A tribute to Diana and David Nicholson's Wednesday Nights

Par Isabelle Ramsay-Brackstone le 16 février 2011

The Nicholsons greeted me in their salon for the first time back in 1996. I was then a graduate student at HEC Montreal, completing a M.Sc. in International Business. I love debates, sharing ideas, learning about the arts, trade, diplomacy, and politics, among many other subjects.

More celebrations of Wednesday Nights: They make it relevant

Par Donna Logan le 16 février 2011

 had the great, good fortune to meet Diana and David long before they started the Wednesday Night Salon.  I already knew they were very special people.  The salon started... I have many fond memories of great sessions and meeting a broad, cross-section of incredible people!

More celebrations of Wednesday Nights: Dear Wednesday Nighters

Par David Beigie le 16 février 2011

I regret that I was unable to represent my dad Carl at the 1500th gathering. But I wanted to share these words of congratulations as you embark on the next 1500.
My father enjoyed debate and discussion. And he loved to teach. This was his main currency in life. Wednesday Night provided an ideal setting for all his passions to come together in one place with people he cared about.

More celebrations of Wednesday Nights: Rage, rage into Wednesday Night

Par Felix von Geyer le 16 février 2011

Like the two matching lines of a villanelle poem such as Dylan Thomas above, Diana and David Nicholson intertwine their alternate lines that have recurred throughout the poetry of Wednesday Night that last December pushed through its 1500th successive Wednesday – more than 25 years.
Between them they introduce, compare and contrast people, their perspectives, opinions and deeds that are the substance and form that bring shape, solidity and occasionally lingering noeticism to any informed debate or opinion.

More celebrations of Wednesday Nights: Beyond measure

Par An Thien Ngo le 16 février 2011

How to measure the contribution of Wednesday Night to our society and to the lives of the individuals who gather each week in the Nicholsons' salon? By insights gained, connections forged, endeavours catalyzed, new fields explored?

More celebrations of Wednesday Nights: The University of Wednesday-Night

Par P. David Mitchell le 16 février 2011

The Age of Enlightenment spawned the salon, an important place for the exchange of ideas,  an increase in knowledge and a source of pleasure and friendship for participants. And an influence on society.

More celebrations of Wednesday Nights: Something unique

Par The Hon. David Kilgour le 16 février 2011

Diana, David and friends have achieved something unique and important with their uninterrupted Wednesday salons over so many years. In our travels around the world, we have never heard a similar institution.

More celebrations of Wednesday Nights: Never better, never warmer

Par Stephen Blank le 16 février 2011

From someone who spent some moments on Canadian TV in the 1990s (when I headed the Council of the America’s Canadian Program in New York City), I can tell you that the lights were never hotter, the questions never tougher, the company never keener and the conversation never quicker than around the Nicholson’s table on Wednesday night.  Might I also say, the friendships were never warmer, the wine more plentiful or hosts more gracious. Hail to David and Diana!

More celebrations of Wednesday Nights: Plus ça change..the 700th tribute

Par Sam Totah le 16 février 2011

Dear Diana and David,

The year is now 2011, you have just moved out of the house - 33 Rosemount avenue, Westmount, Quebec, still in Canada (!) and I just reviewed what I had written some fifteen years ago about your Wednesday Nights Salon on the occasion of the 700th anniversary. Now, you have passed your 1500th anniversary of your unforgettable “plus ca change plus c’est la même chose” soirées with some slight changes, but the spirit is still the same ! Hope you would like the following to …my tribute to the 700th


Par Alan Hustak le 2 janvier 2011

Naomi Bronstein, who died in Guatemala City on Dec. 23 at the age of 65,  was a humanitarian,  Children’s aid worker and a non-conformist whose abrasive  personality earned her a reputation as the swearing Mother Teresa.

A moveable feast

Par Beryl Wajsman le 27 décembre 2010

WedNit3_small.jpgSome thirty years ago, Diana and David Nicholson opened their storied home at 33 Rosemount Avenue in Westmount for conversations with friends every Wednesday night. Those  conversations grew into a Montreal tradition that rivals the most influential political and literary salons of Washington, London or Paris. Almost every leader from the worlds of politics, finance, medicine, science, academia and any other vocation you can think of have passed through their warm and welcoming doors.


