The Theatre, Montreal, 1843

Times and Daily Colonial Advertiser, Montreal 10 April 1843, page 2

The Theatre

On Thursday evening last was presented, by the amateurs of the 43d Regiment, Sheridan’s comedy of “The Rivals” – and afterwards “The Haunted Inn”. Having attentively observed the performance, we can have no hesitation in saying that the 43d amateurs made on that occasion a most successful debut. The “Rivals” is a piece that requires, to do it justice, talents in the actors, and is more liable to be spoiled, than the ephemeral productions which are for the most part offered on the boards, to the exclusion of plays of sterling merit. It is to be regretted that the rage for novelty is so great everywhere, that the plays of such men as Garrick, Sheridan, Colman, Cumberland & c., are neglected and superseded by the “pretty new-nothings” of these days of degeneracy. We thank the 43d amateurs for their judicious choice, and for the manner they presented it.

The female characters, as well as those of Sir Anthony Absolute, Captain Absolute, and Acres were good. Sir Lucius O’Trigger was rather refined and subdued for an Irish fire-eater; we think Mr Holmon, who sustained this, would succeed better in some other part. The comic song, by Latham, was received with great applause, and the Gods were quite right in encoring it. The other, we cannot praise; but that is not the fault of the singer, but the song. “The Haunted Inn” was well acted, and “the laying of the ghost” excited much merriment; and all together the performance was one which gives the 43d a claim on the support of the play-going public.

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Dr Chase’s Nerve Food, Montreal, 1919

Montreal Standard, 12 April 1919, page 22

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“I don’t think I can go, Jessie, for I just feel wretched”

“Oh, I’m so sorry, for I did so want you to be there.”

“I hate to disappoint you, dear, but you know how miserable I have been lately.”

“Yes, but I thought you were better.”

“So I am some days, and then I just seem to be as bad as ever again. I get so weak that I do not feel able to stir.”

“What is the trouble?”

“The doctor says I am anemic. He says the blood is thin and watery, and I do not get the good of the food I eat, Goodness knows I do not each much, either, for I have no appetite.”

“Why not try Dr Chase’s Nerve Food?”

“Would that help me, do you think?”

“I do not see why it should not. You remember how pale and weak I used to be. Well, it was nothing else than Dr Chase’s Nerve Food that cured me. And I am not looking as though I needed any medicine now, am I?”

“If I could only be strong and healthy like you are, Jessie, I would give anything.”

“You never will be unless you try, and I do not think you would be disappointed with Dr Chase’s Nerve Food. It is not only my case, but there are so many other girls we know who have been benefitted by it.”

“Will you get me a box at the drug store, Jessie, and I will start right in to-day? If this will only give me an appetite and make the blood rich and red, so that I can get some strength and color, I will be a happy girl.”

Dr Chase’s Nerve Food is so gentle in action, and yet so potent as a restorative, that it is a great favourite with women of all ages. It seems to be admirably suited to the needs of their delicate nervous systems, and on this account it has come to be universally used as a means of restoring vigor and energy to a rundown nervous system. 50 cents a box, 6 for $2.75, all dealers, or Edmanson, Bates & Co Ltd, Toronto. On every box of the genuine you will find the portrait and signature of AW Chase, MD, the famous Receipt Book Author.

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Amusements, Montreal, 1880

Montreal Daily Star, 23 September 1880, page 2

Amusements

Mechanic’s Hall – Robinson & Crane’s troupe played last night to a very fair audience. The songs, dances &c, tendered by the several performers proved acceptable.

Academy of Music—The Academy of Music last night was crowded as usual, there being only standing room half an hour after the performance commenced. There was a change of programme, “Zip” being substituted for “Musette”. Lotta was charming as ever, playing with inimitable vim and abandon, and being supported admirably by the east. Miss Jordan’s Amanda was very effective. To-night Lotta makes her last appearance in “Zip”, and none of our visitors who have not yet seen her should miss the opportunity.

