Monday, July 4, 2011

Gazette story linking a Brossard homicide & the Blue Bird Cafe Fire (Wagon Wheel)

         This story appears in today's Montreal Gazette,but the actual anniversary of the Terrbile Blue Bird Cafe Fire (the Wagon Wheel upstairs really)  is Sept 1st...................                                                                                                                      MONREAL - Those touched by a deadly fire at Montreal's Blue Bird Club almost 40 years ago are pushing even harder for a monument commemorating the victims in the wake of another tragedy.

The homicide of Brossard resident Kathleen Livingstone, 78, was hard news to hear, said Sharon Share, whose father died in the fire.

Livingstone lost her daughter, Linda, on Sept. 1, 1972, when arsonists burned down the Blue Bird Club, killing 37 people.

Police found Kathleen Livingstone's body in her home on June 25 and three days later a registered nurse, Ellen Dennett, was charged with second-degree murder in connection with the death.

The homicide seems to have made the group of survivors, friends and family members, who refer to the club as a café, even more determined to get a monument erected. In February, the group started a petition asking the city to erect a monument in memory of the victims by 2012 and it had gained 97 signatures as of Thursday.

Share created a Facebook group where much of the planning takes place. She said her father, Jerry, died in the fire three months before she was born.

"These people have been forgotten," she said of the victims.

Kevin Erskine-Henry, who knew Livingstone, said the project gave her a sense of purpose after many years of mourning. "She basically withdrew after the fire, from the world around her."

A 1973 Gazette story said Livingstone rarely left the house after the tragedy and spent most of her time crying about losing Linda.

"When you go out, you look for her so I can't seem to get up the initiative to go out. It's never out of our thoughts," she is quoted saying.

Her son, Robert, was 14 at the time.

A user under the name Robert Livingstone in the Facebook group "Remembering the Café Fire of 1972 in Montreal, QC, Canada," posted that Linda Livingstone was his sister.

"I remember so well saying to my sister, 'See you later, have fun.' Not knowing the next time I would stand at her side I would actually be standing beside her coffin," he wrote.

Darrel Perrin, 65, survived the fire and he describes the scene with vivid detail. He, his brother and a friend went to the Wagon Wheel, above the Blue Bird Club, and took a seat by the stairs, he said. Just before the fire started Perrin's brother and his friend left to go to the bathroom.

"I could see the flames coming up the stairs, across the ceiling and the smoke and I said 'Well, it's time to leave,' and I took off like a bullet for the back door."

But the door was bolted shut.

"We started to kick that door but people started to jump on our heads from upstairs and push down the stairs and we couldn't even do anything because we were being crushed," he said.

Eventually the crowd kicked the door down and Perrin started pulling as many other people out of the club as possible, he said.

People jumped out of the upstairs bathroom onto parked cars and just as he looked up, a woman was about to jump right onto another woman's head, he remembered.

"I just grabbed her by her arm and threw her onto the street."

Perrin says he is "a lucky one" for surviving the fire - his brother and friend survived too. He said it was part of what led him to become a firefighter in Roxboro, eventually becoming director of the fire department.

Marlie Wirtanen, whose sister in-law Kathryn died in the fire, said she thinks a vigil, planned for Sept. 1, 2011 at the parking lot where the club once stood on Union Ave., will bring closure to many who are still suffering.

Wirtanen's voice broke as she talked about her sister inlaw, who she said was also her best friend.

"She was the one who got me to marry her brother and we used to tease him and say, I only married you because Kath and I wanted to be sisters," she said.

She said Kathleen Livingstone will be on her mind Sept. 1.

"She was so excited about this vigil in September. She wanted to be there so badly."

She said Livingstone, like many others, found a community on Facebook that shared her grief.

"We've all been able to bare our feelings and find people that still felt the anger and the terror of what happened," she said.

"What a way to die."

Wirtanen said the group felt their loved ones were never recognized.

"There was never anything done for these 37 souls, nothing."

