Prestigious D’Arcy McGee citizenship medals presented

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It was my honour to attend this weeks ceremony by D’Arcy McGee MNA David Birnbaum at the CSL Aquatic and Community Center.

The ceremony was set up three years ago by the engaging and charismatic Birnbaum to honour exceptional citizens for their outstanding contribution to society, in particular affecting those of us residing in the D’Arcy McGee riding, which includes Cote saint-Luc, Hampstead and Snowdon west.

This year’s winners were Baruch Cohen, Susan Wener and (posthumously) Jean Lapierre. Jean’s daughter graciously accepted the award. In addition, the Victor C. Goldbloom ‘Vivre Ensemble’ essay contest winner was Reisa Gilfix (Grade 10, Herzliah High School).

The ceremony also included a video presentation by Quebec Pemier Philippe Couillard.

An excellent jazz combo ensemble entertained the crowd from the Saint-Luc secondary school.

Baruch Cohen, left, is feted on his 90th birthday by well-wisher Frederick Krantz, founder and director of the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research. (Photo CJN)

Baruch Cohen
Baruch Cohen recently celebrated his 97th birthday. During the second world war, Baruch survived pogroms, anti-Semitism, state-sponsored tyranny and forced labour camps in Romania. He escaped to Israel and later made a life here in Montreal with Sonia, his wife of 73 years. Upon retirement from his position as a financial officer, Baruch completed a Master’s Degree in Jewish Studies. He subsequently devoted 30 years of volunteer service as Research Chair of the the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research. He spearheaded the first holocaust commemoration in memory of Jews killed in Romania and Transnistria 23 years ago, an event that continues to be held annually.

Susan Wener (Photo: The Georgia Straight)

Susan Wener

For 30 years, Susan Wener has dedicated her life to helping others. She is a therapist for people struggling with life-threatening illness. She speaks across Canada at literary festivals, medical conferences, universities and libraries, touching on subjects such as the doctor-patient relationship, integrative cancer care, overcoming obstacles and other topics related to health and well-being. Following a near death experience at 18, Susan knew that her mission would be to work with the gravely ill. She hasn’t looked back since. Her moving memoir, “Resilience” and recent Tedx Talk have reached thousands, far beyond our community’s borders.

 

Jean Lapierre

Jean Lapierre was a former member of Parliament, minister and political analyst on English and French radio and television. He died tragically along with four members of his family in a plane crash into 2016. Lapierre made perhaps his greatest mark in a final career as political analyst. He did regular spots that topped the ratings on Radio 98.5, CJAD, CTV, TVA and other media outlets. His commentaries garnered huge audiences in English and in French, and inevitably elicited reactions from politicians, other journalists as well as regular watchers across the province, who reacted to his daily scoops and analyses and discussions around the water cooler and supper table. What happens in Quebec City and Ottawa can sometimes seem remote and isolated from our lives in CSL, Hampstead and western Montreal. Jean Lapierre made it less so. He deserves our recognition for enriching our lives and widening our horizons.

Congratulations to the winners and the family of Jean C. Lapierre for this well-deserved honour.

N

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Two outstanding CSLers celebrate amazing birthdays

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George and Phyllis Nashen

 

Two great Cote Saint-Lucers are celebrating amazing milestone birthdays. George was born in 1923 in Kishinev, Romania. Phyllis was born in 1928 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Today, my father celebrates his 94th birthday and just three weeks ago my mom turned 89.
Their story is one of immigration and hard work, public and community service, romance, travel, family and friends.
My father, the grandson of a Hasidic Rabbi, and the son of revolutionary Russian arrived in Montreal before his first birthday. My mother was the daughter of trailer manufacturer in Sommerville, Mass. Dad graduated from Baron Byng High School in the famous class of 1939 (which recently celebrated its 77th reunion). His studies in accounting were interrupted by the outbreak of WWII.   Mom studied journalism at Boston University.

