Does Bordeaux Jail still exist?
I’ve received a message from Graeme Decarie:
Graeme Decarie writes:
Does it still exist? If so, it must be in the middle of a suburb.
It’s the prison that was the site of more executions than any other prison in Canada.
[End of message from Graeme Decarie]
Jaan Pill comments:
Does anyone know the answer?
I could look up Wikipedia but I am not a fan of Wikipedia.
In my reply to Graeme I wrote:
Good question. I will post an item. Meanwhile, I’ve been writing about the need for professional competence in the community where I live. One of the captions in the post below refers to Villa Road. Working with fellow residents I organized the eight presentations that are referred to in the caption, with good results for the street:
A modest expectation: Adherence to planning legislation, and demonstration of professional competence, when Committee of Adjustment/Ontario Municipal Board decisions are made
I’ve also been writing about Venezuela:
The Revolution in Venezuela: Social and Political Change under Chávez (2011)
[End of text]
From the MCHS 1968 Facebook Group, we’ve received a comment that reads:
“According to Wikipedia, it still does exist. It housed prisoners serving less than 2 years or are waiting for trial.”
It’s wonderful to know that detail. I’ll pass the comment along to Graeme.
A comment at the MCHS Grads Facebook group reads: “Of course!”
I’ll let Graeme know. He likes succinct answers from students!
Well, the discussion continues:
Graeme Decarie comments:
I don’t like no suck sinkt answers. Never have.
I was in it only once – to see a man I had worked with when I had a factory job. He had been a heavy drinker, and had a forehead so low he made me think of prehistoric man. And he was incredibly stupid. One day, he got mad, and tried to kill his father with an axe. He was put into a solitary cell for the criminally insane. That was about the time I was teaching at MCHS.
I got in to see him because I had pull through my uncle who was a big name in the boxing world, and later coached a couple of Olympic teams.
So a guard took me in, and let me in the cell. Maurice was standing, chained by his wrists to the wall, and had a long beard. He didn’t recognize me. In fact, I don’t think he could see me.
[End of text from Graeme]
Comment from Jaan: After I said that Graeme likes succinct answers, I thought, “What do I know about what kind of answers Graeme likes?” It turns out I know nothing about what kind of answers he likes. The gears have been slipping in my mind for a long time, and sometimes I don’t get around to the self-correction process.
As well, it’s interesting to read about why people snap, and under what circumstances: Why We Snap: Understanding the Rage Circuit in Your Brain (2016). Something to do with evolutionary biology, in the event a person likes to use neuroscience and the like as part of a sense-making practice.
The discussion also brings to mind the history of Quebec jail breaks.
Additional Facebook (MCHS ’68) comments:
1) Back in the day, waaaaay back….we could see the dome from our 2nd floor window. I checked Wikipedia, too – My “go to” place for this kind of information…..
2) Yes, it still exists today. I lived on Tanguay St. in Ahuntsic and the jail was located at the foot of the street on Gouin Blvd.
And a comment from the MCHS Grads Facebook Page:
Ι used to live right behind the Bordeaux Jails on Poincare street!
Comment: I wonder if Maurice is still hanging from the wall.
I also spent some time at Laval as a volunteer for the National Black Coalition, visiting a roomful of about 25 prisoners, most of them in for murder. One was an odd little guy who called himself Loose the Goose. He was quite harmless. But he liked to rob houses at night – while the residents were asleep. And one night, they woke up.
What I thought odd what that he had his name, Loose the Goose on everything – his clothes, his books, tattooed on his arm. When I asked him why he did that, he looked around the room cautiously. Then he leaned over to me and whispered,
“Because this place is full of thieves.”
Great to know of your volunteering with the National Black Coalition. I like the story, which your description brings so vividly to life, about Loose the Goose keeping track of his belongings.
