February 14th, 2007

Take Me Back to Griffintown

Posted in Canada, Heritage and Preservation, History by Christopher DeWolf

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Griffintown is one of my favourite neighbourhoods to explore: the grime of history coats its buildings, past lives lurk in shadowy corners. Its quiet streets contain the treasures of industrial ruins and a community lost; they are the perfect place for a lonely nighttime stroll.

I’m not alone. Long-neglected Griffintown has become the darling of architecture students, historians and artists. Musicians discover new bands at Friendship Cove, an unmarked loft on Ottawa Street; artists have a new home in the Darling Foundry and its Quartier éphémère. The story of Griffintown’s displaced Irish community is now an essential part of Montreal’s folklore.

As much as I love it, though, I don’t feel quite qualified to talk about Griffintown. I feel obliged to defer to those who know more intimately its story.

One of those people is Kristian Gravenor, a local writer who runs one of Montreal’s best blogs, Coolopolis. (He’s also the author of the indispensable Montreal: The Unknown City.) Gravenor wrote about Griffintown a number of times for his now-defunct column in the Montreal Mirror, but a feature he wrote in 2004 serves as a pretty good introduction to the neighbourhood’s current state of affairs.

The area south of Notre-Dame between McGill and Guy has long been in decline due to what one might consider an intentionally malevolent government policy dating back at least to 1960, when Mayor Jean Drapeau deemed that all new structures be industrial. As the cold water flats occasionally burned down they would be replaced by empty lots or warehouses. The Bonaventure expressway then cut a man-sized swathe through the neighbourhood, and dilapidation continued unabated as renovation grants common elsewhere weren’t available to Griffintown. Under Jean Doré, Griffintown suffered its most recent insult: it’s now officially known as Faubourg des Récollets.

All agree, however, that the most painful blow to the fabled tight-knit Irish community occurred in 1970, when St. Ann’s church was demolished.

According to Griffintown-born Denis Delaney, “The Catholic Church decided to get rid of either St. Ann’s in Griffintown or St. Patrick’s Basilica, and even though St. Patrick’s is impressive, it wasn’t an obvious choice because St. Ann’s was well attended. Busloads of people would come down to the Tuesday devotions to visit the picture of Mother of Perpetual Health. It was said to cause miracles. Even my mother used to say that it did something for her but she never told us what it was.”

Delaney, who now lives in Westmount, frequently rides his bike down to the old area to reminisce about his youth. “The canal was our summer resort. I’d say about six or seven kids drowned there when I was growing up. There was the Oka Sand barge that would park down there, which was basically a big rectangular thing with a big pyramid of sand on it. We’d climb up the sand and dive off. One time a kid swam against the other side of the barge but it moved against the wall and he couldn’t get out.

“We’d dive off the Black’s Bridge at Wellington and dive to the bottom of the canal and grab a handful of silt from the bottom – that was probably highly polluted – and show the other idiots this stuff. Every spring they’d empty the canal and find old cars and occasionally somebody who’d been murdered.”

Delaney also confesses to his role in the local legend of the mysterious disappearance of Neptune’s bronze leg from the John Young statue. “One day we were playing in the fountain [beneath the statue] and we knocked off the leg by accident and we ended up hiding it on a cart and bringing it to a metal worker who gave us $1.85 for it as scrap metal.”

Although the memories are sweet, Delaney also remembers how heat and food were luxuries, while hot water was unheard of. “These homes had only one tap, it was the cold water tap in the kitchen.”

Local filmmaker Richard Burman, who spent five years meeting dozens of former Griffintowners for his documentary The Ghosts of Griffintown (it airs on CFCF Saturday, March 13 at 3 p.m.), considers it an “unusual neighbourhood.” “People felt passionate about living there. It wasn’t a rich neighbourhood but they had everything – sports and culture and a self-sufficient community. It impressed me to meet people who remember their neighbourhood quite fondly and like to get together and reminisce about it – it amazes me.”

Burman says that the Irish started abandoning Griffintown after the War. “I guess they were tired of it but of course they maybe didn’t realize what they were going to lose. Maybe they didn’t realize their feelings for the area were so strong until after they left.”

(…)

The old Griffintown is gone, never to return. “I used to hear this song since I was about five years old.” [Delaney] sings: “Take me back to Griffintown Griffintown Griffintown, that’s where I long to be/Where my friends are good to me/Hogan’s Bath on Wellington Street where the Point bums wash their feet/Haymarket Square I don’t care anywhere/For it’s Griffintown for me.”

Sharon Doyle Driedger delves a bit more deeply into the background of her childhood neighbourhood in an essay she wrote for Maclean’s four years ago.

