Rialto - 2015

Originally a neighbourhood movie theatre, the Rialto Theatre was built in 1923-1924 according to plans by Montreal architect Raoul Gariépy. The Beaux Arts façade was inspired by the Paris Opera while the neo-baroque interior features a rich décor signed Emmanuel Briffa. The Rialto Theatre was designated as a Historical Monument by the City of Montreal in 1988 and by the Government of Quebec in 1990, and also as National Historic Site of Canada in 1993.

Friday, May 24, 2019

Mile End - Church of St. Michael the Archangel

Perhaps the most recognizable architectural symbol of Mile End is the Church of St. Michael the Archangel of 1914-5, on Saint-Viateur Street at the corner of Saint-Urbain. 

The church, designed by Aristide Beaugrand-Champagne, was built for an Irish Catholic community, as expressed by omnipresent shamrock motifs; yet the overall style of the building is based on Byzantine rather than Western architectural traditions. 

Even more striking, the church has a slender tower that resembles a minaret. The building has been shared since 1964 with the Polish Catholic mission of St. Anthony of Padua, which officially merged with the parish of St. Michael in 1969 to form the current parish of St. Michael's and St. Anthony's;masses are celebrated in Polish and in English.

At the turn of the last century there was something of a migration of Irish-Canadian working people from their overcrowded Point St. Charles and Griffintown haunts north into Mile End. In 1902, the Catholic archbishop of Montreal, Mgr. Paul Bruchési, gave his approval for a new parish to be created. The first mass was said upstairs of a fire hall at Laurier and Saint-Denis that no longer exists. Their first small church building was on rue Boucher near there; it no longer exists.

By 1914 the growing parish decided it needed something bigger and grander. In July of that year excavations began. Work stopped briefly when war broke out that autumn, but resumed in April 1915, and the church was ready to use by that December. The price tag was $232,000 and the church could hold 1400 people.

This information comes from a booklet published in 1927 when the parish was already 25 years old. The text describes, and images show, that the dome and the cap on the tower were both decorated with patterns, and the massive façade with the words Deo dicatum in honorem St. Michaeli and a smaller motto on a banner over the doors. Those flourishes are gone, but carved shamrocks are still part of the façade, a nod to the time when the parish was pretty well a monoculture, with priests called McGinnis, Fahey, McCrory, Walsh, O’Brien, Cooney and O’Conor and church wardens Keegan, Gorman, Dillon, McGee and Flood.

Also, unusually, there’s no mention of bells, and no evidence that the tower ever contained any: unlike most church towers it’s closed all the way to the top.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Mile End Station

Mile End Station before expansion in 1913

The new C.P.R. station at Mile End

The first Mile End station building was erected in 1877 on the east side of Saint-Laurent Road, near what is now the intersection of Bernard Street.

A much larger station was built in 1911 it closed in 1931, when service was moved to the new Park Avenue Station (Jean-Talon), and was demolished in 1970 to make way for the Rosemont–Van Horne viaduct.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Mile End - The coming of the railway

The transcontinental railway gave Mile End its first growth spurt and separate identity. In 1876, the Quebec, Montreal, Ottawa and Occidental Railway – a project vigorously promoted by Antoine Labelle and Louis Beaubien – came slicing through the area on its way from east-end Montreal to Sainte-Thérèse, Lachute, and Ottawa. This railway was bought in 1882 by the Canadian Pacific, and it was by this route that the first trains departed for the Prairies in 1885 and for Port Moody, British Columbia in June 1886 (extending to Vancouver in 1887). 

The first Mile End station building was erected in 1877 on the east side of Saint-Laurent Road, near what is now the intersection of Bernard Street. (A much larger station was built in 1911; it closed in 1931, when service was moved to the new Park Avenue Station (Jean-Talon), and was demolished in 1970 to make way for the Rosemont–Van Horne viaduct.)

In 1878, the village of Saint-Louis-du-Mile-End was incorporated, population 1319. Its territory consisted of the western third of Côte Saint-Louis: bounded on the west by the limit of Outremont (generally along Hutchison Street), on the south by what is now Mont-Royal Avenue, and on the east by a line running mostly just east of the current Henri-Julien Avenue. The northern border was north of present-day De Castelnau Street or just south of Jarry Park.

