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August 2016

July 2016

Mourning the loss of Merle Margles

Funeral services were held at Paperman and Sons on July 31 for Merle Margles, a resident of Côte Saint-Luc’s District 2. Sidney Margles, Merle’s husband, is well known in the community dating back to his days as a high profile reporter for CJAD and Standard Broadcasting.

Merle and Sid.

Merle and Sidney had a rock solid marriage for 53 years. They raised three daughters, who gave them six grandchildren.

Two years ago I called Sidney on behalf of my mother, Elaine, who writes for The Canadian Jewish News. Regularly, she profiles couples who have been married for 50 plus years. Would they agree to a profile? “Absolutely,” said Sid.

As my mom wrote, former Quebec Liberal MNA Paul Gérin-Lajoie may be recognized for his accomplishments as Minister of Youth as well as Minister of Education in the 1960s, he also played a role in Merle and Sidney walking down the aisle.

When Sidney first met Merle (née Elkin) in 1958, he was at McGill University and she was at Sir George Williams (precursor to Concordia University). They dated for a while but later went separate ways to focus on other interests.

Sidney spent time in Boston studying public relations. As far back as his teens, Sidney remembers “hanging out” at CJAD radio station. Addicted to the broadcast media, Sidney put aside his third year studies at McGill and accepted a full-time job opportunity in 1959 at CJAD. Sidney was a pioneer at CJAD in broadcasting live from the scene of air crashes, bombings, riots, fires and other events. He won numerous awards, the most notable being for the TCA air crash in Ste. Thérèse in 1963.

By the time he reconnected with Merle at the Gérin-Lajoie meeting, she was working full-time during the day and immersed in evening courses at Sir George Williams. Sidney was a seasoned news broadcaster. Merle told my mom that the timing was also right for her. A romance blossomed and by the fall of 1962, the couple were engaged. Merle, at 21½, and Sidney, 24, wed on June 16, 1963, at Congregation Beth Ora. Their eldest daughter, Susan, was born in 1966, followed by Elizabeth in 1968, and Melissa in 1971.

In 1974, Standard Broadcast News, formerly parent owner of CJAD, asked Sidney to head up the company’s news operation, based in Ottawa. Standard Broadcast News serviced more than 100 Canadian radio stations. In 1981, with Sidney being the point man, Standard Broadcasting received CRTC approval for a radio station in Ottawa and he assumed the helm as vice president and general manager.

While in Ottawa, Merle, along with other parents, lobbied for an all-day kindergarten at Hillel Academy. Their plea was answered in time for their youngest child. Merle re-entered the workforce. In the interim, she had completed a university degree and been involved in the community.

In 1984, the family headed back to Montreal, where Sidney presided over Standard Sound Systems and ran Muzak until 1997. They re-settled in the Town of Mount Royal and Sidney’s interest in the community led him to seek municipal office. Subsequently, he was elected and served on the council for three consecutive terms. In addition, from 1985-99, he presided over the Liberal Mount Royal Riding.

Soon after their return, Sheila Finestone, then newly elected Liberal MP for Mount Royal, offered Merle an administrative position. “We knew each other from projects at Federation CJA,” Merle pointed out, adding initially she was reticent but credited her daughter Susan for persuading her to go for it. Merle ran Finestone’s office for 15 years. Finestone served as Secretary of State for Multiculturalism and the Status of Women in 1993 and was named a Senator in 1999, whereupon Merle retired.

Despite heavy schedules, Merle and Sidney always considered quality time with family a priority. “We made every effort to sit down to dinner as a family,” Merle told my mom. Skiing was another cherished family activity. Merle described herself as more “reflective” than Sidney. “He’s more analytical,” she remarked.

Sid and Merle with their grandchildren.

In 2005, the empty nesters moved to Côte Saint-Luc. Sidney immediately became integrally involved in our community. He presided over the Senior Men’s Club for two terms. As a constituent, he has always provided me with solid advice. When Anthony Housefather decided he wanted to become the successor to Irwin Cotler as the Liberal Member of Parliament for Mount Royal, Sidney and Merle stepped forward to first run his campaign to get the nomination and then to win the election. I spent a lot of time with Merle at Anthony’s Côte des Neiges campaign office. This was less than a year ago. She ran the office, much in the same way she steered the ship for Finestone during all of those years.

