Saturday, March 28, 2015

Quiz - what great Canadian poem/song was penned at this West Island house 200 years ago?

   One of Canada's most famous songs, written by what's considered the
greatest poet of his country across the pond, was penned at this house in the West Island around 1803.

  Ok we have no correct answer, so here it is.
     The Canadian Boat Song was penned by Irish bard Thomas Moore. (not to be confused with another song by the same name).
   Kids used to sing it in school. The tune is from a traditional voyageur number. Moore discusses the miracle that took place about 100 years earlier when a bishop survived a heart attack. Tjhe last church on the island is devoted to voyageurs, he notes.
The house is the Simon Fraser House - which is not the same Simon Fraser as the fur trapper on the west cosat.
   It is located at Ste. Anne (Lakeshore) Blvd just west of du College.

Uptight Montreal hippie hairdresser tried to get the Woodstock film pulled from theatres

   Time to finally name the mysterious, unnamed Montreal hairdresser who had the temerity to try to shut down the film Woodstock because it showed him disrobing with a woman for 150 seconds.
  We don't know who he is but he'd likely be about 75 by now and might have led a bit of a failed life if you believe his own arguments.  
  The hairdresser, whose identity was never revealed in the media, slapped a libel suit in June 1970 demanding that the film stop airing because it showed him briefly stripping from a distance in a split-screen with a woman in tall grass, as can be seen here. He said it exposed him to ridicule and considered it libel.
   The woman, also unnamed, was a 20-year-old secretary from Pennsylvania.
   She testified that they stripped because it was raining. They had met just previously and had skinny-dipped in a nearby lake. They didn't have sex but they embraced in the tall grass, she said.
   The defendants, Warner Bros. and United Amusement Corp. said that the hairdresser - who appears to have had an outlandishly large red beard - was not recognizable.
   One Warner Brothers' lawyer said that it showed "beautiful people doing beautiful things."
   Judge Paul Langlois replid "I'm not sure I would agree with that."
   We don't find a verdict but it's safe to assume that the suit failed, as the movie was never yanked from theatres as far as we know.

Spring in Montreal ain't the same without baseball spring training

   For decades Montreal's impatience with the never-ending winter was calmed by the soothing tonic of spring training, seen in TV reports beamed into our home
   We knew that young hopefuls basking in the Florida sunshine would soon bring that ingenious weather our way.

  Spring in Montreal is enormous. Orgasmic. Life-affirming. Wild. Dangerous. Unpredictable.
   There's no better place to spend a spring.  "In Montreal spring is like an autopsy. Everyone wants to see the inside of the frozen mammoth," or "Beware of what comes out of Montreal, especially during winter," said Lenny Cohen.
   And an essential part of that spring was the fantastic vision of physically-vigorous competitive entertainers whose whimsical world saw them attain financial viability by what they could do with a leather ball in something delightfully dubbed Grapefruit League action.
   As much as people might like hockey or football, their training camps can't compare. (I think the NHL pre-season is called "the Withered Leaf league," and football's is "The Summer Solstice circuit", you're welcome - Chimples)
   How many times did I dream of one day going down one day and snooping around Expos camp for real, perhaps with future kids. But watching on TV was just good enough.

   Lest you think that the spring training summerlust was a recent contrivance that began with the Expos: note that media was reporting on the baseball spring training as far back as 1931 and perhaps earlier. In the 1930s the Royals did spring training in Texas. in 33 they brought a Montreal player named Gladu down, the first Montreal kid invited to camp.
  Spring training, a time for hope, renewal, faith. All taken away when the team moved.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

History buffs unhappy with resumption of construction on possible downtown Montreal Indian burial site

