Dozens of civic and political leaders turned out at the Guy Descary Cultural Centre in Lachine Monday for an announcement honouring businessman and philanthropist Noël Spinelli. The City of Montreal renamed Marina d’Escale Park in Lachine to Noël-Spinelli Park. Spinelli was a lifelong and dedicated Lachinois and it was from there in 1960 that he began the expansion of the business started by his father Giuseppe that now encompasses ten car dealerships selling ten different car brands. Four of those dealerships remain in Lachine. This year marks the centenary of this landmark business employing over 500 people.
But as much as his business leadership, it was his dedication to Lachine and to the arts that was remembered. “Mr. Spinelli was a brilliant and generous Lachine entrepreneur and a great lover of classical music and opera. Through his social commitment and philanthropy, he has greatly contributed to the influence of the local music scene. We hope, through this tribute, to honor his memory and continue to bring to life, in Lachine and in this place, his love for culture,” said Maja Vodanovic, Mayor of Lachine.
On behalf of the family Noël’s son Pierre said that, “ We are heirs to a family culture where generosity and social commitment are at the forefront of our values. The Spinelli family wishes to express its deep gratitude for this mark of recognition which will leave the imprint of the work of a great man in our community.” Pierre’s sister Suzanne also spoke movingly of their father. The ceremony took place in the theatre of the Descary Centre.
The Park is the borough’s main outdoor venue for cultural and artistic events. It hosts the Campbell Concerts, National Day and Canada Day, in addition to hosting the Montreal Youth Literature Festival and several other events that Mr. Spinelli supported and that will always keep his alive. Artistic Director of the Lachine Concerts Richard Turp spoke eloquently of Mr. Spinelli’s commitment to local arts in Lachine and how his generosity not only started the concert series but of his interest and encouragement of local talent.
Noël Spinelli passed away October 15, 2020 at the age of 92. He was a co-founder of Concerts Lachine in 1977 which has produced more than 500 free concerts of international calibre and presented more than 6,000 musicians, in addition to producing a music festival and opera. Mr.Spinelli also led the drive that raised $1 million to restore the Casavant organ in the Saints-Anges church. Throughout his life, Mr. Spinelli was involved in numerous boards of directors related to the arts, including the Opéra de Montréal, the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, the International Organ Competition of Canada and the Place des Arts Society. His involvements earned him the Order of Canada and the Order of Quebec, in addition to being inducted into the Panthéon de la Culture de Lachine in 2014.
Among those in attendance in addition to the speakers were MNA Enrico Ciccone, former Lachine Mayor Claude Dauphin, iconic editorial cartoonist Terry Mosher (Aislin) also a devoted Lachinois and close friend of Mr. Spinelli’s, Macdonald Stewart Foundation executive director Thomas Leslie and Lachine Hospital Foundation executive director Monica McDougall.McGill’s Patrick Kierney played a musical tribute on classical guitar.