Merle fell ill a few years ago, but you would never have known it. She and Sidney missed some time at their beloved condo at Century Village in Deerfield, but everyone hoped and prayed that her treatment had been working. When she had to come home early last spring, we knew it was not a good sign. It was clear from the funeral that even just a month ago she spent a great deal of time with her kids and grandchildren. She went to Ottawa to see one granddaughter off to camp and to New York to visit with another.

“My mom was always our teacher,” said daughter Elizabeth. “She taught us how to stand up for ourselves, be independent, loyal, resiliant and how to love.”

I always admired what a great team Merle and Sidney were. She was clearly a very supportive wife. At the funeral we were told how she had her three kids before the age of 30 and with Sidney’s unpredictable hours as a reporter had a lot on her plate. She always made sure a home cooked meal was waiting when he came home.

Merle always used Sundays to plan the family meals for the week. She had inherited many recipes from her mom and grandmother and created many of her own. “Merle set the bar high, but obtainable,” said Rabbi Lionel Moses from Shaare Zion Congregation. “Like their mother, all three girls are committed to the community.”

We extend our deepest sympathies to the family.

-With files from Elaine Cohen


Our 37th CSL Golf Classic a huge success; Pierre Brunet and Manoir Ronald McDonald highlighted

Sam Goldbloom, myself, Harvey Levine and Allan J. Levine on the course.

Last December I got a call from Harold Cammy, Côte Saint-Luc`s veteran manager of Parks and Recreation. Harold has been with the city for 42 years and I have worked with him on many projects for one reason or another over that time.

Harold, section manager Alvin Fishman and my council colleague Sam Goldbloom and I work together each summer on the Côte Saint-Luc Golf Classic at Meadowbrook. And yes, work actually begins more than six months prior to tee-off time.  Harold had an idea for an honouree, that being Pierre Brunet. The franchisee for many McDonald`s Restaurants, including two in Côte Saint-Luc, Pierre has always been there to support us. Sam and I brought the proposition to council and it was approved before anyone could say “Big Mac.”

Welcomed by the Manoir Ronald McDonald team.

The date for this 37th annual event was Thursday, July 7. Let the record state that we have never been completely rained out. Based on the forecast, we were pretty worried as thundershowers were predicted all week. That remained the case even up until the night before. But Mother Nature is clearly a CSL golf fan and the weather conditions could not have been better. Close to 100 golfers hit the beautiful Meadowbrook course for this nine-hole best ball affair.

My foursome included Councillor Goldbloom, Councillor Allan J. Levine and B’nai Brith Canada Quebec Region Director Harvey Levine (Allan’s brother). I golf once a year, so I am no Jack Nicklaus. But I do enjoy the experience.

Left to right, thanking our title sponsors: La Capitale`s Tony Aziz, Sylvie Boivin, Councillor Sam Goldbloom, Murielle Lafond, Priscilla Bourgeois and myself. (photo by Rami Negev)

The Routtenberg family from Freemark Apparel Brands sponsored the Hospitality Room and provided some door prizes from their Bench label. McDonald’s Canada was also a sponsor. Paul Steinberg of Silver Star Mercedes arranged for that type of luxury car to be available for a month if someone got a hole in one. That did not happen. But as part of our raffle, Justin Burnham of our Library won the car for a weekend.This year’s title sponsor was La Capitale General Assurances, represented by Murielle Lafond, Sylvie Boivin, Tony Azar and Priscilla Bourgeois. They will be offering employees of the city special deals on insurance packages and encourage residents to inquire as well. Officials set up a kiosk and a lot of people came to talk to them.

We always invite our local Police Station 9 Commander to golf with us. This year it was Jean O’Malley. He was joined by his predecessors, Marc Cournoyer (now at Station 3 on the West Island) and Sylvain Bissonnette (now at Station 8 in Lachine). Councillor Ruth Kovac completed their foursome.

