Censored Irish-Montreal Famine Paper Now Back Online

January 1st, 2023

My name is Donovan King and I am an Irish-Montreal heritage activist, historian, teacher and tour guide. Being of Irish roots, I abhor colonialism in all its forms and advocate on behalf of Truth and Reconciliation wherever I can.

I am writing today to describe an incident of censorship against my anti-colonial work. I am also republishing the censored text.

In 2014, I was invited as a Director by the Irish Monument Park Foundation and asked to write a detailed History Paper about the Black Rock Famine Cemetery.

Entitled Montreal’s Irish Famine Cemetery: Commemoration Struggles from 1847 to the Present, the purpose was to bolster our chances of success in creating a world-class park devoted to commemorating our Irish Famine ancestors in Montreal.

I presented the paper at a conference at Concordia’s School of Irish Studies. It was subsequently used as an important reference by Hydro-Québec when they took over the park project after purchasing the land.

As an academic, I was very proud of my work. Our Famine Cemetery has been desecrated again and again for over 150 years. It still is to this very day.

As a heritage activist, I take these issues very seriously. For example, I challenged Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante regarding her decision to desecrate our Famine neighbourhood of Griffintown by co-branding its REM Station with a politician named Bernard Landry.

However, despite my best efforts at protecting local Irish-Montreal heritage, my History paper was censored by Fergus V. Keyes, website administrator at the Irish Montreal Park Foundation.

To censor my work, Fergus simply deleted it from the website. He did this without consulting the Board of Directors or even informing me:

Ironically, Fergus censored the very History paper that he had originally requested me to write as a fellow Director at the Irish Monument Park Foundation.

He also went on to scrub my name from the Board of Directors without any governance whatsoever. I never resigned, there was no meeting, no vote or anything else:

He then blocked me from all social media associated with the Irish Monument Park Foundation.

I was added to the organization’s “blacklist”, joining dozens of others in the Irish-Montreal community who have been cut off from communications and information about our Famine ancestors and the park project

Why did Fergus V. Keyes do all of this?

As a Truth and Reconciliation activist, I had challenged his posts on the Irish Monument Park Foundation’s Facebook Page that I considered racist.

Fergus openly supported British figures associated with Indigenous Genocide, such as General Jefferey Amherst and Sir John A. McDonald.

I do not support these Genocide symbols directed against our Indigenous brothers and sisters. Indeed, I believe that they must be addressed and subsequently dealt with.

My paper was likely censored by Fergus V. Keyes because I am an anti-colonial activist who supports Truth and Reconciliation.

He, on the other hand, has a tendency to glorify British colonialism – the very system that resulted in sickening atrocities against Indigenous, Irish and various other peoples across the planet.

Due to these serious problems with governance at the Irish Monument Park Foundation, I have requested a Leadership Review from Hydro-Québec, who are overseeing the project:

I have also called for the resignation of Fergus V. Keyes from the Board of Directors.

In the meantime, I am republishing my History paper here because it is an important resource in the local Irish-Montreal community and for international Famine and Genocide researchers. The paper covers the sordid colonial history of our Black Rock Famine Cemetery that resulted from the unimaginable tragedy of 1847.

Hopefully, 2023 will be a fruitful year resulting in the current “leadership” of the Irish Monument Park Foundation being thoroughly reviewed and then reformed.

Censoring local Irish-Montreal History papers, scrubbing Directors from the Board without any governance and excluding Walking Tours to the Black Rock on social media all point to petty and incompetent management.

Furthermore, dozens of local Irish-Montrealers are also excluded and blocked from the Irish Monument Park Foundation’s social media pages. Members of organizations such as the GAA, Saint Patrick’s Society, Irish Montreal Experiences, Ancient Order of Hibernians and the 32 Solidarity Committee were blocked for asking tough questions and challenging posts by Fergus V. Keyes that glorified British colonialism and Genocide symbols.

Our 6000+ Irish Famine ancestors buried under the Black Rock deserve far, far better treatment. The descendants of those unfortunate souls, who wish to ensure that a proper park and memorial is created at the Black Rock site, also deserve a lot more respect.

To exclude Irish-Montreal Famine descendants from participating in commemorating their own Famine ancestors is beyond disgraceful.

As such, it is high time for Hydro-Québec to carry out a third-party leadership review of the Irish Monument Park Foundation and its serious problems with misgovernance, exclusion and historical ignorance.

For the Foundation to promote on its social media pages symbols of British Genocide against Indigenous peoples – all the while complaining about brutal British colonialism against the Irish – is both ignorant and hypocritical.

For the sake of our Irish Famine Ancestors, please join the conversation!

Erin go Bragh! ☘️

Donovan King

Irish-Montreal Historian

p.s. To stay informed or add to the discussion, please join the Irish Montreal Heritage Discussion Group Facebook page.

CJAD Interview with Donovan King about Haunted Montreal on June 15, 2022

June 16th, 2022

Listen to the CJAD Interview with Donovan King about Haunted Montreal on June 15, 2022 here:

My Saint Patrick’s Day Interview on CBC Radio One about the Irish Famine in Montreal Walking Tour and its Censorship! (2022)

March 17th, 2022

Please have a listen to my interview on CBC Radio One about the Irish Famine in Montreal Walking Tour and its censorship by Fergus. V. Keyes of the Irish Monument Park Foundation!

Here is to Truth and Reconciliation and full inclusion in the Irish-Montreal community!

Evidence below:

Clan CKOI diffusé au Radio 96,9 FM. Entrevue avec Anton Golikov de Montréal hanté. 30 octobre, 2020.

October 30th, 2020
96.9 CKOI, CKOI-FM 96.9 FM, Montreal, Canada | Free Internet Radio | TuneIn

Haunted Montreal Blog #60 – Place des Jésuites

August 13th, 2020

* Due to technical difficulties, the English version of the blog can be found here temporarily.

UPDATE: It is now restored on the Haunted Montreal Blog.

Welcome to the sixtieth installment of the Haunted Montreal Blog!

With over 350 documented ghost stories, Montreal is easily the most haunted city in Canada, if not all of North America. Haunted Montreal dedicates itself to researching these paranormal tales, and the Haunted Montreal Blog unveils a newly researched Montreal ghost story on the 13th of every month! This service is free and you can sign up to our mailing list (top, right-hand corner for desktops and at the bottom for mobile devices) if you wish to receive it every month on the 13th!

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This month we examine Place Jacques Cartier, an idyllic location for tourists to have a meal, enjoy some live busking or have a caricature drawn. However, this public place has a very dark history whereby Jesuit priests and their henchmen tortured and executed Indigenous people from the Haudenosaunee Confederacy when it was known as Place des Jésuites – during the colonial New France era.

Haunted Research

Surrounded by colonial monuments and often teeming with tourists, today’s Place Jacques Cartier has a very dark history. Allegedly, the public square is haunted.

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In 2016, an American tourist had a frightening encounter with the ghost who is said to haunt the square. He was returning to his hotel in Old Montreal after spending a few hours in Le Village having dinner and drinks when he decided to pass through the historic Place Jacques Cartier.

At around 1 a.m. he stopped at Nelson’s Column at the top of the square to study the stone engravings of warships at the base of the monument.

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As he was peering at the maritime images, he suddenly heard what sounded like mumbling in Latin, a language he had studied briefly in high school in New York State.

Trying to determine where the strange sound was coming from, he circled the pillar, keeping his back to it, to look for the source of the Latin murmuring.

As he peered around the area, suddenly he noticed something bright, as in red hot, coming from the Place Vauquelin to the north.

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As he looked closer, it appeared as though a shadowy, translucent figure holding something red hot in his hand was approaching him.

Shocked and terrified, as the apparition got closer, he could see it was clad in a black robe and holding what appeared to be a large crucifix that appeared as though it had just come out of an iron forge. It was glowing, as though red hot. 

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As the strange ghost approached the man, it lifted the burning hot crucifix. The tourist decided to run back to his hotel. However, his legs would no move as he was paralyzed with fear.

The ghost picked up its pace and seemed to be coming directly towards the man in an aggressive manner. Frozen, he tried to scream out for help, but nothing came out. He stared in horror as the ghost approached him and held up the red hot crucifix. The tourist realized that this was the apparition of a priest.

When the ghost was a mere few feet away, he could see a deranged grin on his face. The apparition stared at him and within seconds lunged at him with the red hot crucifix.

The man finally was able to let out a blood-curdling scream!

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As he cried out, a woman who was crossing the square asked him if he was okay.

Drenched in sweat, with his heart pounding, the tourist was startled, as though he had awoken from a nightmare. The ghostly priest was no longer there.

He rushed back to his hotel, immediately checked out and then drove back to New York State that very night.

