Graeme Decarie has been reading the autobiography of Christopher Plummer
Click here for previous posts about Graeme Decarie >
Among the previous posts is: MCHS Bio for Graeme Decarie, who taught for three years at Malcolm Campbell High School.
Graeme Decarie writes:
I’ve been reading the autobiography of Christopher Plummer because he and I were classmates – almost.
This was at Montreal High – in the A stream. When the school was built, the area from Pine down to Rene Levesque still had lots of the super rich. That’s why Erskine American, St. Andrew and St. Paul and St. James are there.
So Montreal had its origins as the school of rich kids – and the staff had a snobbery about them that still was felt when scum like me attended it. (The rich started moving to Westmount when the CPR came, and they could commute to work.)
Among the rich were the Plummers who, when I went to Montreal High still lived in a fine house on Pine. But the times were changing when I got there. Already, Oscar Peterson had gone through when it was very rare for a Black in Montreal to be accorded that privilege. (In fact, there was no Black teaching in t he school system until 1960).
The A stream was for the smart kids. I was in it (an error on somebody’s part) about five years after Plummer and Armstrong – both of whom were already famous when I got there.
It was a great district for a kid duking school – as I commonly did. There were still mansions on Sherbrooke, one of them the home of a knight. I would sometimes pass the home of Dr. Bethune, an ardent supporter of Mao who died of infection while treating the wounded of Mao’s army. And of Dr. McRae who had written In Flanders’ Fields.
Plummer, I learned, had been fond of visiting his grandfather’s mansion – in fact, it was almost a palace – and some MCHS grads might know it. The property on lake of Two Mountains – either in or near Hudson. The driveway was a half-mile long. Close to the shore were the ruins of a stone fort built in the French regime. I remember climbing the walls of it when I was a child.
Oh, I am reminded of my first day at MHS when a teacher named Jack Leroy entered the class. He abruptly told all Jews in the class to stand. Then, equally abruptly, told them to sit down. He did not look pleased. (he was part of the old, elitist mentality of MHS for which Jews were not a welcome innovation.)
So far, Plummer’s book hasn’t mentioned me. But I shall soldier on.
[End of text]
Over the years I’ve written at length about the Holocaust and related topics.
Click here for previous posts about the Holocaust >
Click here for previous posts about the topic of genocide >
Thank you for sharing these pieces with us. They are very special for me as I have very little from home. I have lost my pictures etc. literally from fire and flood. It brings back a lot of memories for me that I thought I had lost. I was in serveral of Mr. Decarie’s classes. To say the least, he made them entertaining.
Recently I noticed Anna Feldman contacted you. Is there a way you could give her my contact information or give me, hers? Anna, myself and another friend Pat were very close in high school. Pat and I have remained in touch but we have lost contact with Anna. Would love to reconnect. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
Lynda (Lester) Benoit
Good to read your message. I will contact Anna Feldman and will let her know your contact information.
I am really pleased that you find the pieces of interest and value. I have been learning so many things myself, just from talking with people connected with MCHS, either in person or via online communications.
I asked Graeme Decarie: “Have you finished the book?”
No. I returned it. the only part I was interested in was his life in Montreal.
I’m having a tough time finding something to read. I’ve been heavily into history and current events – and that has become profoundly depressing. But I can’t switch to the light stuff I used to read because it’s long lost its appeal.
There is a book that looks interesting if I can find it. It argues that there was no Jesus – and that even the Hebrew scriptures are built on very old folk tales. That makes sense. And Islam comes from the same roots.
But reading current events and writing a blog on them has become profoundly depressing. Your generation – and mine ( half a generation older) -were probably, in time and place, the luckiest people in history.
But the world has shifted into reverse for the last thirty years and more.
Trump and Clinton and Tony Blair – and Trudeau – are just symptoms of the decline. I could blame the wealthy for their greed and cruelty. But they’re only being human. I’m afraid there’s a basic design flaw in all us humans.
My recent post (see link below) addressing a comment from Bob Carswell, about cities in the process of engulfing farms, has prompted me to gather together my own thoughts, as a person from a generation that is a half-generation younger than yours.
My thoughts have to do not so much about where the world has gone, but with regard to how the history of the world has unfolded.
I also think about how it has come to pass that versions of history can vary so dramatically depending upon whose history is being told.
The converse of that is that I have a strong interest in the history of those whose history has not been told at all.
Something I’ve found useful, in my own efforts to make sense of things, is to consider how, through the centuries, power enforces particular uses of geographical space.
A corollary is that brain wiring of the human species drives the uses of geographical space, for better or for worse. In the end, it may be for the worse, but I do believe there are grounds for optimism.
The other thing that I’ve found useful is the concept that tolerance for ambiguity is helpful when it exists, and the consequences can be deadly when tolerance for ambiguity is absent.
The post I mention, at which I’ve included many links addressing the above-noted “reflections of mine,” is a recent one:
Over time, Toronto and Montreal each became a giant amoeba that grew in size and engulfed all the farmsteads in its path
A further note:
Jaan Pill: I’m assuming the Jack Leroy you mention at MHS is same one who was VP at MCHS.
Always like to check.
Graeme Decarie: Same one. He taught Latin.
A younger Alan Talbot taught at William Dawson High (now Cardinal Newman if it still exists.) He had been a captain of artillery – but I’m not sure whether that was active or reserves.