Historians given the neighbourhood only a few grudging paragraphs. In 1654, Paul de Chomedey de Maisonneuve, the founder of Montreal, granted the land that would eventually become Griffintown to Jeanne Mance, a pious woman who, with the nuns of the Hôtel-Dieu, ran the city’s first hospital. The nuns rented out parcels of the seigneurial property for farming until Thomas McCord came along. In 1791, this canny Irish Protestant, having heard talk of a new railway and a canal, realized the commercial potential of the sleepy suburb adjacent to the port of Montreal and acquired a 99-year lease on the property. He nearly lost it in a swindle: Mary Griffin, whose husband, Robert, owned a nearby soap factory, bought the contract – illegally – from one of McCord’s associates while he was abroad. McCord eventually reclaimed the property in 1814, after a decade-long court battle, but by then Griffin’s name had stuck.

At the height of the potato famine in the mid-19th century, as many as 30,000 Irish immigrants arrived in Montreal each year. Thousands died during quarantine in fever sheds, but many of the survivors settled in Griffintown. Jobs were plentiful in what was Canada’s first industrial area, spurred on by the construction of the nearby Lachine Canal, the Grand Trunk Railway and the Victoria Bridge. But working conditions were grim: 15-hour days of back-breaking labour for a meagre wage – leading, in 1843, to one of Canada’s first labour strikes.

Living conditions were also precarious in those early years. On low-lying land at the edge of the river, and lacking the sewers and paved roads that graced the wealthy “upper city,” Griffintown was prone to flooding. Fire was also a constant threat to the mostly wood-frame buildings; one blaze in 1852 spread through half of Griffintown, leaving 500 families homeless. But those early immigrants – among them my great-grandparents, Danny Doyle and Sarah Coffey from County Cork – who were sturdy enough to survive the coffin ships and fever sheds, sank their roots into Canada and transcended those shantytown conditions.

Over the next century or so, Griffintown grew into a vibrant, working-class neighbourhood. “Oh, yes, we suffered,” says Charlie Blickstead, 96. The former Montreal fire department division chief remembers classmates in St. Ann’s who died of tuberculosis, and others forced to drop out of school. “They had to help feed the family,” he says. But the descendants of the men who built the canal and the railway worked their way up to white-collar jobs as Griffintown produced its share of success stories – wealthy businessmen, Olympic athletes, teachers, doctors, a federal cabinet minister. What makes Griffintown unique is that many chose to remain, even after they had made it. “Mordecai Richler used to speak of St. Urbain Street – how it was in his blood,” says Father Thomas McEntee, 79, a member of the Order of Canada, born and raised in Griffintown. “That’s the same kind of passion that Griffintowners had – a very warm feeling in our heart.”

There’s not much left of Griffintown. Students and artists, attracted by the funky charm of the few remaining houses, have moved in next to a handful of old-timers. In 1963, the city rezoned the area for industrial use. One by one, landlords demolished residential properties, forcing long-time tenants to move. Huge swaths were flattened to make room for the Bonaventure Expressway. Then, in 1970, St. Ann’s, the beloved parish church, was torn down. “They broke three cables before they got the steeple down,” says Amelia Murphy, 86, who watched the demolition from her house across the street. “It was heartbreaking.” A few years later, the wrecking ball returned to knock down St. Ann’s Academy, polished to perfection by the nuns since 1864. The final blow came in 1990, when the city gave Griffintown a new French name – Faubourg-des-Récollets, for the first order of missionaries to settle in Canada. Don Pidgeon, 66, the United Irish Societies’ historian and a former Griffintowner, still fumes over the decision. “It’s saying the Irish never existed.”

But you can’t bulldoze memories. And the spirit of Griffintown is as irrepressible as the weeds that force their way through the bricks and stones in its now mostly vacant lots. “To this day, Griffintowners feel a connection,” says Pidgeon, who leads tours of the neighbourhood. Leo “Clawhammer Jack” Leonard’s Horse Palace, a stable that dates back before 1867, serves as an unofficial drop-in centre for nostalgic visitors who return to stroll through the empty streets, conjuring up a lost era. On one such occasion, McEntee, looking over the park where St. Ann’s Church once stood, began to sing the old neighbourhood anthem: “Oh, take me back to Griffintown, Griffintown, Griffintown, that’s where I long to be, with the folks so dear to me.”

