Find a Lecture

George M. Brewer and the Music Scene in Montreal 
during the First Half of the 20th Century

Speakers: Lorne Huston and Marie-Thérèse Lefebvre
When: Thursday, November 18, 2021, 19:30 to 21:00
Where: In virtual mode
Lecture mainly in English with an introduction and a short section of the main presentation in French, followed by a bilingual question period.

2021 11 18GeorgeBrewerPortraitParHolgateResizePortrait of George M. Brewer circa 1929-1930, By Edwin Holgate.
Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. Photograph: Christine Guest.

George M. Brewer (1889-1947) was a fascinating, and now long-forgotten, figure on the music scene in Montreal during the first half of the twentieth century. By profession, he was an organist at the Church of the Messiah as the Unitarian Church of Montreal was known at that time. By inclination, he was a theatre producer – of medieval dramas. But above all, he was an educator. He would perform organ adaptations of music rarely heard in Montreal, music which he discovered and collected on his numerous voyages all over Europe and beyond. And he would not just play the music; he would also talk about it and situate it in its historical, philosophical, and musical context.
His story is interesting enough in itself but it is even more so when we try to understand who was listening to him and who supported him. We discover a rich network of clubs, societies, and associations through which Brewer moved -- in English mainly but also in French. From the Pen & Pencil Club to the Société Casavant, from the Masonic Study Club to the Conservatoire de musique du Québec, Lorne Huston and Marie-Thérèse Lefebvre will introduce us to this lively environment of music lovers in Montreal during the interwar years.


2021 11 18LorneHustonLorne Huston holds a PhD in history from Concordia University and a Master's degree in Sociology from the Université de Montréal. He has been doing research on the history of the arts sector in English Montreal since he retired from active teaching at Cégep Édouard-Montpetit in 2010. In addition to the book he co-authored with Marie-Thérèse Lefebvre on the Montreal musicologist, George M. Brewer, he has also written articles on the Art Association, and on Samuel Morgan-Powell, art and drama critic at the Montreal Daily Star (1913-1953).


2021 11 18Marie ThereseLefebvre PDanielCharpentierMarie-Thérèse Lefebvre, holder of a PhD in musicology from the Université de Montréal, was professor there from 1981 to 2010, Vice-Dean of graduate studies between 1993 and 1998 and Interim Dean in 1997–1998. Professor Emeritus of the Faculty of Music of the Université de Montréal and specialist in the history of music-life in Quebec, Marie-Thérèse Lefebvre has published several books and articles on various composers, including Auguste Descarries, Serge Garant, Rodolphe Mathieu, Gilles Tremblay and Jean Vallerand, as well as Chronologie musicale du Québec (1535-2004) (Septentrion, 2009) written in collaboration with Jean-Pierre Pinson.


The book "George M. Brewer et le milieu culturel anglophone montréalais, 1900-1950" written by Lorne Huston and Marie-Thérèse Lefebvre, Éditions Septentrion 2020, can be browsed on the editor’s website:


The history of Dowker Island

Speaker: Guido Socher
When: Thursday, October 21, 2021, 19:30 to 21:00
Where: In virtual mode
Lecture in English, followed by a bilingual question period

This is a presentation about the history of Dowker Island from the early 1800's until today.2021 10 21GuidoSocher Dowker island sunrise2020 09 08

Guido Socher is a resident of Baie-D'Urfé. Dowker Island has always fascinated him. This island is like a little treasure island with some hidden ruins. It's located exactly at the point where the waters from the Ottawa River and the Saint Laurent River meet and he has been exploring this island for many years.

Here is the link to his website:

You could also read the English text by Francine Ranger on Dowker Island, winner of the 2012 Roberta-Angell Prize:

Dowker IslandIllustration 1Illustration 2



Streetcars of Montreal – A History

Speaker: Daniel Laurendeau
When: Thursday, September 16, 2021, 19:30 to 21:30
Where: In virtual mode
Lecture in English, followed by a bilingual question period

Passionate about trams, Daniel Laurendeau brings us a visual time capsule covering the first modes of transit vehicles, from introduction of electric streetcars to their disappearance from the streets of Montreal.