Sergeant George Nashen, Royal Canadian Air Force, 1944

 

My dad enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force and spent the next three-and-a-half years deployed overseas, mostly stationed in London, England. He had hoped to be a pilot, but colour-blindness changed those plans and instead he worked in the Payroll division of the General Accounting Office, headquartered in Harrods of London. Instead of serving as a pilot, he paid them every two weeks. He endured the bombardments and hardship of everyday life in London but fortunately was safe relative to so many of his close buddies who never returned from the front lines.

Teenager Phyllis Schertzer in the 1930s on her father’s car

 

On a ‘boys weekend’ to Cape Cod in 1948 my dad’s luck ran out – or did it? – as his car broke down stranding him for a couple of days in Boston. All alone, he reached for the crumpled phone number of a girl his father had pressed into his hand back in Montreal, courtesy of a family friend who happened to be the girl’s uncle. Not knowing anyone and with nothing to do, dad made the call and so began an international romance. They were married in 1951 and have celebrated 65 wedding anniversaries together, so far.
After returning from his military service he began working for Richter and Usher Accountants. He joined his uncle in business and became an important manufacturer of shirts and jeans for more than 35 years. My father set up his factory in Saint Leonard D’Aston, between Drummondville and Trois-Rivieres, employing more than 200 employees, over 10% of the town. Nearly every family in the area was touched by his business operations and this community of hard workers “outfitted Canada” for many years.

Phyllis Schertzer and George Nashen, Wedding Day, September 15, 1951. Chateau Garod, Brookline, Mass.

In addition to running a very active household with five rambunctious men (four boys plus dad), Mom trained as a “social councillor” and volunteered for 12 years at Meadowbrook  Elementary School in Lachine, helping kids 9-14 years old, visiting them at home and meeting with their parents. For the last 30 years mom has purchased and wrapped her own Christmas gifts for girls and boys at the Shriner’s Hospital. An accomplished artist in watercolours, oils, stained glass, sculpting and more for more than 40 years, my mother has exhibited her works and even taught courses for more than 10 years as a volunteer at Golden Age (Cummings Centre for Jewish Seniors).

Phyllis and George Nashen, September 15, 1951

Phyllis and George have made their home in CSL for nearly 60 years, raising their four sons and watching all eight grandchildren flourish close-by.
Active until most recently in many sports, and still very busy with leisure, arts and community life they are well known and very much liked by those whom they meet casually and on a regular basis.

Phyllis 85 and George 90

My mother and father were very fortunate to have visited over 40 countries and enjoy wonderful memories of travel and meeting people all around the world. They have spent most of the last 28 winters in Florida and until last year my dad was still busy golfing and bowling and not long before that playing tennis. They both continue to attend courses, play bridge and enjoy many regular social activities. My dad is proud of his membership in the CSL Men’s Club, the camaraderie of his many friends, and his regular spot up at the microphone during question period.
Not too many get to celebrate such milestone birthdays in pretty good health surrounded by so many members of their family, close friends and good neighbours. My parents are a very loving and lucky couple to enjoy such richness and happiness. Please join me in wishing these two extra special people very happy, and healthy birthdays! To 120!!

Federation CJA’s Mission to Montreal was a fun, filling, sell-out success

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Thanks to Federation CJA for a great tour around Old Jewish Montreal on the recent Around the Bagel tour. What an enthusiastic turnout for the #MissionToMontreal where participants explored the Jewish history and culture of our beloved city along with the Museum of Jewish Montreal and The Segal Centre for Performing Arts!

Federation CJA is celebrating 100 years of building community.

La #MissionToMontreal a connu un véritable succès en permettant, à un grand nombre de participants, d’explorer l’histoire et la culture juives de notre merveilleuse ville avec @Musee du Montreal juif et @segal centre. La Fédération CJA est fière de célébrer 100 ans au cœur de la communauté. Et notre histoire ne fait que commencer.

Thanks to co-chairs Samantha Mintz and Warren Werbitt. This was a unique, fun way to spend the afternoon with old friends and meet new people too. And, oy, the nosh from Cheskie’s was awesome!!

