Thursday, July 30, 2015

What great Canadian artwork was created at this house?

One of Canada's most famous paintings was created at this downtown home at the end of Overdale in the early 1880s.
   The painting was very large and featured folks from Ottawa.

Quiz - why is this Montreal painting famous?

Monday, July 27, 2015

Father of young family disappears from Chateauguay

   Chateauguay family man Justin Arns has been missing for three days after leaving late for work on Friday July 24 in a white 2014 Hyundai Elantra.
  Arns has a daughter and his fiance is pregnant with their son. Michelle Holden is imploring anybody with information to pass it along.
 We have seen several similar disappearances over the last few years and written about many of them and sadly none of them seem to turn out well.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Honey Martin pub ordered shut for two days for trivial reasons

Michael Griffin
  Liquor authorities and police are continuing their enthusiastic campaign to crack down on bars for minor reasons.
  Homey little Honey Martin Pub on Sherbrooke W. was recently ordered to close (or more specifically not to serve alcohol) for two days as punishment for what appears to be trifling infractions.
   The bar is owned by Michael Griffin who is also a respected and oft-employed boxing referee.
   Griffin had a brother named Richard who was shot dead, likely by Mafia he owed money to.
John Griffin and wife
    Another brother named John was found guilty of killing Denis Poirier over a drug debt.
   John and Richard, who grew up in NDG, were said to be part of the West End Gang but they did more business with the Italians and were sometimes teased for their inclination to dress and talk like Italian mobsters.
   The family history is well-known and it was raised as part of the file even though Michael is not considered a player in such affairs and has mostly avoided trouble.
  According to the police,  Michael was once accused of attempting to extort $300,000 over a lease disagreement back when he owned the Van Gogh Club, then at the NE corner of Drummond and De Maisonneuve in 2000.
   Michael was also found to have  a 9mm pistol and a basebal lbat in his car in May 2008 outside a downtown disco. His son was inside the car at the time.
    He was also once described as aggressive and belligerent when given a ticket for a bylaw infraction.
   Michael and John were also accused of overly-vigorously trying to get through a police cordon to see their brother after he had been shot, which seems understandable given the circumstances.
  But how is all of this relevant to the pub?
  When a bar gets called before the RACJ liquor authorities are usually presented a lengthy list of infractions compiled by police over time.
   The Honey Martin's list is thinner than an Amish phone book.
   Someone was robbed at knifepoint outside on the sidewalk in 2011, a phone was stolen inside in 2011, someone was assaulted in 2012, five people were seen drinking inside and a man was arrested for a probation violation all that same year.
    The pub was warned in 2003 for not displaying its liquor license. It was closed for a week for serving in an authorized manner. It was ordered shut for four days in 2004 for noise.
  The decision also suggests that Griffin backed off a plan to sell a stake in the bar to someone named Patricia Kahlil of Toronto. 

Judge rules that police are allowed to write on your body

   Do police have the right to mark your skin with a pen?   
   That question recently went before a judge as a trio of Occupy Montreal protesters asked for compensation for having this done to them in 2011. 
   Nina Haigh, Adam O'Callaghan and Benoit Godin were forcibly taken out of the square in late November 2011 by police who marked their hands with invisible ink that could only be seen under black light. 
   The officers wrote the numbers as a way of identifying who owned which items on the site.
   The three found the notion of being written upon as psychologically jarring and made it the focal point for their lawsuit asking for about $20k each. 
   "Three of us went to court for slightly different reasons, my reasons were to fight how they branded protesters with ultra violet inks with the intent of subterfuge and without our permission," Haigh told Coolopolis. 
   O'Callahan also fought for the principle of being permitted to go unbranded by police.  "Eighty percent of the arguments concerned  marking of the human body," he told Coolopolis. "Lawyer Julius Grey was interested in the human rights aspect of the case, we hoped to create a precedent of not allowing marking of the human body."
   Quebec Court judge Sylvain Coutlee noted that bars and movie theatres routinely use such a marking technique and it's not a violation of the body. No blood was taken. None of the three went to a doctor. It's neither invasive or unreasonable, he noted. 
   Their claim was rejected. "The judge decided its perfectly ok for this to happen which I still feel is wrong to alter a humans body without consent," siad Haigh. 

