Not at all Grumpy

My wife (Cindy) and daughter (Bishop) recently returned from a week in Montréal, where Cindy and I met.  Specifically, we met in a bar on Bishop Street.  I was working at Grumpy’s at the time, and Cindy’s best friend (Robyn) had a brother who worked at a bar 6 doors down called Déjà Vu, who was a friend of mine (the brother).  I was visiting him one afternoon just before my shift at Grumpy’s, and Cindy and Robyn were sitting at the bar, so I got introduced.  One thing led to another, and Cindy and I were married 25 months later.

During our courtship, we attended a church service for some reason, and I mentioned that one of the ditties in the hymnbook had been penned by an ancestor of mine.  O Little Town of Bethlehem was written by Bishop Phillips Brooks.  Cindy said, “That would be a neat name for a kid!”  I said, “What, Phillips?”   She said, “No, Bishop.”  I remarked that that was his title, not his name and she said she knew that.  I asked, “Boy or girl?” and she replied, “Girl.”

So flash forward 10 years or so, and we are living in Vancouver and pregnant.  Of course the question of baby names comes up, and we decide on some combination of James and Harold (our fathers’ names) if it’s a boy, and Bishop if it’s a girl.  There turned out to be two X chromosomes in our offspring, so Bishop it was.

The funny thing is, everyone who knew us from our Montréal days, said, “Oh, isn’t that sweet – you named her for the street where you met!”  Our response was along the lines of, “Umm – yeah.  Sure.  That’s what we did.”  It had never even dawned on us that that connection was there.

Anyway, whenever we go to Montréal, there is an obligatory pilgrimage to Bishop Street and Grumpy’s bar, as evidenced by these pix.  And my enduring love for bartending and bar management, which occasionally surfaces in this blog, comes from my 4 years at Grumpy’s.

BEB- Bishop St


BTW, Bishop’s middle name is Evelyn, after my maternal grandmother.  Other grandmothers didn’t get in the running, because they had names like Claribel Fern Scovil and Rosalia Hyschinski.  And it’s pronounced EEEEvelyn, like in evening, not EVVlyn, like in Kevin, because, as her namesake used to say to me, “Who ever heard of Adam and Ev?”

BTW2, the reason there is no apostrophe in the neon sign is because of Québec’s language laws.  “Grumpy’s” would be an english  word, whereas “grumpys” is just a made-up one.


West is South

mtlIn Montréal, like many cities, the main cross-town streets are divided, somewhere near the current or historical center of the urban area, into “East” and “West”.  This seems like a fairly easy concept to grasp, and should help people get around more easily.  The problem in Montréal is that all of the streets with East and West bits run almost directly North and South.

Consider Sherbrooke St. in this map.  I have not changed the orientation of the image – north is straight up.  You can see that “Rue Sherbrooke E” runs north and that “Rue Sherbrooke O” (Ouest = West) runs south.  Similarly, people talk about the “East End” and the “West Island” when they are actually north and south, respectively.

The reason for this (I presume) is that Montréal is located on an island in the Saint Lawrence River.  The river, over its whole course, tends to flow east into the Atlantic ocean.  But the bit where Montréal is located flows nearly directly north.  Regardless, people think of downstream being east, and vice versa.

I don’t suppose this mattered much for the last 300 years, but now, many cars have electronic compasses or GPS guides in them.  How is that going to work?  Will tourists be freaked out when their navigation system tells them, “Turn north onto Sherbrooke St. East.”?

I like quirky things like this, and I think they can be huge marketing advantages.  Every bar should have something slightly off-kilter – something remarkable – to set it apart.

P.S. Also on this map is Île Sainte-Hélène, where the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is located.  That is where there will NOT be an F1 race this summer.  Sorry, Netdud.