THE 50 YEARS OF AGBU MONTREAL CHAPTER (1957-2007)
The AGBU MONTREAL chapter was established on February 14, 1957 and until 1963, it was located in a room, graciously offered by Mr. Kerovpe Bedoukian in his commercial establishment, from where it moved to the Hye Doun.
In 1958, the chapter had 88 members; today, in 2006, the chapter has 600 members, including 12 active committees; Armenian Studies, Bridge, Ciné Club, Cultural, Dance, Genocide, Golden Age, Ideas, Scouts, Sports, Social, Young Professionals.
In 1964, the sports movement started with basketball teams, due to the efforts of Mr. Shahen Shamlian; presently, to honour his memory and the many years of his contribution to the advancement of our chapter, our yearly basketball tournament is named after him. In the earlier years, the sports’ movement included basketball, volleyball, ping-pong and floor-hockey teams.
In 1966, the scouting movement was launched under the leadership of Mr. B. Khanjian and in 1978, a parents’ committee was formed beside the Scouts’ Council to work closely with them to achieve the program goals.
1966 was also the year where some young members formed the Youth Committee.
The years 1968, and 1987 were historic years for Montreal. His Holiness Vazken I, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of all Armenians visited the city and official welcoming ceremonies were held at the AGBU on both occasions.
In 1970, the AGBU chapter activities were transferred into the halls of the Armenian Cathedral, St. Gregory the illuminator. The same year saw the formation of the Cultural Committee. Following this important milestone, the Nubar Dance Ensemble was formed in 1971.
In 1971, the Ladies’ Auxiliary was formed, and worked hard hand in hand with the Executive Committee, for the advancement of the Montreal chapter.
In 1974, due to the efforts of Mrs. Lucy Kestekian the Golden Age Committee was formed.
On September 17 and 18, 1977, on the occasion of opening of the AGBU Alex Manoogian Center, a historic and memorable week-end was organized by the special Organizing Committee.
The first issue of the chapter newsletter, Nor Ayk (New Sunrise), was published in 1978 by Dr. H. Essegulian, it was eventually replaced by the AGBU INFO newsletter.
In 1980, the AGBU theatrical performance group was formed. It was named after the renowned Armenian American writer/playwright William Saroyan; with Mrs. Selma Keklikian as its director.
In 1981, the 25th anniversary of AGBU was celebrated in the presence of the President for Life, Mr. Alex Manoogian and his spouse Mrs. Marie Manoogian.
The Social committee, which was very active in the past, was revived in 1982. This was also the year that the Montreal chapter hosted the 69th General Assembly of the AGBU. Throughout 1982, the 25th anniversary celebrations of the chapter continued.
In 1984, the Cairo (Egypt) HMEM-Nubar senior men’s basketball team was invited to take part in tournaments in Toronto and Montreal.
In 1985, the chapter hosted for the first time, the AGBU North America 4th Navasart Sports Games. Eight hundred young men and women took part in the Games and the associated youth festival.
In 1986, and in the presence of Mrs. Louise Manoogian Simone, Vice-president of AGBU, the chapter celebrated the 80th anniversary of the AGBU.
In 1987, the basement of the AGBU center was renovated with the generous donation of Mr. Jirair Dervishian.
In 1990, the Armenian national basketball team Ourartu was invited to Montreal.
In 1991, the AGBU North America 10th Sports Games were hosted by the chapter.
In 1993, the Educ-Aid Armenia project was born, which was to help the AGBU sponsored children’s center in Armenia with school supplies.
In 1996, the Chapter celebrated the 90th anniversary of the AGBU.
In 1997, in the presence of Mrs. Louise Manoogian-Simone, the president of the AGBU, we jointly celebrated the 40th anniversary of the foundation of the Montreal Chapter and the 20th anniversary of the Alex Manoogian Center.
From 1996 to 2000, the Exhibitions’ Committee held numerous events and exhibited and sold works of many Armenian artists from Armenia and the Diaspora.
In 1999, the major event was the re-establishment of the Scouts’ Council after a 10-year interruption. Today in 2006, it is one of Quebec’s top groups and counts over 130 youth members and 20 leaders. Our scouts have won several recognitions and were decorated by the Quebec Lieutenant Governor, Her Excellency Mrs. Lise Thibault.
In November 2002, special ceremonies were held in honour of the newly elected 7th president of the AGBU Me Berge Setrakian.
From 2002 to 2004 the AGBU center was renovated, due to the efforts of Mr. Paul Kichian, chairman of the chapter, with the major assistance of the special Construction Committee, in October 2004 the official opening festivities were held with the presence of the AGBU president Me. Berge Setrakian and many Canadian governmental dignitaries.
In 2004, the Armenian Studies program was launched for post secondary students, sponsored by Mr. Jirair Dervishian.
In 2005, the Paul and Sirvart Kichian permanent building renovation fund was launched. This same year, the chapter officially celebrated the 30th anniversary of the founding of the Golden Age Committee.
In 2005, the Ciné Club was launched which showed retrospective on Atom Egoyan films in its inaugural season.
Also in 2005, the chapter launched its official website www.agbumontreal.org .
In 2008, the AGBU Montreal chapter celebrated it’s 50th anniversary .
Every year, as a tradition of New Year Grand Ball event, the chapter has published its yearbook, which includes all its activities carried out by its committees.