D’Arcy McGee medal ceremony honours local activists, including my father, George

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MNA David Birnbaum and George Nashen, 2020 (GJ Nashen photo)

D’Arcy McGee Member of the National Assembly, David Birnbaum, recently honoured a WWII veteran, special needs champion and a community storefront and emergency food-delivery service with D’Arcy-McGee-National Assembly Citizenship medals.

The sixth annual D’Arcy-McGee-National Assembly Citizenship Medals competition took place online on June 16 and recognized “outstanding achievement in community involvement”. The honourees included my dad, George Nashen, in the name of surviving veterans of World War II and those who passed before them, Sima Paris, co-founder and President of the Friendship Circle, MultiCaf, a store-front community outreach and referral service in Snowdon-Côte-des-Neiges and David Lisbona, Côte St-Luc entrepreneur and initiator of an emergency food-delivery network for seniors during the current pandemic.

Over 100 people tuned in including Mount Royal Member of Parliament Anthony Housefather, Cote Saint-Luc Mayor Mitchell Brownstein, Hampstead Mayor William Steinberg, former local MNA and Minister of Revenue Lawrence Bergman as well as special guest presenter Lt. Gen. Romeo Dallaire (ret’d).

The event was started by Birnbaum in 2015 and about a dozen medals have been presented since. I was honoured with this medal in 2018.

This year’s honours went to:

Multi-Caf, a community agency that feeds 8000 people each week. They have 25 employees and 230 volunteers.

Tax attorney, investment advisor, town councillor and community activist David Lisbona for the Nellie Philanthropic Foundation that has delivered 2000 grocery orders to seniors across Cote Saint-Luc and the West End. David’s partners in this benevolent venture are Melissa Margles, Pam Kujavsky and Cllr. Mitch Kujavsky.

Sima Paris for the Friendship Circle which ensures kids with special needs are accepted, appreciated and flourish.

Lt. Gen. Roméo Dallaire (ret’d) delivered a brief address and introduced my dad, George, who turns 97 years old tomorrow. Dallaire was the United Nations Force Commander during the 1994 mission to Rwanda. Dallaire has written about his experience during the genocide in several books including his courageous account, Shake Hands with the Devil. He subsequently was appointed to the Senate of Canada. Currently, he runs his foundation to inspire kids from underprivileged backgrounds to develop leadership skills.

Dallaire said that in the context of the pandemic, “We are at war! We feel the dread of making a mistake and causing casualties.”  He emphasized the important link between young and old in terms of keeping our elders safe.

In introducing my father, Dallaire said “You permitted peace to reign. You are one of our greatest elders. Well done sir. I salute you. The medal is well deserved.”

Wow! What a great honour.

You can watch the entire ceremony below or advance to Dallaire’s remarks at 30:45 or jump directly to my father’s comments at 44:45.

MP Anthony Housefather thanked Dallaire for his remarks and to my father added, “George, you’re a force of nature. Nobody would know you’ll be 97 with your adeptness of technology.”

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Lt. Gen. Roméo Dallaire (ret’d) to speak at D’Arcy McGee medal ceremony

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Birnbaum to honour WWII veteran, special needs champion, CDN community storefront and emergency food-delivery hero with D’Arcy-McGee-National Assembly Citizenship medals
David Birnbaum, MNA for D’Arcy-McGee, recently announced the winners of the sixth annual D’Arcy-McGee-National Assembly Citizenship Medals competition. A public ceremony in their honour will be held, virtually, on Tuesday, June 16th at 7 p.m. Three individuals and one organization will be recognized for “outstanding achievement in community involvement”. They are George Nashen, 96, in the name of surviving veterans of World War II and those who passed before them, Sima Paris, co-founder and President of the Friendship Circle, MultiCaf, a store-front community outreach and referral service in Snowdon-Côte-des-Neiges and David Lisbona, Côte St-Luc entrepreneur and initiator of an emergency food-delivery network for seniors during the current pandemic.
“This has been an unprecedented and trying time for all us but it has also brought out the very best in so many individuals and organizations in this riding,” said D’Arcy-McGee MNA David Birnbaum. He initiated this citizen-medal program soon after his first election in April 2014. “While the crisis around us is far from over, I think it is always the right time to recognize those who inspire us to do more and do better by our fellow citizens. Even if we can only celebrate this event virtually this year, I do hope it will lift us up at this very tough time. ”
Lt. Gen. Roméo Dallaire (ret’d) has kindly agreed to deliver a brief address to the Zoom gathering. His own harrowing and heroic experience during the Rwandan genocide, and his outreach efforts since retirement have made him a sought-after public speaker. His Roméo Dallaire Foundation works to inspire young people from underprivileged backgrounds to develop their leadership potential. In appreciation of Mr. Dallaire’s participation, David Birnbaum’s office has made a donation of $1,000 to the Foundation.
The medals ceremony, on Tuesday, June 16th at 7 p.m. will be held by Zoom. Here is the necessary information to join:
Meeting ID: 959 6544 8337
Meeting Password: 466851
Please contact Birnbaum’s office (514-488-7028 or david.birnbaum.dmg@assnat.qc.ca) should you require further details.
Please join me in honouring my father by tuning in on June 16 at 7PM and leaving a message on this blog post. Thank you.
-Glenn

