Terry DiMonte – Home Again

I will always have a soft spot in my heart for Montreal.  Writer and media personality, Matthew Cope, happened to run into Terry DiMonte in Westmount the other day, and was quick to respond to my request to share this photo he posted on Facebook.  I know Matthew from my days at CFCF TV. Montreal is just that kind of city. You always run into someone you know and it is easy to stay connected to people. Small town feel under big city lights.

The story of Terry DiMonte -“Radio morning man returning to the airwaves in Montreal after a 4 year stop in Calgary”  is of interest to me (and thousands of others, apparently) for many reasons.  Not the least of which is that it provides a glimpse of the complexity of life in Canada.  Terry’s story is one of many that have been experienced by Quebec anglophones who have moved west to start new lives.

My story is on the opposite side of the coin. I am a western Canadian by birth (Winnipeg), who claimed Montreal as home for a dozen years in my television news career.  I now call South Florida home, but Montreal is that shiny bit of magic that remains undefined and truly missed. Every Canadian should live in Montreal for at least a year. It will completely change your perception of what Canada is all about. To be an “Anglo” in Quebec is a complicated affair. I think it fair to say that to be “Quebecois” in Canada is equally complicated, but that is a story for another day.

I am enriched by my experience in Quebec, and by the people who I have met along the way.

Terry and I knew each other professionally and our paths would occasionally cross at media and cultural events.  In addition to that, he was “my” morning radio man who helped me ease into the day and get off to work as I sat down to coffee and Cheerios.

Bill Brownstein, another contemporary from my Montreal life, writes for the Montreal Gazette. His thoughtful and detailed piece on Terry DiMonte’s return to Montreal is a terrific read.

Terry’s return broadcast will be heard early on Monday, January 9th.

Best wishes for success and happiness, Terry. Have a great time in a great city.

Montreal Anglos Who Moved “Out West”

The big news in Canadian radio last week was the announcement that popular radio morning man, Terry DiMonte, is leaving his job in Calgary to return to Montreal.  Why is this big news? Because Montreal is a city like no other.  When an anglophone comes home, people talk.

Montreal, and indeed the province of Quebec, have seen a great deal of turmoil over the last generation. Many of the historical wrongs against the majority French population have been addressed, but with a price.  Anger, riots, bombs. Neighbour against neighbour.  It hasn’t been easy.  Yet, still, the city remains a spectacular international destination for business, travel and most importantly, for the fiercely proud people who call Montreal home.   To this day, there are lingering issues that have changed the course of many lives.

Montreal, more than any other city in Canada, has been forced to bring confrontation to the kitchen table, particularly in the Anglophone community, as family after family since the 1970s grappled with decisions people in other cities never had to think about.  Where will you move after you get your degree from university?  What will you do when your company moves to Toronto? How will you adapt your business to comply with the demands of the language police?   And of course, it often came to: what do you think your prospects might be “Out West”.  (Out west meant Alberta or BC.   Saskatchewan and Manitoba played little part in the dream of Montrealers starting a new life.)

When Terry DiMonte left his Montreal morning show almost four years ago, it left a hole in the fabric of Montreal. People missed him.  Many saw his move as a direct loss to the English community.  One more comfortable and familiar voice was gone from a community that had been made to absorb too many tiny cuts along with hard changes over the last several decades.   Now, many will see the return of a beloved broadcaster as bringing a little bit of “Montreal as we remember it” back to the present day.

In reading about Terry DiMonte’s decision to move back to Montreal, I came across this very interesting documentary produced by the Montreal Gazette in 2009. Nine people from Montreal, including Terry, reflect on their decisions to move “Out West” and provide frank comments on how things worked out in their lives.

I’m quite certain that there are a great many people in Calgary who will miss their morning man when he leaves Alberta.  Some of them may even be inspired to start conversations in their own homes about whether it is time to move back to Montreal.

For more information about Terry DiMonte, see Steve Faguy’s blog.  Steve is a freelance journalist in Montreal who has created a real news hub for Montreal stories.