Nordheimer’s Hall – The crew of “HMS Pinafore,” under the command of the Holman Combination, were put through their evolutions last evening at this cosy little theatre, Miss Holman’s Josephine was all that could be wished, while the support given her was fair. Old and threadbare as the charming little opera has become, the attendance last night and the applause given the performers shows that there are still a large number of theatre-goers whose admiration for it has not diminished by time and frequent repetition.

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Making Library and Archives Canada Work: A Superficial Start, 2015

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Library and Archives Canada is, at its heart, the record keeper of Canadian history. Good or bad, if it happened here, it is likely that there are some records which speak to these happenings. But our National Archives which stores our collective past and our National Library which stores our collective voice is in deep trouble. Its budget is shrinking and its ability to serve the people whose past it products is at risk through mismanagement, underfunding and under-appreciation.

There have been a number of studies conducted which have gone to the heart of the problems at Library and Archives Canada, and solutions that could help it. I won’t touch any of these here. Rather I am going to approach the institution’s presence in Ottawa on Wellington. I will merely touch the surface, but then the surface is the first thing you notice.

A lot of rhetoric goes around political circles about how important the business model is, and how it should be applied to the business of government. So let us take some of these business principles and apply them to Library and Archives Canada, and treat it like a retail service point.

Location, Location

Library and Archives Canada sits on prime real estate. It sits at the west end of Wellington Street, about four blocks from Parliament Hill, and less than two from the Supreme Court of Canada. The area is so prime that the Conservative government chose the site in between the Archives and the Supreme Court for its carbuncle of a Memorial to the Victims of Communism.

This is the main drag, where visitors to the Capital will walk (in good weather) down Wellington to the Canadian War Museum, or back again to Parliament. What an excellent vantage to attract interest in their collections. Wasted.

Curb Appeal

Go past the building on Wellington and you would be hard pressed to identify it as the National Library and Archives. Only a rather small government bog-standard sign is present on the east corner in front of the building. There is nothing on the building to proclaim its purpose. It stands merely as a mid-century office building. Proceed to the front door and there is an interesting sculpture of a park bench in front. and the two frames for banners, currently holding the images for the current exhibition inside – “Double Take/ Volte Face”. There is nothing to indicate that the exhibit is being held in the National Library and Archives. It just is an exhibit. The frames have the Government of Canada logo on the bottom.

Initial Welcome

Walking in the door you still would not know that it was an archive or a library. You are first confronted with a large desk, which you assume is for information, but there is no clear marking. You might also notice a lot of people heading to the left and talking to a security guard, but the check in process is not clear. There is no signage. Of course, the desk in front is for new registration or renewals but unless you go up to the smiling staff member and ask; how would you know? And behind the desk there is a sunken space, now filled with a temporary exhibit. From the door the exhibit is mostly hidden. Then to your right and left there are large corridors and doors, and it all remains a mystery, unless you ask a guard or staff member.

For the most part this main floor is wasted space. There are many rooms around here, but unless the PWGSC have rented one of the rooms out for a conference for another government department, they sit empty. There is also on this floor the ‘lunch room.’ A small space set aside for researchers to eat, and purchase cardboard food from the few vending machines.

The institution once had an extensive cafeteria on the 5th floor, with a vendor who made food, and sold it to both staff and researchers. Granted the food was overpriced, underwhelming, and the hours of operation unsuited to the hours of the building’s operation, but it was there. It closed over a year ago, and researchers were given the option to go to this small room on the first floor, or to take the adventure outside and walk at least 5 blocks to find the sparse selection of food services in the immediate area.

Most businesses and services understand that the longer you keep the people in the building, the more money they will spend. And since we are talking about business models here, why isn’t LAC taking advantage of what is essentially captive audience and giving them a place to spend their money, and have that money ploughed back into the business?

