Pure Laine Black Sheep

with 66 comments

I am Pure Laine.

I’m the prototypical Frog. I’m a Pepsi, a Pea Soup, a fucking Frenchy. I’m white and French-speaking and baptized in the Holy Catholic Church.

I’m exactly who you’re talking about when you call someone Pure Laine. The grandson of a farmer who was the grandson of a voyageur who was the grandson of a Norman sailor.

I’m Pure Laine. As pure as they come.

How pure is that? I’ll tell you how pure.

As pure as my English-speaking father and his Jewish girlfriend. As pure as English-speaking grandfather and his protestant mother.

Last year a man in Toronto asked my mother if she was Chinese. It wasn’t the first time. That’s how Pure Laine my mother is. As pure as any other Paquette out there. As pure as the anonymous Huron warrior or Cantonese railway worker who left the genes to those eyes in my bloodline. As pure as the Irishman who brought my red hair to America.

I’m as pure as the Beauce’s Besré, Maheux, Allaire and Dallaire who’s ancestors were German mercenairies. As pure as the Russians of Rawdon and the Italians of St-Léonard.

In 1764 David David was the first Jew born in Québec. In 1912 Fleurette David, my grandmother, was born in Montreal. Was she a descendent of David David? Am I? To tell you the truth, I have no idea. So how the fuck would you you know? And what exactly would that change between you and me? Do you think I’d feel less Québécois because I had a Jewish ancestor? How about you, would you think less of me?

Would you take my name of the Pure Laine registry?

My name is Georges Boulanger. Google it for fun. Georges Boulanger is also the name of a French fascist general and a Romanian gypsy violinist. So what’s in a name? What could my name possibly tell you about who I am?

I’m as pure as any Québécois who’s family tree has at least one root that goes back to those first French settlers, as pure as Gregory Charles, Aly N’Diaye, Normand Brathwaite and Donald Brashear.

That’s about as pure as it gets. Even if I accept the ridiculous premise that there is such a thing as a “Pure Québécois”, an idea that no one cares about except a few retarded traditionalists and their biggest supporters, Canada’s English-speaking media.

Even if I accept to even think about Québec from that fictional point of view, that there ever was pure seed to the Québec genome, that Québec was somehow isolated from the movement of peoples in America and Europe before that.

Even if I let you suppose that I would for one second consider that someone who’s ancestors came here a little bit later, maybe five, six, three or two generations ago, were any less Québécois than I am, that’s still about as pure as it gets.

Why would you call me Pure Laine? Who exactly are you to cast the Québécois out of the ebb and flow of peoples and cultures? On what authority do you isolate a group of people, French-speaking North Americans, as somehow “pure”, untouched by time, as an anachronistic impediment to what should have been the ‘natural’ course of history?

The idea of the Pure Laine Québécois, the ethnicity of the Québécois is an invisible leash drawn around Québec to limit it’s contact with the world outside, folklorise a people and marginalize a culture. It’s a mental reservation.

It’s a lie. I’ve got the same parents as the rest of you, I just turned out a little bit different.

Yes I am Pure Laine. A Pure Laine Black Sheep.

Written by angryfrenchguy

May 26, 2008 at 12:58 pm

66 Responses

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  1. I think many supporters of the independence of Québec are focusing only on half the advantages it would have when they are talking in terms of protection (of the french language and other aspects of Québec culture), and about “solving problems”. Of course, I believe it would help on these matters, but there will be more to it.

    I don’t think eveything will suddenly turn better the next day of a Oui, but it would allow things to evolve differently from then on. It would allow our culture and our politics to more closely represent what we are (and that includes everybody living here). For instance, I can see an independant Québec moving towards some kind of pot legalization and Montreal becoming the Amsterdam of North America. I can’t see it coming inside Canada.

    It would also change the relation between the two solitudes in Montreal and I think the anglophones would most benefit from this new paradigm. Right now, anglophones are often perceived by francophones as a threat, as “Canadians living in Québec” and not being “solidaires” of the rest of Québec. With independence, they would become our most precious ambassadors to the rest of North America and throughout the english speaking world. In matters of sports as well as culturally, economically or diplomatically, there would be, at last, a “Team Québec”, in wich everybody living here could identify.

