From the Archives

We dig through our archives for the obscure, random and memorable moments of Montreal & Concordia history.

  • Love in a Time of Consumption

    This Valentine’s Day we dig into Volume 26, to find an article about the rise of Valentine’s Day in India. Read about the clash of ideologies in this feature by Siddharth Bannerjee from 2006.

  • Java U’s Beginnings in the Hall Building

    With the Concordia Student Union looking into a putting a co-operative café in the Hall Building mezzanine, we dug into our archives to find out what students had to say when CUSACorp first leased out the Mezz Café to Java U.

    In 1998, the space was leased to Java U for $40,000 a year. With The Hive bar closing in 1995, this left Reggie’s as the only business managed by the for-profit corporation owned by the CSU. Some criticized the decision made CUSACorp useless, but it did help subsidize Reggie’s, which has a long history of questionable management.

    Here are two articles from 1998: “Mezz Out of Student Hands” and “Mezz Café Back on Track.”

  • A Blending of Old and New

    As The Link is working to improve its archives, several notable articles from before the shiny-computer-era will be uploaded to the Archives Blog. Today: the first ever article of The Link, detailing the decision to merge the two campus papers.

    This story was originally published in The Link on August 22, 1980.

    With this premiere issue of The Link, the changing face of Concordia is reflected.

    It is the product of a merger between Concordia’s former campus papers, Loyola News and The Georgian, with histories of fifty-six and forty-four years respectively. Talk of merging these newspapers began, logically enough, at the inception of the university. At first it was regarded as a ridiculous proposition, there being such apparent differences between the two papers and their long-established traditions.

    As the Concordia merger progressed, the animosity between campii mellowed enough to permit the unification of four of the student associations in 1979, leaving the two newspapers among the few remaining groups which were capable of merging but had not done so. It seemed to be more and more inevitable that the staffs of Loyola News and The Georgian, though not necessarily desirable.

    Over the winter holidays of 1979-1980, they first met to discuss the possibility of a merger. With a marked degree of wariness about their counterparts, tentative plans were worked out in some detail. Proposals were then taken back to the respective staffs to see if they were all acceptable.

    In late January, 1980, after lengthy considerations, the staffs of The Georgian and Loyola News voted to form one newspaper. There was little fanfare about the decision. Though the possibilities of a single Concordia newspaper were exciting, it was a scary venture. Never before in the history of Canadian student press had two firmly established and quite distinct newspapers decided to join forces in a single effort.

    The principal reasoning behind the merger was the final acceptance, however reluctant, of Concordia has a unified institution, and there being a need to make an effort to solidify that union.

    Basically, it seemed to be an excellent idea at the time.

    It still is.

  • The Many Hats of Marcel Danis

    As The Link is working to improve its archives, several notable articles from before the shiny-computer-era will be uploaded to the Archives Blog. Today: the portrait of Marcel Danis, a Concordia professor, Hells Angels criminal defence lawyer, and more recently legal counsel of former interim Mayor Michael Applebaum. Enjoy!

    This story was written by Damon Van Der Linde and originally published in The Link on March 11, 2008.

    Criminal defense lawyer Marcel Danis was in the middle of a trial when the Sûreté du Québec asked for it to be put on hold immediately. The police took Danis by helicopter to Val d’Or in Northern Quebec, to negotiate an armed standoff with three of his former clients holding hostages in a bank, all armed with machine guns.

    “They all knew that they weren’t going to get away, but they were really nervous that the police were going to shoot them,” says Danis. “And if the sharpshooters had gotten a good shot, they would have probably been right.”

    A few hours later, all the hostages were released and three bank robbers were riding in the back of a police cruiser headed to Montreal––with Danis handcuffed to the leader.

    That was 1980, when Danis considered those situations to be just another part of his job as a criminal defense lawyer. Now, it’s one of his favourite stories to tell his law class at Concordia.

    Aside from being a criminal defence lawyer for such high-profile clients as Hell’s Angel Michelle Rowes, Danis was Minister of Labour in the Mulroney cabinet. In addition, Danis has held a variety of administrative positions at Concordia : vice-rector institutional relations, vice-president institutional relations, vice-dean administrative affairs for the Faculty of Arts and Science and vice-dean academic planning for the Faculty of Arts and Science.

    As of Feb. 1, he is just Professor Danis. He has left his position as vice-president external relations at Concordia to become a full-time professor, ending his 12-year stint in the university administration.

    “I’m looking forward to going back to teaching full-time and I’m looking forward to my courses,” says Danis. “I’m not upset about leaving at all.”

    Maria Peluso, president of the Concordia University Part-Time Faculty Association and fellow political science professor, says that she understands Danis’ desire to return to teaching. However, she laments no longer having him as a negotiator in the university administration. “If you mention a problem he finds a method of getting out of it in a good way that will resolve it. He’s a fixer. We haven’t had anyone do that at Concordia for the past six years. In comparison to what we have had since, he’s a rose.”

