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The Goose Village

Goose Village is an extensive photographic and video project about a six-street borough located in Pointe St-Charles bulldozed in 1964 in anticipation of Expo 67. It was a neighborhood mostly made up of Italian and Irish immigrants. It was a self-sufficient and self-contained community with a plethora of cultural richness that was thriving before city officials deemed it a dilapidated slum and completely demolished the entire neighborhood.  The project focuses on the displacement of this community and my family's experience with the expropriations.


About the project 

My name is Marisa Portolese, I am an artist and educator that lives and works in Montreal. I am currently in the midst of producing an extensive photographic and video project that focuses on the Goose Village neighbourhood in Montreal and the displacement of the community of individuals that once lived there.

The Goose Village, also known as Victoriatown, is the land that sits between the Victoria Bridge and the Lachine Canal on the south side of Pointe St-Charles. This six-street borough was once a plethora of cultural richness, mostly made up of Italian and Irish immigrants. Upon arrival in Canada, my father settled in the Goose Village. In fact, many of my family members and friends of my parents also lived there.

In 1964, in anticipation of Expo 67, the city administration of Jean Drapeau demolished the entire neighborhood to make way for the short-lived venue of a sports arena and its’ adjoining parking lot. This resulted in the destruction of 350 buildings and exiled 1500 people from their homes. The expropriations were a painful reality to all involved – it was the death of a community and it is a story of struggle. As often happens in the face of capital-oriented urban development, the local residents’ voices and opinions were not recognized or respected in this decision-making process. To add insult to injury, this sports arena also faced its’ demise less than a decade later when it was dismantled in 1975.

The Goose Village has since disappeared from Montreal maps, effectively obliterating certain ethnic groups from the cultural and social fabric of this undervalued site, which is currently a parking lot.

Via oral history interviews, the urban landscape, and photographic portraiture, the Goose Village project explores how poor urban planning decisions result in the physical and psychical erasure of working-class communities and my father’s experience with the expropriations.

The purpose for the Goose Village project is two-fold, one-to elucidate how hallmark events such as Expo 67 cause the displacement of entire communities and two-to explore family legacy, a sense of place and cultural identity on a more personal level, by creating a portrait of my family with a special focus on my father as he is the main protagonist in this body of work.

*If you or someone you know once lived in the Goose Village, please do get in contact with me. I would love to hear about your experience and include your voice in this project. I can be reached at

1. Dad in the Goose Village, 2020.

2. Tree in the Goose Village Parking Lot, 2020

3. Still Life of a Goose Village Home During the Demolitions, 2021

About the artist

Marisa Portolese is Italian-Canadian was born in Montreal, Quebec. She is an Associate Professor in the Photography Program in the Faculty of Fine Arts, at Concordia University. Portraiture, representations of women, narrative, autobiography, the figure in nature, cultural heritage and immigration are major and recurrent subjects in her practice. She often produces large-scale color photographs, rich in painterly references that concentrate on elucidating facets of human experiences in relation to psychological and physical environments, relating to larger themes concerning identity and spectatorship. She attempts to weave together gesture, affect, and the nuances of the gaze, to create an immersive and emotional landscape for the viewer.

Upon graduating with an MFA degree from Concordia University in 2001, she has produced many photographic projects, which have received critical acclaim: Belle de Jour (2002), The Recognitions (2004-05), Breathless (2007), The Dandy Collection (2005), Imagined Paradise (2010) Antonia’s Garden (2011), Women of the Landscape (2013), Belle de Jour II (2014), Belle de Jour III (2016) and In the Studio with Notman (2018). She has travelled and exhibited widely in Canada, Europe and the United States. In 2007, she was invited to participate in the prestigious international biennale of contemporary photography: Le Mois de la Photo à Montréal organized by Marie Fraser. She also has three published monographs: Un Chevreuil à la Fenêtre de ma Chambre (2003), Antonia’s Garden (2012) and In the Studio withNotman (2018).

Alongside her exhibition record, critics have written about her work in various journals, magazines, newspapers, art books and periodicals. She is the recipient of several awards and numerous grants from the Canada and Québec Arts Councils, as well as the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. From 2017 to 2019, she was the Artist in Residence at the McCord Museum in Montreal. Her work during this residency culminated as a solo show and a catalogue publication entitled In the Studio with Notman.

Her current research focuses on the cultural legacy of the Goose Village and how the hallmark event of Expo 67 caused the demolition of this working-class neighbourhood and displaced an entire community mostly made up Irish and Italian immigrants that included her parents.