As told by

Our Storytellers

 from the First Wave: 1820-1945-Colliding Solitudes 

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Stephanie Ein

My grandfather went to work as a teenager to support his family with a horse and wagon anywhere across the Quebec countryside as a peddler. At that time there were a lot of Jewish men doing the same thing. They were called les Juifs, and it wasn’t anti-semitic. It was just, you need a pot and pan, you get it from Le Juif. He felt very close to his customers.

Rod McLeod

I know that church was at the centre of the Scottish community for those years. I also think that as farmers they interacted a lot with francophone neighbours who owned different farms in what is now NDG.
Kelly Thompson

Where do I not feel at home? I think that happens in every part of this beautiful city when people immediately ask me what island are you from and I have to respond – the island of Montreal!

Beverly Renaud

Me and my sisters and brother used to help the Laniel family pick their vegetables, wrap them in bundles, cause the Laniel family had to get all these vegetables onto the back of their truck and to the Atwater Market at 5:00 in the morning. So with these kids, we learned French.

Janet Lumb

Immigrants banded together. The creation of Chinatown was based on the need to have that support. For sure the church also played some role, but it was primarily the community, the Chinese community that was the support system.
Louise Makovsky

At one point I was walking in the street when the person called me a Tête Carrée, you know, an Anglo. I said I don’t have an ounce of English blood in me. And it made me realize that it’s because of the language that someone is talking to me like that. So there is there’s a huge misunderstanding of why we’re speaking English, and it’s got nothing to do with our blood for a lot of us.

Lorraine O’Donnell

There is a very prevalent narrative of the rich Anglo, the Anglo boss. There is some truth to that, and my own Irish ancestors who were poor, were not bosses, but they definitely benefited on the English-speaking side. In the media and in history books there’s too often refers only to the wealthy elite, the one percent of the English speakers as if they represented everyone. I think that’s a heavy burden and it has to go.

Ian Ferrier

If I go back to grade two or grade three, I remember being told that I could no longer walk to school–it was an 8 or 10 block walk–because mailboxes were blowing up in our neighbourhood, so that was probably my first experience with the FLQ and I had no idea where that was coming from.

Maura McKeon

I would like to see Anglos stick up for the English language and English culture in Quebec. I would like to see more Anglos be a little more militant … but not disrespectful. But not to just caving in and give up, and to be a little more vocal about the very rich heritage we have in Quebec for all concerned!

Now a feature length documentary

What We Choose To Remember

 See the film 

What We Choose to Remember features a cast of more than 30 characters, whose families arrived in successive waves of immigration. The oldest families arrived during the period of ‘two solitudes’ when Montreal’s population was more than 50% English. They share firsthand accounts decades of political upheaval. The most recent immigrants arrived believing linguistic conflicts were ancient history. 

Visit the website to watch the trailer and find tickets to our public screenings ︎ Visit the website to watch the trailer and find tickets to our public screenings ︎


Our story takes place on the Indigenous lands of the Kanien’kehá:ka (Mohawk) nation of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy. Tiotià:ke (known as Montréal) has existed as a meeting place of many First Nation peoples, including but not limited to the Abenaki , Anishinaabeg (Algonquin), and the Huron-Wendat. We extend our deepest respect to the elders of these nations and to all Indigenous peoples who carry the history of this island’s land and waters. We also call upon all levels of government to adopt and implement the 94 recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation commission.

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