Canada, History, Humor, Montreal

Montreal cornerstones: A bit of history and one very old building

At one time there was a whole lot of cornerstone laying being done in Montreal. I think the tradition has been forgotten or just ignored. Maybe we haven’t built anything lately that merits a commemorative cornerstone. The bazillion condo projects currently under construction pale in comparison to the elegance of some of the city’s older buildings.

This first one is on what is now the René Lévesque, once Dorchester, side of the Montreal Children’s Hospital and was placed in 1956 by Paul Sauvé who would later have an arena named for him. It commemorates an extension to the hospital.



Concordia University’s Henry F. Hall Building was part of Sir George Williams before it merged with Loyola College to become Concordia. It seems appropriate the stone should have graffiti on it as the building was once the site of a riot.




The Sun Life Building has not one but two cornerstones, and given the stages of its construction I’ve got a hunch there’s a third somewhere.

1913–1918: 7-story southern part of base;

1923–1926: extension of base eastward and northward; and

1929–1931: 16-story set-back tower.

At the time of its completion the Sun Life Building was the biggest in terms of square footage in the British Empire. It housed the Royal Jewels during the Second World War. Today, it is Montreal’s 17th tallest building.



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Advertising, Humor

Bazooka Joe fired! Free agent needs a representative as hockey fans are dealing with an NHL-less fall, soon to be winter (any bets on spring?) comes news of another iconic loss: the brain trust at Bazooka Bubblegum has decided to re-brand the product and in the process eliminate the bazooka Joe comic.

By all means change the packaging if you think it will help generate sales, but the comic? Get real.

What`s worse, they`re replacing the comic strip with brain teasers and activities – does everything have to be educational? Can`t you just have a chew and a chuckle? What next? Vitamin enriched bubble gum?

“Instead of a cheesy joke,” Mr. Trani said, “we wanted to have a fun, engaging activity for kids, but the purpose wasn’t to not include Bazooka Joe.”

Cheesy joke?  Joe worked for these guys since 1953 and now he`s cheesy!

I imagine Bazooka Joe`s representative is already in talks with Double Bubble and Hubba Bubba to land him a new contract now that he`s an unrestricted  free agent.

History, Humor, Weekly Writing Challenge

Weekly Writing Challenge: With political cartoons less is more; Marshall McLuhan and Twitter

This week’s Weekly Writing Challenge posed the question: Are animated GIFs the stuff of junior high-school hijinks or, are they the political cartoons of the new millennium? What do you think? The simple answer is: they could be.

For me the key to a great editorial cartoon is simplicity; if the reader has to sift through large blocks of text then the essence of the cartoon is lost. In fact the art work is secondary to the message in many cases.

With newspapers cutting back or getting rid of their paper editions and moving to online publications it only seems natural that GIFs could play a role in editorial cartooning as they force the author to keep it simple.


And yet are we on a “less is more” downward spiral? Computers are smaller, phones are smaller, all fine when you’re talking physicality, but content is shrinking as well. My middle-aged mind has a tough time watching the rapid-fire angle changes used on MTV; slow down and let me catch up! Sometimes a little bit more is better.

Marshall McLuhan once famously opined “The medium is the message”. This statement has been discussed and dissected for years, but one thing is certain, it’s a great saying not only for its profundity, but because at 25 characters it fits nicely in a Tweet and even left McLuhan room for a few hash tags!


Divine intervention in strip club blast? Gotta be…

Don’t tell me the lord doesn’t work in mysterious ways. I’m sure he was talking to me this morning. There I was, good Irish Catholic lad getting ready to go to church when what pops up on my computer screen but: Gas blast destroys Massachusetts strip club, injures 18, Authorities thankful for “miracle” after Friday-night explosion that damaged several buildings does not lead to any fatalities”

Not often you see the words “strip club” and “miracle” in the same article, let alone sharing the headline.

So I’ve changed my plans, cashed the check that was destined for the collection plate into g-string one dollar bills and I’m off to be saved.

If the fact that all survived this terrible explosion doesn’t convince you of divine intervention, that it happened in a state often abbreviated to MASS has to ring some bells – church bells!! No?

Christmas, Humor

Pope and Drummer Boy to debate presence of animals at nativity; CNN’s Candy-Cane Crowley to moderate

In his new book Pope Benedict XVI claims that there were no animals present at the nativity.

According to the pope’s research, there is also no evidence in the Gospels that the cattle and other animals traditionally pictured gathered around the manger were actually present. – CNN

Yet the Little Drummer Boy clearly states that he was accompanied by at least two animals.

The ox and lamb kept time

– Little Drummer Boy

No doubt a heated theological debate will ensue with some siding with the Holy Father and others the Drummer Boy. Keep in mind that Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, was ordained in 1951 while The Little Drummer Boy was written in 1941, a full decade earlier, so that must give him seniority.

