100 Years of Remembrance and Saluting my dad for his service




This Remembrance Day marks 100 years since the end of hostility in World War I, the War to End All Wars.

This week we also mark 80 years since Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass, which notoriously was the beginning of what became known as the Holocaust, or Shoah.

Sergeant George Nashen, Royal Canadian Air Force, 1944

My father, George Nashen, 95, served in the Royal Canadian Air Force from December 1942 to April 1946 and was stationed at RCAF Overseas Headquarters in London, England for nearly three years. Luckily, he was not called up to the front lines. But his buddies were. Some never returned.

My father enlisted in December 1942 with several of his friends from Baron Byng High School, and was shipped off for two months of basic training in Toronto where the RCAF had taken over the CNE Fairgrounds. From there he was stationed at the Rockcliffe Airbase in Ottawa from February until August 1942 and then to Halifax where they boarded the Queen Mary cruise ship that had been commandeered to transport troops.

“We were 26,000 troops and 1,000 crew members crammed into the ship for the four day crossing to London, England,” my father told me. “There were 54 troops to a room and we took turns sleeping, 27 at a time slept on the hammocks lined up three high in nine columns,” he said. “It was so uncomfortable and there were so many disturbances that I chose to sleep in the hallways and stairwells. But the ship would list from one side to the other every seven minutes as it curved to avoid sailing in a straight line to escape any pursuing German U-boats. I remember the empty Coke bottles rolling bake and forth in the halls and hitting the walls preventing any rest there as well,” my dad said.

RCAF Aircraftsman 2nd Class, George Nashen (1943)

“In London, we slept in the Canadian Legion Hall until we could find an apartment,” my dad reminisced. There were no barracks in the city as they couldn’t chance losing so many soldiers in a targeted German bombing raid. “One night a bomb fell right outside the Legion Hall and blew in the doors and windows. As the glass flew and the ceiling collapsed I immediately rolled under my bed to take cover,” he said. “I yelled out to my buddy, Mel Nicol. ‘Are you alright Nic?’ Mel Nicol was real joker and responded, ‘I’m not sure, I’m looking for my leg’. Of course, he was just fine,” George said.

George and Mel eventually rented an apartment at Queens Gate Gardens about a 30 minute walk from Harrods, where the RCAF set up their administration and accounting division. We often joke that my father served in women’s lingerie during WW II, in reference to the department in Harrods where the Accounting Office was located. They were paid $2.50 per day subsistence allowance for their lodging and another $1 for food.

As an Aircraftsman 2nd Class they received $1.30 per day. Dad used to send $10 per month back to his Mom in  Montreal to save for him. Upon his return, three-and-a-half years later he had saved up about $300.

George Nashen in front of the Cote Saint-Luc cenotaph in Veterans Park 2012

One night they were awakened by a bomb blast and heard that the nearby hospital was hit. Mel and George raced over to offer their assistance only to find out that 30 babies had been tragically killed. “It was the saddest day of my life,” my father said.

Back at Harrods he was busy taking care of Airman Pay Accounts to ensure each of the troops received their salary. Daily Routine Orders were meticulously entered for the tens of thousands of airmens’ accounts, all manually, of course.

My dad lost his best friend in battle. “Jay Singer was like a brother to me,” my father recounts. “Jay and I were inseparable from kindergarten through Baron Byng High School. Jay was an air force pilot from the age of 19. His plane went missing while laying mines in the Baltic Sea on June 15, 1944. Jay was just 22 year’s old when he died in service. I’ll never forget him.”

Jay Singer

Jay Singer


My father endured the bombardments and hardship of everyday life in London but fortunately was safe relative to so many others. The thick, dark clouds that hung over the city many nights from fog made it impossible to see right in front of you. My father recounts as he would feel his way along the walls of the buildings on his way home, counting off the number of doors and turns in the road to find his way home.

One night a bomb fell at a pub just outside of Harrods and some Londoners were killed. The next day, a young Princess Elizabeth, came by to visit and offer her support. My father watched excitedly from the window as the future Queen made her way along the street.