2019_Nashen_Birnbaum

MNA David Birnbaum and George Nashen (Photo: GJ Nashen 2019)

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CSL WWII vet, 96, to receive National Assembly medal

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CSL WWII vet, 96, to receive National Assembly medal
D’Arcy McGee MNA David Birnbaum and World War II veteran George Nashen.
Photo courtesy David Birnbaum’s office

D’Arcy McGee MNA David Birnbaum will be honouring Côte St. Luc resident George Nashen, 96, with the National Assembly Medal at the annual D’Arcy McGee Citizenship Medal ceremony June 1, Birnbaum’s office announced.

The MNA’s office stated that Nashen, the father of former CSL councillor Glenn Nashen, will be honoured “in the name of all of those men and women who served the cause of freedom in that most pivotal and tragic conflict of the 20th century.” The medal becomes part of the permanent National Assembly record.

“It struck me at our last Remembrance Day ceremonies in the riding how sadly close we are to a time when no first-hand witnesses to World War II will be with us to remember, or to be honoured for their sacrifice, courage and legacy in saving our fundamental freedoms, here in Quebec, in all of Canada and around the world,” Birnbaum explained. “Furthermore, this riding that I serve is home to one of the highest numbers of Holocaust survivors and their families in Canada. The obligation of remembrance is deeply felt here, and this medal is one further way of expressing that obligation.”

Nashen, a long-time community volunteer and former clothing manufacturer, was a Royal Canadian Air Force Sergeant during World War II.

“I was 19 when I enlisted,” the veteran explained, “and I wasn’t that worldly. I didn’t understand much about politics. By 1938, with the rise of Hitler, the terrible threat to the free world started to become clear. I thought, I have to go over.”

Nashen added that it is important for young people to “learn about the atrocities and the sacrifices of World War II. Do they really know the seriousness of war, the feeling of daily life, when you get issued a helmet and a gas mask to make sure you survive the day?… The freedoms we take for granted today, were in peril back then. That should never be forgotten.”

Nashen stated that while he appreciates the medal recognition,he would “only accept the honour in the name of all of those veterans, still with us and those departed, who served in World War II.”

joel@thesuburban.com

WWII Vet George Nashen to be honoured by National Assembly

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By CJN Staff – January 13, 2020 

Second World War veteran George Nashen, right, poses for a picture with D’Arcy-McGee MNA David Birnbaum.

Second World War veteran George Nashen, 96, will receive a special national assembly medal from David Birnbaum, the MNA for the riding of D’Arcy-McGee, at a ceremony in June.

Nashen will be honoured in the name of all of the men and women who served the cause of freedom in that conflict. Nashen, who lives in Côte-St-Luc, Que., is one of the few surviving Jewish-Canadian war veterans.

In announcing the move, Birnbaum explained that he wanted recognize the contribution of our Second World War veterans while it was still possible. “It struck me at our last Remembrance Day ceremonies in the riding how sadly close we are to a time when no first-hand witnesses to the Second World War will be with us to remember, or to be honoured for their sacrifice, courage and legacy in saving our fundamental freedoms here in Quebec, in all of Canada and around the world,” he said.

“Furthermore, this riding that I serve is home to one of the highest number of Holocaust survivors and their families in Canada. The obligation of remembrance is deeply felt here and this medal is one further way of expressing that obligation.”

George Nashen in 1944.

Nashen is a long-time community volunteer and former clothing manufacturer who held the rank of sergeant in the Royal Canadian Air Force. During the war, Nashen lost a number of dear friends and has always made it his duty to share his experience, particularly with young people.

“I was 19 when I enlisted,” said Nashen, a Baron Byng High School graduate, “and I wasn’t that worldly. I didn’t understand much about politics. By 1938, with the rise of Hitler, the terrible threat to the free world started to become clear. I thought, I have to go over.…

“It’s important for young people to learn about the atrocities and the sacrifices of the Second World War. Do they really know the seriousness of war, the feeling of daily life, when you get issued a helmet and a gas mask to make sure you survive the day?”

In 1943, Nashen was stationed in London. “I went over on the Queen Mary,” he recalled. “We were 26,000 enlisted men and women; the ship normally carried only 2,000.

“It was a humbling and scary few years. I remember the rumbling of incoming and outgoing bombers overhead, every night in London. The stakes were enormous, and the freedoms we take for granted today were in peril back then. That should never be forgotten.”