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Place Jacques Cartier has a very dark history, which may explain the haunting. Once called Place des Jésuites during the colonial New France era, it was in this square that Indigenous people were tortured and executed by Jesuit priests and their henchmen.

Historically, present-day Montreal was a major Mohawk trade center dating back thousands of years in the northern Kanienʼkehá꞉ka territory of Tiohtià:ke.

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When the French began to colonize Indigenous territory in the 1600s, they mostly consisted of Latin Rite Roman Catholics, including a number of Jesuits dedicated to converting the indigenous population. Indeed, seventeenth-century Europeans were obsessed with converting the world’s so-called “savages” to their own religious beliefs. In France, the publication of the Jesuit Relations sparked an apostolic zeal.

Tiohtià:ke was on their radar as a very strategic location given that it was fed by various rivers and also surrounded by rapids. However, it was also part of the powerful Haudenosaunee Confederacy, a grouping of five First Nations at the time including, from east to west, the Mohawks, Oneidas, Onondagas, Cayugas and finally the Senecas at the western end.

Labelled as “Les Iroquois” by the French, war broke out between the colonizers and the Haudenosaunee Confederacy when colonizer Samuel de Champlain attacked them in 1609.

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Warfare and the introduction of European diseases such as measles and smallpox triggered and exodus of Mohawks from Tiohtià:ke into safer parts of the territory as the leaders attempted to deal with the crisis while ensuring the territory was defended.

An ultra-Catholic organization of mystics called “The Notre Dame Society of Montreal for the Conversion of the Savage Peoples of New France” took advantage of this situation to establish a colony called Ville-Marie on the island in 1642.

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This triggered an all-out war between the French colonists and the Kanienʼkehá꞉ka First Nation, lasting until 1701.

On the sunny morning of May 18th, 1642, the colony of Ville-Marie was founded on a Tiohtià:ke meadow with a Catholic ceremony. A group of French colonists had set up an altar, decorated with trilliums and violets, and Jesuit Father Vimont celebrated mass.

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He declared Ville-Marie was only a grain of mustard seed, but then said “I have no doubt that this small seed will produce a tall tree that will bring forth wonders some day.”

The Jesuits have a disturbing history in the context of contemporary discussion about cultural genocide.

Ignatius de Loyola, a Spanish soldier turned priest, founded the Jesuit movement in 1534.

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The first Jesuits took vows of poverty and chastity and made plans to work on converting Muslims and others to Catholicism at all costs.

Some of the religious philosophy driving the Jesuits can only be described as deranged in the modern world.

For example, in The Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents: TRAVELS AND EXPLORATIONS OF THE JESUIT MISSIONARIES IN NEW FRANCE, 1610—1791 a chapter is devoted to the burning and torture of Indigenous people.

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The Jesuits wrote that burning people alive who had refused to convert to Catholicism or otherwise offended the priests was the surest way for them to reach Heaven:

“So sure are they, that we have scarcely ever seen an Iroquois burned without regarding him as on the way to Paradise; nor have we considered a single one as certainly on that road whom we have not seen pass through this torture. Before their torments, these prisoners are duly instructed and baptized by the Jesuits; the Wolf is changed all at once into a lamb, and enters the fold of Jesus Christ, which he came to ravage.”

As Ville-Marie grew, the Jesuits bought the land located north of rue Notre-Dame in 1692.

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The parcel was six hundred and forty-six feet in front and one hundred and twenty feet deep with a view of the sloping land leading to the river.

The Jesuits built a monastery for themselves and named the area Place des Jésuites.

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Gruesome torture, execution and genocide were all hallmarks of the space in front of their monastery.

In one such episode in 1696, four members of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy were tied to stakes and tortured with hot irons until they perished.

In Montreal: After 250 Years by historian W.D. Lighthall, a gruesome scene is described in a chapter called “THE BURNING OF THE FOUR IROQUOIS, 1696”.

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Lighthall explained:

“An eye-witness of the burning of the four Iroquois on what is now Jacques Cartier Square thus describes it: “When I came to Montreal for the first time, it was by the St. Francis Gate. I there saw a man of my province, who came up to embrace me, which he did and after some compliments, informed me that he was of our company. As we were speaking together, he perceived that I was much distracted because of a large crowd that I saw on the Place des Jésuites.”

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“Thereupon my new comrade exclaimed: ‘Upon my word! you’ve just come in time to see four Iroquois burnt alive. Come on as far as the Jésuites; we’ll see better.’ It was immediately in front of their door that this bloody tragedy was to take place. I thought at first they would throw the poor wretches into a fire; but on looking around on all sides, I saw no faggots for the sacrifice of the victims, and I questioned my new friend about several small fires which I saw at certain distances apart from each other…They led out these four wild men, who were brothers, and the finest looking men I have ever seen in my life. Then the Jesuits baptised them and made them some scanty exhortations; for, to speak freely, to do more would have been ‘to wash the head of a corpse.’ The holy ceremony finished, they were taken hold of and submitted to punishments…”

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“They bound them naked to stakes stuck three or four feet in the ground, and then each of our Indian allies, as well as several Frenchmen, armed themselves with bits of red-hot iron, wherewith they broiled all parts of their bodies. Those small fires which I had seen served as forges to heat the abominable instruments with which they roasted them. Their torture lasted six hours, during which they never ceased to chant of their deeds of war, while drinking brandy, which passed down their throats as quickly as if it had been thrown into a hole in the ground. Thus died these unfortunates with an inexpressible constancy and courage.”

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To this date, historians have not yet compiled how many Indigenous people were tortured and murdered on the Place des Jésuites.

Following the British conquest of 1760, the Jesuits began to fall out of favor. In 1773, Pope Clement XIV encouraged the British authorities to seize the Jesuit residence and to build a courthouse instead.

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The Jesuits were officially banished and were only allowed to return to Quebec in 1842.

Today, the Pope of the Catholic Church is a Jesuit. Whether or not Pope Francis has atoned for these gruesome Jesuit crimes from the past is unknown.

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Whatever the case, it is always a good idea to think twice before crossing the Place Jacques Cartier late at night when the ghostly Jesuit priest is known to make his appearance.

Company News

Haunted Montreal is extremely pleased to announce that all of our tours are up and running again (apart from our Haunted Pub Crawl)!

Our ghost tours are being held on both Friday and Saturday nights in August.

Our Paranormal Investigation is also available on the last Friday and Saturday night of every month. Fridays are in English and Saturdays in French.

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For September, tours will mostly run on Saturday nights.

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Private tours can also be arranged based on the availability of our actors and we will be announcing our Hallowe’en Season in our next blog!

All of our tours and experiences are restricted to a maximum of 20 clients. We also practice social distancing and offer face masks and hand sanitizer to our clients to ensure Public Health directives are met.

We are also thrilled to announce that following our publication last month about The Haunted Award, the ex-administrator has finally returned Haunted Montreal’s trophy after months of refusing to. Haunted Montreal is happy that our Award is finally home where it belongs.

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Haunted Montreal would like to thank all of our clients who attended a ghost walk, haunted pub crawl or paranormal investigation during the 2019 – 2020 season!

If you enjoyed the experience, we encourage you to write a review on our Tripadvisor page, something that helps Haunted Montreal to market its tours.

Lastly, if you would like to receive the Haunted Montreal Blog on the 13th of every month, please sign up to our mailing list.

Coming up on September 13: The Ghost of the Wartime Bomber Pilot

One hot July day in 2007, the strange ghost of a wartime bomber pilot appeared out of thin air in a downtown Chapters bookstore on the corner of Stanley at 1171 Saint Catherine Street. A woman named Kim J., who had headed inside to cool down at the café with an iced cappuccino, was browsing the shelves when the ghost appeared. Wearing a World War II bomber pilot flight-suit, the ghost had a corpse-like pallor and stared at her through its hollowed eyes, as though lost. She tried to scream, but nothing came out. When she desperately broke eye contact with the apparition, it disappeared. Today, the building hosts a Victoria’s Secret lingerie boutique – and the eerie paranormal experiences that still occur from time to time.

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Donovan King is a postcolonial historian, teacher, tour guide and professional actor. As the founder of Haunted Montreal, he combines his skills to create the best possible Montreal ghost stories, in both writing and theatrical performance. King holds a DEC (Professional Theatre Acting, John Abbott College), BFA (Drama-in-Education, Concordia), B.Ed (History and English Teaching, McGill), MFA (Theatre Studies, University of Calgary) and ACS (Montreal Tourist Guide, Institut de tourisme et d’hôtellerie du Québec). He is also a certified Montreal Destination Specialist.

Blogue #60 de Montréal hanté – Place des Jésuites

August 13th, 2020

* En raison de difficultés techniques, la version française de ce blog peut être trouvée temporairement ici.