My father returned home in April 1946.

Three generations of Cote Saint-Lucers: George, Glenn and Jeremy Nashen 2013

Each year, I ask dad to take out his medals and his beret and to teach my own kids what it meant to serve Canada as a soldier.  They listen in amazement at his stories of 70 years ago, as they reflect on their lives in the best country to live in, Canada.

WWII veteran George Nashen, 93, deposits the wreath on behalf of Royal Canadian Legion Branch 97 at the Cote Saint-Luc Cenotaph in Veterans Park. Accompanied by his grandson Cory, son Jeff and vCOP Phil Mayman. (Photo: Darryl Levine, CSL).

Each year on Remembrance Day, I salute my dad, and all those who served, who paid the ultimate price, who sustained injury and who were lucky to return just like George. His bravery and commitment, and theirs, to stand on guard, to liberating those who had their freedom taken from them so many years ago, to keeping Canada glorious and free, shines like a beacon to my kids and our entire family.

With my dad on Remembrance Day (Jewish General Hospital, 2014)

We’re proud of his accomplishments and grateful to still have him, and my mother, as our bridge between our past and our future.


George and Phyllis Nashen at their 95th and 90th birthday party (June 2018)




A day of remembrance, honour and appreciation in CSL

In tribute to my father, the soldier

Councillor Mike Cohen’s blog

The JGH Remembers


Canada apologizes to Jewish community for “None is Too Many”, turning back refugees to Hitler’s Nazi Germany

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This was a historic, monumental day not only for Canadian Jews, but for Canada. Today’s apology by the Government of Canada for turning away the 907 Jews fleeing the Holocaust aboard the ill-fated MS. Saint Louis was long overdue. In issuing today’s apology Canada has solidified its place as a tolerant, peace-loving and safe land. The Prime Minister has committed to doing more to safeguard places of worship and to fight antisemitism.

Thank you to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for his eloquent and emotional words of accountability and apology. Your words, Mr. Prime Minister, are powerful and meaningful and will be felt for generations. Thank you to the Government of Canada and to all Members of Parliament for standing in solidarity, united across party lines, to acknowledge the failures of the past and to take corrective actions to secure our future. The occasion was made even more powerful by the solemn remarks by the leaders of the Conservative Party, NDP and Green Party.

Thank you as well to our honourable and outstanding Member of Parliament for Mount Royal, Anthony Housefather, for his leadership role in today’s declaration. Anthony has worked tirelessly on behalf of not only his constituents but all Canadians in ensuring the Government of Canada support its Jewish Communities, fight against BDS, denounce antisemitic acts of hate and support the Jewish State of Israel.

Canada has taken a major step in ensuring ‘Never Again’ resonates from coast to coast to coast.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer taking part in the Canadian government’s official apology for the 1939 decision to turn away the MS St. Louis and its 907 German Jewish passengers fleeing the Nazi Regime. 10:43

The NDP’s Guy Caron taking part in the Canadian government’s official apology for the 1939 decision to turn away the MS St. Louis and its 907 German Jewish passengers fleeing the Nazi Regime. 9:36

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May taking part in the Canadian government’s official apology for the 1939 decision to turn away the MS St. Louis and its 907 German Jewish passengers fleeing the Nazi Regime. 7:19

Montreal adopts motion calling for ban on private ownership of handguns, assault weapons | CBC News


Bold move, long overdue. Canadians do not need handguns.

Let’s see Montreal suburbs pass the same resolution and add to the outcry. Contact your City Councillor as well as your MP.


Source: Montreal adopts motion calling for ban on private ownership of handguns, assault weapons | CBC News

Anthony Housefather’s record on Israel

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Anthony is an extraordinary advocate for his constituency and is outspoken in his staunch support for Israel. In this excellent letter he sets the record straight for those who believe that he and the liberal government have wavered in showing Canada’s steadfast support for Israel. Of course, one can easily point to a single incident, event or vote and criticize. But life, and politics, is far from that simple.