The second growth spurt of Mile End coincided with the introduction of electric tramway service in 1893; the area can be considered an example of a streetcar suburb. The agricultural and industrial exhibition grounds at the southwest of the village, near Mount Royal, were subdivided in 1899 for housing. The village became a town in 1895 and changed its name to simply Saint-Louis. Apart from a tiny street located just outside the town's northwestern limit, and (for its remaining years) the railway station, the name Mile End passed out of the official toponymy for close to a century, coming back into use as a municipal electoral district only in 1982.

The town of Saint-Louis built in 1905 a magnificent town hall on the northwest corner of Saint-Laurent and what is now Laurier Avenue; the building still serves as a fire hall and firefighters' museum. The town was annexed by the expanding city of Montreal on 29 May 1909,[20] taking effect as of 1 January 1910, and became Laurier Ward (quartier Laurier). Population growth had been explosive: in 1891, the village had 3537 residents; in 1911, after annexation, the ward's population was about 37,000.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Mile End

Nineteenth-century maps and other documents show the name Mile End as the crossroads at Saint-Laurent Road (now Boulevard) and what is now Mont-Royal Avenue. Originally, this road was Côte Sainte-Catherine Road (heading west) and Tanneries Road (heading east). It is probable that the name Mile End was inspired by the East London suburb of the same name. 

Contrary to popular belief, the place is not precisely a mile away from any official marker. It is, however, a mile north along Saint-Laurent from Sherbrooke Street, which in the early 19th century marked the boundary between the urban area and open countryside. (Several decades later, the Mile End train station near Bernard Street was situated coincidentally one more mile north along Saint-Laurent from the original crossroads.)

Mile End was also the first important crossroads north of the tollgate set up in 1841 at the city limits of 1792. From the crossroads to the city limits the distance was 0.4 miles (0.64 km). The city limits were located 100 chains (1.25 miles or about 2 km) north of the fortification wall, and intersected Saint-Laurent just south of the current Duluth Avenue.

As early as 1810, there was a Mile End Hotel and tavern, operated by Stanley Bagg, an American-born entrepreneur and father of the wealthy landowner Stanley Clark Bagg. The earliest known published references to Mile End are advertisements placed by Stanley Bagg, in both English and French, in The Gazette during the summer of 1815. He announced in July: "Farm for sale at St. Catherine [i.e., Outremont], near Mile End Tavern, about two miles from town...". On 7 August, he inserted the following:

STRAYED or STOLEN from the Pasture of Stanley Bagg, Mile End Tavern, on or about the end of June last, a Bay HORSE about ten years old, white face, and some white about the feet. Any person who will give information where the Thief or Horse may be found shall receive a reward of TEN DOLLARS and all reasonable charges paid. STANLEY BAGG. Montreal, Mile End, August 4, 1815.

A photograph of 1859 shows members of the Montreal Hunt Club at the Mile End tavern.

The road variously known as Chemin des Tanneries (Tannery Road), Chemin des Carrières (Quarry Road), or Chemin de la Côte-Saint-Louis led to a tannery and to limestone quarries used for the construction of much of Montreal's architecture. 

The village of Côte Saint-Louis (incorporated 1846) sprung up near the quarries, its houses clustered east of the Mile End district around the present-day intersection of Berri Street and Laurier Avenue. 

It was to serve this village that a chapel of the Infant Jesus was established in 1848 near Saint Lawrence Road, on land donated by Pierre Beaubien. In 1857-8, the chapel was replaced by the church of Saint Enfant Jésus du Mile End. 

The church, made even more impressive by a new façade in 1901-3, was the first important building in what would become Mile End.

Friday, April 26, 2019

The Irish Catholic Churches of Quebec - W is for Saint Willibrord

In the city of Montreal. 

Address: 335 Avenue Saint-Willibrord, Verdun neighborhood. 

The registers of this parish opened in the year 1913. 

A pastor resides there since this last date. Canonical Erection: July 7th, 1913. 