   Some Coolopolis readers are not happy that the construction of a 27-storey skyscraper - delayed as crews searched for archaeological treasures - has resumed.
   Ivanhoe-Cambridge shut down the Manuvie House construction site at 900 de Maisonneuve W. - the old Simpson's parking lot -  in mid-February but announced Monday, about five weeks later, that they hadn't found anything.
   The builders noted that they had hired a archaeological specialist firm, although the name of that company wasn't mentioned in a press release.
   They note that the construction site is also outside of designated archeological zones, according to a provincial Culture Ministry map.
   Montreal residents Ian Barrett and Robert J. Galbraith have responded with a not, accusing the builders of only digging five 10-inch test holes and not looking in the right way.
   "There are old accounts of children and private collectors picking up arrowheads and stone axes exactly on this site. And now IC says there is nothing left there of the original sites. But much of the site was never built on, because the area went from Indian land to forest to farmers fields, then to 19th-century greystones on big lots with spacious gardens and lawns, and then finally covered over with parking lots. Very significantly, in 2010 and 2014 Indian artifacts were even found during sewer work right alongside the site. There is no doubt about it; this is a promising area," they wrote.
   "It is important to understand that the evidence left behind in an Indian city in Canada is usually very subtle. They did not leave behind stone foundations and most of what we find are small and scattered indications of life. A piece of pottery here, an arrowhead over there. You’re not finding big strata of debris. Most of their lifestyle was organic and has disappeared. So of course, a few test holes are unlikely to produce results. A broader investigation is essential."
   The note also describes Hochelaga as "one of the greatest, most legendary lost cities in the world."

The immigrant who hated it so much here that he bombed our embassy

 Not all immigrants enjoy Canada. An untold number move back to their country or elsewhere after arriving.
  But surely no immigrant hated Canada as much as Colman Losonczy, a mechanic-turned accountant who hated Canada so much that he attempted to renounce his citizenship and then committed a murderous anti-Canadian terrorist act when that failed.
   Losonczky moved to Montreal from Hungary in 1951 at age 29.
   He met secretary Lucille Bastien five years later and the two spent romantic time in Paris. They appeared to have lived at 10800 Berri in Ahuntsic but they split in 1962 and she filed for divorce in October 1968.
Vienna embassy
   "I left him because I was fed up with supporting him. I begged him to assume his duties as a husband and he failed to do so I left," she said.
   Losonczy had been forced to serve in the Wehrmacht as a teen, an experience that left him deeply scarred.
  Once in Canada he got an idea that French Canadians were oppressed, so he decided to help them fight against the oppressor. He took part in the 1968 St. Jean Baptiste riots in Montreal.
  Losonczy was not - as far as we know - involved in the centre of the Quebec separatist movement but he was surely sympathetic to it and inspired by it. It's unknown whether he was acquainted with fellow Magyar Francois Schirm who killed for the FLQ after coming to Montreal from Hungary.
  In 1967 he went to the Canadian embassy in Vienna and attempted to renounce his Canadian citizenship. He caused a scene and was deported back to Canada.
  On August 26, 1969 Losonczy, then 47, returned to that embassy and set it on fire with incendiary devices.
   Dead in the blaze was senior commercial officer Hans Karl Rott, 47 and delivery man Alfred Sautner, 46,
   Anywhere from 15 to 32 others suffered various injuries, broken limbs, burns, cuts and shock. One brave employee caught one of the bombs and ran down the stairs with it. Another employee was hit by the mad attacker as he ran for a fire extinguisher.
   He surrendered himself to police at the scene.
   He had written a letter to the government calling them "miserable capitalist criminals, arrogant oppressor-exploiters, stinking prostitutes and degenerate satellites of the imperialist Yankee murderers... I escape from Canad that ___ English colony where I refuse to live in destitution and misery." He also tossed in an anti-Semitic insult for good measure.
   No word on what punishment he was given, although a long-stay in a psychiatric facility would not have been a surprise. He would be about 92 if still alive. 

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Montreal planning fail: new and useless traffic lights being installed everywhere

