Thursday, August 16, 2018 was my recent visit to Montréal. My first visit to Montréal was as an eight year old in April 1964. We had immigrated to Canada from London, England. We went to London, Ontario to start our new lives. From London in the fog to London in the bush. We sailed from Southhampton, England to Montréal with a docking in Quebec City. For me, it was my biggest adventure to date in my young life. I wasn’t in Montréal long. I returned to Montréal in 1967 for four nights for a visit to Expo ’67. It was a Scouts Canada trip, we travelled by bus to and from London, Ontario.
The next time I returned to Montréal was in the summer of 1969. I was in Army Cadets by that time and I was attending a summer camp at the old Ipperwash Army Cadet Camp on Lake Huron. Luckily, I was chosen to be included in an exchange of cadets from Valcartier, Quebec. Our month in Quebec was mostly touring around to learn about Quebec, Canada, the military and all their histories and how the Canada of the time was affected by them. It was another exciting Montréal/Quebec adventure.
The next time I returned to Montreal was in 1976 and I was now 21 years old. i was working for a firm that did contract work in the oil refineries of Montreal East. I spent the better part of 2 years there living at the corner of Sherbrooke St. E. and Rue L’Assomption. I had a riot. To be young, single and working in Montréal was a young man’s dream. I spent a lot of time in Montréal up until the summer of 1979. Then life changed again and I would not be back in Montréal for many years.
Fast forward to May 2010. I am single. I am a Locomotive Engineer working in freight service for Canadian Pacific Railway. I have worked for 20 years for CPR in southern Ontario, and now it is 2010 and I can retire at the end of 2015.
So I re-locate to Perth, Ontario and I work out of Smiths Falls terminal. For my first year there I work the CP Winchester Sub between Smiths Falls and Côte-St. Lucky in Montréal. I am in Montréal 3 to 4 times a week. While on my rest time in Montreal I would explore the city while getting meals or buying groceries. I always enjoyed being in Montréal. For just over 5 years I spent time in Montréal on a regular basis. Then I retired in December of 2015 and I stopped working into Montréal.
Now it is the end of August 2018 and I am moving to Montréal in 2 weeks. I have rented a room in the east end of downtown near Frontenac Métro station.
I will be attending Concordia University so two dreams are occurring in tandem. I am finally attending university, and I am finally living in Montréal, which I consider to be one of the greatest cities of the world!
My career with the railway took me to work in Toronto and also Detroit, Michigan. From 1990 until 1997, working out of CP’s London, Ontario terminal Detroit was the away from home terminal for me. I moved trains from London to Detroit and back. Detroit was also slightly significant in my life because of music. Detroit has always been one of the music capital’s of the world. Growing up in southern Ontario in the ’60s, 70’s one of the Detroit superstitions on the AM radio was actually a Canadian station at 800 on the AM dial with the call letters CKLW, more commonly known as The Big Eight.
In those days if you were a successful radio DJ, you knew you had hit the big time if you got hired by The Big 8 in Windsor, Ontario.
So what does that have to do with Montréal? Well, I was in Montréal this past Thursday, August 16, 2018. the day after the Queen of Soul, Ms. Aretha Franklin had died. All day on CBC Radio 1 was a musical memorial to that wonderful, singing, angel, our dear sister Aretha! To be in Montréal on a day that Aretha, and Detroit, feature so prominently was a wonderful musical treat.
It was personally significant for me by virtue of my career and the amount of time spent working in both of those great cities. Yes, I do consider Detroit to be a great city. Detroit is great because of music, concerts, and hockey. And baseball!
Our perfect lives are perfect because of their lack of perfection.