The territory of this parish is included within the limits of the city of Verdun. This parish was founded for the English-speaking Catholics of the parish of Notre-Dame-des-Sept-Douleurs-de-Verdun and part of the parish of Saint-Gabriel. 

This is why she was placed under the patronage of a saint of English origin. Saint Willibrord was born in England around the middle of the seventh century. He has been nicknamed the Apostle of Holland. He died with merit on November 7, 739 at the age of 81 years.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

The Irish catholic Churches of Quebec - V is for Saint Veronica

St Veronica’s Parish was founded on January 17th, 1958.

Construction of the  church began in the year 1962 at 1300 Carson Avenue, and opened for services in 1963. Before the church was built, mass was celebrated at what is now known as the ’ Gentilly Elementary School'.

The first mass was celebrated on May 4th, 1963 by Rev. Norm Griffin and the church was blessed on Sunday September 8th, 1963 by Cardinal Paul Emile Leger, the official completion date.

The 25th Anniversary Mass was celebrated on May 1st, 1983 by Archbishop Paul Gregoire.

The 50th Anniversary Mass was celebrated on September 14th, 2008 by Cardinal Jean Claude Turcotte. 

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

The Irish Catholic Churches of Quebec - T is for St. Thomas Aquinas

In the city of Montreal. 
Address: 124 rue du Couvent. 

This parish was founded for English-speaking Catholics. The parish registers opened in 1908, and a parish priest resides there since this last year. 

Canonical erection: June 18, 1908. The territory of this parish is circumscribed as follows: on the east by Atwater Street, on the west by the limits of the city, on the north by the Canadian Pacific Railway and on the south by the Lachine Canal. Pop. 3,000.

The parish closed in 1990.

Monday, April 22, 2019

The Irish Catholic Churches of Quebec - S is for St. Ann's Church

St. Ann’s Church was the heart of Griffintown’s Irish Catholic community. 

Built in 1854, it was Montreal’s second English Catholic church after St. Patrick’s (1847). Whereas the “lace-curtain” Irish around St. Patrick’s consisted of merchants, skilled workers and professionals, St. Ann’s parishioners were known as “shanty Irish” -- unskilled labourers employed in factories, in construction or on the docks.

The population of Griffintown began declining after World War II and, in the early 1960s, the municipality decided that Griffintown no longer had a future as a place for people to live. It was rezoned as industrial commercial in 1963 and, in 1967, approximately a third of the neighbourhood was demolished to make way for the Bonaventure Expressway. 

Having lost most of its parishioners, St. Ann’s Church was torn down in 1970. A few years ago the City of Montreal ‘restored’ the foundations of the church and today the site is a park with benches instead of pews.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

The Irish Churches of Quebec - R is for Church of the Recollets

Following the authorization of the Récollets to settle outside Quebec , with the appointment of Mgr. Jean-Baptiste de La Croix Chevrieres of Saint-Vallier in 1688, the order moved to Montreal and undertook the construction of a church to be opened in 1693. It would be the work of brother Didace Pelletier who also led the work of the convent of Trois-Rivières . It is located on the quadrilateral of Notre-Dame , Sainte-Hélène , Récollets and Saint-Pierre streets .

A monastery is added to the church in 1705. The master builder of the site is a man named Pierre Couturier. New works were undertaken in 1713 for the façade of the church with the sculptor Jean Jacquié dit Leblond. A fence is built in 1722.

In 1760, after the capitulation of the colony , the church was ceded to the British occupier. It serves as a barracks until 1792, while the goods of the Récollets are sequestrated around 1810.

In 1818, the expansion of Montreal, with the construction of St. Helena Street, led to the demolition of the west wing.

The Sulpicians also settled in the old church in 1831. They enlarged and embellished it by adding a portal taken from the old Notre-Dame church demolished in 1829. The church was then used to worship Catholics Irish who use it until 1847. Become a school, the site is finally destroyed in 1867. 

The interior décor including the church altar was preserved and moved to the church of Notre-Dame des Anges on Lagauchetière Street. 

The latter building later became the church of the Chinese community; it still exists to this day.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

The Irish Catholic Churches of Quebec - P is for Cote St. Paul

The Verdun, Côte St. Paul district has been
another bastion of the Irish community since the 1870’s. 

