Norman Bethune Square


Walking through the completed portion of Quartier Concordia this afternoon (northeast corner of Guy and de Maisonneuve), I snapped these photos of a wreath lying in front of the Norman Bethune statue. This reminded me of last week, when I saw a group of Chinese gathered in the square. Naturally, I continued on my way not thinking much at the time, but then I realized that they must have been paying hommage to the doctor who devoted himself to communism and the Chinese people.

Bethune died Nov. 12, 1939. Making it 70 years ago last Thursday.


  1. What was the wreath laying? An egg, perhaps? I believe you meant to say that the wreath was lying in front of the statue.

  2. What a touching gesture. We should remember Bethune better. Aside from his work in China, he was also on the front lines of the Spanish Civil War. In Canada, he was very vocal when it came to universal health care and defended it passionately. A man of many parts.

  3. Good call. Thanks for the editorial comment. You’re hired!

  4. Hey Adam,

    I’ll argue for laying:

    to lay: to put or place in a horizontal position or position of rest; set down: to lay a book on a desk.

    Doesn’t really matter I know, but it’s valid (so is “lying”, for that matter)

    Apart from the English, I think that Leila is right when she says that we should remember Bethune better. We should remember many of our Canadian heroes better. Someone who had immigrated from Russia recently told me that the reason that Canada doesn’t have a sense of history is not that we are young, but rather that we cover up our history far too quickly.

    Perhaps it’s because we’d like to think of ourselves as modest, or self-effacing, but I think we could all do a better job of being proud of the things we have acheived as a nation.

  5. I like how Norman Bethune’s statue is in front of a Tim Horton’s and caddy-corner from the business school.

  6. kanukodiak:

    You can argue in favour of “laying” in the context in which Adam used it but you would still be wrong. In fact, you’ve proved yourself wrong with your own comment.

    As you say, “to lay” is a verb meaning to put, to place, to set, etc. A transitive verb, it is used with an object as in “I saw someone laying a wreath before the Norman Bethune statue.”

    The wreath was not laying something on the ground. It lay on the ground when Adam saw it or, you may also say that it was lying on the ground when Adam saw it. Which brings me to the verb “to lie.”

    “To lie” requires no object. When speaking of things, it means, roughly speaking, to rest in a horizontal or flat position. For example, you can say “the wreath lies on the ground” or “the wreath is lying on the ground.”

    In any event, you need not take my word for it, consult a dictionary instead. Have a particular look at the usage note here:

    But, above all, please don’t perpetuate what I consider to be an abuse of the English language when you’re not sure of what you’re saying.

    Use of the English language is widespread and that’s great; but the pitfalls of its being so widespread is that fewer and fewer people speak it well, including those in the media.

  7. What I find interesting about the location of this square is that a second downtown Chinatown is growing up in the area. We’ve had some wonderful photos of this process by Cédric Sam and other Spacing contributors.

  8. Good point Maria. I’ve noticed that myself. Surprisingly this public space isn’t used by citizens, or students for that matter, as anything other than a place to sit momentarily.

    It’s unfortunate that the only group I see using it are the LaRouchies. It could be the new Cabot Square, given that it’s right on the Concordia SGW campus.

  9. I think that the new set up will actually be way more useable – certainly more so than the previous pigeon-infested island. I bet that once the banging construction actoss the street is done, this place will be occupied.

  10. I just got back from Changchun where the Norman Bethune College of Medicine has an exact duplicate of the sculpture in front of one of the main buildings. The exact duplicate except that the pedestal is about twice as high!

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