Filmography > La Main... et les autres

La Main: Street of Immigrants

The Main has been a refuge for successive waves of immigrants.  The first street drawn across the island of Montreal, it is the traditional boundary between Anglophones and Francophones.  It is here, along this border, that the “Others” will find their place.

We tell the story of Italian, Jewish, and Chinese people who settle along Saint-Lawrence boulevard, and the first encounters of French Canada with the rest of the world beyond the British Isles.  Each of these groups has enriched Montreal with their cultural traditions, but they have also suffered in different ways from prejudice and outright racism. The Chinese were targeted with a discriminatory immigration head tax, and Italians were interned in detainment camps during World War II.

They call the Main “the boulevard of possibilities” because it does not conform to the standards elsewhere in the city. Not surprisingly,  it is here that films are shown for the first time in North America. Burlesque shows will first appear along this boulevard as well. But “La Main” is also the site chosen by French Canadians to establish the Monument National, where Quebec theatre is born.  It is here that the actor and playwright Gratien Gélinas will create his famous character, Fridolin.

The Main is a place of passage, since immigrants invariably leave after one or two generations. Yet the boulevard remains, for them, as for all Montrealers, a place for gathering, a cradle of precious memories.

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