The six numbered dots represent the new and useless traffic lights 
  A staggering proliferation of nonsensical traffic lights has occurred within a tiny stretch of the West End in recent months, putting rest to any doubts about the ineptitude of traffic planners and municipal authorities.
    On one 400 metre stretch of Decarie between St. James and De Maisonneuve there are now four sets of traffic lights, two brand new and one that has been uselessly delaying people for about four years. That's a new light every 100 metres. It must be some sort of new world record.
   Compare that to a much-busier 700 metre stretch of Sherbrooke between Clifton and Girouard - a strip with far more pedestrians and traffic - it does fine with four lights over almost twice the distance.
    A pointless luminous delay machine has been installed at Crowley and Upper Lachine, which serves no purpose: traffic to Crowley is virtually nil and a stop sign would be entirely adequate.
Girouard light: city's dumbest?
   A light installed about 30 metres north of Upper Lachine on Girouard (#1 on map) forces motorists to wait 54 seconds. Fifty four seconds! You'll literally want to get out to stretch your legs or do jumping jacks while waiting through that sucker. You then get six seconds - yes six seconds -  to progress
northbound through the green before another 54 second red cycle begins. Those who sniff a green on the horizon motor full speed, knowing they'll be punished by the clock for missing their chance. Once again, a simple stop sign would be adequate and would lead to much calmer driving.
   Stop signs encourage motorists to keep their eyes on the road - pedestrians, cylclists and other cars - rather than up in the air, mesmerized by a green, yellow or red light bulb.
    Montreal West thrives without a single traffic light - including at a busy five-way intersection of St. James and Westminister full of school kids - where there has never been an accident.
   Nuns Island hasn't got a single traffic light and has useful structure like roundabouts, putting to rest the nonsense of Montreal drivers being somehow worse than those of other cities.
    Needless to say the public had no say in this expensive money and time grab.
   Lives, in tiny increments, are being confiscated by nameless pencilnecks planning roads in locked offices.
   It isn't cheap either: traffic lights are costly to purchase, maintain and operate, whereas stop signs are almost free.
  A traffic light is a punishment. A stop sign is a chance at redemption. Don't believe me? Drive through the intersection of St. James and Westminister. You'll see the goodwill and cooperation that motorists are capable of and you'll feel good after getting through.
   Unlike in many other cities, traffic lights in Montreal are not made with an intelligent design, so you routinely see a long line of cars waiting at a red while no vehicles are trying to come the other way.  
   Is there corruption behind this illogical slavery to the traffic light? Are we living under government by insurance company whose next task is to force you to wear helmets behind the wheel?
   The concept of a traffic light is philosophically offensive. It's signal that the government feels entitled to arbitrarily confiscate your time in a paternalistic manner which does not require explaining. No attempt to justify these often pointless delays is ever offered. Let's start dumping these devices now.   

Eddie Baker - the ultimate Montreal icon

   Who is - or was - Montreal's Eddie "Do Nothing" Baker?
   We need to know and we need to know now!
   In around 1969 Baker became an underground literary-and-lifestyle Montreal icon as a 41-year-old who'd wander around and do nothing all day, thanks to a stipend from  his Massachusetts-based father, who ran a women's apparel business.
   He attained boho-fame thanks to a biographical magazine article by Don Bell, which was included in the collection Saturday Night at the Bagel Factory.
   Some of his quotes:
"I don't think I"m being pushed by something external and necessary. You can be so quiescent that it creates like an electric spark. And you may think: I should be doing something. Why don't I? I can't be wasted away by zeroness.
His jacket: "My canvas-covered, camouflage-coloured, pile-line army-type surplus-store Japan-made imitation transistorized ski-trouper jacket.
Why he likes the underground city: "You don't have to make decisions in tunnels; there are no options open to you. You must go straight ahead. There is a feeling of destiny awaiting you at the end, your footsteps echoing along the corridors, the denouement. It's like being in an Edward G. Robson last-mile movie."
His longest marathon was a 15-hour sitting at the Carmen Coffee house. "At midnight when I went outside, my buttocks felt manicured."
Why he felt compelled to write poetry: "I was like a balloon, being wafted aloft, without any gravitational pull. This caused an intensified state of lassitude and ennui. It was a sort of obliviousness, a total void. It eventually gets to jangle your nerves, like a quake inside yourself. I felt that a seismic tremor would seize me if I didn't get thrown into something."
On writing 50 poems: "it was like pulling out my gut as I tried to explain myself to myself."
One of his poems:
I'm a bit
If not
"After sliding up to people for so long, tickling them and then slipping away, I was now drawn into the gears of human relationships. I felt that the machine was going to grind me to death."
"I realized that the literary world is no better than the financial world. One day I told Peter Desbarats: The best thing in life is the dream. Once it become real, it's no good." 
"My insignificant slim little sheath of poems is probably no more than a few soft specks on a white collar."
"If I become famous it will be as a virtuoso of lethargy. I'll be cultivating my present nothing way of life and fallow state of being to live in a more affluent manner. I will be somnambulant in an eiderdown bed instead of broken down springs. It's a mystical dilemma. I can only do nothing. I must make a living. Therefore I must make a living doing nothing. If I can't make a living doing nothing, then the end is near and clear."
His lifestyle imitators: "the artisans of urban whirlpools
"I am like a receptor of all the impulses and radiations of society. People who are taken up in the flux of daily life have their receptors blurred because they are creatures of actions: a wheel of a machine can't get to know what the total structure of it is. They need a quiescent being who can depict for them in a concrete and concise way what the fabric of their existence is. I may be a barren personality but there may be a a part of me in everyone and I may illuminate those parts. But that's all a lot of crap. Let angels take care of angels and devils watch over devils. I don't care about the world and the world doesn't care about me. This is a porcine culture. People are like pigs grovelling in the world to survive. When you get right down to it, everyone is out for himself and anyone who says isn't is just deluding himself. But so what? It's nice once you acknowledge it. So one slumpy little Eddie Baker bonking around, doing nothing, shouldn't be any skin off anyone's ass."
"Time just seems to drag one. It's like it leaks out of a small-holed can each day until it is empty."
   We know that he lived in Lower Westmount, south of Alexis Nihon, in a home owned by the ex-wife of the director of Eliza's Horoscope, presumably Gordon Sheppard, who died in 2006.
   He had six poems published in Parallel magazine in 1966, a small poetry publication run by Peter Desbarats.
   He played a zany guru in a Montreal movie called McBus, done by Lenny Cohen's pal Derek May.
   We are told that he wasn't happy about Don Bell's article and didn't speak to him after that.
   Some of those who might know more about Baker - and we don't even know if it's his real name - are dead. Desbarats, Bell, Sheppard are all dead and gone. If Baker was alive he'd be something like 88 now.
 If anybody can shed more light on this great (great?- Chimples) Montreal character please let us know.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Landlord busted in east end rooming house crack raid