1500 mercredis consécutifs!

Par Alan Hustak le 27 décembre 2010

WedNit9_small.jpgCe n’est peut être pas impressionnant si vous le dites rapidement, mais contemplez le nombre pour un instant et il est en effet impressionnant. 

Since David and Diana Nicholson held their first salon in February, 1982, we’ve gone through seven Canadian Prime Ministers, five United States Presidents, ten premiers of Quebec, eight periods of negative economic growth, four economic recessions, and two Quebec referendums. The ramifications all of which have been either debated, dissected, discussed or dismissed by those who have kept the flame of friendship burning at their table for 28 years. There have been Wednesday nights on Christmas Eve, even on a Leap Year a Wednesday in 1992. Through it all there has never been an occasion when no one has shown up.

Toast to a House

Par Wanda Potrykus le 27 décembre 2010

WedNit11_small.jpgFor 1495 consecutive Wednesdays this stately mansion on its quiet tree-lined street in Westmount has opened its yellow door with the admiral’s port and starboard lights of red and green firmly, quietly beaming welcome to a motley crew of you and yes, meet and greet, to talk and tease, and laugh and joke and sing...and ring in the changes of government, economies, birthdays, markets, years, ideas, philosophies, generations, recessions, opinions, seasons, reasons...even millennia...during times of sadness and madness...of plenty and of want...while it has steadfastly borne the brunt of countless openings and closings, farewells, hallos, and bon voyages...swinging shut for the final time behind some...but opening more often than not...for the crew of long time regulars...with or without their varied guests...and pasts... 

Lasting connections

Par Helen Forbes le 27 décembre 2010

I think my late boss, Richard J. Kaiser and I started going to Wednesday nights in 1981 or '82. Sometimes there were 20 or 30 people, sometimes as few as 10, often in the summers when people were away. Richard J. ended up giving up on the late nights as he had kids to get to school the next morning but I kept going.

Symposium on the Saint Lawrence: A tribute to Wednesday Night

Par Kimon Valaskakis le 27 décembre 2010

In Plato’s original symposium which took place in the house of the tragedian Agathon, seven Greek philosophers compared thoughts and experiences on the subject of love (Eros, Agape but primarily love of wisdom which is the etymological meaning of philosophy itself).  This started a long historical tradition of erudite discussions over the dinner table (and was probably even the precursor of the modern day business lunch).

Thank You

Par Paul Shrivastava le 27 décembre 2010

Thank you for this grand celebration of Wednesday Night, and of Diana and David's leadership in creating and sustaining community discourse.  For a new comer to Montreal like me, Wednesday Night offered it all - an introduction to the city's buzz, latest political news and gossip, lofty analysis, Punditry at its best, the seduction of a Parisian salon, an open, inviting and friendly  atmosphere.  It was a pill that made me feel instantly like an "insider".  At least once a week I felt like I knew exactly how things really were.  The discussions were well researched, erudite, and incisive, the disagreements were friendly and civil, and the video tapes archive is there to prove it.

The quiet charms of fascinating people

Par Steven Lightfoot le 27 décembre 2010

It all started for me 20 years ago. My friend Marina knew I was interested in ideas and the sharing of them, and she had run across this really interesting couple living in Westmount. They held what could only be described as a 19th century Parisian salon right in their home. They had been doing this literally every Wednesday Night for years, which sounded implausible, but was true.

No small feat: 1500 sparkling nights....and one cracked chair

Par Roslyn Takeishi le 27 décembre 2010

WedNit12_small.jpgIntellectual Salons have been a social reality from the 16th century onwards, starting as an Italian invention, then flourishing in France throughout the 17th and 18th centuries. They are the place for the exchange of ideas. David and Diana Nicholson have been hosting their Salon for over 28 years in their Westmount home. On December 1, 2010, we celebrate 1500 Consecutive Wednesday Nights, a seriously committed undertaking.

