Every day, the Jamaican community continues to thrive beyond its national borders thanks to exceptional individuals who advance culture. In the new series of Complex Canada Hidden gems, presented in conjunction with Appleton Estate Jamaica Rum and Fela, we spotlight Jamaican-Canadian creators and entrepreneurs who are part of the island’s massive global impact. Richard Hillary is a shining example. The musician, cinematographer and restaurateur, also known as Full Course, is a renowned connector point in Montreal’s creative community. Until recently, he owned Local Legend, a beloved Jamaican-inspired resto-bar celebrating local artists and Caribbean culture. “[It] It was this idea I had, it was this black owned urban spot where we have our music, we have our culture, we have our cuisine, ”he says. “Just this inviting, invigorating, constructive networking environment. “
Sadly, Local Legend did not survive the COVID-19 pandemic, but Hillary is determined to create a new space to serve the community and bring Montreal together again. Throughout history, after all, Jamaicans have shown great resilience in the face of adversity. “Brick and mortar [of Local Legend] is gone, but we came out with more than we lost, ”he says. “We realized how much we have brought the community together, and really how much it has grown, and how there will be a need for a local legend more than ever.”
In this episode, Hillary takes us to the neighborhoods of Montreal that exemplify the creative and vibrant Jamaican-Canadian communities of which she is a part. He meets Joy Spence, our host and Master Blender from Appleton Estate, who shares his passion and commitment to bringing people together. After all, community is an integral part of Jamaican culture and it takes a community of people joining forces to create Appleton Estate premium rums. Whether it’s uniting people through spaces or spirits, both are labors of love.
In Mango Bay, a must-see in Montreal’s West Indian community for over 20, both connect on an Appleton Estate Signature Daiquiri – whose citrus notes blend togetherperfectly with the spicy flavor of the accompanying grilled jerk chicken dish. Hillary and Spence discuss their respective work and how Jamaican communities are transporting their culture beyond the island, through tight-knit Caribbean communities around the world and through traditions like premium rum.
The conversation – and the drink – provides a lot of inspiration for Hillary’s next successful venture.
“I’m Canadian, but I’m Jamaican. This is what we know and this is what we are. There are places that do stuff in Montreal, but there’s nothing that really introduces our culture to these crowds, ”says Hillary. “We are really looking forward to doing the same on a larger scale. “