Nashen expressed his appreciation for the medal, but stressed that he would only accept the honour in the name of all the veterans.

Each spring, Birnbaum bestows three D’Arcy-McGee national assembly citizenship medals upon individuals chosen for their community contributions by a three-member jury. Nashen will formally receive his medal at that ceremony, which will be held on June 1. The names of all the medal winners become part of the permanent national assembly record and are noted in perpetuity on its official website.

Canadian Jewish News

A Day to Remember

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Three generations marking Remembrance Day 2019: George, Glenn and Jeremy Nashen

Each year, on Remembrance Day, our family takes time out to pay tribute to the members of the Canadian Armed Forces who served in wars, conflicts, peacekeeping missions and here at home. We remember those who fell in action and who were injured. We think of those who continue to serve and we acknowledge the hardship for their families.

Closer to home, my family pays tribute to my father, George Nashen, for his service as a Sargent in the Royal Canadian Air Force during WWII.

This year we attended the Cote Saint-Luc ceremony held last Friday in City Hall. While the number of WWII veterans sadly diminishes each year we were fortunate to be with my dad, as one of only three veterans in the capacity crowd.

George Nashen surrounded by mayors, councillors, MNA, MP, clergy and emergency responders as school children look on

Mayor Mitchell Brownstein honoured the attending veterans, Alan Ruben, former City Councillor Isadore Goldberg and my father, George. The Mayor produced a video highlighting their contributions to Canada. Below you can watch the portion about my father.

 

There were three main pillars to this year’s events: the children, the wreath laying and the speeches.

Four elementary schools (JPPS, Hebrew Academy, Ecole de la Monde and Merton School) and two high schools (Bialik and John Grant) participated. The children recited poems, including In Flanders Field, and sang songs, such as The White Cliffs of Dover, in four languages. It was an impressive showing of the next generation and was reassuring that the fading memories of long ago sacrifices would still be remembered.

Wreaths were deposited by the politicians, emergency services, volunteer and community organizations, students and the staff of the city. One moving episode had three generations of the Reichson family including former CSL Public Safety Director Jordy Reichson, along with his father and daughter, laying a wreath in memory of his grandfather while holding his shining service medal from WWII and his photo.

The speeches were poignant and emotional. Mayor Brownstein spoke about educating the next generation and how the CSL Dramatic Society fulfilled an important mission in presenting the Broadway smash hit, Cabaret, earlier this year. The musical exposed the troubling times emerging in Germany as the country, and Europe descended into despair and chaos.

Mount Royal MP Anthony Housefather gave a stirring speech about the veterans who returned to Canada and built our community. With his voice cracking with emotion, Housefather highlighted the veterans’ contributions and participation in civic life and noted that this spirit has endured and has made Cote Saint-Luc a volunteer-rich community with residents passionate about being involved.

Polioce Station 9 Commander Luis Olivera lays a wreath, accompanied by vCOP Susie Schwartz

D’Arcy McGee MNA David Birnbaum was solemn and retrospective and in his typical eloquence and charm marveled at the passing of the torch down through the generations.

The speeches were heartfelt and meaningful. I am grateful to our Mayor, MP and MNA for singling out my father as an example for the next generations.

MNA David Birnbaum, Cllr. Dida Berku, Fmr. Cllr Isadore Goldberg, Mayor Mitchell Brownstein, Mayor William Steinberg, MP Anthony Housefather and George Nashen

A minute of silence in memory of those who gave the ultimate sacrifice serving in the Canadian Armed Forces

George’s Story

 

Sergeant George Nashen, Royal Canadian Air Force, 1944

George Nashen, 96, 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)

N

More:

Mount Royal Member of Parliament Anthony Housefather’s speech

Councillor Mike Cohen’s blog

 

100 Years of Remembrance and Saluting my dad for his service

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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)

 

 

More:

A day of remembrance, honour and appreciation in CSL

In tribute to my father, the soldier

Councillor Mike Cohen’s blog

The JGH Remembers

Town Remembers Nashens

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

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NASH SHIRT – ST. LEONARD D’ASTON – NOV. 29, 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

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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.

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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

#CanadaRemembers

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wewillremember

We are so fortunate to still have many veterans with us and honoured to be able to mark Remembrance Day and VE Day commemorations with them. Veterans Park in Cote Saint-Luc has been a gathering spot to remember and to honour those who served and the memory of those who made the ultimate sacrifice so that we could live in such a wonderful country and in a free and democratic society.

Sergeant George Nashen, Royal Canadian Air Force, 1944

Sergeant George Nashen, Royal Canadian Air Force, 1944

My father, George Nashen, served in the Royal Canadian Air Force and was stationed at RCAF Overseas Headquarters in London, England for nearly three years during WWII. Luckily, he was not called up to the front lines but his buddies were.

