The Orange and the Green

Known as The Orange and the Green, or The Biggest Mix Up, this Irish folk song illustrated the lighter side of the religious divide that caused so much harm during The Troubles.

Oh it is the biggest mix-up that you have ever seen
My father he was orange and my mother she was green

Oh my father was an Ulsterman, proud Protestant was he
My mother was a Catholic girl, from County Cork was she
They were married in two churches, lived happily enough
Until the day that I was born and things got rather tough

Oh it is the biggest mix-up that you have ever seen
My father he was orange and my mother she was green

Baptised by father Reilly, I was rushed away by car
To be made a little orangeman, my father’s shining star
I was christened David Anthony, but still in spite of that
To my father I was William while my mother called me Pat

Oh it is the biggest mix-up that you have ever seen
My father he was orange and my mother she was green

With mother every Sunday to mass I’d proudly stroll
Then after that the orange lads would try to save my soul
For both sides tried to claim me, but I was smart because
I played the flute or played the harp, depending where I was

Oh it is the biggest mix-up that you have ever seen
My father he was orange and my mother she was green

One day my ma’s relations came round to visit me
Just as my father’s kinfolk were all sittin’ down to tea
We tried to smooth things over, but they all began to fight
And me being strictly neutral, I bashed everyone in sight

Oh it is the biggest mix-up that you have ever seen
My father he was orange and my mother she was green

Now my parents never could agree about my type of school
My learning was all done at home, that’s why I’m such a fool
They both passed on, god rest them, but left me caught between
That awful color problem of the orange and the green

Oh it is the biggest mix-up that you have ever seen
My father he was orange and my mother she was green

Yes it is the biggest mix-up that you have ever seen
My father he was orange and my mother she was green

DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+
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Updated: Donald Trump, Charlottesville and Chubby Checker

(KEVIN LAMARQUE/REUTERS)

In a recent post I mentioned how the video from Charlottesville was a bit grainy you might mistake for something from the sixties. Lately, one line of a Chubby Checker song, also from the sixties, has been stuck in my head. As I watch the news in the US, again and again, this snippet of lyric pops into my mind. It has nothing to do with twisting, a word that would make Checker a rich man over the years and one that could certainly be applied to President Trump’s take on history as well as current events.

He has an ability to twist facts and images to his liking

He has an ability to twist facts and images to his liking. But people are not fools; looking at the coverage of the heinous events over the weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia it is clear that there was a group of armed Nazi thugs and a group of protesters. The fault falls on one side – the Nazis – and one side only. No amount of twisting will change that.

What ignited this riot was the city’s decision to remove a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee … That Lee is on a horse did not bring to my mind the Checker song Pony Time.

What ignited this riot was the city’s decision to remove a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. The white supremacists and Nazis look to Lee as a hero, so they were spitting their vile racist epithets in protest if the statue’s removal. That Lee is on a horse did not bring to my mind the Checker song Pony Time.

No, the song came to me after the riots, after the murder of Heather Hayer, after two statements from Trump. While watching the ‘leader of the free world’ rant and rage in the lobby of his tower in New York, listening to him equate the protesters and the Nazis, levying equal amounts of blame to each side (in fact, placing the onus on the protesters who did not have a permit) is when the Checker lyric burned itself into my mind. The words come from his 1962 hit Limbo Rock and are ‘How low can you go?”.

Every time I have seen rebroadcasts of Trump’s hissy fit I can’t help but repeat that line to myself.

How low can you go?

Id_Limbo

My greatest fear with regards to Trump is that he is soon going to show just how low he can go.

Sad.

 

DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

Home Children: My Paternal Grandmother

Last year I wrote a piece for a British genealogical magazine, Family Tree, about my paternal grandmother. She came to Canada as part of the Home Children migration program. Here it is.


DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

Montreal Irish Community Has Old Sod Pulled Out From Under Them

In the late 1840s Ireland was in the throes of what has become known as the Great Potato Famine. Though what was so great about it is a mystery to me. Sadly many were forced to leave the Old Sod and head off for new lives in New York, Boston, Philadelphia and, Montreal. That sounds much easier than it was.

More than 6000 Irish migrants died in these sheds. Subsequently workers who were erecting the Victoria Bridge came upon a mass grave. To this day the ground is considered sacred by Montreal’s vibrant Irish community.

Passage was hardly cruise ship style and many died en route, having contracted typhus. So horrific was the loss of life that the vessels came to be known as coffin ships, their human cargo unloaded and moved to hastily built fever sheds.  

More than 6000 Irish migrants died in these sheds. Subsequently workers who were erecting the Victoria Bridge came upon a mass grave. In 1859 a large monument, the Irish Commemorative Stone, known more commonly if less creatively as  Black Rock, was set in place to commemorate the nameless victims.  

