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Joanne Birtz ’s Festival story

Joanne Birtz

The best way to come home
Joanne Birtz (Medicine Hat)

In 1940, my grandfather bought an acre of land on the Ottawa river so he could get to the country from the city and go fishing amidst the gas rations of the war. What has now become named "the Cottage", is only 35 minutes from downtown Montreal, and only 20 minutes from the airport. In 1986, my brother had a party at the cottage over the July 1st week/weekend. It was small, successful, and repeated the next year. This last summer marked the 23rd anniversary of that party. Over the years, friends have attended from as far as Europe, Asia, California, Costa Rica, and myself and my family from Alberta. The party time falls in the middle of the Jazz Festivals dates. Through the party we have introduced many people to the wonderful Jazz Festival that is hosted in Montreal. Party goers pool together and go in for a night, a day, a concert. Some go by train straight from the station only 5 minutes away. One year a very good friend of mine was invited to play at the Festival, Vicky Oveson, with her band Masacote. Many of the party goers went to her concert. She and her band stayed in our condo in St-Henri before the concert. Afterwards, they came to the cottage and played for the party all afternoon to the dancing of friends. Now that my brother has moved to Costa Rica and that both my children are studying in Montreal they are hosting the party. Again , this last summer, I, along with many others made the long trek to the cottage. Others made the short trek from downtown and other areas of the island, with their tents and sleeping bags in tow. The party was delayed starting by one day so that the Montrealers could attend the Stevie Wonder concert. Their recounting of that experience around the camp fire the next night, along with various acoustic guitar and percussion instruments renditions of Stevie Wonder songs, was one of the many wonderful memories that the party and its combination with the Jazz festival have provided. I love Montreal, I love the party, and I love the Jazz festival. See you all again next year!

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