AngryFrenchGuy

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. There you go with the victim shtick again. Its a fact of life that the basic heart of the French Canadian nation is descendant from approximately 60, 000 settlers who arrived in the 17 th and 18 th centuries from France. This became, compared to the immigrant heavy rest of North America, a relatively more homogeneous group. This started to change as more and more immigrants integrated in the French speaking community. So what.

    Arguing about the virtues and vices of one group vs another is pointless. Are there elements in the ROC which exaggerate this, of course. Are there elements in sovereignist circles who minimize it, I think so. As a Montrealer, I have heard Serbs or Greeks called maudits Anglais, they got over it and moved on, why don’t you?

    Dave

    May 26, 2008 at 2:00 pm

  2. Speaking of genetics, has anyone ever figured out why Tay Sachs disease mainly affects Ashkenazic Jews, Québécois, and Cajuns?

    littlerob

    May 26, 2008 at 2:31 pm

  3. It’s a measure of how profoundly fucked up the “accomodation” debate is that I honestly can’t tell if this post is directed at the PQ or at the Gazette. Anyway, bravo AFG for putting it so well.

    Methinks the whole “pure laine” thing keeps coming up because the PQ & ilk have trouble defining “nous.” (The pronoun, not the Greek idea of mind.) Their problem is that it can’t just define everybody who lives in Quebec, or the sectarian appeal would be lost. So you end up with a bunch of mutually incompatible definitions: race (fallacious, as AFG points out), religion (now moot), language, culture. This “reasonable accomodation” debate seems to me to have to do with whether language or culture is the defining element of nousness.

    Message to the PQ: Wouldn’t it make much more sense to just stop obsessing about “nous”? Isn’t it a little presumptuous to speak for more than oneself — to pluralise the first person? Alas, our whole world culture is addicted to doing just that; and the other provinces could even give Quebec nationalists a run for their money in that regard. What an opportunity for us to reject sectarianism! To affirm transcendent human values! To reject the very idea of “nous,” at least until the “je” (or at least the “nous deux”) is vindicated! And what better place to do it than in Montreal?

    hoo-boy

    May 26, 2008 at 4:47 pm

  4. Sorry, unintentional smiley there! :)

    hoo-boy

    May 26, 2008 at 4:48 pm

  5. I’ve been reading you for a couple of weeks now and I just wanted to tell you that’s it’s great to read an open-minded independantist blog may that be in English or in French.
    Great text by the way.
    Longue vie à ton blog!

    Tremblay

    May 26, 2008 at 7:44 pm

  6. Just who do you think “nous” is anyway? (I know it’s not me and I’m just as sure that it includes you.) “I am Pure Laine.” (AGF May 26, 2008)

    I didn’t make up the term “pure laine” and I’m not the one printing it on T-shirts, but I’ll be happy to throw it back in your face.

    “I believe it is called, in English, poetic justice.” (AGF Jan. 8, 2008)

    Billy Bob

    May 26, 2008 at 11:47 pm

  7. “Speaking of genetics, has anyone ever figured out why Tay Sachs disease mainly affects Ashkenazic Jews, Québécois, and Cajuns?”

    My understanding is that the particular type of Tay- Sachs found among Québécois is not the same as that found amongst Ashkenazi. I don’t know the specifics, but the mutation is supposed to be different between the two types.

    Geo

    May 27, 2008 at 12:49 am

  8. Dave writes: “There you go with the victim shtick again. Its a fact of life that the basic heart of the French Canadian nation is descendant from approximately 60, 000 settlers who arrived in the 17 th and 18 th centuries from France. This became, compared to the immigrant heavy rest of North America, a relatively more homogeneous group.”

    That is where you are wrong. First, you are mixing up two concepts: 1) the French Canadian nation, whose territory is not limited to Quebec. and 2) the Quebec nation, whose territory is well defined.

    We are talking about Quebecers here.

    You are not to blame, because even educated people can be people who have no clue about 1) Quebec’s population history and 2) population history in general.

    Here are the facts:

    1) There is no such thing as 60, 000 settlers “who arrived in the 17 th and 18 th centuries from France.”

    In 1760, there were some 60,000 inhabitants of Quebec, then known as Canada, who called themselves the Canadian people. Who were they in terms of ancestry? These people were for the most part descendants of other parents born in Quebec.

