Joseph Greenstone, a lifelong resident of Montreal, moved to Toronto three years ago to be closer to his children. He and his wife Sylvia now reside in a seniors residence, just as they did in Côte Saint-Luc at Le Castel Royale.
Joseph, of course, is a superb violonist and performed for many years with his own orchestra, notably at the annual Austrian Ball. Here is a detailed blog I did on him a few years ago.
At 95 years young, he only recently learned how to email and that is the way we keep in touch. A former member of the Côte Saint-Luc Men's Club, here is what he had to tell me.
"The one redeeming factor is that at age 95 I have lost none of my musical ability," he remarked. "My fingers are completely flexible and I feel perfectly comfortable playing. My intention was to retire completely when I arrived here, and when word got out that I play the violin, the management asked me to perform for the residents. I have become a 'star' here - the hall is completely jammed when I give my concerts. Because of my diverse career -- I have played every facet of music at the highest level -- I perform here usually every two months. Each concert lasts one hour, and I play every program by memory, inasmuch as I have such an extensive repertoire in any type of music. It is great for my morale.
"I have been in Toronto for exactly three years now. For all intents and purposes I am and always will be a Montrealer who happens to be living in Toronto. After three years I still feel like an outsider and cannot get accustomed with the civic and provincial politics here. One thing for sure -- there's as much corruption here as in Montreal and Quebec. Every day I check the Montreal news -obituaries of course - and the general news, and then I'll glance at the local news. Quebec gets pretty good coverage here."
Joseph kept a copy of a story I wrote more than a year ago in the Jewish Tribune Newspaper where I described my one week stay in Toronto. The headline read: "Why this Quebec Jew was never lured to Toronto." Joseph said he agreed with my sentiments. " I generally find the Montreal people warmer, but maybe I'm being biased," he said. "There is nothing here like Cavendish Mall and the CSL Shopping Centre, where you are sure to meet some friends. Everything here is so spread out. Traffic here downtown is impossible. Most people do their shopping in their own area. To add to the confusion, many streets here have multiple names. The main street near my daughter, for instance ,has four names - the name of the street changes about every kilometre.
Well before I became a city councillor in Côte Saint-Luc more than nine years ago I was involved with the annual golf tournament. I believe my association as the emcee of their awards luncheon goes back at least 25 years. Originally, it was a Seniors Golf Outing and the event always attracted good numbers. When I was elected, I began co-chairing the program with Councillor Sam Goldbloom.
Over the years we saw attendance begin to drop. Last year, we had only 42 golfers register. We knew it was time to either cancel the event or recharge the batteries. Sam and I opted for the latter and thanks to the spectacular assistance of Harold Cammy and Alvin Fishman at our Parks and Recreation Department the revival began. We renamed the event the Côte Saint-Luc Golf Classic and made it available to people of all ages. Work on the 2014 event began during a cold winter day when we sat down with Harold and Alvin and drew up a plan to attract foursomes. Together we obtained a title sponsors in Gravel Auto Group, which has a successful dealership on Decarie. Harold and Alvin signed up a few other sponsors, including Casey Cameron from Techsport Inc. "Why not have a celebrity honourary chairman?" I asked, thinking out loud that legendary jazz pianist and CSL resident Oliver Jones would be a good choice. Thanks to our Chief Librarian Janine West and her husband Jim, Jones agreed. He was part of a foursome with the West's and one of their close friends.
When all was said and done, a total of 83 golfers registered. It rained the day before, but as I awoke on Tuesday, July 8 the weather was gorgeous and precipitation was only called for later in the day. This was also a day, once again, to showcase Meadowbrook Golf Course and how beautiful this large greenspace is. For the first time a foursome from Les Amis de Meadowbrook took part and that was wonderful. They lobby and hold meetings throughout the year, but what better thing to do than spend time on the very land they wish to preserve. We all golfed on the back nine. I was part of a foursome with Goldbloom, Police Station 9 Commander Marc Cournoyer and Officer Martin Bourgeois. Louis-Philippe Gravel, director of sales at Gravel Auto Decarie, was on hand as well.
This represents my only golf game of the year, so only when I near the final hole do I find my swing comes around. But this is a great day out and for only $27 a person where else can you find a better bargain.
The golf game is only half the fun. Afterwards everyone convened at our Aquatic and Community Centre for a very enjoyable luncheon coordinated by the team of Cammy and Fishman and their devoted committee: Toby Goldner-Shulman, Faygie Block, Dina Ancel, Naomi Jacobson, Fran Rosen-Miller, Kathy Nasr, Elaine Libman and Maurice Giobbi, Everyone was greeted with some wine and cheese, a few hor d'oeuvres and then a nice buffet of party sandwiches and salads.
Mayor Anthony Housefather provided opening remarks and then helped hand out the trophies.
Closest to the pin on the 16th hole went to Patti Heller for the women and Ivan Kolti for the men. Longest drive at the 17th hole also went to Heller for the women while Steven Wise captured the men's side.
