Mike Cohen and Glenn J. Nashen go kosher at Luzzatto on Decarie

Leave a comment

I recently dined with my friend Mike Cohen at Luzzatto Kosher Restaurant at the Ramada Plaza Hotel on Decarie Boulevard, near Plamondon. If you’re looking for a different option in Kosher dining in Montreal’s West End this Glatt Kosher fine Italian dining restaurant is worth a visit.

They offer Soups, Fresh Salads, Italian Dishes, Grilled Specialties, Mediterranean Platters, Sandwiches and Pitas, Wraps, Chinese Dishes, Drinks and More.

Read our full review here.


Beautiful Laurentian bike ride through history on Ptit Train du Nord


If you’re headed up north with bikes for the day, weekend or vacation you must already have heard of the Ptit Train du Nord recreation path that runs more than 200 kms from St. Jerome to Mont Laurier. Indeed, it is part of the Trans Canada Trail that spans the entire country. Our family has enjoyed the trail for years, choosing different segments most weekends. We used to pull the kids in a bike trailer till they finally managed two-wheelers on their own. What a fun family outing, sometimes lugging picnic lunches, other times stopping at the ice cream or sandwich shops along the way.

I had read about a newly paved section and decided to make that our Labour Day outing so we packed up the bikes and headed up the 117 to St. Faustin-Lac Carré.

The St. Faustin train station was built in 1893

The old train stations at each town are a delight to explore. Well preserved and exhibiting old photos of yesteryear, I can just imagine what it was like to take the voyage by train from Montreal, way up into the Laurentian Mountains. On today’s journey, I imagined my dad’s train ride to St. Faustin station in 1940. He vacationed in Lac Carré at Cantor’s Square Lake Inn, for just $15 a week!

Cantor’s Square Lake Inn, St. Faustin, Qc. Samuel Cantor, his wife Rachel, and brother Myer Cantor bought the Inn in 1935 and owned it together until the death of Myer in 1945. When Rachel died in 1961 the Inn was sold. It burned to the ground one year later, never to be rebuilt.

The St. Faustin-Lac Carré station is a meeting point in the town. The grounds are well groomed with outdoor artistic pieces, playground, a petoncle court and even a metal tree with heart shaped red locks with the names of lovers and their important dates (haven’t seen that since Paris). There is a lovely café and a couple of ice cream shops to suit your taste.

We decided to ride from St. Faustin to St. Jovite, aka Centre-Ville Mont Tremblant, a distance of 12.5 km. The asphalt was smooth as can be and most of the northbound ride was slightly sloped downhill so I enjoyed the breeze and sights without pondering the return uphill trip. In 30 just minutes we arrived at our destination. Along the way we saw beautiful views of the Riviere du Nord which hugs the trail much of its length.

There’s wildlife, farms, lovely old homes and places to stop and relax along the way. We saw butterflies and ducks on this trip. Previously we’ve seen deer.

I decided to explore and take pictures on the slower southbound climb. I hope you’ll enjoy my shots and come and see for yourself.

Many thanks to the good folks who maintain the Ptit Train du Nord and to their sponsors who provide the funding for this magnificent, free recreational gem.

Happy Cycling!

Lovely old Quebec homesteads to see along the Ptit Train du Nord
Riviere du nord, as scene from the Ptit Train du Nord, St. Faustin – Lac Carré
Beautiful colours and gorgeous homes along the bike trail
The views while cycling along the Ptit Train du Nord
Judy and Barry enjoying the warm breeze on the trail
Lovers locks in St. Faustin – Lac Carré
The Millette farm, passed down through the generations
Famille Millette farm equipment preserved for younger generations to explore
Old dam wheel to control water levels along the Riviere du Nord
Plenty of distraction for the little ones along the trail
Barry studying all the trail options in the Tremblant area
Step down into Lac Carré

18 proud years at the JGH


It seems like just a short time ago that I had lunch in a very noisy restaurant on Cote des Neiges with a very soft-spoken Executive Director of the Jewish General Hospital, Henri Elbaz. As the story goes, I had trouble hearing him but was pretty sure he had offered me the job of Director of Communications and Public Relations. Looking back after 18 years it was the best job offer that I never heard!