Friday, July 24, 2015

'Nintendo' email costs Montreal med student

  "I was at home playing on my Nintendo," started an ill-advised email sent by a med student to his profs.
   Lucian Nenciovici started his email with that phrase in reply to a query sent by two of his Universite de Montreal profs asking why he missed a compulsory meeting.
   Nenciovici went on to explain in the paragraph "dumb jokes aside..." and  then offered a 600 word detailed summary of his schedule on the day in question.
   The email, with its attempted Nintendo-based irony, went over like a rhino in a bouncy palace..
   Nenciovici already had a strike against him for what were deemed to be compassion-related deficiencies. He apologized for the Nintendo email and his case was eventually sent to a school committee where a vote of 28-6 decided to cast him out of the school in late 2009.
   These details all became public because Nenciovici then attempted to sue the school for $150,000 for expelling him. A judge rejected his case earlier this month.  

Brutal pimps exploiting Inuit at Atwater

  Four pimps controlling a dozen Inuit prostitutes at Atwater and St. Catherine have attacked a man with a bottle for sleeping with one of the women off the clock.
   The pimps put the women out on the streets but also collect their welfare cheques and frequently rob the customers with the help of the women who spy PIN numbers. The crew then pickpockets the bank cards.
   One of the four pimps, a former amateur football player, is particularly active in the enforcement end of affairs.
   The women are dolled up by the crew who
gave them new clothes, haircuts. The women could pull in $1,000 a day from a spot on Lincoln near Atwater. 
   Various members of the group can be seen at a greasy spoon for breakfast not far from the old Forum. 

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Botched abortions in Montreal history

   A list of people in Montreal whose lives took a turn for the worst when they engaged in abortion attempts.
Dec. 1913 Sadik Bey describeda as a "Turkish military adventurer, crystal gazer and fortune teller" and Mme Martel nee Alphonisine Filiatrault were tried for performing an abortion on Emelienne Raymond. The abortion appeared to have gone fine and prosecution lacked evidence against the duo. Bey was presumably found not guilty because he was arrested again three years later on charges of threatening a young girl.
March 1928: Dr. Oscar Dunn Duckett was tried for murder after a failed abortion on resident Dorilla Germain, who died. He was originally convicted of manslaughter but it was appealed by five judges. She died after a botched abortion at his home at 4152 St. Hubert on June 28, 1927.
June 1936 Katherine Fequist, 28, died in a home on Centre street in Point St. Charles. She died after the operation in a nearby home of a stranger. Nurse Alice Hamelin of 2561 Centre was charged with murder.
Donna Blackburn's body was discovered
in a laneway in 1955
May 1942 Dr. A. Maxwell Lightstone, 56, of 5682 Esplanade was found guilty of manslaughter following the death of Rita Pallo, 21 of 764 Adequduct who died April 8, 1942. Lighstone was already dying.
June 20, 1947:  Emilienne Leclerc, 23, a seamstress from the Beauce came here to have an abortion but she died. Her boyfriend committed suicide when he heard the news of her death on February 8.
1947  Dr. Charles Alfred Molleur, 63, of 5214 Park was charged with murder and sentenced to hang.. Also charged:  Dr. Leon Azoulay of 1360 St. Catherine W., Dr. A.S. Kasatchenko of 51 Prince ARthur W., Dr. Roman Pniewsky of 3357 Park,Dr. Francois d'Assise Martin 1480 St. Joseph Blvd E.  He was freed while waiting for a new trial in June 1947. He didn't hang.
May 24, 1955, Donna Mickowsky Blackburn, 33, was found naked and dead in a laneway between Pine and Roy off St. Denis. after a botched abortion. Jack Seligman, 41, was charged with manslaughter. Seligman, as we've noticed was involved with Fairmount Bagel and also recklessly lent his boat, leading to 12 kids drowning the year earlier.
Sept: 1961: Simone Joncas, 18, died after apparently going for an abortion on October 27. Her body was found in the St. Maurice River. Charges of involuntary homicide against Coronoa Filiatreault-Giguere and France Lalonde, 49, of Pointe aux Tremble and Paulien Poulin-Turgeon, 28, of Assomption and Montreal were dropped due to lack of evidence. 

Stevie Wonder, just 14, played a small Montreal club, Elvis, meanwhile, got snubbed here in '57

This ad shows that a young Steve Wonder - before he achieved fame - played in Montreal in the week of May 30, 1964.
Stevie Wonder had just turned 14 when he performed at a club at Notre Dame and Davidson long, long gone from the landscape.

