Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Our Cherished Lost English Schools

What school is this?
Reading some of the comments concerning the closure of English schools in Quebec, I was saddened to read the names of my primary and high school among the casualties of the language war.
For those of use, who are over forty and attended an English public high school or primary school in Quebec, there's a good chance that the school no longer exists.

Sadly as commentors pointed out, there's no history preserved to remind us of our past and the great institutions we attended. They were good times....

My first memory of kindergarten was my teacher calling  the us over to the windows to take a gander at what might have been the last horse-drawn milk wagon in the city. As we strained to peak out over the window sills, (we were little tykes) I will never forget a tired old horse bedecked with the obligatory blinkers covering its eyes to filter out those peripheral distractions,  pulling a  J.J Joubert milk wagon. It's over 50 years and I remember it like yesterday....really.

Kindergarten is where I made a small clay imprint of my right hand, which I molded and then  painted by myself. I still keep it proudly displayed on my desk and it is my oldest possession.

Grade one was where I first met Dick, Jane and Spot. In Grade Two or Three it was 'Bunga' the jungle boy and Eric and Ingor from Sweden, among others.

It's funny what we remember.

In primary school I remember the tears flowing down my teacher's face as she announced the murder of John F. Kennedy.

In high school I remember students protesting the Viet Nam war, cafeteria food that sucked and nerdy Prefects in white cardigans who patrolled the halls like Capos in a concentration camp.
I remember all the high schools with whom we competed in basketball and with which we had the occasional brawl.
Outremont, Northmount, Wager, Westhill, Lasalle Protestant, Chomedy Protestant, Montreal high, Montreal West High School, and perhaps Montreal's most infamous high school, Baron Bing,  all sadly gone. I'm sure readers can help me fill out the list.

Its hard to believe that this world is gone and unremembered.

I would like to put together a post or a series of posts,that includes your fondest memories of primary and high school as a salute to our disappearing schools.
Your teachers, your school, you classmates, whatever you'd like to say.
Please share with the readers a personal account of your school and your experience.

You don't have to include your name, but if you'd like to, please mention it specifically. The default is pseudonym only. That being said, your school name and its location is important.
I'll print everything that is reasonable (under 1500 words.)

You might even get your very own post!

I think readers would be interested in your personal experience, so now's your chance to get out your Ernest Hemingway..

I'll put together a post or posts and publish in the near future.

Send submissions to anglomontreal@gmail.com. DO NOT use the Comments section.
I look forward to your submissions.


  1. Sorry Editor, no time to write a full post today.

    As you might have guessed, I received my schooling both in English and French, as did most other members of my family.

    Although my own story is radically different from that of the generations of British Isles-descended relatives that preceded me, might I contribute the following:

    Holy Family, Transfiguration of our Lord (elementaries), John F. Kennedy, William Hingston (high schools)

    you might also find http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~qcmtl-w/Schools.html of some interest in your project.

    No need to publish this comment.

    Bonne recherche!

  2. Your photo is of the old Monklands High School in NDG (formerly West Hill (1918-1948) and Westward 1948-56). Once had 1300 students. Population dropped when Wagar opened (1963) and then when the PSBGM started allowing students to attend schools other than the one in their immediate neighbourhood. Closed in the late 1970s.
    the building is now owned by a para-municipal corporation; part non-profit residence for autonomous over 55s, part community meeting space and gym.

  3. A sad situation indeed. The scum bag politicians can spin it any way they want, but Quebec was built up by the English, Scottish, Irish, Jewish peoples no matter what these so called “Frenchman” say.

    Poor Quebec, it was becoming so powerful until these racist, bigoted, anti-anything but french language Nazis started to run things in the 40, 50, and 60”s.Now its just a bankrupt, corrupt dump, getting worse every year.

    Now we just boycott the place and will until bill 101 is repealed.

  4. This article made me stop and think about how few of the English schools I attended in my youth have since vanished. I grow up during the 70's and 80's in the Chomedey area of Laval (same neighborhood as Mississauga Guy; in fact I sometimes wonder if our families didn't know each other).

    Let's see, started at Laval Y Nursery school. That's closed. U.T.T. Chomedey, closed. Souvenir Elementary--still there (for now). Western Laval, closed. Chomedey Polyvalent, closed. MIND High School--still there, but only a fraction of the size it was when I attended. I think it's now surviving year to year.

    So out of 6 different English schools from pre-school to high school, only 2 remain. And those surviving schools have an uncertain future. Rather sad.

    My niece will soon be entering school, and I asked her parents whether they'll choose to put her in an English school. Their answer..."We don't know, it depends if there are any left to send her to".

  5. ..an addendum to the above. Souvenir Elementary, my old primary school that still exists, isn't even a true English school anymore. It appears it's now French immersion.

