Montreal Massacre – 22nd anniversary

women's groups gathered for Dec. 6 protest at Montreal courthousewomen hold orange placards outside Montreal courthouse

I can’t believe it’s been 22 years.

On Dec. 6, 1989 I was living in Ottawa, attending university. It was dark out and CBC Radio was on in my apartment. I remember how shocking it was to hear the words: gunman, shooting, Montreal, university and women. It was strange not to be in Montreal, the city where I grew up. I didn’t have a TV and the news reports were confusing, surreal.

Even weirder was the news afterwards that Marc Lépine entered classrooms and deliberately separated the women from the men, ordering the men out and aiming his rifle at the women, that he blamed feminists for his rejection from l’École Polytechnique’s engineering school (he apparently did get into the engineering school but that news came too late). It was chilling to learn later that his suicide note included a list of prominent women he felt deserved death.

One mistake you often see in reporting of the Montreal Massacre is that the 14 murdered women were engineering students. In fact, one victim was a university employee and another a nursing student. I don’t think it matters whether all the women were students. Lépine hunted them down because they were women.

Today at noon a coalition of women’s groups is holding held a protest outside the Montreal courthouse. Protests and memorial ceremonies are taking place across the world. The Canadian federal gun registry is threatened and there is still a lot of work to do to raise awareness about violence against women.

Stephen Fearing wrote a moving song about the Montreal Massacre. Here it is, in case you never heard it before:


Montreal’s parking signs of confusion

confusing parking signs on Montreal's Casgrain street

On Saturday a friend who lives west of Montreal’s West Island in an area where public transit is especially difficult on weekends, picked me up in his car and we headed to the Smart Design Mart, a very cool art and design market in Mile End.

Imagine our luck when we looked out the car window and saw an empty parking space in a neighbourhood where parking spots are rare. A sign above declared no parking on Thursdays between 8:30 and 9:30 a.m. from April 1st to December 1st. It was December 3rd.

I don’t drive and confess I don’t understand Montreal parking signs. I’m suspicious of anything that looks too good to be true. I asked my friend, who after all is an experienced driver, to confirm what I read. He too thought it was okay to park there.

An hour of happy browsing and shopping later, we headed back to the car only to find a ticket for $52 on the windshield. It seems we didn’t look at the signs carefully enough.

Right above the sign about no parking on Thursdays is another sign that says no parking. Ever.

So if you are on the west side of Casgrain, just north of St. Viateur, look way up when you’re reading the parking signs. As we pulled away from the curb my friend waved his ticket to warn drivers eager to grab our cursed parking spot.

It seems they didn’t understand the signs either.