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Friday, 25 May 2012

N.D.G., Montreal...from the 1950s to the 1960s


I grew up in N.D.G. (Notre Dame de Grace) in Montreal in the 1950s. N.D.G. is a district west of the downtown core of Montreal. Throughout most of the 1950s my family lived on Harvard Avenue near Somerled Avenue. I went to Willingdon School and West Hill High School.
A lot has changed in the past 50 or so years. I thought I would jot down what I can recall from those days long ago. Cue the music. Gino Vanelli….when I dream about those nights in Montreal….

Companies like J.J.Joubert, Guaranteed Pure Milk, and Borden’s delivered milk right to our front doors. You left the empty bottle near your front door with a small milk ticket in the bottle rim and the milkman would replace the empty bottle with a full one. There was no such thing as 2%. It was all homo but you could get a bottle with cream on the top and milk on the bottom. Many of the milk delivery vehicles were horse drawn wagons. Horse poop in the street was a common sight.
Milk delivery wagon
On Saturday mornings, the Y.M.C.A. would show full length movies in the gym. There were no seats and kids sat on the floor. They would also show serial movies that were about 15 minutes long and they were sometimes called “cliff hangers” with the heroes driving over a cliff or a train coming and some young beauty being tied to the railroad tracks.  In the summer movies were shown outside in the field next to the Y at night. I think it was called the Bonfire Theatre. The Y.M.C.A. had its own boy’s football team. Boys used to swim in the nude in the swimming pool. One day, some of the boys didn’t get the message that it was visiting day at the pool and I can still remember the shock on their faces when they realized their naked little bodies had an audience.
YMCA on Hampton Ave.
Up until about 1955 there was a small farm on the northeast corner of Marcil and Monkland Avenues, complete with chickens and a cow. Cote St. Luc Road eventually turned into a dirt road back then and there were a number of riding stables. There was a large public vegetable garden on Grand Boulevard. Probably a holdover from WW2 when there was rationing. There were empty lots between some of the houses. Hampstead had a golf course and acres of empty land around it. The creek that ran through the empty land was nick named Sheik River. There was an unwritten rule that houses in Hampstead were not to be sold to Jewish people.
At the beginning of the decade some homes had ice boxes instead of fridges. The iceman would deliver ice using large tongs directly to the top of the customer’s ice box. He would place a rag on his shoulder before resting the block there. At one time there was an ice storage shack next to an apartment building at the corner of Harvard Avenue and Cote St. Luc Road.
Pom Bakers delivered bread in little green trucks to homes throughout Montreal. They also made the tastiest little raspberry and lemon tarts.
About once a year an old dishevelled guy would come by with his homemade knife sharpening cart.
In the winter, the snow blowing trucks would come by in the early evening. Once in a while, what looked like toothpicks, were all that was left of a misplaced toboggan. Some of us boys hopped cars in the winter which we did by sneaking up behind a car at a stop sign and hanging onto the bumper until the next corner. It was kind of like water skiing. Hitting a manhole cover could be a hazard.


NDG snowstorm
Not all families owned a car and hardly any family had two cars. Some fathers took the 101, 102, 103, or 104 bus to get to work. Most young boys were fascinated by where the gas cap was located on some cars. It could be in the fin by the tailights or behind the lisence plate. Gas stations had names like Shell, Supertest, Esso, White Rose, Fina, and B/A (British/American). I once stole the Jeep steering wheel from the B/A gas station at the corner of Cote St. Luc and Somerled. My brother made me give it back hoping for a reward I think. It was on this same corner that John Ferguson, the Montreal Canadiens hockey player, years later gave me the finger while I was hitchhiking.
There weren’t many ways for a kid to make a buck in the fifties. You might wait fruitlessly for hours at Hampstead Golf course, hoping to caddy for a golfer. Sometimes bigger boys would turn up and threaten us with bodily harm if we didn’t let them get picked first. Delivering newspapers like The Monitor, The Star or the Gazette, in the dark or in ice storms was not exactly a treat. There was a set of cards held together by a ring with the customers’ names on them. I was always forgetting to punch the card and sooner or later I would be short on what was owed the newspaper. I wasn’t exactly reliable with change in my pockets. One dark early morning, I walked into the Diamond Taxi stand on Girouard Avenue to warm up for a bit and was a bit confused when I encountered the first lesbian dyke I had ever seen. The going rate back then for shoveling someone’s walk back then after a snowstorm was a quarter.

Diamond Taxi driver.