Located next to “The Point”,the region catered to the mid-income dwellers, among them the immigrants from

various European nations including the Irish, Scots and the British. 

Montreal. Address: 1558 Avenue of the Church. 

The registers of this parish opened in the year 1874, date of the arrival of the first resident parish priest. 

Canonical Erection: December 10, 1875. Civil Erection: December 24, 1875. 

The territory of this parish has been detached from the parishes of Saint-Henri-des-Tanneries , Saint-Pierre River and Côte Saint-Paul.  

The parish was put under the patronage of St. Paul probably because of its neighborhood with the parish of Notre-Dame-des-Sept-Douleurs-de-Verdun , formerly known as "Village of the Saint-Pierre River".

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

The Irish Catholic Churches of Quebec - L is for Our Lady of Good Council

(1879) – Rev. M. Campion, Rev. P.F. O’Donnell, presiding. 

Located at 724 Craig Street East in south central Montréal, 

This Irish church was somehow associated with Saint Bridget, another parish of the same district of Faubourg Quebec. Our Lady of Good Counsel was located at the corner of Craig (St-Antoine) and Panet Streets.

At the Archives, the church records can be found under Notre Dame du Bon Conseil.

The parish of Notre-Dame-du-Bon-Conseil was first erected under the name of "Sainte-Marie-de-Montréal", for the English-speaking Catholics of the parishes of St. Bridget , St. Vincent de-Paul , Saint-Eusebe , Saint-Pierre and part of Sainte-Catherine. 

The registers of the parish opened in the year 1881. Canonical erection: December 20, 1879. The canonical decree erecting this parish was published in the Official Gazette. On the occasion of the blessing of the church, the parish was put under the patronage of Notre-Dame-du-Bon- Advice. 

Today it includes English-speaking Catholics from the parishes of St. Bridget , St. Eusebius , St. Peter and St. Vincent de Paul. Pop. 2,255.  

The parish closed in 1984, and the church was demolished.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

The Churches - N is for Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris

On 15 April 2019, shortly before 18:50 CEST, a fire broke out in the roof of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France, causing significant damage to the building. The fire lasted more than twelve hours, but was fully extinguished the following day. Fire crews remained to identify and extinguish residual fires.

The cathedral's spire and roof collapsed, and considerable damage was sustained to the interior, upper walls, and windows of the church, as well as numerous works of art and the pipe organ.The stone ceiling vault beneath the roof prevented most of the fire from falling into the interior of the cathedral below.

President Emmanuel Macron announced the launch of a national fundraising campaign to restore Notre-Dame...more

Monday, April 15, 2019

The Irish Churches of Quebec - M is for Saint Michael the Archangel

The Church of St. Michael and St. Anthony is a Roman Catholic church located in Mile End, Montreal. It was originally built as the Church of St. Michael and frequented by Irish Catholics. Because of the growth of the Polish community in the area, in 1964 a Polish mission was inaugurated in the church and the church's name was expanded to "St. Michael and St. Anthony".

The church exemplifies cultural hybridity, being a Byzantine-styled church, built for Irish Catholics, in a multicultural neighbourhood, and being home today to mostly Poles and Italians. The church has also been noted for its Byzantine Revival architecture, complete with a dome and minaret-styled tower, making it "one of the more unique examples of church architecture in Montréal.

Construction on the Church of St. Michael the Archangel  began in 1914, for what would grow to become the largest anglophone parish in Montreal. After a brief delay following the commencement of World War I, the church was completed in 1915 at a cost of $232,000, with a capacity of 1,400 people.

Though Mile End was originally a predominately Irish neighbourhood, the Polish community grew such that the two communities "merged into one", and to reflect this change, St. Anthony was appended to the parish name, reflecting the "Conventual Franciscans' devotion to St. Anthony of Padua."

Today, the church is recognised as the focal point for the Polish Catholics of Montreal.

The church was built in the Neo-Byzantine style of architecture, accompanied by a large turquoise dome and minaret-style tower. It was designed by architect Aristide Beaugrand-Champagne [fr] (1876–1950), who was inspired by the Hagia Sophia (originally an Orthodox basilica) in Istanbul (formerly Constantinople). The church also features elements of Gothic and Roman architecture, as well as lombard bands and window tracery reminiscent of Middle Ages castles.

