One bright day in the summer of 1970, shortly after Montreal had obtained the 1976 Olympics but in the months just before the city annexed Vermont and then acquired the Vatican to place up on Mont-Royal (the Orange Bowl, after all, seemed so lonely up there with only the Bolshoi Ballet and the Ganges River for company), the mayor of Montreal sat in City Hall and faced down another skeptic. This he does with aplomb, for it is a whole world of skeptics that the mayor endures, and thus he has much practice in the endeavor. The mayor's working philosophy is: "Problems are solved en route," and, of course, since Vietnam this is not the most popular mode of operation everywhere. The mayor is not deterred.
Having warmed up at some length, he waves for effect and declares: "The Olympics will do even more for Montreal than Expo '67. Seventy-six is only a target, and we won't stop. Seventy-six is the means, not the end. Sixty-seven was just taking us into orbit, but the Olympics will take us to the moon [he waves], to Mars! I feel it! I feel it! And I'm not wrong when I feel as strongly as this. There is no challenge too big for Montreal, because, like the Olympics, we are acting with the spirit of Baron de Coubertin, we are acting in a humanistic way. The city possesses an environment, an ambience that can be felt. "Montreal is en route to becoming The City of the world. Twenty years from now, no matter what happens, it will have achieved this position, and it will be referred to in all parts of the world as The City."
Now make no mistake, the mayor of The (incipient) City is a politician. His office is testament to that. There is the portrait of Queen Elizabeth juxtaposed with a crucifix. There are the flowers that adorn the room in bunches, while nestled among them is the mayor's 125-pound bull mastiff, Due, whose elegiac face does not betray the fact that he could eat for lunch, if he were so disposed, all the flowers, the artifacts and the entire Quebec separatist movement. But if the symbols around the man add up to a balanced display, there is no compromise in the mayor. Charles Bronfman, vice-president of Seagrams, Ltd. and chairman of the baseball Expos, observes: "However much he sounds it, the mayor is never a huckster. He is altogether sincere. He has drives that are unusual and dreams that others of us cannot understand."
This means that when the mayor says Montreal is going to sprint ahead and leave crossroads like Paris and New York back with Terre Haute, he is not putting you on. He means it. Also, all those enigmatic celestial references to the Olympics are not being emitted just for florid effect. It is worth recalling that at about this same point in the planning stage for Expo '67, the mayor had already decided to make a permanent exposition of it—though he neglected to let anyone else in on this revelation for some time. Expo '67 is now Man and His World and is still drawing people to Montreal.
September 27, 1970
After a certain amount of watching His Honor, one instinctively recalls what Cassius Clay used to say after various correct predictions: "If I tell you a fly can pull a plow, hitch him up." The mayor brought a world's fair to Montreal in record time after Moscow reneged on the project. He lured major league baseball into expanding outside the U.S., and happily watched the team prosper and even play well amid predictions of financial and artistic calamity. He took the Olympics away from the U.S. and Russia and left another world power, personified by Charles de Gaulle, put down in a stunning speech after De Gaulle had suggested French Canada might want to, more or less, separate itself from Canada. He built a cultural palace and a subway system in a world where nobody constructs anything that lasts. With a sprinkle of flowers and trees on almost every street, he encouraged a greenhouse of a town to bloom in a place that had been another kind of house for the whole Western world.
The mayor's name is Jean Drapeau. He is small, slight and utterly nondescript except for a silly little mustache, the kind that looked good on Charlie Chaplin. This deceptive appearance assists him when he carries the banner of Montreal into battle against the other cities of the world, for opponents are easily lulled by the mayor's benign countenance. Sometime in this decade, after the Olympic stadium is built, Drapeau surely will try to bag an NFL expansion franchise for Montreal. And when he does, it would be advisable for the U.S. contenders to forget about the visual impression of the bald little guy with the stage mustache and consider the name behind it. Jean Drapeau translates into English as Johnny Flag, a name which rings with the verve and accomplishment that the mayor genuinely possesses. You could see it anywhere and know you were up against something special: STARRING JOHNNY FLAG. JOHNNY FLAG RETAINS TITLE. HERE COMES JOHNNY FLAG. Next week, on the Johnny Flag Show. OTHER ASTRONAUTS HAIL JOHNNY FLAG.
The United States and Canada share the longest unguarded border in the world, but nobody down here has learned to contend with the mayor of Montreal, probably because all along people thought he was just somebody named Jean Drapeau. However, if in a single episode a man can beat Los Angeles and Moscow, win the residual affection of Avery Brundage and absolutely guarantee all the people of the Dominion of Canada that the '76 Olympics will not cost them one cent—then you are dealing with somebody named Johnny Flag.
