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A View of Their Own
One well-loved landmark disappeared
when "The Reddy" was forced to close its
doors. In spite of a sustained, passionate
campaign on its behalf, the hospital was swept
away in the wholesale reorganisation of
medical services throughout the province.
The constant threat of losing cherished
institutions, a hemorrhage of population,
particularly young adults, set against a
background of continuing political uncertainly
induced a public anxiety and frustration which
found an outlet in the 1987 municipal election.
Westmount elections had traditionally been
low-key campaigns with the mayor, by tacit
consent, invariably voted in by acclamation.
But in the elections of 1987, in a whirlwind of
public participation, the popular incumbent,
Brian Gallery, was defeated by an opposition
candidate, May Cutler.
Westmount's first woman mayor, with a
background in journalism and publishing, was
making her first entry into public life. The next
four years were among the most controversial
and stimulating in Westmount's history.
Declaring she wanted to see a more "creative"
city hall, the mayor set in motion a series of
events in the arts.
Stained glass panels in the windows of the
Council chamber and paintings hung throughout
City Hall showcased the work of Westmount
artists. An "Author's Night" highlighted the
remarkable number of writers inWestmount, and
an Honours Committee celebrated Westmounters
who had made a significant contribution inmany
fields outside the municipality.
The mayor was also active on issues
beyond Westmount. When Montreal rushed
to rename Dorchester Boulevard for the late
Premier René Lévesque, Mayor Cutler
steadfastly refused to rename that section that
ran through Westmount, declaring there were
other ways to honour M. Lévesque without
discarding a valuable part of Montreal
In 1991, Mayor Cutler's term of office
came to an end. When urged to continue for a
second term she declined, admitting that it had
been a strenuous four years and that she was
anxious to step down. Former Councillor Peter
Trent was nominated to succeed May Cutler
and, reverting to tradition, the nominee was
unopposed and later installed as Westmount's
35th mayor.
Under Mayor Trent's guidance, one of the
enduring elements in the life of Westmount,
the Library, the heart and centre of the
community for 100 years, has been lovingly
renovated and extended. Now discreetly
modernised and computerised, yet reassuringly
familiar in aspect, it appears ready to welcome
another century as the community's favourite
meeting place for all ages.
Mayor Trent faced, and continues to face,
many of the recurring challenges to
Westmount's independence and institutions.
But the city's long and deep-rooted traditions
and style, and its proven ability to adapt to
change while maintaining its essential
character, augur well for the future.