Rest Easy, Bryan

Bryan Scott was a community man who wasn’t afraid to roll up his sleeves to get the job done, whatever the job may be. I don’t profess to know much about Bryan other than his association with the United Irish Societies of Montreal.
However, in doing a little research in the UIS archives, a little digging via the Internet, and in reading the obituary in the May 5th Montreal Gazette his community involvement extended past our organization.

Continue reading Rest Easy, Bryan

The Continuity of Montreal’s St. Patrick’s Parade

The world is going through some weird times at present and the avalanche that is COVID-19 has finally wiped out many of the activities our community enjoys during the Irish season. Irishman of the Year Breakfast, Mass of Anticipation, Luncheon, Parade, and so many others are affected. The monies raised by the Erin Sports Association and St. Patrick’s Society at the Breakfast and Luncheon go back into the community to support the organizations’ initiatives. When they’re impacted, every organization is also impacted. Continue reading The Continuity of Montreal’s St. Patrick’s Parade

Remembering Two Departed Members

Since we last met we have lost two members who each contributed to the organization in different ways.

2004 St. Patrick's ParadeMichael Murray passed away in Ormstown on Sunday February 2, 2020 at the age of 80. Michael first appears as a marshal in our Parade booklet in 1999 and continued in this role through the 2010 Parade. He was a quiet man at meetings however attended meetings regularly. Michael was among the marshals who sat for the first group photo in recent years in 2004 at the Forum, seated in the same row as the “Canadiens fan” between Patrick Sheehan and Jonathan Showers. His presence has been missed at meetings and on parade for some time.

2013 Selection EveningOn Friday, February 14 Andrew Fogarty left this earth to be with his beloved Mary, who he missed every single day since September 10, 2011. He carried a photo of Mary with him wherever he went. So it is not lost on me how appropriate it is that he rejoined his love on Valentine’s Day. On May 1st, 2019 Andrew celebrated his 100th birthday in hospital after a recent fall, something he never truly recovered from. Such a special man, both St. Patrick’s Society of Montreal and the UIS had been preparing to celebrate quietly with Andrew, something that became impossible to do. During his convalescence various people visited Andrew. He was not going to be forgotten, that’s for sure.

Andrew was active in the community for well over sixty years. He was President or Board member of nearly every organization, including a Founding Director of the English Catholic Council, Director of St. Patrick’s Square, Chair of St. Mary’s Ball, served on the Foundation and Centre Boards of the Lindsay Hospital and Father Dowd Home. A Past President of St. Patrick’s Society and Foster Home Recruiting Centre he was also a Trustee of Montreal St. Patrick’s Foundation.

During his St. Patrick’s Society presidency between 1983 and 1985 he stewarded that organization into admitting women into its membership. After his presidency, Andrew remained close to the UIS. In 1987 he served as Chief Reviewing Officer of the annual Parade. In May 2011, Andrew received Gold Card membership in this organization. It is an uncommon practice to name someone of Andrew’s age as Grand Marshal. Despite that, in 2013 at the age of 92 Andrew served as Grand Marshal with great pride and humility, likely the oldest ever to be so honoured. In 2016 St. Patrick’s Society recognized the totality of Andrew’s community involvement in selecting him as the recipient of its Community Award. To complete the Parade honour trifecta, in 2017 the Erin Sports Association selected Andrew as its Irishman of the Year.

Andrew’s eloquence at meetings when he spoke was unmatched. His influence within the community was helpful to many organizations, including ours. I am going to miss his smile, enthusiasm, quick wit, and friendship.

Until we meet again,

Ken Quinn, Historian
February 15, 2020

Irishmen of the Year

Since last Saturday I have been reflecting on many things about the Irish community in Montreal. First and foremost is the public pronouncement by the Mayor on what she thinks is an appropriate name for the new REM (light rail) station in Griffintown. Spoiler Alert: It’s not!

This time of year the United Irish Societies and the Erin Sports Association announce their parade dignitaries and award recipients. The UIS dignitaries and award recipients for 2020 are:

Grand Marshal: Mr. Shawn O’Donnell
Chief Reviewing Officer: Steve Garnett
Simon McDonaugh Humanitarian Award: The organizing committee of the Ste. Anne’s Hospital’s New Year’s Eve Show
Liam Daly Heritage Award: Solstice

It was with complete surprise that I received a message from Past President Mike Kennedy last Saturday advising me who the 2020 Irishman of the Year is, as selected by the members of the Erin Sports Association. Really, I knew he was up for this most humbling honour as I helped with the biographical information, and I have no idea (nor should I) how many candidates were considered. But generally (at least with the UIS) it takes several years for the names of individuals to gain traction for serious consideration.