Los Angeles came into the Olympic fray in September 1968 and, like all good Americans, the Angelenos set out to overwhelm and outspend everybody. The Los Angeles 1976 Olympic Committee was set up in a downtown business suite. It was headed by a multimillionaire real-estate man, and he could call on a committee of civic leaders from law, manufacturing, politics, journalism, public relations and the government. There was a working staff to supplement this force. At Mexico City, Los Angeles gave a brunch fashion show that 350 attended, and Mayor Sam Yorty hosted another reception for 700. Unfortunately, only 70 IOC delegates have votes, but L.A. surely had the caterers' bloc. By May 1970 Los Angeles was able to go to the IOC meeting in Amsterdam boasting that it had a majority of votes; the 1976 Olympics would be in Los Angeles. Curiously, Moscow also claimed a majority.
The Muscovites had taken a different, if predictable, tack. First of all, Moscow did not want to get into the site competition unless it felt sure it would win. This is an old Russian habit. So feelers went out to various Russian consulates and embassies around the world in an effort to find out how the IOC delegates from the countries would vote. It was not a subtle polling—for either party—and many delegates played along and told the Russians whatever they wanted to hear. The word drifted back to Russia: we've got a majority, so go for it. Moscow applied for the Games late in 1969 and was so sure of success that just before the final vote Tass leaked a bulletin that Moscow was the winner. Within a few hours the Russians learned all about the vagaries of the secret ballot.
Opposing a Communist bureaucracy on the one hand and the capitalist giants of Southern California on the other, Montreal decided upon an informal policy. Essentially, the city's Olympic offices were located in the fedora of His Honor. Drapeau worked with one esteemed associate, Gerry Snyder, the vice-chairman of the Montreal executive committee, who had served in a similar vital role with the National League. Aside from Snyder, Drapeau would just temporarily conscript any city employees he needed for a special task. Beyond that, he vamped.
Montreal's '76 Olympic effort began at 7:30 in the morning of April 27, 1966, the day after the '72 Games had been awarded to Munich. Drapeau was upset, even humiliated at the defeat, and may even then have sensed a flaw in his presentation—he had been too aggressive, pressed too hard. Drapeau routed Snyder out of bed, and they both hustled down to the lobby of their hotel and said a gracious goodby to the departing delegates.
In the next four years the quiet courting ritual continued—at Expo, in Mexico City, at other IOC meetings, at the homes of the delegates. Drapeau and Snyder served the cause virtually by themselves and thus were able to make very accurate judgments as to true delegate intentions. They did not count a vote just because it was promised.
Before the voting at Amsterdam last May, Drapeau estimated Montreal would get 25 to 28 votes on the first ballot, and, after the city with the fewest votes was eliminated (which he figured to be Los Angeles), he predicted that Montreal would win on the second ballot with 37 to 44 of the 70 votes. He was on target. On the first ballot it was Moscow 28, Montreal 25, L.A. 17. Then Montreal won the day 41-28 over Moscow (with one abstention). This also served to remove Vancouver from consideration as host of the '76 Winter Games—the IOC is loth to award both Olympics to the same country—so Denver won a consolation prize for the U.S.
The mayor of Vancouver, Tom Campbell, who is something of a young version of Drapeau and is known as Tom Terrific, admitted with admiration: "It was obvious that Drapeau knew the political intrigues and climate better than the rest of us." The head of the Canadian Olympic Association, Harold Wright, was just as stunned. "The only one there who wasn't surprised was Drapeau," he said.
Drapeau does admit now, however, that Moscow threw a last-round fright into him, for he grew alarmed that the delegates would suddenly develop missionary zeal and start getting visions of the Olympic torch burning the path of freedom on a crusade to Moscow. As a counterpunch, Drapeau had worked up a good act that he could go into at a moment's notice about how politics must be kept out of the Olympics. He had this bit handy because it had long been in his repertoire, ready to be trotted out whenever it seemed a delegate might be moved by the fact that 1976 was the 200th anniversary of the United States.
