Crime, History, Montreal, Westmount

Anniversary of horrific Montreal murder

On Wednesday, November 17, 1943 – 71 years ago tomorrow – the City of Westmount, a quiet well-to-do neighbourhood adjacent to downtown Montreal, was the site of an horrific murder. A 14 year old boy, George Webster using a baseball bat  bludgeoned his mother to death and attempted to kill other members of the household.

The details of the incident can be read in the article below, so I won’t relate them here. What I find interesting is the newspaper coverage of the tragic event.  The Gazette, a daily city-wide newspaper devoted substantial space to the murder and would continue to follow the story over the next few days and weeks as things unfolded. However I have been unable to find out what became of George Webster.

The Gazette November 18, 1943

One of the surviving victims was a woman visiting from Australia and the story was carried in the Australian newspaper The Age the next day

The Age, November 18, 1943

The Westmount Examiner was, at the time, the only local, or “community” newspaper; it was and is to this day a weekly publication. Having gone through the paper’s archives I can only find this small report that appears to have been included at the last moment. I understand that a paper that publishes on Thursday would be hard put to get in a piece on an event that happened on a Wednesday. But even the following edition, a full week later, has no reference to the incident.

Keep in mind that at the time of this grizzly murder in a peaceful neighbourhood, the world’s attention was on matters in Europe as the second World War was raging. Naturally much of the news in The Examiner focused on local residents overseas as well as war-related activities on the home front. This may account for the sparse coverage of the Webster affair; or perhaps it was a case of not airing the community’s dirty laundry in public. This was, after all a well respected and well off family. I don’t believe a current newspaper would let that get in the way of reporting the news, but I think there was a time when that was the case.

A personal footnote: my mother, then a preteen, was doing voluntary work in a school library that afternoon and saw young George Webster leaving the library.

I wonder what ever became of George …

Lovell’s Street Directory Montreal 1943

Me 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 DC on Twitter @DCMontreal and on Facebook, and add him on Google+
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Spring Break Used to be Easter

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!

I welcome others to post similar pieces and let me know so I can link to them here.
When I was a kid, Spring Break was Easter, four days that involved at least some time in church and definitely no wet T-shirt or beer drinking contests.

As I stepped out of my apartment building this morning I found myself wondering if I had the day wrong. I was setting off on my weekday morning run – something I’ve been doing for more years than a care to remember, but my knees will let you know – but I had to check to see that it wasn’t Sunday. The street was deserted; all was quiet, peaceful even. What was this? No kids shouting, no delivery trucks double-parked and bothering drivers. Then it hit me – Spring Break had arrived. What a misnomer that is when you consider that the temperature with the wind chill factored in as about -28C today.

When I was going to school we started on the Tuesday after Labor Day, had a day off at Canadian Thanksgiving (in October), then nothing until we broke up for Christmas. On December 23rd we left school and didn’t return until January 7th – the day after Epiphany. Ahead of us was the long stretch until Good Friday with no scheduled holidays. All our hopes were pinned on a few snow days to break the everlasting winter. At Easter we had a four-day weekend; Good Friday and Easter Monday sandwiching the Easter Weekend. Then it was Victoria Day around May 24th followed by the home-stretch to June 23rd and summer.

T-Shirt

Wet T-Shirt contestants shiver

For me as a kid, Spring Break was Easter, four days that involved at least some time in church and definitely no wet T-shirt or beer drinking contests. Even when I was at university I was too early to take advantage of Study Week; alas, it was implemented just a couple of years after I graduated. (Somehow I don’t think that ‘Study’ part fooled anyone!)

Now Spring Break is de rigueur at all levels of education and drives millions of dollars in tourism to ski hills and beach resorts alike. Some schools even have a two-week break, but that’s a bit much, I’d rather plug away and finish in time to enjoy our all too short summer.

Hope you all have a safe Spring Break. Even if I am a little jealous!

MeDCMontreal 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+
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Evolution of the Ubiquitous Pub Bumper Sticker

There used to be a bumper-sticker  that many bars posted as a joke. It was about a guy’s pondering  his chances of getting lucky, hooking-up, whatever term was in fashion at the time, and his desire to “cut to the chase”.  Below is a short evolution of that sign.

Bumper

MeDCMontreal 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+
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Daily Prompt: Good Fences?

Today’s Daily Prompt is Good Fences.  In 1914 Robert Frost wrote “Mending Wall” in which he states:

 

“Good fences make good neighbors.”

 

Of course if you make your living robbing things and selling them, you would probably prefer:

 

“Good neighbors make good fences.”