To this day the ground is considered sacred by Montreal’s vibrant Irish community. Every spring there is a march from St. Gabriel’s parish to the Black Rock to pay respect to the victims there buried and ensure their memory survives.

There is a piece of land, a green space, located very close to the rock that all three levels of government informally promised to the Irish community as a memorial park to which the Rock could be moved. Currently the rock is located on a median between two lanes of traffic making access tricky at best, and downright dangerous at worst. However recently it was announced that Hydro Quebec had bought the land to build a power station for a transit system project.

As for building a power station on land abutting a mass grave of Irish immigrants, I believe the potential for banshees and Little People to cause construction havoc is great.

Not surprisingly Montreal’s Irish feel they have been betrayed and scammed and are making a kerfuffle about it. On a couple of occasions city mayor Denis Coderre, who was this year’s St. Patrick’s Day parade Grand Marshall, promised to “champion” the park project.

Calling Mayor Coderre.

Perhaps hizzoner has a trick up his sleeve to make things right. Or it may be too late. The annual march is this Sunday. They say hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, but I’ve got to think that a community of Irish descendants who feel scorned by some old sod may just cause some grief.

As for building a power station on land abutting a mass grave of Irish immigrants, I believe the potential for banshees and Little People to cause construction havoc is great. To say nothing of problems over the years to come.

DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

Montreal Fifty Years After EXPO 67; Sorry Mayor Drapeau

Fifty years ago this week , Thursday, April 27, 1967 to be precise, was the opening day of Montreal’s EXPO 67 World’s Fair. It was a General Exposition of the first category as decreed by the  Bureau International des Expositions (the first fair of this magnitude ever to be held in North America). The theme was Man and His World; the fair was open until October 29th and welcomed over 50 million visitors from across Canada and around the world. The city was on top of the world.

 It was Montreal at its best. Will new generations of Canadians and Montrealers ever see anything the likes of those days?

Ah nostalgia! That word, the etymology of which is often said to come from the Greek for “a painful yearning to return home” is just about all that remains today of EXPO. However I imagine other Montrealers have felt the pang of pride when overhearing tourists marvelling at Moshe Safdie‘s Habitat 67 which, along with Buckminster Fuller’s geodesic dome are among the few remaining EXPO buildings.  I was seven-years old in the summer of 1967 and spent many days with various family members visiting the numerous pavilions and soaking up the international environment. A half-century later, when I look back, I do so through the eyes of a child.

Habitat 67

Halcyon, salad, glory, or just plain ‘good old’, those days are indelibly etched in my memory. I suspect some of the warm fuzzy feelings of that year’s Summer of Love in the United States made the trek north with the many visitors to the fair.  It was Montreal at its best. Will new generations of Canadians and Montrealers ever see anything the likes of those days?  I fear not.

I cannot deny that I am out-of-step with what appears to be the general consensus of my fellow citizens today. Concerns about costs, noise, corruption, you name it, have exceeded our once prevailing desire to be host to the world. The late Jean Drapeau, who as mayor of Montreal was responsible for both EXPO 67 and the 76 Summer Olympics, planted the roots as he set out to make Montreal the “first city of the 21st century”. Alas financial and political insecurities during the eighties and nineties scuppered the mayor’s dream forever.

… projects of world-class proportions have been relegated to mere memories for most of us. That is a pity, but thankfully many of us of a certain age can think back to those days with pride and reflect on what grand memories they are.

As Canada marks its sesquicentennial this year, which sure does not roll off the tongue like centennial (I can’t imagine there will be too many Sesquicentennial High Schools or Sesquicentennial Bridges named), and Montreal celebrates its 350th anniversary I cannot help but feel saddened that the events planned are not on par with EXPO 67. With our current state of affairs, ranging from an ageing infrastructure to gentrification concerns (investment in neighbourhoods was once seen as a positive thing, if broken shop windows and graffiti are any indication the opposite is now true), projects of world-class proportions have been relegated to mere memories for most of us. That is a pity, but thankfully many of us of a certain age can think back to those days with pride and reflect on what grand memories they are.

DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

Postal Art and the Hope Diamond

Here’s an example of my Great Uncles’ correspondence during the early 1900s. The envelope below was posted at 2:15 pm on March 9, 1903 from London. It was from Matthew Deegan, aged 21 at the time, and addressed to his brother Ernest Deegan c/o Lord Francis Hope. Does that name sound familiar? Think diamond!