The church's dome features one of the first uses of reinforced concrete in Quebec.

The interior roof of the dome features a neo-Renaissance-style fresco of St. Michael watching the fall of the angels, painted by Italian Guido Nincheri, who painted other churches in Montreal.

Bertha Burns  1892 - 1955
My maternal grandmother, Bertha Burns Bernard had her funeral service at Saint Michael the Archangel in September of 1955 and then interred at Cote de Neige Cemetery.

Bertha was born in 1892 in Quebec City to George Burns and Elizabeth Williamson, the youngest of four children, the others being Albert, William, and Ethel. She and her mother, Elizabeth moved to Mile End in Montreal around 1920 after the death of her father George.

Bertha married Ovila Bernard in 1925 and they had four children, Norman, Pauline, George, and Lorne. 

Bertha only had two grandchildren as Norman and George died young and never married. She never knew her only grandson as he was born 9 years after her death.

She was able to enjoy her only grand-daughter for four years, it would have to be enough as fate took the child to the United States and Bertha would die under mysterious circumstances three years later.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

The irish Catholic Churches of Quebec - L is for Saint Leon de Westmount

The registers of this parish opened in the year 1901, date of the appointment of the first resident parish priest. The church is built on Western Avenue, between Redfern and Clarke Streets. 

Canonical erection: February 12, 1901. The canonical decree erecting this parish was published in the Official Gazette of 1901,  

Part of Sainte-Cunegonde annexed in 1904. 

The territory of this parish is included in the city of Westmount. It includes part of the parishes of Notre-Dame-de-Grâce , Sainte-Élisabeth , Saint-Henri, Notre-Dame-de-Montréal, Sainte-Cunegonde and Saint-Jacques-le-Majeur . 

The city of Westmount is located west of the mountain of Montreal; hence the name "Westmount". The erection of the parish was decided in the year of the jubilee ordained by His Holiness Pope Leo XIII, in 1900. Hence the choice of St. Leo the First as titular. Pop. 4,000.  

The Church of Saint-Léon-de-Westmount was designated a national historic site of Canada in 1997.

Friday, April 12, 2019

The Irish Catholic Churches of Quebec - K is for Kateri Tekakwitha

Kateri Tekakwitha is first Catholic saint of North America’s indigenous peoples.

For the first time in history, a member of the indigenous population of North America has been canonized by the Catholic church. Kateri Tekakwitha was a young Mohawk woman who lived over 300 years ago. Her admirers attribute special powers to her.

Hundreds of members of the Mohawk nation and other indigenous peoples file past a tomb in the Catholic church in Kahnawake,  an Indian reservation near Montreal. Silently, they kneel to pray at the grave of a small Mohawk woman who lived over 300 years ago and did not grow older than 24. Her name is on the tomb: Kateri Tekakwitha.

“Everybody is proud of her,” says Audrey Diabo, a resident of Kahnawake who came to the church with her elderly mother. “Ever since growing up as a kid, everything is always Kateri. She was a Mohawk and we’re going to pray to her.”...more

Thursday, April 11, 2019

The Irish Catholic Churches of Quebec - J is for Saint Joseph

In the city of Montreal. Address:
1967 rue Saint-Jacques. Saint-Henri district. 

Canonical Erection: July 2, 1867. 
Civil Erection: February 23, 1875    

The territory of this parish has been detached from Notre-Dame-de-Montréal. 

The city of Saint-Henri was incorporated December 28, 1876. 

The parish has long been called "Saint-Henri-des-Tanneries". 

This name of tanneries comes from the fact that at the beginning of this parish, tanneries were opened by Messrs. Lenoir dit Rolland. 

During its canonical erection, the parish included the villages of Délisle, Saint-Augustin, Ferme Saint-Gabriel, Saint-Pierre River and Saint-Henri-de-la-Côte-Saint-Paul, where built the church: hence the name of Saint-Henri, given to the parish. Pop. 10.675.  

