Montreal's Jewish neighbourhood of Papineau

Shawbridge in summer

Audio is ON. For mobile devices, scroll down to click on audio. Peter: What's the story with Shawbridge. Did you guys used to go to Shawbridge the way we went to the country? Philip: We used to rent a room went we first went to Shawbridge Peter: What do you mean a room? How many were you? Philip: We slept like I don't know how many together. Peter: And that was your summer vacation. Philip: We were little kids and that was our summer vacation. And this is where, I remember my mother rocking Judy and saying, "Oy, oy Far vus ab ich dir gedaft"... which means "Oy, oy, what did I need you for?" (Everyone laughs). Peter: And so what did you guys do there. How old were you? Philip: Well, probably about....I had to be 13. I was 13. But I believe we went there even prior to that. And then we'd go to Shawbridge to another place. A farmer by the name of Mr Beaulne who owned a cottage that my mother would take with another family, the two families would take it. I have a feeling it was Letovsky but the partner of Jack's father, and her name was Sheindl, her husband's name was Morris. We rented that from Mr Beaulne. I also remember Mr Beaulne had a cottage that his family lived in....they were farmers. I remember Mr Beaulne's son at milk time going out to the field and yelling - this is the way I took it - Yet-ta, yet-ta. It was viens-ta, viens-ta, and the cows would leave their field and start going all in a row back to the barn to be milked. I remember Motty used to call them yetta cows. Peter: Well how did you guys get to Shawbridge? You didn't have a car. Philip: I think it was somebody by the name of Rabinovitch who had a truck that used to take us back. Peter: Just you or people altogether? Philip: I think people. Peter: So when you went, was it for the whole summer? Philip: For the whole summer. Peter: For several years like that. Shirley: They were going when I was going out with Phil. Philip: We still have a picture. We have a picture of Shirley with my mother, Motty as a little kid, Judy as a little kid. But I was away already. We weren't married. Peter: Do you remember it as fun or boring? Philip: Oh fun. Lots of fun. They had two places where all the kids, everybody would congregate. One was Bichinsky, on one side of the main street in Shawbridge. The other was Hammerman. Shirley: They played music, eh? And danced. Philip: Dance, music. I remember it as tremendous fun. We used to go swimming. There was a beach there. There was always a photographer there who'd look into this thing and smile. I can't remember if it was 10 cents or 15 cents he clicked the thing, and he developed it right there. And there was a little thing at the bottom where you take the film, put it in there, take it. wipe it and give you your picture. Lots of fun, lots of dancing, lots of kids. It was a great place. But it was really Prevost, not Shawbridge. Shawbridge was on the other side of the bridge. But everybody knew it as Shawbridge. It was Prevost. Lovely, lovely place. And on the weekend, all of the fathers used to come out there. Peter: How did they get there? Philip: Train I guess, or bus. I always remember all the fathers coming up with cherries, plums, bakery stuff. It was a lovely lovely place. Peter: It wasn't so totally different for us. All the fathers would come up. Philip: Yeah.

A visit to Prévost/Shawbridge

On July 4, 2012 my wife Kristin and I drove to Prévost (Shawbridge). I had received an email from Monelle Beaulne who heard about this website. She was especially interested in my father's reference to Mr Beaulne as the owner of the cottage that the family rented during the summer. She reckoned that this had to be her grandfather Fréderick's brother, Emile. After several email exchanges, we arranged to visit.

We spent a very enjoyable day with Monelle and her husband Claude Charbonneau who generously showed us all the places which were important in the days when Montreal Jews spent their summers there. Very little of the original buildings remain, but the locations of Hammerman's, Bichinsky's, the synagogue and even of the cottage where the Teitelbaum family would have stayed were pointed out to us. Beyond the places of Jewish significance, we saw all the historical and current places of interest in Prévost and Shawbridge. Monelle has lived there most of her life, and Claude was mayor for many years.

Monelle arranged for us to talk to Vincent Thorburn, an elderly resident with memories of those days. We met as well with Emile Beaulne's grand-daughter Francine, Marc-André Morin who is the current member of parliament for the region, Michel Fortier editor of the local newspaper "Journal des Citoyens" and his intern Alisson Lévesque. Our visit was timely. A project not unlike ours was underway in Prévost - a history of the village. Monelle had contributed to the recently published, "Doux souvenirs....nos ainés se racontent". And a very nice display of old photographs adorned the outdoor walls of the restaurants in the plaza where we sat and talked. One photo showed both dance halls referred to above.

An interesting item: when I mentioned that Philip remembered Mr Beaulne's son calling the cows home with what sounded like "Yeh-ta" and which he later understood to be something like "Viens-toi", Francine said that was her grandfather's farm. He was the Beaulne who had cows. This provided further confirmation that he was indeed the one who rented to the Teitelbaum family. I think it was Claude who then said that "Yeh-ta" was how they called for the cows!

My father Philip passed away September 1, 2011. He would have been very interested in all of this and in the old photographs.

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