    Danis says that he does not mind stepping down from his place in the administration because he feels that the most interesting aspect of his career had been working with students.

    “This is my 40th year working as a professor and I’ve never had a bad class,” says Danis. “I think that being a university professor is the best job in the world.”

    Danis has never really stopped teaching. Even when he was a cabinet minister, he insisted that Mulroney let him at Concordia one day a week for free while he spent the rest of the time in Ottawa.

    “He would take a helicopter in, by whatever means necessary to teach. He would not even abandon his students during the time he was in Parliament,” says Peluso. “You would expect someone with all these responsibilities would not be so available. He always made time.”

    Born in Montreal in 1943, Danis has spent his entire life learning, about the Canadian legal system-his father was a Superior Court of Quebec judge and criminal defence lawyer. His first “hands on” legal education came not in the courtroom or law school, but at the receiving end of a police officer’s fist after being arrested while passing through a demonstration.

    “One police officer let me go by, but the other one had not seen the first one let me go by so they grabbed me with force and brought me to the police station,” says Danis. “One buy beat me good. He punched me solid for no reason at all and I stayed there […] until they released me in the morning.”

    Danis was charged with disturbing the peace and resisting arrest but was ultimately acquitted. He later successfully sued the Montreal Police Force for $5,000. Danis says that he does not hold any grudges. He even met the officer that beat him while defending a client who was accusing the police of brutality. “I asked if he’d ever beaten somebody else in his career. Then his face just became red,” remembers Danis, smiling. “The system worked.” During his time at Concordia, Danis has been very involved with students outside of classes. From 1972 to 1984, Danis spent his Friday and Saturday nights at the police station, helping out students who had gotten in trouble––often after a night at the bar.

    “All students had to do was call the university security and saw what police station they were in and I would be there 45 minutes later,” says Danis. “Those were the drug years.”

    As Concordia grew, Danis was no longer able to personally represent students, but he did establish a legal information service, where students could receive free legal advice.

    Talking to colleagues, current and former students, some words consistently come up when describing Danis: honest, trusting, shrewd and above all else, someone who cares about his students and loves being a teacher.

    “The one time when there was a mix-up when he had scheduled an appointment with some lawyers at the same time as me, a student, he made the lawyers wait,” says Rowan Kunitz, a student in Danis’ Canadian law and ethics class. “I don’t think they were very happy about that.”

    Even those who don’t see eye to eye with his political conviction find it hard not to get along with Danis. “I certainly don’t agree with all his policy stances, I ran as a NDP candidate and he’s a Conservative,” says Peluso. “He’s a class act and a formidable opponent, there’s no doubt about that. And it’s hard to yell at him because he’s so calm.”

    Back in 1980, when Danis walked into that bank robbery to meet with his former clients––armed with machine guns––he says that he had no concerns that they might turn on him. “I trusted the guys. I wasn’t worried at all. I knew nothing would happen once I got there,” says Danis. “I was more worried about the police shooting me. If I could do it again, the only regret was that I didn’t make sure that this was covered by my life insurance.”

  • The Hall Building was Once a Hash Dealer Haven

    The ‘80s was a crazy time for Concordia.

    According to a feature in September 1981, you couldn’t throw a frisbee without hitting a hash dealer in the Hall Building—let alone enjoy a drink at Reggie’s.

    The dealers—selling mostly hashish, a little cocaine and pills—were largely centred around the sixth and seventh floors of the Hall Building. It became so conspicuous that a handful were busted in an undercover police operation in June 1982, seizing 130 grams of hash and a gram of cocaine.

    “[Students] have to go through a line of 25 drug dealers before they get here,” said Paul Arnkvarn, CUSA Co-President at the time.

    So The Link got the story from the administration, security, students and the dealers themselves.

    The Link reported there were at least 25 drug dealers in the Hall Building at any given time, passers-by hearing “inquisitive hissings of the word ‘hash.’”

    “Please sir, just come over and sit down for a while. Smell that quality? I can give you a gram for $13.00, or maybe a $10.00 piece? A $5.00 piece?” was one unnamed dealer’s increasingly hurried pitch, trying to get a “yes” from a passer-through.

    Brawls over territory were not uncommon according to reports at the time. It was a buyer’s market, with one high school student telling The Link that the Hall Building had the best deals around.

    And someone at The Link must have participated in quality testing, with the report saying “for about $5.00, one can purchase a piece of hashish potent enough to induce a person into a state of extreme paranoia for about three hours.”

    Since then, the Hall Building seems to have cleaned up its act and gotten back on the wagon. Good news for most. As for you degenerates, you’ll just have to look elsewhere.