There was a wide array of doorprizes handed out. This included a set of golf irons and a golf bag (valued at $400) from Play It Again Sports on Decarie and a one week scholarship at the TSPA Tennis Academy (valued at $270). Gravel Auto donated a slew of prizes, as did Bench, Bugatti, Pharmaprix Cavendish, CSL Bagel, J & R Kosher, CSL Kosher, Massa Greek Grill, Rockaberry Monkland, The Snowdon Deli, the Range Golf Academy and many more. This was a testament to the tireless efforts of Fishman. Thanks to five year old Jeremy Nashen, who came on stage with his dad - City Councillor Glenn J. Nashen - to help choose the winners. We know Jeremy is honest because his grandfather George lamented later that he did not win anything.
Harold Cammy the Caterer then had one more suprise up his sleeve. On the eve of Oliver Jones' 80th birthday, out came a huge cake designed like a piano. Oliver, who earlier addressed the crowd, was clearly touched. Everyone got a chance to taste this delicious dessert, as well as yogurt cups donated by Yeh! Yogurt at Quartier Cavendish.
We also wish to thank Michael Johnson, club manager at Meadowbrook and his staff. It was a great day to be sure.
Thanks to all. It was a great day. I can't wait until our 36th (Double Chai) event next summer!
The 35th annual Côte Saint-Luc Golf Classic, set for Tuesday, July 8 at Meadowbrook, promises to be a good one. I am co-chairing the event once again with Councillor Sam Goldbloom. After less than 50 golfers participated last year, Sam and I set out to pump up the volume. Thanks to phenomenal staff support from Harold Cammy and Alvin Fishman, we will now have the highest number of players and prizes collected and registered over the past five years.
We also have a superb sponsor in Gravel Auto, which will make a brand new car available, and legendary jazz pianist Oliver Jones as our honourary chair. He will also be part of a foursome.
This is also an excellent opportunity to remind people what precious greenspace we have at Meadowbrook. Some members of Les Amis de Meadowbrook will even golf with us this year.
Foursome tee off early and we will all gather at the Aquatic and Community Centre for an awards banquet at 1 p.m.
For David Birnbaum, the newly elected Liberal Member of the National Assembly for D'Arcy McGee, July 1 marked his first Canada Day in Côte Saint-Luc. "What a great show you people put on," he told me, looking out in almost disbelief from the grand stage as a sea of thousands of people gathered for closing ceremonies and fireworks.
A huge hats off to Councillors Mitchell Brownstein and Sam Goldbloom, their committee and our amazing Parks and Recreation team headed by David Taveroff. Special marks to Laura Trihas, Cornelia Ziga, Alvin Fishman, Harold Cammy and cast of others who are part of such a well oiled team that our Canada Day is the envy of other municipalities.
There were activities at Pierre Elliott Trudeau Park all day. We formally began proceedings with our traditional Citizenship Ceremony, presided over by Judge Barbara Seal. CJAD's Dan Laxer and Dr. Laurie Betito were terrific emcees. There were 40 new Canadian citizens sworn in from 17 different countries.
Plenty of games for the kids were in place and the pedal boats had a lineup a mile long. Scotiabank Westminster sponsored our always popular Canada Day cupcakes. Their representative, investment and personal banking specialist Yannick Haim Amar, is a relatively new resident of District 2. People lined up at the different concessions and took test drives with some vehicles from Gravel Auto, which donated $10 per test to three local charities.
Airport 77 and Lorraine Klaasen provided superb musical entertainment. The late Nelson Mandela was inducted into our Human Rights Walkway. Mount Royal Liberal MP Irwin Cotler, who was one of Mandela's counsels when he was incarcerated in South African prison for 27 years, spoke about how Mandela emerged as a metamorphasis and a message behind the struggle for human rights of our time. Mandela, of course, presided over the dismantling of apartheid and at the age of 75 became his country's president. Cotler attended his funeral last December. Dierdre Viljoen, Minister (Plenipotentiary) of the South African High Commission in Canada, drove into Montreal especially to attend our ceremony.
We honoured former D'Arcy McGee Liberal MNA Lawrence Bergman for his stellar 18 years of representation for our community in Quebec City by naming our main chalet at Trudeau Park in his honour. Lawrence was showered with well deserved cheers for his nearly two decades of devoted service to the constituents of D'Arcy McGee. As Mayor Anthony Housefather rightfully said, it was Lawrence who stepped in and saved our Emergency Medical Services from being torn apart by the provincial government. And when we needed the province to take part in funding our $18 million Aquatic and Community Centre (ACC), he stepped up to the plate again.
The evening culminated with Alexandra Cohen singing O Canada and a spectacular fireworks display.
Thanks as well to our invaluable Volunteer Citizens on Patrol (VCOPs) and our team of EMS volunteers.
We were all very worried about the forecast for throughout most of the day it looked very much like rain might fall. That did not happen. It was an absolutely perfect night at a time when MNA Birnbaum could deliver the message from our new premier, who can declare quite openly: "Happy Canada Day!"
See Councillor Glenn J. Nashen's very comprehensive blog, including audio and video.