Continue reading Irishmen of the Year

Thoughts on Naming an REM Station

Last week the Mayor of Montreal dropped a bombshell of an announcement via Twitter when she announced her preferred name for the new REM (Light Rail) station in Griffintown is Griffintown-Bernard-Landry after the late former Quebec premier who is without question deserving of such an honour in Quebec’s metropolis. Personally speaking, however, I don’t believe this REM station is the appropriate public space.Capture

Irish immigrants and Irish Canadians played a major role in the development of this neighbourhood from its humble beginnings in the 1820s through to its destruction in the 1960s, populated mainly by Irish immigrant labourers who worked on the Lachine Canal and in the surrounding industries, on the Victoria Bridge, on the railways, and at the Port of Montreal among many places.

The new REM station will be in close proximity to the future park planned by the Montreal Irish Monument Park Foundation which will honour in a fitting manner the more than 6 000 people mainly of Irish descent who are buried in several locations in the area as well as the many brave people who tended to the typhus victims housed in the fever sheds, including Mayor John Easton Mills.

It is for these reasons I firmly believe it is fitting to recognize the Irish community alone in the naming of this REM station. Here are a few possibilities that I hope will be considered. Of course the list of possibilities is not exhaustive but thought I would share a few that I find interesting:

  1. Gare Griffintown-John-Easton-Mills (or Gare John-Easton-Mills)

On June 17, 1998 the City of Montreal graciously named a street after Montreal’s martyr mayor, John Easton Mills (rue John-Easton-Mills), in the Hochelaga-Maisonneuve neighbourhood far away from the very area where he tended to the sick and where he contracted the dreaded and deadly typhus that cost him his life. While I have no doubt the City’s intentions at the time were genuine, in reality this gesture unintentionally sent the message that Easton Mills and his legacy as Montreal’s Martyr Mayor are unimportant. Naming this REM station in his honour would correct this unintentional error, bringing his name closer to the very area where he contracted the disease that killed him.

  1. Gare Griffintown-des-irlandais (or Gare des irlandais)  

In a neighbourhood that once housed a vibrant community mainly of Irish immigrants and their descendants at a time where this history is literally being overshadowed (or forgotten) due to the mass development of Griffintown every effort must be taken to preserve that history. There is no need for me to go into much detail about this suggestion other than to say this would also be an acceptable name to the community at large.

  1. Gare Griffintown-le-monument-commémoratif-irlandais (or Gare le-monument-commémoratif-irlandais)

This suggestion is a little bit of a mouthful, granted. However, like my other suggestions, such a name would possibly give pause to the thousands of commuters passing through the station to ask about the Stone of Bridge Street as well as its significance to this historically Irish neighbourhood.

These are but three examples of appropriate and acceptable names of the new REM station that would preserve completely the Irish nature of the neighbourhood. There are many other public spaces in the City of Montreal that could be considered to honour the later former premier. The new Griffintown REM station is not one of them.

We have learned that the Mayor does not have the authority to name REM stations but that the REM itself does. I don’t know what the selection process is or will be but rest assured the many Irish organizations in the City will keep their members informed.

Sincerely,

Ken Quinn, Historian
United Irish Societies of Montreal
historian@montrealirishparade.com

Rest in Peace, Mo

2013 Mass of Anticipation with Mike Kennedy

I don’t profess to know much about Maurice (Mo) Chapman outside of the Royal Canadian Legion and United Irish Societies (UIS). When I came on board the UIS as a member and a marshal in 1992, Mo was already a well-established and respected member. At that point I didn’t know how involved he was. All I knew is he was a very friendly older gentleman who made newer members feel welcome at meetings and on social occasions.

I only truly became aware of the roles he played within the UIS when I was asked to be a Deputy Parade Director and when I joined the Elected Executive, both in 1997. I learned that Mo was a talented artist who was contracted to create banners appearing in the parade. I believe the last of the canvas banners he created were only retired in time for the 2019 Parade, a testament to the exceptional quality of his work.

Mo’s body of work within our community also included inducting Parade dignitaries and others into the “Leprechaun Club”. When inducted, Mo presented a canvas caricature Leprechaun with a personalized witty phrase, examples include “O’Donnell is Me Name, Moving is Me Game” and “Pidgeon is Me Name, Historian is Me Game”

Mo also gave his time to the Entertainment Committee, joining other members as they entertained the elderly and the infirm and at special events. Sadly, this committee went dormant however the memories of the smiles and the laughter lives on because of benevolent volunteers such as Mo.

If all the above was not enough, for numerous years Mo and Nancy acted as chaperones for the Queen and Princesses of the St. Patrick’s Parade. A tough assignment, no doubt, their constant grandparental presence provided a steady, calm influence for any particular year’s Parade Court.