Something to look forward to

Par Antal Deutsch le 27 décembre 2010

Wednesday Night is a delightful microcosm of educated Anglo and Allo-Montrealers. The over-all tone is leftist, in the let-us-save-the-world style of the early seventies. There are a couple of sacred cows that are carefully not discussed: Israel vs. the Palestinians, and the suppression of individual rights (nominally language, but really economic) in the name of “collective rights” in Quebec. The over-all leftist tone not withstanding, much attention is devoted to the stock-market.

Montreal’s Source of Enlightenment: « Les beaux esprits se rencontrent »

Par Alexandra T. Greenhill le 27 décembre 2010

As a traveler crossing the desert in hope beyond hope happens upon an unexpected lush oasis, so did we stumble upon Diana and David’s miraculous Montreal institution, at which political, social, artistic, and scientific questions are discussed weekly with never ending passion and an abundance of new perspectives. This is what the Salons of the French 18th century Age of Enlightenment must have felt like and the impact of these gatherings is of similar scope to be felt for decades to come.

Thinking that's outside the box

Par Margaret Lefebvre le 27 décembre 2010

It was the year 1991 and all was not well in the Canadian nation..  The Meech Lake Accord had collapsed, Quebec was feeling even more alienated then even after the “night of the long knives”; Canadian unity was at a crisis point, hoist on a feather, and rumblings of passionate discontent could be heard throughout the land.

1500 Wednesday Nights and a very special friend

Par Catherine Gillbert le 27 décembre 2010

My thoughts about Wednesday Night always centre on the atmosphere created by the Nicholsons in their wonderful home.  The open door, the hugs and handshakes and the glass of red wine is the right way to make anyone feel perfectly at home.  Although I have lived in Canada for almost 50 years I never really felt as if I belonged until I discovered Wednesday Night. No longer the outsider looking in, I have found a place where I am free to hold any number of contrarian positions without being considered an imposter.  As in an Oxford Common Room, divergence of opinion is the staff of life for Wednesday Night.

An unending stream of the best and the brightest

Par David T. Jones le 27 décembre 2010

It seems like forever; it seems like only yesterday that I first encountered David and Diana Nicholson and enjoyed a "Wednesday Night."  In the winter of 1993, I was political minister counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa, and I attended this first Night as "spouse of" my wife Teresa who was the economic/commercial officer at the U.S. consulate in Montreal.

A True Salon

Par Teresa C. Jones le 27 décembre 2010

In 1992, when I arrived in Montreal to replace the number two at the U.S. Consulate General in Montreal, I had a few days of overlap with John Riley, my predecessor.  He told me all about this fascinating salon that he attended and that I should attend.  He even took me to a Wednesday night meeting.  Coming from Washington and the interagency maze of experts, it was refreshing to find a group who actually thought as well as they talked.  Diana and David had the magical ability to draw out the best of the discussion and the discussants.  The topic didn't matter. 

Wednesday Night: The Cardinal would feel at home

Par Margaret Duthie le 27 décembre 2010

Wednesday-Night – for me is a coming-together in what I imagine to have been the style of the French Cardinal Richelieu who founded the French Academy (Académie française) in 1635., but was also famed for his literary 'salons.'

1500 Wednesdays

Par Prof. Gerald Ratzer le 27 décembre 2010

David and Diana Nicholson have to be congratulated for what is clearly a record setting contribution to the social and intellectual fabric of Montreal.  From what started as an after-class get together with her McGill professor Carl Begie over a drink, this has expanded into a well researched and documented salon, few in the world can revival.

It changes lives

Par Katherine Waters le 27 décembre 2010

My husband David and I weren't sure what to expect at our first Wednesday Night.  We'd heard that several economists, stockbrokers, investment counsellors, bankers attended.  Would a journalist and an English Lit professor of socialist inclinations and little disposable income  fit in?

A magnificent and unanticipated pleasure!

Par Prof. Guy Stanley le 27 décembre 2010

The Italian historian Benedatta Craveri remarks  in l’Âge de la conversation (Gallimard 2002) that the conversation of the Salon over the course of a century or more, beginning in the 17th century after the the French wars of religion, developed a civilizing ideal of social conduct based on courtesy and mutual pleasure. Over the course of its development, as other historians noted (e.g. Anne Martin Fugier in her account of Les salons de la Troisième Républic (Perrin/Tempus 2009)) the ideal of sociable conversation deepened as participation broadened to include writers, artists, and politicians.