  East End rooming house. EAST..END...ROOMING...HOUSE.. 
  No good news ever starts out with that phrase.
   The recent arrest of Claudio Ponari, 57, a landlord of a rooming house 3629 Ste. Catherine E., on that dodgy strip between Prefontaine and Pie IX, is both sad and bizarre.
  The rooming house has been a constant headache for police and neighbours, as a woman shot another woman there in 2005 and somebody torched the place two years ago.
   The TVA network brought cameras inside the hallways a few months ago to show the unwholesome lifestyles of those living within those walls.
   The area has been chronically plagued with crack cocaine use and prostitution.
   It's in no landlord's interest to promote drug use, but sometimes these things are beyond one's control.
   However the arrest of the landlord in connection with a major crack bust makes the story entirely unusual.
   We don't know the details of the drug charges or the evidence against Ponari.
  Presumably police believe he either tacitly permitted the drug dealing to go on within his property or perhaps was even more actively involved.
      Occasionally landlords will get friendly with tenants and even end up taking drugs with them and bad results inevitably emerge.  We assume Ponari is innocent until proven otherwise and hope you do as well.

Superhospital neighbourhood guide

   Welcome to the neighbourhood.
   The Superhospital is moving to Vendome in 36 days and many Montreal hospital staff and visitors will finally have access to a real urban environment after being isolated on the mountain.
   Unlike at the Vic and General, you won't be  stuck brown-bagging it or eating at the cafeteria, as a nearby walkable neighbourhood awaits to serve your retail, restaurant and bar needs.
1-Chalet BBQ This reasonably-priced classic joint at Addington and Sherbrooke is five minute walk from the hospital and never disappoints.
2-Copoli Small, friendly, unpretentious greasy spoon right across from the metro is a reliable option. They specialize in large hamburgers.
3-Momesso's at Upper Lachine and Old Orchard is famous for their submarine sandwiches.
4-Ville du Souvlaki at Prudhomme and Sherbrooke is a standard souvlaki joint, spacious and reasonable but not huge servings.
5.Thai Express at Sherbrooke and Decarie is noodlicious fast-food that's not so wonderful once it gets cold.
6. Soba Sushi at Northcliffe and Sherbrooke has been a restaurant in various incarnations for decades and has now turned Japanese. There's Iranian on De Maisonneuve, Korean on Upper Lachine and Indian on Sherbrooke, a McDonald's and Second Cup at Claremont, a Subway near Decarie.
1-The nearest bar to the superhospital is the EB Lounge, on De Maisonneuve just west of Decarie. It's not much of an option. They advertise on Stretch Carr's excellent Caribbean radio show but I've never been as I can't figure out where the door is.
2.Next Door Pub The old Buster Harvey's at Sherbrooke and Marlowe is cozy joint worth a visit.
3-Liquid Lounge this place on Sherbrooke just west of Claremont hasn't earned a great reputation and has been associated with various calamities but I've never seen trouble when I went.
4-Maz Peter Sergakis recently
purchased this place on Sherbrooke just west of NDG Park and is still thinking of how to renovate/rename it. Call him with suggestions.
5-Honey Martin's, the best option, is a cozy Irish place but it's a 19-minute walk. The Claremont or the joint at Oxford and Upper Lachine might also get added to the list if they're ever revived.
Places to stroll on your lunch break
1-Westmount Park It's an 11-minute trek but it is and has always been a heavenly spot, complete with library and greenhouse.
2-NDG Park Ample benches to sit and watch the action on Sherbrooke.
3-Oxford Park A quiet spot where tai-chi is practiced but recent expansion of the basketball court has removed much of the green space.
4-Cote St. Antoine Some of the city's most charming architecture sits on a span of this ancient street just up the hill.
5-Sherbrooke between Claremont and Grosvenor is a charming spot full of boutiques, ice cream joints, delis and other charms. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