The guy in charge of the summer swimming program at the indoor pool at West Hill High School was Nev Thornton who taught technical drawing and coached football at West Hill. Two of the lifeguards for a few years were Scott and Bill Conrod. I once had my bathing suit pulled down for a laugh by a guy named Jimmy McKean at that pool. He later played pro football in the CFL and was an umpire in the American Baseball League for many years.
When I was small, I was taken to a store on Monkland Avenue called Tom’s, which was known in the neighbourhood for its wide selection of model kits. In the back of the store, through a curtain, was a barbershop run by older duffers who wore smocks. Later, I would get my hair cut at Roland’s on Cote St. Luc Road and Melrose Avenue. You could get a crew cut, a Hollywood, a brush cut or a razor cut there. Next door to Roland’s was Bob Lunney’s Sporting Goods. For a while, one summer, Bob would pay me about 50 cents to watch the place for the afternoon. Next to the sporting goods store was Bellman’s, partly a pharmacy and partly a restaurant. For a number of years a Mr, Speers ran the restaurant. He also drove taxi. I once spotted him buying his donuts at Woolworths. Mr. Speers right hand man was a guy named Stan who was a student at West Hill. Stan could get about 20 slices out of a tomato. I know. I watched him. Bellman’s was a West Hill High hang out for many years. Back in the day I was involved in more than one fight outside those doors. Whatever happened to cherry cokes?

In the early sixties they built the Protestant School Board building behind West Hill High by Draper Avenue and Cote St. Luc Road. For years the site was the dilapidated remains of an old tennis club. I think Monkland Tennis Club on Royal Avenue dates back to the early 1930s. Down the street from the tennis club is LCC (Lower Canada College). There were also public tennis courts on Hampton Avenue.In the early 1950s I remember seeing some kids from Holland playing tennis on the street on Harvard Avenue.


Monkland Tennis Club 1930s
Every winter the ice rink boards were set up and Terrebonne Park. A local kid named Robin Burns got his start here and later went on to a short NHL career before he became a successful businessman manufacturing hockey equipment. On Saturdays, British types would turn up behind West Hill High to play rugby. The wives would sometimes sit on the car roofs. We played a lot of scrub baseball on that field back then. Trenholme Park was where the N.D.G. Maple Leafs junior football team played. In the 1960s they made it to the national finals a few times.
In the 1950s, Steinberg’s on Monkland Avenue was where most of our mother’s bought their groceries. If we just needed a loaf of bread, or a quart of milk, my mother might send me off to get what was needed at the N.D.G Market which was located at the corner of Somerled and Wilson Avenues. For a number of years the store had huge posters on the wall of black guys loading a banana boat. I was sitting on a railing near this store with some other boys when I was about five years old when an older boy told us about the rudiments of sex. I can’t remember if I said “You’ve got be kidding?” The N.D.G. Market is where I first bought some beer. I was about 16 and three of us got drunk behind West Hill. One guy went a little nuts. I can’t recall if it was Molson’s, Dow, Carling O’Keefe, or Labatt’s.

In the fifities, fast food chains didn’t exist. If you were a kid, and you wanted to eat some junk like candy, you knew where to find it. The same places sold other things that kids wanted like yo-yos, comics, and toys. Nickle’s on Monkland Avenue was known for its coloured rabbit’s paw key chains. You could also get a sugary donut and Grapette soft drink there. Other candy stores on Monkland Avenue were Tom’s Monkland Tobacco) and Dexters.