Cote Saint-Luc council recognizes Greek Pontic Genocide

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Cote Saint-Luc City Council with senior leadership of the Canadian Hellenic Congress, June 12, 2017

Dr. Theo Halatsis, President, and Angie Tzouvelakos, Vice-President, Cultural and Social Development of the Canadian Hellenic Congress were at the Cote Saint-Luc Public Council meeting last Monday night to encourage Mayor Mitchell Brownstein and Members of Council to recognize the Greek Pontic Genocide and proclaim May 19, 2017 as Greek Pontic Genocide Remembrance Day in the City of Cote Saint-Luc.

May 19, 2017 marks the 103rd Anniversary of the Greek Pontic Genocide by the Ottoman Turks. The Greek Pontic Genocide is one of the darkest moments in mankind’s history and one of the heinous crimes against humanity. Many believe this heinous crime was the precursor to the Holocaust committed by the Nazis
against Jews, Roma and other peoples during the Second World War. In 1914, the Ottoman government issued a decree to annihilate and systematically eliminate the Greek population from their ancestral and historic homeland of Pontus. The Greek Pontians had made their home in this region at least since the time of Homer around 800 8.C.

In the span of few years over 350,000 Greek Pontians were exterminated through systematic slaughter by government troops, deportations involving death marches, starvation in labour and concentration camps, rapes and individual killing. Entire Greek Pontian villages and cities were burned to the ground, while
thousands were forced to flee to the neighbouring countries with little or no provisions.

We, citizens of Canada and Cote Saint-Luc, must not forget this brutal and heinous crime against our Greek ancestors and humanity. We must commemorate and remember the genocide inflicted upon our ancestral brethren by the Ottoman Turks.

At the council meeting the following resolution was read aloud and adopted unanimously:

 

WHEREAS the denial of genocide is widely recognized as the final stage of genocide, enshrining impunity for the perpetrators of genocide, and demonstrably
paving the way for future genocides;

IT WAS RESOLVED:

“THAT the Côte Saint-Luc City Council hereby recognizes the Greek Pontic Genocide and further ratifies the proclamation of May 19, 2017 as the Greek Pontic Genocide Remembrance Day.”

Similar resolutions have been passed in the Cities of Toronto, Ottawa and Oshawa in Ontario, and the Boroughs of LaSalle and Villeray-Saint-Michel-Parc-Extension.

“The Côte Saint-Luc City Council decision is historic for the Hellenic community in Quebec. It serves as a reminder to all of us here in Quebec and in Canada, and to the generations to come, of this brutal and heinous crime against our Greek ancestors and humanity. The City of Côte Saint-Luc is yet another municipal government in Canada to recognise the Greek Pontic Genocide and to proclaim May 19th as its official remembrance day”, Dr. Halatsis added.

“The Canadian Hellenic Congress thanks Mitchell Brownstein, Côte Saint-Luc City Mayor, and the members of the City Council for taking this important and historic decision,” Dr. Halatsis said. 

 

New life breathed into decades-old dream of a Cavendish extension

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After many stalled attempts over the last 80 years, the city of Montreal once again appears to be taking steps to make the extension of Cavendish Blvd. a reality.

The extension of the roadway to link Côte-St-Luc to St-Laurent has been talked about since the 1940s, but a new housing development could provide an impetus to complete it.

On Monday, the city sent out a public notice that Finance Minister Carlos Leitão would hold a news conference that afternoon at City Hall with Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre and Côte-des-Neiges—Notre-Dame-de-Grâce borough mayor Russell Copeman about the land formerly occupied by the Blue Bonnets horse racing track (later called the Hippodrome). However, as is so often the case with the Cavendish extension, the news conference itself was postponed to another date, as Coderre was testifying before the Chamberland Commission looking into police spying into journalists and his testimony took longer than expected.

Snowdon councillor Marvin Rotrand said the city has been waiting since 2012 for the province to cede the land so it could build a project with at least 5,000 housing units on the 43.5-hectare property.

“The development of the Hippodrome site is part of the city’s plan to develop near heavy transit, and keep people from leaving the island for the suburbs,” Rotrand said.

Rotrand said because the area around Jean-Talon St. at Décarie Blvd is already heavily congested, the extension of Cavendish Blvd. is needed in order not to add more strain to the existing road network.

