CTR Home Internal  Relations and Communications Home About CTR Publication Schedule CTR Archives

October 24, 2002 Letters



We welcome your letters, opinions and comments at BC-121, 1463 Bishop St., by fax (848-2814), or by e-mail (barblak@alcor.concordia.ca) by 9 a.m. on the Friday prior to publication.

Taverns deserved better, says former history student

Regarding James Martin’s recent story on tavern “research” by Anouk Bélanger and Lisa Sumner (CTR, Dec. 5, “Sociologist documents Montreal taverns”):

Taverns catered to adult males, from corporate chief executive to blue collar worker, and right on down to researchers doing fluffy busywork. By no stretch were patrons “almost exclusively” blue-collar. Tavern location was a function of zoning law, not proximity to factories. Thus Westmounters patronized taverns not in Westmount, but beyond the city limits of their tidy suburb, usually near their places of work in downtown Montreal.

A tavern’s resolute classlessness and an aversion to imposing concept bar-type schemes on patrons were its most distinguishing features. (Some sported mementoes of retired hockey pros connected with them, and many more were good places to watch crucial televised games, but these features never dictated who was welcome and who wasn’t, the case in many bars.)

Sid Lamb, a distinguished chairman of English at Sir George, described taverns better than anyone in a talk he gave on CBC radio (later published in The Illustrated Companion History of Sir George Williams University). He also had interesting things to say about their monosexual nature.

So far as food goes, the taverns which didn’t serve it were few — as Sir George/Concordia student, faculty and administration veterans of Toe Blake’s, the Stanley and other establishments in the neighborhood well know. Toe’s was famous for knuckles and ’kraut; the Stan for liver and onions. Magnan’s, a tavern the story mentions, enjoyed a wide reputation for its roast beef. Are Bélanger and Sumner seriously suggesting these and hundreds of other establishments operated outside the law serving food?

Taverns closed in the early evening? They stayed open till midnight where business justified it, the aforementioned being examples.

Was the topic of taverns too lowbrow to warrant serious effort?

Joel McCormick

Joel McCormick is a former Concordia history student and information officer now living in San Jose, CA, and Montreal.

Performing arts and China

I was intrigued by your article about the Fine Arts exchange visit to China (See CTR, Jan. 30). Any and all forms of cross cultural exchange should be encouraged, particularly with countries which have been, until recently, fairly isolated from the West.

I was puzzled and somewhat disappointed, however, to learn that no members of our performing arts departments of Music, Dance, and Theatre were included on this junket, particularly since the “primary host” of the visit “was the Academy of Chinese Traditional Opera,” representing as it does an ancient art form which is an amalgam of our Western arts of music, dance and theatre.

It would have been particularly valuable for some our theatre faculty members for example, to have been able to visit the Chinese schools to witness the teaching methods employed in their art forms — forms which have been very influential in stimulating many of our modern theories and techniques of acting and actor training. Perhaps on future exchange, the dean will be able to include some representatives of this other part of the Faculty.

William A. Reznicek,
Associate Professor Emeritus, Theatre Arts

More on presence vs. occupation

As a journalism student, Christopher Hazou should know the facts before stating his prejudicial views (See Letters, Jan. 30).

Israel acquired the West Bank when Jordan invaded Israel during the Six-Day War in 1967. Israel pushed Jordanian forces back, and then occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank. Israel could have sent all the people living in the West Bank back into Jordan. But Israel gave them the choice of staying under Israeli rule or going back to Jordan. Almost everyone chose to stay.

I was in the West Bank and East Jerusalem several times over the past 25 years, and all the Palestinians I spoke to said their standard of living was much better under the Israeli government than it was when they were part of Jordan.

In all these years, you never heard Jordan pushing to get their land back. King Hussein of Jordan was hated by most Palestinians, and he certainly did not want the Palestinians back in his country.
Since Israel took back their land that was originally populated by Jews years ago, after first being attacked by Jordan in the 1967 war, most people who know the facts think Israel deserves to keep their land.

If Israel decided to give the West Bank back to someone, it would give it back to Jordan. But Jordan does not want to take the Palestinian people back. Gaza was taken from Egypt when Egypt invaded Israel during the Six-Day War. Now Egypt doesn’t want to take Gaza back, because they fear the Palestinians also.

You can use any word you want for Israel’s presence in the West Bank and Gaza, but you should know the history and facts first.

Steven Carter, Concordia alumnus