50 years ago, the British diplomat James Cross was kidnapped by the Front de liberation du Québec (FLQ) in an apartment on avenue des Récollets, in Montreal-North. This kidnapping marks the beginning of the October Crisis. Return to this page of Quebec history.
On the morning of October 5, 1970, members of the Liberation cell took action. They kidnap James Richard Cross from his Westmount home. Their objective: to make the government bow to their demands, including the publication or dissemination of the FLQ manifesto, the payment of $ 500,000, the release of political prisoners and a plane to Cuba or Algeria.
At the time, Quebec was in a pivotal period. Despite the Quiet Revolution, socio-economic inequalities persist. While some still advocate democratic means to free themselves from Anglophone economic power, others are more radical.
“There are young people who were impatient and who wanted to go faster,” explains Louis Fournier, author of the book. FLQ: history of an underground movement and ex-journalist who covered the crisis.
On avenue des Récollets
On September 12, the members of the Liberation cell, including the couple Jacques Cossette-Trudel and Louise Lanctôt, took care of renting accommodation under the assumed name Jacques Tremblay. It was therefore to 10945, avenue des Récollets that Cross was taken by car after his kidnapping. It is here that he will be held captive for 59 days.
Why did you choose to settle in Montreal-North?
“I admit that you ask me a good question,” replies Louis Fournier. They were looking for accommodation with a garage. Montreal-North was chosen as it could have been Saint-Léonard. It was still not too far on the island of Montreal. ”
His calm saved him
For nearly two months, even as Pierre Laporte was killed and the Canadian army was deployed in Quebec, James Cross was kidnapped.
“He was in a room in the apartment,” says Fournier. He was in handcuffs, but he could read newspapers, watch TV. He was fed by those who were there. ”
Unlike Pierre Laporte, Cross came out alive. He is 99 years old today. The FLQ had promised to keep him alive, but the diplomat’s attitude also played a role.
“What probably saved him was that he was very cool, explains Mr. Fournier. He was a Briton who had served in the army. He knew the behaviors to behave. He was very calm. ”
It took the RCMP nearly two months to locate the kidnappers. Neighbors north Montreal had not noticed anything suspicious coming from the apartment. Mr. Cross was released on December 3 during a major operation involving the Canadian military.