© McCord Museum
Warmth for the Homeless...
Aislin (alias Terry Mosher)
1995, 20th century
Ink, felt pen and crayon on paper
26.9 x 27.6 cm
Gift of Mr. Terry Mosher
© McCord Museum
Keys to History:
"One day, I walked into the lobby of a bank on St. Laurent Boulevard where there was a cash-dispensing machine. On the floor was clear evidence that someone seeking warmth had slept there the night before. Back at The Gazette, I recreated the probable scenario in this drawing. I was struck by the irony of the situation: a homeless person sleeping with instant wealth, in the form of that faceless and impersonal ATM, so close, yet so far away."
Cartoons generally draw attention to a specific news story by exaggerating some aspect of it to bring out what's at issue. However, sometimes a cartoonist will illustrate a more serious reality and thus urge readers - as do some editorialists - to reflect on social issues. Here, a homeless man in need of a little warmth is forced to sleep on the floor of a bank...
Canada, one of the richest nations in the world, has an impressive network of social programs. Despite that, its large and medium-sized cities are home to many hundreds, if not thousands, of homeless people. In Montreal, throughout the year, aid organizations such as L'Accueil Bonneau, Le Refuge and Le Bon Dieu dans la rue shelter homeless men and women, helping them become more autonomous so that they can reintegrate into society.
Starting in the early 1980s, financial institutions began installing automatic banking machines in order to provide round-the-clock service to their customers. Because their doors are now always open, bank lobbies, like métro entranceways, often serve as temporary shelters for the homeless in winter.
In the lobby of a bank, a homeless man sleeps beneath a radiator. Between 1980 and 1990, there were an estimated 10,000 to 15,000 homeless persons in Montreal, of which some 4,000 to 5,000 were young people from eighteen to thirty-five years of age. However, these estimates are controversial. In 1987, the Canadian Council on Social Development (CCSD) reported that in Canada 10,762 persons were living in shelters. Quebec accounted for 17.5%, or fewer than 2,000 persons. In 1991, Statistics Canada launched a study of ninety aid groups in sixteen cities. Nonetheless, in 1995, it announced that the data from the study would not be published. A Statistics Canada document from 1999 states, "To this day, Canada has no official data on homelessness..."