We all have our own private Griffintowns. In Blickstead’s, horses clatter down cobblestone streets; a saloon stands on nearly every corner; a wooden sidewalk lines Dupré Lane. In my Griffintown, Fords and Chevys roll down paved streets; the blue glow of television shines out of a few windows; there’s only one tavern. I arrived in the 1950s, the first of Muriel and Danny Doyle’s 12 children, when hot water had begun to flow in the cold-water flats and electric appliances began to replace wood stoves and iceboxes. But it was the people who made Griffintown. Even as a child, I learned to treasure the tragicomic tales of the saints and sinners who inhabited our streets. “There was always something going on,” says Bryant. “It was like theatre.”

Griffintown had the atmosphere of an old black-and-white movie. Think The Bells of St. Mary’s, with nuns and priests and Irish brogues and choirs singing Latin hymns. Then throw in the Bowery Boys, the soft-hearted, tough guys wisecracking on the corner. The sidewalks were busy, and familiar voices and laughter, along with the odd shout and clatter, would filter through the shutters, joining the whiff of yeast from the brewery, the scent of chocolate from Lowney’s factory. The red-brick houses, hard to the sidewalk, made a dramatic backdrop for some larger-than-life characters. Griffintowners found amusement in the steady stream of peddlers, milkmen, ragmen and eccentrics who made their way down the streets. “No one was ever lonely, or bored,” says John (Moscow) Hanley Jr., 74. “Just living here, period, was funny.”

Hook-the-Hat, the old lady who would pull the hats off passersby with a long, curved stick, was gone by my time. So was Johnny Fish, a tall, wiry gentleman who would shuffle along, in his top hat and plaid scarf, providing forecasts in a solemn voice to children taunting, “What’s the weather, Johnny?” Hanley recalls how, when the iceman made his regular rounds, kids would run home and yell, “Here comes Stacey!” The iceman drove a truck in the ’50s, but, like Hanley in his day, we too would get bits of ice from the back of his transport: free if flavourless popsicles.

Families were big, strong and traditional. “My mother, God love her, had her hands full,” says Blickstead, the lone boy in a family of six children. “The women did the washing and scrubbed the floors by hand, cooked over a wood stove – a baby under one arm. But my mother would say, ‘I was never so happy as when I had one in me belly and one on me hip.’ ” And few would argue fathers’ right to a pint or two in the evening. “There was a lot of drinking but you could see why,” says Bryant. “The men had to go out and make a living at miserable bloody jobs. They had to have some relief. My father was a good, good person, but he would shoot craps with the guys in the lane.”

On fine summer evenings, we would sit on the front steps and chat with friends and neighbours out for a stroll. The guys would join their buddies on the corner. “That’s what we did,” says Blickstead. “Go to work all day – those who had jobs – go home, have supper, wash up, put on our peak caps, blue shirts and our tan shoes and hang around the candy store – all dressed up.”

Griffintown was, in spite of its poverty, obviously quite a lively place, one of those almost mythical neighbourhoods where people had nicknames like Hook-the-Hat and Clawhammer Jack. Everybody who lives there seems to have quirky stories to tell. Gravenor relates one of them.

Delaney also confesses to his role in the local legend of the mysterious disappearance of Neptune’s bronze leg from the John Young statue. “One day we were playing in the fountain [beneath the statue] and we knocked off the leg by accident and we ended up hiding it on a cart and bringing it to a metal worker who gave us $1.85 for it as scrap metal.”

Driedger tells another.

Happy Furlong’s life was saved by a quart of beer. When the elderly carriage driver left his rooming house at the corner of Shannon and Ottawa streets in Griffintown shortly after 10 a.m., to buy his favourite ale at the local corner store, he had no idea that an RAF Liberator was about to take off from a supply base in Dorval. That 25-ton bomber, on a classified mission to Europe on that drizzly spring morning of April 25, 1944, would develop engine trouble as it approached Mount Royal. My uncle, Frank Doyle, then an 11-year-old student in St. Ann’s Boys’ School, a block from Furlong’s flat, remembers how the plane swooped over the school as the pilot made a desperate attempt to reach the river. “We were just coming in after recess,” he says. “We heard this big noise, zoom, it shook the place. Brother Edward, our teacher, said, ‘Stay here and pray.’ ” God saved the schoolchildren. The plane missed the school and crashed into the block where Furlong lived. Nine of his neighbours, a beat constable, and the plane’s five crew members died.

The ultimate Griffintown story, however, is that of Mary Gallagher, a Griffintown prostitute who was murdered—beheaded!—on June 27, 1879. Local lore insists that the headless Gallagher returns each year on the anniversary of her death to haunt the neighbourhood. There’s so much meat in her story that journalist Alan Hustak was able to flesh out a whole book from it, Ghost of Griffintown.

