Studio 77 Cafe will be hosting a “Retrospective of the Village of Pointe Claire” involving paintings of the village. A painting depicting a french fry wagon originally driven by Eddie “Le Dur” Duhamel at the Shell Station at the corner of Ste Anne and Lakeshore Blvd. circa 1935 painted by Jacques Semeteys.
Dave Sidaway / jpg
A new exposition entitled “Pointe-Claire Village Retrospective” offers a rare glimpse of a bygone era in one of Montreal’s oldest neighbourhood villages. The exposition, currently on display at Studio 77 on Lakeshore Rd. in the village, features paintings and books that recall a time when the village served as the heart of Pointe-Claire, home to city hall, before the rapid growth of suburbs in the West Island in the 20th century.The exposition is the collaborative effort of five locals who “drink coffee together” and decided to assemble a collection of paintings, books and first-hand recollections of life in the village. Tom Holmes, a retired CEGEP teacher who has written several hockey-themed novels set in the village, said the exhibit is a kind of nostalgia trip to the last century, before building demolitions and business closures transformed the village into a niche destination for weekend visitors and tourists.“We just wanted to take a look back,” said Holmes, who is joined by artists Jacques Semeteys, Helmut Langeder, McGill University architect prof David Covo and landscape architect Ron Williams, an Order of Canada recipient.
Studio 77 Cafe will be hosting a “Retrospective of the Village of Pointe Claire” involving paintings of the village. Helmut Langeder, Jacques Semeteys and Tom Holmes, left to right. Holmes is holding a painting depicting ice cutting in front of the St-Joachim Church circa 1947 painted by Jacques Semeteys in 2019.
Dave Sidaway /
The exposition’s flyer features a painting by Semeteys who has lived his entire life in the village. The painting is a kind snap shot of village life on Lakeshore Rd. more than half century ago. It features a 1959 red Cadillac heading west on Lakeshore, while a provincial bus heads east, past the old Pointe-Claire Hotel, which later became the Pioneer bar.On the opposite side of the street patrons queue outside Théatre Pointe-Claire, a movie house that closed decades ago. The building is now home to the Lafayette café. In the background is the old Rossy “five-and-dime” store, now a parking lot, and the former city hall, now a small park in front of Le Gourmand Restaurant.Few of those buildings still remain, but Semeteys said there was a simpler time when village life revolved around St. Joachim church and the French school on the point, and the shops and businesses along Lakeshore, many owned by locals.“I grew up in the 1950s and I walked every day to school in the village here,” said Semeteys, now 74. “I can remember before they filled in the area between the old Grand Trunk Pier and the village, it was all water. They made that into Bourgeau Park in 1960 or ’61, I believe.”He said the village once had several gas stations, hardware stories – including Cousineau’s which closed in the 1990s — its own fire station (across from Centre Noël-Legault Community Centre), post office, hotels, and aforementioned movie house.Asked how the village has changed since the 1950s and ’60s, Semeteys replied: “The commercial activity in the village has waned. The big change was 1965 when they opened Fairview (shopping centre). Pascal’s hardware store opened (in Fairview) and these people here lost most of their clientele.”The exposition also features paintings of the Cousineau hardware delivery truck; Eddie “le Dur” Duhamel, who drove a patates frites truck; the bygone era of ice cutting in Lake St. Louis. (before the advent of modern refrigeration systems); the 1669 murder of an Iroquois fur trader by French soldiers; the White Rose auto garage (now Débosselage Métro).While the exposition is about the past, Semeteys said it also brings into focus the challenges faced by the village today, including efforts by heritage groups to preserve the old Pioneer bar, which has been closed for more than a year and labelled for demolition.“It’s very difficult to resist money,” Semeteys said. “Big money comes in and the mayor and council have seen enough opportunity to collect a lot of taxes with condos, and this is their priority. They want to make money. And to them, the history is important but not as important as raising more tax income. That’s basically the conflict. It’s culture, and respect for old stuff, (versus) money.”When should heritage and history trump tax dollars?“That’s a matter of opinion,” Semeteys replied. “If you’re asking my opinion, the example is the Pioneer. I think it should be saved. The city spent millions of dollars on renovating a chalet in a park . . . and they won’t put a cent into that building.“If the Pioneer comes down, it’s gone. Period.“There’s no will, politically, to save what’s left of the village,” Semeteys added.“The move is toward gentrifying the village. There are not many villages like this anymore. Maybe here and Ste.Anne’s.”Pointe-Claire Village Retrospective runs until Aug. 10, at Studio 77, 271 Lakeshore Rd. A vernissage takes place Saturday, Aug. 3 from 6-9 email@example.comRelated