Friday, April 25, 2014

THE STORY BEHIND THE HISTORY OF THE TOWN OF DOLLARD DES ORMEAUX, QUEBEC

   
 
In 1969, I wrote
The History of
The Town of Dollard des Ormeaux, Quebec
1689-1969
 
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In 1969 I was already an established pioneer of the new housing development in Dollard des Ormeaux, a suburb of Montreal. I was very active in the community and close to all the town councillors - whose names were immortalized on street signs and parks as the town was being built on ancient Quebec farmlands. 
 
I offered the town council to write a history of the area. I told the councillors I did not want any payment for my work, but it would have to be published as I wrote it and with my byline. My offer was welcomed and I went to work on the project.
 
The Meloche family, Emile and his wife,Angelina, still lived on the western edge of the new Sources Road - formerly St. Remi. Their farm still had a small stone building on it, about a block's distance north from their balconied home, just across from the new Sunnydale avenue. It was the place where, for a hundred years or so, they baked their bread.
 
I did the research. There was nothing to be found in the libraries. I interviewed Angelina Meloche many times. She told me about her frustrating battle to get the developers, Belcourt, to pay her for all the land they had taken from her family to build the Sunnybrook community.
 
I interviewed the Meloche's older relatives who entrusted me with their precious old family photographs and information about all the other long-time residents of the area - the Labrosse family, the early mayors, the teachers at the little red school house that still sat by the side of Sources Road on the Meloche's field. 
 
After I had completed my work, the councillor who had accepted my proposal and authorized me to write the history told me that the town would publish my history in a pamphlet and distribute it to every door in the town - but without my name.
 
I pulled my manuscript out of the councillor's hands and I rushed to The North Shore News offices in nearby Roxboro. I handed the manuscript and the photos to Ross Greer, the editor. Ross agreed to publish my history just once - without changes - and with my byline. He honoured his promise.
 
I maintained my copyright. I never sold it.
 
Later I learned that my history was being used to teach youngsters at the nearby elementary school.
 
Angelina Meloche had a relative who was a nun. She offered to translate my history to French. I was delighted - until I read the sister's version, where she had translated "Indians" to "sauvages." I never published the French version.
 
In the 1970's The Lakeshore News and Chronicle out of Pointe Claire,Quebec, carried my copyrighted column, "With Six Senses".
 
In 1981, Janet Tremblay Burley, the editor of The Lakeshore News and Chronicle employed me as a full-time reporter and photographer. As usual, my work was prolific. Many of my articles appeared in every edition of the paper under my byline. 
 
While I was employed as a reporter at The Chronicle, I offered Janet Burley the opportunity to publish my History of Dollard des Oremaux, under the same terms I had offered it to Ross Greer at the North Shore News. Mrs. Burley agreed to my terms, and she published my history in The Lakeshore News and Chronicle.
 
Then Mrs. Burley started removing my bylines from my reports. She published many of my best articles without my name, presenting them as if they had been written by the staff in general. 
 
When I protested, Burley said she had to do it or "It will look as if you are writing the whole paper."
 
I wrote one major article exposing Lachine's Mayor Decary. At the very end of an open meeting one evening, the mayor and his council voted themselves, their wives and their secretaries a "business" trip to Hawaii.
 
My article was published the day after the council meeting at the top of the front page of The Lakeshore News and Chronicle. The following day, The Montreal Gazette picked up my story, and Decary cancelled the Hawaiian jaunt. But Mrs. Burley had published my story without my byline. Her reason?
 
Mrs Burley said that she was worried about me. She said that if my byline appeared at the top of the article, Mayor Decary would ensure that, anytime I drove through Lachine, I would be stopped by the police and ticketed. I would not be safe. I would be harassed.
 
What nonsense! I was the reporter at the council meeting when they voted themselves the Hawaiian holiday. I was the one who interviewed the councillors after the meeting. Who else could have written the story?

Finally, Mrs. Burley wanted to "promote" me. She wanted me to learn to use a computer and become an editor responsible for the reports of all the other reporters . I refused.
 
Just as it was at Pinkerton * when I was a investigator in the 1970's, I did not want a desk job or an administrative position. I am an investigator. I am a writer, a reporter, not a technician. I do not want to correct, rewrite and enhance the work of others. My writing skills are a gift, but I am not a desk person. I refused to become an editor and give up reporting.
 
Janet Burley fired me at Christmas, 1981 - with tears dripping from her eyes. Then she gave my job to her son who quickly plagiarized my History of Dollard des Ormeaux, word for word - without checking the changes that took place in Dollard between 1969 and 1981.
 
Burley's son copied my text exactly, and his Mom published it under her son's name. The little red school house that stood on the Meloche's property by Sources Road was "boarded up and empty" when I wrote the story in 1969. The one story school house had been torn down years before Burley's son copied my history - with the little red school house still standing, "all boarded up" - in 1982.
 
I am proud of the letter I received from Dollard des Ormeaux Mayor, Gerry Dephoure, in December 1969, after my history was published in The North Shore News.
 
Gerry writes, "I wish to extend my sincere congratulations and appreciation for your fine effort in putting together the history of the Town of Dollard des Ormeaux.
 
I realize that this must have taken a great deal of time and I know that many residents with whom I have had discussions recently have taken a great interest in it. To say the least, your effort constitutes a significant contribution to our community and the Council and I are highly appreciative."
 
 
 
* I WAS AN AGENT FOR PINKERTON
 

2 comments:

Adrian said...

Hi Phyllis,

Have you ever thought of writing a more complete history of DDO and self publishing it ... It's much easier to do these days, and I know many people would love to have a history of DDO to read, at least I know I would...

Phyllis Carter said...

Thank you so much for your interest, Adrian. The History of Dollard des Ormeaux as I wrote it was complete including vintage photographs and details about the origins of the town and its name and it included brief histories of various figures, mayors, etc. I have nothing to add. I regret that I am not able to copy the printed story to the computer. I have no copier, no printer or any gadgets I have not been able to find it online, but I expect that some library might have a copy. Perhaps the library at Parliament in Ottawa. They have copies of my book, A PORTRAIT OF ASGAR AND THE PLIGHT OF KASHMIR.They have just about everything published in Canada. There was a small library in the area of Dollard at the time, The Roxboro Library. Again I thank you sincerely for your encouragement.