Some murders are remembered for generations –some because they were particularly gruesome, others because they involved unlikely victims, and still others because they remain unsolved. The murder of Mary Gallagher in Montreal on June 27, 1879 still makes the flesh creep. It was an especially vicious crime that was unusual for the time because it involved “monstrous, unnatural female behavior,”—one prostitute decapitating another with an ax.

At the time, homicide was almost unheard of in Montreal, then a city of 140,000. Compared to the United States, where the murder rate was ten times as high, there were comparatively few murders in Canada – no more than a dozen each year, and relatively few convictions. In the twelve years between Confederation in 1867 and 1879, for example, only six people, all men, were executed for murder in Quebec, only one of them in Montreal. Only two women had been sent to the gallows in Canada in that time. From the moment it happened, the grisly crime struck a chord with Victorians who were equally fascinated and repelled by deviant behavior. The murder of Mary Gallagher triggered an orgy of lurid stories—most of them invented—and gave rise to a ghostly legend, “a phantom far removed from truth.” To this day, the story lives on in the Griffintown neighborhood.

Much of this area, located south of the heart of down town Montreal, between the present-day Bell Centre and the Lachine Canal, was razed in the 1960’s to make way for the Bonaventure Expressway, but Mary Gallagher remains “The Griff’s” resident ghost. For years, children who grew up in the area avoided the haunted south-east corner at William and Murray streets (directly behind the present-day École de technologie supérieure) where the crime took place. It is said that Gallagher returns every seven years in search of her head. Some believe she was the victim of jealousy; others speculate she and her killer were lesbian lovers; still others believe that the woman convicted of the crime, Susan Kennedy, was innocent. In 1999,local resident Dennis Delaney told the CBC’s Anna Asimakopulos that, as a boy growing up in Griffintown, “children used to take her candy and little bags of treats, and things like that, and we’d leave them for her and then we’d run away so she wouldn’t harm us.”

The last time a newspaper actually reported a Mary Gallagher sighting was in 1928, but Delaney, who admits he has a vivid imagination, claims to have seen the ghost three times: first in 1937 when he was four; again in 1956 on Gallery Square; and the last time, by the light of a full moon, in 1998. He said he “looked up one night and saw a house appear” on the vacant lot at William and Murray, “and in the yellow light through the upstairs window, like a lamp. I saw a figure standing there, and it asked me, ‘Will you help me look for my head?’ I said ‘Yes’, and then she asked me to close my eyes, and I could feel something, like a rising up around me, and when I opened my eyes, the house had vanished and she was gone.”

I’ve never seen the ghost of Mary Gallagher, but I have seen the ghost of Griffintown, lurking so lonesomely by the Lachine Canal.

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39 comments

  1. Domhnall O hAinlighe says:

    Chris
    Fantastic article.
    As some of you know, I am an Irishman lving part time in Griffintown, usually when attending IATA or other air law conferences in Montreal, but often just for fun.
    I am probably one of the few Irish Gaelic speakers in the area now; our choice of Griffintown was coincidental but I must admit it is nice knowing that “my people” were here before me. So much for self selection of areas by migrants!
    Chris, you might be interested in the work of Lisa Gasior – what you are doing visually for Montreal ,she is doing auditorily, aurally, er….by sound. I met her a few years ago at the Lowney Lofts where she explained her project to record the sounds of Griffintown. I found a website with sound files before which I cannot find right now but here is her website: http://www.griffinsound.ca/

    Now, who can recreate it olfactorily…..

    February 14th, 2007 at 12:27 pm

  2. Domhnall O hAinlighe says:

    PS – it would be interesitng to collaborate on a multi sensory guide. I reead when I was back in Ireland last week that Trinity College plans to create an online 3D replica of a few blocks of downtown Dublin that would enable visitors to experience the city prior to visting it – thew idea is it will be updated from time to time to ensure it is uptodate. The only model of the universe may be the universe but the city may soon no longer be the only avatar of itself….

    February 14th, 2007 at 12:32 pm

  3. Domhnall O hAinlighe says:

    I found one of the sound recordings here here – http://www.saveoursigns.org/editorial/ – scro;ll down to September 30, 2006

    February 14th, 2007 at 12:36 pm

  4. Domhnall O hAinlighe aka Donal Hanley says:

    Man am I surfing at work today.

    One other thought – as far as I can tell, Griffintown used to extend either side of the autoroute. However, that part of it east thereof is in the arrondissement de Ville Marie whereas that part to the west is in the arrondissmeent du Sud-Ouest. As far as I know, only that part in Ville Marie was renamed Faubourg des Recollets, leaving open the possibility that the part in Le Sud-Ouest is still Griffintown….the website for the arronideesemtn du Sud-Puest refers to “les dialogues de Griffintown”. Thus, Griffintown appears to live on, albeit restricted to that portion of it west of the autoroute.

