Dad, c-print, 2019

Dad, c-print, 2019

Goose Village

My current project focuses on my paternal lineage and father’s immigrant trajectory. Upon arrival in Canada, he lived in the Goose Village neighborhood in Montreal. The Goose Village, also known as Victoriatown, is the land that sits between the Victoria Bridge and the Lachine Canal on the south side of Pointe St-Charles. This six-street borough was once a plethora of cultural richness, mostly made up of Italian and Irish immigrants.

In 1964, in anticipation of Expo 67, the city administration of Jean Drapeau demolished the entire neighborhood to make way for the short-lived venue of a sports arena and its’ adjoining parking lot. This resulted in the destruction of 350 buildings and exiled 1500 people from their homes. The expropriations were a painful reality to all involved – it was the death of a community and it is a story of struggle. As often happens in the face of capital-oriented urban development, the local residents’ voices and opinions were not recognized or respected in this decision-making process. To add insult to injury, this sports arena also faced its’ demise less than a decade later when it was dismantled in 1975.

The village has since disappeared from Montreal maps, effectively obliterating certain ethnic groups from the cultural and social fabric of this undervalued site, which is currently a parking lot. Via oral history interviews, the urban landscape, and photographic portraiture, Goose Village explores how poor urban planning decisions result in the physical and psychical erasure of working-class communities and my father’s experience with the expropriations.

The purpose for the Goose Village project is two-fold, one-to elucidate how hallmark events such as Expo 67 cause the displacement of entire communities and two-to explore family legacy, a sense of place and cultural identity on a more personal level, by creating a portrait of my family with a special focus on my father as he is the main protagonist in this body of work.

*If you or someone you know once lived in the Goose Village, please do get in contact with me. I would love to hear about your experience and include your voice in this project. I can be reached at m.portolese@videotron.ca