Additional studies regarding political events in Montreal in the 1990s


A May 2017 CBC interactive webpage is entitled: “Montreal is 375 years old, but how old are its buildings?”

A May 17, 2017 Montreal Gazette article is entitled: “Montreal’s history did not start 375 years ago.”



In previous posts I have discussed a 1993 film, The Rise and Fall of English Montreal.

I’ve found it of interest, for recreational reading, to read books about that period in history, and to discuss with Graeme Decarie what I’ve been learning.

In this post I’ll share a few notes – I’ll leave out the links. The few people who are keen to read about such things can readily find the links themselves.

Jaan Pill (Sept. 29, 2016 – with additional text added on Oct. 1, 2016)

Each publication does a good job (good editing) of reaching its respective target audience, by shaping the story (on any topic) in a way that suits its reason for being, as a publication.

By way of following up on reading related to the 1993 English Montreal film, I’ve been reading:

1) The empire within: postcolonial thought and political activism in sixties Montreal (2010) by Sean Mills.

[Added on Oct. 1, 2016: When I first came across this title, I thought that I would not be likely to find the study of much interest. However, I have found this book beautifully written and really valuable to read. It helps me to understand some of the conceptual framework, or sense-making infrastructure, that was in place in segments of Montreal society in the 1960s.

[Here are some thoughts that have occurred to me, while reading the book.

[There are many cognitive infrastructures, conceptual regimes, or frameworks, by means of which we make sense, or manufacture sense, out of sensory input. A political perspective; an ideology; membership in a social or economic class, or in an ethnic group or nation: these are all aspects of having a particular cognitive framework, which serves to enable a person to make sense – or provide the feeling that a person is making sense – of what is happening, at a given time

[One can belong to a cult, a religion, and ideology. It can simple or complex; it can be simple or sophisticated. It can be cartoon-like, this approach to sense-making. It can have an air of Pop Art about it. Ot it can have an air of erudition associated with it. Sophistry can be integral to it, or it may have a sense of cogency associated with it.

[What a framework is, and how it operates, is a matter of judgement, within whichever particular framework you bring to the task of judging. By way of relating these thoughts to the reading of history, I have found another book of particular value, namely Spirits of the Rockies: Reasserting an Indigenous Presence in Banff National Park (2014). This is another beautifully written and cogent book. I recommend it highly for any person who wishes to better understand Canadian history.]

[End of text added on Oct. 1, 2016]

A parallel study [parallel to The Empire Within] (concerned with sixties at SFU) that I like (because my role as editor of the student paper is mentioned, as an exemplar of an editor providing a balanced overview of campus events) is:

2) Radical campus: making Simon Fraser University (2005)

3) Sean Mills author of The Empire Within is also author of

 Canada and the Third World: overlapping histories (2016)


4) A place in the sun: Haiti, Haitians, and the remaking of Quebec (2016)

Graeme Decarie (Sept. 29, 2016 in response to above-noted message)

Social activism is what got me me fired from CBC after 12 years. I was on the board of Alliance Quebec. I never touched on political ideas on air because that was not the theme of the show I was on. But it got my name in the papers and then, worse, I was elected chairman.

On the French side of CBC it was mandatory to be a separatist. On the English side, it was mandatory not to be involved on the anti-separatist side. The chairmanship got my name in the papers – and CBC fired me for having a reputation of being anti-separatist.

Jaan Pill  (Sept. 28, 2016)

Subject: Re: Our Glorious Century (1996) by Graeme Decarie

The editing [of Readers Digest in years past] was good. I could see that it worked – for many, many readers. It was a form of packaging that meant everything was in a box, the same little, predictable box. I had the sense that like Time, Newsweek, it was always saying the same thing, in the same way.

Graeme (Sept. 28, 2016)

Subject: Re: Our Glorious Century (1996) by Graeme Decarie

Oh, i never read it [Readers Digest]. It was the editing that was good.

Jaan (Sept. 28, 2016)

Well, that’s a great story. I’m pleased that the $40K was about right!

I enjoyed Readers Digest until I was about 12 years old.


Graeme (Sept. 28)

Subject: Re: Our Glorious Century (1996) by Graeme Decarie

Lordy, lordly. The editor called me in on that because I had done some short stories for them, and I had done a large part of a coffee table book on Canada.(The editors at RD were really good in those days. It has sagged a good deal since then.)

