Montreal’s Martyr Mayor

On this date in 1847 American born Montreal Mayor John Easton Mills passed away after contracting typhus while tending to the sick Irish immigrants who invaded its shores in search of a better life, and who were quarantined.

In what seems to be an error in translation, the City of Montreal website lists Mills’ final resting place as the bottom of the Saint Lawrence River. In fact, Mayor Mills was interred in the St. Lawrence Burial Grounds, a Protestant cemetery located near present day Boul. René-Lévesque Ouest and rue Saint-Urbain. However when the burial grounds was repurposed as Dufferin Square, families were given the option to reinter their loved ones elsewhere. John Easton Mills’ family took advantage of the opportunity and moved him to Mount Royal Cemetery, where he is buried in his wife Hannah Lyman’s family plot.

John Easton Mills made the ultimate sacrifice in service to the citizens of his city. In his honour a tiny tree line street that runs parallel to rue Notre-Dame Est bears his name, an odd choice of locations given the impact he had on the sick and dying Irish immigrants in the fever sheds.

Ken Quinn, Historian

Participating Parishes in the Parade

One of my colleagues on the Executive Committee recently asked me for a list of parishes that participated in the parade years ago. From the beginnings of the United Irish Societies of Montreal, the Catholic Church in Montreal has played an important role in the success of Montreal’s iconic St. Patrick’s Parade. Although our records are sparse in the early years, there is evidence that the Catholic Parishes participated. On March 22, 1929 Rev. D.J. McDougald from St. Ann’s Parish in a letter to John Loye writes “I never had the slightest apprehension of it being a failure. The floats were excellent.” On March 26, 1929 Rev. O’Brien from St. Anthony’s Parish writes “In the name of the Parish I also thank you for aiding us in perfecting the design of the floats”, which implies the Parish’s participation. Continue reading Participating Parishes in the Parade

Giving Back to the Community

Christmas Baskets

It has been some time since I have shared my thoughts via this blog. Life gets hectic on occasion. I will make more of an effort to write more regularly.

The United Irish Societies of Montreal has a tradition of giving back to the community and advocating when necessary. In September 1937 President John Loye interceded on behalf of the Grey Nuns when two of their Sisters were ordered off the premises of the CNR Fruit Terminal warehouse on des Seigneurs Street for soliciting fruits and vegetables from the traders, which was apparently a common practice.

On October 19th, 1967 Robert Larkin wrote a letter to Brother Vincent of the Catholic Men’s Hostel expressing an interest on behalf of the United Irish Societies in organizing a Christmas show to the benefit of the Hostel’s residents. He subsequently wrote to tobacco and soft drink suppliers soliciting donations.

On December 15, 1967 the United Irish Societies of Montreal promoted a Christmas Drawing at the Knights of Columbus Hall on Cavendish Boulevard, the proceeds going to welfare and social services. Mr. Austin Wilson was the Chairman. A cheque in the amount of 154$ was donated to the Montreal Children’s Hospital for the purchase of a special wheelchair.

The Christmas Draw was held  in the Oak Room of the Windsor Hotel the following year. The tickets were sold for a modest sum of 5 for $1.00 or $.25 per ticket. In 1979 prizes of alcohol were eliminated, replaced by cash prizes. In 1981, the price of tickets increased to $1.00, which remains in effect today. In 1992, total prizes increased to $2,000

The tradition of giving back to the community continues today with the next generation of members assuming positions of responsibility within the organization. While we have to look no further than Janson Quessy and the work he is doing with the Christmas Draw, we can also look to members such as Kevin Murphy, Leigh-Ann Killin, Kim Provost, Danny Doyle jr., and Shawn Doyle who are all playing their part in ensuring this organization continues successfully for generations to come, giving back to the community and advocating when necessary. With the next generation, the Societies has a bright future for years to come.

Ken Quinn, Historian

Michael Collins Finishes Irish Diaspora Run to Raise Awareness and Funds to Commemorate Famine Irish at Ireland Park in Toronto — IrishCanadianFamineResearch

Robert G. Kearns, the Chairman of Ireland Park Foundation and founder of Ireland Park, welcomed Michael Collins at the end of his run, along with members of Michael’s family, William Peat, Executive Director of Ireland Park Foundation, Fergus Keyes and Victor Boyle who are directors of the Montreal Irish Memorial Park Foundation, and members of the public. […]

via Michael Collins Finishes Irish Diaspora Run to Raise Awareness and Funds to Commemorate Famine Irish at Ireland Park in Toronto — IrishCanadianFamineResearch

Remembering Aloysius “Al” Darbyson

pmc10 0314 pats parade 0192 (2)The first recollection I have of Al Darbyson was an encounter at Hurley’s Irish Pub one evening in March in the mid to late 1990s. In those days, the Marshals’ pre parade meeting took place in one of the many downtown pubs, quite probably Cheers! on Mackay Street in this case. I can’t recall the meeting, not for any reason of over consumption but because they all followed the same format. The Parade Director gets up, introduces everyone of special note in attendance, and goes over final details of the upcoming parade.  Questions are asked of the Parade Director, many the same by the same marshals year in year out. Although fantastic social occasions, it was easy for one meeting to blend into the next in my memory over time. Continue reading Remembering Aloysius “Al” Darbyson

The Year the UIS Almost Participated in the St. Jean Baptiste Parade

The Year the UIS Almost Participated in the St. Jean Baptist Parade #montreal #irish #history

United Irish Societies of Montreal Historian's Corner

1934 was a big year in two of Montreal’s founding communities. Both the the St. Patrick’s Society and the Société St. Jean Baptiste were celebrating their centennial anniversaries. The United Irish Societies of Montreal was led by John Loye, a man involved in numerous organizations both within and without the Irish community. Along the way it is likely Loye developed many friendships.

One of these friendships was developed with Dr. Victor Morin, a Past President of the Société St. Jean Baptiste, a fellow member of the Antiquarian Society, and a future president of the Royal Society of Canada. Clearly the Société St. Jean Baptiste of yesteryear had different aims and objectives than today’s.

On April 15th, 1934 Loye writes to Morin explaining that the long established custom is to extend an invitation to the annual parade in June to the St. Patrick’s Society and trying to convince the Société St…

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Michael Collins Pays Tribute to Grey Nuns and Famine Irish in Montreal on Celtic Trail of Tears — IrishCanadianFamineResearch

From the Irish Times: http://www.irishtimes.com/life-and-style/generation-emigration/why-are-6-000-irish-buried-under-a-montreal-traffic-island-1.2696681 Why are 6,000 Irish buried under a Montreal traffic island? Michael Collins finds an unusual Famine memorial during his 900km run about 20 hours ago Michael Collins in Canada The second day’s run begins under dark skies for Michael Collins. Photograph: Anne Petersen The Black Rock in Montreal marks the […]

via Michael Collins Pays Tribute to Grey Nuns and Famine Irish in Montreal on Celtic Trail of Tears — IrishCanadianFamineResearch