The find is a chronicle of an essential part of Montreal’s history and it was discovered purely by accident. Christopher Lyons, head librarian at McGill University’s Rare Books and Special Collections in Montreal, was perusing the goods of a book fair when he was suddenly drawn to a curious oddity.

“I saw out of the corner of my eye a photo album. It wasn’t just any photo album, it was a photo album of the building of the Olympic stadium,” said Lyons.

But the pictures were not his proudest acquisition. Lyons also stumbled upon several personal papers belonging to former Montreal mayor, Jean Drapeau, including his copy of the 1980 Malouf Report, a look into the cost of hosting the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal.

The Malouf Report was a damning mark on the legacy of the late mayor. Judge Albert Malouf, who was appointed to run the inquiry into The Olympics, held Drapeau responsible for the budget overruns incurred by the games in Montreal. In 1970, Drapeau famously said, “The Olympics can no more run a deficit than a man can have a baby.” According to the report, taxpayers paid $1.3 billion for the games, well above the preliminary estimate of $120 million.

“What’s neat is it gives us an insight into what he was focusing on in the report, so you can get a sense of how he perceived the meaning of the report and how he perceived his defence,” said Lyons.

He points to cost estimates in the margins of its pages showing the growing price tag of The Olympics. He noted that Drapeau had circled all the numbers, except for one. “Now what I find interesting is all of these (numbers) are circled, but then when you have the final total it’s not circled. So I’m wondering if it’s like, let’s just forget about that.”

During his tenure as mayor of Montreal, Drapeau repeatedly promised to respond to the report, but dodged questions by reporters about it well after he retired as mayor in 1986. He never did, he died in 1999.

All four volumes of the Malouf report at the McGill University Library’s Rare Books and Special Collections and are open to the public.  

With Report from CTV Montreal’s Kelly Greig