Maybe CNN can continue its coverage of this issue by televising a debate between the Pope and the Drummer Boy moderated by, naturally, Candy-Cane Crowley!




Advertising, Blogging, Humor, Montreal

Black Friday and 300th blog post – two reasons to celebrate

Please see news release below regarding 300th blog post and celebratory retail sales:

(Montreal – November 23, 2012) Today I am pleased to present this,  my 300th blog post. There have been some funny posts and some sad ones, short ones and long ones. Thanks for all your “likes”, I hope to continue to merit them as I blog.

And to celebrate this anniversary North American retailers have gotten together and decided to put virtually everything on sale. Don’t believe me? Hop on down to your nearest big box store or almost any store for that matter (unless you already have considering many stores were going to open at midnight last night or even earlier in anticipation of this 300th post). You’re sure to see your neighbors taking advantage of unbelievable sales; they may be referring to it as Black Friday, there may even be a sign or two with that on it, be we know better, don’t we?

So go on and tell them DCMontreal sent you – it couldn’t hurt!

Hey c’mon … a guy can dream a bit!!

Back when I was young, Humor, Montreal, Nostalgia

Back when I was young: In Montreal breakfast was an art, and the spud was the canvas

They say that one of the signs you’re getting old is that you find yourself, more and more often, using phrases such as: When I was a boy/girl, Back when I was young, In my day, When I was a kid. Well, you get the idea. Rather than fight this tendency I’ve decided to embrace it by posting, on occasion, blog entries the title of which will begin with “Back when I was Young”.

I welcome others to post similar pieces and let me know so I can link to them here.

Back when I was young Montreal was awash with breakfast restaurants. Not the chains that have taken over the niche recently and serve cookie-cutter meals, but one-off restaurants that put a bit of a spin on their breakfast fare, then served lunch and dinner.

There was the Cock ‘n’ Bull (Sunday’s only and they called it brunch so it may not qualify) and Lentzos at the corner of Guy and St. Catherine (I know, there was another one in Plattsburgh, NY but that still doesn’t add up to a chain), Cosmo’s on Sherbrooke Street which is still going strong and many hotels had breakfast buffets that were affordable.

If we analyze the meal itself, we find that the key to a great breakfast out isn’t the eggs or the bacon (and certainly not the window dressing wilted lettuce leaf and sliced fruit – if I’m about to ingest a week’s worth of cholesterol, I’d rather you didn’t try to fool me into thinking it’s a healthy meal, just let me enjoy it).

With the possible exception of poached, anyone can do eggs – fry or scramble them, over easy or sunny side up; not a great challenge. No, the true test of a breakfast out is the potatoes, or home fries, which, given where you’re eating them should be restaurant fries (and oddly some of the best I ever had were at the Morning Star Restaurant in New York City), but I digress.

The restaurant chains serve pre-fab fries; virtually uniform in shape and size – and often taste, they are delivered in huge plastic bags from some central “kitchen” and thrown on the grill as needed. Some are clearly real potatoes but others look like something you can find in the freezer section of a grocery store with the word “Tots” in the product name.

Real home fries come from real taters. Prepared from scratch and grilled with a varying variety of spices, herbs and the odd tomato thrown in – whatever is to hand. Breakfast cooks are artists and the initial bland, starchy potato is their canvas with which they can be creative, really go to town – the spud is their oyster, as it were. No two servings from the same place should be identical; similar yes, but not identical. Allow for some imagination; Cajun spice or shallots, mushrooms once in a while even a bit of garlic.

Chains of breakfast restaurants serving pre-fab home fries; what have we come to? There ought to be a law

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Canada, Humor, Montreal

Cojones, nads or pills, whatever you call them this innovative Montreal panhandler has them, but for how long?

We’ve all seen panhandlers working different angles. Their little signs written in black marker on sections of cardboard boxes seeking funds for a trip home, or food. Sometimes they use honesty as in: “Need money for beer” or “Conducting alcohol research need endowment”. One of the more popular signs was “Too ugly for prostitution”; he was, but many folks stopped by for a picture with him and his sign. I hope they gave him a buck or two.

Today on Ste. Catherine Street in Montreal, right outside the Apple Store, I saw a rather innovative panhandler; he was sporting a sign that simply said:

“Kick me in the nuts for $5”

Now that’s a different approach! At least he was offering something.

Did I take him up on his offer you may ask? Certainly not … I was wearing running shoes. I’m not going to pay $5 to kick someone in the choir buttons with runners on. Maybe next time  I see him I’ll be wearing proper shoes, or even boots. Then maybe I’ll part with a fin to have a go-nad!!

C’mon, I’m just joking, I wouldn’t kick anyone, but I do hope he makes a few dollars for his creativity.

Logo_3DCMontreal 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 Freans and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DC on Twitter @DCMontreal and on Facebook, and add him on Google+