11/28/2014 12:13 EST | Updated 01/28/2015 05:59 EST

Preserving the memory of life in 'The Point'

Clinton Glenn pulls out a gold pocket watch from a small clear plastic case.  

He turns it over and reads the inscription on the back.

"Presented by the Steel Company of Canada Ltd. to M. Malcharek for 25 years of service completed."

Malcharek is Glenn’s great-grandfather.

Glenn grew up in Edmonton, but came to Montreal to visit his grandparents each summer.

They were members of the Holy Trinity Polish Church on Centre Street in The Point.

“This is where my grandfather grew up," he said.

"I wondered how this church is related to my family, what sorts of ceremonies they would have had here, christenings, marriages.”

The pocket watch is just one of several family heirlooms that Glenn has put together in what he calls his "archives." 

The archives and a walking tour through Pointe-Saint-Charles explore Glenn’s connection to the Montreal neighbourhood.

It’s a project Glenn, a master's student in art history, created for a course exploring learning in the community at Concordia University. 

Preserving history

Glenn was inspired by the Laurie Anderson song World Without End and the lyrics, “When my father died it was like a whole library burned down."

When his grandfather died, Glenn sat down and played that song and remembered how important his grandfather was for his understanding of Montreal.

Frank Malcharek was a taxi driver in Montreal for most of his life. Glenn remembers arriving from Edmonton late at night and getting picked up at the airport by his grandfather.

“He’d take us on a two or three hour tour of Montreal, ending up at the look-out on the mountain," Glenn said. 

"When he passed away in 2011, it was that version of Montreal that passed and I had no way to recover it, that connection to my past.”

So the archives project is a story of his personal connection to the neighbourhood.

“I wanted to highlight the way our experience of place and city is tied to memory. That’s why I used my grandfather as that linking point because I felt my relationship with him and the way I understood Montreal was something that people could access," he said.

"We all have grandparents, whether we knew them or whether we didn’t. And for me there’s always been a curiosity as to where did I come from? Where are my roots? Where did I belong? Where is home?”