Changing of the Guard

2009 Walk to the Stone

Ken & his friend Don

At a meeting of the United Irish Societies of Montreal’s Elected Executive and Past Presidents on May 12th President Danny Doyle reported that longtime historian Don Pidgeon had declined to continue in the position, after which my name was put forward. I hesitated a moment. I mean, succeeding a man who has been the face of historical Griffintown since 1991, a man who speaks with absolute ease in front of audiences, a man who is universally respected within Montreal’s Irish community, a man who personally endorsed my nomination is both a humbling and a frightening prospect. After that moment of hesitation, I accepted the nomination.

Don rose through the ranks of the organization. He was Recording Secretary for two years in the mid 70’s before moving on to Vice President and then President. Despite his elevation to the ultimate position, Don is best known as the historian of the United Irish Societies.

I am both humbled and overwhelmed at my new assignment within the United Irish Societies. From 1928 to the present is a lot of history. So you can imagine the amount of history in the Irish community from the 1760s to the present. Overwhelmed is a good word.

I plan on using newer technology / social media to get my message to as wide an audience as possible. This is all so new to me that I continue to reflect on the value I can add to the United Irish Societies as its Historian.

All I hope in the coming weeks is that my words and actions make my predecessor, my mentor, my colleague, and my fellow members proud. I am a work in progress but I am confident that my friend Don will approve.


Where Were You Ten Years Ago?

Any baseball fan living in the Montreal area in 2004 remembers where he, or she, was 10 years ago today. After years of decline on and off the field due to many reasons, Major League Baseball relocated the franchise to Washington, DC.

After the disappointment of 1994, when the players’ strike shortened a season that surely would have seen Nos Amours go deep into the playoffs, owner Jeffrey Loria purchased a controlling interest in the team in 1999 from Claude Brochu. Loria seemed to do everything in his power for the Expos to fail in Montreal. He failed to close the deal on a new downtown ballpark, a definite must for the team’s long term viability. He failed to reach agreements on television and English radio broadcast for the 2000 season, reducing the team’s media visibility and depriving the team’s fans across the Montreal area of the opportunity to follow their favourite players.

It’s lucky for the Expos that, in 2002, Major League Baseball was obliged to field a team in the Metrodome in Minnesota. Failing that, both the Expos and the Twins would have been eliminated. Because of the complexities of scheduling a 162 game season for each MLB team, both teams on the chopping block were given a reprieve.

In December 2002 the MLB ownership shuffle took place. The Marlins’ John W. Henry purchased the Boston Redsox. The Expos’ Jeffrey Loria purchased the Florida Marlins and Major League Baseball purchased the Expos, unable to reduce the number of teams in the league before 2006 per the collective bargaining agreement signed with the Players Association in August 2002.

On September 29, 2004 MLB announced the franchise would relocate to Washington for the 2005 season, ending a thirty five year love affair between Montreal and Nos Amours. The final score that night in the final game in Montreal was unimportant. What was important, for the more than 31 000 fans in attendance including myself, was the chance to cheer for Nos Amours one more time. Many stayed long after the game was over, looking around the stadium nostalgically one last time.

Ten years later, baseball is still vibrant in Montreal. Baseball Quebec, the dominant youth baseball federation in the province of Quebec, would likely tell you it is a struggle to attract new players to baseball as would the leaders in Little League Quebec. It hasn’t been easy. Both federations are doing an admirable job.

Yesterday in NDG, ExposNation, Derek Aucoin, Easton, and NDG Minor Baseball hosted a very successful 2nd annual Pitch and Catch Rally at Loyola Park. Approximately 100 kids of all ages were given the chance to hit off former Major Leaguer Derek Aucoin for two hours. The number of ball players, people in Expos gear, and media in attendance clearly shows the interest in baseball at the highest levels is still here.

Now, if those 100 kids could invite two friends to play baseball with them next year, and those two friends invite two friends to play baseball with them next year, and so on and so on… the art of baseball will be that much stronger in 2015 and for years to come.