I wholeheartedly continue to support Anthony Housefather as an extraordinary, young leader who is sure to rise among the ranks. He is the right man to push our government when necessary, whether on Israel or on a number of other major issues.

His intelligence shines through in his speeches and writings. If you have not met him I strongly encourage you to do so at one of the many events he addresses or in connecting by email or social media.


Anthony Housefather, MP, in the Hall of Honour, in the Parliament of Canada

My record on Israel

Anthony Housefather

I need to respond to the letter from Nathan Rosensheim published in the Suburban on July 4th, claiming the Canadian Government did not support Israel and that I was not a forceful advocate for Israel within the Government.

To say these claims are false would be a huge understatement. I have always been and will continue to be a huge supporter of Israel and since I was first elected I have been one of the foremost advocates on behalf of support for Israel and action on causes important to my constituents and Canada’s Jewish community. Let’s look at the overall record since October 2015.

Since the Liberal Government was elected in October 2015, Canada has one of the best voting records at the UN on defending Israel. We have voted no on 54 of the 62 resolutions at the General Assembly which singled out Israel over this time. No country other than the US and some small islands have a record similar to ours. Our record on voting against resolutions on Israel is far better than Australia and the UK and other European countries. It is also better in percentage terms of no votes than any previous Canadian Government, including the ten years of the Harper administration.

Our Government also supported the first anti-BDS motion to be adopted by the House of Commons. We adopted a Bill recognizing May as Jewish Heritage Month. We just signed an enhanced Canada/US free trade agreement at the Gelber Centre in the Mount Royal riding. We doubled security infrastructure funding to help secure Jewish and other institutions that are subject to potential hate crimes. As well, the Prime Minister committed to apologizing in the House of Commons for our record on Jewish refugees prior to and during the Second World War and in particular for Canada’s shameful refusal of the SS St. Louis in 1939. No other Canadian Government has ever done this and it is something I have been calling for since I have been elected.

Finally, in June the Government supported a motion in the House of Commons condemning the current regime in Iran, including for the statements made by its Supreme Leader calling for the eradication of Israel. In case anyone questions my support for Israel and my readiness to speak out in support of Israel in the House of Commons, I suggest you watch my speech on the Iran motion at https://www.facebook.com/anthonyhousefather/videos/1982973521743727/

I spend a significant percentage of my time advocating for issues of interest to the Jewish community. There have been a small number of times I have been disappointed, such as with the recent statement on Gaza and in that case my colleague Michael Levitt and I released our own statement. But I have worked very hard within the Government to ensure our position on Jewish and Israeli issues is as strong as possible and most of the time I have succeeded. I truly believe if you look at the facts above the number of actions we have taken in support of Israel and issues related to Canada’s Jewish community over the last 2.5 years is equal to or better than any other Canadian Government in history and I am happy to defend my actions to my constituents anytime.

Anthony Housefather

MP for Mount Royal

Florida moves to stop time shift, should Canada follow?


Florida has moved a step closer to making Daylight Saving Time permanent and end the dreaded and dreary semi-annual ritual of moving clocks back and forth. I have called upon our Members of Parliament to do the same for the last several years right here on my blog. Put an end to this archaic time-waster and let us have more sunlight all winter long.

I hope thew Florida Governor signs the Bill and that the US Congress follows suit. The chain reaction will surely push our parliamentarians to finally end moving our clocks back and forth.

Barry Wislon picked up on this movement in his recent Postscript vlog.

So let’s keep the momentum going. Blog it, shout it and call out your MP. The sunshine is back and we should keep it that way, all year long.



Daylight Saving Time: Let there be light

Are you ready for clock confusion?

This time I’m voting to scrap time change

I’m tired of falling back!