Rotrand expects a deal with the province to be announced shortly so it can come to a vote at the coming June city council meeting.

While the city and the province came to an agreement on ceding the land in 2012, the file has stalled, said Rotrand, who speculated it was because both levels of government had to iron out terms on the Cavendish extension.

“Part of the deal (with the province to cede the land) was that the city fund part of the Cavendish extension, but while it was put into the city’s capital budget, we never got matching funds from the province,” Rotrand said.

Also on Monday, the city of Côte-St-Luc planned a town hall meeting to answer the public’s questions about the project.

“The Cavendish extension is closer to reality now than ever before,” Côte-St-Luc city councillor Mike Cohen told the Montreal Gazette on Monday. “Once the city (of Montreal gets) that land, the extension will happen sooner than people think. It won’t be a pipe dream anymore.”

Cohen said progress has been made since Coderre announced his intention to go ahead with the project during the last election.

The city has been negotiating with the CN and CP railway companies to build overpasses over the tracks built along the proposed route. Cohen said those negotiations are going well, and he pointed out that the agglomeration council recently set aside $220,000 to conduct a feasibility of the extension.

Proposed for several decades by the Town of Mount Royal, the city of Montreal, and St-Laurent, the extension was held up because the city of Côte-St-Luc didn’t want to give access to thousands of cars to use it as an alternative to the Décarie Expressway.

However, more recent councils have seen the merit in extending the urban boulevard. In 2004, Robert Libman, who was then mayor of a merged Côte-St-Luc, got behind a project by the city to build an indirect link. It would have both ends of Cavendish extended to Royalmount Ave. on the border of Town of Mount Royal and Montreal. Cars would be diverted to the east-west Royalmount to continue their path north or south.

Cohen said Côte-St-Luc now sees an extended Cavendish as an essential link to the road network. It would allow residents to better access the central and western parts of the island, bring them closer to Namur métro station, and serve as a much-needed evacuation route for Côte-St-Luc, which is bordered by train tracks.

Montreal sees Cavendish as a gateway to economic development, as the new access road would be a boon for a $1.7-billion mega mall that developer Carbonleo hopes to build in T.M.R., near the Décarie Circle.

But there is still political opposition to the project. Jeremy Searle, the independent councillor for the Loyola district has said the project would add congestion, and essentially turn Cavendish into a highway.

Peter McQueen, the Project Montréal councillor for the Notre-Dame-de-Grâce sector, said he also fears congestion, but added the route could harm the local economy by diluting traffic from commercial arteries like Monkland Ave. and Queen Mary Rd.

He said the city should also try to add housing without adding cars.

“The need for Cavendish shows the fact the city wants to plan a fairly suburban-type development, similar to Bois-Franc in St-Laurent,” he said, adding that the project should be more oriented towards transit to the métro.

Rotrand countered that the Cavendish extension will reduce the number of cars using through traffic on the streets of Snowdon, because people from Côte-St-Luc, Hampstead and Notre-Dame-de-Grâce now drive through that neighbourhood to get to Décarie. He said the city can control for speed and congestion, by banning cars, or installing traffic lights, stop signs or other traffic-calming measures.

jmagder@postmedia.com

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See you in the big fire engine in the sky

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“See you in the big fire engine in the sky,” was an expression that Cote Saint-Luc firefighter (ret.) Michael Mosca used to share with Captain William Green, when they both served in the CSL Fire Department. “RIP Cap. You will surely be missed,” Mosca posted online.

Captain Green (1933-2017) passed away peacefully on May 27, 2017 at St. Anne’s Veterans Hospital. Born in Verdun, Bill Green, a larger than life character and a Korean War veteran, served as a Captain in the Cote St-Luc Fire Department as well as being a Fireman in the Westmount Fire Department in earlier years. Bill’s love for music, especially country-western, was well known as well as his wit and humour.

Bill started in the CSL FD back in 1968. Before that he served in the Westmount FD.

Howie Berry posted, “We served in the fire service together for over 30 years. Bill was my training officer who helped me reach the rank of captain,” Berry wrote. “Captain, you have rung your last alarm. RIP.”