2013 ceremony in the main entrance of the JGH honouring Henri Elbaz

Today, August 19, 2019, marks my 18th anniversary at the JGH. To be sure, so much has happened and changed in all this time. In fact, my title is now the Associate Director of Communications and Media Relations for the Integrated Health and Social Services University Network for West-Central Montreal and my mandate extends far beyond the JGH. Since the healthcare reorganization in 2015, the JGH has been rolled into a health system including long-term care and rehabilitation centres, clinics, Info-Sante 811 and much more on 34 sites. But my office remains in the same place at the JGH, as it has for all 18 years.

I am honoured to have reported directly to the last three Executive Directors (Henri Elbaz, Dr. Hartley Stern and Dr. Lawrence Rosenberg) and served some extraordinary lay community leaders.

I had the good fortune to spend some time with former Prime Minister Jean Chretien. M. Chretien was jovial, warm and was pleased to share his opinion on any topic. In this 2010 photo we are pictured together with Mount Royal Member of Parliament Irwin Cotler

My position has allowed me to shake hands and exchange pleasantries and words of pride in the JGH with ministers of health, premiers and former PM Jean Chretien.

I have assisted many VIPs in their travels through the hospital including former Quebec Premier Jacques Parizeau (who, to my great surprise, complemented me on my French conversational skills). One day as I was escorting him to an appointment I spotted Mr. Chretien, whom I had also assisted, heading toward us near the main entrance. Wanting to avoid a very awkward moment (perhaps only for me or maybe for the country) I pivoted so that Mr. Parizeau would turn toward me missing his arch-nemesis who waved to me as he passed behind Parizeau. What a moment to remember!

Judy and me, at the 2013 JGH Foundation gala with former Quebec Premier Jean Charest and his wife Michele Dion

As a producer of events, large and small, one program I am particularly proud to have created was the JGH Mini-Med School. Over some 15 seasons of highly successful public education lectures we graduated a couple of thousand “mockters”.

Emceeing the 2014 JGH Remembrance Ceremony, pictured here with my father

The annual Remembrance Day ceremony has been a solemn reflection of the contributions of JGH doctors and staff through the decades. Long Service and Retirement ceremonies I’ve overseen has connected the past to the future.

I’ve also done my part in ensuring the Jewish nature of this world-class institution, from organizing the CEO’s Rosh Hashana gatherings to sending messages celebrating holidays throughout the year and promoting its rich and storied history.

Escorting Israel Consul General David Levy through the JGH together with CEO Dr. Lawrence Rosenberg and President Alan Maislin

More recently I’ve created an annual gathering at the JGH of all 80+ elected officials from every level of government on the territory of the West-Central Montreal health authority. I am so excited about our latest ventures into podcast as well as our video newscasts.

Winning a national award for healthcare public relations in 2011

I am also very proud to have won several awards for the JGH in producing some of the best news magazines in any hospital across Canada (including the JGH News) and achieved a perfect mark, 100%, in the latest Accreditation Canada review of my department.

As the official spokesperson it has been my duty to represent the organization to the media, particularly in some sticky situations. From press conferences, to impromptu media opportunities, to staged interviews and photo opps it has been exciting to be a part of this pillar in Quebec’s public healthcare system, one of the Top 100 hospitals in the world.

Getting ready for the Pavilion K expansion and new ER, January 2015

I’ve done my part to usher change through these years. Major expansions like Pavilion K presented numerous PR opportunities and so many media requests.What a privilege it has been to call hundreds of incredible doctors, medical staff and researchers along with thousands of nurses, orderlies, technicians and professionals as my colleagues. And what’s more, I can proudly say that many are my friends.

