July 1st is largely known as “Moving Day” in the Montreal area, when many people renting their homes play what can be best described as the housing market’s version of musical chairs, a stress filled and serious game where no one wins.
July 1st is also known across the country as Canada Day. Big celebrations and small neighbourhood celebrations are plenty. For 38 years Montrealers have had the privilege to enjoy a parade celebrating Canada and its diversity and yesterday was no different.
Rather than stand on the sidewalk and take pictures of all participating units, as I have done the previous two years, this year I walked with the Montreal Irish Community contingent, comprised largely of members of the United Irish Societies of Montreal and St. Patrick’s Society of Montreal. It was great to see AOH President Victor Boyle, Fergus Keyes from the Montreal Irish Monument Park Foundation, and a hearty contingent from Bloomsday Montreal. The weather forecast called for rain, and rain it did. Thankfully our unit was placed toward the beginning of the parade. While it drizzled as we walked along, the skies opened up as we arrived at the reviewing stand at Phillips Square. The message I take away from this is God is on the side of the Irish.
The less than usual number of spectators along the parade route was somewhat disappointing. What they lacked in numbers, though, they made up with enthusiasm. It appears Montrealers prefer to stand in seemingly unbearable winter weather to watch a parade than risk getting a little wet watching one. The multicultural flavour of the Canada Day Parade really is something Montrealers should experience. The colours, sounds, and choreography are worth standing in the rain for.
I tip my hat to Nick Cowen and his team for soldiering on despite the less than ideal weather conditions. It will be better next year. At least, that’s what we’re hoping for the St. Patrick’s Parade. What are the chances of having cold temperatures three years in a row?
Ken Quinn, Historian