When I think of Laval, I think about academic studies of corruption. I’m currently on Chapter 2, “Why Polarize? Advantages and Disadvantages of a Rational-Choice Analysis of Government-Opposition Relations under Hugo Chávez,” by Javier Corrales in The Revolution in Venezuela: Social and Political Change under Chávez (2011).
The chapter describes the extreme polarization that was characteristic of the years when Hugo Chávez was in power in Venezuela. The author notes that one of consequences of polarization under Chávez, during the time period under study, was that a sizeable population of ambivalent groups (that is, neither strongly in favour of Chávez or strongly opposed) would need to be kept from joining forces with the Venezuelan opposition.
“What has the Chávez administration done,” asks Javier Corrales (p. 82), “to address ambivalent groups? This is where the three other pillars of Chavismo in office come into place: clientism, impunity for those who engage in corruption, and job discrimination. These practices exist in all regimes. But in Venezuela under Chávez, they assumed two key characteristics: First, they became central to the regime. Secondly, they were specifically targeted toward the ni/ni [ambivalent] groups.”
Chapter 1 in the book, “State Reflections: The 2002 Coup against Hugo Chávez,” by Fernando Coronil, focuses on the dramaturgical elements in a coup (and what some have called a coup within a coup) in 2002 in which Chávez was deposed and a couple of politicians briefly declared themselves heads of state. In the end, Chávez was restored to office.
A central element in the coup involved a situation in which 19 people were shot dead during a march. A widely viewed television report about the deaths featured a narrative that, after the coup, was determined not to be congruent with the facts on the ground. The chapter notes that some of the key details of what actually went on during the coup remain unknown.
I’m doing a good job at focusing on the job at hand, which is working my way through the above-noted book. However, from time to time I’ve also stopped to look at another book from the Toronto Public Library that has caught my attention:
The Dictator’s Handbook: Why Bad Behavior is Almost Always Good Politics (2011).
I enjoy reading anything that adds to be limited understanding of how the world works.
The book about Venezuela also discusses an overview of frames and framing in the analysis of social movements. How stories are shaped – that is, how they are framed – is a source of fascination for me.
The overview, available online to members of the Toronto Public Library, is “Framing Processes and Social Movements: An Overview and Assessment,” by Robert D. Benford and David A. Snow in the Annual Review of Sociology, Vol. 26 (2000), pp. 611-639.
So as I read The Revolution in Venezuela (2011), I’m also reading the above-noted paper.
Other sources mentioned in the Venezuela (2011) book include Frame Analysis by Erving Goffman (New York: Harper, 1974) and Talking Politics by William Gamson (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1992). The two books are next on my list of readings.
I’ve been keen, as I’ve been reading about Venezuela, to learn about events that have taken place in more recent years in that country.
I’ve learned that a good resource regarding this topic is Dragon in the Tropics: the Legacy of Hugo Chávez, Second Edition (2015) by Javier Corrales and Michael Penfold.
One of the topics that interests me, in my reading related to history, concerns the question of inequality. With regard to the latter topic, Dragon in the Tropics (2015) notes (p. 152):
“If the rise and consolidation of populism depend on sustaining a bipolar coalition, then it makes sense to posit that societies suffering from gross inequality are more susceptible to populist appeals. In terms of income and assets, Latin America is one of the most economically unequal regions in the world . As long as Latin America remains a champion in the area of income inequality, it will continue to be vulnerable to populism. However, we feel strongly that this connection is not automatic and is often overstated . Venezuela and many other Latin American societies have lived with high levels of inequality for decades while experiencing substantial regime and policy variations, making it hard to believe that inequality is the most important determinant of regime type . Two of the most unequal countries in the region, Brazil and Chile, have had substantial democratic stability for almost two decades now. Although many scholars stress a strong connection between inequality and rising populism, we feel that this connection exists but it is not as powerful as other causes.”
A further comment, at the MCHS ’60 Facebook Group:
Bordeau Jail is still used in Montreal. It houses almost 1200 inmates waiting trial or for terms up to 2 years. Built between 1908 and 1912, it is over a hundred years old.