This is a selection of sketches by the artist John Collins, for over 40 years editorial cartoonist of The Gazette and illustrator of Andrew Collard’s historical column, “All Our Yesterdays”. This book has given me great pleasure and has evoked long-dormant memories, as it will for any Montrealer who has been around for a while. John’s observations about the days when cars were ‘put up’ in the winter reminded me of my father telling me of how he would not only put his Chevy up on blocks in some unheated storage space, he would take the battery home and put it under his bed to keep it warm.
When you go through these pages, you will not only see the Montreal of bygone days but you will also hear it — sounds of the city that were once familiar but have now vanished, sounds like the peculiar music, on St. Catherine Street, from the hurdy-gurdy man’s barrel organ, the rattle of tire chains on the snow in the days before snow tires, the sleigh bells in winter, the vegetable man on his wagon calling out, “Fresh tomatoes!”, the clang of the streetcar bell, the steam whistle from the chip wagon down the street, beckoning you to buy French fries. If the city’s landscape has changed, the music of its soundscape has also changed, and, to my mind, we have lost some fine melodies.
Streetcars and ice wagons will be familiar to old Montrealers. “And for the young people … a revelation about the splendid, curious, shabby, elegant place Montreal used to be.”
From the Foreword, by William Weintraub
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