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

Le parc des Vétérans, une parcelle de terrain située juste derrière l’hôtel de ville et la bibliothèque, se prête particulièrement bien aux activités du jour de la Victoire en Europe et du jour du Souvenir. Nous sommes vraiment chanceux d’avoir encore avec nous autant d’anciens combattants et de pouvoir marquer ces occasions en leur compagnie.

Mon père, George Nashen, a servi dans l’Aviation royale canadienne et a été affecté au Quartier général à Londres, en Angleterre, pendant près de trois ans au cours de la Deuxième Guerre mondiale. Heureusement, il n’a pas été appelé en première ligne, mais ses copains étaient.

Mon père a perdu son meilleure amie dans la bataille. “Jay Singer était comme un frère pour moi», mon père raconte. “Jay et moi étions inséparables depuis la maternelle jusqu’à Baron Byng High School. Jay était un pilote des forces aérien à partir de l’âge de 19 ans. Son avion a disparu tout en jetant des mines dans la mer Baltique le 15 Juin 1944. Jay était juste 22 de ans lorsqu’il est mort en service. Je ne l’oublierai jamais.”

 

Each year, I ask my father to take out his medals and his beret and to teach my kids about what it meant to serve Canada as a soldier.  They listen in amazement at his stories, at what must sound like a very strange concept, as they reflect on their lives in the best country to live in, Canada.

Remembrance Day ceremony at the Jewish General Hospital (2014)

I salute my dad, today, Remembrance Day, once again.  His bravery and commitment 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.  We’re proud of his accomplishments and grateful to have him, and my mother, as our bridge between our past and our future.

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

More:

A day of remembrance, honour and appreciation in CSL

In tribute to my father, the soldier

Councillor Mike Cohen’s blog

The JGH Remembers

We Will Remember Them. Nous Nous Souviendrons D’eux.

2 Comments

wewillremember

We are so fortunate to still have many veterans with us and honoured to be able to mark Remembrance Day with them. We honour those who served and the memory of those who made the ultimate sacrifice so that we could live in such a wonderful country and in a free and democratic society.

Sergeant George Nashen, Royal Canadian Air Force, 1944

Sergeant George Nashen, Royal Canadian Air Force, 1944

My father, George Nashen, served in the Royal Canadian Air Force and was stationed at RCAF Overseas Headquarters in London, England for nearly three years during WWII. Luckily, he was not called up to the front lines but his buddies were.

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

Le parc des Vétérans, une parcelle de terrain située juste derrière l’hôtel de ville et la bibliothèque, se prête particulièrement bien aux activités du jour de la Victoire en Europe et du jour du Souvenir. Nous sommes vraiment chanceux d’avoir encore avec nous autant d’anciens combattants et de pouvoir marquer ces occasions en leur compagnie.

Remembrance Day ceremony at the Jewish General Hospital

Remembrance Day ceremony at the Jewish General Hospital 2014

Mon père, George Nashen, a servi dans l’Aviation royale canadienne et a été affecté au Quartier général à Londres, en Angleterre, pendant près de trois ans au cours de la Deuxième Guerre mondiale. Heureusement, il n’a pas été appelé en première ligne, mais ses copains étaient.

Mon père a perdu son meilleure amie dans la bataille. “Jay Singer était comme un frère pour moi», mon père raconte. “Jay et moi étions inséparables depuis la maternelle jusqu’à Baron Byng High School. Jay était un pilote des forces aérien à partir de l’âge de 19 ans. Son avion a disparu tout en jetant des mines dans la mer Baltique le 15 Juin 1944. Jay était juste 22 de ans lorsqu’il est mort en service. Je ne l’oublierai jamais.”

My father will once again fall in as the bugle sounds today at 11:00AM in Veteran’s Park in Cote Saint-Luc. At 93 years young, full of energy and spirit, brimming with memories and hope for the future he is a shining example for the younger generations of those who served. Together with my mom, at 88, they continue to inspire with their open and positive outlook. May they continue to do so in good health for many years to come.

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

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

I salute all those who served, past and present. They brought honour to Canada that has lasted for 100 years or more. And they continue to make this country a very special place, the best place to live in the world.

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).

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).

WWII veterans of Royal Canadian Legion Branch 97 with MP Anthony Housefather, MNA David Birnbaum, Mayor Mitchell Brownstein and Members of Council. My father, George Nashen, fourth from left. (Photo Darryl Levine, CSL).

WWII veterans of Royal Canadian Legion Branch 97 with MP Anthony Housefather, MNA David Birnbaum, Mayor Mitchell Brownstein and Members of Council at the Cote Saint-Luc cenotaph on Remembrance Day 2016. My father, George Nashen, fourth from left. (Photo Darryl Levine, CSL).