MISE À JOUR: La version française est maintenant en ligne ici.

Bienvenue à la 60ème édition du blogue de Montréal hanté !

Avec plus de 350 histoires de fantômes documentées, Montréal est sans conteste la ville la plus hantée du Canada, voire de toute l’Amérique du Nord. Montréal hanté se consacre à la recherche de ces histoires paranormales et son blogue, Montréal hanté, dévoile une nouvelle histoire de fantômes se déroulant à Montréal le 13 de chaque mois ! Ce service est gratuit et vous pouvez vous inscrire à notre liste de diffusion (en haut à droite pour les ordinateurs et en bas pour les appareils mobiles si vous souhaitez le recevoir tous les 13 du mois) !

Ce mois-ci, nous nous penchons sur la place Jacques-Cartier, un endroit idyllique où les touristes peuvent prendre un repas, profiter d’une animation en direct ou faire faire une caricature. Cependant, ce lieu public a une histoire très sombre, où les prêtres jésuites et leurs sbires ont torturé et exécuté des indigènes de la Confédération Haudenosaunee lorsqu’il était connu sous le nom de place des Jésuites – pendant l’ère coloniale de la Nouvelle-France.

Recherche hantée

Entourée de monuments coloniaux et souvent grouillante de touristes, la place Jacques-Cartier actuelle a une histoire très sombre. La place publique est prétendument hantée.

En 2016, un touriste américain a fait une rencontre effrayante avec le fantôme qui hanterait la place. Il rentrait à son hôtel dans le Vieux-Montréal après avoir passé quelques heures au Village à souper et à prendre un verre lorsqu’il a décidé de passer par l’historique place Jacques-Cartier.

Vers 1 heure du matin, il s’est arrêté à la colonne de Nelson, au sommet de la place, pour étudier les gravures des navires de guerre à la base du monument.

Alors qu’il regardait les images maritimes, il entendit soudain ce qui ressemblait à des marmonnements en latin, une langue qu’il avait brièvement étudiée au lycée dans l’État de New York.

Essayant de déterminer d’où venait ce son étrange, il a fait le tour du pilier, lui tournant le dos, pour chercher la source du murmure latin.

En regardant dans la région, il a soudain remarqué quelque chose de rougeoyant sur la place Vauquelin au nord.

En regardant de plus près, il semblait qu’une silhouette brumeuse s’approchait de lui. L’apparition tenait dans sa main un objet qui rougeoyait.

Choqué et terrifié, alors que l’apparition se rapprochait, il pouvait voir qu’il était vêtu d’une robe noire et qu’il tenait ce qui semblait être un grand crucifix qui semblait sortir tout juste d’une forge de fer. Il brillait, comme s’il était rouge vif.  

Alors que l’étrange fantôme s’approchait de l’homme, il a soulevé le crucifix brûlant. Le touriste a décidé de rentrer en courant à son hôtel. Cependant, ses jambes ne voulaient pas bouger car il était paralysé par la peur.

Le fantôme a accéléré son rythme et semblait venir directement vers l’homme de manière agressive. Figé, il essaya de crier à l’aide, mais rien ne sortit. Il regarda avec horreur le fantôme qui s’approchait de lui et lui tendit le crucifix rouge et chaud. Le touriste s’est rendu compte qu’il s’agissait de l’apparition d’un prêtre.

Quand le fantôme était à quelques mètres de lui, il pouvait voir un sourire dérangé sur son visage. L’apparition le fixa du regard et en quelques secondes se précipita sur lui avec le crucifix rouge et chaud.

L’homme a enfin pu pousser un cri qui glace le sang !

Alors qu’il criait, une femme qui traversait la place lui a demandé s’il allait bien.

Trempé de sueur, le cœur battant, le touriste s’était réveillé de son cauchemar. Le prêtre fantôme n’était plus là.

Il s’est précipité à son hôtel, a immédiatement quitté l’hôtel et est rentré à New York le soir même.

La place Jacques-Cartier a une histoire très sombre, ce qui peut expliquer la hantise. Autrefois appelée place des Jésuites à l’époque coloniale de la Nouvelle-France, c’est sur cette place que les autochtones étaient torturés et exécutés par les prêtres jésuites et leurs sbires.

Historiquement, le Montréal d’aujourd’hui était un important centre de commerce mohawk datant de milliers d’années dans le nord du territoire Kanienʼkehá꞉ka de Tiohtià : ke.

Lorsque les Français ont commencé à coloniser le territoire indigène dans les années 1600, ils étaient principalement composés de catholiques romains de rite latin, dont un certain nombre de jésuites qui se consacraient à la conversion de la population indigène. En effet, les Européens du XVIIe siècle étaient obsédés par la conversion des soi-disant « sauvages » du monde à leurs propres croyances religieuses. En France, la publication des Relations des Jésuites a suscité un zèle apostolique.

Tiohtià : ke était sur leur radar comme un endroit très stratégique étant donné qu’il était alimenté par diverses rivières et également entouré de rapides. Cependant, elle faisait également partie de la puissante Confédération Haudenosaunee, un regroupement de cinq Premières Nations à l’époque comprenant, d’est en ouest, les Mohawks, les Oneidas, les Onondagas, les Cayugas et enfin les Senecas à l’extrémité ouest.

Appelés « Les Iroquois » par les Français, la guerre a éclaté entre les colonisateurs et la Confédération Haudenosaunee lorsque le colonisateur Samuel de Champlain les a attaqués en 1609.

La guerre et l’introduction de maladies européennes telles que la rougeole et la variole ont déclenché l’exode des Mohawks de Tiohtià : ke vers des régions plus sûres du territoire alors que les dirigeants tentaient de faire face à la crise tout en assurant la défense du territoire.

Une organisation ultra-catholique de mystiques appelée « La Société Notre-Dame de Montréal pour la conversion des peuples sauvages de la Nouvelle-France » a profité de cette situation pour établir une colonie appelée Ville-Marie sur l’île en 1642.

Cela a déclenché une guerre totale entre les colons français et la Première nation Kanienʼkehá꞉ka, qui a duré jusqu’en 1701.

Le matin du 18 mai 1642, la colonie de Ville-Marie est fondée dans un pré de Tiohtià : ke avec une cérémonie catholique. Un groupe de colons français avait installé un autel, décoré de trilles et de violettes, et le père jésuite Vimont célébrait la messe.

Il a déclaré que Ville-Marie n’était qu’un grain de graine de moutarde, mais a ensuite déclaré : « Je ne doute pas que cette petite graine produira un jour un grand arbre qui fera des merveilles. »

Les Jésuites ont une histoire troublante dans le contexte de la discussion contemporaine sur le génocide culturel.

Ignace de Loyola, un soldat espagnol devenu prêtre, a fondé le mouvement jésuite en 1534.

Les premiers jésuites ont fait vœu de pauvreté et de chasteté et ont prévu de travailler à la conversion des musulmans et des autres au catholicisme à tout prix.

Une partie de la philosophie religieuse qui animait les jésuites ne peut être décrite que comme dérangée dans le monde moderne.

Par exemple, dans The Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents : TRAVELS AND EXPLORATIONS OF THE JESUIT MISSIONARIES IN NEW FRANCE, 1610—1791 un chapitre est consacré à l’incinération et à la torture des indigènes.

Les Jésuites ont écrit que brûler vifs les personnes qui avaient refusé de se convertir au catholicisme ou qui avaient offensé les prêtres d’une autre manière était le moyen le plus sûr pour eux d’atteindre le Ciel :

« Ils sont tellement sûrs que nous n’avons guère vu un Iroquois brûler sans le considérer comme en route pour le Paradis ; et nous n’avons pas non plus considéré comme certain sur cette route un seul Iroquois que nous n’avons pas vu passer par cette torture. Avant leurs tourments, ces prisonniers sont dûment instruits et baptisés par les Jésuites ; le Loup est changé d’un seul coup en agneau, et entre dans le bercail de Jésus-Christ, qu’il est venu ravager. »

Avec la croissance de Ville-Marie, les Jésuites achètent en 1692 le terrain situé au nord de la rue Notre-Dame.

La parcelle était de six cent quarante-six pieds de front et de cent vingt pieds de profondeur avec vue sur le terrain en pente menant à la rivière.

Les Jésuites se sont construit un monastère et ont nommé le quartier place des Jésuites.

La torture, l’exécution et le génocide étaient les caractéristiques de l’espace devant leur monastère.

Dans un de ces épisodes, en 1696, quatre membres de la Confédération Haudenosaunee ont été attachés à des pieux et torturés au fer rouge jusqu’à ce qu’ils périssent.

Dans Montréal :Après 250 ans par l’historien W.D. Lighthall, une scène macabre est décrite dans un chapitre intitulé « LE BRÛLEMENT DES QUATRE IROQUOIS, 1696 ».