    In total, there were some 36,000 persons who emigrated to Quebec during French rule from first records to 1760. Some 30,000 came from France, where there used to be a wealth of ethnic groups that no longer exists today in linguistically-unified France. 53% of those immigrants who were from Europe (85%) were soldiers.

    The rest were indentured servants, the Filles du Roy, Acadian and New England refugees, prisoners of all kinds, religious folks, nobles, civil servants, merchants, traders, and native & black slaves.

    But that does not tell us about the ancestors of the Canadians of the New France period and certainly not of today’s Quebecers. Because TOTAL immigration is NOT equal to founding immigration. What is the founding immigration of the Canada conquered by England’s armies in 1760?

    The founding immigration of this country is 22% of the 36,000 enumerated above. Because 43% went back (never having intended to settle in the first place) 8% left no descendants, 17% remained single and 10% never made it to Canada.

    Source: Marcel Fournier. “Les origines familiales des pionniers du Québec ancien (1621 – 1865)”, Avril 2005, Fédération québécoise des sociétés de généalogie et Fédération française de généalogie

    You can grab a PDF summary of the book here:

    http://www.fichierorigine.com/Historique.pdf

    Who are the descendants of those pioneers then?

    They are people living in Quebec, New England, Ontario and elsewhere on the North American continent. (Some are also scatted around the globe evidently) These would I guess be members of the “French Canadian nation” in its most extended definition. They are people who have other origins than “New World French” in their family tree of course, after so many generations. A great deal of them no longer speak French, maybe since many generations as well.

    What about the people of Quebec then? Or, let us focus on those who are called “French” by those who speak English and generally ignore the most basic facts about them?

    French-speaking Quebecers are a population for the most part tracing its origins in Quebec many generations. They are often descended from families immigrated in the 17th, 18th, 19th and 20th century. In other words, some are descendants of the 60,000 Canadians of New France discussed above. Those who can truly trace ancestors all the way up to just before 1760 are numerous to also have ancestors who were Irish, English, Scots etc. settlers arrived later.

    As for the other French speakers who can also claim that their family has been in Quebec for generations but cannot trace anyone back before 1760, they are generally (as far as I can remember) products of mixed marriages between “Francos” and “Anglos”, Francos including all those who speak French, whatever their ancestry and Anglos being all those who speak English, whatever their ancestry.

    Among the famous groups, “absorbed”, so to speak, by the Quebec the francophone group, there are the descendants of the Irish orphans of Grosse Ile who were adopted by French-speaking families and brought up as regular “Canadien” as they would have said then.

    As for other French speakers who cannot claim that their family has been here for generations, well, they are from all over the map, but mostly from former French colonies, France and Belgium.

  9. The Cajuns of Louisiana and the neighboring American states are also a people of extraordinarily diverse origins, as are the pieds noirs.

    littlerob

    May 27, 2008 at 4:10 pm

  10. Geo writes: “Speaking of genetics, has anyone ever figured out why Tay Sachs disease mainly affects Ashkenazic Jews, Québécois, and Cajuns?”

    I am not that familiar with the subject, however I can point you to a good article I read on the population genetics of the “French Canadians of Quebec”:

    Marc De Braekeleer. “Homogénéité génétique des Canadiens français du Québec : mythe ou réalité ?”, Cahiers québécois de démographie, Diversité de la population québécoise, Volume 19, numéro 1 (Printemps 1990)

    The article can be read online here:

    http://www.erudit.org/revue/cqd/

  11. Thank you Mathieu Gauthier-Pilote for the history lesson. I stand corrected on matters of exact facts, but my point was that pure-laine were up to quite recently a more homogeneous group than the rest of North America. I mean the statistics you were able to come up with going back that long are just not available for other large population groups.

    Example: just see if you can come up with an equivalent number of actual immigrants from England to match the exactitude of your 36,000 immigrants during French rule here. That was my very point, that I mistook 60,000 descendants for 36,000 immigrants doesn’t change the conclusion.

    Dave

    May 28, 2008 at 12:43 pm

  12. Dave writes: “my point was that pure-laine were up to quite recently a more homogeneous group than the rest of North America.”

    Who do you call “pure-laine” and you understand them as being homogeneous on what account? Ancestral origins? Which part of the mixity of origins of Quebecers did you not understand?

