Old Montreal vs English Montreal

with 47 comments

Montreal language stormA couple of years ago I was having a beer on the Main with a friend from Alberta and her McGill buddies. One girl who was on her way back to New York seized the opportunity to ask the Montrealer that I am a question that had been puzzling her for the four years she’d been living in Montreal.

-So why are all the signs in French if Montrealers are mostly English-speaking?

Granted, this kid was not McGill’s brightest student. But the fact is that after FOUR YEARS in Montreal this girl was under the impression that Montreal was a city where French-speakers are a minority.

In this morning’s La Presse, André Pratte reacts to the debate on the increasing number of businesses in Montreal that are unable to serve their clientele in French: “In a field as important and delicate as language, the State of Québec cannot base it’s decisions solely on the basis of media stories and the impressions of citizens.”

La Presse is the last Montreal newspaper to still have it’s offices in Old Montreal, the quaint folkloric part of town with the “French Touch” delights children and tourists.

While André Pratte and his paper are satisfied with a storied past and a comfortable present, the paper’s former Anglo neighbor on St-Jacques Street, The Gazette, has moved to Ste-Catherine street where it right at the center the dynamic and aggressive revival of English Montreal that is starting to make some French-speakers uncomfortable.

I don’t want to rain on anybody’s parade, but English Montreal’s revival also means gently but surely pushing out Montreal’s French-speaking majority out to the suburbs and the periphery. Geographically. Culturally. Economically.

Mr Pratte demands more hard numbers on the linguistic situation in Montreal. The AngryFrenchGuy supports that. Mr. Pratte could also take the metro to McGill and have a look for himself.

Written by angryfrenchguy

January 22, 2008 at 8:59 pm

47 Responses

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