The one “joint” I remember the most was a place called Harry’s which was almost next door to the Shara Zion Synagogue where Cote St. Luc Road meets Somerled Avenue. Harry’s was a dump. However, it have a sign that said “Meet the eliite at Harry’s.” Harry’s had a small lunch counter where his friends would hang out and a couple of booths. It had one of those soft drink coolers that was full of cold water and you had to guide your selection along a rail to get your bottle of pop out. Nesbitt’s Orange, Orange Crush, Spruce Beer, Hire’s Root Beer, 7-Up, Cream Soda, Gurd's Ginger Ale. Coca-Cola in pale green bottles. Harry’s also had a juke box and a pinball machine which possibly was disconcerting to conservative parents. In the front window, Harry’s always had a display that often went past its due date. Fireworks and Santa Claus were the two themes.
If we needed clothes and our mothers didn’t want to take the long bus ride downtown we were usually dragged off to Snowden that was a twenty minute walk away. There were clothing shops along Queen Mary Road including a Morgan’s department store. There was also a Woolworth’s which was called the “5 and 10 Cent Store.” Woolworth’s had a long lunch counter with pictures on the wall behind and above the counter that depicted things that were on the menu. Whatever happened to open faced chicken sandwiches with gravy?
As I wrote earlier, there were no fast food chains back then, but that doesn’t mean there was any shortage of places with very tasty food. There were delicatessens around where WASPs like me would become addicted to Jewish food. Smoked meat, mock chicken, karnatzel. Bar-B-Q chicken could be found at the Chalet Bar-B-Q on Sherbrooke Street or the Cote St. Luc Bar-B-Q. They used to use this really crinkly cellophane paper to wrap the chicken up with and the best fries were always kind of soggy. Over on Decarie Boulevard, south of Snowden and near Blue Bonnets horse track, there was a strip of drive-in restaurants on the left hand side of the street including The Bonfire, Miss Montreal and Orange Julop. On the other side of Decarie Boulevard was Ruby Foos that was kind of an Americanized version of a Chinese restaurant and favourite spot for the three martini business types at lunch and Jewish people who wanted to see and be seen in the evening. A block or two away, Magic Tom did his tricks at Piazza Tomasso.
Pretty well everyone I grew up with, at one time or other, took the #17 streetcar  down Decarie Boulevard and out to Cartierville and Belmont Park. (Streetcars also ran along Queen Mary Road, Monkland Avenue, and Sherbrooke Street.) Belmont Park was at the top of every kid’s wish list. (Granby Zoo was probably a distant second). The rides, like The Wild Mouse, The Whirl-A-Way, the Salt and Pepper, the giant rollers coaster, and the Magic Carpet Ride left a few weak kneed. Cotton candy and the smell of fried onions. The house of mirrors. The laughing fortune teller. The sound of most people speaking French. We couldn’t have imagined more fun.


#17 streetcar


Belmont Park
Back in the day nobody wore a bicycle helmet. There was no such thing. If we were thirsty and not close to home we would get a drink from the tap at the side of a stranger’s house. For some of us, if we were gone all day, our parents weren’t phoning the cops. We never thought we were being poisoned because we liked rock and roll. The Hardy Boy books were kind of like literature.  The older we got the further we ventured. Usually on our bikes. Some of us discovered things like Chief Poking Fire’s fort, the caves near the tracks below Trenholme Park, climbing the outside of St. Joseph’s Oratory, or seeing the Orwellian kind of goings on at the construction of the St. Lawrence Sea Way.
We told the guy behind the counter at Val’s Bowling Alley and pool hall on Decarie Boulevard (before it moved to Cavendish Boulevard and became Rose Bowl Lanes) that yes, we were 16, even though we weren’t much taller than the cues, and watched as he shook his head and gave us the pool balls anyway.
We went from Dick and Jane, and Sally, and Spot, and Puff, and Uncle Zeke who baked potatoes on a stack of burning leaves, to the Hampstead Hops, to our first crappy job. In no time it seemed like it was all over and then…..most of us left town.
And some of us ended up in odd places....


Vernal, Utah jail 1972


70 comments:

  1. I also grew up in NDG during the 50's. Thanks for the wonderful memories. I used to love gong to the Bonfire show once a week.

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  2. this brings back great memories.
    before the decarie expressway was built the east side of decarie between cote st luc rd and queen mary had stores on each corner and in between.
    the corner of ponsard and decarie had a store/snackbar. it was called Foreman's. i used to get my comic books there.
    on the opposite side of the street was a laundramat.
    the corner of saranac had a Supertest gas station.

    i can't remember what was on all the other corners but i do know there was a barber shop and a fish and chips place somewhere along decarie.

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  3. Great memories. I grew up on Dalou Street. At the corner of Decarie there was Sterlin's Grocery store run by Mr. and Mrs. Trapido. Next to it going north was Friendly Fruit Store, then Snowdon Bicycle Shop, then Victor's, the Tailor, then Fish and Chips Reg'd.

    Great blog, Colin.

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  4. Colin, I don't think that we ever met in person but you did bring back a lot of memories of life in NDG. My brother John and I lived on Hingston Avenue between Fielding and Cote St. Luc. Thanks for dusting off my memory cells.

    Regards, G.

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  5. Stumbling on this blog is terrific. Can't wait to explore more. Richard Saxe. Willingdon, then Somerled then West Hill HS

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    1. Hi Richard I am pretty sure we were in some of the same class's. I went to Somerled Public School as well then on to West Hill High. I lived on Fielding and Somerled at the time. Wayne Goodman

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  6. Richard Saxe of Grand Blvd...????

