Selected From Our Archives

These selected archives are in chronological order.

People in photos will be identified here, but there will not be any commentary regarding views expressed in any article. Most papers, both internal and external to St. Lambert, correctly refer to the parents going to McGill University for support for their immersion proposal.  Indeed, Dr. Lambert of McGill was the first person we approached with our proposal. When a paper claims that we received help from McGill for setting up the immersion program, this is incorrect, as I described in my main article. Over the years, this pervasive belief built up to the point where even the school board that originally housed the St. Lambert experiment was temporarily taken in.

More archives may be added at a later date.

Between 1964 and 1972, the parents were involved in nearly all aspects of the pilot project in St. Lambert – from developing the model to supporting it in its early years. The immersion program grew from 26 students in 1965 to 45,000 in 1977, (Figures for enrolment, here and later, were provided by David O. Johnston, Quebec Representative of the Federal Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages.)

1964-04-05 – Minutes of the St. Lambert Protestant Parents for bilingual Education

1965-08-18 – Parents’ summer camp

1965-10 – Article – South Shore Echo

PDF – 1965-10 – Memo – Formation of Study Group

PDF – 1967-06-16 – Letter – Madame Rochelet

PDF – 1968-02-05 – SLBSSG – Draft of speech for public meeting

1968-04-23 – Recommendations of sub-committee on French

PDF – 1968-05-22 – Correspondence Rothfels – Langshur

Between 1977 and 1991, the number of students in the bilingual programs grew impressively from 45,000 to 300,000, as the program was introduced and institutionalized across Canada. The St. Lambert parents were no longer actively involved, but the South Shore communities as a whole supported the program with increasing levels of enrolment. The program’s humble origins were starting to be recalled, and the anniversaries of the pilot program were actively celebrated, bringing together founding parents, teachers, administrators, and children of the pilot project. The thirtieth anniversary honoured Mme. Billey-Lichon in a special way for her thirty years of teaching in the immersion program. Valerie, Murielle, and I each gave a short speech.

1968-12-04 – Article – South Shore Echo

1969-05-30 – Letter – Joss to Neale

1969-11-19 – Letter – OM to Members of French Committee

1970-12-03 – Gazette Article

PDF – 1974-01-28 – Letter from OM to Lambert

1983-04-20-Article – Globe and Mail

PDF – 1993-09 – Article – Evelyne Billey-Lichon

PDF – 1995-10-20 – Program for 30th Anniversary

PDF1995 – 30th Anniversary speech transcript

1995-10-21 – Gazette Article

1995-10-21 – Article Gazette 30th Anniversary

The fortieth anniversary in 2006 brought together the founding parents with McGill professors, Dr. Wallace Lambert and Dr. Fred Genesee, at a celebration sponsored by the Riverside School Board. Valerie was represented by her grandson, Benjamin Blanchard. Dr. Lambert gave a speech recalling his experience in St. Lambert, and the two professors presented us with attractive, hand-designed certificates that had been prepared by the Board. [Dr. Lambert passed away in 2009.]

1996 – Article – St Lambert Echo

2006 – 40th Anniversary – Gazette article

2006-03-22 – 40th Anniversary – Dr. Fred Genesee, McGill University and OM

2006-03-22 – Dr. Lambert, Murielle Parkes, Olga Melikoff, and Benjamin Blanchard, grandson of Valerie Neale

2006-03-22 – Olga Melikoff and Murielle Parkes

2006-03-23 – Gazette article

2006-03-20 – Article – Gazette – French Immersion Changed Canada

2006-03-25 –  Gazette – Letters (including from Victor Goldbloom)


From 1991 to 2011, immersion enrolment grew from 300,000 to 340,000, and, by 2018, it was approximately 400,000. 
In the spring of 2016 the fiftieth anniversary of the pilot project was celebrated in style by both “The Canadian Parents for French” and the Riverside School Board. Murielle and I went to the Ottawa celebration on Parliament Hill with Murielle’s daughter, Debbie, and two of Valerie’s daughters, Laurie and Ardeth Neale. The breakfast was well attended by the CPF membership. Film clips of early immersion scenes and accounts by immersion graduates from different parts of the country were viewed on screen. St. Lambert was represented by Nancy White who gave a speech on her experience in the pilot class.
To their fiftieth celebration, the Riverside School Board invited David Johnston of the Commission of Bilingualism and Bicultural to give an address, as they did Murielle and myself. Murielle gave a short history of our project, and I showed two bulky volumes of our archives, which I had started to collate. 
The Riverside School Board honoured the late Mme. Billey-Lichon, as appreciated teacher, and Murielle, Valerie, and myself, as immersion founders, with a permanent plaque that will hang in the Riverside School Board offices.
On November 20, 2016, Murielle and I were invited to a symposium at Vanier College on the future of French immersion, during which Murielle was interviewed by Marian Scott of The Gazette.
In October, 2018, Trafalgar School for Girls, Montreal, which I attended from 1940 to 1942, named me a “2018 Scholar & Explorer” for my work in bilingual education.
On November 1, 2018, Murielle and I were unexpectedly honoured by the QCGN (Quebec Community Groups Network) with the Sheila and Victor Goldbloom Distinguished Community Service Award..


2009-08-30 – Gazette article – Lambert tribute

PDF – 2009-11-17 – Article – The Great Canadian Experiment that Worked

2016-04 – Invitation CPF

2016-04-15 – Riverside invitation to 50th anniversary press conference

2016-04-06 – CPF celebrates 50 years of Immersion

2016-04-06 – CPF Breakfast – Front row, left to right: Lesley Llewelyn – Riverside School Commissioner, Olga Melikoff, Murielle Parkes, Debbie Parkes (Murielle’s daughter) – Back row, left to right: Pierre Farmer, Assistant Director-General Riverside School Board, Dan Lamoureux, Chairman Riverside School Board, Laurie Neale and Ardeth Neale (Valerie Neale’s daughters)

2016-05-04 – Program – 50th Anniversary – Riverside School Board

2016-05-04 – Plaque in honour of the “Founding Mothers”

2016-05-18 – Letter from OM to Jane Dunant – Riverside School Board

2016-11-18 – Conference Programme

PDF – 2016-11-20 – Gazette Article – French First Symposium Vanier College

2018-11-1 – From left to right: O.M., Geoffrey Chambers, President of Quebec Community Groups Network, Murielle Parkes.

2018-11-1 – QCGN Community awards – From left to right: Judy Martin (2013 winner); John Rae, O.M., Murielle Parkes (2018 winners); Haley Campbell (2018 Youth Award winner); and Eva Ludwig  QCGN Secretary)


2018 – Cover – QCGN

2018 – Article – QCGN

The full text of this article can be found here:Goldbloom2018_MelikoffParkes

You may watch an October 2018 interview of O.M. and Murielle Parkes here.