World-renowned neonatologist Dr. A. Papageorgio and long-time JGH nurse Franceen Finesilver

Not many people have stepped into (and walked out of!) every clinic and department, from the ER to the OR, the ICU to CCU, from the nursery to the morgue, through the kitchens, boiler rooms and boardrooms, from the CEO’s office to the labs and from the sub-basement to the roof.

Photo opp in the Operating Room

And what a bonus to be able to come to work with my wife, Dr. Judy Hagshi, a couple of times each week, and to share our pride in the JGH.

I am so lucky to have worked closest with an extraordinary team of communications professionals over the years. I’ve hired about 40 people in this time and an amazing few have stuck with me for nearly 15 years (I cannot name them all – shout out to my very skillful 2IC, Stephanie Malley – but they know that I hold them as special colleagues and friends). I credit all of these wonderful folks who do a yeoman’s job and allow me to shine with pride.

For 85 years this organization has taken care of, and healed, family members and friends. They have given hope when there was little hope left and consoled those in need. It now extends to every corner of our healthcare system as my scope expands too. I am so fortunate to have been able to serve the community from the JGH over these last 18 years and I look forward to several more to come. L’chaim! To life.

Laughter is the best medicine. Posing with Dr. Clown at the JGH.

Checking out the latest technology for robotic minimally invasive surgery in 2011
With my colleague, JGH Foundation Ambassador and former Montreal Mayor, Denis Coderre

I proudly advocated for electric vehicle parking at the JGH

Pierre Arcand, MNA Mount Royal and Interim Leader of the Quebec Liberal Party

Former federal cabinet minister Diane Finley visits the JGH

Dr. Mark Miller, former Chief of Infectious Diseases administers the flu shot to a somewhat nervous Glenn J. Nashen

I will always remember my friend and colleague Dr. Mark Wainberg (Oct. 2009)
Welcoming MP (and future Prime Minister) Justin Trudeau to the JGH in August 2010 with Director of Nursing Lynne McVey, CEO Dr. Hartley Stern and President Bernie Stotland

Energetic two-tired patrollers


vCOP founder Glenn J. Nashen and volunteer supervisor Mitchell Herf

On a warm summer weeknight some like to watch TV, or shop or take a walk. But for Cote Saint-Luc’s volunteer Citizens on Patrol members there’s nothing better than patrolling the city on two tires.

Such was the case last week as the evening temperature was a sticky 25C. vCOP supervisor Mitchell Herf and I are frequent patrol partners preferring the option of mountain bikes or electric scooters.

“You can get close to the residents, exchange with them and teach them about our group and city ordinances,” Herf says.

We met up with many residents that night, bumping into Earl, the well-known barefoot jogger along Mackle, neighbours in Shuster Park whom I had never met before and complete strangers to whom we said hi cycling through Rembrandt Park.

We bumped into my hair stylist, Georges, from Intercoupe Monsieur, who was out chatting with a neighbour. He saluted us for our volunteer service. That made us feel good.

Glenn J. Nashen on vCOP Bike Patrol outside Cote Saint-Luc City Hall

You need to be out in the community, meeting people, to truly appreciate the essence of what community really means. That is what Cote Saint-Luc is all about. That’s the real thing that social media will never replace.

If you’d like to have the same great experience why not join vCOP and try it out, even if you’re not the two-tired type.

Happy Birthdays Mom and Dad

1 Comment

Happy Birthdays to two very special role models, friends, parents and active community members. To 120!!

My parents will read all of your good wishes posted in comments on this page and on my Facebook post. Please like and comment.

Creating a future of miracles: Israel Guide Dog Center

Leave a comment

Noah Brown, Consul General David Levy, Eli Yablonek and Glen

I was recently invited to attend a luncheon at the Israel Consul General’s residence to meet three special guests. I knew nothing about them or their organization and I was almost taken aback as I entered the bright, beautiful residence to hear one of the special invitee’ commanding voice: “Glenn, come here! Glenn! Glenn, stay!”.