Lighthall explique :

« Un témoin du massacre des quatre Iroquois sur l’actuelle place Jacques Cartier le décrit ainsi : « Quand je suis venu à Montréal pour la première fois, c’était par la porte Saint-François. J’y ai vu un homme de ma province, qui est venu m’embrasser, ce qu’il a fait, et après quelques compliments, m’a informé qu’il était de notre compagnie. Alors que nous parlions ensemble, il a perçu que j’étais très distrait à cause d’une grande foule que je voyais sur la place des Jésuites. »

« Mon nouveau camarade s’est alors exclamé : « Sur ma parole ! Vous arrivez juste à temps pour voir quatre Iroquois brûlés vifs. Venez jusqu’aux Jésuites, nous verrons mieux. » C’est immédiatement devant leur porte que cette tragédie sanglante devait avoir lieu. J’ai d’abord cru qu’ils jetteraient les pauvres misérables dans le feu ; mais en regardant de tous côtés, je n’ai vu aucune pédale pour le sacrifice des victimes, et j’ai interrogé mon nouvel ami sur plusieurs petits feux que j’ai vus à certaines distances les uns des autres… Ils ont emmené ces quatre hommes sauvages, qui étaient frères, et les plus beaux hommes que j’ai vu de ma vie. Puis les Jésuites les ont baptisés et leur ont fait quelques maigres exhortations, car parler librement, faire plus aurait été « laver la tête d’un cadavre. » La cérémonie sainte terminée, ils ont été saisis et soumis à des punitions… »

« Ils les ont attachés nus à des piquets plantés à trois ou quatre pieds dans le sol, puis chacun de nos alliés indiens, ainsi que plusieurs Français, se sont armés de bouts de fer chauffé au rouge, avec lesquels ils ont brûlé toutes les parties de leur corps. Ces petits feux que j’avais vus servaient de forges pour chauffer les abominables instruments avec lesquels ils les brûlaient. Leur torture dura six heures, pendant lesquelles ils ne cessèrent de chanter leurs exploits de guerre, tout en buvant de l’eau-de-vie, qui leur passa sous la gorge aussi vite que si elle avait été jetée dans un trou dans le sol. Ainsi moururent ces malheureux avec une constance et un courage inexprimables. »

À ce jour, les historiens n’ont pas encore établi combien d’indigènes ont été torturés et assassinés sur la place des Jésuites.

Après la conquête britannique de 1760, les jésuites ont commencé à perdre de leur popularité. En 1773, le pape Clément XIV encourage les autorités britanniques à saisir la résidence des jésuites et à construire un palais de justice à la place.

Les Jésuites sont officiellement bannis et ne peuvent revenir à Québec qu’en 1842.

Aujourd’hui, le pape de l’Église catholique est un jésuite. On ignore si le pape François a expié ou non ces crimes horribles commis par les jésuites dans le passé.

Quoi qu’il en soit, il est toujours bon de réfléchir à deux fois avant de traverser la place Jacques Cartier tard dans la nuit lorsque le prêtre jésuite fantomatique fait son apparition.

Nouvelles de la société

Montréal hanté est extrêmement heureux d’annoncer que toutes nos tournées sont à nouveau en cours (à l’exception de notre tournée des bars hantés) !

Nos visites de fantômes ont lieu le vendredi et le samedi soir en août.

Notre enquête sur le paranormal est également disponible le dernier vendredi et samedi soir de chaque mois. Les vendredis sont en anglais et les samedis en français.

Pour le mois de septembre, les tournées ne se dérouleront que le samedi soir.

Des visites privées peuvent également être organisées en fonction de la disponibilité de nos acteurs et nous annoncerons notre saison d’Halloween dans notre prochain blog!

Tous nos circuits et expériences sont limités à un maximum de 20 clients. Nous pratiquons également la distanciation sociale et offrons des masques faciaux et du désinfectant pour les mains à nos clients afin de garantir le respect des directives de santé publique.

Nous sommes également ravis d’annoncer qu’à la suite de notre publication le mois dernier sur Le prix hanté, l’ancien administrateur a finalement rendu le trophée de Montréal hanté après des mois de refus. Montréal hanté est heureuse que notre prix soit enfin chez elle.

Montréal hanté aimerait remercier tous nos clients qui ont assisté à une promenade fantôme, une tournée de pub hantée ou une enquête paranormale en 2019 – 2020 !

Si l’expérience vous a plu, nous vous encourageons à rédiger une critique sur notre page Tripadvisor, ce qui aidera Montréal hanté à commercialiser ses tournées.

Enfin, si vous souhaitez recevoir le blogue de Montréal hanté le 13 de chaque mois, veuillez vous inscrire à notre liste de diffusion.

À venir le 13 septembre : Le fantôme du pilote de bombardier

Par une chaude journée de juillet 2007, l’étrange fantôme d’un pilote de bombardier est apparu de nulle part dans une librairie Chapters du centre-ville, au coin de Stanley au 1171 rue Sainte-Catherine. Une femme du nom de Kim J., qui était entrée pour se rafraîchir au café avec un cappuccino glacé, parcourait les rayons lorsque le fantôme est apparu. Portant une combinaison de pilote de bombardier de la Seconde Guerre mondiale, le fantôme avait une pâleur semblable à celle d’un cadavre et la regardait à travers ses yeux creux, comme s’il était perdu. Elle a essayé de crier, mais rien n’est sorti. Lorsqu’elle a désespérément rompu le contact visuel avec l’apparition, celle-ci a disparu. Aujourd’hui, le bâtiment abrite une boutique de lingerie Victoria’s Secret – et les expériences paranormales étranges se produisent encore de temps en temps.

Donovan King est un historien postcolonial, il est également enseignant, guide touristique et acteur professionnel. En tant que fondateur de Montréal hanté, il combine ses compétences pour créer les meilleures histoires de fantômes, se déroulant à Montréal, à la fois en écriture et en théâtre. King est titulaire d’un DEC (théâtre professionnel, collège John Abbott), d’un baccalauréat en Beaux-Arts (théâtre dramatique en éducation, université de Concordia), d’un baccalauréat en éducation (histoire et enseignement de l’anglais, université de McGill), d’une maîtrise en théâtre (université de Calgary) et d’AEC (Montréal guide touristique, Institut de tourisme et d’hôtellerie du Québec). Il est également certifié comme Spécialiste de Destination Montréal.

Why I re-geared Griffin Tours to do Hunger Relief

May 5th, 2020

I run a tourism enterprise called Griffin Tours, an Irish-Montreal company that offers cutting-edge walking tours that delve into Montreal’s secrets, hidden histories and dark side. We visit the city’s most popular sites, monuments and attractions – and its most unknown places.

Featuring Irish-Montreal History Tours, Ghost Walks, Haunted Pub Crawls and Unique Experiences, Griffin Tours combines education and entertainment with an Irish twist.

We also engage with Truth and Reconciliation initiatives, Indigenous & Youth Empowerment and participate in various lobbying initiatives to protect and enhance Irish-Montreal and First Nations tangible and intangible heritage – and other other interests.

Systemic racism in the local tourism industry is also one of our targets, where it is currently illegal for Indigenous people to guide on their ancestral territory.

As an Irish-Montreal tour company, one major focus of Griffin Tours is to research and disseminate information about an Gorta Mór, in particular the Irish Famine of 1847’s impact on the city.

We are presently delving into the fact that Mohawk and other Indigenous First Nations raised over 175 pounds in Hunger Relief for our typhus-stricken Irish ancestors.

We see many similarities with today’s pandemic.

COVID-19 has essentially closed down the tourism industry and we cannot offer walking tours due to Health & Safety reasons.

Comparisons between the COVID-19 pandemic today and Montreal’s typhus epidemic triggered by the Famine in 1847 are not difficult to make.

People are dying of a mysterious, contagious disease with no known cure. The death toll in places like New York City is so high that bodies are being “trenched”, just like in Montreal in 1847.

People are hungry and living on the streets as a result of brutal and failed policies rooted in the British colonial era.

In 1847, it was the Irish being supported of the Montreal Emigrant Society. Today, it is the Urban Indigenous with assistance from Resilience Montreal.

Resilience Montreal provides food and other social services, especially to Montreal’s Urban Indigenous, many of whom have fallen through the cracks magnified by colonization.

Resilience Montreal is the brainchild of Nakuset, my friend and mentor. As the Executive Director of the Montreal Native Women’s Shelter, she has devoted her life to helping some of the most vulnerable people in the city while vocally challenging the devastating effects of ongoing colonialism.

I filmed her amazing presentation for educators in November 2019, and highly recommend watching it to better understand the issues.