Selling your product

Library and Archives Canada should be compared to other institutions that offer the same service. Their market is the same as the National Archives in Washington, DC, and the British National Archives in Kew (outside of London). Both these institutions have gift shops. They sell supplies for researchers – paper, pens, batteries for cameras, USB sticks, pens and pencils. They also sell books, and copies of items that are in their collections. For a collection rich in visual images, owned by the Archives, the ability of the person visiting the site to obtain copies of them is problematic. If you want an image from LAC you have to go online, find the image, order it, and then wait quite a while for the paper copy to arrive at your door. Go to the National Gallery on Sussex Drive in Ottawa, and you can, with far more ease, buy printed versions of their most popular works, in their gift shop, and take it home with you that day.

A gift shop should not only be seen as a means to make money, although that is surely an important consideration for an institution which is in financial stress. Gift shops valorize your product. Selling interesting items which use the institution’s name and logo advertises the place over a larger area. Selling items such as books which tell parts of Canada’s story (researched in that very building) provide and audience for your product, and a market. Selling images or reproductions of books or manuscripts in the collection likewise valorise your products, and your mandate.

The message

As stated above, walking into the building you would never realise what the building held. All the marvellous collections, rare and amazing pieces of Canada’s history, are hidden from view. Some of the unused meeting rooms could be transformed into a permanent exhibition space, one which features some of the gold that the National Library and Archives contain. The temporary exhibits are interesting, but there should be a permanent space dedicated to explaining to the visitor what the institution does. Shows to Canadians the value of the collections, the mandate of preservation, perhaps even examples of how the Archives and Library undertake the preservation, conservation and repair of Canadian heritage.

A good business tries to impose its message on the public, justifies its existence, its prices, its services, and tries to attract more people into using them. If no one knows you are there, how can you expect them to support the business of heritage? With such a prime central presence in the Nation’s Capital there is a great opportunity to harness its physical situation to further its mandate, and also to capitalize on the visitor to the building – both those attracted there for the researching opportunities, and the more casual public who visit out of curiosity.

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St George’s Day, Montreal, 1871

Montreal Gazette, 24 April 1871, page 2

St George’s Society – This society, together with the English Workingmen’s Society attended divine service in St George’s Church yesterday afternoon. His Lordship the Metropolitan preached, taking for his text the xii chapter of St Paul’s epistle to the Romans, part of the 5th verse “And every member one members of another.” After some remarks on the text, his Lordship referred to the Society. He said that the history of the patron saint of the English people was altogether allegorical, and was perhaps an embellishment of the triumph of religion over heathenism. He referred to the state of St George’s Society in this city, saying that last year they had an English emigrant home for emigrants who had no place to go. During the year they had provided 1 100 of these, who had remained according to their behaviour and means for them one night to six weeks. The out door relief committee had sent emigrants to different parts of the country; and they had also paid the fares of 250 emigrants. The Bishop appealed to the congregation to come forward and help the Society, and he hoped that those who were not already members would soon add their names to the list of annual subscribers. After the sermon a collection was taken up on behalf of the society.

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Consider the Saleswoman, Montreal, 1919

Montreal Daily Star, 8 November 1919, page 22

Consider the Saleswoman.

She has been in business for over thirty years, and she has known whereof she speaks, this saleswoman in one of the fashionable St Catherine street shops. Her experience comprises years in England, the United States had in Canada and she says the thing Montreal needs more than anything in the world is some system of organized hostels for business women.

“Take the average saleswoman,” she says, “who receives an average salary and has to pay for her room and board out of that. If she has no friends or relatives who will give her accommodation at a same that barely covers her expense to them, she has to live in a cheap room in a cheap district.”

“I know what that means, for when I first come here, I tramped the streets of Montreal looking for a place to live and I can tell you, I saw some rare places. There were houses where the bath-tub looked as if it were used to store the kitchen coal. There were places where there were no bath tub not even hot water to wash properly. There were places in which an experienced girl could see at a glance, it was not safe for her to live, but the experienced girl would never see that because those are the places which usually look cleanest, brightest and most attractive.”

“I have a tiny apartment now where I have my own few sticks of furniture and get my own simple meals, but that means I have to get up an hour earlier in the morning to cook my breakfast, make my bed and put my rooms in order and when I get home at night, dead tired after being on my feet all day. I get my supper, and by the time I’ve washed my dishes and put them away, what time is there left for recreation and amusement? And what time have I to mend my clothes or make new ones, to read good books, to hear good music?