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  7. I did a painting of JJJoubert, and of Willingdon school...just Google my name Michael Litvack artist

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  8. Hi Michael,

    I just had a look through your portfolio. You are really good at what you do and certainly capture a flavour of the times. I recognized the Campus Marche right away in the heart of the McGill student ghetto. I believe it is still there. I think there is something about men and old signs. Women don't seem to have the same enthusiam about them. I'm pretty well addicted to American Pickers and if I was younger I might just go out on the road in search of old stuff too.
    Kik Cola, Uptown, Nesbitt's Orange, Grapette, Hire's Root Beer, Orange Crush in the brown bottles, Gurd's Ginger Ale, Smow White Cream Soda...they all sat in cold water....you slid the bottle you wanted along some rails....put your coins in a slot....and voila!
    Never heard of poutine when I was growing up. There were places you could get 2 steamed hotdogs for a quarter and one of the garnishes was shredded cabagge.
    Love your art man! Keep doing what you do.

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    1. My dad took us to LAFLEUR's in Ville St. Pierre - right as you turned onto the 2 and 20, - best steamed hot dogs on the planet!!!!!!!!!!!! Thanks for the memories!!!!!!!! Val and Bubby

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    2. I think I remember Lafleur's. Just before the exit to 2 and 20. I used to do a lot of hitchhiking. Down the hill from Montreal West, through Ville St. Pierre. A great spot to get a lift out to Pointe Claire where my parents lived.
      Also recall the "steamies" on St. Lawrence Blvd. with shredded cabbage. 2 for quarter!

      Colin Paterson

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    3. Val...Lafleur's is still the best steamies on the planet. I live in Ontario now and that's one of the things I miss the most, that and good smoked meat!

      Great page Colin...thanks for the memories.
      Judy Brown

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  9. I grew up on Randall and Merton. I have most of the same memories with a slight shift in the geography. We called Sheik River, Piss River. We also tried to hustle caddy jobs at Hampstead Golf Course
    until were outed as Jews. This was a different time. My dentist was upstairs from Bellman's. I always ate there before having my teeth filled. Actually most of your memories are similar to mine. I live in Toronto now and this is all history. Strangely, five people on my street went to Wagar High School. Toronto is not fun!

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  10. I just finished a painting of Belmont Park circa late 1940's, and I will do your Belmont Park photo. There was something magical about that place; perhaps it was the #17 streetcar trek with the up and over the hump at Namur. Or perhaps it was the smell of greasy chips and freshly fried donuts. It was a vacation rolled up in one afternoon; a place far away from NDG and Cote St. Luc. A place where we could go with our friends and live the "life of adventure".

    There was just an article yesterday in the Gazette about 50 things that make Montreal, Montreal. I could add many more icons of our past..which I won't do now!..

    BTW..I also grew up on Randall and Merton..1955-1968 when the red barn was still there, and Randall wasn't paved yet. The part of Randall from Cote St Luc Road to Merton was one the first streets in the Town...when Cavendish was called King George.

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  11. Great Page Colin! Come visit us on Facebook :http://www.facebook.com/groups/N.D.G.yesterdayandtoday/

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  12. I lived in the duplex across the street from Westhill High on Summerled. Always got to be first in line for swimming in the summer. I had Miss McNabb in grade two as well - 1952-3. Moved to Montreal West in grade three. Thanks for waking up my memories.
    I remember when they built Westhill - lost a nickel - fell down into the concrete when I leaned over to check things out.

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  13. Does anyone remember, or even have a photo of the Broadway Grocery Store on Sherbrooke Street West, on the south side, across from the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce on the corner of Trehnolme Avenue. Abe's Snack Bar was on the other corner. Next to the Grocery Store that was an apartment building, and underneath it, you could walk down the steps to a candy store for "penny candy" and my fave was the "honey comb" squares.........or am I all alone with my memories? I went to St. Ignatius of Loyola Elementary School and then to Marymount High. Val Frost and Bubby, my Newfoundland Service Dog

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    1. Yes I remember the Broadway, and Abe's where kids stole pocket books and candy bars constantly. And across the street was the Golden Moon deli, where we hung out for years. Also went to St Ignatius, then Loyola, and lived on Terrebonne and Coronation from '58 to '72.
      Rick Dunn.






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  14. grw up partly in ndg...partly in what becaME CHOMEDEY AND ALSO IN THE LAURENTIONS...love the memories of draper ave and somerled..also those hot humid nights and YES Lafeurs...best steamies anywhere..like yourself ...addicted to jewish food..I need a smoked meat right now...unfortunately alberta only has some poor inmmations..wish I was on monkland right now/....peace

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  15. Vanda Pietrantonio17 June 2014 at 07:20

    I grew up in N.D.G. on Old Orchard in the 50's went to St. Raymond School and then Marymount. My parents did all their shopping on Sherbrook . Yes there was an orchard behind our house beside the park. There were no chain fast food places but you could buy candy go to Woolworth or Chalet Barbecue. The high point of our summers was to go to Belmont Park. La Ronde may be bigger but nothing could replace Belmont Park.

