Fire damages popular Portuguese restaurant in Montreal’s Plateau neighbourhood – Montreal


Ma Poule Mouillée, a popular Portuguese rotisserie on Rachel Street in Montreal’s Plateau-Mont-Royal borough, sustained significant damage after a fire Friday night.

Ian Ritchie, chief of operations with the Montreal Fire Department, said the one-alarm blaze started inside a kitchen hood.

READ MORE: NDG restaurant destroyed by fire, arson squad investigating

Ritchie said the fire spread to the chimney and then the roof, forcing firefighters to open up the walls on the second floor in order to tackle the blaze.

There were people eating inside the restaurant at the time, but the building was safely evacuated.

WATCH: What’s the plan for burned down Ristorante Linguini?

A family living on the second floor of the two-storey building has been relocated.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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Montreal’s Sir John A. Macdonald statue defaced again


The statue of Sir John A. Macdonald in downtown Montreal was sprayed in red paint early Monday morning.

It’s been vandalized several times by people since November 2017 amid calls for the statue to come down as part of a fight against racism and colonialism.

The statue of Queen Victoria on the steps of McGill University’s Strathcona Music Building was also defaced.

Montreal police say there are no suspects or witnesses.

The City of Montreal doesn’t plan on removing the Macdonald statue.

A spokesperson for the city said in a statement, last August, that the Plante administration is « thinking of adding cultural and historical references of the Indigenous community. »

The administration also created a committee of Indigenous people responsible for renaming Amherst Street. It’s named after a British general who advocated killing Indigenous people through biological warfare.


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Montreal’s giant climate change countdown clock is back – Montreal


The giant climate change countdown clock projected on the side of a building at Guy Street and De Maisonneuve Boulevard is back.

Developed by Damon Matthews, a Concordia University professor and research chair in climate science and sustainability, and Canadian musician David Usher, who is also the founder of the Human Impact Lab, the clock has appeared for a few days every year for the past three years.

Trade, climate change and an under-pressure prince: Here’s what happened at the G20 summit

“There is an urgency to this,” said Matthews. “The winters are getting warmer, the heatwaves are becoming more frequent. The further along we go, the more intense these things will become.”

The clock warns of a 1.5 C increase in global temperatures by the year 2034.

Global carbon emissions surged this year in ‘terrible news’ for the planet

The clock numbers focus on global carbon dioxide emissions for 2018, the amount of temperature change caused by all human emissions and the remaining carbon budget, which shows how much humans can still emit.

Organizers of the clock are also encouraging Quebecers to sign an online promise to reduce emissions.

WATCH: Teenage activist claims politicians lie about climate to win elections

It is a two-year commitment to help slow down climate change. So far, more than 230,000 people have signed on.

The climate clock can be seen from 4:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. from Dec. 5 to 7.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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Long lines and ‘jam-packed’ buses frustrate commuters on Montreal’s 105 bus – Montreal


Long lines of frustrated commuters snaked outside the Vendome metro station as they waited for the 105 bus during Tuesday’s snowfall.

“It’s always packed,” said Emma Dezordi, a commuter.

The Dollard-des-Ormeaux resident, who frequently rides the rush-hour bus, says not only does she have to wait in long lines but the bus is “jam-packed.”

Monah Arel agrees and says crowding is constantly an issue, especially during peak hours.

“It’s hard to find a seat,” said Arel. “I like to have a seat because I have a heavy bag.”

Tuesday’s snowfall caused more delays for the STM bus service.

“The bus service is impacted during the snowstorm. Because of this, one can expect bus delays,” said Isabelle-Alice Tremblay with the STM.

READ MORE: Marvin Rotrand ousted from STM board again

Notre-Dame-de-Grâce Coun. Peter McQueen says he is aware of the issue with the Sherbrooke Street bus.

“There is a problem with the 105; it’s a tough bus,” McQueen said.

McQueen says he has studied the issue over his time in office, and the weather plays a big role in its delays.

“When the weather is nice, people walk to the metro or bike, but when the bad November weather hits they all get on the 105,” McQueen said.

Weather delays on the 105 line cause backups at the Vendome station, but many commuters say wait times are often long, even when the weather is nice.