Now I know Israelis are notoriously direct, to be polite about it, but I thought this was a bit much, no?

What I was about to realize, is that Eli Yablonek was speaking to his Yellow Labrador guide dog, Glen (I hadn’t noticed his commands were to a one N’d Glen, not to Ns!).

Glen and Eli

Eli, 67, is a retired businessman and former tank commander. He is a man of few words, with a no-nonsense attitude. He has excelled in business, hiking, tandem bicycling, swimming and skiing. Wounded in the Yom Kippur war in a tank battle in the Sinai, Eli lost his left arm and became blind.

While the first war ended for him the second war was his rehabilitation. However, for Eli, there are no limits. His guide dog gives him independence.

“There were no guide dogs in Israel,” Eli told us. “So I moved to New York to get my first dog and begin our training. It was very difficult not being home, away from family, with huge expenses.”

When Eli’s first dog passed away he decided it was time to start the Israel Guide Dog Center.

Glen is his first dog from Israel and Eli travels the world with him, promoting the centre.

“It is very important for the guide dog school to be located in Israel,” Eli said. “We can live and stay and train in our own country and train the dogs for their local customs and environment and language. Glen ‘speaks’ English and Hebrew. 

“We give 35 dogs to blind people and 35 more for special needs, every year. This is all free thanks to generosity through worldwide fundraising.”

The guide dog school, the only one of its kind in Israel, needs to replace and retrain its dogs about every eight years. Labrador Retrievers and Golden Retrievers are the breed of choice given their adaptability.
So far, its clients have received more than 650 dogs.

“With Glenn, I’m not a blind person,” Eli said with great pride.

Eli and Glen were joined by Noah Brown, the founder of the Israel Guide Dog Center, some 35 years ago. “We are not just fundraising but friend-raising too,” Eli told the guests.

“How can you help? Adopt a dog!”

The Israel Guide Dog Center for the Blind is the only accredited guide dog program serving Israel’s 24,000 blind and visually impaired individuals – and the only such program in the entire Middle East. They serve wounded IDF veterans and victims of terror, provide PTSD dogs trained to ‘watch your back’, help single parents and children at risk, and serve Israelis of various backgrounds and religions, secular, Jewish, Muslim and Christian. They nurture social integration and economic independence.

And why the name Glen, I asked Eli? “You want to name a dog Yacov in Israel? Everyone will turn to look at you!”

For more information call 416–577–3600 or visit www.IsraelGuideDog.ca.

Eli Rubenstein presents a book about the holocaust and the journey of a blind survivor and his dog
Rubenstein highlighted the juxtaposition of how dogs were used to terrorize and dehumanize by the Nazis yet now serve those very survivors as critical companions and guides

On hand for the visit was Canadian March of the Living Director, Eli Rubenstein, who also serves as a Canadian chairman for the centre. Rubenstein was in town to launch The film A Holocaust Journey Through Poland with Man’s Best Friend.

Consul General David Levy and his wife Maya have done a tremendous job of representing Israel across Quebec and throughout the Maritime provinces, since their arrival. They are passionate about their country and dedicated to strengthening the ties between our two countries. I applaud the Consul General’s gusto and zeal and was honoured to have been his invited guest for this fascinating encounter.

Swift and angry backlash against D’Arcy McGee MNA’s vote for Bonjour-Hi resolution

Leave a comment

By Joel Goldenberg, The Suburban Jun 12, 2019

D’Arcy McGee MNA David Birnbaum voted along with fellow Quebec Liberals, the Parti Québécois and the governing CAQ in encouraging Montreal merchants to drop the “Hi” in the now-traditional Bonjour-Hi greeting.

