Yves Ryan, longtime mayor of Montreal North, dies at 85
Published Sunday, February 2, 2014 11:40AM EST
Last Updated Tuesday, February 4, 2014 9:17AM EST
MONTREAL - Yves Ryan, who served as mayor of Montreal North from 1963 until the municipality became a borough of Montreal in 2001, has died at 85.
Yves Ryan, won 10 straight elections and was considered one of the most respected figures in municipal politics during his reign.
He was also known as brother of Claude Ryan, the former editor of Le Devoir who became head of the Liberal Party of Quebec.
Like his brother, Yves was a journalist before becoming a politician in 1957.
Ryan boasted that he returned every phone call and even installed a large window in his office so people could see that he was hard at work at his desk when passing outside.
He would routinely win re-election with over 80 percent of the popular vote when he didn’t run unopposed.
Ryan was a trusted administrator and was given the tricky task of overseeing the trusteeship of four major Quebec construction unions in 1975.
When he was voted to head the island’s transit commission in 1994, Westmount mayor Peter Trent described Ryan as, “brilliant, extremely moral and hardworking.”
His opposition to fare hikes and budget cuts led him to fall out with the MUC brass and he was voted out of that role four years later.
Ryan could have a sharp tongue, once describing a mayoral opponent as a “dilettante” and “adventurer.”He was also considered an innovator, videotaping public meetings as early as 1985.
City councilor Marvin Rotrand remembered Ryan as a strong, articulate voice for the suburbs in the days before the municipal merger, and as someone who worked to include women and visible minorities on the Montreal police force.
“While he’s noted as a conservative, small-c and big-c, I think most people said that he actually raised a lot of progressive social issues,” he said.
Montreal North is an ethnically diverse borough of about 84,000 residents spread over 11 square kilometers. Over 20 percent of its residents are visible minorities, a rate considerably higher than the island average. Depopulation has long been an issue, indeed it was the fastest-shrinking city in Canada in the first-half of the 1990s, losing five percent of its population, a trend which Ryan attributed to urban sprawl.
Ryan died of heart disease Saturday night at the Hotel Dieu Hospital in Montreal, leading many to express their sadness online, including Mayor Denis Coderre whose federal riding overlapped with Ryan’s city.
“You know one of my greatest sorrows is that we didn't talk since I was elected . . . but he always taught me to be myself,” said Coderre.
Visitation for Yves Ryan will be Saturday, Feb. 8 at the Magnus Poirier funeral home, 10,300 Pie IX Blvd. His funeral will begin at 1:30 p.m. at Ste. Gertrude Church, 11,891 St. Gertrude, Montreal North