The front-line situation on the ground in the Cabot Square area where Resilience Montreal services is difficult and challenging, especially given the historic circumstances of inequity and a failure by the City of Montreal’s administration to provide adequate planning or support.

Today, unfortunately the remnants of British colonialism still do much harm to Canada’s Indigenous people, as was made abundantly clear in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls and other related reports.

In Montreal, the fallout of this colonial situation manifests itself on the streets, in particular around Cabot Square at Atwater Metro Station.

For decades, this has been a gathering place for the homeless Urban Indigenous community, who relied on the Open Door Shelter for human wellness services.

When the shelter was shuttered in 2019, at least a dozen people from this community, mostly indigenous women, died on the streets.

“When you take everything away from those who are vulnerable, and then they start to die – there’s a reason why,” Nakuset, Executive Director of the Native Women’s Shelter said. “They have nowhere to go.”

When Resilience Montreal put out an urgent call for donations of food and clothing on April 12, I thought, why couldn’t a tour company re-gear?

When the coronavirus struck, I heard of distilleries re-gearing to make hand sanitizer, clothing companies like Gap and Hanes making gowns and scrubs, Ford and General Motors repurposing fans and batteries to make ventilators and Boeing and Apple making face shields. Even Irish ice cream trucks began pitching in.

Inspired that anything was possible, I transformed Griffin Tours into a Hunger Relief organization for the duration the pandemic.

There is a little-known and yet remarkable story of solidarity between the Mohawk First Nation and the Famine Irish, a story that is also communicated orally by Mohawk Elders and knowledge-keepers such as former Mohawk Chief Christine Zachary-Deom.

The former Chief attends the annual Irish Walk to the Stone every year to remember and remind us of this amazing feat.

Griffin Tours recognizes the fact that this humanitarian disaster, an Gorta Mór, was an avoidable consequence of the brutal policies of British colonization, the same policies that devastated Indigenous communities across present-day Canada.

We are deeply impressed that impoverished First Nations, also oppressed by British colonization, raised such a substantial amount in Hunger Relief for the Famine Irish.

Historically speaking, this act of solidarity was without a doubt one of the city’s most poignant moments.

How could we not repay our debt by sending food and donations to Resilience Montreal?

Griffin Tours Hunger Relief solicits donations of food and clothing from the community at large and sends a driver out every week for porch pick-up and delivery. We are currently seeking adult-sized clothing, shoes, boots, socks and underwear and sizeable dishes of chili and/or pasta with red sauce.

We are also encouraging financial donations to the Native Women’s Shelter, which oversees Resilience Montreal, for anyone who wishes to help in this manner.

To organize a food or clothing donation, please contact me, Donovan King, at optatif@gmail.com.

The Griffin Tours Hunger Relief Program has several goals and expected outcomes. The most obvious objective is to provide food, clothing and monetary donations to assist Resilience Montreal and its vulnerable clientele during the pandemic and hopefully beyond.

Secondly, our Irish-Montreal leadership provides the community-at-large an opportunity to do something that directly contributes to the vulnerable in a safe manner, whether by baking pasta or thinning old wardrobes. We aim to provide a real opportunity to do something positive and helpful instead of simply watching Netflix to pass the time.

Thirdly, we see this as an educational and awareness-building project about the important historic links between the city’s Indigenous (especially Mohawk) and Irish communities, from the Famine to the present-day. In the Age of Truth and Reconciliation, we strive to strengthen and renew these bonds.

Lastly, in meeting the call to action for assistance by Resilience Montreal on a weekly basis, the Griffin Tours Hunger Relief Program responds to the requests of Indigenous leadership on behalf of generous Irish-Montrealers and other supporters.

On a more global scale in the era of Truth and Reconciliation, the Hunger Relief Program also aims to meet specific calls to action and calls to justice found in various reports.

The Calls for Justice from National Inquiry on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls that inspire our actions include:

Calls for Justice for All Canadians

15.2 Decolonize by learning the true history of Canada and Indigenous history in your local area. Learn about and celebrate Indigenous peoples’ history, cultures, pride and diversity, acknowledging the land you live on and its importance to local Indigenous communities, both historically and today.

15.4 Using what you have learned and some of the resources suggested, become a strong ally. Being a strong ally involves more than just tolerance; it means actively working to break down barriers and to support others in every relationship and encounter in which you participate.

15.5 Confront and speak out against racism, sexism, ignorance, homophobia and transphobia, and teach or encourage others to do the same, wherever it occurs: in your home, in your workplace, or in social settings.

15.8 Help hold all governments accountable to act on the Calls for Justice, and to implement them according to the important principles we set out.

Calls for Educators

11.1 We call upon all elementary, secondary, and post-secondary institutions and education authorities to educate and provide awareness to the public about missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people, and about the issues and root causes of violence they experience.

All curriculum development and programming should be done in partnership with Indigenous Peoples, especially Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people. Such education and awareness must include historical and current truths about the genocide against Indigenous Peoples through state laws, policies, and colonial practices.

It should include, but not be limited to, teaching Indigenous history, law, and practices from Indigenous perspectives….

Calls for Media and Social Influencers

6.1 Ensure authentic and appropriate representation of Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA people. Support Indigenous people sharing their stories, from their perspectives, free of bias, discrimination and false assumptions, and in a trauma-informed and culturally sensitive way. Increase the number of Indigenous people in the industry. Take proactive steps to break down the stereotypes that hypersexualize and demean Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA people.

Griffin Tours invites you to participate on this journey by donating food, clothing or money today!

It’s the Irish thing to do!


Happy New Year! Montreal Erases over 350 years of Intangible Cultural Heritage

January 1st, 2020

I would like to begin by acknowledging that we live on the un-ceded Indigenous territory of Tio’tia:ke and that the Kanien’kehá:ka (Mohawk) First Nation is the custodian of these lands and waters.

Due to a lack of consultation or dialogue between stakeholders in the local tourism industry, it almost appears as though there is an ongoing process by the Plante administration to damage or erase the City of Montreal’s intangible cultural heritage.

In a nutshell, over 350 years of oral history and folklore have been effectively erased as of January 1st, 2020.

Calèche guides, who have ferried tourists around the city in horse-drawn carriages for centuries, are now banned. The law, designed to protect animal rights, has serious repercussions on the city’s culture, tourism industry and the livelihood of longstanding and talented tour guides.

While the topic of whether or not horses should work in Old Montreal is an emotional one, with strong arguments on both sides of the debate, this article does not take a position the animal rights issue.

Instead, it looks at the consequences of the ban for Montreal’s intangible cultural heritage, and by extension the tourism industry.

RESULT 1: Destruction of Montreal’s intangible cultural heritage

An intangible cultural heritage is a practice, representation, expression, knowledge, or skill considered by UNESCO to be part of a place’s cultural heritage; it comprises “nonphysical intellectual property, such as folklore, customs, beliefs, traditions, knowledge, and language.”

UNESCO subcommittee to discuss safeguarding intangible cultural heritage

Given that the carriage guides have over 350 years of collective history, experience and storytelling that has been passed through the generations, the folklore that they have collected will cease to be transmitted to anyone, meaning that this important oral history will be lost forever. I was able to collect a small sample of this incredible knowledge when researching a ghost story called “The Phantom Calèche” for the Haunted Montreal Blog.

The rest of the Montreal folklore will essentially disappear because City Hall made no provisions to record, preserve or transmit it.

It is reminiscent of the Plante administration’s attacks against the intangible cultural heritage of Montreal’s Irish community.

RESULT 2: Loss of Livelihood for over 50 of the City’s best tour guides

The ban on the calèches has effectively destroyed the livelihoods of dozens of guides and the result is that some of the city’s best storytellers and knowledge-keepers are now forbidden from transmitting Montreal folklore, even if guiding on foot.

This ban on foot-guiding is due to outdated by-law G-2, which forbids anyone from delivering a guided tour unless they have obtained a permit following an 8-month, $2200 course at the ITHQ. The program has traditionally been seen as too Euro-centric and lacking in Indigenous history, perspectives, language and contemporary issues such as Truth and Reconciliation. As an educator, I advised them to update their curriculum.

This by-law has resulted in serious systemic racism and discrimination in Montreal’s tourism industry, as pointed out in my submission to the OCPM

Many of the guides have decades of experience and will now have to look for employment outside of their traditional industry because the City refuses to allow them to guide on foot.

While there were pleas to Deputy Mayor Sterling Downey, who has been active on the file, to allow the guides to legally work on foot, he was unable to honor the request at this time. When Montreal’s Irish community requested his assistance to protect the Irish heritage the city, he was also unable to offer immediate assistance, although there are hopes he will in the future because in the past he has been a strong supporter of the Irish in Montreal.