    How does it even make sense to compare one national group with THE REST OF THE CONTINENT? Would you say something as irrational as: “Until recently, the Italians were more homogenous than the rest of Europeans”?

    Let us not compare Quebec to North America, which makes little sense, and rather let’s compare it to the rest of Canada, which is what it is all about anyway.

    What do we see?

    Two largely linguistically and culturally homogeneous groups who started to open up to non-European immigration exactly around the same time when Canada gave up its racist “white if possible” immigration policy, progressively removing the discriminatory clauses of its Immigration Act (1947, 1952, 1962, 1967).

    Anglophones were mostly from the UK or New England, while francophones, immersed in Anglo-Saxon Canada, had the same European ancestral origins but in reversed proportionality, with French at the top and Irish, Scot and English coming after.

    There is not much difference between the “diversity” of European origins of the two groups. They were both largely homogeneous culturally, but linguistically francophones were more bilingual and consequently less centered on their own worldview than anglophones were.

    Where does English-speaking Canadians imagines the greater diversity of its origins compared to French-speaking Quebecers I do not quite get it. Where is the diversity in augmenting a white British population on one point of the Empire by importing other white British people from some other point of the same Empire?

    Dave writes: “Example: just see if you can come up with an equivalent number of actual immigrants from England to match the exactitude of your 36,000 immigrants during French rule here.”

    Immigrants from England to where? During which period of time? Why England?

    Should we not be comparing the immigration from the Kingdom of France to Canada with the immigration from the United Kingdom to Canada? Because if we start to decompose UK ancestry into English, Scots, Irish, Welsh and French ancestry into Norman, Breton, Picard, Poitevin, Saintongeois, Parisien, etc., it will get complicated for nothing: all these differences melted away and gave birth to two national groups, the Quebecers first and than later the Canadians.

    Immigrants from the UK or New England to Canada from the Conquest to now? You can be certain that they will account for the overwhelming majority of all immigrants from 1760 to the late 1950s.

  13. Much more significant than race, in the early history of Canada, is religion.

    The so-called “pure laine” group was more homogeneous because they shared a language (French) and a religion (Catholicism). I very much doubt that points of origin (Picard, Breton, Norman, et al.) persisted beyond the 2nd generation in Quebec. It was different in “anglo” (i.e. English-speaking) Canada, because the “British” were divided by religion: Scots were Presbyterians, Methodists, and Congregationalists, English were Anglican (and Methodist & Congregationalist), Irish were either Catholic or fanatical Protestant, etc. etc. These divisions lasted well into the 20th century.

    I often get the feeling that francophone Quebeckers don’t appreciate how sectarian “anglo” society was. “English Canadians” hardly considered themselves English Canadians, except vis-a-vis “French Canadians.” This has had great consequences for mutual incomprehension in Canada. The “English Canada” which Quebec has often sought parity with did not really exist; neither could Quebec be reasonably regarded as merely one group among other groups, as the reflex often was in the ROC — owing to its much more sectarian past.

    hoo-boy

    May 28, 2008 at 6:33 pm

  14. There actually is a lot of irish blood in “pure-laine” quebecois, mostly because of, as you pointed out, religion. The Irish being good catholics, they prefered to marry good catholic Quebecois. I have an irish first name and often I get the comment “oh, so you’re Irish?” from people with irish roots that are a lot closer than mine are. These people still call themselves quebecois, as do I despite an American-born mother.

    SM

    May 28, 2008 at 11:59 pm

  15. Mathieu

    Have you ever been to Vancouver or Toronto, if so, one look around walking down any street will give you your answer. It may not be as academic or statistically exact, but its quite obvious to the naked eye. IE Asians form 51 % of the greater Vancouver population for example.

    Dave

    May 29, 2008 at 8:37 am

  16. I would like to follow up on the excellent point raised by hoo boy. He is 100% right: francophones do make a lot of assumptions about the perceived “unity” of English-speaking Canada and base these assumptions on the sole question of language. (I must confess that I am often guilty of this.) Because getting immigrants to speak French in Quebec has been such a tedious, drawn out process (now paying off modest dividends), francophones are often envious of how a diverse place like Toronto can retain English, above it all, as a lingua franca. Remember René Lévesque’s comment about making “Quebec every bit as French as Ontario is English”…

    So we tend to make the mistake of interpreting the adherence to English as a common language as being a sign of flawless societal integration.