    And you have to wonder, with traditionnally great goaltending (maybe by italian descent Roberto Luongo), stars like Lecavalier and St-Louis but also portugese descent Ribeiro and half haitian Francis Bouillon pairing with “de souche” Robidas for great defense, we could at last show to the world what modern Québec has become. Add to this the sense of purpose of representing a newborn country and the thrill of being able to work as a whole team with the Québécois french as the common language, heck, this team could win!

    At least it could try to do so by working together. That’s what would change to me. And it’s a lot.

    By the way, littlerob, I can’t agree more with what you’ve written about the language we speak.


    June 16, 2008 at 9:03 pm

  2. In repoonse to Acajack’s statement that Vancouver and Toronto are 51% asian, how do they maintain english as the dominant language?

    They don’t.

    Most government services are offered in chinese and english, not because it is legislated as thus, but because market research says that this is the best way to reach the population, on a case by case basis. The government tries to react dynamically to a changing population without politicizing things.

    There are many stores and even entire shopping malls sprinkled throughout vancouver that offer services in chinese only, or english only, or both, depending on the clientel. None gets emotional about it, or demands service in their language, they just adapt.

    When I shop at T & T supermarket, noone speaks english, the signs are not in english, and you have to muddle your way through the checkout counter by reading the printout on the cash register, yet TONNES of non-chinese speaking people shop there, partly because they get off on the coolness it all. You can travel to exotic asia without leaving your neighborhood. How cool is that?

    When an english speaker is confronted with a store, or even an entire mall of stores where english is non-existent, rather than get defensive, they beam with pride, because it is proof that vancouver is finally becoming the world-class city that it longs so hard to be.

    English will most likely remain the dominant language of Vancouver, or i may be proven wrong. Either way it doesn’t really matter, I will continue to believe it is one of the most beautiful places on earth. And if another million chinese agree with me and want to share it with me, it validates my opinion. We are all there for the same reason, the stunning sunsets on the downtown beaches. The mountain top ski resorts overlooking the metropolis below.

    There have been culture clashes for sure, but the pot-smoking hippy environmentalists have influenced the chinese, and the business-savy chinese have helped reform our government and economy to be more lean and efficient. The result is amazing. Hundreds of cranes building amazing waterfront communities along seawalls littered with people cycling and jogging between palm trees and sidewalk cafes full of people drinking italian coffees and taiwanese bubble teas. 3 new subway lines. Stunning new mountain parks. A polluted industrial wasteland that was false creek converted into an environmental paradise. These things take money, and that means foreign investment and immigration and a vision for the future.

    In the 1960s and 1970s, Canada was racist, white and english only. Then something amazing happened in quebec, and all the eyes of canada were on montreal. We realized that something was wrong with canada, and we adapted.

    The race riots in montreal nord should be a wake-up call that there is something wrong in quebec right now. Perhaps Montreal can look to Vancouver or Toronto as an example of something that is working, and adapt it to our unique situation here.

    Randy Weinstein

    September 1, 2008 at 9:46 am

  3. “The race riots in montreal nord should be a wake-up call that there is something wrong in quebec right now.”

    Since when have police corps been pro left-wing, pot legalization, separatism supporters?

    Saying there is something rotten in the state of Quebec because a cop shot a kid of an ethnic minority is akin to saying there is something rotten in BC because the police department let someone mass murder junky prostitutes and bury them on his farm.

    Of course there is a problem! But it does not come from the source that you seem to think it does.

    Police forces are never the mirror of society at large as much as they are the face of reactionnary, straight-jacket big business “elite”.


    October 29, 2008 at 10:00 pm

  4. […] like to learn more about the craziness that goes on in my province, I recommend reading his post here, and you might also want to watch this video of the quintessential québécois stereotype, played […]

  5. i can’t wait till all this stops! c’est fatigant


    February 1, 2009 at 3:53 am

  6. I think there is a lot of misconceptions in the anglosphere about the expression “Pure laine”. This has no racist or exclusive connotation. My idea is that its the name you can give to the people that have direct French-Canadian ancestors and whose identity focus on their French side mostly, wether they have an irish parent, an anglo parent, etc. I think « pure laine » is an useful word, since it allows to name a nation, distinctly from the “Quebec citizenship” or the “Quebec allegiance”. There is no “purity of the race” myth that prevails in Quebec, unlike what happenned in Latino-America, in the United States or in South Africa.

    Thomas de La Marnierre

    February 18, 2013 at 9:24 pm

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