'Smoking saved my life'- Montreal cop

 Montreal Constable Mario Delvecchio's owes his life to his smoking habit.
   The officer was out on Ontario St. E near Joly when a sniper started shooting out of the window of his rooming house.
   Delvecchio - who was behind the wheel of a police ambulance - was hit by a 22-calibre slug which hit his Bic lighter and a pack of Dumauriers stuffed into his shirt pocket.
   The father of a then-five-year-old boy survived, as the bullet harmlessly plopped to the ground on August 13, 1978 at 7:55 a.m.
   He usually wore a bulletproof vest but it was too hot that day.
   But the shooting spree wasn't all fun and games.
   Pierre Thibodeau, 27, who owned the apartment block across the street, looked out the window and was shot in the head and killed.
   The gunman fired 15 shots in total.
   He was eventually persuaded to surrender without force.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Montreal's billionaire Adams clan: secretive no more

  Quebec's billionaire hermits: that was the theme of an article I wrote for a big Toronto business magazine a couple of years back. One of the publicity-shy entrepreneurs I profiled was Marcel Adams, who has never offered an interview with media.
   Even photos of the guy were non-existent.
  Marcel  Adams has a hell of a story though. At 94, he's still apparently in good shape in spite of living a tough life.
   Marcel Adams was born in Romania, survived Nazi work camp, fled to Israel and then came to Canada in 1951.
   He worked in a Quebec City tannery when he lucked into a the first stages of a real estate fortune - now worth about $2B - by investing in a Quebec City housing project.
   It turns out that his son Sylvan - who has been running the family business for a couple of decades - is far more open to media.
  In an new interview with Immobilier Commercial magazine Sylvan Adams talks openly about the family and the biz of shaping development around Quebec.
   Sylvan Adams, like myself, is a Westmount boy who went to the same elementary school and high school four years before me (Roslyn and Westmount High) and like myself has three daughters and one son.
  Unlike myself he's a competitive bicycle racer and quite wealthy too.
   Adams, 56, notes that his brother Julian, now 60, didn't take over the family business because he was devoted to chemistry and has invented some important medication called Velcade. He also has a sister who is a lawyer and another who is a nurse.
   Adams tells the magazine he - at the helm of  Iberville Developments - purchased the land around the 10-30 project in 1990 for 18 cents a square foot in 1990.
   He thought of building a shopping centre on the site but the Champlain Mall was stiff competition and only Cineplex signed a lease.
  So he went against his dad's philosophy and simply sat on the land.
  It was a good strategy. Thirteen years later sold part of the property at a big profit.
  In 2003 Adams sold off 20 percent of the property to Devimco at $5.83 a square foot, for a total of $35 million. They went on to build the 10-30 mall at the site.
  So Adams bought the property from Trizec $4 M and sold it for $50 M, keeping a little more for their own development.
Marcel Adams, patriarch, seen in rare family photos
   Iberville Developments also sold malls in Quebec City and Sherbrooke in 2005, among 17-or-so properties the company sold for over $1 B between 2000-2005, because the offers were just too high to refuse.
   The company has upcoming developments in Candiac, Pincourt and Sherbrooke, Adams reports.
   But their plan to build something big in the east end RDP/PAT area was - he says - scuttled by corruption at Montreal city hall.
   Adams lives in Westmount with Margaret Cornwell, his England-born wife of 30 years, in a house on the second-highest built property in the city only behind the oratory.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

