Montreal

Irish group says naming Griffintown REM station after Bernard Landry ignores area's heritage

Montreal's Irish community is objecting to Mayor Valérie Plante's suggestion to name the REM station being built in Griffintown be named after former Quebec premier Bernard Landry. 

June 2018 petition had called for the station to be named 'Station des Irlandais'

Irish labourers helped build the Lachine Canal and the Victoria Bridge. Black Rock, a monument at the foot of the bridge, was erected by Irish workers in 1859 to honour the 6,000 Irish famine refugees. (McCord Museum)

Montreal's Irish community is objecting to Mayor Valérie Plante's suggestion to name the REM station being built in Griffintown be named after former Quebec premier Bernard Landry. 

Plante tweeted Wednesday, the anniversary of Landry's death, that she had shared her wish to name the station after Landry with the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, which is financing the light-rail project.

"Griffintown—Bernard-Landry Station would highlight Mr. Landry's important contribution to the development of our city," Plante wrote. 

Last year, Fergus Keyes, the director of the Montreal Irish Monument Park Foundation, helped launch a petition to name the stop Station des Irlandais, or Irish Station, to commemorate the area's Irish community. 

He said met with REM planners afterward, and they were open to the idea.

"Griffintown has a 150-year history of being an Irish working community of Montreal, and now as it's being redeveloped all the time, this Irish history is being lost," Keyes said on CBC Montreal's Daybreak Thursday morning.

Keyes says he felt blindsided by Plante's public declaration. 

"It was just shocking. It came out of nowhere," he said.

The name of former Quebec premier Bernard Landry could be on the REM station coming to Griffintown. (Didier Debusschere/Reuters)

While Landry was finance minister in the late 1980s, he helped create the Cité du Multimédia, a sector in Griffintown meant to attract companies innovating in technology. 

Plante said the Caisse de dépôt and a group representing friends of Landry were both in favour of the name.

Emmanuelle Rouillard-Moreau, a spokesperson for the REM, says the light-rail network "received a proposal from the city [about the Landry-inspired name] and we are open to this idea."

She said the process of naming the 26 planned stations would be up to a committee of experts "representing all transport partners" in "close coordination with the municipalities/partners involved."

With files from La Presse Canadienne

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