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Many changes have occurred in Cartierville where Malcolm Campbell High School was located from 1960s to late 1980s

Street scene in neighbourhood in Moncton where I met with Graeme Decarie at a Tim Hortons in August 2016 while driving to and from Prince Edward Island. Jaan Pill photo

Street scene in Moncton where I met with Graeme Decarie at a Tim Hortons in August 2016 while driving from Ontario to and from Prince Edward Island. When I first met with Graeme, in a phone call he directed my attention to a local landmark, the Econolodge Motel in the background of the photo. Jaan Pill photo

Click here for previous posts about Cartierville >

The following email conversation, edited for brevity, took place early in September 2016 in connection with a 1993 NFB documentary that is highlighted at a previous post:

Graeme Decarie served as historical advisor and commentator for a 1993 NFB film about the Quiet Revolution in Quebec

A related post is entitled:

Fascism and the Italians of Montreal: An Oral History: 1922-1945 (1998)

A recent update to a Jan. 1, 2013 post is also of of relevance; it concerns the relationship between buildings and that occurs inside and outside of them:

 Ken Greenberg (2011) talks about early urban planning in Chicago

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September 2016 mail conversation

Graeme Decarie, Aug. 6, 2016 at a Tom Horton's in Moncton, N.B. Jaan Pill photo

Graeme Decarie, Aug. 6, 2016 in Moncton, N.B. Jaan Pill photo

Graeme Decarie (Sept. 2, 2016): I’m in Montreal for a funeral for my brother in law, and to see my sister (his widow). I’m really quite lost with the changes in Montreal. Traffic has become quite dreadful. And so many anglos have left, I know almost nobody here. There are some magnificent mafia palaces on Gouin along the waterfront.

I’m staying at my sister’s place, a condo about a couple of hundred metres from MCHS just on the other side of the commuter railway. The constant volume of traffic by the school is phenomenal. The train station now has monster parking lot. O’Brien has heavy traffic and there are several, new expressways.

Jaan Pill (Sept. 3, 2016): Can you tell me more about the “mafia palaces” topic? That is: “There are some magnificent mafia palaces on Gouin along the waterfront.” Are these new houses or have they been there for a long time?

Another sign in the same area. I like taking photos of traffic-related signs wherever I go. Each province and era has a different approach to the graphics of communicating the same messages - in this case, a sign indicating that if you press the button, you will increase your chances of making it to the other side of the street without being hit by a car. Jaan Pill photo

Another sign in Moncton. Each province and era has a different approach to communicating the same messages – in this case, the story is that if you press the button, you will increase your chances of making it to the other side without getting hit by a car. Jaan Pill photo

I assume this is a colloquial term referring to houses that are assumed to be related to Mafia figures.

Graeme (Sept. 3, 2016): They are huge and ornate houses on large properties on the water. Everybody says they are mafia. I don’t know that for sure. They must be 5 or 6 thousand square feet. I knew some high-flying mafia types. And there’s just a touch of coarseness in these palaces that they would like.

These were some 3 or 4 k west of sacre coeurs hospital.

The hospital now operates freely in both languages. The staff is at least 50% Black. Probably more. There’s also now a large, Muslim population in St. Laurent- Cartierville.

I haven’t seen much of an Oriental population.

Jaan (Sept. 3, 2016): This is good background; helps me to understand the story.

1) I did a search for “mafia houses Gouin Blvd.” and learned a bit about the Gouin Blvd. courthouse and related topics:

A Dec. 21, 2011 Montreal Gazette article is entitled: “Cops comb woods behind Rizzuto home.”

A June 29, 2015 Montreal Gazette article is entitled: “Montreal’s plan for Mafia-linked Pierrefonds land raises questions.”

May 2015 photo of the building where Malcolm Campbell High School was situated. Scott Munro photo

May 2015 photo of the building where Malcolm Campbell High School was located. Scott Munro photo

A June 18, 2016 Montreal Gazette article is entitled: “Wedding reception was a who’s who of Montreal gangsters.”