    February 14th, 2007 at 2:13 pm

  5. factotum says:

    That top photograph is taken right outside the door to the building where I share a studio, 141 Ann Street. Over the years, I’ve posted many pictures of Griffintown on my photo blog
    http://moblog.co.uk/blogs.php?show=7467
    Most of them have been tagged Griffintown, so they should be easy to find by any one who is interested.

    February 14th, 2007 at 2:53 pm

  6. Sharleen McCambridge says:

    Very interesting site, many griffintowners still around the island and off. You could find many through St.Gabriels Parish, Erin Sports Assoc.. as well as the UIS. Many of these have not strayed far and can be found in Point St.Charles,Verdun, Lasalle, West Island etc… Check out http://www.the point.ca as well.

    On parade day, many still gather to walk in memory of St. Ann’s parish. I beleive this is a dedication to community that does not exist elsewhere, since the actual church has been gone for more that 30 years..
    My Family as well as many others have many stories.
    Boyles, Doyles, Kellys, Donahues, McCambridges, Clahanes, Dohertys, Gearys, Loris, Rowley, Spears, Fitzgerald, O’Neil, Neil, O’Toole, Hanley, the list goes on.
    I strongly reccommend that when speaking to people, ask for other contacts in order to expand on and conitnue the growth of this historical data.
    My father Mickey is now gone and he cherished St.Ann’s.

    March 9th, 2007 at 9:02 pm

  7. Can a Shopping Mall Save Griffintown?…Maybe. « Save Griffintown! says:

    [...] suburban mall at the foot of one of Montreal’s central boulevards, in the middle of Griffintown and adjacent to Old Montreal, ignores both the “retail DNA” of Montreal and the history [...]

    September 17th, 2007 at 1:24 pm

  8. karen says:

    awesome time reading this. my ancestors lived in griffintown. surnames traynor, ryan, murphy. traynor’s lived on the corner of barre st and mc cord. don’t know much more. would like to hear from anyone that does !

    October 22nd, 2007 at 1:04 am

  9. Terrence Flanagan says:

    As a Griffintowner (1935-1951), I know quite a bit of the history of the place DURING MY ERA and that’s not a whole lot of history of the locale. As I read what other folks have to say about the place, I am coming to the conclusionn that Griffintown is rapidly becoming a state of mind, rather than a geographical place. Once my generation is gone, nobody will have a first hand knowledge of the airplane crash, the CNR overpass, Darling Bros. when it was still a foundry, Atlas press, Montreal Heat Light & Power, Griffintown Club, William Lunn School, Lowneys, Pesners, Leduc druggist, #10 Police station on Montfort Lane, St. Helens Church, St. Edwards Church, Haymarket Square, O’connell baths, the comfort station opposite St. Ann’s etc etc etc….and in the context of history as a whole, will it really matter? I haven’t mentioned people, have I. I couldn’t count them or name them, but that’s what the whole place was about.

    Terry Flanagan

    November 15th, 2007 at 5:01 pm

  10. Bernice Moore says:

    My name is Bernice Moore(notaro) I lived in Griffintown from 1940 to 1955.Family lived at the corner of William & Eleanor. I would like to hear from former neighbors and friends.

    January 23rd, 2008 at 5:08 pm

  11. William (billy) Dufour says:

    MYGOSH,
    I HAVE BEEN SURFING THROUGH THESE SITES AND SPENT HOURS LOOKING AT THE PAST IN OLD GRIFF.
    I AM A DECENDENT OF A BISHOP PATRICK MURRAY OF ST.GABS.MY MOTHER SIDE THE “MURRAYS” I HUNG AROUND THE GOOSE VILLAGE ON CONWAY ST. WITH ROBERT MITCHEL 1946 AND MY DA WORKED FOR E.R.CASEY CONST. ON YOUNG ST.AND KILLFETHERS TRANSP.I GREW UP AROUND THE POINT AND GRIFF WITH RONIE BARRIE, ON DUKE ST ARMAND SAVOIE ETC AND NOW AT 73 I STILL GET MY BEERS AT THE CAPRI AND TALK ABOUT THE PAST WITH GREAT DELIGHT, WHAT A TOWNE, WHAT GOOD PEOPLE.

    March 12th, 2008 at 9:03 pm

  12. Gary K says:

    I use to go to St. Ann’s. The old school next door to Kings Transfer Van Lines.

    I took a visit a few years ago and what a change. I was looking for that gressy spoon (Gleasons) Anyone remember it?