Elvis Presley's would-be visit to the Forum in 1957? Nixed by Habs GM Frank Selke. He never played Montreal or anywhere in Quebec. Some speculated that the Catholic church was behind the snub but they were not. He played Ottawa, for what it's worth. A local Elvis impersonator might be inspired of doing a show based on the concert that Elvis never gave. 

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Beware: propane tank swap scam

Gamma offers good refill service
 I proudly brought what I thought was my recent-model propane tank to Gamma Tool Rental on St. J in the West End today but their expert informed me that another company had done me wrong.
  I shelled out a handful of sawbucks for that tank not long ago, as I recall.
   Bad news is that my baby tank was now 27 years old, as the embossed 1988 on the side near the top demonstrated.
   How on earth did my nice new propane tank age worse than MacCauley Caulkin? (And can you get someone to Benjamin Button-ize it? - Chimples)
   Answer. It seems somewhere along the line I brought that new tank in for a refill to a big box store that swaps tanks instead of refilling them.
   Such places include Costco, Provisoir and Canadian Tire among many others.
   So when I wasn't looking my child tank was traded for a lookalike old timer.
   I brought in Shirley Temple and left with Herve Villechaize. (Okay now you're just being stupid- Chimples).
   A stamp on the side with the number "11" indicates that my shitty new old tank had been refurbished four years back so was still moderately safe in spite of the rust all over its 27-year-old body.
  The big box stores - with the exception of Costco - sub-contract the swap-refill service to another company which is not scared to take your nice new tank and replace it with a grody old oneThis allows the stores to claim ignorance when you complain about the switch.
   The green and blue tanks are the worst.
   It takes a lot of screaming and hollering and threatening to get your nice new tank back in case you get scammed with such a switch.
  This was all explained to me by the excellent guy in the photo whose name I did not get but I have seen around the area many times.
   It cost me $18 to fill this tank. It's cheaper - I believe than the swap services and much more honourable, it would seem. 

Montreal's Bus to Nowhere

 Montrealers could take a bus to nowhere from the early 1930s to 1973 and possibly beyond.
   Even the driver claimed not to know where he was going to bring the up-to 48 passengers of a regular city bus.
   He apparently decided at the last minute and by custom would not tell anybody even after the mystery tour began.
   In '73 the passengers paid $2.50 to get on a bus that left Saturday night from a spot in front of the Montreal Pharmacy on St. Cat east of the Main.
  They tended to sing and make a festive ruckus while on board.
   In a published description of the tour, driver Rudolph Laporte brought the passengers to Hotel Royal in Ste. Julienne, a one-hour drive north of the city where they watched a four-piece rock band, and a stage show which included an acrobat, stripper and singer. About one-quarter of those on board declined to enter the establishment.
   We think it's time to revive the bus. 

Arrest made in murder of Samantha Higgins

Nick Lazanik
  Police have reportedly taken Nick Fontanelli 22, in for questioning in relation to the murder and dismemberment of the mother of his two children, Samantha Higgins.
   The couple had been together for several years since meeting at James Lyng High School but had recently been living apart.
   Samantha just moved back in with Nick after giving birth to their second child about 10 weeks ago.
   Samantha Higgins was with friends on the night she disappeared in LaSalle, She was drinking socially on the occasion.
   She was either at or near the McDonald's on Newman when she disappeared.
   Nick - whose last name does not appear to be the same as his sister's for reasons unknown - is not on Facebook. He has an older sister named Shawna Lazaniik, 43, who the SQ provincial police had been hoping to interview today but were unable to locate.
   Shawna reportedly has a boyfriend named Fred who works for Canada Post. We are not suggesting that these two are suspects in the investigation.
   Much buzz has been circulating about the possibility of involvement by people from Hinchinbrooke, Quebec, where Higgins' body was found.
   The SQ police have been asking locals about the affair but it's quite possible that the body was just randomly dumped there.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Who wants to buy Westmount Square?

