Sunday, June 8, 2014

YOU CAN BANK ON IT!! (155/365 DAYS, 4.0)

This is not a Sepia Saturday post, 
but it could be [now]... 
I'm taking you to the bank, 
so to speak...

"Concordia Salus

"Well-being through Harmony", 
Montreal's motto and also the Bank of Montreal's. 
Ironic if you ask me 
as tensions have always existed in our city for various reasons... 
Then and now!!
But the bank has certainly enjoyed a certain dose of well-being for nearly two centuries 
despite the wars and crisis, 
locally and abroad. 
Another irony for me is the fact that two Indians are at the center of this [splendid] work of art. 
Back in the days of the "Nouvelle France" [1642], 
while some natives befriended and became allies of those French immigrants 
settled on the island of Ville-Marie [now Montreal, but called Hochelaga by the natives], 
others were dead set on seeing these pale faces go home or die... 
There are other figures in this piece 
but I chose to focus on those two today. 
They seem to me the most interesting.

"Pediment on St James Street, Old Montreal [by John Steel, 1867]" 

A Scottish sculptor did this. 
A magnificent piece of work if you ask me 
as there is such nobility in these figures. 
Pity the French and Native cultures didn't prosper equally, 
natives now living on reserves and their culture, 
from my point of view, 
stereotyped and trivialized, 
in favor of a [North] American culture. 
Even the French culture is in peril here... 
An oddity on the continent in these times of globalization. 
Shall we also disappear? 
Some would say I'm not helping the cause... 
a francophone speaking/thinking in English... 
yet still a francophone. 
Never make the mistake to assume the contrary... 
I know my roots, 
even if they don't show all that much. 
My journey in life made me the hybrid that I am, 
but I know who I am!!

"Bank of Montreal [1860]"

Established in 1817, 
this was the first Canadian bank 
and has always remained one of the most important institutions in the country ever since. 
It moved in the building you see above in 1847. 
You'll notice the pediment was still empty back then. 

"Bank of Montreal [1876]" 

The work of John Steel adorned the tympanum since 1867, 
making this pediment above those Corinthian columns fronting a Georgian portico, 
designed by John Wells in 1847, 
a stunning statement even to this day. 
This building is now an historical site. 

"Bank of Montreal [1910]"

And now you see the dome that still tops the structure, 
following renovations in 1901. 

I checked the records of the bank 
and as far as I can tell, 
no francophone was ever at the head of this institution, 
even though it sits [legally] in what remains of an old French colony... 
Money may have no allegiance [nor any odor
but it speaks English, 
most definitely!!!


  1. That sculpture is really beautiful! There are a lot of ironies from that era that have a difficult time fitting into today's culture. Do we change things and modernize or do we keep things the same and educate the public about how we have evolved? Halifax is having the same discussion about a park named after the founder of the city, Edward Cornwallis. He was known to show no mercy to the Native peoples here and some think his statue ought to be taken down and the park renamed. I agree actually.
    Do you really think the French culture is in jeopardy? From my anglophone perspective I feel it, Quebec, will always be a unique and distinct part of Canada. That is until the majority of Quebecois feel differently. As I have stated before here, I would have no problem if this happened. Look at Europe with all those languages and everyone living side by side in relative harmony. OK Shut up Jim!

    1. Harmony?!?
      While they may not fight each other,
      many have internal unrest and their economy is in chaos...
      Economy here is certainly one of the factors cooling off any ambition toward sovereignty.
      As for that park of yours,
      I'd vote to take his statue down and replace it with something more noble.


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