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Thursday June 22, 2017

 

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Written by Alan Hustak VMO
Tuesday June 16th, 2015

Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre and federal Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau have thrown their support behind a proposed Black Rock Memorial Park to be built in an industrial zone near the Victoria Bridge.

A letter from Trudeau was read Sunday during this year’s annual Walk to the Stone, pledging his support for the creation of a green space around what he described as “a sacred site.”

More than 6,000 famine Irish who died in Montreal in 1847 are believed buried beneath the rock.

In his letter, Trudeau wrote that while the annual walk itself represents “a time of solemn remembrance of the loss to the Irish community,” the proposed park would be an inclusive site for all Montrealers.

Ronan Corbett, president of the Gaelic Athletic Association, unveiled plans for a sports field to be incorporated into the park to accommodate hurley and Gaelic football tournaments. The memorial park would also include a museum and meditation area. The 28 tonne granite boulder would be moved into the park from the middle of the traffic median where it now stands.

The massive rock was pulled from the St. Lawrence River by Irish labourers in 1859 as they were building the Victoria Bridge. It was dragged ashore to mark the site of the mass grave. Initially, the stone and title to the gravesite were given to the Anglican Diocese of Montreal by the Grand Trunk Railway, which owned the property.

 

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In 1900, without telling anyone, the Grand Trunk Railway uprooted the stone and moved it to St. Patrick's Square in Griffintown. Outraged by the corporate insensitivity, the Ancient Order of Hibernians claimed the stone as its own, took the railway to court demanding its return, and won. The stone was brought back close to its original location and re-dedicated in 1913.

Fergus Keyes, director of the Park Foundation, met earlier this year with Mayor Coderre. He told the crowd Coderre has promised to do “everything he can to make the park happen.” Keyes said the mayor indicated he would like to open the park in 2017 as part of the city’s 375 anniversary celebrations, but Keyes didn’t think that date was realistic.

“Coderre is our champion, he will do all he can to help us, but the main difficulty that remains is the financing the project and determining who owns the land - the Anglican Church, the City or CN. There are millions of possibilities when it comes to financing. Even the Irish government has indicated its willingness to invest.”

Three youngsters, Libby, Penny and Elliott Benoit, students at St. Gabriel’s school, placed the memorial wreath at the base of the stone this year in recognition of what AOH President Victor Boyle said was “the importance of the school and the church” to the Irish community.

Boyle said that while the AOH supports the park project, the walk itself remains an initiative of the Ancient Order of Hibernians.

“There was a time we had thousands of members who walked, and then we started inviting other members. We have to separate the Park Foundation and its ideas from the Hibernians. Whether or not a park is built, the Hibernians will continue walking to the stone as they have for more than 150 years.”

 

Last Night at the Gayete

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By Deborah Rankin

The Centaur Theatre's 2015-2016 season is drawing to a close with its final production of Last Night at the Gayety, a musical comedy by Bowser & Blue which runs until May 22nd.

Read more

 

Twitter response: "Invalid or expired token."

Paul Donovan walks the Camino Ignatiano

Follow former Loyola High School principal, Paul Donovan, as he walks the famous 700km Camino Ignatiano.

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Read his blog

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