It doesn’t take much looking around Montreal to see Jean Drapeau’s legacy, but when it comes to some of his personal papers, it took decades for them to turn up.
Some of the legendary former mayor’s personal papers and photographs recently turned up amid the 400,000 items in McGill University’s rare books collection.
The find was an accidental one, according to the section’s head librarian.
“I saw it out of the corner of my eye, a photo album,” said Christopher Lyons. “It wasn’t just any photo album, it was a photo album of the building of the Olympic Stadium.”
Among the documents was Drapeau’s personal copy of the 1980 Malouf Report into cost overruns at the 1976 Olympics. Drapeau had once famously said that Olympics could no more run a deficit than a man can have a baby – a claim that would be proven to be overwhelmingly incorrect.
The Malouf Report pointed the finger at the mayor, blaming him for cost overruns. Drapeau’s copy saw the mayor scribbling in the margins.
“The estimates were $310 million, so he circled 310,” said Lyons. “What I find interesting is all of these are circled but when you have the final total, it’s not circled. So I’m wondering if it’s like, ‘Let’s just forget about that.’”
Other notes include a dollar sign and question mark around a damning paragraph.
“What’s neat is it gives us an insight into what he was focusing on in the report, so you can get a sense of how he perceived the meaning of the report and how he perceived his defence,” said Lyons.
Drapeau repeatedly promised to respond to the report, but never did before his death in 1999.
All four volumes of the Malouf Report are available and open to the public at the rare and special books collection at McGill.