2) I’ve long been interested in the general story about the connection between corruption and Montreal:

Farmers’ fields north of Montreal is where the City of Laval was built

3) Reminds me of a wider topic namely the role of gangs in public life:

Starting in the 1920s, gangster movies underlined the capabilities of talking pictures

Graeme (Sept. 3, 2016):  I’m finding montreal a very alien place. The mix of people is much different. But more jarring was the disappearance of so many stores and restaurants I had known. Even Concordia felt strange to me.

The language tension really wasn’t noticeable, though. And both of my sons just love the place.

Graeme Decarie arrives at Tim Hortons coffee shop for meeting with Jaan Pill. The former teacher and student had not seen each other for 53 years. Jaan Pill photo. Click on the image to enlarge it; click again to enlarge it further.

Graeme Decarie arrives at Tim Hortons coffee shop for meeting with Jaan Pill. The former teacher and student had not seen each other for 53 years. Jaan Pill photo. Click on the image to enlarge it; click again to enlarge it further.

What is strangest is that I’m staying at my sister’s’ – in sight of MCHS. But the whole region seems alien. And I guess that’s partly because I don’t know a soul in the area. Even the YMCA has disappeared – and all the shops at Norgate are new.

And so we are left behind in the dust of a world galloping ahead in chariots.

Graeme (Sept. 8, 2016): I’ve been in Montreal for over a week, now. And it’s been rather sad. I’m staying just the other side of the railway tracks from MCHS. I lived in this area for ten years. The streets look the same. In fact, the houses look even better than new.

But it’s depressing to walk around. The whole community I knew, and its institutions, are gone. I feel decidedly alien here. I know nobody. And nobody knows me.

Much as I find Moncton an intellectual morgue, I’ll be happy to get home tomorrow.

Left to right: Sandra Holden. Lynn Smiley, Barry Levitt – the only boy in 11C, Myrna Ramsay, Joan Skelcher, Arleen Smith (sitting). In the background are Heather Locke and teacher Mr. Doig. Source:  Arleen Smith

February 1963 photo from Malcolm Campbell High School. Left to right: Sandra Holden. Lynn Smiley, Barry Levitt – the only boy in 11C, Myrna Ramsay, Joan Skelcher, Arleen Smith (sitting). In the background are Heather Locke and teacher Mr. Doig. Source: Arleen Smith. Photo is from a post entitled: February 1963 photo from Malcolm Campbell High School at recess or lunch outside in the school yard

Oh, there is one change. Montreal is a hell of a lot more spread out. And the traffic is very, very heavy.

The Gazette has deteriorated to the point where it make the Moncton Times and Transcript look (almost) good. It’s obviously run as cheaply as possible. In fact, at first glance it looks like a supermarket freebie.

Jaan (Sept. 8, 2016): My post about The Rise and Fall of English Montreal (1993) is going to be longer than I anticipated. I at first envisioned a link to the video and a brief blurb about the film.

As it has turned out, I’m going through the film second by second, transcribing parts of it, and taking screenshots from it to add images to the post. I was interested to see that some of the things you had talked about in emails long ago, such as the invention of hockey by Anglophone Montrealers, were included in the film.

I’ve also begun to think about the wider context of how media works, how stories are created, and how impressions are fostered, and I’ve begun to acquaint myself with some of the written resources available at the Toronto Public Library about Quebec in the 1990s and beyond.

In August 2016 I spent some time in Prince Edward Island, a beautiful setting for a vacation. On our drive to the island, we stopped in Moncton, New Brunswick as well as in Saint John, where this photo was taken.

In August 2016 I spent some time in Prince Edward Island, a beautiful setting for a vacation. On our drive to the island, we stopped in Moncton, New Brunswick as well as in Saint John, where this photo was taken.

My own connection with the NFB includes a summer job in early 1970s Vancouver where I worked as an assistant director for a film in Victoria about foster kids, and writing about NFB and independent producers when I was a freelance writer with Cinema Canada (1975-1980).

In the early 1970s I spent a morning visiting the NFB head office in Montreal. That was an intriguing little empire, that I encountered. I also did consulting for an NFB film that was made more recently; the resulting film wasn’t very useful from my perspective, but I learned something about how NFB films are put together.