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  16. Nev. Thornton : Thanks for more great memories. The best years of my life were the ones that I spent teaching and coaching at WHHS.
    WELL DONE.

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    1. Hello Neville, I was in one of your drafting class's in 1966/67 I believe at West Hill. Wayne Goodman

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  17. Nev...we never were each others biggest fans. However at this late date I appreciate the compliment. Glad you enjoyed the story.

    Colin Paterson

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  18. Colin, I love your blog though I grew up south of you on Melrose below Sherbrooke. I remember walking to The Bonfire and watching those serial movies. My favourite was Don Winslow of the Navy. If you haven't already got this, here is a link to a trailer. You can find many other episodes on YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gUrCJlY0urU

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  19. Thanks for the complement Luanne. I wrote this story over 2 years ago and it has had over 100 hits in the last 24 hours. Strange. I'll check out Don Winslow of the Navy.

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    1. Someone posted your link on FB page "Montreal Memories".

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  20. Bob Driscoll - Grew up on sherbrooke, Marlowe and Decarie -- went to DOC and then Marymount -- Wish I could contact some of the old crew --
    Take care

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  21. You have a great memory! These blogs are well done and they are cerainly making the rounds into our email box from a wide range of our friends from NDG. What about the little savings banks that our parents thought we should have from The City and District Savings Bank. It wasn't long before we learned how to pick the locks! Cheers.....

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  22. Jeez am I ever dumb Wendy. I just realized you are Mike's wife. Alzheimers is when you can't remember anything. Halfzheimers is when you can remember some stuff.

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  23. Kathy Marks Bridgman31 August 2014 at 18:05

    Just fabulous - laughed and laughed and still haven't read it all. Such great memories - Wendy Heayberd and I bopping around the school yard thinking we were "hotties" in our pixie hair cuts!! Trying to sneak across the line in the school yard that kept us from the boys. Years later, my first teaching assignment was Gr. 2, Willingdon School. Yup, Mrs. Miller was still there! Thanks, Colin.

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  24. I lived at 3477 Decarie Blvd., from 1941 - 1962. I went to St. Augustine's. I don't think anyone mentioned 'Ma Heller's Restaurant' on Sherbrooke near Marcil, a hang-out for those of us who liked a good time. Us 'nice' girls weren't allowed to tell our parents that we went there because it was a Hell's Angels' hangout. Harmless. Gosh, when I see what the teenagers of today are up to and the parents accept, we were pretty tame after all.

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  25. Great Blog..I grew up on Walkley Ave, and Prince of Wales..facing the Benny Farm where many of my friends lived. Later we used to "pick up" the nurses as they changed shifts at The Catherine Booth Hospital, which was on Walkley...and MUCH later we frequented The Monkland Tavern where we got two drafts for 25 cents including the tip. What great memories. I got "kicked out" of Monklands for "hanging around" with the wrong crowd and had to go to Montreal West High...what fun.

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  26. I lived at Fielding and Mariette, went to Monklands High School (long walk every day), danced at the local sock hops, had some really good friends, some of whom I manage to keep in touch with to this day. It was a great place to grow up, the only drug being tobacco and the worst crime was missing school. Too bad we didn't realize how good it was. Seems to me our classes were pretty large back then but the teachers seemed to cope quite well. Thanks for the memories.

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  27. Anonymous 8 September 2014 215 a.m.
    Wow - this is just amazing - brought back so many wonderful memories - thank you so much Colin. I lived on Melrose Ave. between Monkland & Somerled and attended West Hill High.

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    1. I went to Somerled P.S. and West Hill High as well.

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  28. When did the Greek restaurant at the southwest corner of Royal and Monkland close? Pop would get a new pinball machine and we would find a way to beat it. He wanted to kill us when he found out we had drilled a hole into the side of a newer machine.
    I went to Westhill on Westhill Avenue before it became Monkland High. We had great football teams, both Senior and Junior, often winning the city championship. After school you could find me at the "Y" playing pingpong. It was a good time to be a teenager.
    I was married with 2 children when we left Montreal in 1970.

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  29. Colin, I fled Mtl in 1977 and have taught in Australian public schools for almost 30 yrs. As young entrepreneurs in lower NDG (corner of St James & Old Orchard), to make a buck, we collected the used 36 lb. grape boxes from the local Italians & split them into kindling & carted them around on a wagon & sold them for a quarter a tray. How's the book going?

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  30. I remember an ice storm and we didn't have any electricity for a few days. A lot of flats in NDG had fireplaces people never used. A lot of things were burned in them over those few days.

