By Marvin Baker, a new weekly column in The Kenmare News
Posted 7/07/15 (Tue)
Lately, the city of Montreal has been getting a bad rap in the media and it most likely isn’t fair because this city is as diverse and resilient as any other in North America and perhaps the rest of the world.
The current problem, of course, is with ISIS. A number of young people who called Montreal home, now more than a dozen, have been brainwashed into thinking they are fighting for a good cause.
The mayor of Montreal, Denis Coderre, recently outlined ways to stop young people from going overseas to join ISIS because the ones who left are no longer welcome.
In another incident, one in which every American should thank this guy, is he singlehandedly made the decision to not allow a mosque to be built in an effort to stop the recruiting efforts of ISIS.
Coderre said to hell with politically correct and put a stop to it and nipped it in the bud before the media could latch on to it and take care of ISIS’ public relations efforts.
Still another problem brewing is the Hell’s Angels. They are basically at war with other biker gangs and Montreal police. Gang members are getting shot down in the streets, others are hunted down like wild animals and still others go on these kamikaze missions to take out other gangs.
Finally, there was a recent prison escape in which two prisoners boarded a helicopter and flew to freedom. That was back around Christmas and they haven’t yet been found. Can you imagine the logistics of planning a prison escape using a helicopter?
Aside from that, Montreal is really a wonderful, cultural diverse city that has a European history that dates back to 85 years before the Jamestown Colony was founded in 1607.
It was built up as a seaport and having the St. Lawrence River right there really allowed the early city to grow because of moving commerce inland and to Europe.
It’s obvious there’s always been a strong French influence and you can see it everywhere you go. French is the first language in Quebec, but I would suspect more people speak English in Montreal than they do in Winnipeg.
Montreal has a world-renowned institute of higher learning in McGill University. For several years in the 1980s, McGill and the University of North Dakota had a reciprocity agreement in which UND students could take a semester at McGill and vice versa. What a great cultural program.
The Canadiens, one of the original six in professional hockey, have a storied program going back to the 1920s. But Major League baseball came to Montreal in the late 1960s and energized an entire nation about baseball.
Of course the Expos, named after Expo ‘67, moved to Washington, D.C., and now the Toronto Blue Jays have become known as Canada’s team.
In 1976, Montreal was named as the host city for the Olympics. It became the first Olympic venue in which $1 billion was spent to set up the venue for the 12-day event. Most of the games were played in Olympic Stadium which stands today and has hosted many a Grey Cup and Montreal Alouette games in the Canadian Football League.
When it comes to music, there is quite a group of world stage musicians, French and English, who have put the city on the map, at least as far as Rock N’ Roll music is concerned. And those who play the clubs are just as serious and professional as the international recording artists like Aldo Nova and the Sam Roberts Band.
Perhaps the best thing about Montreal is the people who live there who are passionate about their city despite the items listed early in this space.
If you want to learn about Europe or Canada, or the Hudson’s Bay Company or numerous Indian tribes that lived in that area for nearly 4,000 years before Champlain “discovered” Mount Royal, this would be the place to go.
Politically, Montreal is highly charged and three times in recent history a French movement to secede from Canada was headquarted in Montreal.
But talk about resilient, the people of Montreal and the province of Quebec put on a clinic about democracy as the secession movement was defeated three times, although financed heavily.
The people spoke and no matter what the Parti Quebcois said or did, Quebec remains one of Canada’s 10 provinces.
Here’s the clincher in all this. Many of us in North Dakota can look back on our family history or the history of our hometown and there will most likely be a connecton to Montreal. The city had a hand in getting what is now North Dakota started.