 

 

We will remember them. Nous nous souviendrons d’eux.

 

More:

A day of remembrance, honour and appreciation in CSL

In tribute to my father, the soldier

Councillor Mike Cohen’s blog

The JGH Remembers

CSL Men’s Club Gala – A Lively Celebration

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The men range in age from their 60s to well into their 90s but you’d think they were all in their 20s the way they partied at last night’s annual gala dinner-dance at the Gelber Centre. President Sydney Kronish served as emcee along with funny-man Manny Young and chairman Joe Presser. The ballroom was packed to capacity with hundreds of members along with their spouses and significant others. The dance floor was filled to capacity and guests filled every corner of the hall in dance and merriment.

Mens Club President Sydney Kronish flanked by Member of Parliament Anthony Housefather, Member of the National Assembly David Birnbaum, Mayor Mitchell Brownstein and Members of Council and spouses

Men’s Club President Sydney Kronish flanked by Member of Parliament Anthony Housefather, Member of the National Assembly David Birnbaum, Mayor Mitchell Brownstein and Members of Council and spouses

 

The joy of the evening was punctuated by the very sad and sudden passing of club VP Bill Surkis. Bill was slated to be presented with the Man of the Year award for his great efforts in the organization. Having passed away suddenly just one week ago, his brother and members of the family attended to receive his award and support and encouragement from the 500 member club. Bill will be missed by his many friends in the club and by the city.

With Bernie and Cookie Band

With Bernie and Cookie Band

Mayor Mitchell Brownstein addressed the crowd and said, “We cannot change the past and cannot predict the future. So enjoy every moment in the present, in celebration and in good health.”

MP Anthony Housefather is a very familiar face to the members and needed no introduction whatsoever. In his usual good cheer he congratulated the leadership and its members for building a remarkable organization and incredible community. “I was honoured to recognize the hard work and dedication of the Cote Saint-Luc Men’s Club in the House of Commons when 110 members and their partners came to Parliament Hill.”

MNA David Birnbaum’s declaration in the National Assembly on the occasion of the 29th anniversary of the Men’s Club was read aloud and he announced that he is working on getting his “chef”, the premier, to come and address the group.

Men's Club members, many of whom are also from volunteer Citizens on Patrol

Men’s Club members, many of whom are also from volunteer Citizens on Patrol

 

Artist Phil Kurtz, a member of the organization who previously donated an oil painting depicting 150 faces from the Men’s Club and their spouses offered up another one of his works that he painted specifically for the occasion. He described the abstract oil painting as one depicting the active participation, creativity and building of community by his fellow members.

Painting presented to the Men's Club at the 2016 gala by artist and meber Phil Kurtz

Painting presented to the Men’s Club at the 2016 gala by artist and member Phil Kurtz

 

Certificates were handed out to all the 90 year olds, door prizes of golf foursomes were given out and special awards were presented to those members who have given much time and energy.

Former MNA Lawrence Bergman was in attendance with Vivian Konigsberg.

Kudos to President Sydney Kronish and his executive on a sensational evening and a unique and exemplary organization that is active all year long, even down south over the winter. Their Thursday breakfast speakers see upwards of 200-300 in attendance. Day trips around Montreal are generally sold out. Theatre evenings are very popular. I was amazed at seeing over 200 members when I was the guest speaker for their winter luncheon in South Florida a couple years back.

To 120, gentlemen!

At the 2016 Men's Club Gala with President Sydney Kronish and my dad, George Nashen

At the 2016 Men’s Club Gala with President Sydney Kronish and my dad, George Nashen (looking good at 93!)

CSL marks Victory in Europe Day with pomp and ceremony

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Daily Mail front page 8th May 1945. Headline 'VE-Day- It's All Over

Daily Mail front page 8th May 1945. Headline ‘VE-Day- It’s All Over

On this appropriately dreary, drizzly Sunday afternoon, the City of Cote Saint-Luc commemorated V-E Day at City Hall. The ceremony was held in a jam-packed Council Chamber as veterans and family members joined local dignitaries and residents to pay tribute to the veterans of WWII, as well as the Korean War and other conflicts that the Canadian Armed Forces participated in such as in Bosnia and Afghanistan. Also, recognized were the victims of the Holocaust as well as the survivors.

WWII veterans at CSL City Hall, including Eddy Wolkove (seated left), Allan Rubin (seated right), former cllr. Isadore Goldberg and George Nashen

WWII veterans at CSL City Hall, including Eddy Wolkove (seated left), Allan Rubin (seated right), former cllr. Isadore Goldberg and George Nashen

CSL Public Safety Director Jordy Reichson ably served as master of ceremonies. Frederick Kisch Branch 97 of the Royal Canadian Legion local president Frank Levine read the ceremonial poem, “At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, We Will Remember Them”. Wreaths were laid by all level of government as well as by representatives of the US, the Netherlands and Israel.