Ma visite à Saint-Léonard d’Aston | 29 novembre 2017



M. le Maire, Mme Campeau, mesdames et messieurs:

C’est un peu ironique que je sois ici aujourd’hui, représentant mon père et ma famille à cause d’un cheval qui est mort il y a presque 90 ans! Mon oncle Boris était un colporteur qui partait de Montréal et allait de village en village. Il a ouvert La Maison Boris, un magasin général sur la rue Principal de St. Leonard D’Aston en 1928. Quelque 20 ans plus tard, mon père revenait de son service dans les Forces aériennes du Canada. Ayant suivi une formation en comptabilité générale, mon oncle Boris et mon père ont commencé Nash Shirt Limited à l’étage supérieur de cet édifice, qu’ils ont éventuellement acheté, puis la piste de quilles voisine et un troisième édifice attenant, ainsi la vieille gare et quelques autres maisons. Au fil des ans, ils ont employé plusieurs centaines de personnes de la ville et des villes voisines, environ 230 employés à leur apogée. Même les femmes de la région travaillaient comme couturières à la maison. La ville se débrouillait plutôt bien pendant ces années, et pratiquement toutes les familles étaient liées d’une manière ou d’une autre au travail effectué dans ces locaux. En effet, il a été dit que Saint-Léonard « habillait le Canada ».

Monsieur Boris et Monsieur Georges, comme ils étaient affectueusement surnommés, ont toujours eu une merveilleuse relation de travail avec leurs employés. Boris était tellement respecté qu’à sa mort, en 1970, presque tous les employés sont montés à bord d’autobus pour se rendre à Montréal et assister à ses funérailles.

L’entreprise a continué de croître et de prospérer. Mon frère Stan a rejoint la compagnie et passait la semaine ici à l’usine. Ensuite, mon frère Barry a également rejoint le bureau de Montréal. En tant qu’étudiant adolescent, je passais plusieurs semaines chaque été à m’entraîner ici, en compagnie de mon ami, Marcel Alie, qui conduisait le camion, allait chez toutes les couturières et faisait toutes les courses. Marcel est aussi celui qui m’apprenait un bon français de campagne. Apres mes études de l’Université j’ai commencé a travaillé aussi pour Nash Shirt. Oh, les merveilleux souvenirs!

Mon père, qui a maintenant 94 ans, se souvient avec beaucoup d’affection de ses années à Saint-Léonard D’Aston. Pendant toutes ces années, de 1948 jusqu’à la fermeture de l’usine en 1983, il avait à ses côtés Marcelle Hébert, son adjointe de confiance. Il garde de bons souvenirs de plusieurs habitants de la ville qui travaillaient dans cet édifice et fabriquaient des chemises et des jeans vendus dans les magasins populaires d’un océan à l’autre, des uniformes pour les policiers, des jeans pour les ouvriers et portés plus tard par une jeune génération d’adolescents et de jeunes adultes. Les gens qui ont travaillé dans cet édifice pendant plus de 35 ans ont réellement habillé tout le Canada.

Au nom de mes parents, M. Georges et Mme Phyllis, de mes frères et de toute notre famille, nous saluons les résidents de la ville et des villes voisines, et tous ceux qui s’efforcent de préserver la mémoire de cet endroit merveilleux. Que cette communauté et ses merveilleux résidents continuent de prospérer pendant de nombreuses années. Longue vie à Saint-Léonard d’Aston.

Merci beaucoup et bonne journée.


Glenn J. Nashen (fils de M. Georges Nashen)


One upon a time… The story of Nash Shirt Limited of Saint Leonard d’Aston


Once upon a time… the story of Nash Shirt Limited of Saint-Leonard D’Aston


Nash Shirt Ltd., St.Leonard D’Aston, Circa 1950


The shirt section of the Saint-Leonard D’Aston factory of Nash Shirt Ltd,, circa 1950


