February 11, 2014
Honourable senators, like most Canadian cities, Montreal has a list of epithets: the Metropolis of Quebec, la belle ville, and the City of Festivals. We nickname our cities because we are convinced each has a distinct character and, in the case of Montreal, a distinct energy: cosmopolitan and multi- ethnic, a place of diverse cultures and backgrounds. But how does a city like Montreal capture its colourful and often complicated history?
Collaboration among the Quebec Anglophone Heritage Network, the Greater Montreal Community Development Initiative, the Quebec Community Groups Network and the English Language Arts Network has produced a truly wonderful initiative.
Montreal Mosaic, a web magazine, and Mapping the Mosaic combine to create a people’s history, an online, community-driven chronicle of cultural identity and place.
The project takes two forms. First, Montreal Mosaic web magazine collects stories, anecdotes and perspectives on life in English-speaking Montreal. Submissions range from articles and photographs to video and audio clips.
Second, Mapping the Mosaic encourages users to pinpoint a memory or a piece of history on a map of the greater Montreal area. Participants create a map pin in one of two categories: memory — meaning a personal anecdote, reflection or story — or history — a person, place or event that has shaped Montreal over time.
The result, honourable senators, is a map that conveys the cultural and historical richness of a city. Whether it is the account of Jackie Robinson’s first game as a Montreal Royal, or a personal recollection of springtime ice shoves on the St. Lawrence, this website locates historical moments and memories on familiar streets and neighbourhoods. In this format, users can share and explore the diverse history and cultural memory of English-speaking people in Montreal.
Ultimately, Mapping the Mosaic and Montreal Mosaic web magazine combine to create an invaluable learning apparatus: a resource for schools, historical societies, cultural associations and any curious individual with an interest in the history of English- speaking Montreal and its diverse neighbourhoods.
I encourage you to visit both of these websites and experience the project for yourself.