A Special Thanks to David and Diana Nicholson for Wednesday Nights

Par The Hon. John Ciaccia le 27 décembre 2010

We are grateful for the opportunities you have given us to meet, to talk , to sometimes dispute but always to enjoy your company and that of the many and varied people who have joined you on Wednesday Night. 
You have opened your home and your hearts to us all. We have been fortunate to have had this oasis in the midst of apathy inattention and confusion. A place where the events of the time will have been reviewed, discussed, discarded, embraced but never overlooked. They have enriched us all- and left us yearning for more.

To be or not to be, is still the big question

Par P.A. Sévigny le 27 décembre 2010

While death and taxes continue to be the two immutable factors of modern life, questions raised by legal euthanasia seemed to be less concerned with the inevitable end of life as opposed to the where, when and especially how the lights get turned off.
“It’s not so much about if we’re going to die,” said Dr. Stephen Liben. “It’s all about how we’re going to die.”


Supreme Court compromises home privacy

Par Beryl Wajsman le 1 décembre 2010


We have all heard the expression that a “person’s home is their castle.” It is more than a saying. It has for hundreds of years been incorporated into the body of our laws. Clearly one can understand that there are certain exceptions. If we hear some horrible scream or smell or smoke coming from our neighbour’s home or apartment we would be irresponsible not to call the appropriate authorities and they would be perfectly right to come and investigate. But how do you feel about information collected about you through the endless panoply of wires and meters governing our abodes being handed over to public security authority? A great danger we think. Yet that is what the Supreme Court has opened the door to.


The secrets of the Sistine Chapel

Par Father John Walsh le 4 novembre 2010

sistine-chapel-picture-3.jpgThe canonization of Brother André brought many Montrealers to Rome.  Inevitably they will complain about the long line-ups to visit the Sistine Chapel but will they have uncovered the secrets of the Sistine Chapel?  Viewing the work of Michelangelo is breathless but does the Chapel still hold its secrets from the average visitor.  The incredible frescoes required a rather complex method to prepare the plaster before the first stroke of the paintbrush would bring color to life.  Imagine Michelangelo laying on his back for four and a half years painting the entire ceiling and walls of ceiling and walls of the Chapel.  The Chapel is a replica, of identical size, of the Jerusalem Temple and symbolized the successionism of Catholicism over Judaism.  The masterpiece has, from the time of its painting, been regarded as an affirmation of the Roman Catholic Church’s central place in the economy of salvation.

“The Jew is not my enemy!” Fatah challenges extremists within his own faith

Par Dan Delmar le 4 novembre 2010

jew.jpgReligious extremism in Islam, Tarek Fatah says, is a “disease that is affecting us to the point that we’re becoming insane with our hatred. I wanted to investigate what is the root cause of the hatred of the Jews.”
Born in Karachi, Pakistan, Fatah is the founder of the Muslim Canadian Congress and the author of the just-released “The Jew is Not My Enemy: Unveiling the Myths that Fuel Muslim Anti-Semitism.” His book tour included two stops in Montreal last week, including one at Côte St. Luc’s Beth Israel Beth Aaron Synagogue.

JFK bust moved

Par Alan Hustak le 4 novembre 2010

The bust of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy that has stood outside the Place des Arts metro station since 1986 is no longer there. Because he public square in which it stood is being rebuilt as part of the new Symphony Hall project,  the statue has been taken away and  JFK Square has been renamed Promenade des Artistes. 

Les deux solitudes : Up close and personal

Par Fanny La Croix le 9 septembre 2010

Why do Francophones speak so much English amongst themselves? It’s a question you find yourself asking often when you’re in constant language flux, seamlessly weaving between the two solitudes.
Même parmi les Francophones pures laines, certains dont l'anglais est au mieux passable, ils se retrouvent à utiliser ce langage si confortable et si à la mode, celui de Shakespeare. De temps en temps, il y a un éveil, alimenté par la fierté nationaliste; les excuses commencent ainsi que la détermination bien intentionnée de vouloir parler plus le français, mais c’est de courte durée.

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