    March 22nd, 2008 at 9:52 pm

  13. Terrence Flanagan says:

    Gary K makes mention of a greasy spoon named Gleasons. Oddly, I don’t remember Gleason’s store being anything but a small store, one that didn’t serve counter food, located at the corner of Ottawa and McCord Sts., or as Robert de Niro called it in the movie “The Source”, Ottawa and de la Montagne. I always wondered who their local advice was with the script in that movie. As for that school beside present day Kings Transfer, that was St. Ann’s Kindergarten, where the Sisters of Providence held the reins for the little gaffers attending grades one and two. Funny the things you remember over the years, one of my memories is of the small schoolyard at the back of the Kindergarten, with the sound of milk bottles clashing together over the back fence at Cousins Dairy on Murray St.

    Terry Flanagan

    April 7th, 2008 at 5:25 pm

  14. Donna says:

    Thank you for this site. It’s so important to keep these neighbourhoods alive. To live in Giffintown was to know your neighbours, to rely on them, and to have them rely on you.

    My “people” immigrated to Giffintown, first in 1886 (Reddys & McGinns) and then the O’Donnells in 1909, my grandfather’s people (Mulcahy) were here in 1879. The last of my people that actually lived in this neighbourhood was back in the late 40s.

    Thanks again

    April 16th, 2008 at 10:47 am

  15. Thomas Ward says:

    This site is so great. I knew little of my grandfather, let alone that he had family. But my recent discovery of the rest of the family and them living at 189 Ottawa in the early 1900′s led me on a quest for more about St. Ann’s, where their records originate.

    Reading the history of Griffintown sends shivers up my spine. It feels like I know this place. My father and myself are Police officers and I find my Grandfather’s Dad (Pat) was listed as a Policeman from around 1897 to 1922.

    I’ll be there soon.

    Tom from Chicago

    May 14th, 2008 at 10:35 am

  16. Bernice Moore (Notaro) says:

    I would like to let whomever is responsible for this column know how much it is appreciated. I recently took a trip thru Griffintown and was saddened at how much of it is gone. My old home at the corner of Eleanor and William is now a junk yard.It is so sad. Interested in hearing from anyone from that era.

    June 24th, 2008 at 11:52 am

  17. Ann Mundey says:

    This is a very interesting website and it certainly brings back alot of memories my Dad was born and raised in Griffentown and I remember he would tellme that he would plow the streets of Montreal (must have been 1920′s -1930′s I guess ) with horses but at this point very hard to find anything on this no one is left to ask. I think that this is a great idea to keep in touch and keep the memories alive, I will keep trying to find info on the Mundey famiy. Great Website

    June 29th, 2008 at 7:57 pm

  18. Marilyn Batten Patwell says:

    Hi – I am an ex-Griffintowner – married to an ex
    Griffintown also. I was glad to see a note from Terry Flanagan – I hung around with Mary for many years – have not heard from her and would love to hear from her – also Hi to Bernice Moore – remember the family well – we lived on McCord between William and Ottawa. I have many happy memories of our life in Griff. As I entered the working field after St Anns – Darcy and St Pats – many people asked me where I came from as I was in the sales field in most of my working years (there were 43 of them), I was always proud as punch that I came from Griff and I toild anyone who asked.
    One thing that I read on the site – I dont know which site was a note by Dennis Delaney who said he ate from the garbage cans outside of Mother Martins and that he had bed bugs and cockroaches in his house. I would like to add that we had none of the critters he talked about and my Mother put on a good table for her family – My Father worked every day and took every hour of overtime he could get – he brought his pay home – we missed nothing – I guarantee that – I wish Tommy and I could have done for our 2 what was done for us – Mine had a swimming pool in the backyard – attended Villa Maria and were given every advantage that could be given. Before my Mother passed I drove to down to Griff and showed her all around – I showed her the new condos on Mountain and Notre Dame across from the Town Casino – told her they were selling at $500,000 – my Mother replied “I hope they will be as happy as we were”. I guess that about says it all. Regards to all.

    August 2nd, 2008 at 1:00 pm

  19. Irina says:

    Действительно хорошую информацию трудно добыть. (А сделать с ней что-нибудь – ещё труднее) :)

    August 29th, 2008 at 8:04 pm

  20. Christiane Berthiaume says:

    The Berthiaume Family lived on Murray Street. We had a restaurant on Ottawa and Murray which was called St. Ann’s. There was my mother and father and the children Johnny, Liliane who has now passed away, Denise, Rolland,Christiane,and Marie.
    This is a very interesting sight. Thank you.