While casting the opposition as political gluttons, Drapeau began to characterize Montreal as no less than the municipal extension of the Original Amateur Hour. Montreal began to emerge as the embodiment of the Olympic ideal. Since so many necessary facilities had been constructed for Expo, Drapeau emphasized that Montreal could concentrate on the "spiritual" aspects of the Games. A prospectus to the IOC declared unashamedly: "In extending its invitation, Montreal is simply seeking the privilege of serving mankind." Drapeau also took to referring frequently and with authority to Baron de Coubertin, the man who inspired the modern Olympics. Even now Drapeau casually cites "the Baron" at such regular intervals that one begins to assume De Coubertin must be in the next room, reading up on old high-jump records in the AAU handbook.
Drapeau had hardly heard of the Olympics until he stumbled onto an IOC exhibition in 1963, but by now his coincidental discovery of the venture is cloaked in an aura of conversion. "I never practiced any sport," he declares. "I may be the only one who came to sport through the spiritual force of the Olympics. I discovered Olympicism in 1963." When the Games were awarded to Montreal, he cried: "Grandiose, grandiose. We were much in need of the spiritual force that is constituted by Olympicism. God knows, Canada and the rest of the world need spiritual forces."
Despite spiritualism and preparation, Montreal might still have lost the Games but for a spectacular grand finale by Drapeau. Los Angeles always held one trump: it had produced a financially successful Olympics during the Depression of '32. Both Moscow and Montreal were economically suspect. Moscow had backed out of its promise to host the World's Fair that eventually became Expo '67. Montreal was allegedly busted by that endeavor; it was known that the city seemed $27 million short at the end of the previous fiscal year. Under these circumstances, somebody on the IOC decided it would be prudent to ask the competing cities exactly what they could absolutely guarantee for the organization of the Games.
Sam Yorty, the mayor of Los Angeles, was born and bred for this kind of brier patch. After all, it's only money. He told the assembled delegates that $40 million was an absolute guarantee. Mayor Vladimir Promyslov of Moscow got wind of that, and, feeling no pain since the vote was supposed to be in the bag anyway, upped the ante to $45 million. And here comes Johnny Flag.
Entering the room accompanied by the spirit of his friend, the Baron, Drapeau accepted the confrontation and responded with one of the supreme rhetorical adventures in modern Montreal history.
"I began," Drapeau recalls, "by telling them that with all due respect to the members present, no city had ever before been asked for a financial guarantee, and the committee had never made a wrong choice of cities. I pointed out that such a guarantee was harmful, that it was not in the spirit of the Baron's Olympicism." And then Drapeau looked them square in the face and declared: "The history of Montreal is our guarantee. It is a history of meeting and beating challenges. That is our guarantee. If there is any doubt you have about Montreal, then...do...not...choose...us." The IOC, spitting $45 million in the eye, broke into spontaneous applause. The Baron bowed his head and wept quietly. The vote that followed was suddenly a formality. Montreal may or may not have won anyway, but when asked today what brought the Games to Montreal, one U.S. IOC member sums it up as "Drapeau's personality—and that speech he made."
Drapeau returned home to hosannas. Whole pages of the daily papers were filled with advertisements saying little more than "You've done it again." The skeptics who remained were out hitching up plows to flies, and there were very few skeptics. When Drapeau had won his last term in 1966, his fourth, he got 94% of the vote. His only competition, such as it was, had come from a chiropractor and a female salesclerk.
Drapeau's hold on the populace is all the more noteworthy because it comes in a period when municipal office is generally a stigma to be avoided. The problems in Montreal are just as serious as those that U.S. communities face. The city is bathed in red ink. There are high unemployment rates. There is not enough low-cost housing. A family of five on welfare must get by on $190 a month. When Drapeau opened a plush restaurant in the Windsor Hotel last autumn with a standard seven-course dinner for two coming to about $40, it was estimated that 25% of the citizens of the area were subsisting just at or below the poverty level. Moreover, migrants from rural Quebec and the Maritime Provinces continue to flood a city that cannot support them.
Montreal is an island surrounded by the polluted St. Lawrence River. Only 3% of Montreal's sewage is processed, and there is even more raw sewage floating down from the rest of La Belle Province. The petroleum refineries in the east end of town assault the city with smells that not even New Jersey would accept. The police went on strike for higher wages one day last fall when Drapeau was in St. Louis, and the whole city was at the mercy of looters for 16 frightening hours.
Beyond all that, the city and province have forever seethed with internal ethnic conflict, French vs. English, the "gorfs" (frogs spelled backwards) against the Maudits Anglais. There is a radical French separatist movement, and no one identified with the Angloists is safe. Drapeau's house was bombed last Sept. 29, mercifully with no loss of life.