“And I am well off as saleswomen go. I make fairly good money or I couldn’t afford even my tiny apartment. But I have long hours and no time. Do you wonder that the younger girls in business go in for a good time and take Sundays to mend and sew? The poor children must have amusement and so their blessed day of rest of which they ought to spend part in church and part in bed, goes for clothes and pleasure.

First, shops should either close at five o’clock all the year round or they should give one half-holiday a week all the year around. If they don’t want to close entirely, they should give the staff a half-holiday in relays, letting part of the staff go on one day, part on another.

If they can find no philanthropic organization to take it up, the shop management should management should itself provide a home for saleswomen in which they should provide room and plain meals at reasonable prices. These homes should be supervised by an elderly, sensible woman who has brains enough not to run the place like an institution, but should have one or two reasonable rules and should enforce them. There should be a laundry-room and a serving room and there should be two or three small reception rooms where a girl might receive her men friends so she wouldn’t have to meet them on the street.

“And the religious side of life should not be neglected. There should be a half-hour service of prayers and hymns every evening an on Sundays there should be an hour service. let the girls look after it themselves, choose their own texts, give their own talks and select their own homes.

“Quite apart from the good the girls would get out of homes like those, I think the employees too, would reap the benefit in better service and greater loyalty.
It sounds reasonable, doesn’t it?

From the Canadian Encyclopedia (Eatons)

Margaret Currie

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Children’s Amusements, Montreal, 1919

Montreal Daily Star 19 November 1919, page 24

Children’s Amusements

“My two girls are eleven and fourteen years old respectively. Should I allow them to accompany me to the theatre or the better class vaudeville houses?”

These words come to me at the end of a mother’s frank letter that contains all the elements of a real tragedy. The anxiety throughout its four closely written sheets is so tense that I can almost catch the half-stifled gasp, just as I can translate an upstroke here and there as the intense longing that so often gives place to fear.

It is hard to advise. The world has changed so much during the last decade or so that our old standards are twisted and out of date. Children of the present day are so exacting about their pleasures. The old call of “come and let’s make believe” falls on deaf ears unless childish minds have been stimulated with grotesque stories and fantastic illustrations. A whole world lies between the age when the circus came to town once a year and the five-reel movie drama of this blasé age.

We keep the children away from the movies, I know would be impossible, and I am not at all sure would be, as a rule, desirable. All the same, I could counsel mothers to be as careful as possible in choosing the houses which their young ones are allowed to attend, and to note the effect of such visits on the child’s mentality. It is unwise to stimulate little brains over much or to frighten little nerves with hairbreadth escapes. Remember that to the child figures on the screen are pulsing, breathing men and women, they know nothing of mechanical effects and they cannot separate the figures of this vague shadowland from the everyday nights in the streets.

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But the vaudeville houses are different. The playlists so often seen on the boards are problems of domestic difficulties which are wholly unintelligible to the normal child. Much of the dialogue is incomprehensible and let us say, the jokes as a rule written for grown up persons. The dancing is very often graceful and dainty, but it is not of such a kind as to appeal to young minds.

Yet the dramatic instinct is a valuable possession in a child. A gifted child will seize instinctively on essentials and will not be self-conscious. Moreover in many stage plays the child has an opportunity to learn its history and geography in an interesting way. Yet while I have no fault to find with the vaudeville programs I think that children would better not attend them until they have come to that moveable feast in their lives “the age of discretion.”

Childhood only comes once in every life and, as it is the plastic age mind and character, the responsibility for wise guidance and “big sister” supervision in tremendous. Perhaps the best working rule for any mother do go by in all these matters is “will hearing or seeing this or that help to mould the character of my little one along the lines of healthy, sane, maidenhood?” It is a severs test and it has nothing to do with the false standards of goodness or prudery. But it is better to err on the safe side. The trouble with far too many children is that their minds are ever, rather than under, stimulated.

Margaret Currie

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