Although not competitive, we do give out trophies. This year’s golf outing featured MASTERS (over 65 years of age) and EAGLE (under 65 years of age) categories. For the longest drive, the winners were: Steve Woloz (Masters, Male); Pat Heller (Masters, Female); former Mayor Robert Libman (Eagles, Male); and Janet Klodnisky (Eagles, Female). The closest to the pin went to: Archie Katz (Masters, Male); John Liontis (Eagles, Male); and Layne Stein (Eagles, Female).

Ron Yarin
Sam and I with Ron Yarin.

Veteran Côte Saint-Luc volunteer Ron Yarin was back as the honourary chair of the event. Mayor Mitchell Brownstein, Councillors Glenn J. Nashen, Sidney Benizri, Steven Erdelyi and Mount Royal Liberal Member of Parliament Anthony Housefather were also on hand.   Councillor Herb Brownstein from Dollard des Ormeaux participated as well. Many retired employees from the city joined us, which is always nice.  Of course, Cammy could not have done this all without the key help of Alvin, Maurizio Giobbi and other staff. Alvin and Mo were at the golf course setting up at 5:30 am. Our friends from McDonald’s greeted everyone with hot coffee and delicious danish.

There was a beautiful link this year between honouring Pierre Brunet and stepping up our commitment to Manoir Ronald McDonald. This is a temporary home away from home for out-of-town (more than 70 km) families of children with critical illness who must travel here for medical treatments. Traditionally, Côte Saint-Luc directs proceeds from its annual Winter Carnival events to this facility located next door to Ste. Justine Hospital via a pancake breakfast. This has resulted in donations of close to $50,000 for the Manoir. The Côte Saint-Luc Men`s Club announced they had raised close to $1,200 in less than three weeks for Le Manoir. Cammy added that through a variety of other clubs, an additional $2,200 was obtained – bringing the total to $3,400. We also helped raise more awareness, all of which left Manoir executive director Jacqueline Mallet quite thankful.

Pierre Brunet addresses the audience.

Pierre Brunet`s  personal connection to Côte Saint-Luc came with the opening of his first franchise on the border at CSL Road and Walkley in the early 1990’s. Always community minded, while still holding onto to just one franchise,  Pierre demonstrated his generosity by donating $5,000  to the construction of the first water play facility in Côte Saint-Luc located in the north end of Pierre Elliott Trudeau Park. When Pierre was approached 10 years ago about supplying pancakes for a winter carnival pancake breakfast he came through once again and over that decade he has donated more than 10,000 pancakes to the winter carnival. This was a key factor in the $50,000 we have raised for them. Throughout his tenure Pierre has donated thousands of dollars in free meal coupons, coffee coupons and year of cheers for various sports and other cultural programs in the community. And keep in mind he actually operates 17 franchises across the city. We were pleased to see him joined by his colleagues Peter Stamatopoulos, John Liontis and Lina Lavasile.

We had a surprise for Pierre—a giant cake shaped like a hamburger. TCBY also supplied us with delicious yogurt.

Pierre is presented with his hamburger shaped cake.

This year`s guest speaker was CSL resident Matthew Ross, the host of Game Points on TSN 690 and the founder of Expos Nation. Matthew is playing a very active role in trying to get professional baseball in the city. His address was very well received and many people had questions for him. Look for him to appear at a future Men`s Club meeting. Matthew was pleased to mingle with another special guest, legendary broadcaster Dick Irvin.

Matthew Ross and Dick Irvin

Thanks to the efforts of Alvin, we had many door prizes. It was an action-packed day, which went longer than any banquet we have held yet. Nobody was complaining.

Finally, a word of appreciation to Toby Shulman for leading our volunteers and Michael Johnson and his team at Meadowbrook, a true jewel in our midst.

Here are all of the photos taken by Rami Negev during the day.

And here  is the video taken by our very own Darryl Levine.




Shakespeare in the Park coming to District 2 and Rembrandt Park

This summer, for the first time in Repercussion Theatre’s 28-year history, it is presenting William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, directed by Amanda Kellock, (Artistic Director), for its annual Shakespeare-in-the-Park (SITP) tour. From July 7 to August 3, Montreal and surrounding area residents can venture out to local parks with blankets, picnic baskets and kids to watch the centuries’ old tale presented with the unique spin of an all-female cast.