She asked me to take a copy of an American RD book of the same name, and make it American/Canadian by reorganising, cutting out some portions, altering others, and adding Chapters devoted to Canada. The rules were very strict. I had to make it a combined history by altering it while maintaining the same size.
Then she asked me what my fee would be.

I hesitated. I knew from previous writing that RD paid very, very well. I was thinking I could hit them for 5,000. But I hesitated at throwing out such a large sum.
“Would $40,000 be enough?” she asked.
I gulped, and assured her it would.

I never thought much of the magazine. But, oh, it had top editorial standards in those days. Now, it goes with anybody off the street – and the standards are terrible.
Much of it is actually run from The Phillipines, now.


Jaan (Sept. 28)

Found out about a book that Graeme Decarie is connected with.

Here’s the link:

Item 455-2108

“Our Glorious Century” by Graeme Decarie – Hardcover Published by Readers Digest, 1996

$ 12.95

Jaan (Sept. 28)

I’ve borrowed the book from the library:

Our glorious century (1996)


8 replies
  1. Jaan Pill
    Jaan Pill says:

    I’ve come across other books also including:

    Youth, language, and identity: portraits of students from English-speaking high schools in the Montreal area (2011)

    Negotiating identities: anglophones teaching and living in Quebec (2016)

    The blurb for the latter study capitalizes Anglophone and Francophone; I’ve often wondered whether to capitalize or nor. With words such as Indigenous, and Aboriginal, my preference is to capitalize and I feel maybe capitalizations works well for Anglophone and Francophone also.

    The blurb reads:

    As members of an official linguistic minority in Canada, Anglophone teachers living and working in Quebec have a distinct experience of the relationship between language and identity. In Negotiating Identities, Diane Gérin-Lajoie uses a critical sociological framework to explore the life stories of Anglophone teachers and illustrate the social practices which connect them with their linguistic, cultural, and professional identities.

    Exploring the complexity of identity as a lived experience, Negotiating Identities demonstrates the strength of language as a political force in these educators’ lives both in the classroom and outside it. Through comparisons with the other official linguistic minority in Canada, the Francophones, and particularly with Franco-Ontarians, this book tells the stories of Quebec’s Anglophone teachers in their own words, providing a unique account of how these individuals make sense of their lives as residents of Quebec.

    [End of text]

  2. Jaan Pill
    Jaan Pill says:

    In the course of my reading about the history of Montreal, and of French Canada, I have come across the work of Mason Wade (1913-1986). I’m currently reading:

    The French Canadians, 1760-1967, volume 2: 1911-1967 (1976)

    Also of interest is:

    Search for a nation: Canada’s crises in French-English relations from 1759
    3rd ed. (2012)
    A blurb reads:

    Search For A Nation is an unique resource which explores 10 major crises in French-English Relations from 1759 to 1995. The third edition adds the constitutional crisis from 1982 to 1992, culminating with the defeat of the Meech Lake accords in the national referendum and the very tense and close 1995 Quebec Referendum.Each narrative chapter in the book is supported by a corresponding chapter of carefully chosen and edited primary and secondary sources which illuminate the issues and often provide an immediate sense of the drama of unfolding events. Search For A Nation is an ideal companion to any general history of Canada and essential background for understanding the ongoing debate about the future of Quebec and its relations with the rest of Canada.

    [End of text]

    Why the blurb refers to “an unique” instead of “a unique” isn’t clear to me; it’s a topic related to English language usage that I look forward to learning more about.