2013 Verdun Reception with his honey, Nancy

Beside every good man is a good woman and Mo was no exception. I rarely, if ever, saw Mo without Nancy. They were a wonderful couple in every sense, each attentive to the other and often attired in something that complemented the other. At banquets and dances, other guests would look to Mo & Nancy to get the party started on the dance floor. Although I have not mastered the fine art of line dancing, and probably never will, it was always a privilege and a pleasure to watch Mo and Nancy lead their flock onto the floor as a duck leads its ducklings into the water.

At the conclusion of each UIS president’s term of office, he (or she) has the privilege of presenting Gold Card (Life) membership to two members of the organization. In April 2007, President Larry Smith presented Mo with Gold Card (Life) membership in the United Irish Societies for his many years of membership and volunteerism in the organization.

The UIS isn’t the only organization Mo held Life membership in. Mo was a proud Life Member of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 212 in LaSalle. Although I don’t know much about Mo’s military career, I am learning that his career spanned 26 years. At the time of his retirement, Mo was a Warrant Officer. I also understand he was with the Royal Canadian Engineers during World War II.

Another little known fact about Mo is he had success as a singer/songwriter. In 1963 Mo Chapman and Bob Davies co-wrote a song about Detroit Redwings superstar Gordie Howe under the name Big Bob and the Dollars.

A military man, businessman, Veteran, community volunteer, artist, husband, father of seven, and grandfather/great-grandfather to fifteen he leaves to mourn many colleagues, friends and family. He is definitely missed.

Until we meet again, Mo. Thank you for your service to your community and to our country.

 

Ken Quinn, Historian
July 24, 2019

Happy Mother’s Day!

On this Mother’s Day we celebrate all the women, past and present, who have played a part in the development of the United Irish Societies of Montreal. There is no denying the United Irish Societies has historically been a male dominated organization. However let us put this into perspective. Society, generally, was male dominated. By the end of 1918 all provinces except Quebec granted white and black women full suffrage. A little behind the times, Quebec caught up in 1940. The first female MP in Canada was elected in 1921 in the Ontario riding of Grey Southeast when Agnes MacPhail was elected as a member of the Progressive Party. On August 8, 1944, Quebec women voted in a provincial general election for the first time. First female MLA in Quebec is Claire Kirkland-Casgrain who was elected in a 1961 byelection as a Liberal, succeeding her late father in the riding of Jacques-Cartier. Re-Elected in 1962 and beyond she also holds the distinction of being the first woman appointed to Quebec’s cabinet when she became Minister without Portfolio.

The United Irish Societies was founded in 1928 as an umbrella group of Montreal area Catholic Parishes and Irish organizations tasked with the organization of the annual Parade. Members of the Executive and delegates were originally uniquely male. The glass ceiling began to crack when, as the Gazette reported In a Montreal Gazette article dated February 24, 1945 focusing on the details of the upcoming parade, mention is made that “Miss Helen Quinn of Saint Willibrord Parish, Verdun, was elected to the office of permanent recording secretary. Miss Quinn is the first woman to fill an executive office in the United Irish Societies.” There was still much work to be done. In 1979 Audrey McKeown is listed as the chairperson of the organization’s Golf Committee. In 1980 her name appears under Queen’s Pageant. Other names begin to appear, names like Joan Ellis and Lynn Webber in the mid 1980s also under Queen’s Pageant and Marilyn Johnston and Barbara Quinn under Special Events (Christmas Baskets).

Women were slowly beginning to assume leadership positions within the organization. Iris O’Reilly is listed as Corresponding Secretary from 1985, beginning a run of 33 years where this position was held by numerous woman that was broken when Craig Nolan was acclaimed to the position for the 2019 season.

If we look at the Executive Committee from the time of Mabel Fitzgerald’s presidency in 1992-93 we have seen great progress in the area of gender parity in our leadership positions. Including Mabel as well as new president Patricia Mulqueen the organization has been led by fifteen presidents, eight men and seven women. In terms of the Elected Executive, there has been exceptional gender balance. The last time the Elected Executive was dominated by men was as of April 2002 when there were four male members to three females. The ratio changed to even in October 2002 with the passing of Vice President – Organization Stephen Dowd. In the 2011 season, there were three men to three women with one vacancy. Since 2004 the women have consistently outnumbered the men.

There is generally little movement in the chairmanships of the various committees, the majority of which are chaired by women including the Reception Committee (since 2002) and Selection Evening Committee (1999).

On this Mother’s Day, let us thank the many strong women of the United Irish Societies of Montreal, both past and present, who step up either in an elected, appointed, or other non-Executive positions and selflessly volunteer their time for the good of the organization and the community. Everything you do is appreciated.