What was Cavendish Boulevard called in the 1960s? What river still runs beneath Cote Saint-Luc? Who is Leger Avenue named for? Why is there a curve in Parkhaven Avenue? What was housed in the Cote Saint-Luc Chapel after 1927?
If you are curious about these pieces of CSL’s past then you’ll be interested to know that today the city launched the Cote Saint-Luc Historical Society.
I’ve been wanting to set up such a group for a good number of years but my priorities were clear: I first wanted to ensure that CSL Emergency Medical Services was transformed into a highly-trained and fully-equipped, modern all-volunteer First Responder service, the best of its sort in all of Quebec. This work has lasted more than three decades! Next, I set out to create a unique and specialized corps of volunteers to act as the eyes and ears of Police and Public Security services – 10 years later we have 85 volunteers patrolling at all hours in four marked vehicles, scooters, bikes, on foot, providing smoke detector verification, vacation spot checks, delivering food baskets, on call for emergencies 24 hours a day. Known as vCOP, volunteer Citizens on Patrol, it is the first service of its kind in Quebec and still one of the only ones.
With these two major accomplishments solidly in place it’s time for me to embark upon a new adventure, gathering information from CSL’s rich past and sharing them in the form of photos, videos, artifacts and testimonials. With the professional guidance of CSL Public Affairs Director Darryl Levine, and accompanied by Councillor Dida Berku, Library Director Janine West and residents Rogan Feltmate, Jason Bowen, David Chandler, Sandra Stock and early inhabitant Claude St. Jean the CSL Historical Society was born, last evening.
West is passionate about history and ancestry. She said, “It is so important to write things down,” emphasizing the need to capture stories from our elders before it’s too late.
Feltmate and Bowen are both third generation CSLers and are fascinated by the place-names and landmarks that surround our neighbourhood.
Chandler, the only antique map dealer in Quebec and former history teacher is a relative newcomer to CSL. He came to the inaugural meeting with incredible maps showing the names of the early landowners of our city dating back to the 19th century.
St. Jean amazed the committee with personal anecdotes from his great-grandparents, grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles and cousins all of whom lived in CSL dating back to the beginning of the last century. His grandfather purchased the Chapelle de Cote Saint-Luc, located on the corner of present day King Edward Avenue and Cote Saint-Luc Road. Built in 1845, the chapel was purchased by the Leger family in 1927 and became the family home, eventually turning into a gas bar, candy shop, a general store named King Edward Provisions and also housed CSL Plumbing. St. Jean’s mother was born in the chapel edifice in 1931 and he too was born there in 1951. He brought photos and artifacts of those early days of CSL that brought that era alive.
What’s more, St. Jean’s grandfather, Henri Leger, served as CSL City Councillor while his uncle served as a CSL School Commissioner.
The group hopes to have more members who have an interest in collecting these relics from the past and to share them with future generations. There is much excitement about the Society, given the upcoming 50th anniversary of the CSL Public Library and Canada’s 150th birthday celebration in 2017. CSL never had the chance to celebrate its 100th birthday back in 2003 because of the political turmoil of forced municipal mergers. It’s never too late to wish a Happy Belated Birthday and that’s just what I’m hoping for in CSL.
If you have photos, video, artifacts or other material depicting the early days in CSL please consider giving them to the CSL Historical Society in care of Director Darryl Levine at CSL City Hall.