It all gets underway at Rembrandt Park in Côte Saint-Luc`s District 2 with a preview on Wednesday, July 6 (7 p.m.). It returns to the same place on Wednesday, July 27 (7 pm). Our largest park, Pierre Elliott Trudeau, is closed for renovations which explains the venue switch. For the complete schedule click here.

(Seated, foreground) T. Brown (Seated, mid-ground, left to right) G. Jain; M. Cummings; L. Parker; D. Kilkenny-Mondoux; W. Setshwaelo; D. MacKay; D. Jafarzadeh (Standing, background, left to right) C. Varvaro; S. Megarry; D. Aziz; H. Gauthier-Frankel ©Studio Baron Photo, photos by Valerie Baron

Why this play and why all women? The excellent press release sent to me by Repercussion gives us all of the details as Kellock explains, “Our mandate is to produce Shakespeare, so we are bound to the material; I think it’s our job to engage with Shakespeare, to discover fresh, engaging approaches to these well-known texts. In Montreal we have so many diverse and incredibly talented female stage actors who are woefully underused so here’s a perfect vehicle to try something different and showcase these versatile artists.”

Parents with young children may think Julius Caesar too dense for family entertainment but Kellock wholeheartedly disagrees. “Whenever you ask children about a favourite story, they inevitably describe big adventures and monumental battles to defend someone or something of worth; that is the essence of Julius Caesar. Both sides of the battle believe in the Republic, its goodness and value to all of Rome’s citizens. Caesar has been an asset to Rome to this point in the story but now, the possibility of his becoming supreme ruler creates dissent among his followers. One side doubts that he can be king and remain true to the Republic; the other side is faithfully loyal to him, believing he is capable of putting Rome’s interests ahead of his own.”

Amanda Kellock

The endurance of Shakespeare’s plays allows contemporary theatre practitioners to continually explore today’s social, political and personal issues through so-called ‘old’ words. Casting all the roles with women added another layer to the play’s themes of manhood and honour when seen through a female lens. “I like theatre as a tool to ask questions rather than provide answers. With this play, I was fascinated by the political themes but less impressed with how the genderpolitics were represented. I’m excited for our audiences to discover new significance and depth in these words when women speak them,” said Kellock.

This summer will be the testing ground for an exciting new pilot project. This year, all Montrealers will be able to enjoy every nuance of the Bard’s English thanks to a brilliant innovation through a collaboration with Plank Design. For the first time ever, Francophone citizens will be able to follow the text by reading French sub-titles on their own smart phones … pocket Shakespeare! Repercussion Theatre was chosen from a group of non-profits who answered Plank Design’s appeal to local organizations for challenging, hi-tech problems for Plank to solve, and solve it they did with a veritable game changer for SITP audience attendance.

A scene from a 2015 production.

Twelve of Montreal’s finest actors fill the iconic Roman roles yet for several it is their first SITP tour. Leni Parker, as Caesar, and Danette MacKay, as the devious Cassius, make inaugural appearances. Tamara Brown, Holly Gauthier-Frankel and Warona Setshwaelo also make their debuts in multiple roles on the travelling stage. Catherine Varvaro, equally new to the SITP experience, not only plays the Soothsayer but is the composer and will be performing live percussion throughout. SITP alumnae include Deena Aziz, Olivia in the 1994 production of Twelfth Night, plays the misled Brutus. Gitanjali Jain (Mark Antony) and Darragh Kilkenny Mondoux, are also back for a second consecutive year, having performed in last year’s Twelfth Night. Samantha Megarry, last seen in the 2011 production of Macbeth, and Miriam Cummings, from 2012’s The Taming of the Shrew, also return. Donnub Jafarzadeh, a Concordia grad relatively new on the local scene, rounds out the illustrious cast.

RAIN CANCELLATIONS: Call 514-931-2644, visit the web site at, or follow Repercussion Theatre on Twitter (@RepercussionMtl) or Facebook for rain updates. If some shows are cancelled due to inclement weather, there will be a make-up performance on August 4 at a location to be announced.

The mission of Repercussion Theatre is to deliver professional, classically based, visually dynamic theatre that is accessible to all, regardless of income, culture, language, age or education. Repercussion brings the performing arts to people in their communities, reaching new audiences and instilling in them, a lifelong love of theatre. For more information, visit the