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.

N

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.

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