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  31. Ah the memories. As a fan of the Snowden Major Fastball League I read your book a year or two ago and have returned to your site again and again to read the great stories that you have inspired so many people to contribute. I was brought up on Marcil just up the street from the park that was known as NDG Park (and not Marcil Park nor Girouard Park as it has been called variously). The biker gang that hung out at Heller's was officially called “The Saddle Tramps”. Though they were 'ruff'n'ready guys I don't think they were anywhere near what we think of when we refer to bikers today.
    Like Snowden had Queen Mary road our area had Sherbrooke street and my memories are of the area between Girouard and Melrose. In no particular order: Varsity Handy store next to Heller's where you got all sorts of penny candy as well as your Provincial Bus ticket if you were heading out to the lakeshore. Heller's later took over as the ticket agent. On that same block was Raspa's shoe repair, a jewellery store and a ladies hat shop. I recall also Dansky's a couple of blocks west on the south side. There was Hart's and Palmer's, two drug stores. Our shoe store with the X-ray machine was Patry's on the south side of Sherbrooke near Girouard. Does anyone else remember the lawn bowling club, the NDG Tennis club, Minto Park and the Wonder Bread horse stables, all of which disappeared to make room for the Decarie Expressway and Turcotte Interchange which they will start to demolish this year.
    Geez I'm an old man. Thanks for the memories.

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  32. Interesting....but I haven't written a book. You are probably referring to Bill Conrod and one of his two books about memories of Snowden. And yeah....we're all getting older.

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  33. NDG Memories - Part One

    From 1956-1961 beginning at the age of seven I lived on Trans Island Avenue (which I later discovered was officially designated as NDG Ward 3) and unofficially as Snowdon (not Snowden). By the way. Colin, residing on Harvard Avenue, you were within Ward 5).

    Anyway, I suppose most of us middle-class kids back then lived similar lives, doing the usual kid stuff including playing Davy Crockett, Zorro, collecting Matchbox and Dinky Toys, doing lots of wandering the remaining fields, forests, as well as the streets of the district on foot or later on our bicycles. Coincidentally, we called these excursions "adventures" just like you did.

    These days you hardly ever see kids roaming around the way we "baby boomers" did just like you see in those early 1950s British films. Children were all over the place!

    This current minimum of child visibility is presumably due to "parent helicoptering" or the fear of "predators hiding behind every bush"--mostly paranoia from increasingly sensational and never-ending media reports of crimes against children.

    But, getting back to the good old days, how well I remember the coal trucks pulling up to our duplexes and apartment buildings to deliver their loads to the furnaces via a motorized conveyor belt through a slot in the walls. On rare occasion they only had a metal chute requiring the work crew to phyically shovel the coal along into that slot!

    Residential coal heating came to an end for us about 1958 when Gaz Naturel (later renamed Gaz Metropolitain) began connecting their underground pipes in our part of the neighbourhood. I wonder what city districts were the last to be converted? It must surely have taken many years to complete. Of course, fuel oil trucks had already been servicing some of the buildings before gas became an option.

    Victoria Day (which we kids called Firecracker Day) was always great fun. A select few corner variety stores sold those red paper 5 and 10 cent packets of firecrackers (made in Macau) and we'd run around in gangs blasting away all over the place which must have driven some adults to distraction, although I don't specifically recall being angrily chased away by anyone nor hearing about my friends doing anything reckless or dangerously stupid with them.

    The only incident I have a vague memory of was hearing a loud boom one day and later a rumour that someone had placed a stick of dynamite into a large dead tree. The collapsed tree was even pointed out to me, but I never learned exactly what had happened.

    Such easy access to firecrackers came to an end decades later after a succession of complaints and injuries, not to mention the unacceptable annual mayhem from nighttime bonfires deliberately placed in the streets of districts like Point St. Charles and St. Henri which always had the police and fireman running ragged.

    Hard to imagine that happening today! Indeed, a federal law presently bans such frivolous firecracker use except for certain events inside areas like Chinatown. Furthermore, perhaps too many people phoned the police thinking they'd heard a gunshot, such false alarms being a waste of city revenue.

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  34. NDG Memories - Part Two

    Most drug stores back in the 1950s and early 60s had a "soda fountain" inside their premises where, among other things, both 5 cent and 10 ice cream cones could be bought with their tasty, curled Magic Cones! Hot dogs were 15 cents, hamburgers 25 cents, comic books 10 cents, a loaf of bread 25 cents, a taxi ride downtown around a dollar, 5 cent child fare for the streetcar!