When Montreal streets were littered with abandoned cars

 Until the 1970s, thousands of defunct, rusty and decaying cars were simply abandoned by motorists on city streets each year.
    In  1969, 5,000 cars were left so heartlessly, in 1971, 8,000 wrecks were discarded on public roads.
  Why? Motorists had to pay $20 to scrap a vehicle.
  Simply leaving it on the road was free.
   Owners would just remove the plates and anything else linking them to the car and just leave them to rot.
   Favourite spots to abandon your vehicle included streets to the north of Jarry Park (seen in the photo) and De Maisonneuve west of Decarie and on Hochelaga.
   Their presence impeded snow removal operations.
   A few years later scrap dealers started offering modest sums for kaput vehicles, thus killing the inane vehicular littering.
  Montreal's car pound on Papineau opened in 1957 and had only 220 cars taken in that year so the numbers exploded fast.
 The total of 8,000 cars at the pound in 1971 included vehicles that had been towed or accidented. Owners had 60 days to recover their cars and had to pay $2 per day. The pound resold the wrecks in packets of 20 at a cost of about $15 per unit.
    Police made no attempt to determine who abandoned the cars. Too much work. In many cases the identification number had been filed off or otherwise destroyed.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Five natural resources that aren't doing much for Quebec

   1-Forest products Quebec was battered when newspapers died, as pulp and paper lost over 100,000 jobs between 2004-2014 in Canada. Plants closed when eyeballs shifted from ink to pixels, bringing an end to a century of newspapers armpitted against pedestrians' rib cages.
    2- Oil We don't do oil in Quebec. There might be some on Anticosti but that's a longshot. The price of oil, as we know, has been undermined as well, which creates a big threat to our Alberta transfer payment income.
  3-Electricity The next resource to suffer a downtown could be our electricity exports, as massive scientific efforts continue to grab power from the sun, wind, natural gas and even from space.
  4-Warmth Some scientists believe that we're doomed for a Maunder event, a multi-year cycle of cold weather, which will decrease tourism, immigration and general quality of life.
  5-Water Our ace card remains our great supply of fresh water, which is coveted in drought-ridden areas like California and Texas. We can't sell it though. Besides, our fresh-water aquatic advantage could quickly evaporate with any cheap electricity technology that allows for affordable desalination. 

Quebec perpetuates cycle of poverty by making driving school mandatory

 The biggest skill one learns at driving school is how not to fall asleep behind the wheel.
  Driving school lectures are overly-long narcolepsy-inducing chinwags in which bored teachers state the most obvious information ever uttered by a human voice.
   And yet the provincial government has made the courses mandatory for those who want to drive.
   The financial burden associated with that requirement makes driving impossible for many.
   That's a shame because getting a drivers license is a key component to escaping poverty.
   If a child from a single-mother welfare home wants to apply for a job that requires a drivers license or driving to work, he simply cannot because his family is too poor to get their hands on the $900 fee that such a dubiously-necessary education requires.
   I have complained about this financial oppression to the Quebec ministry of transport, which caps the maximum price of lessons at $875 - a price that rises after textbooks and other fees are factored in.
  The ministry told me that the driving schools have had the gall to ask to charge even more..
   A simple bit of math will tell you that the schools have already got a gold mine on their hands already as the government is shifting tens of millions to these schools already.
   A few phone calls will suggest that price-rigging might even be a possibility, as the supply of lower-cost schools has vanished over the years.
   A few years ago in a misguided witchhunt, local media did a gotcha story on low-cost schools that allowed students to study from a computer screen. These driving schools were shut down by the government, which is a bad thing because they charged much less.
   It should be noted that many other provinces and states don't even require driving lessons and indeed Quebec was in that group for several years.
   Cars have become increasingly autonomous and safe and courses could conceivably be greatly shortened in the near future. The lessons are less needed than ever.
   Here's a reddit thread I started on the subject a few weeks ago that attracted 156 comments.