    And to correct a typo above, I obviously meant to say "This article made me stop and think about how MANY of the English schools I attended in my youth have since vanished" (and "grew up" rather than grow up). :)

  6. ...particularly to Apple IIGS: Yes, we certainly seem to have grown up on the same stomping grounds, but I think I'm a little more senior than you. I graduated from the now defunct Western Laval H.S. in 1975. It only opened in 1972, right after Team Canada played their games at home. We watched some of the games in Moscow on a few black-and-white TV sets we had at the school.

    My !@#$%^&&^%$#@ English teacher wouldn't watch, but I saw the parts of the last game where Cournoyer scored to tie, and Henderson to win! Oh, Russia was my family's mortal enemy as any Jews who left in that God forsaken haste can attest to (only to end up coming to another one called Quebec). For the rest of you, rent Fiddler on the Roof, even though most of that movie was really antisceptic compared to what those bastard commies did, and before them, the Czar. From a dictator, to "left" totalitarianism, and in the 1970s, "right" totalitarianism.

    I digress again as I often do! Souvenir certainly was an English elementary school until my Common Law's daughter graduated from there circa 2003. I'm not sure it became an immersion school since, but maybe. My elementary school in Chomedey, Hillcrest, ceased its public school role in the 1980s, first becoming a community centre and then a parochial Greek school. It served as a summer camp for the aforementioned daughter above. When I was in Chomedey visiting, I had to use the facilities waiting for her to finish her day. I used the bathroom in the old gymnasium, circa 1999, 29 years after I last set foot in the place. It was becoming delapidated. I don't think they changed one tile, fixture or faucet since I left, and some were missing!

    Western Laval H.S. became the French École Secondaire Marie Curie (BOOM!) for a time, and on a visit last summer, it changed to a private language school (many languages). Before WLHS was built, I went to Chomedey Polyvalent H.S. That was kept as the last English non-Catholic high school in Laval. I'm not sure Laval Catholic H.S. (its most famous graduate, ex-NHLer Mike Bossy) is still there. CPHS became Western Laval H.S. for years after the real WLHS became Marie Curie. Naturally, it was the older building of the two! Since about 2004, it became known as Laval Liberty H.S.

    Crestview Elementary, to the best of my knowledge, still exists as an English school, partially for kids with behavioral problems, and the other elementary schools, namely Pierre Laporte (French immersion and special ed), Thomas H. Bowes and Churchill Elementary (turned Irving Bregman memorial) are either gone, French, or serving other purposes.

    In the last few years, all I'm reading about is former teachers now in the obituaries.

    I located accidentally my former grade ten English teacher from WLHS, who is now a tenured professor at the University of Southern California at Long Beach. I actually started writing her about a year ago, and we occasionally correspond. She also keeps in touch with one other classmate from way back then! She was one of the few bright lights from my high school days, and in my opinion, the sex symbol of the English faculty!!!

  7. Mississauga Guy: Yep, same stomping grounds, but definitely in a later era. When you were graduating high school, I must have been just starting pre-school! I graduated from Western Laval 11 years after you, in 1986, and by that point in time it had been downgraded to a junior high school (grades 7 and 8 only). I moved on to CPHS later that year, only to finish my high school years downtown. CPHS had become a zoo and I was glad to make a switch.

    As for Souvenir Elementary, I had a quick look at their website (Google search will find it). I saw a mention of their bilingual program with 50-50 French/English and most of the course names listed in French. I'm assuming it's immersion based on that, but I could be wrong. Sadly, looking at the staff roster, I don't see any of my old teachers still working there.

    Interesting, hadn't heard about Laval Liberty taking the place of CPHS and WLHS. You'd think I'd be more up to date since my mother still lives in Chomedey and I visit often. Mind you, with my father's recent passing away and all the intolerance that's been building up in Quebec, she's planning on selling the house and leaving the province after all these decades in Chomedey. Incidentally, if there's anything about the neighborhood your curious about or looking for updates on, let me know. :)

  8. What are you worried about? At the present rate, all traces of francophones will have disappeared from North America in not that long, as it did in Manitoba and the maritimes.
    You really bothered by some schools bearing french names? You serious?

  9. @ Pilule,

    So Francophones have disappeared from the Maritimes, eh? One third of the population of New Brunswick is French speaking, and the province is officially bilingual.

    Why shouldn't Anglos be upset about the enormous number of English schools that have closed down in Quebec, as a result of the ethnic cleansing of their population?

  10. English
    Schools Ireland
    -Ireland can be charmingly delightful. Cork, Belfast, Galway and Dublin have unique cultural flavours and have some of the best English schools in Ireland.

  11. French school lyon-Every year there are many students who come to foreign countries to pursue a language course.

  12. Mississauga GuyApr 19, 2011 08:08 PM

    No one in Canada was asking for Jews at around the time of your grandparents. Your relatives were lucky the could get into any country, before Israel of course. Quebec is not CZarist Russia or Nazi Germany and you know that! All you had to do was learn french and send your kids to French language school.

    Most importantly intergrate and make french your main language of communication. You and your ancestors eventually chose English over russian and French. So live with the consequences and be happy in Ontario.

    When you get a chance bully the French into leaving and hopefully they'll settle in Quebec. Problem solved.