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2015 Heritage Essay Contest Winners!

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larger_rod.gardenview.june_.2015.a_0.jpgThe winners of QAHN's 2015 Heritage Essay Contest for elementary students have been announced!

Out of the 100 entries we received, the following six students and essays have been selected:


1st Prize ($150 with Certificate)
“Bessie Goldberg”
Noa Goldberg, Grade 6, Gardenview Elementary School, Saint-Laurent, Qc.

The Quebec woman from history that was important to her community was my Great Grandmother Bessie Goldberg-Rajavsky.

Bessie spent her entire life helping others. When she was seven years old, she would get up at three in the morning to help her father deliver milk. She helped hitch the horse to the buggy and would run up the spiralling staircases in her neighbourhood, carrying the heavy milk so her father wouldn't have to.

When Bessie was in her early thirties, she was actively involved in the organizing to bring Jewish families to Canada. Before the outbreak of World War II, Bessie helped smuggle Jewish families from Russia, Germany and later Poland into Canada. This was difficult because the Canadian government at the time were not letting many Jewish families into the country. She would take the train to Halifax and with others pretended to be family, welcoming the new immigrants. This was dangerous because if the authorities found out, Bessie could have gone to jail. She and her friends saved many lives.

Bessie was involved in all sorts of fundraising in her community. As a teenager, Bessie organized a dance to help a neighbour have enough money to fix her roof.

Again fighting racism, Bessie helped sell bricks to raise money to build the Jewish General Hospital so local Jewish people wouldn't have to be put on long waiting lists and so Jewish doctors would have a hospital in Montreal to work at. She also fundraised to create, Maimonides Geriatric Center, the Jewish Hospital of Hope and the Jewish Convalescent Hospital.


2nd Prize ($125 with Certificate)
“Charles Baillairgé"
Lacey Baillairgé, Grade 6, Gardenview Elementary School, Saint-Laurent, Qc.

I have ancestors just like everyone else. One of mine is especially well known for his architecture and is part of our national heritage. I would like to share the story of Charles Baillairgé - my ancestor on my father's side. He was born September 29, 1826 in Quebec City. He was an important part of architecture in Québec and Ottawa.

From a young age, Baillairgé considered architecture as a profession. All his ancestors preferred working as artisan-architects. But Charles' idea came to him from the architecture library that was full of books from Europe. These books were about the responsibility of being an architect. Baillairgé knew what he wanted to do and he went out and did it!

Baillairgé was from a long line of sculptors, painters and architects. He was involved in designing many projects. Three of his works have been designated as National Historic Sites of Canada due to their remarkable architecture. Charles Baillairgé was a fascinating man whose curiosity and talent had an impact on those around him. The creations he left behind such as the Library of Parliament on Parliament Hill, the House of Parliament in Ottawa, Pavillon Charles-Baillairgé in the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec, and many more are still serving Canadians today.

Charles-Philippe-Ferdinand died May 10, 1906 at the age of 79 years old. His creations live on and continue to be admired today. Next time you visit Québec City, look for the Charles Baillairgé Staircase which connects the basse-ville and the haute-ville. I look for it and run up and down it every time I am in Quebec City.


3rd Prize ($100 with Certificate)
“Greek Orthodox Church”
Pauline Kollias, Grade 6, Gardenview Elementary School, Saint-Laurent, Qc.

In 1968, the Greek community purchased a Pentecostal church and transformed it into a Greek Orthodox Church in the area of Park Extension. They named it “Koimisis tis Theotokou” (Dormition of the Virgin Mary), but was affectionately known as “Panagitsa”. In 1980, my grandparents moved in that area and attended liturgy there every Sunday. Two years later my grandfather was approached by the priest, Father Nicholaos Papageorgiou to help and volunteer at the church. He gladly accepted and worked as a commissioner for 33 years. My mom attended Sunday school and my uncle was an altar boy for many years. My family has been attending services at Panagitsa church for decades.

My parents, my uncle and my aunt were married in that beautiful church. My brother, cousins and I were all baptized there as well. This church means a lot to my family. Especially given the fact that we all said our last goodbye to my grandfather there this year.

Panagitsa is a church where you find serenity. It is filled with so many pieces of religious art and icons. A place where you can pray and find peace during tough times in your life. You can always pass by and light a candle at any time of the day.

On April 13, 2015, the church caught on fire and was destroyed. The entire Greek community was in mourning. It felt like death for all of us. My family broke down in tears. This tragic event will forever remain a scar in our memory and in our hearts. This church held the community together and I hope we will rebuild!


Honourable Mention
"The Chinese Lion Dance"
Justin Lin, Grade 6, Beacon Hill School, Beaconsfield, Qc.

The Chinese lion dance is a tradition that has been around for over a thousand years. It usually takes place around Chinese New Year. Legends say that on the night of New Year’s Eve, an evil demon would come and attack the villagers of a small village. Every year, the villagers suffered because they didn’t know how to defend themselves against this terrible beast. But then one year, a young man had a plan to fight off this demon. The plan was that the villagers would make an item that the demon would be afraid of when it faces a monster that looks similar to it. So they got together and made a demon look-alike known as the “Lion”. On the night of New Year’s Eve, the villagers faced the evil demon with the “Lion” and made loud noises with firecrackers and instruments. The demon was then chased off and the villagers lived in peace. Ever since, the “Lion Dance” became part of the New Year’s celebration. So in Chinatown, the lions would go around brining good luck to everyone. The lions would dance and the “Laughing Man” would play with the lion using lettuce which is called “Chiang”. Then, the lion tries to catch the Laughing Man so he can eat the Chiang, which represents good luck. The Lion Dance comes from China and was brought to Canada so we can celebrate here, with everyone together, as a community.


Honourable Mention
"The Old Stone House of Fisher North"
Maya Jadah, Grade 5, Hemmingford Elementary School, Hemmingford, Qc.

In the War of 1812 a bullet landed in the wall of the second floor of my Uncle Peter’s house on a road called Fisher North in St. Bernard de Lacolle. Later, my father told me some stories about this old stone house. A battle in the War of 1812 was fought only one mile from this house. The Americans who invaded were the ones who shot the bullet.

The house was built in the early 1800’s by Scottish settlers with stone walls two feet thick and this made the window sills deep. People were shorter one-hundred years ago, so the doors are not high enough for people of today to walk through without bending. The floor boards are eighteen inches wide and bent from so many people walking on them for many years.

The farm is covered with high straight stone fences, built by generations of children clearing the fields in the spring. Near the house my dad and uncle found Indian arrow heads.

In the 1930’s alcohol was not allowed in America, so many Americans took the dirt road to this house where the owners of the house knocked out an opening in the wall by the front door to take money from thirsty Americans and give them tickets for homemade alcohol.

Until the 1960’s the only house water came from a hand pump in the kitchen which brought water up from the cistern in the basement where the rain water collected. The cistern was full of creepy things. When my grandparents bought the house in 1960 it still had no plumbing or running water.