Drapeau, Jean, 1916-1999

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Drapeau, Jean, 1916-1999

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Born 18 February 1916 in the Rosemont neighbourhood of Montreal, Jean Drapeau attended primary school at Jean-de-Brebeuf, Rosemont, from which he graduated in 1935. He followed a course of private study from 1935-1938 towards his BA from the Universite de Montreal, which he obtained in 1938. Drapeau also graduated with a “licence en sciences sociales, économiques et politiques” from the Université de Montréal in 1937. From 1938-1942 he studied Law at the Faculty of Law at the Université de Montréal and was admitted to the Montreal Bar in January 1943. He pleaded civil and criminal cases and practiced both commercial and corporate law. Actively interested in both federal, provincial, and municipal politics, Drapeau became the director of the Ligue d’Action Nationale, a member of the Société Saint-Jean-Baptiste de Montreal (as well as its vice-president general), and a member of the Chamber of Commerce of Montreal, among other positions. He married in 1945 and was the father of 3 boys. On 25 October 1954 he was elected mayor of Montreal by a majority of 54,000 votes. Among his recognized achievements during his 29 years as mayor (1954 to 1957 and 1960 to 1986) are the development of the Montreal Metro system, the 1967 International and Universal Exposition in Montreal (Expo 67), and the construction of Place des Arts. Drapeau also successfully lobbied for the 1976 Summer Olympic games to be held in Montreal and presided over the construction of the Olympic facilities, leading the city of Montreal into massive debt. Drapeau died on 12 August 1999 at the age of 83. The Parc Jean-Drapeau, extending over the two small islands in the Saint Lawrence river that were the site of Expo 67, and its Metro station are named in his honour.


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