  3. Jaan Pill
    Jaan Pill says:

    The forwords, by Mason Wade, to the first and second editions of Search for a Nation (2012) (see previous Comment) read:

    Foreword to the First and Second Editions

    Janet Morchain has performed a very useful service for Canada by summarizing the major episodes in which English and French Canadians took different and sometimes conflicting views during Canada’s evolution into nationhood. And she has put both kinds of Canadians in debt to her by including as an integral part of this book a collection of sources and documents illustrating both points of view, to which references are supplied in her narrative. For it has been too long the tradition of both English­ and French-Canadian education to concentrate on one part of the Canadian tradition and ignore or even misrepresent the other. It is absurd to bring up people in watertight cultural compartments, convinced of the righteousness and inevitable superiority of their own tradition, and then expect them to achieve a harmonious modus vivendi with others equally devoted to another tradition. Happily, in the years since 1945, there has been much better communication between what Hugh Maclennan justly described as the “Two Solitudes” of prewar Canada – and Canadians have become much more conscious of what they have in common and less given to dwelling on what divides them. Dr. Morchain’s book should do much to further the process of English-French accommodation by which Canada has become a nation and which must be continued if Canada is to remain one, after a century of common effort by men [sic] of good will who were willing to make sacrifices for the common good.

    Mason Wade
    University of Western Ontario London, Ontario

  4. Jaan Pill
    Jaan Pill says:

    A foreword to the third edition of Search for a Nation (2012) (see previous Comments) reads:

    Foreword to the Third Edition

    It is both a pleasure and an honour to be invited to prepare a foreword for this book. A pleasure because it is wonderful to be part of Janet Morchain’s still innovative and highly useful third edition of Search for a Nation. An honour to be asked to follow in the footsteps of Mason Wade, the historian whose rigorous scholarship made the greatest contribution to the understanding of the French-Canadian people and to improving French-English relations in Canada.

    One of the difficulties in interethnic relations is that nationalists on one side or the other seem to be able to get to the podium first and speak more loudly. They normally proclaim just their side of the story, thus tending to exacerbate already tendentious relations. Those with a more reasoned voice, who try to look at both sides of the question, tend to be ignored. Glamour and partisanship are not in their favour. But if we are looking for ways to build bridges in multicultural societies, it is essential to have ready access to, and to be able to compare and analyze, divergent points of view. Fitzhenry &: Whiteside are to be congratulated for their foresight and persistence in understanding that Morchain’s volume of history, documentation, and opinion is an immense aid to students of all ages and an essential part of any Canadian scholars bookshelf.

    French-English relations are the substratum, the bedrock, of Canadian cultural and political life. It can be argued that this relationship , with its highs and its lows, has been the springboard to bilingualism, minority rights, multiculturalism, and appreciation of diversity that characterize twenty-first-century Canadian culture. lt can also be maintained that the incapacity of Canadians to deal with Quebec’s need for greater constitutional protection-as demonstrated in Morchain’s two new chapters (Chapters 10 and 11)-has made it likely that accommodation of the Quebec reality still needs to be made within the Canadian polity. Furthermore, the author’s judicious selection of basic texts will help students of Canada to have at their fingertips a knowledge of the facts and motivations that underlie Canada’s past and that will help us prepare for its future. The handicaps under which Janet Morchain and her friend Michael Wall laboured to bring this third edition to fruition makes the achievement even more impressive. As this edition has been published posthumously, it also stands as a memorial to the great contribution Dr. Morchain has made to the study of Canadian history and, in particular, French-English relations.

    John E. Trent Chelsea, Quebec

  5. Jaan Pill
    Jaan Pill says:

    Jane Jacobs has adroitly addressed topics that are covered at the post you are now reading.

    A recent post at the Preserved Stories website is entitled:

    Remembering and understanding Jane Jacobs, beyond left and right (Globe and Mail, Sept. 30, 2016)

    I very much like Search for a Nation (2012). The brief summaries that appear in the book act as blurbs – and the blurbs are very good ones. From them, I have learned so many many things – for example about the relationship between New France in the late 1600s and early 1700s – that I had previously never thought about.

    Blurbs are really what we need to work with. Our brains appear wired for blurbs – for short statements that leave much detail out of the mix, but that carry a distinct message that hits home. If there’s a bit of emotion behind it, the message can be powerful. This applies to blurbs or tropes that take us away from wherever the evidence points; it also applies to blurbs or memes that are evidence-based.

    Blurbs define us and tell us who we are

    I also think about the fact that disciplines are socially constructed artifacts. By that I mean that it makes sense for me to move to a word about other studies that I’ve been reading. One such study is Climate Change and Society (2011).

    Blurb for Climate Change and Society (2011)

    The blurb reads:

    This book explores the significance of human behaviour to understanding the causes and impacts of changing climates and to assessing varied ways of responding to such changes. So far the discipline that has represented and modelled such human behaviour is economics.

