« La cathédrale verte | Main | Lamps in the Storm »

August 12, 2007


Very interesting, again, to learn a little more about Quebec - even the misconceptions! I'd like to see a comparison on how many immigrants return from the other provinces.
Some of their problems sound rather typical in the rest of Canada.

This article won a Daniel Pearl award for journalism? Really?

I know - can you believe it? Didn't they do any checking?

The point that most French immigrants eventually leave because they can't find work, or the work isn't lucrative enough, has nothing to do with their nationality, but with misplaced expectations. We would have a very hard time replacing our U.S. work here, and it will take a long time to get re-established in a bilingual society where we have no business connections. The counselor we talked to at the Quebec business immigration office told us that, and he also said that a lot of Asian (mostly Japanese and Korean) business immigrants come and then leave because of two reasons: their financial expectations are too high, and they can't cope with the climate.

Ah Montreal in the Summer...Do you still have the comedy festival in late summer?

Yes, the "Juste pour Rire" festival usually follows the Jazz festival in late July, I think. Next week the Montreal Film Festival begins. It's festival-city in the summer, for sure.

Your priest friend's walk down the street in Montreal makes me think that though that city seems a world away, it has a lot in common with San Francisco -- and not because of the gay neighbourhood, but rather, because of the relationship to religion that the walk in that outfit might represent.

Arising (somewhat at an angle) from your interesting post, Beth, a recollection. In my active ham radio days I would make a point of seeking contact with East Coast American & Canadian hams, principally because one could be sure of a proper conversation & not simply the dry little 10 second radio strength reports that most contacts provide. The only exceptions to the certainty of a few garrulous exchanges were the Quebecois stations. The majority seemed to make a point of abruptly rejecting (in French) or ignoring completely all calls from English-speaking operators. They were looking primarily for French, Belgian & Swiss contacts.

One particularly clear morning when I was operating from my parents' house in the South of France & signals from North America & Canada were coming in strongly, I experimented by putting out a call in French. This necessitated using my UK callsign in order to identify from whom the call came (a legal requirement), but the rest, including spelling of letters & the crispest accent I could summon up, was in French, inc luding, of course, my location. I was inundated by callbacks from French-Canadian hams, delighted that an English ham was breaking with the cultural imperative of his native tongue & I learned more about Quebecois culture in that one morning than I could have googled in a week!

Sorry - I didn't intend to write a post..!

enjoyed this news from the street...more!
and thanks

Beth: I just heard on BBC Radio 4 that the programme The Choice which airs on Tuesday mornings at 0900 (in the UK) has as its subject next week Gene Robinson. Did you know?

Dick, you are welcome to write long comments and tell stories like that on my blog anytime! Thanks for the insights into the era of the language wars; it's gotten better but I'd be curious about similar radio experiences now.

Sylph and Maria - thanks!

Anna - no, I didn't know, and thanks for telling me. (I tried to email you but it came back..??)

Sorry, Beth - perhaps my account at Yahoo has expired! Anyway, the Choice is in interview format so Gene Robinson will have been interviewed and the interviewer is very much in the background so the programme attains real depth and insight into its subject and the difficult, significant choice that the subject had to make. It'll be a good listen - I wonder if they'll mention his biography?

I think one thing to consider is that, for all intents and purposes, Montreal isn't Quebec, or at least it's very much removed from regional Quebec society. Like San Francisco, Toronto, Boston or New York, it's a lot more liberal than its hinterland and it tends to have different cultural attitudes. A couple of my friends spent a month living in Chicoutimi last summer where they took an intensive French course and stayed with francophone host families. It was, for these two anglicized Chinese girls, a culture shock: they weren't used to eating meat-heavy dinners at 5pm, going to bed at ten and being in a small town where streetlife is virtually nonexistent, nobody walks anywhere and everybody comes from the same cultural and ethnic background.

In other words, Chicoutimi isn't all that much different from Anytown, Ontario or Anytown, Ohio. Sure, there might be more liberal attitudes towards drinking or sex, for instance, but it is still a culture that is very far removed from anything that isn't "Anglo-Saxon." Perhaps my judgements are too severe --- I admit I haven't had much first-hand experience in the rest of Quebec --- but I certainly think that Montreal, as a cosmopolitan metropolitan centre, has much, MUCH more in common with Toronto and Vancouver than it does with rural Quebec.

French immigrants to Quebec disproportionately settle outside of Montreal. Perhaps that is why, then, so many find it such a culturally foreign place. Perhaps it is also why, within Montreal, French immigrants are disproportionately concentrated in Outremont, Mile End and the Plateau: they offer a simulacrum of the lifestyle they are used to enjoying in urban France.

Beth, I've just noticed the exchange about interview with Gene Robinson on BBC Radio 4 programme The Choice. I see it will not now be broadcast until next Tuesday 28 August. This programme doesn't seem to be available on the BBC website for 'listen again', you can only listen live, at 9.00 am and 9.30 pm UK time. I've put it in my diary and will make a point of listening.

Thanks, Jean, (and Anna, again) -- I'll put it on my calendar too but I'm not sure I'll be able to listen at that time...

Chris, good points. Thanks a lot for the substantive comment. I think my initial attitude of incredulity may be due in par to the fact that I live in a very French part of the city, where the language and French culture are around me constantly. A couple just moved from Paris to our building, and they seem like they absolutely love Montreal - but they are also immersed in the French part of things, and speak no English at all, unlike most of the other residents of the building who are at least as bilingual as we are, and living here precisely because it is such an international city.

The comments to this entry are closed.

My Photo

Who was Cassandra?

  • In the Iliad, she is described as the loveliest of the daughters of Priam (King of Troy), and gifted with prophecy. The god Apollo loved her, but she spurned him. As a punishment, he decreed that no one would ever believe her. So when she told her fellow Trojans that the Greeks were hiding inside the wooden horse...well, you know what happened.