Quebec Stories and Tips

The French Mystery

Typical Quebecois church with a silver roof Photo, Quebec, Canada

It's quite astonishing how Francophone Quebec really is. When we were in Ontario, we were commonly told that they all speak English (at least to some extent). And although this might be true in Montreal, the rest of Quebec is pretty much all French speaking and a lot of people, especially outside cities, genuinely don't speak any English.

I wonder if this belief of Anglophone Canadians comes because they mostly meet the Quebecois who work in the tourist trade (and who do speak English) or Montrealers; or is it perhaps a deeply-seated disbelief that there can be, in the midst of the English-speaking Canada and in fact, English speaking America, this huge (huge - three times the size of France) enclave who not only speaks French at home, but also actually doesn't care to learn English at all.

To me, Quebec feels, to some extent, like Scotland. In the same way as being in England one doesn't tend to think of Scotland as a separate place,, but when in Scotland, one very much feels in a different country, so in Quebec in relation to for example Ontario. Being in Quebec feels genuinely different: an not just because everybody speaks French.

On our travels we met both federalists and sovereigntists and both have their arguments: I can understand the emotional need for national autonomy, based on distinct culture (and strong economy and resources), but I also think that in modern federalist democracy it probably doesn't really matter. I also think that the royalist British imperial hangover doesn't help here, at least with the emotional side of things. But then, the whole issue of British royalism is a mystery to me.

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