    One of the last drug store soda fountain hold-outs that I'm aware of was Clay's at Victoria and Van Horne which closed a few years ago. I do remember the one in the old Medical Arts building on the southeast corner of Sherbrooke and Guy and many others as well. Not sure what "rule" eventually eliminated soda fountains from drug store property. Probably the big chain pharmacies frowned upon the concept as being "too American"?

    Up until the early 1980s, the milkman delivered both homogenized and pasteurized versions to our door. The homogenized type had a short level of thick cream on top which in winter would freeze solid if left outside too long. Of course, whipping cream, chocolate milk, butter, and egg nog (around Christmas time) was also available and all reasonably inexpensive.

    Later in 1964 when we had became homesick after moving to the suburbs for a few years, we returned to my old familiar neighbourhood. Not long after that, I remember riding my bicycle on Ellerdale Road and being pulled over by a Hampstead Police car for going through a stop sign! I didn't get a ticket, only a warning. I couldn't believe they had nothing better to do. Not too many murders in Hampstead, I'm sure!

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  35. NDG Memories - Part Three

    Around the late 50s early 60s, I also remember spotting an older boy or young adult riding around NDG in his little red motorized mini-car which was really not much bigger than a go-cart. This guy always got a lot of attention from us kids whenever we saw him, although I never knew his name nor where he lived. Not sure what kind of a license he had, either. Maybe none?! Surely some of this blog's readers will remember seeing him, as well?

    Back in the day, it wasn't uncommon to see stray dogs running about--even small packs of them occasionally. The city must have cracked down on it not long afterwards, although I don't remember ever seeing a dog pound truck driving around.

    My neighbourhood was a mixture of English Protestant (myself included), Jewish, and few French Canadian kids who introduced themselves to me in English. Presumably, they found it easier that way, realizing that it was more difficult for English kids to learn French. We all got along for the most part and there was never any "language issue" the way the politicians would exploit it years later.

    A few refugee families from Hungary and Czechoslovakia moved onto our block as well and they and their kids also spoke English very well from the get-go. Perhaps that ability facilitated their emigration, who knows?

    Sadly, some of the snobbier Jewish parents didn't like their kids hanging around with us, so we rarely if ever got invited into their homes, despite the fact that their kids were perfectly welcome to visit ours, and did.

    I suspect that some of the "old school" European mentality of distrust had coloured some of those parents' attitides. Possibly the notion of the North American Free Society was still alien to them and they simply weren't ready to endorse it. Hopefully, their children were embarrassed enough to abandon this mentality when they themselves had kids of their own.

    The first time I actually got invited by a Jewish friend into his home, his mother stood staring at me as if I was a little green man from Mars. "He's not Jewish?", she asked her son, as if I might contaminate the place or something. Needless to say, I felt like I was under some kind of magnifying glass and being analyzed to determine if I was worthy of even stepping on their carpets. Events like that stick in your mind forever.

    To be fair, my closest Jewish friends were more forthcoming, not only inviting us in but introducing me to stamp collecting and so on.

    Much more to tell, but I'll rest here for the time being.

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  36. To whom is may concern....the chances of me posting comments written by anyone who calls themselves "Anonymous" are now pretty slim. I'm just not into it. If you can't say who you are don't bother communicating with me unless you can confirm that you are in a "witness protection program" LOL!

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  37. Whilst doing a search of old NDG, 1960's, I stumbled upon this post. What great memories here! I grew up in NDG and in Ville St-Laurent, so I remember Chalet Bar-b-q, which is still there, amazingly, and that has always been my favourite place for chicken! Their fries and sauce, as well as coleslaw, are very good, and the chicken is always well cooked, succulent, juicy and tender. Belmont Park...wow, having lived in Ville St-Laurent as a child, I remember it fondly and was quite sad to see it go. Thank you so much for sharing!

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    1. Chalet BarBQ, MMMMMM, finish it off with the Boston Cream Pie! you forgot the pie LOL!!!!
      They still give you those grilled buns like the National Brand used to. I believe the National Brand was totally inspired from Chalet BarBQ. A little birdy told me once who should know.

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  38. Does anyone recall the name Harvey's Pharmacy on Somerled. i'm pretty sure that was the name.
    It came to mind today and I drifted back to a time when me and my friend would spend hours in the back of it staring at the collection of Revell models. I had all the monsters and guillotine which worked. MWWWWUUUUAAAHAHAHA!!!!!
    The cars were the best!

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    1. There were 2 pharmacies on Somerled. Windrows and Cumberlands. Both had soda fountain counters.The Harveys you mentioned was actually Harveys Sports. The place to sharpen your skates and buy sticks. We played hockey at Benny park and changed our skates at St Monica school right next to Monklands high

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  39. Just happened upon your site. I also grew up in NDG from 1961 -1976. Your stories are great. thank you.