    Hoo boy brought us back to the old days when Anglo-Canada was largely English, Scottish and Irish. Today, I would venture to say that the religious and “Olde Country” cultural differences between these groups have faded away to the point where these groups now form the nucleus of a fairly united “English Canada”. But there is a new cleavage out there of course, and just because most of the hundreds of thousands of newcomers to the ROC learn English very quickly (or know some English even before arriving) doesn’t mean they automatically join the ranks of Don Cherry and Pierre Berton. I think francophones overlook this; I know I often do.

    And this brings me to another point, which is the fact that, ironically, when Quebec does succeed in fully integrating non-francophones into the francophone fold, they can actually be more “nous” than most immigrants in the ROC can be part of the English-Canadian “us”.

    For example, when I watch the Canada Day show on July 1, all I see are diverse peoples in their own cultural silos. Ukrainian dancers from Saskatchewan, Susan Aglukark singing in Inuktitut, Tom Cochrane singing about hockey, etc. You’d never see Maestro Fresh Wes singing a Gordon Lightfoot song, or Susan Aglukark singing a duet with Stompin’ Tom Connors.

    Contrast that with the shows in Quebec on June 24, where you can have a Rwandan-born soul singer like Corneille singing a 1920s folk song by La Bolduc, an Innu (Montagnais) singer like Florent Vollant singing an adaptation in his own native language of a song by mythical 1970s Quebec group Beau Dommage, or a hip-hop version of ultra-traditional Gilles Vigneault or Félix Leclerc songs sung by Montrealers of Algerian, Senegalese and Haitian descent.

    Somehow I don’t see Toronto rapper Kardinal Offishall putting his personal touch on the Newfoundland classic “I’se The Bye”, for example.

    I have used patriotic, nationalistic once-a-year shows as examples, but it goes far beyond this. On a recent tribute album to Quebec 70s psychedelic band Harmonium, Italian Montrealer Marco Calliari (most known for singing covers of Italian standards like Caruso and O Sole Mio) contributed an Italian version of one of the band’s most popular songs that got quite a bit of airplay on commercial radio across Quebec.

    I mean, can anyone imagine Deesha, Swollen Members or even Keshia Chanté doing an R&B-flavoured cover of Ian and Sylvia Tyson’s “Four Strong Winds”? Let alone translating it into a foreign language and having it on the play list of radio stations in Red Deer and Brantford?

    I guess this is what people mean when they talk about interculturalism (it came up often in Bouchard-Taylor but has actually existed as a concept for some time in Quebec) versus multiculturalism. The prefix “inter” suggests mixing, mingling, interaction, a notion which is absent from the prefix “multi” which actually comes from the Latin word for “many” or “numerous”.

    Acajack

    May 29, 2008 at 8:55 am

  17. I can’t find the quote but wasn’t it Botha or de Klerk, the last Apartheid presidents of South Africa who said something like: “Multiculturalism is just a polite word for Apartheid”?

    angryfrenchguy

    May 29, 2008 at 2:36 pm

  18. Interesting. I’d say that although multiculturalism may result in “apartness” between groups in a single society, that certainly wasn’t the goal of the people who devised Canada’s multiculturalism policy.

    Acajack

    May 29, 2008 at 3:14 pm

  19. Good points, Acajack. The ROC was never more culturally unified than in the 1960’s and 1970’s (my parents’ generation); lately the huge surge in immigration means that it will take another 40 or 50 years to achieve that again. (The non-British immigrants who arrived between 1896 and about 1930 took that long to be fully integrated.) Of course, this is not to say that immigrants will surrender to what was there before, but something new will surely emerge, even as particular cultural aspects (the Hindu religion, for example) will be added. The Ukrainian folk dancers are a good example of this: Ukrainian Canadians (who arrived 1896-1920) are fully integrated into “mainstream” ROC society, but have retained the art of traditional dance (much more so than the Ukraine itself has, incidentaly!). This strikes me as an ideal scenario, which hopefully will recur this time around.

