|Oscar Wilde died on Nov 30, 1900, at the age of 46 (Photo by Napoleon Sarony, circa 1883)|
Over a century after the American Revolutionary army made the Château Ramezay in Old Montreal its Canadian headquarters in 1775 – Benjamin Franklin himself would later overnight there in his quest to persuade Canadians to join the American Revolution – the Château’s gardens (then already a fraction of the size they used to be) would be visited by none other than Oscar Wilde during Wilde’s lecture tour of
in 1882. Canada
Don Anderson resurrects Wilde
In Wilde’s children’s story The Selfish Giant, originally published in the collection The Happy Prince and Other Tales in 1888, kids play in an orchard very much like the gardens of Château Ramezay, which was built by Claude de Ramezay, the military commander appointed Governor of Montreal in 1704.
Château Ramezay was dubbed "the most beautiful house in
and its gardens and orchard – only 750 square metres remain today – sloped down
to the . St-Lawrence
When I first visited the garden a few year ago I could not help but think of Oscar and The Selfish Giant, a story that can still bring me to tears today.
“The Selfish Giant is the story I listened to most when I was a child and when I read it today I can hear my father’s voice,” says Montreal actor Don Anderson, who memorably portrayed Oscar in the Montreal New Classical Theatre Festival production of critically-hailed American playwright Moises Kaufman’s Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde, back in November 2006.
“It’s a powerful story,"
"Like so many of Oscar’s stories, there is a moral underpinning. All of
what he wrote had a moral underpinning.” Anderson
Wilde, of course, really was the world’s first gay icon, and later a gay martyr when he was tried and convicted of sodomy in 1895, even though Oscar would never know what he would become, much less recognize the word “gay.”