RESULT 3: A more Racist Tourism Industry in Montreal

The third result is that the tourism dollars that traditionally went to the carriage guides will now likely be funneled to the systemically racist A.P.G.T. cartel, which is estimated at 98% white in a city with 34% visible minorities and 2% Indigenous people.

While historically there have been many Mohawk and other Indigenous horse guides, that option is no longer available.

Instead, the cartel will run the show. In the past, the A.P.G.T. has received complaints about racist language and discourse among its mostly white tour guides. For example, on May 18, 2017, a letter of complaint, from a conscientious local citizen, was sent via email to the A.P.G.T. and Tourisme Montréal.

Good afternoon,

I live in Montreal and work in Old Montreal.

Tuesday of this week, as I was walking by the statue of Maisonneuve in front of the church, I could hear an English speaking tour guide telling his group (of about 20 tourists) about the ‘savages’.

He kept on talking and repeating ‘savages’ (with emphasis) and then I realized he was referring to our First Nations people.

I was at first very ashamed that we (Montreal) are referring to our native people this way- and the impression it must leave with the tourists. After all, we invaded their land and they were just defending themselves.

I did not react at that time- so I did not see which/if any ‘badge’ the tour guide had, therefore I am unable to say for whom he worked.

But I feel it is your responsibility to make sure ALL tour guides do not continue to refer to our natives as ‘savages’.

I will return every day during my lunch hour to that square- with my camera so if I see/hear this sort of language again- I will be able to film it. (if I do film this, I will send you a copy).

I sure hope that you are able to remedy this situation asap. Because it is not kind nor fair and I am embarrassed to be associated this.

Please advise your employees not to refer to them as savages.

Thank you very much for taking the time to read this.”

The racist guide was repeatedly pointing at the 1895 Maisonneuve Monument, which occupies the heart of Montreal’s tourist district in the center of the Place d’Armes. Surprisingly, this racist centerpiece of Montreal’s Tourism Industry was recently refurbished in 2009 instead of being removed from public sight and placed behind glass in a museum, where it belongs as a colonial relic of the past.

Because tourism dollars will now be funneled to the systemically racist tour guiding cartel, the ban on carriage guides will almost certainly result in even more whitewashing, racism and mis-representation of Indigenous people in the local tourism industry.

It is noteworthy that animal rights activists have a long history of harming Indigenous communities by refusing to listen to or consult them regarding the results of their activism. The award-winning NFB documentary by director Alethea Arnaquq-Baril Angry Inuk examines these dynamics from an Inuit perspective.

RESULT 4: The normalization of ignorance, hate and harassment in Montreal

When I contacted the Anti-calèche defense coalition to express my concerns about the results of their “activism” on Montreal’s Tourism Industry, I was met will a wall of resistance by the spokesperson from their Facebook group (who refused to identify themself).

I informed the spokesperson that there are no Indigenous guides operating legally in the City of Montreal due to racist by-law G-2 and proposed that we should be fighting to change that. When I suggested that the business taken away from the carriage guides should go to Indigenous guides in the Age of Truth and Reconciliation, the spokesperson started dropping the names of the group’s lawyers in a threatening manner.

Ironically, one spokeswoman of the Anti-calèche defense coalition named Mirella Colalillo is described in Westmount Mag as “an advocate for the rights of human and non-human animals. She’s lead [sic] the Anti-calèche Defense Coalition grassroots community for eight years…”

However, many of the now-unemployed guides and their supporters have described the campaign against them by Anti-calèche defense coalition as something akin to a “hate campaign”, including frequent harassment, misrepresentation, defamation, etc. One guide, who shall remain nameless to avoid repercussions, stated:

Image may contain: text

The unknown spokesperson confirmed this genre of hatred during our communications by making sweeping generalizations against the talented guides that can only be described as abusive:

Furthermore, the spokesperson for the group who refused to identify themself explained that allowing Indigenous guides to operate legally on their un-ceded territory was “on the wrong side of history”, despite claiming they speak on behalf of “Indigenous people”. This rhetoric essentially painted the spokesperson as both hypocritical and apparently racist against Indigenous people.

When I disagreed and pointed out that my work as an educator is Truth and Reconciliation based, and sent a news report about anti-Indigenous racism in the Tourism Industry, the spokesperson started harassing me and even sent the following hate mail before blocking me from the Facebook page:

Far from being advocates “for the rights of human and non-human animals” the Anti-calèche defense coalition demonstrated though its actions and communications that the group appears to actually be in favor of denying human rights, including the rights of Indigenous people to legally guide on their un-ceded territory.

In another case, during a “silent vigil”, a spokeswoman for the Anti-calèche defense coalition screamed “GET THE F*CK OUT OF OUR FACES” through a megaphone into the face of a brave guide. The guide was trying to defend the historic work of the calèche drivers and his own horse in an angry mob of “animal rights activists”, risking his own personal safety to try and tell the other side of the story, which was never told by Anti-calèche defense coalition. Instead of offering a balanced approach, members typically defamed the guides with one broad stroke by describing them as all as “incompetent”, “drunk”, “abusive”, “evil”, etc.

This type of abusive behavior only leads to the normalization of ignorance, hate and harassment in Montreal, something that is already very problematic and needs to be challenged. 

RESULT 5: Nobody has pledged to pay to feed and stable the horses, meaning it is quite likely many will be sent to the slaughterhouse.

Perhaps the saddest irony is that neither City Hall or the Anti-calèche defense coalition created a permanent plan to care for the now out-of-service horses for the rest of their lives. The City offered a mere $1000 per horse and hopes the SPCA and a horse welfare organization called Galahad will be able to find homes for the horses. However, to date only one of the 50+ horses has found a new home.

Maintaining horses is an expensive venture, costing thousands of dollars a year per horse in feed, stabling, veterinary and dentistry bills and other expenses such as salt, horse-shoeing, etc . Because no permanent funding is in place to care for the horses, many of them will likely end up in the slaughterhouse.

Sadly, this demonstrates that far from being the noble animal rights activists they claim to be, the Anti-calèche defense coalition will likely be responsible for the unethical slaughter of the very horses the group pledged to defend.

While the Anti-calèche defense coalition may think that I am “too dumb to educate anyone”, despite holding a brevet d’enseignement (or International Teaching License), I beg to differ with the glaring ignorance of their spokesperson.

In exposing their mistreatment of humans, failure to guarantee the protection of animals and their racist objections to Indigenous people guiding on their un-ceded territory, I have fulfilled my mandate an an educator on behalf animal rights, human decency and Truth and Reconciliation initiatives.

In particular, I would like to highlight the importance of the Calls for Justice from National Inquiry on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls:

15.2 Decolonize by learning the true history of Canada and Indigenous history in your local area. Learn about and celebrate Indigenous peoples’ history, cultures, pride and diversity, acknowledging the land you live on and its importance to local Indigenous communities, both historically and today.

15.4 Using what you have learned and some of the resources suggested, become a strong ally. Being a strong ally involves more than just tolerance; it means actively working to break down barriers and to support others in every relationship and encounter in which you participate.

15.5 Confront and speak out against racism, sexism, ignorance, homophobia and transphobia, and teach or encourage others to do the same, wherever it occurs: in your home, in your workplace, or in social settings.

15.8 Help hold all governments accountable to act on the Calls for Justice, and to implement them according to the important principles we set out.

Image result for Calls for Justice from National Inquiry on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls

Here’s hoping the “activists” of the Anti-calèche defense coalition stop wasting their time writing hate mail and defaming educators and tour guides and start studying these important documents for the sake of Truth and Reconciliation.

Please contact the SPCA to demand that the innocent horses that were put out-of-service by the Anti-calèche defense are not slaughtered. As “animal rights activists”, it is incumbent upon them to pay for the upkeep of the horses who cannot find homes for the rest of their natural lives.

Please also email Mayor Valerie Plante and ask her to rescind racist and discriminatory by-law G-2 so the carriage guides can continue working in the tourism industry on foot as tour guides, not to mention Indigenous guides, on whose un-ceded territory we live. She can be reached here: mairesse@montreal.ca 

An Open Letter from a City of Montreal Ambassador to Mayor Valerie Plante RE: Griffintown REM Proposal and Negative International Reaction

December 6th, 2019

Salutations Mayor Valerie Plante,

I am one of your Ambassadors of the City, as licensed tour guides are known in Montreal. I would like to begin by acknowledging that we live on the un-ceded Indigenous territory of Tio’tia:ke and that the Kanien’kehá:ka (Mohawk) First Nation is the custodian of these lands and waters.

My name is Donovan King and we met very briefly at the official ceremony to rename Amherst Street to Atateken, a Mohawk word meaning brotherhood and sisterhood between nations.

