Beyond The Mountain: True Tales About Montreal
by Stuart Nulman
Category: Non-fiction / Historical
176 pages; ISBN: 1896511198
Rating: 8/10 (Ratings explained)
Reviewer: Norman Goldman
Next to Paris, Montréal is the largest francophone city in the world; a city filled with intriguing tales.
Stuart Nulman, captures some of this intrigue, with his assembling of tidbits, anecdotes and other trivia, in his book, Beyond The Mountain: True Tales About Montreal.
Nulman, as the book states, “is a harvester of information.”
The fascinating array of stories are divided into ten chapters dealing with the entertainment scene, notorious crimes and scandals, tramways, colourful mayors, sports, buildings, nigh clubs of the past, early history, merchant princes and Montreal in the spotlight.
The format of the book is that of a question and answer, where the author throws out a question and then provides an interesting and intriguing reply.
I don’t think many of us are aware that in 1964 Ringo Starr of the famed Beatles had to be escorted on stage by a bodyguard, because he was receiving death threats.
Do any of you history buffs know that the Sun Life Building, located in downtown Montreal, stored most of Britain’s wealth from 1940 to 1945?
Britain’s Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, fearing an invasion by the Germans and the need to preserve Britain’s wealth to finance the war, shipped all of the country’s gold, its paper securities, and billions of dollars worth of artefacts, including the crown jewels to Canada.
The paper securities and the crown jewels found their way to the third-level basement of the Sun Life Building.
American cities have had their share of infamous mayors, however, not to be outdone, Montréal can also boast that one of theirs was arrested while in office.
Camillien Houde, on August 2, 1940, informally informed the press that he would not obey the law that required Canadians over the age of 16 to register for possible war service.
He believed that this would ultimately lead to conscription, and therefore he also advised his fellow citizens to likewise disobey the law.
The statement was signed by Houde and subsequently published in one of Montreal’s daily newspapers, the Montreal Gazette.
You can well imagine the shock waves that were sent across the country.
The RCMP stepped in and put the handcuffs on Monsieur Houde. Subsequently, he was stripped of his mayoralty title, and for the next four years he languished in a Canadian Army prison camp. While incarcerated, Houde became something of a folk hero, and at the time of his release in 1944, he was given a hero’s welcome by 10, 000 people at Central Station.
In the world of sports, Montréal will long be remembered as the city that broke the color barrier, when Jackie Robinson, a sharecropper’s son from Cairo, Georgia, made his debut for the Brooklyn Dodgers’ AAA farm club, the Montreal Royals.
These are only some of the many fascinating stories Nulman accumulated over a period of 25 years, when as he mentions in the introduction, “ I would absorb any book, magazine, newspaper article, television show, documentary, and microfilm that I could get my hands on-in both English and French- to find out more about older Montreal.”
We are fortunate in being able to share with Nulman these precious tidbits about a city that sometimes is referred to as the Paris of North America.
This review was first published in the reviewer's own site:
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