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QAHN "Heritage Talks" Lecture Series: "The Heroine of Hochelaga: Sarah Maxwell," with Historian André Cousineau

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Wednesday, March 7, 2018
1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Caserne 18-30 Centre Communautaire
3622 rue Hochelaga, Montreal (Jolie)e Metro)

The Heroine of Hochelaga: Sarah Maxwell
By André Cousineau, Atelier d’histoire Hochelaga-Maisonneuve

Admission: Free.

On a mid-winter’s morning more than a century ago, Montrealers were shaken by news that a terrible school blaze in the city’s east end had killed 17 people – all of them children, except for one.
Thirty-one-year old Sarah Maxwell, an unmarried teacher and principal at the Hochelaga Protestant School also succumbed to the smoke and flames that consumed the school building on February 26, 1907. But not before courageously intervening to save the lives of several young pupils trapped in a second-storey classroom.

In a predominantly French-speaking district of Montreal, the Hochelaga school served the neighbourhood’s English-speaking children, most of whom belonged to working-class families. In the days that followed the tragic fire, city officials vowed to erect a memorial to honour Miss Maxwell’s heroism and to commemorate the student victims. But the story of the blaze faded from memory, as did plans for a memorial. In this talk, André Cousineau will describe the life and times of Sarah Maxwell, drawing on his work with the Atelier d’histoire Hochelaga-Maisonneuve to present a glimpse of the social diversity that characterized East Montreal at the turn of the last century. He will also recount how he and other local historians working with the Borough of Mercier-Hochelaga- Maisonneuve lobbied successfully to have a local park renamed recently in Maxwell’s honour.

Click here to view the entire Heritage Talks program!