As a massive heatwave hit our province, we reluctantly decided to take the prudent approach to postpone our 39th annual Côte Saint-Luc Golf Classic. If Mother Nature cooperates, we will all be at Meadowbrook Golf Course on Thursday, July 19 to play nine holes on the gorgeous land we all hope will remain green forever.
I have had the pleasure of co-chairing the Golf Classic for the past 13 years, initially with former Councillor Allan J. Levine and then Sam Goldbloom. Allan, Sam and I are extremely proud of how we took an event which was beginning to experience a significant drop in registration and turn it into a sold out affair months in advance. I must share a lot of that credit with our invaluable Parks and Recreation staffers Harold Cammy and Alvin Fishman. We opened up registration to people of all ages and more importantly chose to select an annual honouree.
While the golf is a lot of fun, the luncheon became the real big draw. So when we had to put off the golf portion on July 5, the show very much went on. Councillor Dida Berku was my co-chair this year and how appropriate given the decades of work she had put in to keep Meadowbrook free from development. Our honouree was long-time community leader and volunteer Joe Presser, a man I consider a good friend and a true supporter of mine in District 2 from day one of my time on council.
Joe has been active at programming in Côte Saint-Luc for most of his life, notably at Beth Zion Congregation, the Parks and Recreation Department, the Cummings Centre Sports Celebrity Breakfast and the Côte Saint-Luc Men’s Club. But he was often the man behind the scenes, not getting his deserving day in the sun.
Everyone gathered for cocktails at our Aquatic and Community Centre, sponsored by Joe’s son-in-law Michael Maislin of Total Customs. This is one of the programming arrangements Cammy and Fishman implemented a few years ago and it provides a great opportunity to mingle and get an early start on things.
A big thanks to Marc Ezerzer and Hagai Brener from Team Ezerzer-Brener of Vantage Realty Group for returning as a title sponsor. They provided guests with caps and made a generous donation to the event. The Beth Zion Congregation via Marty Labow sponosored a surprise cake for Joe and Pharmaprix Quartier Cavendish Pharmacists David Banon and Rachel Ettedgui and store manager Ian Macdonald donated all of the water, canned soft drinks and juices for the luncheon and golf day. Lenny Rosenberg from TCBY once again donated TCBY cups for dessert. Silver Star Mercedes have sponsored a car at the 11th hole in one contest. Someone will get that car for a weekend.
PIERRE BRUNET FUND
We sold raffle tickets at $10 each, with the money going to the Pierre Brunet Parks and Recreation Bursary Fund – something I wish to elaborate upon. Just a year and a half ago Pierre approached Harold Cammy and I about finding a local Côte Saint-Luc cause which touched kids in need which could benefit from annual McHappy Day events at his CSL Road McDonalds. Harold and I brainstormed and came up with the Fund, which provides bursaries for families which may not have the means to send their kids to camp or register for a program. This has taken off like a rocket.
Not only have funds come in from McHappy Day, but we have connected this cause to the Golf Classic (Pierre was an honouree a few years ago) as well. Pierre donates coffee to our Men’s Club each week. They sell the cups and proceeds now go to the Fund. D’Arcy McGee Liberal MNA David Birnbaum has contributed so have a number of individuals. Following this year’s luncheon the total raised in just two years stood at an incredible $17,000. Cammy told the story of a refugee family from Nigeria that just moved to CSL with no money to send their kids to camp. Thanks to the Fund their three kids are having an amazing summer. There are many other heartwarming stories like that
UPDATE ON MEADOWBROOK
I invited Councillor Berku to provide everyone with an update on the status of Meadowbrook. I have been associated with this Golf Classic as luncheon emcee for decades, but I only began golfing upon being elected to council and co-chairing the event. As I pass through the course via the Back Nine holes we are on Côte Saint-Luc territory and the surroundings are picturesque. The owners of the land have wanted to develop housing here for years. Likewise on the Front Nine, which is on Lachine territory.
Councillor Berku noted that in 2015 the Agglomeration Council of Montreal adopted can urban plan for the island and declared Meadowbrook as recreational greenspace. “We hope that will be respected by the current owners,” said Councillor Berku, who would love to see tennis courts and even a reception hall built on the grounds." See this CTV report.
Côte Saint-Luc has been in court with the owners of the land since 2001 when we were sued for $20 million for rezoning the property recreational. That remains unresolved.
FORMER NHL COACH SPEAKS
Everyone enjoyed a nice buffet lunch, followed by our special guest speaker Pierre Page. His presence was made possible thanks to Alan Maislin, a noted community leader, president of the West Central Montreal Health Board (CIUSSS) and the dad of Joe’s son-in-law. Alan introduced Pagé while CSL resident and TSN 690 Radio Weekend Game Plan host Matthew Ross moderated the program.