    I think we’re comparing apples & oranges if we compare integration in Quebec with integration in Ontario. Quebec has a strong traditional culture, the more so as it was not in communion (as it were) with France for so long; Ontario has never had that. So while it is heartening to see singers of Senagalese background singing French Canadian folksongs, it wouldn’t really work in the ROC because there are no such folksongs! The ROC is very much part of the English-speaking cultural sphere, and getting more so all the time. One of the ways that we are different from our American, Australian, Welsh friends is the presence of francophone culture in our midst. Hence the strong, benevolent, self-interested hostility on the part of people like me to separatism. It is really NOT directed against Quebec culture (interculturalist or otherwise) or the French language, and couldn’t really care less about our anglo Montrealer comrades (sorry, guys); on the contrary, it needs Quebec & Frenchness in order to reject Hollywood. So hopefully we can do a deal with raving non-nationalists like AFG.

    hoo-boy

    May 29, 2008 at 6:44 pm

  20. Sorry, last note while I’m being oracular:

    On the diversity of “English Canada,” there is the “internal” diversity of regions, which generally means the integration or non-integration or interculturalisation of immigrants; and then there is inter-regional diversity, i.e. real or perceived differences between provinces int he ROC. The latter is a stronger political force. I don’t mean to just start leveling accusations against French Canadians about their not understanding English Canada, but while the ROC may look like a cultural monolith if we except questions of immigration, that is at least not how it is perceived by itself. The jealousy and wrangling between Ontario and Alberta, between Newfoundland and the mainland, between BC and everybody else, is not much reported in francophone media. This was why Meech failed. To the ROC, with its model of inter-provincial bickering, Quebec is not properly perceived as being as distinct as it is — because every province is busy promoting its own distinctness as against the others. That there could be a whole other level of distinctitude is therefore not easy for them to grasp. By the same token, since Quebeckers are not informed about the puerilities of inter-provincial bickering (enviably enough), they tend to perceive a cultural and political unity coast-to-coast in English Canada which has no subjective existence. Quebec is more like Prussia; English Canada is like the Hapsburg Empire.

    Last anticlimactic note: there is nothing more annoying than being called an English Canadian! “Canadian” or “Scottish Canadian,” please. My Scottish ancestors were marching on York in 1837 while yours, AFG, were fighting at St. Eustache! Actually, even more annoying is the French (from France) tendency to talk about “la culture anglo-saxonne.” Try telling that to an Irishman and see what it gets you.

    hoo-boy

    May 29, 2008 at 6:57 pm

  21. I think Hoo boy and I must have gone to the same school…

    “The ROC was never more culturally unified than in the 1960’s and 1970’s (my parents’ generation)”

    Yes, these were the days before cable TV, so Canadian stuff like Wayne and Shuster, the Canadian Football League and the CBC in general actually had a fighting chance against imported (yes! amazingly U.S. cultural stuff was still seen as “imported” at the time!). At that time as well, don’t forget that Montreal still played a large role in Anglo-Canadian culture, in publishing, music, electronic media, etc. This role was fading very fast, but Anglo-Montreal could still reasonably hold its own against Toronto when I was a young kid. Because of the particular dynamics of the city, what came out English-speaking Montreal and spread out across Canada often wasn’t so U.S-obsessed/centric as stuff from places like Toronto. Interestingly enough, Montreal has of late made something of a comeback on the Anglo-Canadian cultural scene, but perhaps only in the alternative music field. Once again, it’s probably because Montreal is on the margins or the fringes of Anglo North America that its music scene has a uniqueness, or an “edge” to it that other cities lack.

    “Hence the strong, benevolent, self-interested hostility on the part of people like me to separatism. It is really NOT directed against Quebec culture (interculturalist or otherwise) or the French language, and couldn’t really care less about our anglo Montrealer comrades (sorry, guys); on the contrary, it needs Quebec & Frenchness in order to reject Hollywood.”

    To be bluntly honest Hoo boy, after living in the ROC for almost 30 years, my impression when I left there was that people who feel like you are unfortunately a shrinking minority and that even many of those who might have cared at one point have thrown in the towel.