But so far, the city has not granted their request for a monument. Wirtanen said several people have emailed Jean-Robert Choquet, the director of cultural development and heritage at Montreal city hall, but no one has received a response.

"It's never ever been acknowledged by the city," Wirtanen said. "Even now, this minister should at least reply to one of us. But nothing, absolutely nothing."

Choquet confirmed in an email that he had received several emails about the 40th anniversary of the Blue Bird fire and said he would respond as soon as possible.

"The city intends to collaborate on this commemoration but the terms still need to be specified," he wrote.

The Facebook group can be found at :

The petition can be found at


pauline garneau said...

john allison said...

We visited the Wagon Wheel on a few occassions. It was the first Country/Western bar I had ever gone to. I was not and am still not a C/W fan. But I found the people so friendly that I at least enjoyed that place more than I ever expected to. My ex-wife was suppose to be there that night with some friends, but turned out she was somewhere else.....

Les F said...

I had been in the '50' club in Lasalle & we were leaving to go downtown around 11pm,when we heard on the news that there was a fire at the Wagon Wheel...that's where we were going to head to. The news on the radio hadn't said anything about victims.just that there was a big retrospect this was only about a half hour after the start of the fire. The wagon wheel was popular because of all the gals that were there to dance etc etc ....I cannot imagine the sheer terror that those poor kids were thinking as the place was engulfed & they had limited or no escape..... very sad.for a bunch of young people,who were only out to have fun.

john allison said...

Oh GEE, Les. I forgot that the ladies were so friendly.....of course I forgot

Les F said...

List of Victims:
ELIZABETH MONTGOMERY, 25, of Waterloo, Ontario.
JOAN ROBBINS, 23, 12th Avenue, Rosemount.
PATRICIA MAHONEY, 18, Madison Avenue.
SUSAN MORRISON, 19 46th Avenue, Lachine.
SANDRA ANNETTE, 14, Jeanne-Mance Street.
SANDRA YOUNG, 19, King Edward Avenue.
KATHY GUAY, 18, St. Germain Street.
EVA TOWERS, 13, Jeanne-Mance Street.
JUDITH ANN TOWERS, 23, Jeanne-Mance Street.
LEONA DALQUEEN, 25, Logan Avenue, St. Lambert.
JOSEPHINE MacKAY, 29, 30th Avenue, Lachine.
PATRICIA JOBES, 14, Sydney Mines, Nova Scotia.
KATHRYNE McGIMPSEY, 20, Cellier Street, Anjou.
MARIAN FANNING, 24, Allard Street.
MRS. FRANCIS BOWLES, 36, Knox Street.
EVELYN HILL, 21, Campbellton, New Brunswick.
LINDA LIVINGSTONE, 19, Beliveau Steet, Brossard.
MARLENE DERY, 16, Old Orchard Avenue.
HUGUETTE NORMANDEAU, 18, Cartier Street.
IRENE SHARPAJEW, 19, Earnscliffe Avenue.
JERRY SHARE, 23, St. Ambroise Street.
NORMAN LEWIS, 25, Bourgeois Street.
EDOUARD CREVIER, 24, Rejeanne Street, Lasalle.
KENNETH TARBUCK, 19, Pine Avenue Street, Lambert.
JOHN ALLEN, 25, Desmarchais Street.
LARRY BREEDY, 22, Newman Boulevard, Lasalle.
VAL HUNTINGTON, 21, Ouimet Street, St. Laurent.
JAMES BOWLES, 39, Knox Street.
BRIAN LOLLY, 26, des Grandes Prairires Street, St. Leonard.
REJEAN LAJOIE, 19,Paul-Pau Street.
PATRICK MAHER, 24, Esplanade Avenue.
LUCAS SINOS, 19, Bloomfield Avenue.
ROBERT PETRIE, 29, Gertrude Street, Montreal North.
JOEL PETRIE, 19, Gertrude Street, Montreal North.
JAMES CAMPBELLTON, 25, 22nd Avenue, Ville Gagnon.
MICHAEL FEHRINGER, 23, De Maisonneuve East.