It was somewhat ironic that I was invited to represent my father at a gathering in St. Leonard D’Aston because of a horse that died almost 90 years ago!
Well, this is how the story goes: My uncle Boris Katz, a Russian immigrant, was a peddler in the 1920s. He made his way through the towns and villages around Montreal selling clothing and housewares. One of his stops was the little village of Saint-Leonard d’Aston, about halfway between Montreal and Quebec City, near Drummondville and Trois-Rivieres. On one particular visit in 1928, Uncle Boris’ horse died and he stayed over for a few days. So taken was he with the town and its villagers that he decided to set up shop. He opened “La Maison Bouris”, a general store on Rue Principale.
Many years later Uncle Boris grew frustrated that his shirt order was late for Christmas and he wanted to offer better service to his customers. So he decided to open a small factory to sew his own shirts and pants. He called upon his nephew, George Nashen, who had just returned from overseas service in the Royal Canadian Air Force. Having trained in general accounting, Uncle Boris thought that my dad George would be the perfect partner. In 1948 they established Nash Shirt Limited on the upper floor of the Allyson Building located on Rue de la Station, just across from the tiny train station on the Montreal-Quebec CN Rail line. Uncle Boris spent the week in Saint-Leonard while my father set up the head office, showroom and smaller warehouse on Saint-Lawrence Boulevard in Montreal. My dad spent one day a week at the factory.
They eventually bought the building, followed by the bowling alley next door and built a third adjoining building, along with the old train station and two houses. Through the years they employed several hundred people from across the town and neighbouring towns as well, about 230 employees at their peak. Local housewives without the ability to hold down a full-time job owing to their large families and responsibilities at home were given work as independent contractors. They would purchase their own sewing machines and worked as seamstresses right in their kitchens and basements.
Marcel Alie was one of the loyal and dedicated employees spending the full 35 years at Nash Shirt. He lived in the house immediately across the street from the factory (photo below, the house hasn’t changed much since it was built around 1913) at the corner of de la Station and rue Fleury. He would open up very early in the morning firing up the boilers to power and heat the buildings, and he would be the last to leave late in the evening shutting down all the machinery. He also drove the company truck making local deliveries, picking up supplies and delivering bundles of denim to the women waiting to sew at home.

My last visit: Glenn J. Nashen with Marcel Alie, Dec. 14, 2012, St. Leonard d’Aston. Marcel passed away a short time later.

The Alie family, dedicated employees:  L-R: Mme. Joyal-Alie (Marcel’s sister) worked at the factory as did her daughter Monique Joyal (1972-80 in the jeans and shirt sections), and her friend Monique Prince (from 1972-83). Also pictured is her daughter Sylvie. Their father owned the Garage Joyal across the street where he respectfully hung a photo of Uncle Boris.

The town was doing quite well in the years of Nash Shirt with hardly a family that wasn’t in some way touched by its economic reach. And the town’s work in fashion reached from coast to coast: Indeed, it was said that St. Leonard “outfitted Canada”. Monsieur Boris and Monsieur Georges, as they were affectionately known, maintained a wonderful working relationship with their employees throughout the years.
At one point they decided to build a number of affordable homes for their employees very close to the factory. The new neighbourhood was named Rue de la Cie (Company Road). Rue Cie became Russie and eventually La Petite Russie, (Little Russia) as an endearing tribute to Uncle Boris’ origins.
Uncle Boris was so well respected that upon his death in 1970 nearly all the employees boarded buses for the trip to Montreal to attend his funeral. Some had never left the region prior to that bus ride.
The business continued to grow and prosper.  Fresh out of Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, my brother Stan joined the company and spent his weekdays at the factory working on improving production techniques. Eventually my brother Barry joined too, starting up a new line of clothing under the ‘Carnaval’ label and working out of the Montreal office. As a teenage student, I spent several weeks during the summers working out in Saint-Leonard d’Aston, riding alongside my coach Marcel Alie, who drove the route to all the seamstresses and to pick up supplies. Marcel taught me how to speak French with a countryside guttural twang, quite different from what I was learning in school in the big city. Oh the wonderful memories.

