Montreal Circa 1977

By John Paul Jarvis

In 1977 and 1978 I lived in Montreal and commuted to Toronto on weekends.  I was in my late 20s and full of myself.

Through a colleague, Ted, I met his friend Peter at an out of the way bar in Old Montreal. We took an immediate dislike to each other as alpha males have done over time immemorial. Ted watched us verbally spar and then Peter really broke the ice by offering to punch my teeth out.

My response to Peter was similarly testosterone tainted and our mutual buddy called it right there with “if you two don’t stop it I am going to take out the winner.”  Ted ran back kicks for the Montreal Allouettes so his mindset was perilous.  We both heeded the warning. Luckily for me because I later noticed a large crescent shaped scar on Peter’s nose, enshrining two thirds of its length.  I subsequently discovered he had been bitten in a bar fight.

I later discovered that the reason for the arcane location was that Peter had been barred from almost all drinking establishments in Montreal.  You have to work hard to achieve this status because in Montreal they put up with a lot.

Peter, as the president of a family mining supply company, was notorious in Montreal and throughout his industry.  Once Peter and a group of buyers were out for an evening during a mining convention in Montreal.  Moving from one pub to the next they came across a dark construction site with a plywood safety barrier replete with windows where you could watch the work.  These executives, all with heavy equipment backgrounds, decided to test the machines out.  They had just started the first bulldozer when the police arrived because the site was on the same block as the police station.

They were escorted to the station, all the while Peter was demanding his one phone call.  Luckily they had not moved the equipment, and Peter went on and on about his one phone call.  The uniformed sergeant relented when Peter asked him in French for his one call, and when he was escorted to the phone he dialed a number by memory and then holding his hand over the mouth-piece, asked the cops how many orders of chicken they wanted because he was buying.

He bought the whole station house chicken and they were dismissed with a warning.

John Paul Jarvis has enjoyed a full corporate career as CEO of four subsidiaries of foreign multinationals and served on six boards. Board and boat sailor, tennis player, terrible musician all tempered by eclectic friends – affords a basis for views and opinions on a broad range of topics.

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