Be sure to read below: In my opinion

The vote, proposed by the PQ, came in advance of Grand Prix weekend, when numerous tourists, including many who do not speak French, visit Montreal.

Liberal MNAs Kathleen Weil and Gregory Kelley were not present for the symbolic vote. Weil told the media she stayed away after receiving numerous complaints from constituents after voting for the same motion in 2017.

Birnbaum provided an extensive explanation for his vote on Facebook. The MNA said the wording of the resolution was acceptable to him, and it passed unanimously in terms of all MNAs present in the Assembly.

“Here is why I chose to rise for the vote….verrrry slowly,” he wrote. “English-speaking Quebecers, whether they live in Snowdon, Sillery or Sherbrooke, have a stake in supporting the protection and promotion of the French language. We are allies, not enemies in that cause— it’s time that this be recognized by all parties, as it is by ours.”

Birnbaum also contended that the CAQ government “has failed to take the slightest concrete measure to truly strengthen the place of French in Quebec — by increasing spending, as our government did, on francisation programs for new immigrants, by supporting English school boards in their constant efforts to improve French-second language programs (the CAQ plans to abolish the board), and in calling for the inclusion of all Quebecers in the legitimate and necessary effort of French-language promotion.”

There was much reaction to Birnbaum’s vote.

Harold Staviss, who with CSL councillor Ruth Kovac has been lobbying businesses to put up bilingual signs and send out bilingual communications to consumers, was very displeased.

“Do our MNAs have nothing better to do?” he wrote on Facebook. “What a joke! Three cheers and kudos to Kathleen Weil and Gregory Kelley for standing up for those that elected them. At least two Liberals stood up for their constituents. But with all due respect to David Birnbaum and Jennifer Maccarone, you let us down big time. I urge you all to show both David and Jennifer your total disgust for what they did. E-mail them, call them, use social media.”

Kovac herself sent a note to Birnbaum, which she shared with The Suburban, announcing that she is withdrawing her Quebec Liberal Party membership as well as her seat on the D’Arcy McGee riding association.

“We have discussed this issue on more than one occasion,” she added. “As an MNA, in my opinion, you are elected by the people and responsible first to them, irrespective of parliamentary duties. The 2017 backlash should have guided your vote this time. This vote was a resolution, not legislation! It is the English and multi- ethnic population that elected you, not a small Francophone town in a rural area.”

Kovac also wrote that Bill 101 and the OQLF “have never been about promoting French, but pushing for a slow and painful death of anything English.

“Having worked in different businesses before becoming a councillor, we know that it is the language of the customer that is paramount. This was an opportunity where you could have easily risen slowly or quickly with true vigour and represented D’Arcy McGee.

“I suspect that I speak for many.”

Former Côte St. Luc councillor Glenn Nashen responded to Birnbaum on Facebook

“To be inclusive, forward looking and positive… sure,” he wrote. “To respect, promote and master the French language? Absolutely. To interfere with private conversations between private business and private citizens? Not the role of our parliamentarians. As you rightly point out, French is as healthy as ever in Montreal. No need to suppress the English language.”

CSL council regular Toby Shulman wrote: “I am calling my MNA. He has lost my vote.”



In my opinion:

While I an upset about the motion in the National Assembly, I don’t believe that David Birnbaum’s ‘reluctant’ vote in favour makes him unworthy as a representative of the English-speaking community, as expressed by some others. Now I’m no apologist for anyone, however politics isn’t a zero sum game. I believe in measuring a leader by the overall good he or she does for the community. I’m really not pleased with David’s decision to vote in favour of this resolution. I would have preferred that he cast a vote against, as difficult as that would have been for him. It would have sent a much stronger message than rising slowly, in my opinion. But, one cannot erase the many good choices David has made as our MNA. So I do think anyone who’s upset should let him know. It is only through these many contacts that any MNA can better represent us on the next resolution. Too often people are quick to criticize on single issues, disregarding a history of achievement.

Older Entries