What can the death of Elizabeth Taylor today @ 79 Y.O. & the City of Montreal be........Well Nothing Really, but way back in the early 60's it seems Richard Burton & Elizabeth Taylor were married @ the Ritz Carlton hotel by a local padre. (file it under who cares ,......hahahaha but hey it's Montreal related,)
MONTREAL - For the Unitarian Church of Montreal, the death of movie star Elizabeth Taylor on Wednesday at age 79 brought back memories of the day she and Richard Burton were married in a civil ceremony at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel.
As a religious community, the Unitarian Church has roots dating back to 1842 in Montreal. It is the oldest Unitarian congregation in Canada. But it was never more famous than it was on the day of March 16, 1964, when its minister of the time, Rev. Leonard Mason, agreed to marry the celebrity couple at the hotel on Sherbrooke St.W.
“Leonard Mason had agreed to do it – but he had asked that there be no publicity at all,” current Unitarian Church minister Rev. Diane Rollert said in an interview Wednesday morning. “There was no such thing as civil marriage in Quebec at the time. But the no-publicity agreement was broken that same afternoon - by the couple’s publicity agent.”
Mason didn’t appreciate the breach of agreement, said Rollert, but he used the Taylor-Burton marriage as a springboard into Mayor Jean Drapeau’s office, to ask for Drapeau’s political support to help push for the recognition of civil marriage in Quebec.”
Taylor’s early success as an actress turned her into one of the biggest celebrity icons of the late 20th century. She married Burton, an accomplished actor in his own right, just 11 days after getting a divorce in Mexico from her previous husband, Eddie Fisher. Burton, meanwhile, had similarly gotten a divorce in Mexico, in 1963, from his previous wife, Sybil.
Divorce was hard to get in those days in Canada and the United States. It wasn’t until the late 1960s that liberal divorce laws were introduced. Although marriage and divorce are federal jurisdiction in Canada, provinces have some administrative say – and provincial differences between Quebec and Ontario made a difference for Taylor and Burton in 1964.
The couple had planned to marry in Toronto, where Burton was appearing in a stage presentation of Hamlet that was gearing up for an opening in New York on April 9.
But the couple had trouble finding someone to marry them in Ontario. The Gazette’s city editor at that time, Brodie Snyder, who covered the Ritz-Carlton wedding, reported that Ontario Premier John Robarts had said the provincial secretary’s power to issue a marriage licence to Taylor and Burton “would not be used lightly.” Rather than wait for Ontario to rule, the couple scouted around and found a willing minster and church in Montreal.
“Both had Mexican divorces that were valid in Quebec but not in Ontario at the time, and so that’s how they found us," Rollert said of the Unitarian Church, which was known as the Church of the Messiah when it married Taylor and Burton.
The church was located downtown at the corner of Sherbrooke and Simpson St. when Taylor and Burton married.
“Rev. Mason just had to cross the street to marry them,” Roller said.
The downtown church was destroyed in a 1987 fire. It rebuilt in Westmount, opening near the Vendôme métro station in 1997
.........Cheers !! ,Have Fun And Remember Verdun.......................................!!