 

MeDCMontreal 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+
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Sochi Olympics 2014 Requirements: Good Luck and Good Security

I wish all athletes the best of luck in their sports, and I wish all who attend the Games venues in any capacity a safe experience.

With today’s opening ceremony in Sochi, the 2014 Winter Olympic Games will officially commence, even if there are so many competitions on the schedule that some actually began yesterday to fit the time-frame.

It is a sad reflection on our current state that, in the run-up to the Games, more attention has been paid to security concerns and politics than the athleticism of the participants. The latter I accept as a given; anytime you group people under national flags there will be politics. But the sad situation of security requirements is another kettle of fish. These young people from around the world train to compete in sports they love. Some vying for Olympic medals and fame while others taking advantage of participating against word-class athletes  to improve themselves. The only thing on their minds should be the drive and spirit of competition, not the fact – or fear – that someone is just as driven to destroy that spirit with terrorism.

Think what could have been done with the billions of dollars that had to be spent on Games security.

And so as the games are set to begin, I wish all athletes the best of luck in their sports, and I wish all who attend the Games venues in any capacity a safe experience.

Sochi

Canadian cities have decided to fly the gay pride rainbow flag atop City Halls during the course of the Games in protest of Russia’s anti-gay laws.

In the ancient Olympics the contestants participated nude. In a 180 degree shift, it might be sensible, not necessarily comfortable, for those attending Olympic events to do so naked. Let’s see you hide a bomb now!

MeDCMontreal 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+
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Coca-Cola’s Multilingual Superbowl Ad Gets a Mixture of Reactions

Would America the Beautiful sung in either of the two Seminole languages, …or the language spoken by the Cherokee Nation have received the same reaction? Would they have been told to speak English or go home? That could be tricky!

Living here in what I thought was the land of linguistic silliness, namely the Canadian province of Quebec, I had to shake my head and chuckle at the reaction to Coca-Cola’s multilingual America the Beautiful Superbowl advertisement. If you haven’t seen it yet, the ad featured the iconic song being sung in several languages that one assumes represent the many languages spoken in homes across the nation. A warm and fuzzy feeling was supposed to lead to people of all linguistic backgrounds running out and buying Coke.

Wrong!

The reaction has been described as ugly, evoking calls of speak English or go home. It would appear that the use of languages other than English when singing America the Beautiful rubs many Americans the wrong way, even if many people speak those languages in their homes everyday, and are people who have never lived anywhere but the United States, yet want to maintain the language of their parents.

The song heaps praise on the United States. Is the heaping, when done in Spanish or Creole, any less praising?

In officially bilingual Canada there are certainly those who balk at the actual national anthem, O Canada,  being sung in both official languages.  Some even find it annoying when the anthem is sung in any of several aboriginal languages.

Would America the Beautiful sung in either of the two Seminole languages, or the  Iroquoian language spoken by the Cherokee Nation have received the same reaction? Would they have been told to speak English or go home? That could be tricky!

It should be interesting when the full 90-second version airs during the Sochi Olympics.

MeDCMontreal 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+
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Photo Challenge: Juxtaposed Bus Lines and Bustlines

This week’s Photo Challenge is: Juxtaposition. I’ve always been a fan of this concept; balance, Yin Yang, call it what you will. The juxtaposed photos below illustrate an interesting cultural difference between those waiting for and boarding a bus in England and those doing likewise in North America. One group approaches the bus from the front, while the other lines up from the back.

British line on left, North American line on right

British line on left, North American line on right

Of course if bus lines aren’t your thing, one can also juxtapose bust lines!

Bust

MeDCMontreal 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+
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A Tale of Two Semi-Final Victors: Li Na and Richard Sherman

Trash-talking on the field, court or ice has long been part of sports.But once you’ve won, put it aside and show some class.

Canada’s Eugenie Bouchard’s exciting run at the Australian Open came to an end when fourth-seeded China’s Li Na defeated her in the semi-finals. The older and more experienced Chinese player won decisively 6-4, 6-2 over the 20th seeded 19-year-old who had become the sweetheart of the tournament.

In her post-match comments Li had nothing but praise for her opponent: “I think maybe she will be best player in the world. But today [I’m] so lucky,” she said during a court-side interview after the match. Then, in light of Bouchard’s large following at the Open, known as Genie’s Army, she jokingly said “Sorry about that, if you guys be happy, I will go home.”

A wonderful run by Genie Bouchard and a class act by Li Na.

