Posts Tagged ‘Westmount’

Lac-Mégantic: Life Loss Legacy, Apr 30

April 17, 2017

Great news. Maine’s award-winning folksinger, Ruth Hill, will join the bill on Apr. 30, 7 PM at the Atwater Library in Westmount, Quebec.

In this one-time public event poetry, photography, song, and critical policy analysis come together to explore the elements faced by the citizens of the town devastated by Canada’s worst train disaster, as they continue their struggle to get the rail line moved from their community.

The evening will include a reading from Jacques Rancourt’s book Quarante-sept stations pour une ville dévastée, translated into English as Forty-seven Stations for a Ravaged Town by three time Governor General’s award winner for translation Donald Winkler. Winkler will read sections from his translation.

Photo by Ben Welland.

Bruce Campbell, Lac-Mégantic: Public Betrayal, Corporate Negligence, Justice Denied. Campbell has studied the political failures that allowed the train disaster to occur. Awarded a fellowship in 2016 at the University of Ottawa’s faculty of law, Campbell is currently writing a book on the disaster.
The photographs of Montreal’s internationally-recognized photographer Michel Huneault will be shown. Huneault rushed to Lac-Mégantic within twenty hours after the train explosion. He continued visiting the community fourteen times over the first year, documenting the trauma of the community. Schilt Publishing has produced a book of Huneault’s work, The Long Night of Mégantic/La longue nuit de Mégantic.

The state of Maine’s acclaimed folksinger Ruth Hill will travel to Westmount to perform various songs, including Lac Megantic. Ms. Hill has been writing songs for decades and was the 2016 winner of the Maine Songwriter’s Association songwriting contest.

A special poem by Canada’s current Poet Laureate, George Elliott Clarke, will be read at this event.

Various people from Lac-Mégantic have been invited to share their stories.

The event begins at 7:00 PM, Sunday April 30, 2017, at the Atwater Library Auditorium, 1200 Atwater Avenue, Westmount. The event is free to the public and people should enter through the side door.

The event has received financial support from the Union of Canadian Transportation Employees.


When a City Council Pretermits Poetry

March 25, 2015

As National Poetry Month(April) approaches, I am reminded of the words of the late Westmount, Quebec resident, former McGill Dean of Law, and poet, Frank Scott who wrote:

      Come and see the vast natural wealth of this mine
      In the short space of ten years
      It has produced six American millionaires
      And two thousand pauperized Canadian families.

Sadly, it takes fewer than six Canadian politicians to pauperize two thousand Canadian poets. The equitable recognition for poetry has, I am afraid, fallen victim of government gone gonzo.

Taking note of numerous Canadian cities who have officially recognized National Poetry Month, I approached my local municipal government of Westmount to see whether they would follow suit by having their next council meeting opened with the reading of a poem. Westmount is culture. It is a city that prides itself on being the first place in Canada to have built two stacked—one upon the other—NHL-sized, underground hockey rinks. With such a clear commitment to culture, I thought, how could they refuse?

I must mention that Westmount has sponsored a Pastry and Poetry event at their library for the past four years. While they decided to impose a fee this year for the first time in order to recoup their costs, the cost of having a poet read a poem prior to a council meeting would be negligible.

Photo Nicole Forbes

Westmount Councillor Nicole Forbes.

When I received an email reply from City Councillor Nicole Forbes, speaking on behalf of the council, I was knocked off my computer chair.

“…unfortunately we cannot start our Council meeting with the reading of a poem.”


Why precisely? No reason was given.

Regulations? A by-law?

Or was it merely that council loves poetry too much and would not be able thereafter to concentrate on business?

Obviously, this was their reason.

Cartoon: Let us Eat Cake

March 22, 2015


Need Separation in Westmount, QC

November 30, 2012

The City of Westmount and its elected officials are once again
supporting a Chanukah Party, and a Christmas Tree Lighting Party this coming December. I say, for shame.

Not that I have any opposition to any person conducting a religious
ceremony on their private land, in religious sanctuaries, or in a
private home. But the action when held on municipal property–with
municipal support–violates my belief that there must be absolute
separation of church and state. Squeezing in these annual ceremonies,
in my opinion, is as repugnant as being told how to vote by a rabbi or
a minister.

I have complained about this practice before, only to have it fall
upon deaf ears. For those deaf ears, I refer you to a YouTube video
of the late American President John F. Kennedy entitled, JFK: Church and State.

The Province of Quebec has a long and sordid history of church-run
governments and the last vestige of that unfortunate acceptance
remains. I do not support the payment of taxes going toward supporting
church and synagogue activities. Not one penny.

If I should choose to donate funds to the church of my calling, so be
it. But the City of Westmount ought to separate public activities from
religious activities. And the lighting of Christmas trees and a
menorah fall into the latter category.

Now, if the City of Westmount would like to make the pedestrian lights
at the corner of Greene and Dorchester safer, I would applaud that.