Every city is unique by virtue of its geography, history, architecture and social life. We invite you to discover more about Westmount – past and present – through these publications.
In the preface to Gubbay’s last book, A View of Their Own: The Story of Westmount, the city’s former mayor, Peter Trent, described her writing as “a delicate work of love” that “deftly limns the city’s gentle history and modestly allows places, characters and buildings to speak to the reader directly.
” Marilynn Vanderstaag, a columnist with the Westmount Examiner, said Gubbay was “a great, gracious, graceful lady, so detail oriented.” “She not only wrote, but she published, photographed and promoted her books.” A silk merchant’s daughter, Aline Gubbay was born in Alexandria, Egypt on June 20, 1920. Her mother was Turkish, her father, a Jew from Georgia (formely part of the Soviet Union). She and her family moved to England when she was 4. At 15, she was one of the youngest students to win a scholarship to study at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. Her parents frowned on her becoming an actress, and instead encouraged her to study photography with a family friend, Germaine Kanova. Aline became a portrait photographer, training her lens on people in the arts world. During the Second World War, she took the picture of French General Charles de Gaulle, then in exile, that was used on the Free-France propaganda leaflets that were dropped in Nazi occupied France. In 1948, she met and married Eric Gubbay, a cardiologist originally from Calcutta, and they emigrated to Winnipeg. Gubbay wrote four books: 1981’s Le Fleuve et la montagne/ The Mountain and The River, 1984’s Montreal’s Little Mountain, which she co-authored with Sally Hooff, 1989’s A Street Called The Main and 1998’s A View of Their Own: The Story of Westmount . Her column, Know Your Westmount, regularly appeared in the Westmount Examiner. She taught art history at the Visual Arts Centre and costume history at LaSalle College. She was also president of the Westmount Historical Society from 1996 until 2000. In “A View of Their Own,” Aline Gubbay combines her photographs with original archival material.
In the heart of Westmount lies Quebec’s oldest municipal library, built in 1899. One of the first library buildings in Canada, the Westmount Public Library is cherished for its heritage value. While it has been expanded and changed over the years, it was not until the refurbishment of 1994-1995 that this historic building was returned to its Victorian splendour.
Here is the story of its renewal.
This book is intended to serve as an introduction to that heritage, which every Westmount resident should take pride in and guard a little jealously. There are few municipalities on the island of Montreal which can lay claim to an architectural heritage of such vast scope and diversity. The first part of the book traces the development of the city. The second part of the book consists of a voyage of discovery, as we explore Westmount’s architectural heritage as it stands today..
Westmount is certainly one of the finest residential communities in Canada, a charming, small town in the midst of a major metropolis.
Montreal’s Little Mountain captures Westmount’s character, from the gingerbread on the Victorian rowhouses of Lower Westmount and the small-paned dormer windows of the Hurtubise House to the richly carved stonework of the Richardsonian-style Library and the grandeur of the mansions high on the hill.