    Cecilia Morrison Pellerin

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  40. Great Blog. I lived on Regent Avenue below the tracks from 1950 to October 1959. Went to St Raymond`s school on Old Orchard, played at Oxford Park and the area known as `the dump` which was situated below what was then known as Upper Lachine Road. I also delivered the Montreal Star or covered for another paperboy on every street between Grand Blvd and Decarie.

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  41. Dickie Crankshaw24 March 2016 at 10:05

    Colin are you Sandra Patterson's brother?

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  42. I grew up in NDG on Hampton & Sherbrook St. I went to DOC and Marymount High School I played music in a band at the Mike Stevens record hop in Montreal West. They were called The Stratatones. I lived across from Safrons Drug Store and around the corner was the Chinees Rest. My name is Tom Reddy and I remember this area well. Thank You.

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  43. Not Tom Reddy and the Heartbreakers?

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  44. No Colin, not sure who they were I have played all over the world and still playing today I'm 72 yrs. just played a gig in Cambridge Ont. I will be in Montreal in October and look forward to eating at the Chalet BBQ. Thank you for your response.

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  45. The Band you were thinking of was Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers
    I played a few times with The Beau Marks to fill in also - The Blue Skyliners - The Rembrandts - The Twisters - Grand Funk - and a lot more. I hope you have a great Day. Tom

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  46. Was just pulling your leg Tom. I remember The Beau Marks and their tune Clap Your Hands. Weren't they named after a missile? Also remember Grand Funk (Railroad) and their song We're An American Band. Keep on rockin' Tom.

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  47. Deja vu - I remember the milk wagon, as well as the POM bread wagon/truck? would deliver to us. My sister and I went to Willingdon grade school and we lived on Draper as well as on Melrose avenue. I would have gone to West Hill high school had my family not moved to Boston. We are going back to the 50s - early 60s before we left the country. Wow, what a surprise to find these old photo memories. Thanks

    Cheers
    Bill Shattuck/Canada

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  48. I just came across your blog. It is a fascinating look at NDG's past. I grew up farther west in what was a new development in Cote-St-Luc. I went to Edinburgh School and Montreal West High. Did you go to West Hill High School? My father taught English there until his retirement in 1972. His name was Norman Pycock. If you went there, let me know if you remember him.

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    1. I remember your dad's name but he never taught me. There's a guy in Vancouver that your dad left a lasting impression on, Brian Nation. He wrote a short story about your dad years ago. You can find the story by Googling Mister Death-Brian Nation: Beat The Devil. Hope this helps. Cheers!

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  49. Colin, were you into cadets at West Hill?

    Bruce Barnes

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  50. No Bruce I never was. I had coffee the other day with Dave Tingle who you probably remember.

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  51. I remember how wonderful the Chalet chicken was and also the Bonfire on Decarie Blvd. I once spilled a chocolate milkshake all over my date's(Kathleen O'Donoghue) new dress. She must have meant it when she forgave me because she married me sixty years ago and we are still together. Roy Oram

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  52. hi everyone :) grew up in good 'ol N.D.G. in the 60's forward... ...still there....thanks for all the memories and comments :) anyone remember The Donut King on St Jacques ? one of my favs :) or the original A. & W. at Rose Bowl ? :) .. or (it's all about food) lol....Mr.Hot Dog on Sherbrooke St :) to name a few ... bye for now...

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  53. I grew up on Hingston Ave... thanks for this.
    Remember walking to Willingdon School in the snow - with the sidewalks plowed. Still have my button for the school.
    And remember going skating on the rink around the corner every winter.
    Getting snowed in with no power - but we had a fireplace and a gas stove, so everyone was at our house.
    I miss Montreal.

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  54. This was great ! Lived on Regent ( above the tracks) att. St.Augustine Acadamy & beautiful parish church. The chalet on Sherbrooke was our meeting place on a Friday night.so many good memories.

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  55. I use to live at Wolseley and Kildare. Our home burnt in 1080. Maybe some of you might know Kinsley.

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  56. I grew up in Snowdon. We lived in the Apartments on Decarie Blvd. between Snowdon Av & Cote St Luc from 1949 to the mid 50's. I remember the bonfires and how much fun we had....oh to be young again....I have forgotten most of the names of the kids we hung out with though.....I wish I could remember

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  57. Mid 50's I lived on Grenier 1block north of cote st Luc off decarie. Started school at St. Malachi's across from McDonald park. Walk to school, grade 1, down the bus lane that ran between cote st. Luc and Queen Mary... what would today's helicopter parents think of my working parents?

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