PHOTO: AFP

PHOTO: AFP

Now if we look back to last Sunday’s NFL semi-final in which the Seattle Seahawks defeated the San Francisco 49ers to advance to the Super Bowl we find the other end of the post-game-victor interview. In what has now become a much ballyhooed rant by Seattle’s Richard Sherman, the corner-back of the winning team tears a strip off San Francisco receiver Michael Crabtree. He has subsequently apologized for his unsportsmanlike antics, but it may be a case of too little too late.

Trash-talking on the field, court or ice has long been part of sports. It’s a means of trying to get an edge on your opponent. But once you’ve won, put it aside and show some class. Perhaps the NFL trash-talkers could take a lesson from women’s tennis.

MeDCMontreal 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+
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Coronation Street: Fans Threaten Boycott Over Storyline

Hesmondhalgh and Neilson

Hesmondhalgh and Neilson

As I’ve mentioned in another post, my guilty pleasure is the long-running British soap opera Coronation Street. I’ve been watching it for years and can’t help but notice how it has changed over time to keep up with its audience. The soap has tackled a myriad of storylines and situations; from the ever popular love triangle to transsexual characters Coronation Street has been there, done that. But one of the current plots is drawing some criticism.

I can’t help but feel for those who might be facing a similar situation in their lives … and when seeking a bit of an escape from things in the form of a loved soap opera are doused with a bucket of cold reality.

The very popular character Hayley Cropper, played by Julie Hesmondhalgh, is going to be killed-off. Hesmondhalgh decided it was time to leave the show for other pursuits and the writers opted for a storyline in which Hayley is diagnosed with terminal cancer. The story has been playing out for several months now and has included Hayley making funeral plans, befriending another terminally ill woman who dies, and telling her husband Roy Cropper, played by David Neilson, that she will take charge in the end – alluding to her desire to commit suicide rather than die naturally.

The acting of Hesmondhalgh and Neilson has been nothing short of stellar as the disease takes its toll, physically and emotionally. In fact some Corrie fans are finding it too much and have threatened to boycott the final episode in protest. The tweet below from @_EllieT_x is one of many from disgruntled fans.

ET_Cropper

In my humble opinion the storyline has gone on too long. But more to the point I can’t help but feel for those who might be facing a similar situation in their lives – as the saying goes, in ‘real life’. Perhaps they are caring for a terminally ill loved one, or are themselves sick and, when seeking a bit of an escape from things in the form of a loved soap opera are doused with a bucket of cold reality. No matter how well the acting and writing has been, and it has been terrific, I don’t think this is the place for a drawn-out plot such as this.

MeDCMontreal 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+
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Popcorn vs Bullet in Florida Movie Incident

I can’t help but wonder what the outcome of this sad situation would have been had Reeves not brought a gun to the movie.

A face full of popcorn, even heavily buttered (or golden topped) and salty popcorn, never warrants a chest full of bullet. But that’s evidently what happened recently in a Florida movie theatre. The reports indicate that what triggered the shooting was one man’s annoyance at another man’s texting. I’m no fan of people texting and messaging during movies, but even I can grasp that we live in a time when many if not most people have no problem with this.

The accused, 71-year-old Curtis Reeves, is a retired police officer who at first glance seems to have a stellar record except for a couple of blips: early in his career one supervisor noted that “Reeves has a tendency to be impatient in regards to legal matters and practices now in force … and may be abrupt with complainants in some areas of the city.” Then in 1968 he was reprimanded for carelessly handling a city weapon.

Text

Evidently texting during a movie cost a Florida man his life.

Regardless of his past, his actions in the theatre are what this whole tragedy is about and no matter how good a cop he may have been, Chad Oulson is still dead. His wife still has a hole in her hand from where Reeves’ bullet passed through it on the way to her husband’s chest, but I suspect that’s the least of her troubles.

… this incident is a lose-lose situation: Oulson is dead and Reeves, after a fine police career, faces a second-degree murder charge.

As a Canadian, way up here in the land of the restricted gun, I can’t help but wonder what the outcome of this sad situation would have been had Reeves not brought a gun to the movie. I imagine he would have been just as peeved with Oulson over the texting and no doubt the argument would have taken place, even the popcorn toss. But the retaliation may have been along the lines of a thrown punch, resulting in a fat lip, not a gun shot leading to a fatality.

I’m sure there will be those who will opine that if Oulson had a gun of his own he could have defended himself against Reeves. But this incident is a lose-lose situation: Oulson is dead and Reeves, after a fine police career, faces a second-degree murder charge.

MeDCMontreal 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+
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