Veterans of WWII are joined by municipal, provincial and federal representatives along with consuls of the US, the Netherlands and Israel

Veterans of WWII are joined by municipal, provincial and federal representatives along with consuls of the US, the Netherlands and Israel

This was Anthony Housefather’s first VE Day commemoration in his capacity as Member of Parliament. He delivered his signature passionate and emotional address gripping the audience, once again without any prepared text. “On behalf of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the Government of Canada, and in my own name, I think you, veterans, for your sacrifice and for your service, for returning home and for building a great nation and this wonderful City of Cote Saint-Luc,” he said to applause.

Honour Guard Flag Bearers representing CSL EMS, vCOP and the Royal Canadian Legion

Honour Guard Flag Bearers representing CSL EMS, vCOP and the Royal Canadian Legion

Also in his first major public event appearance was newly minted Mayor Mitchell Brownstein. Impressively, he followed in his predecessor’s very large footsteps by addressing the audience with eloquence and passion, again with nary a note in sight. “You have built our wonderful city, you have volunteered and you have given so much of yourselves,” the mayor said. “This is our moment to thank each of you, to recognize your important contributions.”

V-E Day commemoration 2016

V-E Day commemoration 2016

D’Arcy McGee MNA David Birnbaum, an articulate and skilled public orator, echoed the sentiment of offering thanks to the veterans, an important and much revered constituency in his provincial riding. Michael Polak, Honourary Consul General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, and a self-described “son of Cote Saint-Luc”, pointed out that the reason we have four generations of Cote Saint-Lucers, ample volunteers, a high level of local services and beautiful homes is because of the veterans who returned from the war to build the community with great pride.

The 306 Maple Leaf Wing Concert Band belted out military bugle calls and music of that era, along with the national anthem.

Four generations: Survivor Ilse Zilversmith, Cllr. Ruth Kovac, Debbie Kovac and Nicole and Danielle Jutras lay a memorial wreath for victims of the Holocaust

Four generations: Survivor Ilse Zilversmit, Cllr. Ruth Kovac, Debbie Kovac and Nicole and Danielle Jutras lay a memorial wreath for victims of the Holocaust

While the number of veterans sadly continues to dwindle I once again pay tribute to my own father, George Nashen, who was in attendance today in full regalia. A sharp and spry 92 years young, my father  fluttered around the room as he might have done back in the days in service uniform, joking with his buddies and hobnobbing with dignitaries, all of whom know him by first name, as he does theirs.

Montreal Police Station 9 Commander Jean O'Malley deposits a wreath

Montreal Police Station 9 Commander Jean O’Malley deposits a wreath

As a graduate of Baron Byng High School in 1939, he joined the rush to enlist in the Canadian Armed Forces together with so many classmates including, Joel Gertel, Jay Singer, Lenny Keller, Saul Finesilver, and Eddy Wolkove. After basic training at Toronto Exhibition Grounds for six weeks at the age of 19 he was posted to Rockliffe Airport just outside of Ottawa. Much to his surprise, he failed Air Crew in the Canadian Armed Forces due to a previously unknown colour blindness. Therefore, he served in accounting, his intended profession, having previously worked for Richter for  3 1/2 years out of high school.

After a six month stint at Rockliffe he boarded a train for Halifax to meet up with servicemen from across Canada. An unimaginable 26,000 troops crammed aboard the HMS Queen Mary, built to comfortably hold about 2,000 tourist passengers. The Queen Mary could out-speed all the German U-boats so no escort was necessary unlike most ships traversing the ocean.

Posted to Linton in Yorkshire for a short two weeks he was then transferred to London where he served in the United Kingdom Base Accounting Unit at Harrods of London.

Three generations of CSLers: Cllr. Glenn J. Nashen, RCAF Veteran George Nashen and Jeremy Nashen

Three generations of CSLers: Cllr. Glenn J. Nashen, RCAF Veteran George Nashen and Jeremy Nashen

My father’s duties in the RCAF from 1943-1946 included handling pay for all RCAF servicemen and women stationed across Europe and Africa.  And while he would endure persistent bombardments, blackouts, rationing and the daily fear of war as did the common Londoner, his buddies would not be so fortunate as many never returned. Such was the case for Joel Gertel and Jay Singer, childhood friends, killed in action.

Veterans George Nashen and Allan Rubin along with Mayor Mitchell Brwonstein, MNA David Birnbaum and MP Anthony Housefather. Also with CSL Men's Club President Sydney Kronish.

Veterans George Nashen and Allan Rubin along with Mayor Mitchell Brownstein, MNA David Birnbaum and MP Anthony Housefather. Also with CSL Men’s Club President Sydney Kronish.

