December 2, 2019
Madame Valérie Plante, Mayor of Montreal
Hôtel de Ville, Édifice Lucien Saulnier,
155 rue Notre-Dame Est,
Montréal, Québec H2Y 1B5
Dear Mayor Plante,
As work proceeds with the Light Rail Network (the Réseau express métropolitain (REM) in the Southwest borough of Montreal, there have been concerns as to the naming of the station planned for the Peel Basin area. Documented history, community memory and recent archeological surveys all illustrate the strong links of this district to Montreal’s Irish population.
The Quebec Anglophone Heritage Network (QAHN) hereby requests that the name of the REM station for the Peel Basin area be “Griffintown.” This name identifies its location for both practical and historical reasons, and should not be combined with any other names of either persons or places.
Griffintown is synonymous in popular memory with the Irish who lived and worked there for many generations. Many of these Irish were survivors of the Great Famine and the ensuing typhus epidemic in which 6,000 people died. Many of these people are buried in the area. Among the dead were many resident Montrealers who went to assist the Irish in the fever sheds. One of the most prominent of these people was John Easton Mills, the Mayor of Montreal at the time.
As you know, there is still a very active Irish community in Montreal and throughout Quebec. Members of this community belong to both linguistic groups and several religious denominations. Many are now seventh or eighth generation Canadians; many are of mixed ethnic heritage but with strong identification with their Irish roots and with the great contributions that the Irish community has made both historically and presently to Montreal. One only has to think of the Lachine Canal, the Victoria Bridge, Loyola College, St. Patrick Basilica, among many other great Montreal landmarks, to recall the Irish community’s contributions to this city.
Finally, QAHN recognizes the importance of heritage landscape – how the built and natural environment is perceived and preserved. To become invisible and unacknowledged in that landscape (in this case, cityscape) is to disappear. So, we again request that the Peel Basin REM station be named “Griffintown” – an indication of our heritage landscape, and a fitting tribute to Montreal’s Irish presence.
President, QAHN Montreal Committee
cc. Benoît Dorais, Maire, arrondissement du Sud-Ouest
Craig Sauvé, Conseiller, arrondissement du Sud-Ouest
The Quebec Anglophone Heritage Network (QAHN) is a non-profit, non-partisan, province-wide organization engaged with its members in the preservation and promotion of the history, heritage and culture of Quebec -- and, in particular, of Quebec’s English-speaking communities. QAHN strives to advance the knowledge of the history, heritage and culture of those communities by informing, inspiring and connecting people through its activities and services. Membership in QAHN is open to individuals, families and organizations.