Hidden Treasures / 3
Local students show off their literary stuff in the 2017 McEntyre Writing Competition
Introduction by Wayne Larsen
In what has become an annual tradition in Westmount schools, the McEntyre Writing Competition always attracts a wide variety of thoughtful and creative entries, and the 2017 edition was no exception.
Endowed by the late Peter McEntyre, mayor of Westmount from 1969 to 1971, the competition encourages young writers to express themselves on a designated topic, each designed to get the creative juices flowing. It is coordinated each year by the Westmount Public Library.
In 2017, “Secret Places, Hidden Treasures” was the topic assigned to students in grades 1 through 11.
Westmount Magazine presents the full texts of the first-place entries in each grade category, as supplied by the Westmount Public Library.
Here we present Grades 4 and 5.
FOURTH GRADE | FIRST PRIZE | ECS
A secret you ask? Well I have one. I have kept it for a very long time. My name is Joe and the secret, well, I’ve kept it for 375 years.
Let me tell you about myself. I’m sensitive to sun and I am allergic to garlic. By now, you’ve probably guessed that I’m a Vampire, and being a Vampire ain’t easy, let me tell you. It’s actually the opposite of easy. Do you know how many people have good tasting blood? Over half the population of Montreal and don’t get me started on the animals on that island.
I’ve been hiding my identity for years. I’ve lived among the Iroquois, Algonquins and Hurons. I’ve seen Paul de Chomedy de Maisonneuve and Jeanne Mance declare Montreal as their own and Samuel de Champlain claim Quebec City for France. I have a university degree in history. I am a caretaker at night for you and all the citizens of Westmount at the Westmount Library. I read books and magazines throughout the day. I thought you might want to hear my story. You may already know who I am. I’m the one who stares at your neck.
FIFTH GRADE | FIRST PRIZE | ECS
The Leap of Faith
I sighed as I started making the long walk home from school, trudging through the thick snow. I walked by the Westmount City Hall every day, but, this time, I was drawn towards it, like a moth to a flame. Then, in the bushes outside the majestic building, I noticed something strange. A faint purple glow among the bare branches, a faint hum, like one you would imagine from a UFO, and, it turned out, I wasn’t far from the truth.
My name is Laurel, and this is the story of how I made my mark in history, and how it changed my life.
There it was, the gleaming purple hole in time and space itself, a portal. I inched closer, and curious, stuck my hand in. From the other side, a warm summer breeze beckoned me, in contrast to the cold that was biting at my face. Cautiously, I slid the rest of my body through the hole, and warily I stood up. I was now dressed in shorts and a T-shirt. The sight before my eyes hit me like a sledgehammer: children running through the lush, green grass dotted with daisies and buttercups surrounding the City Hall; women laying out a picnic of fruit and bread; and an ice cream man selling his frozen treats. It was just like summer, but there was something different; there was peace and harmony. I turned my back to face the portal, but to my shock it had disappeared. A note lay on the grass.
“Only when you have made your mark in history, will you return back to your time, until then, good luck.”
I walked up to a lady, buying ice cream, “Excuse me, ma’am, what’s the date?”
The woman put down her ice cream cone.
“My dear, don’t they teach you that in school? Oh, well, if you really need to know it’s July 18th. Would you like some ice cream?”
“Uh, no thanks,” I muttered, “what year?”
“What year? 1969, of course!”
“You have got to be kidding me, that’s not right…” I started to pace. I’m stranded in 1969! This is impossible! I needed to walk this out. I made my way along the street, when I noticed a young boy, with brown tussled hair walking toward City Hall. Maybe he could shed some light on what was going on.
“Um, hi,” I said shyly, “I’m new here, I um…”
“Oh! Hi, I’m David, do you want me to show you around?”
“Um, yeah. Sure. That’d be great,” I stammered, “but, I know my way around.”
“Oookay, so, what are you doing, running errands? Mind if I join you? I’m kind of bored at the moment, I mean… I’m supposed to go straight to my pa’s office over there, but you know…”
“Your dad works in there? What’s his job?” Now it was his turn to blush.
“He’s the mayor.”
“Ok, I just got the craziest idea… do you think he’d let me meet him?” In a few minutes we were talking like best friends. I tried to fill him on how I got there and somehow I knew it was important to meet his dad.
“I’m sure he’d love to meet you too, let’s go!” I followed David into the building, walking up flights of stairs until we reached Mayor McEntyre’s office. His office was quaint and reminded me of my grandfather’s study.
“Ah, David, my boy, you brought a friend,” he said in his rich deep voice. “Now, what may your name be young lady?”
“I’m Laurel, and I’m from year 2017.”
“Pardon me?” he said, a deep worry line creased above his raised eyebrows.
“I came back in time, through a portal outside the bushes.”
“Laurel, do you mind if we talk, in private?”
“Uh, sure?” I said with a quizzical look. David looked at me curiously before leaving the room and closing the dark wooden door behind him.
“Let me guess,” Mayor McEntyre asked slyly, “when the portal closed, it left a note. Am I right?”
My mouth dropped open and I stood gaping like a fish out of water. “I… Um… How… Why…” was all I could muster as my face turned pale as a ghost.
“I thought so,” the Mayor muttered with a sigh. “There is a story that I must share.”
“What story?” I asked, leaning forward.
“When I was a boy, a similar incident happened in my backyard. I was scared. I ran out of the bushes and straight home. The next morning, I snuck back wondering if the portal was still there. It was not. In its place was a note which read,
You have missed the chance of a lifetime. We will send someone to change your life and inspire you to help people think about others. Tell them about this missed chance if they announce they are from the future. They will be the chosen one, to inspire you to think in a new light about COMMUNITY.”
“Well, I will; and I know just how. We could start a writing competition.”
That was how I made my mark in history, starting this very competition. Now please take a moment to think about what community means to YOU. To many, it means people around them, but it most deeply means people you deeply trust and care for, even if they are truly far away. To me they are, Mayor McEntyre, David, my parents, my friends, teachers and classmates.
Community is all around, all you have to do is reach out and touch it.
Image: Andrew Burlone
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