Dr. Daisy Peterson Sweeney
Last Sunday, (September 18, 2005) I had the pleasure of attending a concert held in honour of my foster mom, Daisy Peterson Sweeney, at Église Saint-Charles in the South-West section of the City of Montréal.
This was the final of four concerts in homage to this remarkable woman, a classical pianist extraordinaire, and piano teacher who taught internationally-known musicians such as her brother Oscar Peterson, and Oliver Jones.
Mrs. Sweeney also taught hundreds of children from the St. Henri area of Montréal, in the 60's and 70's, where she charged only 25 cents per lesson. She instilled in these young people a deep appreciation for music, learning and piano playing --many of whom still enjoy the benefits of her teaching.
Mom, in addition to her own children, fostered and adopted other children, bringing them into her home and treating them as her own --a testament to her generosity of spirit.
A proud woman, she never-the-less worked as a domestic as she earned an associate degree in music from McGill University, not an easy accomplishment for a woman of colour in the 1940's. But she overcame the racism and prejudice she experienced with her focused determination and a personal desire for excellence.
When I went into the church, I was overwelmed by the over 2,000 people in attendance. As my 85 year old Mom was ushered (in a wheelchair) into the church and everyone started applauding enthusiastically, I felt my eyes moisten with pride for this simply amazing individual who is often over-shadowed by her famous brother.
Footnote: These concerts were part of the 18oth anniversary celebration of the Lachine Canal which featured women, from the area, who have made a significant contribution to the community and Montréal at large. The summer-long festival was organized by the Société de promotion du canal de Lachine.