MONTREAL — There may be nearly nothing to counsel that the combo of parking tons and industrial lands close to Montreal’s Victoria Bridge was as soon as a vibrant residential neighbourhood.
However earlier than it was demolished in 1964 to make method for a sports activities venue for the Expo 67 world truthful, youngsters performed on the stoops of Victorian row homes in a small assortment of streets referred to as Goose Village, the place successive waves of immigrants labored, lived and raised households.
Now, the story of the neighbourhood and its individuals is being revived in a brand new e-book by Concordia College affiliate pictures professor Marisa Portolese. Printed in English and French, “Goose Village” makes use of archival images, interviews with former residents and fashionable portraits to chronicle the day-to-day lifetime of the working-class neighbourhood within the metropolis’s southwest earlier than its 350 buildings have been demolished in what politicians of the time portrayed as city renewal.
Portolese describes Goose Village as a small neighbourhood of six or seven streets that includes modest rowhouses and an elementary college, in addition to eating places and household companies. Whereas its inhabitants weren’t well-off and needed to deal with challenges like foul odors from close by slaughterhouses, she says they fashioned shut ties and lots of nonetheless keep up a correspondence to this present day.
“Individuals knew one another,” she stated in an interview. “From what they inform me it was a really fantastic place to stay the place everybody appeared out for each other, and lots of people describe it as a really supportive group.”
Engaged on the e-book was a private expertise for Portolese, whose household had deep roots within the neighbourhood. Her father, Domenico Portolese, and her mom, Pina Albanese, started their married life collectively in Goose Village as a part of the wave of Italian immigrants who got here to Canada after the Second World Warfare.
Portolese stated they have been solely the most recent group of newcomers to settle, following the Ukrainians and Poles who got here after the primary World Warfare and, earlier, the Irish who landed on the banks of the St. Lawrence in typhus-infested “coffin ships” within the mid 1800’s. Most of the first houses there have been constructed for these Irish employees who survived the journey and went on to assist construct the Victoria Bridge to the town’s South Shore, which was accomplished in 1859.
Portolese says the motivation for her e-book was, partially, an effort to reverse “a whole erasure of our patrimony, of native heritage.”
“There’s no signal on web site that alludes to the truth that there was as soon as a neighborhood, an vital neighborhood,” she stated.
Within the e-book, footage taken by metropolis photographers within the early Nineteen Sixties present full of life scenes, with youngsters dancing and enjoying on streets and in backyards and girls chatting on doorsteps of two-or-three storey brick row homes. One other collection of images taken simply earlier than the demolition in 1964 is extra grim, displaying the within of deserted flats, with discarded furnishings and papers scattering the ground.
The e-book additionally options Portolese’s personal images of the realm lately, displaying parking tons overgrown with weeds and flowers, in addition to portraits of former residents, together with her father, within the vacant tons the place their houses as soon as stood.
Along with gracing the quilt, Portolese stated her father was additionally an integral a part of the four-year creation course of, a lot of which occurred through the COVID-19 pandemic and concerned monitoring down former residents and sorting by some 1,600 archival images that got here with no index, she stated.
Goose Village, which was often known as Victoriatown, was demolished within the spring of 1964, forcing1,500 residents to maneuver to surrounding communities that usually charged greater hire. The sports activities stadium constructed on the positioning, referred to as the Autostade, was in use for lower than 10 years after Expo 67 and was demolished within the late Nineteen Seventies.
Portolese believes her challenge is very related immediately as rents and housing costs rise in cities throughout Canada, giving strategy to a brand new wave of gentrification and displacement.
At present, the realm the place Goose Village as soon as sat is once more being eyed for growth, with competing proposals from builders who hope to construct a whole bunch or 1000’s of items within the long-underused space.
Portolese says she hopes that no matter challenge is retained features a good quantity of social housing, in addition to nods to the previous.
“I would love some type of sign up that neighborhood that explains that there was as soon as this village that lived there, that there was as soon as this place that existed, in order that it’s not fully erased,” she stated.
This report by The Canadian Press was first revealed Nov. 5, 2023.
Morgan Lowrie, The Canadian Press