My father recalls V-E Day, May 8, 1945 with acuity. He was outside Buckingham Palace with tens of thousands of troops and civilians celebrating the end of the war. He stayed on in London until April 1946 in order to handle the accounting of all those slowly being repatriated to Canada.

Sergeant George Nashen, Royal Canadian Air Force, 1944

Sergeant George Nashen, Royal Canadian Air Force, 1944

So as we commemorate the 71st anniversary of V-E Day, today’s ceremony, and the stories we learn, serve as a reminder to offer thanks and appreciation to our veterans for enabling the following generations to live in peace in one of the best places to live anywhere in the world.

 

Cllr. Allan J. Levine and Branch 97 President Frank Levine

Cllr. Allan J. Levine and Branch 97 President Frank Levine

 

Fekllow Dutchmen: Cllr. Ruth Kovac and Hon. Consul Micahel Polack

Fellow Dutchmen: Cllr. Ruth Kovac and Hon. Consul Michael Polak

 

Celebrating US relations: NY born Franci Nashen, Cambridge, Mass. born Phyllis Nashen, Cllr. Glenn J. Nashen and US Consul Mary Eileen Earl

Celebrating US relations: NY born Franci Nashen, Cambridge, Mass. born Phyllis Nashen, Cllr. Glenn J. Nashen and US Consul Mary Eileen Earl

 

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Read more on Cllr. Mike Cohen’s blog.

My debut at the CSL Golf Classic

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Quite the foursome: Sam Goldbloom, George and Glenn J. Nashen and Mike Cohen

Quite the foursome: Sam Goldbloom, George and Glenn J. Nashen and Mike Cohen

What a great day to become a golfer! A record 104 people teed off at the 36th annual Côte Saint-Luc Golf Classic this morning at the Meadowbrook Golf Course. Not only was it my first time out for a game of golf  but it was also my first time at Meadowbrook, which I have advocated to preserve for more than 25 years. And best of all, I was joined by my dad to coach me along.
The format of play was called “Scramble” which helps speed up the game as players decide which golfer hits the best shot off the tee and then all players from that foursome play their next shot from that point. Play continues from hole to hole in the same fashion for the rest of the outing.

George Nashen giving tips on swinging and posture

George Nashen giving tips on swinging and posture

With tips and advice that even Tiger Woods would have benefited from, my 92-year-old father and veteran golfer, George Nashen, quickly upped my game from rank amateur to rookie superstar.
Unbelievably, I had the longest drive on four of nine holes compared to my friendly foursome including event co-chairs Mike Cohen and Sam Goldbloom along with my fatherly coach. I attribute my rookie success to decades of practice at mini-golf and playing Wii Sports with my kids. Or perhaps it was just beginners luck. In any case it was great fun.

Mike Cohen keeps his eye on the ball

Mike Cohen keeps his eye on the ball

What’s more, I was completely awestruck at the sheer beauty and grandeur of Meadowbrook. Finally, standing among century old trees, seeing the sprawling expanse of the fairways and amused by the three groundhogs that plowed their way across the course I was proud to have, at long last, validated my position in advocating the preservation of this priceless gift of nature in the heart of our city. It must stay green forever!

Meadowbrook is nothing short of an oasis that must remain green in perpetuity

Meadowbrook is nothing short of an oasis that must remain green in perpetuity

The golf outing was followed by an awards banquet honouring long-time volunteer Ron Yarin at the Aquatic and Community Centre.
Sam Eltes, president of Silver Star Mercedes-Benz, sponsored a hole-in-one contest. If someone achieved this feat they would have driven away in a brand new Mercedes-Benz. While my hopes were high, I fell embarrassingly short of the prize and will practice on my Wii for next time.

Not even a veteran golfer like George Nashen was able to snatch the top prize Mercedez... this year.

Not even a veteran golfer like George Nashen was able to snatch the top prize Mercedez… this year.

Many thanks go to the title sponsor, Freemark Apparel Brands and its Bench brand. Mark Routtenberg, president of Freemark  and former co-owner of the Montreal Expos, served as honourary chairperson for this year’s event. Routtenberg, who raised his family in Côte Saint-Luc, was the guest speaker at the luncheon and spoke about the Expos and the possibilities surrounding the return of baseball to Montreal.
“Montreal can definitely support Major League Baseball,” Routtenberg said at the banquet. “We have the taste for it.”
Honouree Ron Yarin was, and is, a huge baseball fan and those paying tribute referred to his life-long passion for the sport.

