Robert N. Wilkins: Montreal’s sad indifference to history


History Buzz

Source: Montreal Gazette, 7-14-11

The blue bird cafÉ fire is not alone among important events that Montrealers seem hesitant to commemorate

A recent article about the fast-approaching 40th anniversary of the Blue Bird Café fire of September 1972 (“These people have been forgotten” Gazette, July 4) and the city’s failure to remember in some permanent fashion the lives lost in the appalling event raises an interesting question: Why are we in Montreal so hesitant to commemorate historical events – both the good and the bad?

As a now-retired educator, I strove for over 35 years to instill the importance of history in the lives of many a highschool student in this city. It was rarely an easy task.

There is, of course, a natural antipathy for the past among the young who, let’s face it, have more of their lives ahead of them than behind them. Beyond that, however, there are other factors that aggravate an already formidable task and, at the same time, might shed some light on the issue of acknowledging those who were killed in the Blue Bird Café blaze. One of these considerations is an ever-increasing societal indifference to history.

Simply put, contemporary post-Second World War society, more self-centred than ever, seemingly no longer cares about what came before us nor what we hand down to our progeny. This is evident in many examples, both significant and relatively insignificant, right here in Montreal….READ MORE

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