Do the Irish Need a Reason to Gather?

The last Thursday of every month, the Ireland Canada Chamber of Commerce (ICCC) holds a Craic agus Comhrá, the Irish equivalent to the French cinq à sept, an after work get together.

At the last Craic the ICCC and the St. Patrick’s Society worked together to attract recent Irish immigrants to the event through the Irish Immmigrant Integration Initiative. This month, the ICCC is opening up their Craic agus Comhrá to the entire community.

So, tomorrow, whether you’re a recently landed Irish immigrant or you are descended from Irish immigrants from years gone by or if you’re merely interested in meeting members of the Irish community of Montreal, head on down to the Irish Embassy Pub & Grill on Bishop Street. The Craic starts at 5:30pm. It’s a great opportunity to meet old friends and make new ones.

This and that – Saint-Jean

On June 19th I was acclaimed Secretary of the St. Patrick’s Society of Montreal at its Annual General Meeting. I’m not sure what I got myself into however I’m looking forward to the challenge. That evening newly minted President Jim Killin requested that I represent him at a Saint-Jean Baptiste reception today at Montreal City Hall. Wow! Talk about being thrown into the fire!

Being an avowed federalist (I love Canada) and generally having no interest in partaking in Saint-Jean festivities because of their historically linguistically exclusionary nature and separatist undertones I had no idea what to expect. Having attended, I must say the event was inclusive of many languages, cultures and political allegiances.

Upon arrival I was greeted by the staff from the protocol office. They are always kind and welcoming. I then had a nice conversation in French with the MP for Jeanne-Leber despite English being both our mother tongues. I had the opportunity to be greeted by the Mayor of Montreal, the provincial minister responsible for Montreal, and the new president of the Societé Saint-Jean Baptiste (SSJB) who seemed to be surprised when I introduced myself.

In the reception itself were former SSJB presidents, current and former politicians including former Bloc Quebecois (BQ) leader Gilles Duceppe and former Mayor Laurent Blanchard, members of the SSJB, consular officials, and City staff.

Despite my reservations at possibly being in a room with many separatists, like I would feel if I were thrown into a lion’s den (fresh meat), I enjoyed the reception, reacquainting with familiar faces and conversing with new faces.

I came away from the experience with a renewed optimism that Quebec is as much mine as it is anyone else’s, at least for the next four years.

1856 Longueuil Explosion

Patrick Madden HeadstoneCote des Neiges Cemetery is chalk full of history. In a 2013 visit to the cemetery I came across many headstones that gave me pause to wonder. For example, one headstone reads

 

“ICI REPOSENT A. L. VAN HOUTTE

1877-1944

SON EPOUSE M.-L. DEHERRIPON

1877-1946

NES A TOURGOING FRANCE”

 Yes, *THAT* A.L. Van Houtte.

The one that caught my eye was one that read

“Sacred to the Memory of

PATRICK MADDEN

who died by the Fatal Explosion at Longueuil

10th of June 1856

Aged 40 years

Native of the Parish of <illegible> Kings County, Ireland”

 

Who was Patrick Madden? How did he die? What were the circumstances surrounding the fatal explosion? A little research thanks to Google gave me some answers to my questions.

From his headstone we know Patrick Madden was born in Kings County, Ireland. Being 40 years old at the time of his demise, he was born somewhere around 1816. Did he come to the new world during the 1832 famine or perhaps during the Great Famine of 1847? I don’t know.

What I do know is Patrick Madden died in a fatal explosion at Longueuil on the 10th of June, 1856 and was subsequently buried in Cote des Neiges Cemetery. The fatal explosion mentioned on the headstone was aboard a Grand Trunk Railway steamship. Was Patrick Madden a passenger on the ferry? Not really. He actually was employed as a mail conductor. I’m not sure what that means however I presume he was responsible for getting the mail to/from Montreal. The Stanstead Journal, in its files from 1856, reported that the accident was the result of criminal recklessness and disregard of human life, on the part of the boat’s engineers and its managers. According to the report, a former fireman of the boat expressed that the boat’s engineers were not sober men.  27 people were killed and at least 40 injured when the ferry’s boilers exploded at the dock just after it had finished taking on passengers.[1]

The coroner’s jury strongly condemned the entire management of the boat and awarded a fine of 10 000$ against the Grand Trunk Railway Co.[2]

In the Journals of the Legislature of the Province of Canada for 1857, it is recorded that Catherine Madden was granted 75 pounds as a gratuity to her as “Widow of Patrick Madden, who lost his life by the late Steam Boat Explosion, at Longueuil, whilst in discharge of his duty as Mail Conductor”[3]

And so we know Patrick was married. And, following a little research, we know Patrick and Catherine were married March 6, 1848 at Notre Dame Basilica, that Patrick’s parents were Timothy Madden and Elizabeth Redmond, and that Catherine Mohan’s parents were John Mohan and the late Eleanor Gilligan, all from King’s County in Ireland. [4]The headstone tells us that their son John Madden was also buried in Concession F 00086G on October 19, 1853. Did they have other children? I don’t know.

What I do know is Patrick Madden from King’s County, Ireland went to work on the 10th of June 1856 expecting to go home at the end of his shift. However, due to the recklessness of the ship’s management he went to work that day and left Catherine Mohan a widow.

 

[1] A Century Ago, Stanstead Journal, June 21, 1956, p.4

[2] Charleston Mercury, July 9, 1856

[3] Journals of the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Canada, 1857

[4] Quebec, Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection)

11th Annual Robert & Steve Michelin Memorial Tournament

For the 11th consecutive year NDG Minor Baseball is hosting the Robert & Steve Michelin Memorial Baseball Tournament.

Originally a tournament for Junior aged players (U14), in Little League parlance, for the 2nd straight year there will also be a tournament for Little League aged players (U12).

The Junior Tournament will take place on three diamonds in NDG and Cote St. Luc with eleven teams confirmed. The teams playing their round robin games at the recently refurbished Loyola-1 field in NDG are the NDG Junior Lynx, a team from Cornwall, the Montreal Rockies, and a team from Orleans Little League in Ontario. The field now has a grass infield and drains as well as, if not better than, Gary Carter field in Cote St. Luc. The remaining teams, playing at two fields in Cote St. Luc, are Dom Dinelle’s Tigers, Victoriaville, Clinton County NY, Montreal Bucs, Drummondville, Kemptville, and St. Leonard.

The Major Tournament will take place solely in Cote St. Luc. Unfortunately NDG Baseball does not have a suitable field available in the Notre-Dame-de-Grace-Cote-des-Neiges Borough for this age group. Loyola-2 field, soon to be renamed Lionel Geller Field at Loyola Park, in my estimation would be a fantastic field to host tournaments for the younger players – if only it had a fence surrounding it. The teams competing are the NDG Major Lynx, the Montreal Rockies, St. Leonard, Orleans, Ottawa Royals, South Ottawa, and Lakeshore. Clearly there is a Quebec – Ontario balance to this tournament.

If you’re a fan of youth baseball, why not stop in to see some good ball? I know the players will appreciate it! Admission is free, too! The tournament takes place June 13th through June 15th.

Bring your father to the games – a nice way to spend Father’s Day weekend.