Sam Gatelaro, Vice-President of the Board of Directors
Sam Gatelaro is a man on a mission. Internationally known and highly respected for his distinguished career of more than 40 years in the Aviation Industry, as well as for his amazing talent as an Oil and Watercolor Artist, his passion for the Arts spills over into many other areas. As Vice-President of the Board of Directors of the Atwater Library and Computer Center, his resolve to help save the library is evident, from his speech to his actions.
Mr. Gatelaro has personally approached the Mayor of Montreal, Gérald Tremblay, as well as countless ministers in both the Provincial and Federal departments, to obtain funds in order to restore this historical building, which was founded in 1828, and celebrates its 175th Anniversary this year. So far, no help is coming from anybody, and the building is in trouble.
While there is always a need for books and equipment in any modern library, that is not the main concern for The Atwater Library and Computer Center. The problem is the building itself, which is in urgent need to be restored, to ensure that it doesn't fall apart.
It's ironic and bizarre that Heritage Canada is in the process of considering it as one of Canada's Historical Buildings, but on the other hand, will not help with funds to restore this jewel of a building, in order to keep it open. Exactly what is the point to that? As a wise man once said, "forget the titles, give me the money".
The story about the Atwater Library has been in the local media to make people aware that the exquisite historical building is in dire need of help.
As yet another way of making people everywhere understand how urgent the issue is, Sam Gatelaro painted a huge banner that will hang in front of the Atwater Library to collect funds for the restoration of the 175 year old Historical Building in Montreal.
The enormous banner, asking people for donations, should be a real concern to any politician, who professes to care about their country and its history, but does nothing. If the Founders were alive today, this would not be happening. In the history of Montreal, Louis-Joseph Papineau, John Redpath and John Molson are legendary. These are the same people who founded The Atwater Library.
The Atwater Library's plight raises the question: How can the government - on any level - not care about keeping an important library - a place of learning, that has served millions of people - open for those who need it, and for future generations? Maybe if it were in Afghanistan, during the Taliban era, as senseless as it is, it could be understood. But in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, one of the best cities in the world, this is absolutely unacceptable.
However, since this seems to be the case, it's up to the people to keep history alive. This is YOUR chance to do something: from donating funds to calling and writing your local, provincial, and federal government until they actually get so tired of hearing about it that they will do something.
Incidentally, on Saturday October 11, 2003, The Gazette, the daily English Montreal newspaper, had an in-depth report on the outrageous illegal activities that are happening in the area surrounding the Atwater Library. The article says that residents are determined to take their neighborhood back from drug dealers and drug addicts, who scare them and have made a total mess of the once tranquil residential area.
This is yet another reason that somebody must step up to keep the library open. We know by now that EDUCATION is essential, not optional. What kind of signal is the government sending to people if they allow a legendary learning institution to close down? Where will the people who need it go? Now, adults as well as kids have a place to go for studying and research, among many other activities. If we allow the library to fade out, we are telling our kids that we don't care what they learn, and where they learn it. That's not very wise, especially in a place that's infested with crime.
The money needed for the restoration of the Atwater Library is a drop in the bucket for any big corporation that wants to show goodwill and give back to the community.
Hopefully, someone will read about the plight of the Atwater Library, and realize that its restoration can and must be done, before it's too late.
Atwater Library and Computer Centre
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