Reflections: Montreal Life
An integral part of Montreal’s linguistic Mosaic is an institution that began its existence here in the early days of the 1930’s Depression. Like the country, it has grown in size, sophistication, and linguistic variety, and it has experienced difficulties, but always its purpose has been the intellectual growth and integration of the individual into the (Anglophone) community, the province and the nation. It has also, of course, exported its product internationally for worldwide benefit.
How did you come to be living here, to be a “Montrealer”?
During Quebec’s political turmoil of the1970s, when family, friends and colleagues departed Montreal in droves, it seemed for some of us who remained as if life’s anchors, and life’s fun, had been yanked away.
Find a durable surface
outdoor wear and tear
Utilize high-quality grout
unifies the mosaic)
(it will be neutral
to the eye)
Follow the grouting instructions
Should you omit a step in
risk losing the mosaic
(you cannot have a solid mosaic
without having a solid foundation)
Go to an arts supply store to find tesserae
The above is the kitschy slogan of Montreal's most unusual new radio station, CJRS -- Radio Shalom, at 1650 on the a.m. dial. What is more unusual is that CJRS is North America's only full-time Jewish station. For 24 hours a day, 6 days a week (we're off the air for the Sabbath) a multiplicity of Jewish sounds cascades from our studios near Montreal's landmark Orange Julep.
To get an appreciation of Greenfield Park today, it is necessary to look back nearly one hundred years to 1911, the year the municipality was founded. At that time all the land was either used for agriculture, abandoned or overgrown with bush. Montreal, only five miles away across the St. Lawrence River, was booming. Immigrants were hoping for better than the when they arrived in Canada, often from crowded British cities, but they frequently ended up settling in poor, polluted and cramped industrial neighbourhoods like Pointe St. Charles and Griffintown.
I am born and raised in Ontario, at a time and in a place where we identified ourselves not only by our ancestry, but by the specific region within the British Empire from which our ancestors came. Back then I was Green Irish, from the town of Mullingar, county Westmeath (even though both my parents were born in Ontario). The collision of various social and personal factors required that I have some identity, and for many Canadians identity is a quest in itself.
As with any culture I’ve experienced, perspectives in Montreal vary.