Always Do Your Homework

This past Sunday I took advantage of a beautiful Summer day to visit Mount Royal Cemetery in Montreal. I confess I did not sufficiently do my homework prior to my visit and, as a result, did not find most of the grave markers I had hoped to find.

As I was exiting on the south side of the cemetery I took note of a sign advertising the Cemetery’s iPhone/iPad app. After downloading the app yesterday, I can say with certainty they have done a good job. Had I been aware of the app prior to my visit, I would have found many of the graves I wished to see, though not all.

Last year when I visited Cote des Neiges Cemetery I was able to find the majority of the graves I wished to see thanks in large part to their wonderful online database of people resting in the cemetery. While there, I even took note of interesting grave markers I had not intended on finding, such as those of A.L. Van Houtte and of Patrick Madden.

Resting in Mount Royal Cemetery are many interesting folks from all walks of life. Mayors and martyrs, policemen and firemen, clergy and lay people all can be found. Of the ones I wanted to find, I almost missed the monument to Thomas Lett Hackett, a young Orangeman murdered by Catholics as he was returning home from divine services on July 12, 1877.

For people interested in visiting their family’s graves but are unsure of their locations, the Cemetery does offer a free lookup. This isn’t as instantaneous a solution as the other cemetery on the hill however, prior to my next visit, I will do my homework (or get them to do it for me, for free).

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







 Yes, *THAT* A.L. Van Houtte.

The one that caught my eye was one that read

“Sacred to the Memory of


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)

Quinn Family Participation in Montreal’s St. Patrick’s Parade

Quinn Family Participation in St. Patrick’s Parade

Since 1928 up until now

The Quinn family has been actively involved in the United Irish Societies of Montreal since the very beginning. Patrick Quinn, born in 1893 in Glasgow, Scotland and having settled in Verdun, Quebec, was the founding treasurer from 1928 until his death in 1947. Many of us has followed in his footsteps. Below is a snapshot of the people from the family who have been involved, that I know of.


Patrick Quinn                                                                (1893-1947)

Charter member of the United Irish Societies and Treasurer until his death.


Francis J. Quinn                                (son of Patrick)    (1929-2008)


Elizabeth Quinn                                 (niece)


Francis J. Quinn   (1965-1966)                   (son)                      (1929-2008)
Joseph Quinn       (1996-1997)                   (nephew)
Elizabeth Quinn   (2000-2001)                   (niece)
Kenneth Quinn     (2010-2011)         (grand nephew)


Maurice D. Quinn (1983)                           (son)
Joseph Quinn       (1994-1995)                   (nephew)
Elizabeth Quinn   (1998-1999)                   (niece)


Kenneth Quinn     (2008-2009)                   (grand nephew)


Patrick Quinn     (1928-1947)                                                (1893-1947)
Kenneth Quinn     (1998-2003)         (grand nephew)


In a Montreal Gazette article dated February 24, 1945 focusing on the details of the upcoming parade, mention is made that “Miss Helen Quinn of Saint Willibrord Parish, Verdun, was elected to the office of permanent recording secretary. Miss Quinn is the first woman to fill an executive office in the United Irish Societies.”

Helen Quinn Corcoran                      (daughter)             (1923-2008)
Rose Quinn          (2007- 2010)        (grand daughter)


Elizabeth Quinn   (1996-1997)                   (niece)


Stephen M. Dowd   (1997-2002)         (grand nephew)    (1959-2002)
Kenneth Quinn     (2003-2007)         (grand nephew)


James (Buzzy) Quinn              (nephew)              (1931-2005)
Kenneth Quinn (acting – 2002) (grand nephew)


Helen Quinn O’Hagan             (sister)                  (1899-1986)

This lady was a member of the Ladies Auxiliary of the Ancient Order of Hibernians for 55 years.   Verdun Chapter


Barbara Quinn     (1986-1987) (grand niece)