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

The Irish Catholic Churches of Quebec - I is for Saint Ignatius of Loyola

Borough: Côte-des-Neiges-Notre-Dame-de-Grace

Address: 4455 West Broadway Street, Montreal 

Opening records: June 24, 1917 


In the city of Montreal. Canonically erected on June 16, 1917 for the English-speaking Catholics of the parishes of Notre-Dame-de-Grâce and Saint-Pierre-aux-Liens. The parish registers open in the year 1917. 

This parish is served by the RRs. PP. Jesuits at Loyola College, 2001 Sherbrooke Street West. It is for this reason that the parish was placed under the patronage of St. Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus. Pop. 650. (Source: Magnan, Hormisdas, Historical and Geographical Dictionary of Parishes, Missions and Municipalities of the Province of Quebec, 1925

In 1896, Loyola College was founded by English-speaking Canadian Jesuits. It was the English-speaking section of Collège Sainte-Marie de Montréal and split off to become its own institution.

In 1917, the parish of St. Ignatius was started for the local English, Welsh, Scottish and Irish population in the area. Masses were held on the campus of Loyola College.

In 1964, Loyola High School separated from the college. In 1966, a new church was built as a separate structure apart from the college. In 1968 discussions begun to merge Loyola College with other colleges. This resulted with the creation of Concordia University on 24 August 1974.

In 1982, Loyola High School moved to new building and the Jesuits handed over administration of the church to the Archdiocese of Montreal who continue to serve the parish.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

The Irish Catholic Churches of Quebec - H is for Holy Cross Parish

The parish of the Holy Cross is located at 1960 Jolicoeur Street in the south-west burrough of Montreal.

The registers were opened May 17, 1925.

Monday, April 8, 2019

The Irish Catholic Churches of Quebec - G is for Church of the Gesu - Saint Mary

Photo - Jean Gagnon own work

When one tends to think of religious institutions, one thinks of tradition and stability. More often we don’t realise that its long tradition is rooted in its history and its involvement in society, and that the simple look of a building can speak a lot about its time period and the people that would have attended its services. The Church of the Gesù is one such religious institution.

The Church of Gesù was built in 1865 by Patrick C. Keeley. The church is named after the same church in which the founder of the Jesuits, Saint Ignatius of Loyola, is buried. Following the traditional Baroque style architecture that was propagated by the Jesuits, the church has the vivid ceiling decorations and its general curved structure. It was designated as an historical monument in 1975 by the provincial government and a heritage building in 2012.

Right next door to the Church of Gesù is its Centre of creativity, whose ambition is to combine the spiritual with the artistic. The Centre of creativity was formerly Sainte-Marie College, the first Jesuit educational institution in Montreal that would educate the likes of poet Émile Nelligan, engineer Lucien L’Allier, and novelist Hubert Aquin. Its amphitheatre opened to the public in 1923 and has always been in constant usage since. Later closed because of a merger with UQÀM in 1969, the amphitheatre remains in constant usage. Crowned by La Presse as the place with the optimal acoustics in Montreal, the Centre of creativity welcomes over fifty thousand visitors a year for festivals such as Just for Laughs and Francofolies.

One hundred and fifty years is no small anniversary, and to celebrate, the institution has a series of events coming up this month. First up is an organ concert given by Régis Rousseau performing Yves Daoust’s “A concert for organ and band” on January 31. Then, in February, we have an evening with Ivy and Mykalle Bielinski starting at 7:30 pm on February 19. This particular presentation, 18$, is presented with the help of Montréal en lumière and consists in an original presentation of poetry and music entwined together. 

If you want a more permanent reminder of the celebrations, the institution has two interesting gifts for you: the first, a podcast called The Gesù from 1865 to today that you can take anywhere, thanks to a download onto your Android or iPhone. The podcast has images and music that immerses you into the culture and history in the church. Secondly, the Gesù will be publishing a commemorative book about the church later this month. Published with the help of the Archives of the Jesuits in Canada, Le Gesù: 150 ans d’une église will appear later this month.