Moreover, as is the case everywhere, the suburbs will not throw in their better lot with the core city. Property taxes in Montreal went up 23% in 1968. Yet with this rather impressive, if familiar, litany of urban problems lying at Drapeau's feet, no one seems likely to mount a serious challenge against him when he runs for re-election next month. It is hardly possible even to imagine a serious challenge. And one of the reasons surely is the circuses Drapeau has brought to his city.
Always but a hairbreadth from anonymity, or worse, and beset with myriad worries, it is not surprising that mayors have begun to turn to sports and entertainment to establish at least some association with the more pleasant aspects of metropolitan life. They have had something of a field day ever since major league sports started spotting franchises around like so many A & W Root Beer stands. The first of this breed was Baltimore's Tommy D'Alesandro III, who was vitally instrumental in obtaining the St. Louis Browns for his city in 1954. While many mayors have since emulated D'Alesandro's franchise collecting, none ever approached the status that Drapeau assumed in 1968. That summer the National League virtually awarded a franchise to him, for Montreal. This is, of course, unheard of in sports; franchises are only awarded to men with folding money. But the National League, exercising unusual sagacity, just handed the thing to Drapeau and figured he would come up with something.
Drapeau and Snyder started calling around for 10% owners, which took awhile, and then began searching for a stadium, which took till past the 11th hour. What they came up with at last was Jarry Park, a temporary structure that was built, in the dead of the Canadian winter, for $3 million. What it turned out to be is one of the two or three best places in the major leagues to watch a baseball game, and it makes the city a profit.
Of course, Drapeau can only share credit with the hearty people of Montreal. "It seems," says John McHale, the president of the Expos and a man who has resided in several U.S. cities, "that the people work harder here so that they can enjoy their free time. They have an unusual zest for leisure. The winters are so long that they may feel the need to rush their activities when good weather comes. I can look out my window onto Dominion Square on the days when the buds are first coming out and the temperature is just hitting 40°, and the benches will be filled with people sunning themselves."
In the winter Montrealers never leave a seat empty for Les Canadiens, but they also sell out for Junior A hockey in the same building and at smaller arenas all over the city. The harness horses at Blue Bonnets Raceway get three weeks' rest around Christmas; otherwise the mutuel windows never shut. But summer is the siren song, which is why Expo thrived, and why baseball's Expos do, too. At midday, any day, Montrealers sprawl out on the ground all over the pocket parks of the city, sunning shamelessly. Many of the women, big-eyed and leggy, take lunch hour to hurry home, change into a bathing suit and sun on a rooftop. It is not uncommon for whole families to leave after work Friday and drive 400 miles straight through to the New Jersey beaches for a weekend. There are probably more tanned bodies in Montreal in the summer than in Santa Barbara, Calif.
Montreal long and deliberately resisted joining the United States. It is only 40 miles from the Vermont border and would have been an attractive addition, for it had been the commercial metropolis of New France virtually since 1611 when Champlain established a trading post on the island site. American colonists were first repulsed trying to take the French city in 1691 during King William's War, and again in 1709 during Queen Anne's War. Montreal finally capitulated to the British forces of General Jeffrey Amherst in 1760, a year after the fate of all of New France was settled downriver on the Plains of Abraham.
The colonists to the south soon came to look to Montreal and Quebec as potential allies, particularly after Britain's repressive Quebec Act of 1774. A colonial force under General Richard Montgomery occupied Montreal on Nov. 13, 1775, but he and General Benedict Arnold (still playing it straight) were defeated a few weeks later at Quebec City, and our colonies then gave up military persuasion. They were not through, though. Benjamin Franklin, whose successes with the French are well documented on several levels of diplomacy and charm, and Charles Carroll of Maryland, the most prominent Catholic layman in the U.S., were dispatched to Montreal to try to talk the city into joining the rebels. They failed, too, but still the colonies did not give up. The Articles of Confederation, published in 1777, unconditionally welcomed Canada into the new union, while any other territory required nine votes for acceptance. Canada said thanks, but no.
Thus, while the Americans hung together to fight England, the Canadians were content to fuss with the devils within, French and English. It was not until 1837 that Montreal's Sons of Liberty were formed to protest quixotic British rule, and Montreal must surely be the first Olympic host to have an Olympic tradition older than its nation.
