Friday, July 8, 2011

Three Steps Forward, One Back

A picture of Edith with very possibly staff from Westmount Methodist Institut. Myabe Yvonne Villard is there.

Well, five steps forward, one step back.

I wasn't finding much online about Westmount Methodist, so lucky, I thought, for the Preparing the Way document by Paul Villard. Only a few copies of this little pamphlett remain in existence, one supposedly at McGill and one copy at Westmount Library. And his other book, Up to the Light, contains only a bit on the Institut -because I found a French webpage that said as much.

I decided to check the Gazette archives and didn't find much either, just a few graduation notices... and a strange article from 1960's, about the actress Madeleine Sherwood, the Mother Superior, I think, in the television show The Flying Nun and also that very bitchy pitch-perfect Sister Woman in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, one of the movies that should have won Best Picture but didn't. (Did she play the same character on Broadway?)

It seems this Montreal-born actress's grandfather was a certain McGill Prof, Paul Villard, who was also an MD and a preacher.

Could it be the same Paul Villard. I couldn't be sure, until I found an article in the 1911 (YES) Westmount News about The Institut that claimed this Paul Villard was a doctor, too.

Too much of a coincidence. I couldn't be 100 percent sure, until I found a bio for Ms. Sherwood that claimed her Mom was named Yvonne.

Well, that nailed it.

The Westmount News was so useful. I discovered a great deal of useful information for my first draft of Threshold Girl, the new title for Flo in the City.

The Horse Show was in early May at THE ARENA in Westmount. So I have to fix that. Westmount Park wasn't referred to as Victoria Jubilee Park anymore, but The Westmount Park. So there, I have to change it back to what I had.

And there wasn't a tram on Sherbrooke,not until 1913, like I had supposed. The St Catherine tram was cramped and crowded.

And the Merry Widow wasn't playing (well, I knew that ) but Brewster's Millions was. The Westmount News goes into great detail about What' s On at the Orpheum and Princess... And in 1911, Sir Wilfrid bought some land in Westmount for his wife. And there wasn't much crime in the city, (well, I saw that from the Yearbook) but a lot of 'car' accidents. The trouble is, 'cars' could be motorcars or tramcars.

And they were showing Kinecoloured films of the Coronation at the Princess.. with realistic colours.. so they wrote. So maybe I will have Marion go to this, instead of the same Somner Park show that Edith went to.

And one tidbit I will put in my story: a Laurentian Water horse ran amok in Westmount. Well, I write about runaway horses, in my story and Laurentian water was owned by my husband's relations on the other side. I think I will have Flo and Edith witness this!! I want to put a bit about Laurentian in Marion's story anyway. (Here's a quote about the need for a children's library in Westmount: "Pure water, effective drainage, fine sidewalks,beautiful parks, and the annexation of profitable lands are material things worth striving for, but the things of the mind, things that build charcter should not be overlooked,these build for time and eternity. It was a wise Jesuit who said, "Give me the first 7 years of a child's life, and you can take the rest." (This quote is similar to my "healthy home" quote at the beginning of Threshold Girl.") Intellectual, physical and MORAL health were considered ONE AND THE SAME THING in 1910.)

But I also discovered something that messes me up a bit. In the article about Westmount Methodiste, Villard writes that Academy I graduates can enter the Model Course at Macdonald. Hmm. So that means Flora wasn't in Academy III but Academy II, as she just took one year of the course.

I guess I have to change that. I wonder why Edith didn't take the course, money I guess. Just like so many people, she didn't have enough money to take off a year and to go school.

Oh, and another thing I read, wedding announcements in Westmount tended to describe the weddings as 'quiet.' Many of them. I figure this is to appease those who were not invited..