    By contrast Climate Change and Society tries to place the ‘social’ at the heart of both the analysis of climates and of the assessment of alternative futures. It demonstrates the importance of social practices organised into systems. In the fateful twentieth century various interlocking high carbon systems were established. This sedimented high carbon social practices, engendering huge population growth, increasing greenhouse gas emissions and the potentially declining availability of oil that made this world go round. Especially important in stabilising this pattern was the ‘carbon military-industrial complex’ around the world.

    The book goes on to examine how in this new century it is systems that have to change, to move from growing high carbon systems to those that are low carbon. Many suggestions are made as to how to innovate such low carbon systems. It is shown that such a transition has to happen fast so as to create positive feedbacks of each low carbon system upon each other. Various scenarios are elaborated of differing futures for the middle of this century, futures that all contain significant costs for the scale, extent and richness of social life.

    Climate Change and Society thus attempts to replace economics with sociology as the dominant discipline in climate change analysis. Sociology has spent much time examining the nature of modern societies, of modernity, but mostly failed to analyse the carbon resource base of such societies. This book seeks to remedy that failing. It should appeal to teachers and students in sociology, economics, environmental studies, geography, planning, politics and science studies, as well as to the public concerned with the long term future of carbon and society.

    [End of text]

  6. Jaan Pill
    Jaan Pill says:

    An excerpt (p. 90) from Climate Change and Society (2011) reads:

    Post-political climates?

    I now examine the claim that the development of the issue of climate change is part of a post-political reworking of a new world dis/order. We can begin by noting that struggling against climate change is a strange politics, rather like the strange weather that can provide evi­dence that climates may indeed be changing. Figuring out the politics that are involved here is highly relevant for 21st-century societies.

    I begin with a new orthodoxy that has recently grown up within political thought which argues that since the ending of Bolshevism and the growth of a global neo-liberalism the world has moved to a ‘post-political’ phase. I examine Swyngedouw’s account of how the politics of climate change in particular is functioning as a key arena for a post-political reconfiguration. The antagonisms inherent to the political are, it is suggested, suppressed through material and discur­sive means. [2] And if Swyngedouw were right in these claims about the forrning of the post-political, this would be highly problematic for developing a positive and progressive response to the multiple risks of changing climates.

    [End of excerpt]

  7. Jaan Pill
    Jaan Pill says:

    Another book I have been reading is entitled: Nazi Germany, Canadian Responses: Confronting Antisemitism in the Shadow of War (2012).

    I have discussed the book in more detail, and in the context of several other studies, in Comments in a post entitled: Graeme Decarie served as historical advisor and commentator for a 1993 NFB film about the Quiet Revolution in Quebec.

    The 2012 study regarding antisemitism in Canada around the time of the Second World War brings to mind the work of Richard J. Evans discussed in a post entitled:
    Narrative helps us understand Germany in the 1930s (Richard J. Evans, 2003)

    Nazi Germany: Canadian Responses (2012) also brings to mind a study entitled: Iron Fists: Branding the 20th-Century Totalitarian State (2008).

  8. Jaan Pill
    Jaan Pill says:

    Also of interest: The Living Past of Montreal, 3rd Edition (1976).

    A blurb reads:

    In 1960 Old Montreal was an abandoned and rapidly deteriorating section of the city. With the growth of the restoration movement the external appearance of many Old Montreal buildings was radically altered. McLean was the first person to restore a house in Old Montreal as a private residence and he describes how extra stories were removed, pitched roofs reappeared, facades were cleaned and re-adjusted, and greater discretion exercised in the use of signs. Wilson has watched this evolution with passionate interest and, through his evocative drawings, presents an intimate portrait of the architecture of the area. The Living Past of Montreal was first published in 1964 and revised in 1976. This third edition contains many of the original illustrations in addition to twenty new drawings which reflect the changes that have taken place up to the present day.

    [End of text]

    The book notes that some buildings and spaces connected with early Montreal history have been saved whereas others – including the spot where the first French settlers landed, in what eventually became the City of Montreal – have been turned over to uses other than historical preservation.

    The book underlines for me the reality that things appear and disappear, and occasionally events give rise to a sense of irony.


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