The NFB’s origin as a propaganda outfit during the Second World War has long been a source of fascination for me.

Prince Edward Island is a great place to meet with family and friends at any time of the year. Jaan Pill photo

Prince Edward Island is a great place to meet with family and friends any time of year. Jaan Pill photo

I’ve been interested to note that the CBC has done a good job l in connecting with audiences. My sense is that the origins of CBC involved engagement with somewhat different currents of Canadian history, as contrasted to the origins of the NFB.

Graeme (Sept. 9, 2016): I also worked on a few other films which I’m going try to find when I get back to Moncton (tomorrow). They were all NFB.

As to Montreal, it’s much more friendly than it used to be. And the language tensions aren’t to evident as they were. The old Black population seems to have been smothered by Haitians and Africans – and it’s very, very widely spread throughout the city. Housing prices are high. The house in St.Laurent that my parents bought about 1956 for $25,000 is now on sale for $580,000.

If I do move back to Montreal next year, I’ll have to avoid all those expensive districts like St. Laurent, Cartierville. The prices are insane.

[End]

Click here to access a Canadian Encyclopedia reference to Norgate Shopping Centre >

 

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3 Responses to Many changes have occurred in Cartierville where Malcolm Campbell High School was located from 1960s to late 1980s

  1. Jaan Pill Jaan Pill says:

    In my interviews with him in Moncton in August 2016, Graeme spoke at length about the ways in which education and the influence of family life when he was growing up had a strong, positive, and enduring impact on his life. Graeme grew up in poverty but with help from many sources, managed to deal effectively with the major challenges that he faced in his early years.

    With regard to the role that education and social capital can play, I was pleased to read a Sept. 14, 2016 Tyee article entitled: “How to End Child Poverty, According to a Stanford Economist: Raj Chetty on ways to invest in kids for maximum impact.”

  2. Jaan Pill Jaan Pill says:

    I have on many occasions interviewed Bill Rawson, owner of Long Branch Furniture in the Toronto neighbourhood where I have lived for 20 years. He’s about the same age as Graham Decarie. I have some additional interviews that I look forward to doing with him, about the Long branch Race Track that used to exist just north of what in times past was known as The Village of Long Branch.

    One of the remarks that I remember from a brief conversation with Bill Rawson around August 2016 has very much reminded me, as I have thought back about it, of remarks that Graeme has shared regarding his September 2016 visit to Montreal to attend a funeral.

    What Bill said was (and I paraphrase), “It’s amazing. It’s all changed. Everybody I knew in those years is gone. I don’t know the people around here anymore; they’re all gone.”

    I would add that many old-time friends of Bill Rawson do regularly visit him at his store. However in times past, if he was walking down the street, he would know so many of the people that he would be encountering. It is those people who are now all gone – moved away, or passed away.

    The photo (by Jaan Pill from about May 2014) is of Bill Rawson (on left) and Lance Kelly. Click on the photo to enlarge it. One of the features of posting a photo to a Comment in WordPress is that captions can’t be posted within a Comment. For that reason, I write the caption information as a text within the body of the Comment, as I’ve done with regard to the photo below. It also took me a while to figure out how to add links to Comments. These are among the interesting things that I’ve been learning, often by chance, in the course of writing blog posts.

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  3. Jaan Pill Jaan Pill says:

    As an immigrant having arrived in Halifax harbour in 1951 after a voyage across the Atlantic, I enjoyed another recent article as well:

    A Sept. 15, 2016 Toronto Star article is entitled: “Suspicion of immigrants is a Canadian value.”

    When I saw Halifax harbour for the first time from the deck of the Gripsholm (as our ship was called), I said to myself, “Remember this scene. You’re gonna live here all your life.” But the next day, after an overnight stay at a hotel, we were on our way heading along the St. Lawrence River by train on our way to Ontario. You look out the train window and you see lots of trees, mile after mile. We didn’t get as far as Ontario, however. Montreal looked like a good place to stop, my parents decided, which is why we got off the train in Montreal, where I spent many years until finally continuing the journey to the original destination, which had been Toronto.

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