The Dominion was established in 1867, whereas in August 1844 something called the Montreal Olympic Games had been held. These activities featured about a dozen events, including jumping, running, shooting, throwing a cricket ball, wheelbarrow racing and climbing a pole. The games, by contemporary accounts, would hardly have pleased Avery Brundage. The one-mile walking race was "not decided on account of alleged irregularity on the part of the two foremost competitors," and, heaven forbid, there was also a display of abject professionalism. In the game of lacrosse, "a purse of $10 was made up for the winners among the spectators, who appeared highly gratified by the agility displayed." Whether Mayor Drapeau has disclosed this intemperance to the Baron is not known. These games were also fairly private. An Indian "glorifying in the mellifluous name of Oposateka" did get a second in the 400-yard run, but there is no evidence that any Americans or other foreigners competed.
By this time the U.S. had stopped attacking Montreal, and the border was not to be regularly violated again until Prohibition, when the city became an informal U.S. port of entry for booze. Repeal did not help the Montreal economy, but the city continued to thrive as a spa of sorts. It became known for licentiousness and was so wide open that much of the city, the largest in the land, was off limits to the Canadian army in World War II.
Drapeau, an unknown Montreal lawyer, came to prominence as a vice buster, and this carried him into the mayor's office in 1954 at the age of 38. He was defeated for re-election in '57 but returned to win again in '60, at which point he prompted the election of a dour haberdasher named Lucien Saulnier to the chair of the city's executive committee. Saulnier has been at his right ever since, and, in fact, the city government is most commonly referred to as the Drapeau-Saulnier Administration.
Usually portrayed by cartoonists as an undertaker, Saulnier is a fine sort of fellow for any mayor to have around. He handles all the daily drudgery and reports all the bad news, including his plan to retire from the city government this fall. How much Drapeau will miss his other half in preparing for the Olympics becomes a substantial question, for the two men had an excellent working relationship. "The mayor conceives with brilliance," says Robert Shaw, vice-president of McGill University, "but Saulnier executes with an equal amount of brilliance. All things considered, I would say that Saulnier is the best businessman I ever saw." The two men have come to anticipate, support, respect and quite like each other, even though both retain a certain private air. In 10 years of close contact, each continues to refer to the other as Mr. Mayor and Mr. Chairman. Saulnier's existence and his special lightning-rod function have provided Drapeau with leverage that no U.S. mayors have. He can pursue the spectacular without concern that his whole city will collapse in his absence.
Drapeau is also aided by the fact that, in Canada, municipal governments are not affiliated with national parties. Nobody even knows whether Drapeau votes Liberal or Conservative, and both parties have asked him to consider higher offices. The best guess is that he is probably a Conservative. Certainly, he tends toward a conservative view; he might best be described as a traditionalist. He is a firm believer in public morality and private rights. He is suspicious of public welfare, feeling it erodes individual dignity. His personal honesty has never been questioned, "but," adds a friend, "he is unscrupulous on behalf of the city."
In sum, Drapeau is a man whose opinions are supplementary to his drive and vision. "Mayors are elected to do things, not to form committees that report back in compromise after two or three years," he says. "Look at this piece of paper. [It is white.] If a committee was assembled to report on it, and all sorts of viewpoints were included to prove that there was no bias, the committee would examine all the opinions and then compromise and report that the paper was gray. I don't need a committee to spend three years and tell me this paper is gray. I can decide that for myself. I don't need anyone to help me go wrong. I am quite capable of going wrong by myself, without all that cost and compromising."
Despite the mayor's accomplishments, there is a growing body of thought that he is blinded by glamour projects and is neglecting the city's more pressing, if mundane, needs. "He has been an asset to the city," says David Molsen, president of the Canadiens, "but he is becoming carried away by the grandeur, by his dream of putting Montreal on the map. There is a question in my mind as to whether these things are truly important today."
For many years one of Drapeau's main critics has been City Councilor Frank Hanley, 61, a former jockey and perennial gadfly. He represents a large, polyglot district and greets his constituents, many of them poor, from a storefront office. Bubbles, a hairdresser from down the street, is on hand to make coffee for guests. Hanley reflexively conducts business and dispenses salutations to all passers-by as he rails intently—but nearly pleasantly—at the mayor and his schemes. "I was for Expo at first," Hanley says. "I was for Expo because I thought they would clean out the slums and help the people, instead of making a monster on those islands out in the water.
"These people in my district are undernourished, they can't get jobs, they don't have housing. So the mayor and the wheelers and dealers just give them more pie in the sky. Now, the subway has been good for everybody. And so has the baseball. The French people love it. And it's good revenue. But the Olympics?" Hanley lowers his head and in chagrin adds: "You know, I voted for the Olympics in Council. I thought they'd last six months. Even I couldn't believe that the mayor had a $500 million gimmick for two weeks."