Ron Yarin was presented with a birthday cake sculpted as  Ebbets Field in NY

Ron Yarin was presented with a birthday cake sculpted as Ebbets Field in NY

Marty Labow, Yarin’s friend for 37 years called him (in Yiddish)” A Gute Neshoma,” literally,  A Good Soul. Both are also members of Cote Saint-Luc volunteer Citizens on Patrol. “We’d patrol from six in the morning till nine, then golf until noon,” Labow said. “When we didn’t feel like patrolling at six, we’d golf early in the morning and patrol afterwards.”

vCOP and volunteer superstar Ron Yarin

vCOP and volunteer superstar Ron Yarin

Harold Cammy is a longtime friend. “I looked up the definition of a ‘Mensch’ last week and I saw two words: Ron Yarin.”
Mayor Anthony Housefather said of Yarin, “He encompasses what Cote Saint-Luc is all about. Volunteerism, compassion, kindness and civic duty.”
Communications Director Darryl Levine produced a collage of photos and video in tribute to Yarin. “I was moved to tears,” said Councillor Mitchell Brownstein.
Speaking about the possibilities of Major League Baseball returning to Montreal, legendary sportscaster Dick Irvin asked Routtenberg, “Do we need a new stadium or can we get by with the old one?”
Routtenberg responded, “If they fix up the stadium and replace the roof it can work. It’s not the ideal site but in today’s economy we can save $400,000 this way.”
Rabbi Sidney Shoham attended to pay tribute to his old friend Yarin as well. “When the Beth Zion was just built in 1956 we played baseball in Westminster park, just in front of the shul,” the rabbi recounted. “Our team was named Westminster Homes.”

Beth Zion "Old-Timers" George Nashen and Rabbi Sydney Shoham

Beth Zion “Old-Timers” George Nashen and Rabbi Sydney Shoham

Other local personalities participating in the annual outing and luncheon included Police Commander Marc Cournoyer and his predecessor at Station 9, Sylvain Bissonnette. Even Montreal Police Mascot Flick was out on the links, with police escort by Sargent Bryan Cunningham. Jazz great and Cote Saint-Lucer Oliver Jones was there as was Mayor Anthony Housefather and the City Council.

Police mascot Flick with his trusty sidekick Sargent Bryan Cunningham conduct a golfers ID check on George and Glenn J. Nashen

Police mascot Flick with his trusty sidekick Sargent Bryan Cunningham conduct a golfers ID check on George and Glenn J. Nashen

I thank my good friend Mike Cohen for being persistent in inviting me out to golf course for the last ten years. His nudging finally paid off. Thanks to his co-chair, my friend and old neighbour on Cork Avenue, Sam Goldbloom as well. The two, along with Recreation stalwarts Harold Cammy, Alvin Fishman and the energetic staff and volunteers of the entire department put on a great event. I’m already looking forward to my next game, next year!

CSL Golf Classic co-chairs Mike Cohen and Sam Goldbloom relaxing after a brutal 9 holes!

CSL Golf Classic co-chairs Mike Cohen and Sam Goldbloom relaxing after a brutal 9 holes!

Baron Byng class of ’39 hopes 75th reunion sets record

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Several students from Baron Byng’s class of 1939 eventually settled in Cote Saint-Luc in the late 50s and early 60s. They became the pioneers of modern CSL following their return from service in the Canadian Armed Forces.

Read about two of them, Eddie Wolkove and my father, George Nashen in this article from the Canadian Jewish News:  2014-11-13 CJN Baron Byng.

The fabled Baron Byng class of ’39 included such notables such as Mortimor “Michael” Fainstadt, City Councillor in the Jean Drapeau administration, Eddie Wolkove and Mel Dobrin of the Steinberg grocery chain empire.

Sollie Goldfarb hosted many reunions at his country estate in Plantagenet, Ontario.

My father’s closest friend, Jacob Singer, went MIA while laying mines in the North Sea in 1944.

Sylvia Bercovitch is a noted Montreal artist.

My father recounts that the favorite teacher of the class was Mr. R.A. Patterson. “He was the nicest person.”

And what was the favourite school yard pastime according to my dad? “Chasing girls!”

“All my classmates lived close by and walked to school,” my father recounts.  The school building still stands at 4251 St. Urbain St.

Baron Byng High School is notable because it had a virtual who’s who of Canada’s academic, arts, business and political leaders. It has been immortalized in many books, including many by Mordecai Richler.

It was named after Julian Hedworth George Byng, 1st Viscount Byng of Vimy, the Governor General of Canadafrom 1921 to 1926. Byng was a World War I hero at the battle of Vimy Ridge, an important battle that many historians, like Pierre Berton, believe formed Canada’s national character. Byng was also involved in a political scandal dealing with the succession of the Canadian Government, the King-Byng Affair in 1926.

From the 1920s through the 1950s, the school predominantly catered to Montreal’s lower-income Jewish population. From the 1980s onwards, the building is the home of the non-profit community organization Sun Youth (Jeunesse au soleil)

CJN Article about 65th Class reunion

Canadian Jewish News | Nov. 17, 2011 | Click to enlarge

Canadian Jewish News | Nov. 17, 2011 | Click to enlarge

 

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