 

Hope_Diamond

Hope Diamond

According to Wikipedia, Henry Francis Hope Pelham-Clinton-Hope, 8th Duke of Newcastle-under-Lyne (3 February 1866 – 20 April 1941) was an English nobleman. He was educated at Eton College and Trinity Hall, Cambridge. He inherited the estate of his grandmother, Anne Adele Hope (widow of Henry Thomas Hope) in 1884, upon condition that he assume the name and arms of Hope upon reaching his majority; he did so in 1887 and became known as Lord Francis Hope.This bequest included the well-known Hope Diamond. He was Sheriff of Monaghan for 1897 and 1917.

Lord_Hope

Lord Francis Hope

He married American actress May Yohé in November 1894. She had gained fame on the London stage in 1893 and 1894, especially in the burlesque Little Christopher Columbus. He led an extravagant lifestyle, which the two continued together, and was discharged in bankruptcy in 1896. One journal wrote: “Pecuniary troubles, however, embarrassed the two but slightly. A future Duke and Duchess can always beg or borrow, and they did.

In 1900 they made a tour of the world, and on their way home fell in with Captain [Putnam] Bradlee Strong, at that time one of the handsomest and most popular men in the United States Army, and a special favourite with President McKinley. The actress fell head over ears in love with him. She refused to return to England with Lord Francis”. Hope divorced Yohé in 1902; at this time, he obtained court permission to sell off the Hope Diamond to pay some of his debts. After lengthy litigation in the Court of Chancery, he was able to break the entail on most of his grandmother’s trusts, and sold off The Deepdene in Surrey and Castleblayney in County Monaghan, Ireland.

Hope_BankruptLord Francis married Olive Muriel Owen, née Thompson, in 1904. They had 3 children:

  • Henry Edward Hugh Pelham-Clinton-Hope, 9th Duke of Newcastle-under-Lyne (1907–1988)
  • Lady Doria Lois Pelham-Clinton-Hope (1908–1942)
  • Lady Mary Pelham-Clinton-Hope (1910–1982)

He inherited the dukedom from his brother in 1928 and died in 1941 at Clumber Park.

If only my great Uncle had traded these cool postal art envelopes for that diamond … then again I understand it brings bad luck. Better to have the envelopes!

DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

REPOST: World War One Centenary – Family Lore and Family Loss

My grandfather on the far right with the Piche brothers

My grandfather on the far right with the Piche brothers

I often wonder what those men who managed to survive the “War to end all wars”, my grandfather among them, felt when twenty-odd years later they watched their sons go off to the battlefields of Europe once again.

With countless media reports and background pieces regarding the centenary of the start of World War One this year, I have on numerous occasions found myself thinking about a story that has been in our family for, well, about a hundred years. In early August of 1914 my maternal grandfather, like thousands of other young men, decided to answer the call and volunteer to go overseas and fight for King and country.

He had two very good friends, brothers Randolphe, a warehouse clerk, and James Piché, who was a millwright. They didn’t live on the island of Montreal as did my grandfather, but off the western tip. However their family home was a farm just north of Montreal in the foothills of the Laurentian Mountains, in what was then called Saint-Canut. This area is now part of a larger community called Mirabel. How my grandfather came to befriend these brothers is unknown. Regardless, one day in August of 1914 the three of them made their way to the Black Watch armoury recruiting center on Bleury Street in downtown Montreal and volunteered to join the 13th Battalion. Although the civic number on the building  has changed to a four-digit version, the  armoury  is still there and very active.

BlackWatchPosterOn August 6, 1914 then Prime Minister of Canada The Right Honourable Sir Robert Borden  announced that Canada would send troops overseas to fight. The Black Watch began accepting recruits the next day. Once signed on, men received daily training at the armoury in various aspects of combat until they left for Valcartier, Quebec on August 24, from whence they would sail for England.

Having signed up, and while waiting to go to Valcartier for yet more training before embarkation, one day my grandfather and his pals visited the Piché family farm. While there, so the story goes, Monsieur Prospere Piché, father to Randolphe and James, planted three trees – one for each of them. I suspect there was talk of strong roots at home to ensure their safe return and the like.

On August 24th the battalion left Montreal and headed off to Valcartier. Following a brief stay they then set sail and arrived in England in October of 1914 and continued training on Salisbury Plain. It was in February of 1915 that they saw their first action upon arrival  in France.

Black Watch Armorry. The address has changed from to 2067

Black Watch Armoury. The address has changed from 428 to 2067 Bleury Street

Fast forward a mere seven months from the call for recruits, and just weeks after their arrival at the front, to April 24 of 1915 and we have the death of Randolphe. Sadly this would be followed by James’ death just weeks later, sometime between the 20th and 23rd of May. Two brothers killed in action within a month.