George and Phyllis Nashen (centre), Stan Nashen (left) with workers from Nash Shirt, Saint-Leonard d’Aston, 1970s

My father is now 94 years old and reminisces with great fondness of his years in Saint-Leonard d’Aston.  During all those years from 1948 until the closing of the factory in 1983, he had his trusted assistant Marcelle Hebert by his side.  He has wonderful memories of many of the special townspeople who worked in the factory producing shirts and jeans sold in mom and pop stores from coast to coast. They made uniform shirts worn by police officers, denim first worn by workmen and later by a younger generation of fashion conscientious teens and young adults. The labels included ‘Georgie’s Boys’, ‘Oui Jeans’, ‘Que Jeans’, and a host of private labels from every major men’s sportswear store, department store and jean shop across Canada.  The workers at Nash Shirt Limited in Saint-Leonard d’Aston truly outfitted all of Canada over a 35 year period.
My parents, M. Georges et Mme. Phyllis, my brothers and our entire family salute the residents of the town and its neighbours and those involved in keeping the memory of this wonderful place alive. May this community and its wonderful people thrive for many years to come. Long live St. Leonard d’Aston.


Marcelle Hebert, now in her young 90s, at the launch of the documentary


The reason for the gathering was the launch of a 20 minute documentary film, “Ma vie à la Nash”, produced by Nicole Campeau with images by Isabelle du Blois.

Nicole Campeau said she wanted to give a voice to those who worked at Nash Shirt, especially the dressmakers. “For me it is a duty to remember,” explains Mme. Campeau. The film touches on the working conditions and about the company and its owners. A seamstress, Cecile Mailly, recalls in the film that it was Boris Katz who put Saint-Léonard d’Aston on the map of the world.

Armand Leblanc was a tailor (cutter) at Nash Shirt for 22 years

Four former employees of Nash Shirt recounted earlier times in the town and at the manufacturing plant. The building which is now named Chez Boris has been purchased by Denis Guevin, who is doing major renovations and turning the facility into a community gathering point for culture, recreation, business and community services. The latest wing was dedicated a few weeks ago and named in honour of the seamstresses who worked there. Memorabilia and clothing produced there decorate the walls. The electrical outlets in the ceiling that powered the sewing machines have been turned into fixtures, each one representing a seamstress who once worked in that exact spot.

1970s brand from Nash Shirt

Oui shirt label. Nash Shirt Ltd. 1970s.

Another brand of jeans and shirts produced in the 70s and 80s at Nash Shirt

 CKBN Radio reported that several former employees of Nash Shirt of Saint-Léonard d’ Aston, various guests and personalities were at the launching of the documentary “My life at Nash”. The short film featured testimonies of three dressmakers and a tailor who worked at the factory and spoke about Boris Katz who championed economic life in Saint-Léonard d’Aston, between 1949 and 1983. The 20 minute film will be presented at various places in and around Saint-Léonard d’Aston. Eventually it will be posted online.

Felix Campeau-Guevin teaches Jorkeyball to Jeremy Nashen in Saint Leonard d’Aston

The building also houses Canada’s first “Jorkyball” courts. The sport is fairly well known in Europe and already 22 teams have been formed here. The Saint-Leonard d’Aston site will host a world championship next July. Guevin and Campeau’s son Felix is the chief organizer of the sport and boasts proudly of the unique facilities that attract young sports enthusiasts from across the region.

The cord and light of each fixture reminds us of the women who once worked at the sewing stations powered by the very same outlets

l était une fois… la Nash Shirt: Le Courier du Sud, Nov. 30, 2017

La Nash Shirt devient Chez Boris, Le Courier du Sud, Nov. 8, 2016

The Nashens at a company Christmas Party in St. Wenceslas, 1973 (L-R: Barry, Stan, George, Glenn, Phyllis, Jeff).


Phyllis Nashen with women of St. Leonard d’Aston, July 1975


George Nashen speaking to the Priest of St. Leonard d’Aston, July 1975


Hockey Legend Jean Beliveau with Phyllis, George and Stanley Nashen (left) and Freda, Boris and Hershey Katz in 1957. Le Gros Jean, originally from Trois-Rivieres, was working in promotions for Molson Brewery and was passing through town when the priest invited him to the opening of the new shirt factory just built at Nash Shirt Ltd.


1971 tribute to Boris Katz_Courier du Sud

Ma visite à Saint-Léonard d’Aston | 29 novembre 2017

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