Drapeau and his supporters maintain that the improvements forced on a city by the Olympics live on long after the Games are gone and forgotten. In like manner, for instance, the main legacy of Expo is a subway and road system that have left Montreal perhaps the most traffic-free large city in the world. Nevertheless, the Olympics specifically strike many as the worst kind of extravagance, since they seem increasingly anachronistic, inconsistent in content and form and even hypocritical.
Why, it is asked, in this day of easy jet travel and TV must all events be crammed into one city? Why must a stadium holding 80,000 be constructed when it is filled only twice—for opening and closing ceremonies—and when it becomes an instant white elephant? Why must a conspicuously luxurious village costing well over $100 million be built to house athletes for a mere fortnight? "It is true," says Frank Walker, editor-in-chief of The Montreal Star, "that it will eventually be utilized for public housing, but there is something disturbing about the people of a city waiting on visiting athletes to get a good roof over their heads."
Certainly, it seems that some concessions to economy must be made for Montreal '76 and all future Games. Even the IOC is finding it increasingly difficult to maintain an amateur and apolitical posture at a time when it routinely expects cities to outlay half a billion dollars or so. Montreal Columnist John Robertson has suggested that the Olympians could be cared for in college dormitories that will be standing nearly idle when the Games are held late in July. Drapeau himself is apparently exploring stadium plans that might surprise the IOC. Friends of the mayor say that he has found a loophole: that the requirement for the stadium is that it must hold 80,000, not seat 80,000.
Already there is a hint of serious trouble if real frugality is not exercised. Bruce Kidd, the Canadian Olympic distance runner, wrote recently in the Toronto Daily Star: "Drapeau's plans for the Games indicate a deliberate preference for political monuments rather than social betterment. If his Games' preparations further drain an already inadequate budget for social services, a lot of angry citizens are going to picket the Games."
Unfortunately, Drapeau does not refute these arguments well, tending to fall back on generalities. "In 15 to 20 years," he says, "there will be no more depressed and deteriorated areas in the city. Montreal may be the first city in the world to be completely renovated." After winning the Games in Amsterdam, he blandly announced they would not cost Montrealers "one cent."
Somebody, though, is going to have to scare up around $500 million, the estimated expense. Members of Canada's Parliament slammed their desks in glee when the good word came from Amsterdam, but Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau remains firmly on record that the federal government will provide Montreal no money. Western Canadians, still grumbling that they were dunned too much of the cost of Expo, will make it hard for Trudeau to reverse that stand. The province of Quebec is also promising nothing. Munich has utilized a weekly lottery to defray some of its $400 million cost, but Drapeau has already had that horse shot out from under him. Finding out that a lottery was unconstitutional in Canada, he instituted something called Voluntax, a so-called "voluntary tax" that was a lottery by any other name. Taxpayers the world over were given the joy of "participating financially in the expansion and progress of the Canadian metropolis," but the Supreme Court ruled against his scheme last January.
Yet a man who can conceive a voluntary tax will think of something, and somehow, genuinely, money is not an overriding issue with the mayor. The decline of cities everywhere has been, ultimately, more of a fall from grace than from splendor. If people feel ashamed of a city, it will take more than conveniences to hold them. It is significant that what excites Drapeau about the subway system is not that it works but that the citizens of Montreal seem pleased to ride it. There is no guarantee that baseball, ballet, fairs and Olympics, any one of them, redeem urban life, but these are times of greater leisure, and there are even more idle hours ahead. A city cannot survive simply as a large barracks. The importance of Drapeau's success is that he grasps that fact and is moving forward on a path few mayors would risk today, but one that deserves close examination. It is not only after the '76 Olympics that Drapeau's achievements, and Montreal's reaction to them, should be assessed. The mayor and his city merit watching now.
Walker, who admits to being "churlish" toward Drapeau on occasion in the Star, nevertheless seems best to understand the essence of what the little mayor has given his city. "The truth," he says, "is that what he has done has made this one of the few pleasant cities left in this part of the world. You compare it to Toronto or many other places—one can sit down in this city. There is that small dignity and pleasure left for every citizen here. For the poor, that may seem to be insignificant, and it might not have a conscious meaning—I don't know—but I'm wondering whether it still has an unconscious meaning. Yes, just that you can sit down where you want, and it will be clean and there will be flowers and trees about you. In the long run, these things can become more important than the usual urban enterprises."
This is the kind of thinking the Baron himself would surely appreciate. Perhaps he discusses such issues with the mayor in the evening when he drops down to City Hall to say good night and see if Johnny Flag is up to anything new.