   Wanna buy Westmount square? You have until August 12 to submit your bid for the office/commercial section of Westmount Square.
  Over five percent of the units are vacant so you'll have to drum up some business to fill 'em.
   The vendor says that the place is usually rented out at a higher percentage but they intentionally let some spaces go empty for a residential conversion project that never happened.
   The building is a much-ballyhooed creation of architect Mies Van der Rohe who sought to go for an exoskeleton sort of approach. Phyllis Bronfman, longtime Canada's wealthiest woman, was one of his big fans and local proponents.
   The two other towers, of the residential variety, are not for sale, just the 193,794-square-foot office tower and a two-storey, 53,866 square-foot pavillon and the 80,339-square-foot retail mall as well as 334-indoor parking spots.
  Plus you get that awesome tunnel to Alexis Nihon, one of my favourite spots in the city, especially when there's a busker playing there.
   Hundreds of homes were demolished in the area in 1965 to build the project, which was described as "the biggest thing that ever happened in Westmount," probably because it pays a load of taxes to the municipality. 

Friday, July 10, 2015

Omar Sharif's Montreal ties

   Acting legend Omar Sharif, who died today at age 83, had deep ties to Montreal where he spent considerable time visiting his son Tarek Omar.
   Omar Sharif was married to Faten Hamama, a top film star in Egypt. The two divorced in 1972 but their son Tarek Omar came to Montreal to study and ended up living in Montreal with his wife Debbie Waitzer of Chomedey Laval.
   Omar Sharif's longest stint in Montreal was a three month stay in 1979 when filming Oh! Heavenly Dog. The then-47-year-old movie star spent a lot of time in discos on that visit: Oz, Le Prive, 1234 and Yesterdays and he valued his privacy while drinking alone at the Chateau Versailles Hotel on Sherbrooke and St. Matthew.
   On the same visit he was reportedly barred from Blue Bonnets after losing patience with a clerk who was too slow to register his complicated bet.
    He returned in June, 1981 for his son's wedding at the Four Seasons Hotel (managed by his pal Antoine Corinthios) and also spent time in Montreal in 1983 as his grandchild Omar Jr., aka Omie, was born at St. Mary's Hospital in December. His parents Debbie and Tarek split up within three years of his birth.
  Tarek Omar Sharif - who was a regular in Bishop street bars alongside Nick Auf der Maur and others - remarried in 1989 to Vancouver stock broker Martina Navratilova, no relation to the tennis star of the same name, of course. They split in early 1996.
Tarek and Omar in 2001
  The best Omar-Sharif-in-Montreal story took place in May 1996 when PQ MNA Andre Boulerice showed what he believed was a case of fake names on his voters list, as Omar Sharif and Martina Navratilova were living on Common street in Old Montreal. It seemed impossible but it turned out to be legit.
   As for Tarek's son Omar Sharif Jr., he is now 31 and living in Los Angeles and pronounces himself gay and Jewish (his mother Debbie's religion).
   Omar Sharif also had a brother in Toronto, who I spoke to a few years ago. 

Who murdered Samantha Higgins?

 Homicide detectives will be working overtime to solve the distressing murder of Samantha Higgins, 22, who grew up in the Point and disappeared from her home near Lise and Newman in LaSalle early Tuesday morning.
   Higgins was walking home, a short 10 minute walk from a friend's at about 1 a.m. She was returning home to her longtime boyfriend and father of her two children, aged four and two months.
    She texted "yup" when asked if she was ok but was then never heard from until today when her body was found dismembered near a rural village  called Hinchingbrooke, south of Montreal.
  Murder mutilitations are rare although Luka Magnotta (2012) and Michael-Andrew Garreau (2010) are recent local examples of people who committed the grisly act to their lovers.
   Dismembering a body is usually employed as a means to avoid detection, according to homicide experts.
  A certain measure of organization by the killer is also required.
 "They require plenty of time, access to a secluded space, tools to carry out the gory deed and, above all, a deep resolve," according a Toronto Star article.
   The perpetrator also needs either a steely resolve or a warped mind. Even hardened psychopath Paul Bernardo found it hard to go through with what he described as the "second most disgusting thing I've ever done."  
  Experts say the four other main reasons somebody might chop the body of someone they killed are: 1-Aggression. 2-Twisted pleasure.3-Mental illness/delusion. 4-Organized crime sending a  message.
  Friends and family have speculated that a stranger committed the deed but homicide experts will likely believe that it was a friend or acquaintance who committed the act, as a stranger is less likely to go to such great lengths to avoid detection.
   Other females from Point St. Charles murdered over the years include Jolene Riendeau, 10, (1999) and Sharron Prior, 16. (1975) Tammy Leakey, 12, (1981).
   Update: It appears that her boyfriend Nick Fontanelli is the main suspect.