“Sometimes, lines are circulating, and you’re waiting forever,” Yiot Ventura, another commuter, said. “The line literally goes up until the (Vendome metro) door.”

READ MORE: Montreal, Laval team up to buy 40 electric buses

STM officials say they have also studied the 105 bus and its frequency but claim there is no specific issue to address.

“After looking into the situation, there is no particular problem on the 105 bus line,” Tremblay said.

The root of the issue, McQueen says, is that the city does not have enough buses to accommodate its ever-growing population.

“You want good transit today, you had to invest five years ago,” McQueen said, referring to the previous Coderre administration’s cuts to the transit authority.

READ MORE: Montreal will add 300 hybrid buses to STM in 2020

McQueen sees a possible solution on the horizon with the 300 new electric buses ordered by the Project Montreal administration; these buses are promised to be in service by 2020.

“The proposed Pink Line could cut down on the traffic,” McQueen said.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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Bimonthly, volunteer-run street buffet helps Montreal’s homeless get back on their feet – Montreal


Twice a month, a section of Ste-Catherine Street East is transformed into a street buffet for Montreal’s homeless population.

Every second Saturday, hundreds of the city’s homeless people line up on the corner of Berri Street for a warm meal.

The bimonthly event is organized by Calling All Angels founder Susan Clarke in partnership with SOS Itinerance.

“We feed them well here,” Clarke said.

A row of tables is set up on the sidewalk with various warm and cold dishes as well as clothes for those who need an extra layer.

READ MORE: Thanksgiving meals dished out for the homeless at Parc Émilie-Gamelin

Clarke started this tradition five years ago with the idea of doing more than just feeding the less fortunate.

“The food is basically bait,” Clarke said.

“Once I’ve gained their trust, they feel free and honest with me, and they will come to us and say: ‘Hey I do not want to do this anymore.’”

Many of the homeless people who Clarke has helped over the years have come back to lend a hand with the street buffet.

One of those success stories is Frank, who spent 14 years on the street. Now living in social housing for the past four years, Frank volunteers every second Saturday.

“It helps me because I was able to get off the street, and now I can help others do the same,” Frank said.

 “I don’t have to do this,” he said. “But it’s in my heart that no one should have to sleep outside.”

Frank lost his part of his right hand to frostbite after spending a frigid night outside during the winter.

He now claims to have helped up to 25 people off the street.

Small donations support the buffet, but Clarke says much of the cost to support the service comes from the volunteers themselves.

“All the volunteers are paying for their own food and cooking and coming,” Clarke said.

READ MORE: Record-breaking cold snap leaves Montreal shelters scrambling

It’s not just food that is free. A local veterinarian is also on hand to administer treatments to dogs.

Dr. Isabelle Pinard offers vaccines for pets as well as tracking chips, which she says usually cost around $150 but are free of charge at the street buffet.

Pinard says she sees more than six dogs every visit.

“I do it because I can,” Pinard said. “That’s just the person I am, and it’s a service that is needed.”

Clarke feels the same sentiment when it comes to helping the homeless.

When asked why she hosts the street buffet, Clarke said it’s encouraging to see people change.

“Just to see a little change is better than no change at all,” she said.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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100 years later, Montreal’s Black Watch regiment returns to Wallers, France


Soldiers from Montreal’s Black Watch regiment marched Saturday through the streets of Wallers, France, returning to the French village their regiment liberated a century ago.

The village issued an invitation to the regiment to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War.

In October 1918, German artillery was set up on the western part of the city to hold back Allied forces. The German troops were eventually pushed back, but not before setting several buildings on fire during their retreat.

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After four years of occupation, local residents greeted the Canadian soldiers as heroes.

To commemorate the anniversary, the Black Watch regiment sent a contingent of 100 past and serving members.

“To walk in the footsteps of those who came before us, whether in the Black Watch or other regiments, it’s moving,” said Eric Booth, a former Black Watch reservist. “It’s moving. The people have made us feel very welcome.”

Booth’s grandfather wasn’t in the same regiment, but did move through the same village in 1918. Private J.W. Thresh served with the 22nd Battery of the Royal Canadian Artillery.