Basil Randolphe Piché Killed in Action

Basil Randolphe Piché Killed in Action

James Piché Killed in Action

James Piché Killed in Action

James Harland Piché inscription on Vimy Ridge Memorial

James Harland Piché inscription on Vimy Ridge Memorial

 According to a newspaper piece from June 4, 1915, just days after Mrs. Piché received word of  her second son’s death she received a letter from him in which he outlines the heroic circumstances of his brother’ tragic end.

Gazette

My grandfather managed to survive the war, although he did lose the sight in one eye from a gun shot wound and suffered from emphysema due to being gassed (no doubt exacerbated by years of smoking).

However the truth is that whatever became of those trees is unknown, not nearly as romantic as a Hollywood ending I’m afraid.

Now about those trees. If this was a Hollywood screenplay instead of a blog post no doubt I’d be writing that two of the three trees had been struck by lightning, or died suddenly and mysteriously for no apparent reason at just about the same time the sad news was arriving at the Piché home. However the truth is that whatever became of those trees is unknown, not nearly as romantic as a Hollywood ending I’m afraid. Perhaps they are all still going strong, or maybe they were among the many trees that were hacked down to make way for Mirabel Airport.

I often wonder what those men who managed to survive the “War to end all wars”, my grandfather among them, felt when twenty-odd years later they watched their sons go off to the battlefields of Europe once again. Frustration? Anger? Waste?

DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

Toronto Maple Leafs Playoff Bound; CBC Hones Bias

Toronto Maple Leafs win Stanley Cup in 1967 (Bob Olsen/Toronto Star) – I did look for a colour photo but …

There won’t be any need for Viagra or Cialis in Toronto today. The beloved Maple Leafs have secured a spot in the National Hockey League playoffs. This will have the folks at the CBC in absolute raptures as post-season play returns to Canada’s largest hockey market. Big audiences mean big bucks.

I am happy that the long-suffering hockey fans of Toronto can get their hopes up; as they say, anything can happen in the playoffs. But what I am not looking forward to is the irksome pro-Toronto bias of the CBC.

The fact that the Leafs are marking a half-century since their last Stanley Cup victory makes their appearance in the playoffs just a wee bit sweeter. One good playoff run leading to a Cup and fifty years of futility will be erased. Never happened, a mere blip. Hockey will have been invented in Toronto on that day.

I am happy that the long-suffering hockey fans of Toronto can get their hopes up; as they say, anything can happen in the playoffs. But what I am not looking forward to is the irksome pro-Toronto bias of the CBC.

Let me state clearly that I harbour no belief that the NHL itself is in anyway biased towards the Leafs or any other team. Many will make that assertion but it is just silly. The NHL is a major business entity that would never stand for it. The officials are professionals who call ‘em as they see ‘em, both ways.

Tony Kubek (L) and Curt Gowdy

That having been said, the CBC most definitely proudly wears a huge Toronto tilt on its sleeve. Note that the broadcasts of hockey on the ‘national public broadcaster’ (i.e. the one supported by all Canadians tax dollars) are supposed to be neutral. Think back to before the current days of sports specialty channels when NBC’s Game of the Week was the only national baseball broadcast. Curt Gowdy and Tony Kubek would pop up on our black and white television from a different city each week, depending on the importance of the game. They provided play-by-play and colour commentary from a neutral perspective. They were NBC announcers, not Yankee or Red Sox or Dodger announcers. Hired guns if you will.

Sometimes watching a Leafs game on CBC can give the viewer the impression that the announcers are watching a different game altogether … It borders on the infantile

Sometimes watching a Leafs game on CBC can give the viewer the impression that the announcers are watching a different game altogether. A Leaf player bumping an opponent is described as a ’massive blow’, a Leaf player down must have been tripped, almost every Leaf goal is highlight reel worthy by their standards. It borders on the infantile. Like Gowdy and Kubek on NBC, the announcers of Toronto Maple Leafs games on CBC are NOT working for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Toronto Blue Jays announcers Buck Martinez and Pat Tabler work for Sportsnet specifically to do Jays play-by-play and colour commentary. Sportsnet is a private business. It is a whole different situation, even if the games are broadcast nationally.

However as a Montreal Canadiens fan perhaps I should keep schtum; who knows, maybe the Hockey gods don’t like the homer approach of the CBC and have been taking it out on the team and fans for fifty years!

DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

St. Patrick’s Day and Danny Boy

St. Patrick’s  trivia: The iconic Danny Boy is actually called The Londonderry Air.  Which should never be confused with a London Derrière.

LondonderryAir

To get you in the mood …

DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

Tweets From History

What if Twitter could be retro-fitted to suit history?!

DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+