Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Montreal Sucks! 1913

The site of the former N D G Library for Boys and Girls where I took out King of The Wind by Marguerite Henry 1000 times in the 1960's. And The Black Stallion, and Wind in the Willows, Born Free, Ring of Bright Water and Silent Spring (for some reason)Oh, and the Last Days of Pompeii.


This blog is about a letter to the editor from the NYT of 1913, by one H A Griswald (good name!)who says Montreal is a Backward State! I can’t copy it but this man, who often visits Montreal, (he says) can’t comprehend that city’s crowded tramways, smelly sidewalks, old fashioned buildings, and Puritanical nightlife. (My how things have changed.) There are no Sunday papers as they are against the law. (I believe that particular Lord’s Day law was enacted in 1908, and the religious types and unions both supported it.)

He claims the autos in Montreal are all on one boulevard and limited to going 7 miles an hour. (Interesting. The horse lobby in London, in the 1880’s tried to enact a similar law.) He says since liquor laws prohibit drinking after 6 pm on Saturday, the people throw their bottles on the street and puncture the auto tires. (Sounds like a typical post hockey game night!)

He says there’s nothing to do at night but walk the streets as there are no public libraries. Well, you can go to the motion picture.

Well, it is an interesting view. I believe Dominion Park was open and there was a great deal of theatre and Vaudeville and I’m guessing, as a visitor, he didn’t know of the more -ahem, clandestine places to enjoy yourself on a Saturday Night.

Although, as a library lover, he might not have approved.

But he had a point about libraries. I believe the Mechanics Library on Atwater opened in 1910. But French Canadians have never had a culture of reading... unlike those Protestant and Scottish types... Read my next blog..

In my day, the only good library was the McLennan at McGill. I moved to Vancouver in 76 and was blown away by their great library system. And when I was raising kids in a well to do Montreal suburb, there was no public library to speak off. Just a volunteer one.

And now it's the Internet age. Do we even need libraries? Some people would say, yes, more than ever. (Too much information out there so we need 'experts' to demystify it.) Some might say no; the users are the new 'experts'. I have to admit, I didn't have to go into Montreal and visit the McLennan to find this article. (In my college days it MIGHT have been listed in the encyclopedic NYT guide to articles or whatever it was called.

And I buy my books off Amazon, usually, especially amazon.co.uk and now I can download on my Kindle. I can even download books from archive.org onto my kindle. (I have just read a book about the History of Shipton County from there. See my next blog.)

I am eagerly awaiting the publication of Nella Last in the 1950's, which I've pre-ordered. I was wondering last night if I would buy a Kindle edition if it existed. And then I thought, NO. I purchased Nella Last's War and Nella Last's Peace and loved them both, so much that I lent them to everyone I could think of, so they too could enjoy communing with Nella. You can't lend Kindle books. So it's a bit of a racket, isn't it. Maybe we still need libraries so people without MONEY can read good books.