    October 10th, 2008 at 9:12 pm

  21. Dorothy Salois says:

    Thanks to whomever, for this site! It’s a journey down the proverbial memory lane, indeed! I was born and raised in Griff, (30′s thru 50′s) Attended St Ann’s Academy, and lived on Young Street close to the beloved St Ann’s Church. remember Gleason’s, where Danny Tucker used to make a great hamburger, and Miss Healey, the only lay Teacher at St Ann, would go every day after school, to unwind with a cup of coffee, before catching her street car to Verdun. Among my friends were, Maureen Burton, Joanie Andrews, Louise Mercantini, Betty Boyce, to name a few. I would love to hear from others from Griff. Thank you! dotsal@tx.rr.com

    January 10th, 2009 at 8:48 am

  22. joseph faherty says:

    i know many people from grifftown and never her a word about people eating out of garbage cans or whatsoever i worked with mr.batten marlyin her father a great man who worked at cp telecommunication. billy wilson gordie bernier &MANY other people who came from grifftown never ate from garbage . i been to MRS WILSON house on many st patricks days parades and its in griffintown on ottawa st open house to any one there were no kinds of bugs just good old fashion irish music and booze. anyone who wish to sing or whatever was decent was welcome sorry mr denis delaney but i don!t believe a word you said my last thing to say is i play with many many people from grifftowmn and have many friends from there and tommy knows he one of them. this man worked at the port of montreal and helped oout many &many people god bless all the people from griffintown and the gooseville we all the same people. me last words to dennis delaney MY ALSO FRIENF CONNIE GLEASON MAY HAVE TURN OVER IN HIS GRAVE HEARING ABOUT GARBAGE. last but not leastly nobody from point st charles or griffintown or village hate garbage from trascans. our parents worked hard for us and i always had great food on my table. my father COLEMAN FAHERTY WORKED FOR WILSON IN THE VILLAGE. SORRY IF I OFFENDED YOU OR THAT HAPPENED TO YOU BUT DO NOT SAY EVERY IM GRIFFINDOWN SUFFER LIKE YOU BY THE WAY I FRAM POINT ST CHARLES AND ATTEND ST GABRIELS MOST OF THE TIME.

    January 21st, 2009 at 10:28 pm

  23. genevieve says:

    Hi,
    I am a student at uqam university and we have a project this winter’s session with wich we had to choose a community in a specific area of Montreal. I choose the Irish in Griffintown. The project have to bring out the heritage of a community in a original manner… could be an activity, an exhibition…of course, it will be a sketching project but it could become more, since professionnals will listen to our presentation at the end of the session. I’m risking a couple of line here hoping…Not shure yet what I’m hoping but still, just exposing the whole thing is a good start. Plus, I would love to talk with Terrence Flanagan about the history of Griffintown.
    Our team is just starting with that question; How could we bring out in the best way possible, just and pertinent, the essence of griffintown and his community to outsider?
    Thanks to all.

    genevieve

    January 28th, 2009 at 5:12 pm

  24. Colleen King says:

    I am trying to do my family’s history (genealogy) and it seems that it all has to do with the Pointe and Griffintown. I have exhausted myself looking on the web. I am looking for photos of St. Gabriel’s Academy (the building) between 1950 and 1970. I am also looking for pictures of Coleriane Street and Beorgeoys Street (I think that is the correct spelling).

    From Griffintown I am looking for any pictures in the late 1800 early 1900. In 1875 my great-grand parents (Murphy’s) lived at 136 Murray St. in Griffintown. Also 1896 my great-grand parents (McGrath and Doyle)were married at St. Anne’s Church.

    I would like to add pictures, so that my family can associate with what they are reading.

    . If you could help me I would appreciate it very much.

    Colleen King

    March 18th, 2009 at 11:00 pm

  25. Larry Hutchison says:

    lived at 1235ottawast from1937to1960

    March 31st, 2009 at 11:04 am

  26. Susan says:

    Hi. My dad lived in Griffintown in the 50′s and I’d be interested in finding out more about him and his family when they lived there. His name was Raymond Gaskell. Thanks!