WATCH: Canada’s 100 days: Key battles from the First World War

One of the stories Booth says his grandfather shared was how he found out the war had ended. The morning of November 11th, 1918, Thresh had climbed a hill of mining tailings to get a view of the area. When he came down, he ran into a young local woman.

“The miner’s daughter looked up at him and said ‘la guerre c’est fini’: the war is over,” Booth said.

The village was decked out in Canadian red and white for the occasion. Part of the parade route was under Canadian flag banners.

Analysis: PM Trudeau is in France this Remembrance Day, just as he should be

About 200 local residents turned out, including a local hockey team that’s preparing for a trip to Quebec City’s upcoming PeeWee tournament.

The day’s events started with a wreath-laying at a monument dedicated to local soldiers, but then moved to the town square in front of a church for speeches about Canada’s role in the liberation.

Rene Gonnez says he attended to thank Canadians personally.

“It’s to honour Canadians,” said Gonnez. “That’s very important.”

WATCH: Trudeau pays respects to fallen soldiers in France

One member of the Black Watch regiment contingent was American Hugh Gemmell. The United States didn’t enter the First World War until 1917, and Gemmell’s grandfather turned to Canada for an opportunity to fight. Willam Gemmell joined the Canadian military and served with regiment. After the war, he returned to the US.

Gemmell never met his grandfather, who died in 1938 at just 45 years old.

“He was sick after he got back from the war,” Gemmell said. “He died young, like a lot of them did.”

There was also a dedication to a fallen Black Watch soldier. A street in Wallers has been named after Corporal Hugh Gray, killed by a German mortar shell just days before the signing of the Armistice that ended the war.

Gray made it through the village and was on a reconnaissance patrol alone. The street where he was killed is now called “Rue Caporal H. Gray.”


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Montreal’s Black Watch regiment treasures WW I Victoria Cross


Standing inside the Royal Bank’s vault on the second floor of Place Ville Marie, Col. Daniel O’Connor, honorary colonel of the Black Watch of Canada, holds a dark blue safe deposit box.

Compared to the other treasures locked away in this vault, the contents of O’Connor’s box are relatively scant.

All that’s inside is a bit of slightly oxidized bronze and a few papers.

But when O’Connor opens the box, the man next to him, Black Watch honorary Lt.-Col. Bruce Bolton, lets out a gasp.

« There it is, » he says. « It makes your heart palpitate. »

Col. Daniel O’Connor, left, and Lt.-Col. Bruce Bolton set eyes on Fisher’s Victoria Cross for the first time in more than a decade.

The regiment agreed to show the original to CBC Montreal as it prepared to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War on Nov. 11.

Around 100 Black Watch members will take part in a ceremony next Sunday in Mons, Belgium, a town the regiment helped liberate just hours before the Armistice.

For Bolton and O’Connor, it’s the first time they’ve set eyes on the medal in more than a decade.

It is the first Victoria Cross ever awarded to a Canadian-born soldier serving in a Canadian unit, Lance-Cpl. Fred Fisher.

« He never got to wear it, » Bolton and O’Connor say, in turn.

They don white cotton gloves before lifting the medal from its case.

One side is embossed with the words, « for valour. » A date — April 23, 1915 — is engraved on the other.

Fred Fisher graduated from Westmount Academy in 1912. (Westmount High School archives)

Fisher was just 19 — a quiet, slightly uptight kid from Westmount, Que. — in the middle of the killing fields of the First World War.

The son of a banker originally from St. Catharines, Ont., Fisher had been an avid athlete at Westmount High School (then known as Westmount Academy).

He was a decent hockey player and swimmer. As captain of the high school football team, he had a reputation for being « hard as nails, » according to the school newspaper.

Fred Fisher, 2nd row, 2nd from right, was on the Westmount Academy championship-winning Football Club in 1910. (Westmount High School archives)

The war started the day after Fisher’s 18th birthday.

Two weeks later, and just before he was supposed to return to his applied science studies at McGill University, Fisher enlisted with the 5th Regiment, Royal Highlanders of Canada, better known as the Black Watch.