Elizabeth Quinn   (2006-2011)         (niece)


Barbara Quinn     (1988) (grand niece)


Maurice D. Quinn                       (son)
Joseph Quinn       (1992-1993)         (nephew)
Stephen M. Dowd    (1994-1996)         (grand nephew)    (1959-2002)


Rose Quinn          (2005- 2007)        (grand daughter)


Kenneth Quinn (2011- )          (grand nephew)


Francis J. Quinn                      (son)                     (1929-2008)
Kenneth Quinn     (2012 – )      (grand nephew)


Joseph Quinn       (2005)         (nephew)


Elizabeth Quinn   (2008)         (niece)

GOLD CARD MEMBERS (Life members)

Elizabeth Quinn   (2007)         (niece)
Francis J. Quinn                      (son)                     (1929-2008)
Kenneth Quinn     (2013)         (grand nephew)


2005 – John Kenny Memorial Trophy for Most Authentic Irish Unit
2006 – John Kenny Memorial Trophy for Most Authentic Irish Unit

Stephen M. Dowd Memorial Trophy

Prior to 2003 parade this category was known as the Molson Trophy for Best Commercial Float. Following Stephen’s death, the United Irish Societies of Montreal purchased a new trophy and christened it the Stephen M. Dowd Memorial Trophy for Best Commercial Float. The inaugural recipient of this award was ING, then a major sponsor of the annual parade.

Quinn Family Trophy for Best Military Unit

In recognition of its active participation in the organization of the St. Patrick’s Parade since 1928, in 2003 the Quinn Family approached the United Irish Societies of Montreal for the purposes of donating a trophy to be used at its discretion. The United Irish Societies graciously accepted, christening the new trophy the Quinn Family Trophy for Best Military Unit. The inaugural recipient of this award was The Black Watch (RHR) of Canada.


2005 – 2009

Stephen M. Dowd Memorial Scholarship Fund

Since its participation in the parade began, the Quinn Family has raised funds by asking its members to contribute funds toward the parade expenses of the group. The excess monies are then donated to the Stephen M. Dowd Memorial Scholarship Fund at Concordia University. Below are the results of the family’s contributions:

2005                                                                                        $563.00
2006                                                                                        $555.00
2007                                                                                        $530.00
2008                                                                                        $750.00
2009                                                                                      $1,135.00

Total                                                                                      $3,533.00


Since the mid to late 1980s Elizabeth Quinn has been instrumental in the success of the annual selection of the St. Patrick’s Parade Queen & Court. Once a popularity contest, this event is now a public speaking contest where a panel of distinguished judges selects the parade queen and princesses based on four different categories. In 2014, one of these judges was Jodi Jarvis, great grand niece of Patrick Quinn.


Laura Chambers-Quinn great granddaughter
Helen Quinn Corcoran   daughter                                  (1923-2008)
Stephen M. Dowd                   grand nephew                          (1959-2002)
Adam Hughes                great grand nephew
Helen Quinn O’Hagan   sister                                        (1899-1986)
Michael O’Sullivan        grand nephew
Barbara Quinn               grand niece
Donald Quinn                grand nephew
Douglas Quinn               grand nephew
Elizabeth Quinn             niece
Francis J. Quinn             son                                          (1929-2008)
George A. Quinn            son                                          (1918-1984)
Gerald Quinn                 nephew                                    (1924-1999)
James (Buzzy) Quinn     nephew                                    (1931-2005)
Joseph Quinn                 nephew
Kenneth Quinn              grand nephew
Maurice D. Quinn          son
Patrick Quinn                                                                (1893-1947)
Patrick D. Quinn            great grand nephew
Ronald Quinn                grand nephew                          (1955-2005)
Rose Quinn                    granddaughter
Shannon Quinn              grand niece
Shawn Quinn                 grandson
Margaret Quinn Whitaker   granddaughter
Matthew Zawada           great grand nephew
Timothy Zawada           great grand nephew