Thursday, March 24, 2011

Verdun History Getting Some Press

Kathryn Harvey of the Verdun Memories site,which we posted quite a while ago, has a story posted in the Gazette,

MONTREAL - Kathryn Harvey was 14 when her family left Verdun for a new life in Lachine. Although her house was only a short distance away, it would take more than two decades – and a community history project – before Harvey returned to wander down Wellington St. and Church Ave. and get a fresh flavour for the old neighbourhood.

A McGill University-trained historian, Harvey was recruited a couple of years ago by the Dawson Community Centre, which was eager to help anglophone seniors in Verdun capture their story at a time when the working-class district was undergoing a transformation from manufacturing hub to gentrified suburb.

“The anglophone working class often feel as if they don’t fit anywhere in Quebec history,” said Harvey, who sees a parallel between Verdun and other vanishing – in some instances, already gone – English-speaking pockets in Rosemont, Park Extension and Hochelaga-Maisonneuve.

Working with 12 “totally passionate” Verdun residents ranging in age from their late 60s to their mid-80s, Harvey’s team put together a short film, a website ( and a community quilt.

The Verdun old-timers made collages to showcase their vintage photos and shared stories of school days at Riverview or summer afternoons on the boardwalk, connecting with their past and reconnecting with their community, whether they live in Verdun, the West Island or the West Coast.

On Saturday, the Quebec Anglophone Heritage Network, in concert with the Concordia’s School of Extended Learning and the Centre for Oral History and Digital Storytelling, will host a conference aimed at helping amateur historians, particularly those in the English-speaking Montreal community, learn how to preserve their stories.

“People want a sense of connection to their environment,” said historian Lorraine O’Donnell, who curated such community-centred projects as the Irish exhibit at the McCord Museum last year and another that focused on the once-vibrant, now mostly disappeared, Jewish community in Quebec City.

“For some, it’s a wish to know more about their ancestors who settled here 200 years ago. For newer arrivals, it’s a desire to better understand where they are. For English-speaking people, there is a special desire to understand how they fit into the conception of who is a Quebecer.”

Erin McDonagh, coordinator of the daylong conference, said often people have great stories to tell but don’t know where to begin to access resources. Discussions and workshops are designed to help people get started, find funding from government and private sponsors, archive documents, and develop a website.

O’Donnell said access to government services has improved a great deal over the last few years, yet often English-speaking Quebecers aren’t aware of what’s available or don’t know how to make government programs work for them.

“People might know the history, but not know how to share it with others. Or sometimes stories and experiences are very well known within a particular group or neighbourhood but they don’t know that other people aren’t familiar with that slice of Montreal life.”

O’Donnell and Harvey see such community-based history projects as a way to inject vitality, confidence and a sense of belonging, especially for English-speaking Montrealers from working-class backgrounds.

“Verdun and the whole southwest sector went through a terrible time after the free trade agreement, as factories closed, jobs were lost and young people moved away,” said Harvey.

Ways of Memory: The Montreal Experience takes place Saturday, March 26, at Concordia University. The $10 conference fee includes lunch. To find out more or register, go to or email Erin McDonagh at

...........................................Have Fun & Remember Verdun...............................Cheers!!


Les F said...

Well all the stuff they show,we have been exploring for 8 or 9 years now,.... Which is kind of neat in itself. I have also been in contact with Kathryn (via email) and she was kind enough to send me a sopy of the dvd which is listed on the verdun memories site (but doesn't seem to play usually)
The video has some interesting info in there & also 'stars' our very own Guy Billard who was at Dawson's Boys Club a few years ago & met with Kathryn & the other participants from Verdun.
Good to see Verdun history getting some notice,it is important to Remember Verdun & Have Fun Doing It...........hahahahahaha I knew I could slip that signature sign off in there some how............................................Cheers !! HF&RV

Les F said...

.....and here is something for some of our Montreal area members to do this Saturday, Ways of Memory: The Montreal Experience takes place Saturday, March 26, at Concordia University. The $10 conference fee includes lunch. To find out more or register, go to or email Erin McDonagh at

.....Pssssssssssst: take a CAMERA,........hahahaha & then share here, & that way we all would get a chance to see the exhibit, if you are really enterp[rising take a video then we can post it to youtube or directly to Our site here for everyone.
I would do it,....but it's a long walk.....hahahahah Cheers !! HF&RV

Les F said...

Hey for TEN BUCKS it Includes Lunch, can't afford to stay home & eat for that......HF&RV

Guy Billard said...

Some of the photos shown are new to me so I will make copies for my albums. The Verdun Tourist Camp photo seems familiar and I am wondering where it was situated. Also the park photo seems to be the Woodland park as we can see the Red Top in the background. On the last photo of the boardwalk would have been taken probably from 5th avenue as we can see the diving plaform of the 500 Club wich was situated between 3rd and 4th avenues. Too bad the dates are not shown.

Les F said...

Hi Guy that surprises me, as we have posted all these over the years too. but we do see a lot of photos & some slip past us. I know I have gone over the archives of this site alone & have come across topics I had not seen before either. Keep saving all you can Guy, cause at some point in time someone else will 'discover' all these & feel like they have won the lottery in Verdun or Montreal photos...... Cheers !! HF&RV

Les F said...

here Watch the Video, it is now working, there was some trouble with it for quite a while However it seems to be fixed. the Video is the same one Kathryn Harvey sent to me ,so I hope you enjoy it .
Cheers !! HF&RV

Les F said...

The pics from the heading here, plus a few extra Verdun shots & a couple of Montreal

Cheers !! HF&RV

Les F said...

On the Boardwalk -- More cool images of old Verdun
By peggy curran Thu, Mar 24 2011 COMMENTS(0) University City
Do you have great memories of old Verdun?

Or maybe, you hail from Maisonneuve, like my parents did, or of those former hubs of Canada's manufacturing sector which fell on some pretty tough times in the 1980s and 1990s before emerging to become the neighbourhoods to watch.

Kathryn Harvey is the McGill-trained historian who helped Verdun seniors pull together the Verdun Memories project which I wrote about for today's paper.

The column was a lead up to a conference, organized by the Quebec Anglophone Heritage Network, Concordia's School of Extended Learning and the Centre for Oral History and Digital Storytelling, taking place at Concordia University this weekend aimed at helping Montrealers make sense of their memories, archival photos, personal stories and souvenirs.

You can see more about the film, photos, collages and even a quilt put together by the folks from Verdun at Verdun Memories.

But Harvey was kind enough to send along a few more photographs, including these showing Verdun's famous boardwalk, kids having a blast at the playground and a crowd scene.

Spot anyone you used to know?

Whether you are from the Pointe or old Pointe Claire, Rosemount or the place now billing itself as HoMa (Hochelaga Maisonneuve!), we'd love to hear your stories...

................Cheers !! HF&RV..........................................

Guy Billard said...

I have added the new Boardwlk photos to my album no. 5:


Les F said...

Don't Forget about this little wish:

How cool would that be to see......................Cheers HF&RV

Abdulilah Kassem said...

Excellent project. Arevival for our city Verdun. Monaco de QUEBEC!