    July 27th, 2009 at 10:15 pm

  27. Sally Williams (Niece of Connie Gleason says:

    Hello Mr. Faherty,
    I am Sally Williams, niece of Connie Gleason. My mother is Phyllis Williams (nee Gleason) You may remember Connie’s sisters May, Jenny & Ducky, as well as my mom who was the youngest. Pehaps you rememember Connie’s mom (my beloved grandmother)Katie. My mom is the only one left now but she is in good health & good spirits. I know that my Uncle Con (WW II vet)was proud to be from Griffentown.
    I hope this finds you well and & look forward to a reply.
    Sally

    December 12th, 2009 at 6:50 pm

  28. Sally Williams (niece of Connie Gleason says:

    oops …sorry about the typo above … obviously should be “Griffintown”

    December 12th, 2009 at 7:55 pm

  29. Jennifer-lee Glover says:

    What a Lovely site.. I stumbled upon this site because I too am researching my lineage. I am the youngest Glover of 10 children and My Father Clifford George Glover also grew up in Griffintown. Although I don’t know much about my father’s or my grandparents history there. It was quite facinating to hear of the stories. If anyone Knew my father they called him “Cliff”(WWII Vet) please feel free to let me know. I would love to hear about my grandparents as well (George Henri Glover and Luella Shaw). Seeing that they passed well before I was born, I have this gap in my roots, that I would love to know about. Thanks so much in advance.

    Jennifer-lee

    December 5th, 2010 at 4:39 am

  30. Iris Mary Shestowsky says:

    The “new” French name given to Griffintown was actually what Griffintown was called before it became Griffintown – so what’s the big deal. Canada and the US in the past were made up of many European immigrants not just the Irish so give it a rest. Nationality is what your passports says you are, so we are all Canadians. No one should define themselves by a neighbourhood, they all come and go, it’s a fact of life.

    January 4th, 2011 at 8:21 am

  31. Kristiyan Lukanov says:

    I used to live there for 3 years 1995-1998 near the old school. I miss that town.

    February 4th, 2011 at 6:33 pm

  32. Maureen Cunningham says:

    Listen Ms. Shestowsky:

    You give it a rest. You had to live in Griffintown to understand what all these people are saying. My grandparents lived there, my Aunt lived there, I lived there and I still think about Griff today. I would move back in a minute if I could. And, by the way, we never had bugs or ate out of garbage cans in front of Mother Martins, but we would go in and have a dinner there. I loved going to the Tuesday devotions at St. Ann’s. I loved St. Ann’s kindergarten, and St. Ann’s girls’ school. Mother St. Augustina, Miss Healy, Mother St. Columba, Mother St. Mary Sylvester. The St. Patrick’s dances at the boys school on Ottawa Street.

    We are saying, we are Canadians, of Irish descent who lived in a community where people would help one another. We had the Roys on Barre Street, the Berthiaumes, Forgets, Roberts, Pinsonnaults, etc. So, too bad you didn’t have a chance to live in Griffintown, you might have learned something.

    March 14, 2011

    March 14th, 2011 at 10:01 pm

  33. Patricia V. ( Howard) Gibson says:

    I have a soft spot in my heart for Griffintown as my grandparents Corneiluis Howard married Hanorah Fitzpatrick May 20th 1889, both lived in Griffintown. I am interested in Genealogy, the only information I have been able to find on Corneiluis is his mother was Mary Monahan and he had a brother Patrick,they lived on Shannon Street with Mary’s sister Ellen and husband Patrick Leahy. If anyone has information on the Howards I would appreciate hearing from them.

    June 22nd, 2011 at 1:41 pm

  34. jacques c. says:

    my great grandfather lived there his name is peter a. c . he used to be a bar tender . anyone remember of him

    September 12th, 2011 at 12:16 pm

  35. jacques c. says:

    Marilyn Batten Patwell & Joseph Faherty please look at the documents ” Ghost of Griffintown ” by rjburman you would see that …… going through the garbage and who did . we are talking late 1800

    September 13th, 2011 at 11:08 am

  36. jacques c. says:

    anyone knew any cutler living in griffin . info please will be appreciated , thank you in advanced

    September 23rd, 2011 at 10:40 am

  37. Iris Mary Shestowsky says:

    Dear Maureen,

    Too bad you insist on living in the past. The here and today is what counts. FYI my family was from the Pointe and Griffintown. I never said anyone ate out of garbage cans – where does that come from?

    October 13th, 2011 at 11:20 am

  38. Dennis says:

    If you don’t like Griffintown, why are you here posting? Leave it to the people who have fond memories of it.

    My parents grew up there, Timmons and O’Connell. My aunt McCann lived on Wellington street and I would spend my summers there playing with the Doyle’s, Howard’s, Murphy’s, etc..

    It was a great place and the people were great. I am a proud Canadian and I am proud my parents came from Griffintown and the name should not be changed to a French name. It is part of Canadian and Montreal history…

    November 21st, 2011 at 1:19 pm

  39. Dianne Beauchamp says:

    Does anyone remember the Beauchamp family. They called my dad Pitou. His name was Alfred . His father was Joe Beauchamp. Dad served in the army in WW11. Brothers Harry and James. Sisters Evelyn and Margaret. Don’t have any family history apart from this.

    May 28th, 2012 at 12:25 pm