Monday, June 14, 2010

The Past is Not A Foreign Country

Bit from 1969 Montreal Gazette, Rosemere Cagers Advance.

As if I didn't have enough to distract me from my novel in progress, Flo in the City, about a girl coming of age in the pivotal 1908-1913 era, based on the letters of, I have discovered that the Montreal Gazette archives are online at Google, entire newspapers from most of the 20th century.

I went straight to 1967, "the best year ever" Expo year, Centennial Year, to rediscover what I knew on some level, that it wasn't such a good year. It was an awful year globally. But when you are 12 years old and the Expo islands beckon...

My husband saved the Star and the Gazette from Expo's opening day, so I've looked at these recently.

It was also a terrific year for film, from what I can see. Not that most of the films playing were of any interest to a 12 year old. At least we had Hermann's Hermits and the Monkees.

I flitted around, entering this and that keyword, and about the only news about my high school, Rosemere, was about their wrestling and basketball teams (male). Good memories for me though. I enjoyed watching said wrestlers and said basketball players (can't imagine why). And in 1969, when they won the championship I recall having a good time cheering them on and at the victory party.

Hudson High, where my husband went to school, also had good wrestling and football teams.

With respect to 1967, Expo year, well, I enjoyed reading aloud to my son, who is 21, a story on the Mini Skirt and how Montreal had become a girl watchers paradise.

The article is in a tone that wouldn't be used now, too sexist sounding. My son was interested in seeing what passed for mini in those days. Nothing that would raise an eyebrow now on the street, although, as my son put it, a naked person would hardly raise an eyebrow.

I reminded my son that the trendsetting girls wearing these skirts were very young.

I found a bit about Leonard Cohen visiting the Youth Pavilion to read his poetry and talk about his travels. I read about the Queen's visit to Expo (my mother visited the Royal Yacht Britannia when she wasn't there and I put a bit about it in my play Looking For Mrs. Peel which is about 1967.) She told me the crew adored the Queen Mother but did not like Prince Philip. Hard to believe.

In a Gazette but a few years later, 69 there's a piece predicting that by 1980 the Monarchy will be out in Canada. So much for predications. Oh, and there's a piece about finding a stash of dynamite hoarded by the FLQ who they refer to as terrorists. I am surprised to see that.

Oh, and I took a trip to wartime to see if there were any mentions of the Ferry Command, where my father served. Plenty of them! I bet the Montreal Gazette had more articles on the Ferry Command than any other paper, as it was based in Montreal. I noticed that the Ferry Command was considered an important part of the war effort, 'as important as bombers' and that many planes went down, on just a bit away from Dorval.

Funny, as I wrote in my short essay on the Ferry Command at, little recognition was given to this service after the war. In fact, only recently were books written about it and a documentary made. I guess this is because no feature films, with, say John Wayne or whatever were made about it. Not much 'romance' in flying planes back and forth over the ocean. Oh.. one other article was of special interest. A group of US ferry commanders incorporated themselves in order to start an airline after the war. Trans Intercontinental or something. Good idea. I don't think it happened though.