MOMORY MAPS, MEMOIRES
I was born in Italy, but I don’t have much recollection of it. I was six when I came to Canada and I lived with my parents for a while, so my greatest memories from 6 to about 14 is living in this little square, it’s about fifteen blocks, in NDG, Montreal, and everything you needed or wanted was there. I never had to venture very far because you went down the street and there was the grocery store, went a block over and there was the school, went a block over and there were my grandparents; a block over and there were my aunts and uncles. Everybody, for ten years, always lived in the same area, because that's all we could afford. And that’s where my parents bought their first home, so, for me these are vivid, vivid memories: I went to school there, that’s where I got married afterward, that’s where my parents are being buried. To this day, even if I live in Montreal West, I would say ninety per cent of my shopping, and anywhere I wanna go to pick up Italian stuff I always go back to NDG. It’s all straight lines… It’s really, truly, something to this day, all my fondest memories of childhood are there. Even though I’ve been to Italy ten times, I don’t remember it. I felt in my heart that I remembered it because my parents and my grandparents, everybody were all marvellous storytellers. Every time I go back to Italy, I feel I belong there, I love it. But I don’t have my own recollections of it. So, everything is made up because of them.
Domenica, 73, Quebec
Royal Victoria Hospital (RVH) and McGill University,
As I said earlier, I was born and raised in Montreal. And the reason this sketch here, depicting where I was actually born, is so important to me is because, first of all, my mother gave birth to me at the Royal Victoria Hospital. When she was in the hospital... - she had not have the opportunity in Italy to attend high school or University - she could see McGill University below: these are the Roddik Gates of McGill. And her dream, when I was born, was that I could attend university. This is very meaningful for me. You know, she left her mum, her parents, everybody… to live in a new land. You could see the mountain here, the mountain with the little cross that Paul de Chomedey erected in 1642, because he was thanking the Blessed Virgin Mother Mary for the floods that had occurred and had subsided. And the Mountain is just beautiful in its magnificence with all the fir trees…
What I wanted to say in relation to this is that I gave birth to my daughter at the same hospital, and when I was giving birth, I was not at the front to see McGill University. I was in the back of the hospital, and that’s where I saw the cross which gave me great strength, as I was giving birth to my beautiful daughter, A..... This is really the heart of Montreal. It’s a sunny day, because it was August. That’s when I was born.
AC: “Wonderful, my granddaughter was born there, and you know she was the last baby born there, because they closed the obstetrics.”
MI: “Yes, that’s correct, it’s now closed.”
AC: “I can identify that, because my granddaughter Scarlet says ‘Nonna, I was born in a castle, I’m a princess.’” “Because RVH is shaped like a castle, right?”
MI: “Yes, correct. I couldn’t depict it because I’m not really that….”
AC: “It’s beautiful!”
MI: “But you are correct, it is like a castle! And you are a princess.” So, my mother was there, and I was her dream and we realized the dream and then a couple of generations later, my daughter moved back to Europe.
AC: “Oh, how about that? Beautiful. I love that!”
MI: “Thank you!”
You know, Marlene – when you were talking about your projects – I am an official Newfoundlander, because I went to the Screech and I kissed the cod. But I was fascinated by what you said about all the different memory maps and time capsules, and I just wanted to point out that with the three hundred and fiftieth anniversary of Montreal, there was a time capsule with, I think, twelve thousand children, who wrote scripts and images and they are buried somewhere here on Mount Royal, to be uncovered and read in 2042, I believe.
Maria Luisa, 65, Quebec
The First Eight Years – New York
I was actually born in New York, on Long Island. This in general depicts Long Island, but what I represented here, is actually supposed to be a womb, or uterus, which for me is connected to my mother, whom I lost at an early age. My place of origin, in a way, is filled with both love and death. My map is a kind of conglomeration of places. I’ve spent a big part of my life obviously in Montreal, also represented by the cross, on the Mountain. I also spent another portion of my life in Norway. There’s also, for me, this connection with the land in Norway: the mountains. And if you want to say, a place of protection or love. This kind of thing. Also trees, nature. But also, for example, in Long Island you have the sea, as you would also have in Norway. Here, of course, we have Manhattan, which is – for anyone who lives in or around New York City – it’s the city, if you like. I know it’s very abstract, probably. Obviously, I haven’t developed it further, yet. The place of my origin and birth, because of death, is a forbidden place to me now. It’s still there. It’s still important, but it’s connected to these other places in the world, where I have lived, and that are really important to me.
Jeanne Marie, 63, Quebec
I started this drawing this morning before we came on-line and I just completed it. I didn’t have the instructions, of course. This is what I came up with. This is pretty much what I saw, every day for nine years, before I left Italy. This is Barisciano, L’Aquila, a small town of about a thousand people. And this is la piazzetta Trieste. La chiesa, the church, which is closed up and burned. Now it’s a library. I remember the list of the Caduti di Guerra, with a slab that was there all the time. And I lived behind just here, up the stairs. This is Piazza Trieste. When I close my eyes and I think of my town, this is probably the picture that comes to my mind. I would sit often on these steps, with my two brothers. It’s such an emotional map for me. I’m lucky enough to return there. Since I’ve stopped working, I’d almost return yearly. I always go. And now, there is a little bar here, in front of the church. I sit there and just look and try to remember because this is where, you know… I remember when we had the earthquake in 1955. This is where we would sleep; we would sleep in this piazzetta. This is where I saw my first movie, all’aperto, and it was… I think it must have been in 1955 or 54 and it was Marcellino pane e vino, and that was the first movie I saw in my all life.
Anna, 70, Quebec
Dagli Appennini al mare
Dunque, è una scena che ho avuto nell’anima e nel cuore da sempre: sono a casa, sul balcone della casa vecchia, dove sono nata e cresciuta, e sono al buio perché fuori c’è un bellissimo sole e vedo questo paese, Pito, piccolino che è ai due lati della valle. Quindi un po’ come una “mirror image”, per cui da ogni parte si vede l’altra metà del paese. Vedo le scale che scendono giù alla piazzetta, le scale che salgono dall’altra parte del villaggio, la chiesa e le casette intorno. Ce ne sono di più ma non le ho messe tutte, e poi un sentiero che continua su in alto fino alla cima della collina, da dove sono scesa io, perché mia madre era andata a trovare i genitori, e io ho deciso di arrivare in anticipo e sono andata a casa da mia madre, ma mi hanno dovuto portare in braccio fino giù al villaggio. Quella è la stradina da cui sono arrivata a Pito. In alto c’è critto “Dagli Appennini al mare”, perché il paesino è sugli Appennini, a 630 metri sul livello del mare, nel centro Italia. Ai due lati dell’Italia ci sono il Mare Adriatico e il Mar Tirreno. Dalla stradina – perché poi ho separato il disegno in due parti – c’è una stradina che si congiunge alla parte inferiore della pagina, è la strada che dal paesino facevo per andare alle scuole medie, ad Acquasanta Terme, poi sulla stessa strada, la Salaria, andavo in Ascoli, quando ho frequentato le magistrali, poi sempre sulla Salaria che univa il Tirreno all’Adriatico ai tempi dei Romani, si ripassa per Acquasanta, si procede attraverso il Passo sugli Appennini, si scende a Rieti, Roma, dove sono andata all’Università, e poi da Roma a Fiumicino per prendere l’areo fino in Canada. Ed è in Canada che vivo dal 1966. Quindi, questa è una memoria che mi è rimasta sempre nel cuore, non so se era questo quello che precedeva il mio senso di viaggiare in continuazione. Tutto qui.
Giovanna, 73, Quebec