News goes around, comes around

Doing some research for content for the 2018 blog calendar, I’ve been skimming Gazette front pages on the Google newspaper archive – they crammed a lot of stories onto the front page in the early 20th century – and, as always, am amazed at the perennity of certain themes, and how some headlines reveal ideas hatching decades early, while others mention big ideas that went nowhere. Here are a few examples from 1930:

January 5: Concert hall for Montreal now assured. This was to be an annex to the St‑Sulpice library on St‑Denis and, obviously, was never built. It was 33 years before Place des Arts opened, several blocks west of that location, and nearly 50 years after that before the Maison symphonique opened for business.

April 1: Arabs blamed for outbreak in Palestine. New bridge to be provided for Montreal. Indian affairs to be discussed in Ottawa house. (This last is how they refer to the Canadian parliament! Subhead: Change in control of Eskimos provided in bill.)

August: People were excited about the R‑100. On August 1 the headline is R‑100 reported at Donnacona moving slowly – Crippled airship making about 10 knots an hour as well as Port side fin fabric is torn on dirigible. On August 2, most of the top headlines are about the R‑100. August 4: Huge airships linking empire are predicted. A boxed item offers advice how to see the R‑100, moored on St‑Hubert airfield. In August, people were also worried about Russia: Soviet dumps goods to cut world prices.

September 4: No referendum now likely on terminal plan. (This was a proposal to build a new CN terminal in Montreal, an idea that later became Central Station including the covering of the railway tunnel that allowed for Place Ville‑Marie and the Queen Elizabeth Hotel to be built.) Englishman has waterway plan. Joint financing of St. Lawrence project by England and U.S. suggested. (Eventually became the Seaway. Both projects took 30 years to materialize.)

October 6: The Gazette allowed a headline to splash across the whole front that day: R‑101 Crashes in France on flight to India: 47 Perish. Airships had looked like the wave of the future when the R‑100 visited Montreal, but this incident sowed doubts about their usability.

November 13: Prince of Wales pilots giant plane. Nations fail to find means to limit arms. United States urged to join world court. And, given this was 1930: Losses on market blamed for suicide and several headlines about unemployment relief.

December 3: Simpson’s opening, stellar event in commercial life. Public thronged to magnificent new building on St Catherine Street. Romance of Business. The Gazette was clearly buttering up the store for its advertising: the same edition contains a Simpson’s perfume ad stating that it’s flattering to give a woman a “fragrance that is the expression of her personality” – and then proceeds to break women down into blonde, “medium type” and brunette. A bottle of Guerlain’s Shalimar (suitable for brunettes) set the aspiring beau back $22 then – probably a week’s pay for most people. (Nothing for redheads either. Evidently our personalities are beyond the parfumier’s reach.)