In addition to being an Ambassador for Montreal, I am also a history teacher, historian, actor and tour guide. I also serve on the Board of Directors and as the official historian with the Irish Monument Park Foundation where we have been trying to create a world-class memorial park on the site of our second Famine Cemetery.

I wrote an academic paper outlining the sorry history of our cemetery, past and present. To understand the context of what is happening today in regards to the local Irish community, I advise you to learn more about the terrible history of the Irish Famine’s impact on Montreal by taking the time to read it.

I am writing you this open letter today to update you on a situation that is unfolding within the city’s Irish community that is causing much sadness, anger and mistrust. The issue is festering within our community at a sad time when the remains of our Famine ancestors are being dug up.

The Montreal Irish community wishes to mourn our ancestors and commiserate in peace without an albatross hanging around our neck.

That metaphorical albatross upsetting the community is your recent proposal to name the REM Station in the Griff after Bernard Landry.

I am advising you, as your ambassador, to withdraw the proposal out of respect for the Irish community during this period of deep mourning. The period of mourning will last until the bones of our ancestors are respectfully re-interred in the Black Rock Irish Famine Cemetery.

As you know, Montreal’s motto is Concordia Salus, or “well-being through harmony”. Created by the city’s first mayor, Jacques Viger, in 1832, the purpose of the motto was to remind each European ethnic group comprising the population – French, English, Scottish and Irish – to respect each other and to work together towards harmony through dialogue, mutual understanding and fraternization. 

Indeed, the City’s Coat of Arms and flag reflect this historic understanding. It was recently updated to include the symbol of the White Pine for the Kanienʼkehá꞉ka or Mohawk First Nation, on whose un-ceded territory we live today.

Maintaining harmony is a delicate operation for any mayor and many in the Irish community feel that you are straying from the original goals of the city and are needlessly sowing division.

Montreal’s historic Irish community was outraged after you tweeted on November 6, 2019, proposing to name the Griffintown REM light rail station after deceased Quebec Premier Bernard Landry (translated from French):

“Very happy to announce this morning that I wish to take advantage of the arrival of the REM to name the station that will be launched in Griffintown in honor of former Prime Minister Bernard Landry, whose sad anniversary of his death is celebrated today (1/3)

The Griffintown-Bernard-Landry station would recognize Mr. Landry’s important contribution to the development of our city, in the middle of the Cité du Multimédia, which has become the symbol of the bold economic vision of our former Prime Minister. (2/3)

I had the pleasure of proposing this idea to the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, which was open to it. The circle of friends of Bernard Landry was also favorable to the idea. (3/3)”

[Très heureuse d’annoncer ce matin dans ma rubrique que je souhaite profiter de l’arrivée du REM pour nommer la station qui verra le jour dans Griffintown en l’honneur l’ex-premier ministre Bernard Landry dont on souligne le triste anniversaire de décès aujourd’hui (1/3)

La station Griffintown—Bernard-Landry permettrait de reconnaître l’importante contribution de M. Landry au développement de notre ville, et ce en pleine Cité du Multimédia, devenue le symbole de la vision économique audacieuse de notre ancien Premier ministre. (2/3)

J’ai eu le plaisir de proposer cette idée à la Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, qui s’y est montrée ouverte. Le Cercle des amis de Bernard Landry a aussi été favorable à l’idée. (3/3)]

Given that Montreal’s Irish immigrants built Griffintown from the ground up, including the Lachine Canal and Victoria Bridge, many feel that it is wrong to name the REM station after a controversial and divisive politician.

Bernard Landry undoubtedly made many positive contributions to Quebec society. One that comes prominently to mind is his creation of the audacious, imaginative and world-class Cité du Multimédia. He was one great economist and politician and the Irish certainly show no disrespect for him.

Indeed, many of us are indebted to him and hold down great-paying jobs in the Cité du Multimédia that our dear former Premier created.

I also personally consider Bernard Landry a role-model as an economist. His business acumen gave me the confidence to become an entrepreneur and today I am very happy to pay union-based wages to local actors from many language groups. I thank former Premier Landry, who was trilingual, for this vision.

However, as an Irish-Montreal historian, I feel that we must also take into account the full historical record, including controversy and divisiveness.

For example, Bernard Landry did call the Canadian flag a “piece of red rag“, which offended many people across the country, especially outside of Quebec.

His Wikipedia page shows that the former Premier was also known for anti-immigrant rants, despite being descended from French colonial immigrants himself.

You may recall, upon realizing that the 1995 referendum was lost, that Bernard Landry burst into the Inter-Continental Hotel and began berating immigrant employees, blaming them for the loss.

It was reported in the Montreal Gazette, and picked up by the New York Times that Landry spoke disparagingly of immigrants on the night of the referendum. In an article by The Gazette, it was reported that two employees at the Inter-Continental Hotel in the city planned to file a complaint against Mr. Landry with the Quebec Human Rights Commission. Anita Martinez, a Mexican night clerk at the hotel, said that Mr. Landry told her, “It was because of you immigrants that the ‘no’ won,” and added, “Why is it that we open the doors to this country so you can vote ‘no’ ” to Quebec sovereignty?

There is also criticism that Bernard Landry negotiated a deal that involved the flooding of ancestral Indigenous Cree burial grounds with Hydro-Québec projects. Page 50 of the Report on the Public Consultations Held in November 2012 Following Implementation of Hydro-Québec’s Eastmain-1-A and Sarcelle Powerhouses and Rupert Diversion Project states:

“The disappearance of a burial site caused by flooding of part of the territory also deeply upset members of the community of Nemaska, especially the Elders, as this participant explained: “Once, we took the Elders to the site where flooding was planned. We had the opportunity to visit one of the old cemeteries, but I believe that it is now flooded. Even if it was only for a few hours, the effects were visible and the faces were sad, especially those of the Elders, who were powerless.”

More recently, Cree First Nation member Jamie Moses said the flooding of traditional Indigenous territories was “like losing a loved one.”

Despite Bernard Landry’s incredible economic accomplishments and the pride many have in him, we cannot forget the pain it caused for immigrants and Indigenous people in the Age of Truth and Reconciliation, inclusion and diversity. We must tell both sides of the story in 21st Century historiography. To do otherwise would be intellectually dishonest.

Returning to your controversial tweet, the replies were swift and harsh. Dozens of people complained that the idea is ill-founded, outrageous and a disrespect to Montreal’s historic Irish community. Many felt snubbed and said they won’t vote for you again.

Montreal’s historical Irish roots date back to the days of New France, when Irish soldiers defeated by Oliver Cromwell were given the option of moving to France to fight for the French king. Many did just that, resulting in approximately 5% of the population of the New France colonies having Irish roots. Today, almost half the population of Quebec, a full 40%, has some Irish ancestry.

Due to the Irish influence in the city’s history, the Irish are considered one of the founding nations of the city, as demonstrated in 1832 when Mayor Viger created the motto and Coat of Arms, a predecessor of today’s flag.

Indeed, according a video released by the City of Montreal, the 2017 gesture of adding the Mohawk white pine represented a “new identity” for the city that signaled inclusion, diversity, respect and reconciliation. The new flag symbolizes a council fire “where people embrace and talk.” The city concludes with a call to action for all citizens: “Let’s embrace this new identity and move hand in hand into the future together.”

By refusing to consult Montreal’s Irish community, many members feel that you have ignored the city’s own motto and its historical precedent of inclusion, dialogue and harmonious relationships between different ethnic groups.

As such, the Irish Monument Park Foundation has asked members of the community to send you letters of complaint and to contact the REM to ask them to drop your proposal from consideration. This is out of respect for the Irish who built the Griff from the ground up and who lie buried by the thousands in the vicinity.

These types of unwarranted provocation also result in the inevitable dark Irish humour and shenanigans that intentionally furthers controversy, debate and discourse.

To make matters worse for City Hall, the media covering the scandal has gone international. The coverage has transcended languages and national borders. The reaction has generally been very critical of your re-branding idea because it totally devalues the Irish community. This self-inflicted brand damage to the City of Montreal and the Mayor’s office is immense and grows larger by the day.

In the print media, the story has been covered by local outlets such as the Montreal Gazette, MTLBlog, CBC Montreal, the National Post and the international Irish Central.

The story of Irish outrage was also covered by CTV News, CityNews and Global and broadcast on television and online. Barry Wilson, a popular Montreal journalist and broadcaster, described your proposal as “tone deaf”.

CBC asked me to write a point-of-view piece about the scandal, and I was also interviewed on CBC Radio.

A citizen named Stephanie Adamczewski also launched a petition called “Please help stop Mayor Valerie Plante from distorting everything we stand for!” that has already garnered over 4000 signatures. Please remember that 15,000 signatures can trigger a legally-bound Public Consultation.

