Commemoration of LaSalle Heights Disaster 50 Years Ago
20 février 2015
Montréal, le 20 février 2015 - Fifty years ago, LaSalle was the scene of one of the worst natural gas explosions that the Montréal area ever faced in the 20th century. On Monday, March 1, 1965, shortly after 8 a.m., an explosion rocked through the basements of 361, 363, 365 and 367 rue Bergevin, four adjacent six-unit buildings in the LaSalle Heights apartment complex. Two of the buildings were completely destroyed by the explosion, while the two others were consumed by a fire.
As a result of the disaster, over thirty people were injured and 28 people died. Since the accident occurred after the men in the households had left for work, but before their school-age children headed for class, most of the casualties were women and children: 18 children, 8 women and 2 men lost their lives. Over $600,000 was raised to come to the assistance of the survivors.
This event left deep scars on LaSalle residents, particularly since fate seemed to have fiercely and relentlessly attacked this apartment complex. In fact, another natural gas explosion had caused the death of 7 people on August 28, 1956, on rue des Oblats, one block east.
Activities in 2015
The Borough will be organizing a number of activities in 2015 to honour the victims' memory and convey to survivors that LaSalle residents remember this terrible tragedy that struck them:
- All LaSalle churches have been invited to commemorate the event as part of their Sunday service on March 1, which marks the exact date of the 50th anniversary. - A resolution will be adopted and a minute of silence observed during the Borough Council meeting on March 2, the day after the anniversary of this terrible tragedy. - The Borough has granted financial assistance of $3,000 to the Société historique Cavelier-de-LaSalle, to write a monograph on the LaSalle Heights Disaster. - This year, the Borough will be organizing an exhibition on the tragedy, including photos from archives and newspaper articles. - Also this year, LaSalle will be paying tribute to the victims by means of a commemorative designation at the very site of the explosion.
People affected by the explosion are being invited to contact the Borough
People who lost members of their family or friends in the LaSalle Heights Disaster, firefighters, police officers and sailors who took part in the rescue operations, former classmates or co-workers of the victims or anyone directly or indirectly affected by this tragedy are being encouraged to send their contact information to the Borough, at the following address, if they would like to be informed of the public events that will be held: email@example.com