This painting of Lance-Cpl. Fred Fisher hangs in his alma mater, Westmount High School, which was called Westmount Academy when he attended. (CBC)

It was the preferred unit of Montreal’s Anglo elite.

Most of its officers were millionaires.

As his battalion trained in southern England, Fisher stood out from his fellow soldiers.

One officer described him as « a quiet chap, who never drank, nor swore, nor played cards, and some of the fellows may have thought he was a prig. »

He was given the chance to learn how to use a relatively new weapon of war, the machine gun.

By the time the First Canadian Division was posted to Ypres in April 1915, Fisher headed a small detachment that operated a Colt-Browning .303.

The machine gunner at Ypres

On April 22, 1915, the Germans pumped 160 tonnes of chlorine gas into the air at Ypres, a light breeze carrying the greenish-yellow cloud toward the Allied lines.

It was the first recorded use of the gas in the war, and troops panicked as they began to be asphyxiated.

An Algerian contingent protecting the Canadians’ left flank was hit particularly hard and fled their position, leaving the Canadians exposed to the advancing Germans.

Fisher signed up shortly after his 18th birthday, putting his studies at McGill on hold. (Veterans Affairs Canada)

A battery of 18-pound field guns, essential for keeping the Germans at bay, was at risk of falling into enemy hands.

When the battery commander issued a desperate plea for help, Fisher volunteered and headed for the front lines in the early hours of April 23.

Fisher and his team set up their machine gun in an abandoned building and opened fire on the Germans closest to the battery, forcing them back.

But he also attracted enemy fire, and four of his crew were killed. Fisher hustled back to the Canadian lines to find reinforcements, took up a new position and resumed firing at the Germans.

Fisher’s covering fire allowed other Canadian soldiers to dismantle the field guns and retreat to safety. That’s what earned him the Victoria Cross.

As fighting continued along the Canadians’ exposed flank, Fisher’s detachment was redeployed to a trench.

As he crawled out to set up the machine gun, Fisher was struck by a bullet.

He died instantly.

His fellow soldiers buried him in a makeshift grave, but his body was never recovered. He is one of roughly 27,000 Canadian soldiers, from all wars, for whom there is no known grave.

Fisher’s Victoria Cross was sent to his parents. Later that year, they received a handwritten letter from King George V.

German prisoners shown with gas masks in April 1915 at Ypres. Allied soldiers had no such protections against the gas attack. (Canadian Press)

« It is a matter of sincere regret to me that the death of Lance Corporal Frederick Fisher deprived me of the pride of personally conferring upon him the Victoria Cross, the greatest of all Military Distinctions, » the letter read.

Fisher’s mother was fond of wearing her son’s medal, the Toronto Star noted in 1916.

After she died in 1946, Fisher’s family gave the medal, as well as the king’s letter, to the Black Watch.

‘The heart and soul of a regiment’

The storied regiment has kept Fisher’s Victoria Cross in a bank vault for the past several years, taking it out only on special occasions — an increasingly rare occurrence because the medal is considered a valuable collector’s item and there are always security concerns.

Fred Fisher won the Victoria Cross for his valour when he and his machine gun unit helped Canadian soldiers retreat to safety at a battle at Ypres. He died later in that battle, on April 23, 1915. His body was never recovered. (Simon Nakonechny/CBC)

A replica is housed in the regiment’s headquarters on Bleury Street.

Fisher’s Victoria Cross continues to have a hold on Black Watch members, past and present.

« Seeing this and touching it is probably one of the most important experiences of my life, » said Bolton, who has been involved with the regiment for more than 50 years.

« Memorabilia such as this become the heart and soul of a regiment, » O’Connor said.

Fisher’s Victoria Cross helps younger Black Watch members identify with the regiment’s long history, which reaches back to 1862.

As a reservists, active Black Watch soldiers hold down day jobs and serve part-time at night or on weekends.

But many have seen combat in recent years in places like Bosnia and Afghanistan, providing reinforcements to regular forces.

« They do so with pride, in part because of memorabilia such as this and the history of the regiment, » O’Connor said.

Fred Fisher’s McGill University student record indicates details of his death in action on April 23, 1915, and mentions that he was awarded the Victoria Cross. (McGill University archives)


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