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The Montreal and Verdun Zoot-Suit disturbances of June 1944 – Page 3










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Notes





  1. Mauricio Mazon, The Zoot-Suit Riots: The Psychology of Symbolic Annihilation, (Austin, Texas: University of Texas Press, 1984), pp. 6-7.

  2. Mazon, The Zoot-Suit Riots, pp. 6-8, claims that most zoot-suiters in the United States were more likely rejecting adult ways than government policy. They were more a social than a political grouping.

  3. La Presse, May 29, 1944; The Montreal Daily Star, June 1, 1944. The Montreal-area disturbances were not the first in North America to pit uniformed servicemen against zooters. In June 1943 serious outbreaks of violence occurred in Detroit, Philadelphia and especially around Los Angeles.

  4. During the Second World War there was a strong naval presence in the Montreal area, and in June 1944 there were several thousand sailors posted within 50 kilometres of the city. As one naval officer from that period recalled, “naval dress was quite commonplace on the downtown streets of Montreal, especially on weekends.” Keith Glashan, Montreal’s Navy, (Montreal: Privately produced mimeograph, no date, 1986?), p. 56. Glashan does not mention the zoot-suit disturbances.

  5. Report, Board of Inquiry, “Disturbances in Montreal”, H.M.C.S. “Hochelaga”, June 8, 1944, NAC, RG 24, Volume 11,110, file 55-2-1/423, Whittaker Testimony.

  6. Report, Board of Inquiry, “Disturbances in Montreal”, H.M.C.S. “Hochelaga”, June 8, 1944, NAC, RG 24, Volume 11,110, file 55-2-1/423, Whittaker Testimony.

  7. The Montreal Daily Star, June 5, 1944; La Presse, June 5, 1944.

  8. The Messenger, June 8, 1944.

  9. The Montreal Daily Star, June 5, 1944; La Presse, June 5, 1944. Montreal’s zoot-suit disturbances are mentioned in William Weintraub, City Unique, (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1996), pp. 50-52.

  10. The Montreal Daily Star, June 5, 1944; The Gazette (Montreal), June 5, 1944.

  11. The Montreal Daily Star, June 5, 1944; La Presse, June 5, 1944. Naval leave was resumed on June 13.

  12. The Royal Canadian Navy had earned a well-founded reputation among French-speaking Canadians as an overwhelmingly English-speaking institution. While conditions for French speakers in the R.C.N. had improved by the summer of 1944, it is reasonable to suggest that that service was not especially hospitable to French speakers and that the navy and the French-speaking population of Montreal were not well acquainted with each other. For more on this subject refer to Jean-Yves Gravel, ed., Le Québec et la guerre, (Montreal: Boréal Express, 1974), pp. 93-95. See also Glashan, Montreal’s Navy, p. 66, for a more positive account of conditions for French speakers on naval service.

  13. Report, Board of Inquiry, “Disturbances in Montreal”, H.M.C.S. “Hochelaga”, June 8, 1944, NAC, RG 24, Volume 11, 110, file 55-2-1/423.

  14. Gunner R.I. Rowe to the City of Verdun, September 14, 1944, Box A-348, City of Verdun Archives.

  15. War Diary, June 1944, N.O.I.C. Montreal to Commander-in-Chief, Canadian Northwest Atlantic, July 10, 1944, NAC, RG 24 Volume 11,690, file M-12 “Returns and Reports”.

  16. Report, Board of Inquiry, “Disturbances in Montreal”, H.M.C.S. “Hochelaga”, June 8, 1944, NAC, RG 24, Volume 11,110, file 55-2-1/423.

  17. C.-in-C. Staff Minute Sheets, June 14, 1944 and July 23, 1944, NAC, RG 24, Volume 11,110, file 55-2-1/423.

  18. As early as 1942, for example, Halifax naval authorities virtually ceased enforcing the discipline of men on shore leave. See James F.E. Whyte, “The Ajax Affair: Citizens and Sailors in Wartime Halifax, 1939-1945″, M.A. Thesis, Dalhousie University, 1984, passim., but especially pp. 95-101.

  19. Memorandum, Jeffrey to N.O.I.C. Montreal, undated (possibly July 19, 1944), NAC, RG 24, Volume 11,110, file 55-2-1/423.

  20. The Gazette, June 7, 1944; La Presse, June 6, 1944. Verdun’s municipal administration, too, was perturbed by the violence on its territory and petitioned Ottawa and the naval authorities in Montreal to prevent men under their command from using Verdun as a battleground in their private war against zooters. The mayor of Verdun, Edward Wilson, upset with the navy, met with Commander Davis, who promised the mayor that measures would be taken to prevent similar incidents from arising in the future.

  21. In 1943 one Grade 11 student at Verdun High School wrote a short fictionalized conversation (mostly in French-accented phonetic English) based on the zoot-suit craze. The piece clearly suggested that the typical zooter was French speaking. Ruth Wolstein, “L’habit zoot“, in Verdun High School Annual, 1943, p. 33.

  22. Report, Board of Inquiry, “Disturbances in Montreal”, H.M.C.S. “Hochelaga”, June 8, 1944, NAC, RG 24, Volume 11,110, file 55-2-1/423.

  23. According to the family names of the 32 sailors listed in La Presse as having appeared before the Recorder on June 5, 29 are likely to have been English speaking (at least four of whom were not of British ancestry) and three French speaking. La Presse, June 5 and June 8, 1944; Le Devoir, June 5, 1944.

  24. The Guardian (Verdun), June 8, 1944; Le Messager (Verdun), June 8, 1944.

  25. The Guardian, June 8, 1944.

  26. The Guardian, June 15, 1944.

  27. Report, Board of Inquiry, “Disturbances in Montreal”, H.M.C.S. “Hochelaga”, Montreal, June 8, 1944, NAC, RG 24, Volume 11,110, file 55-2-1/423, David Testimony.

  28. House of Commons, Debates, June 8, 1944, Volume IV, pp. 3617-3618; Weintraub,<>, p. 51. <>, p. 51. , p. 51. Top











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