Brian Vawer wrote, “I worked with Bill for 30 years and you couldn’t find a more fair man. A great Captain and a such a fun guy. We had so many laughs together.”

Donald Pelletier shared his memories: “Bill était aimé de tous et son côté farceur et joyeux sera assurément nous manquer à tous. Bon voyage Bill et bon courage aux proches.”

Former CSL Fire Chief Frank Albert posted the sad news on his Facebook page. Captain Green had started in the CSL FD months before Albert in ’68.

“When Bill Green started in Cote Saint-Luc (1968) he was only the 2nd “true” fire fighter on staff (besides Fire Director Ken Ryan and Deputy Jean-Marie Babeu. The other fire fighter was Paul Hudon, who was an ex-Montreal Fire Fighter. Ryan, who had worked with Bill in Westmount, hired him. Since, in those days, fire fighting duties were performed by Police officers, it was the practice, to assigned one specially trained officer to the fire duties at the station. This officer would be charged with not only the readiness of the fire truck, but also driving the truck to the fire and operating the truck at the fire. Bill brought a wealth of talent with him,” said Albert. 
“In 1970, when the MUC was formed, police stopped fire fighting, and the CSL FD was formed. Through a series of promotional exams, Bill was promoted to the rank Captain,” Frank Albert added. 

“Captain Green served the citizens of the City of Cote Saint-Luc for many years as both a Police officer and Fire Fighter. He was a decorated veteran of the Korean War as well as recipient of the Governor General’s Exemplary Service Medal, which was presented to him by Mayor Bernard Lang, and the members of Council,” Former Chief Albert concluded. 
Deepest condolences to the family of Captain Green. Thank you for sharing him with us in Cote Saint-Luc, his other family. His dedication and service will always be remembered.

CSL’s first librarian passes away

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Eleanor London, Côte St. Luc’s original librarian for the facility that is considered to be a jewel of the community and one of the best libraries in Canada, passed away last week at the age of 80, after a long illness.

Such was her impact on the library, originally opened in the Côte St. Luc Shopping Centre in 1966 and then moved to what is now the Bernard Lang Civic Centre, that the library was eventually named after her.

Sadly, while there was an elaborate celebration last year marking the 50th anniversary of the library, complete with tributes and musical performances, London was even then too ill to attend the ceremony.

Tributes poured in last week for London.

“When I moved to Côte St. Luc at the age of four, one of the first things my mom did was take me to the library where Eleanor would read books to us kids during story time,” said Mayor Mitchell Brownstein. “In 1990, when I was first elected to council, our relationship grew as Eleanor would tirelessly ensure her library remained the best. During the last couple of years, as her health was failing, we stayed in touch by phone and her love for the library was always foremost in her heart.

“Her love for community and excellence in customer service is a legacy that continues to shine and will remain for always, thanks to all she has done for our city,” the mayor added. “She will be dearly missed.”

Councillor Mike Cohen, in charge of the library portfolio on council, called London the “visionary behind the library we see today, open seven days a week and the envy of every other municipality in Quebec.

“Make no mistake about it, this library will always have the Eleanor London touch,” he added. “We are grateful for her invaluable contributions and extend our sympathies to her family.”

Cohen also revealed on his website that while there will be no funeral or shiva, the City of Côte St. Luc “will find an appropriate way to recognize her passing.”

Councillor Glenn Nashen, on his blog, wrote that London “never hesitated to speak out and give her opinion. That was Eleanor’s way. The flamboyant and dramatic tall woman with long flowing silvery hair was a giant not only in the library world but throughout the city. Her face was iconic and her name forever linked to our town.”

Nashen added that a memorial book is being placed in the library for members of the public to sign and that this will be presented to London’s family.

During last year’s 50th anniversary event, current library director Janine West said that “to make a public library great, you have to have a clear vision. And I have to thank Eleanor London for giving us her vision of a people’s library.”

I personally remember, during conversations with London in successive phone calls, she wavered back and forth for a period of time before revealing her final decision to retire — it must have been hard to let go.

London is survived by her daughter Mala and other family members.

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