2021 09 16LaurendeauDaniel TramwaysInspectorDaniel Laurendeau was born in Montréal in 1945. As early as 4 years old, he started his collection of City of Montreal transit related items. He is member of the Canadian Railroad Historical Association (CRHA) and volunteer at the Canadian Railway Museum at Delson / Saint-Constant since 1961. In 1985, he became Operator (Motorman) of streetcar tours on the Museum site, thus realizing his childhood dream. He presently sits on Exporail’s Board of Directors and Executive Committee and volunteers as a member of the Collections Committee. Beside his passion for trams, he had a successful career (35 years) at Honeywell Limited.




The Railway Industry: from the Beginning to the Pandemic

Speaker: Paulo Zegarra-Llerena2021 05 20 PauloZegarra Llerena Train0
When: Thursday, May 20, 2021, 19:30 - 21:00
Where: In virtual mode

Lecture in English followed by a bilingual question period. 

2021 05 20 PauloZegarra LlerenaPaulo Zegarra-Llerena will talk on the history of trains:

The Conception : the idea behind the conception of the train
The Development : from the beginning to our present days
The Importance : the railway network in Canada and Quebec
Pandemic : the adaptation through the years and now with Covid 19

The experience of Paulo Zegarra-Llerena goes from automation systems, to machine shop repairs then to the aeronautic and railway industries. He is passionate about technology advancements and new ways of energy generation, especially green energy and bio-developments.


Last of the Clippers2021 01 15 220326
The Thermopylae’s Canadian Odyssey

Speaker: Alexandre Reford, historien
When: Thursday, April 15, 2021, 19:30 to 21:00

Where: In virtual mode

Lecture in English followed by a bilingual question period.


2021 01 15 220539



Scouring for a ship that could get a ready supply of rice to their recently opened mills in Victoria, British Columbia, Robert Reford tasked his partner John Dillon to find the right vessel. Dillon was told about the Thermopylae. “Dillon is having much trouble to get tonnage for Victoria,” Reford wrote his son, “and has as a dernier resort about made up his mind to purchase a sailing ship. He cabled me the names of several he was offered and we finally decided to bid on one called the Thermopylae…she is in fact one of the famous Aberdeen clipper tea ships…”
So began Robert Reford’s odyssey as the owner of the one of the fastest and most famous sailing ships ever built – the Thermopylae. Rival of the Cutty Sark, she was beautiful, sleek and fast, built to get the finest teas from China to the teacups of Britain’s aristocracy. Decades after her launch, Robert Reford bought her to transport rice to his new rice mill in Victoria. It was a short-lived and most disastrous investment. It brought Reford and his Montreal shipping agency and rice milling firm fame if not fortune. Historian Alexander Reford will tell the story of this fascinating episode in maritime history of the last of the clipper ships.



Alexander Reford is the I 04720z 1director of Les Jardins de Métis / Reford Gardens. Educated at the University of Toronto and Oxford University he is the author of several books on Quebec history and gardens. He is a frequent contributor to the Dictionary of Canadian Biography and is the author of the biographies of Lord Mount Stephen and Lord Strathcona and his great great grandfathers, Robert Meighen and Robert Reford. Some of his publications:

Des jardins oubliés 1860-1960
Guidebook to the Reford Gardens
Au rythme du train 1859-1970
Elsie’s Paradise – Reford Gardens
Treasures of Reford Gardens - Elsie Reford’s Floral Legacy
The Metis Lighthouse




Évolution des transports à Beaconsfield

Speaker: Pauline Faguy-GirardDesbarats PONYCART 1940s Web
When: Thursday, March 18, 2021, 19:30 - 21:00
Where: In virtual mode

Lecture in French followed by a bilingual question period.

S 22833 1MabelMcNameeNeale WebPauline Faguy-Girard will present an overview of the different modes of transportation in Beaconsfield over the years. From canoeing on Lake St. Louis to the different modes of transportation used on our territory and by the citizens of Beaconsfield, of all ages.

Pauline Faguy-Girard is interested in history and more specifically to Beaconsfield’s history since 2004 when she joined the historical society. Through the years, she has been secretary, treasurer and, since 2018, President of our historical society.


Exploration of the Martian System24996 Mars2020Perseveranc

Speaker: David Shuman
When: Thursday, February 18, 2021, 19:30 - 21:00
Where: In virtual mode

Lecture in English followed by a bilingual question period.