Saturday, April 6, 2019

The Irish Catholic Churches of Quebec - F is for Our Lady of Fatima

At the time of World War II, there were few English-speaking Roman Catholics living in the Saint-Laurent area. The closest center of worship for them was the St. Laurent Parish Church on rue Principale, now known as Ste-Croix Avenue. After his discharge from the services, Rev. David F. McDonald was named curate in St. Malachy’s Parish.

In June 1948, a Mission dedicated to Our Lady of Fatima was formed to serve the English Catholic speaking people of Saint-Laurent. Father McDonald was placed in charge of the new mission and he continued to live at St. Malachy’s Rectory. Arrangements were made with the Commission Scolaire de St. Laurent to rent Beaudet School Hall and Mass was first said in June 1948. With the opening of more streets west of Decarie, both north and south of Cote Vertu and the building of Norgate apartments, the population of the new mission grew rapidly.

A house on Crevier St. was rented in December 1951 as a residence for the new pastor. A chapel was built in the basement by some men of the parish and Mass was celebrated in it beginning with Lent 1952.

On November 5, 1951, the mission became the Parish of Our Lady of Fatima. On Nov. 25 at a meeting of all parishioners, eight Wardens were elected and the late Mr. N. Curran became the first warden and he was succeeded by Mr. J.G. Barry on Jan. 1, 1952. A house on Crevier St. was rented in December 1951 as a residence for the new pastor. A chapel was built in the basement by some men of the parish and Mass was celebrated in it beginning with Lent 1952.

Mr. E.K. Pennefather, Mr. C. Tanner and Mr. W. Mines were elected as Trustees by the proprietors to assist in the arranging for the erection of a church. Land at the corner of Decelles and Laurentien had been purchased by St. Malachy’s Parish in the name of the new parish and it was transferred to Our Lady of Fatima in March 1952. Mr. F. Consiglio drew the plans for the church and F. L. Guay was chosen as the general contractor. The first sod was turned in the summer of 1952 after a bond issue of $ 375,000 had been floated. Mr. J. Fairhurst became warden for year 1953.

In spite of several problems, work on the new building went on well and the corner stone was laid by Bishop L.P. Whelan March 22, 1953. Towards the end of May, the parishioners were invited to tour the rectory and basement of the new church and Sunday Mass was said in the church basement on the last Sunday of May. The whole building was finished, the furniture was installed and the First mass was sung in the Church itself Christmas 1953 at Midnight.

Father Emmett Johns was named curate in June 1953 and the church was blessed by His Eminence Paul-Emile Cardinal Leger, May 16, 1954. Father McDonald died March 13, 1959 and he was succeeded by his life-long friend, the pastor of St. Barbara’s in Ville Lasalle, Father Gordon Carroll. Shortly afterwards, Father Johns became chaplain of Marian Hall and Father Kevin Griffin was named assistant. While he was chaplain of Marymount High School, Father Russell A. Schultz was in residence and administered the parish during the illness of Father Carroll. During the later sixties Fathers Felix Boudreau, Gaza Heyne, and Clark were also stationed in the rectory. With the appointment of Father Griffin to Resurrection of Our Lord Parish in Lachine, Father Bob Cornell became assistant in September 1970.

Fr. Carroll took very ill in the fall of 1970 and Father Joseph Cameron administered the parish until the return of the Pastor in February 1971. But, Father Carroll did not regain his health so he resigned at the end of the month and was succeeded by the third Pastor Rev. Russell A. Schultz on March 1, 1971. Father Carroll died shortly after on July 6, 1971.

Fr. Cornell was replaced by Fr. Charles Costigan in 1973. When Father Costigan was moved to St. Willibrord Church in Verdun during the summer of 1974, Fr. Manny Rodrigues came to Our Lady of Fatima in September 1973 as a curate until September 1977. Later we had Father Michael Shaw from October 1981 until September 1982 and Father Robert Jollett came in September 1986 until August 1990 as curates.
After a illness Father Schultz was replaced by Rev. Ron Calhoun the 1st Sep 2004 and a year later by Rev. Father Brian Moon. Fr. Moon died suddenly on 15 February 2011. At the end of May our new Pastor came to us – he is Rev Sunny Padinharidath Abraham.

Fr John Charles joined us in February 2014 within a week after coming from India.