More recently, the Quebec Anglophone Heritage Network has written an open letter opposing the Bernard Landry proposal, as has the Fédération Histoire du Québec, according to the Montreal Gazette.

It is quite likely there will be a lot more local and international media as the story continues to unfold and make the rounds online. As more Irish stakeholders around the planet get involved, they will forcefully speak out against this indecent proposal.

To further exacerbate the conflict, the bones of our Irish ancestors have been dug up very recently by the REM, the same organization you are hoping will co-brand the Griffintown station with Bernard Landry. This terribly sad situation is triggering extreme emotion within the local Irish community and was even reported in La Presse.

As I am sure you can imagine, our community is devastated by this disturbance of our ancestors’ final resting place. Already over 15 of our ancestors’ remains have been dug up, including some typhus-victims still sealed in their plain deal wooden coffins. Their remains have been sent to laboratories for testing and analysis. In Irish culture, the Dead do not like to be displaced, disturbed or disrespected in any way and are said to return as ghosts when removed in this type of manner.

You may not have realized when trying to postpone Hallowe’en that this sacred day, known as Samhain, is actually a traditional Irish holiday. It is the disturbing division of the year between the lighter half (summer) and the darker half (winter) in Irish culture. During Samhain, this division between the world as we know it and the Otherworld is at its thinnest, allowing the spirits to pass through and to interact with the Living. This allows the Living and the Dead to share the same transformative space for one day of the year. For the Irish, this day is sacred. It is the historical roots of Hallowe’en, after all.

Image result for samhain

Simply put, the Irish treat the dead with great reverence and respect, lest they come back to haunt us.

As such, I have arranged an informal mourning event at the Black Rock on Sunday, December 8 at 3 pm for anyone who wishes to mourn, commiserate and pray. I would like to invite you personally to meet the people who are so upset by the Bernard Landry proposal so you can engage them in earnest conversation about these divisive and hurtful issues. Our community would really appreciate it if you learned more about Irish culture and consulted us in the future before trying to re-brand our landmarks or reschedule our sacred holidays.

We wish to honour Montreal’s Irish Famine ancestors and those who came to their aid and made the ultimate sacrifice. Mayor John Easton Mills certainly comes to mind, a strong leader who had so much respect for the Irish community that he paid with his life in coming to their aid.

I recommend taking him on as a role-model in your current duties as the Mayor of the City of Montreal. I have already proposed a good way to commemorate him, and hope you can support it.

Lastly, I would like to offer a better solution to this scandal by renaming the entire Multi-media City after Bernard Landry and the adjacent park. The park is ill-designed and is currently used mostly by cars as a parking lot and one-way ring road.

This could become a world-class park and green space if Projet Montreal had a mind to put Bernard Landry’s memory and commemoration before cars and parking spaces by accepting this proposal.

As your ambassador, I am again advising that you retire the proposal to name Griffintown REM Station after Bernard Landry immediately so as to allow the Montreal-Irish community to mourn in peace without any such albatross hanging around our collective neck.

It would also prevent future negative media attention and the ensuing brand damage to the City of Montreal, which harms both the tourism industry and your chances of re-election.

Image result for elect valerie plante

I have already had many cancellations for Irish Montreal tours because Irish clients and those living in the diaspora say they feel disrespected by the City of Montreal, so are choosing other destinations that respect the Irish like Toronto, Boston, New York, Liverpool or Dublin City itself.

In my humble opinion as an ambassador, you can easily save face by announcing that, after considering the opinion of the Montreal Irish community, you have decided to withdraw your proposal and instead will re-name the entire Multi-media City and adjacent park after Bernard Landry. Surely that would be a suitable resolution for all involved.

Please let me know if I can be of diplomatic assistance in any way.

Concordia Salus!

Your very own Ambassador for the City of Montreal,

Donovan King, MFA, BEd, BFA, DEC, ACS

Montreal Destination Specialist

Co-owner and creative director of Griffin Tours and Haunted Montreal

p.s. Can we arrange a meeting soon to discuss the fact that it is currently illegal for Indigenous tour guides to operate legally on the un-ceded territory of Tiotà:ke? As part of my Truth and Reconciliation initiatives, I would love to hire some Kanienʼkehá꞉ka (Mohawk) guides, but City of Montreal By-Law G-2 prevents me from doing so.

Please read my submission for the OCPM on systemic racism and discrimination in Montreal for more details.

February 25, 2020 Update:

Saultations again Mayor Plante!

Just a quick reminder that you have not yet withdrawn your proposal, although I have noted that you did release a cryptic message for the media:

cover photo, Image may contain: 1 person, closeup, possible text that says 'Mayor's Statement "The fact that we have the name 'Griffintown Bernard Landry' creates a dialogue that we still need today, but doesn't minimize the the huge contribution of the Irish community to the city of Montreal." Valérie Plante Mayor of Montreal Global NEWS'

As expected, the story has continued to explode in both languages across the planet:

December 9. Global News, CityNews, CTV News, La Presse, Montreal Gazette, CBC Montreal National News (runs 3:32 – 5:50).

December 10. Irish Central, CULT MTL, SooToday. Montreal City Weblog.

December 12. CBC Radio Noon Montreal with Shawn Apel, Radio 98.5 Montréal.

December 17. Irish Central. Montreal Gazette, Montreal City Weblog, Radio 98.5 Montréal, CJAD 800 Radio (runs 5:04 – 8:50).

December 18. EN24 News, Monde de Stars.

December 19. Irish Central.

December 20. Irish Central.

December 31. Forget the Box Blog.

January 1, 2020. OTL Blog.

January 2. Montreal Gazette.

January 5. Lokshtanov Blog.

January 11. The Catholic Register.

January 13. Haunted Montreal Blog, Blogue de Montréal hanté

January 14. Le Soleil.

January 17. Global News.

January 19. Montreal Gazette.

January 20. Irish Central, CJAD Radio, MONTRÉAL CAMPUS.

January 21. MAtv, CJAD Radio.

January 25. Montreal Gazette.

February 4. The Link (Concordia University).

February 6. CityNews.

February 13. Global NewsMontreal Gazette, CityNews, CTV News, MTL Blog, Haunted Montreal Blog, Blogue de Montréal hanté.

February 16. CBC News Montreal (story runs 4:05 – 6:37).

February 18. CJAD Radio.

February 20. Thai Boa: The Vietnamese Newspaper.

February 25. City of Montreal Council Meeting (YouTube). Runs 1:44:12 – 1:59:47.

March 17. Convivium.

June 13. CBC Radio One. All in a Weekend with Ainslie MacLellan. Interview with Donovan King.

June 18. Bloomsday Festival Montréal 2020. Virtual Walking tour with Donovan King about the Irish Famine’s Impact on Montreal in 1847. (Starts at 7:05)

I should also mention that a group of citizens is now mobilizing for a petition for a Public Consultation on all future re-naming proposals from City Hall to ensure community stakeholders are properly consulted henceforth. This includes members of the Kanienʼkehá꞉ka community on whose un-ceded territory we live. For example, why isn’t Otsirà:ke recognized as the original name of Mount Royal on websites, signage and brochures?

Many of these citizens dispute your assertion in the media that this is an anglophone vs. francophone dispute. It is more productive to see the conversation as between the descendants of European colonizers and those who were colonized, and how that dynamic plays out today. I can assure you that the conversation is not only playing out in English and French on social media, but also in Gaeilge (Irish), Kanienʼkeha (Mohawk) and many other languages.

I have returned from Dublin City and am available to communicate online should you desire. I recommend getting in touch soon, especially as the media headlines seem to be doing enormous brand damage to the City of Montreal internationally. The Irish Diaspora includes 100 million+ members across the planet and this brand damage can result in a loss of highly-coveted Tourism dollars for the City of Montreal and companies such as Griffin Tours and Irish Montreal Excursions.

Lastly, many in the Irish community feel humiliated that you have not backed down on this proposal during a time of deep mourning for our Famine ancestors who were just dug up and sent to a laboratory for analysis.

Please join our community in mourning Montreal’s Irish Famine Dead by withdrawing your proposal as soon as feasibly possible. With the Irish Season now upon us, it would be so wonderful if the City could restore social harmony so we all celebrate together without any hard feelings!

Go raibh maith agat! Merci! Niá:wen ki’ wáhi!

CBC Radio. Let’s Go with Sabrina Marandola. Interview with Donovan King about the Mayor’s proposal to name Griffintown REM station after Bernard Landry.

November 19th, 2019

CBC radio. Let’s Go with Sabrina Marandola. Interview with Donovan King about the Mayor’s proposal to name Griffintown REM station after Bernard Landry.

November 19, 2019.

Read the companion piece to this interview on CBC Montreal.