Looking at the past present and future exploration missions to our intriguing neighbour, Mars. Featuring the latest upcoming Mars 2020 Perserverence Rover & Ingenuity Drone Mission from NASA. David Shuman will present the history of the Mars Exploration Missions all the way up to the landing of Perseverance Rover on Feb 18th, 2021, just a few hours before this lecture.

David Photo 300dpi 1David Shuman is Director of Research & Development and Board member of the Montreal Centre of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (RASC). Long time space enthusiast, amateur astronomer, David Shuman has a passion for past present and future exploration missions to the red planet Mars. He co-created a full scale model for the CSA of the Phoenix Lander, attended numerous Shuttle and rocket launches as well as numerous public talks on the subject of Mars in Canada and the US.

Website of RASC Montreal Centre:

wikipedia org wiki Perseverance rover================================================


The theme for the lectures of the Beaurepaire-Beaconsfield Historical Society

starting in February 2021 "Transportation"

will take you to a journey on land, on water and even into space

Everyone is welcome. 

The SHBBHS is privately funded. We thank Roberta Angell for her bequest that makes it possible for us to offer our lectures for free during this time of crisis.

InformationContact us


Alexandre Vattemare (Paris, 1796-1864)

Ventriloquist, Diplomat, Utopian, and Brilliant Inventor

Speaker: Jacques G. Ruelland
When: Thursday, April 16, 2020 January 21, 2021, 19:30 - 21:00
Where: In virtual mode

2021 01 16 102126

Lecture in English followed by a bilingual question period.


2019 11 21RuellandJacques AlexandreVattemareAlexandre Vattemare was born and died in Paris (1796-1864). He was a protean character. His exceptional talents of mime and ventriloquism earned him fame in post-Napoleonic Europe. If this man, esteemed by the rulers and the intellectual elite of his time, has gone down in history, it is because he has created an international system for the exchange of double specimens in the fields of arts, natural sciences , scientific and literary works, and advocated the construction of institutes bringing together many public services. He wanted to strengthen the bonds of friendship between groups of the human family and allow workers and poor people to learn easily. The purpose of this lecture is to identify the Vattemare project to build in Montreal and Quebec City, in 1840 and 1841, two institutes with multiple functions – real urban utopias – in order to break down national, linguistic, and cultural barriers through education, and in particular, free education of the workers and the poor.2021 01 16 102330

 The text of this lecture can be found on the speaker's website:

2021 01 16 101752aJacques G. Ruelland, Ph.D., retired professor, Department of Philosophy, Collège Édouard-Montpetit; Department of History, Université de Montréal; authored 48 books.


Robert Unwin Harwood, Seigneur of Vaudreuil : from Merchant to Visionary

Speaker: Michel Belisle
When: Thursday, May 21, 2020 November 19, 2020, 7:30 p.m. til 9:00 p.m.
Where: In virtual mode

Lecture in English, followed by a bilingual question period

2020 05 21MichelBelisle RobertUnwinRobert Unwin Harwood was the spouse of Louise-Josephte de Lotbinière heiress of the Seigneurie of Vaudreuil. Robert Unwin is a rather fascinating character, a romantic Englishman who developed the Seigneurie of Vaudreuil during the troubled period of the Rebellion of 1837. Robert Unwin was quite a character, much loved by his French-speaking tenants or censitaires. He was able to attract the attention and sympathy of both his French Canadian and his English tenants, a rare case. I knew him through his grandson Henry de Lotbinière Harwood who introduced me to the English-speaking community of Hudson and helped me a lot in my career with his archives and his advice. For me, to speak of his great-grandfather is to pay tribute to one of the members of Quebec's English-speaking community who was committed to the flourishing of the French community in the region.


Michel Bélisle, author and lecturer, was born in Montréal. He studied Anthropology - Ethnology at Université de Montréal, and Design & Environment at UQAM. He worked as assistant-curator at McCord Museum, curator at Musée régional de Vaudreuil-Soulanges, curator at Trestler House in Vaudreuil-Dorion. He was curator for Special Exhibitions:
2007-2008 Vaudreuil-Dorion Public Library “Words and Images from our people”;
2004-2005 Trestler House, Historical Interpretation, in collaboration with artist and environmentalist Frederic Back
1999Trestler House, “A certain way of life”
He wrote several books and brochures on Montreal West-Island and Vaudreuil regions.