Pagé started out at the age of 24 with Dalhousie University as an assistant coach. He became the head coach the following year, a position he held for seven years. He then coached in NHL for 13 years with the Minnesota North Stars, Quebec Nordiques, Calgary Flames and Mighty Ducks of Anaheim. He was an assistant coach with the Flames that went to the 1986 Stanley Cup Final, losing to the Montreal Canadiens.After being dismissed by the Mighty Ducks, and out of hockey for one season, he continued his coaching career in Europe where he has coached in Switzerland (Ambrì-Piotta), Germany (Berlin Eisbären) and now in Austria. In Berlin, he led the club to its first two championships. He is currently the Sporting Director and Head Coach of EC Red Bull Salzburg in the Erste Bank Hockey League in Austria.
Pagé was a pleasure to listen to. As general manager and coach of the Nordiques he made the historic trade that sent Eric Lindros to Philadelphia in exchange for a group of star players, including Peter Forsberg. He shared with us that he almost became the GM of the Canadiens. As for the performance of current Habs GM Marc Bergevin he was diplomatic but not complimentary. “Since 1994 the Canadiens have been going in the wrong direction,” he said.
MANNIE ROASTS JOE
Men’s Club President Mannie Young next came to the stage and roasted our honouree Joe Presser. His predecessor Syd Kronish and Presser then presented a $2,000 cheque to the Pierre Brunet Fund. Irving Leiner, a close friend of Joe’s, gave a nice tribute.
"The late Rabbi Sydney Shoham, who we miss terribly,was a dear and close friend to Joe and would often and affectionately refer to Joe as 'Pressure.' I’m certain Rabbi Shoham is qvelling at this moment so in loving memory of the rabbi and out of admiration and respect for Joe this will be a tribute to pressure. At the age of 8 and living on City Hall Avenue, Joe and his six siblings sadly lost their father and survival skills at a very young age were untimely thrust upon Joe. As a young boy and as a means of recreation, Joe spent all of his free time at Neigborhood House where the cost was free unlike the nearbyY that charged a yearly unaffordable fee of $50. He quickly honed his leadership and athletic skills there and became a dear friend to many, some if whom are here to pay tribute to Joe. However there was a time for play and more importantly a time to help support the family. So at the tender age of 16 he left school and did what most Jewish boys at that time did for a living. He went to work in the schmattah business for a men’s clothing firm called Cooper clothing. He started off as a shipper and then was given a sample bag and a territory and told by his boss to go out and sell and return home only with a bag full of orders. Back in those days, not only were you selling the line but you were given the task of collecting past due receivables, so when Joe went calling on his customers and asked to be paid for last season’s merchandise the retailer sensing the innocence and vulnerability of this young salesman doubled down on their placing orders. So Joe quickly sensing victory forgot about the past due receivables and triumphantly began to write the orders. Wow! Was the boss ever going to be impressed. Needless to say, the homecoming displayed by his boss could have been a little more receptive. And Joe quickly learned that writing orders was easy, but getting paid is a whole different ball game --- which begs the question ------ was the account ever shipped Joe? After a few seasons of abuse and schlepping samples on the road , Joe and a colleague soon took over ownership of the firm and quickly grew it to a prominant and leading mens and boys clothing firm."
Joe’s wife of 58 years, Isabel, was on hand as was his daughters Janet (with husband Michael Maislin) and Shari (with husband David Perl) and some of his grandchildren. Son Mitchell lives in Michigan. It was also nice to see the Blumer family on hand for they are part of the Presser clan.
JOE PRESSER IS A GEM
I have known Joe most of my life. He is a fabulous individual whom as a youngster worked as a shipper at Cooper Clothing and eventually bought the company. In 1988 I was hired as the national director of communications for Canadian Jewish Congress. I called Joe and went to see him as I needed some nice suits to wear for work. He took care of me like I was his own son. When I first ran for office in 2005, he took me door to door to every resident in his building. Last November, 12 years later, he did the same thing – quite impressive for a man who is 80 years young and thankfully in very good shape.
Before Joe spoke to the audience, Alvin Fishman rolled out the big surprise – a cake shaped like a business suit made by the one and only Chef Moshe Engler. We then watched a nice photo montage on the screen put together by our Public Affairs and Communications guru Darryl Levine.
For the door prizes, it was nice to have Allan J. Levine and Sam Goldbloom emcee that portion of the program. There was a nice assortment of gifts available.
Finally thanks to our luncheon volunteers Toby Shulman, Peter and Rhoda Sternberg, Doris Gottheil, Dina Ancel, Maureen Hankin, Elaine Waisgrus and Mark Avigdor. As well, hats off to Robin Chemtov on the keyboard.
So now we hope for good weather on July 19. I know Joe is already practicing his putts.