    As a former pan-Canadian nationalist (since morphed into a Quebec nationalist), what I found particularly disturbing when I went to places like Toronto is how younger new Candians of immigrant origins are culturally socialized by stuff from the U.S. I mean, I realize that American culture is present everwhere in the world, particularly in the “Anglosphere”, but must it be so omnipresent that there is no place for local, Canadian stuff? A look at the BBM TV ratings for Toronto will show you this in living colour, with typical Canadian stuff like the Juno Awards and the Grey Cup (quite popular in other areas of the country) barely registering a pulse in the Toronto market. Of course, stuff like the Grammys, the American Music Awards and the Super Bowl score as well in Toronto as they do in similar-sized U.S. metro areas.

    There are a few rare exceptions to this, but they would mostly be among the small fraction of young, New Canadians who are politically active members of the Liberal Party of Canada!

    “The jealousy and wrangling between Ontario and Alberta, between Newfoundland and the mainland, between BC and everybody else, is not much reported in francophone media. This was why Meech failed. To the ROC, with its model of inter-provincial bickering, Quebec is not properly perceived as being as distinct as it is — because every province is busy promoting its own distinctness as against the others. That there could be a whole other level of distinctitude is therefore not easy for them to grasp.”

    Et voilà. The whole “Quebec may be different/distinct, but other provinces are different/distinct between each other too!” argument nicely summed up.

    You used the examples of Prussia and the Hapsburg Empire, I’d say that the differences between the English-speaking provinces are typical of what you will find in any large country. Newfoundland is different from Ontario and BC in the same way that Texas is different from Vermont. Although people from these areas aren’t exactly the same, they’re not quite “foreign” to one another either. People in Vermont may not identify with typical Texas culture, but they know it exists. The same way that Anglo-Canadians across the country (at least those who aren’t completely Americanized) would know the defunct Newfoundland comedy troupe Codco, find them a bit quirky, tacky and perhaps irrelevant to them as well. But there is no real “foreignness” barrier between them when compared, say, to the legendary Quebec comedy troupe Rock et Belles Oreilles (RBO). Now, on my street in Gatineau RBO would be household names and most everyone might be able to hum one of their songs or at least recognize one if I sang it to them. But drive 10 minutes to Carlingwood Shopping Centre in Ottawa and RBO drops off the map. The people from RBO could walk through the mall totally incognito and no one would recognize them, unless someone from Gatineau happened to have crossed the river to shop there.

    So, sure all of the Canadian provinces are different and distinct from one another, but Quebec is more different, more distinct. Way more. That doesn’t mean it’s better than the others, but the difference does have a definite “foreignness” aspect to it.

    And let’s not forget that within Quebec you find the same types of regional differences (normal within a large geographical “national” territory) that you have referred to in the ROC. For example, people on the south coast of the Gaspé peninsula are wholly Québécois, but they have a strong Acadian influence that shows through in their accents and demeanour. The same is true in the Îles-de-la-Madeleine. Remember the ship that sank tragically last winter was called L’Acadien II, and listening to the accents of the participants, the news conference with the families of the victims could have been taking place in the Acadian Peninsula of New Brunswick. Yet these people are represented by a Parti Québécois member with the very Acadian name of Maxime Arseneau in Quebec City! They also voted Oui to independence in a proportion of almost 60% in 1995.

    Acajack

    May 30, 2008 at 8:43 am

  22. (at least those who aren’t completely Americanized)
    Acajack

    Another example of Québécois condescension towards ROC. And they complain bitterly when the reverse happens.

    Q: What proportion of citizens in ROC are not yet completely Americanized? What are the criteria used in evaluating the degree of Americanization? How does this get done on a scientific basis in order to come to such a sweeping conclusion?

    Dave

    May 30, 2008 at 1:09 pm

  23. Wow, Dave. We’ve got just an itty-bitty, teeny-weeny chip on our shoulder, don’t we?

    Note that I didn’t speculate on what percentage of English-speaking Canadians were “totally Americanized”. It could be just one tenth of one percent… But having lived for almost three decades in various provinces of the ROC, I can assure you that the phenomenon does exist, though it would be foolish for me to speculate on how widespread it is.

    When I lived in Ontario, I did know people who referred to Revenue Canada (now the Canada Revenue Agency) as the I.R.S., or who thought that foreigners needed a Green Card to work in Canada, or who referred to Parliament Hill in Ottawa as Capital/Capitol Hill, etc. When you don’t have even basic knowledge of the institutions of your own country, but (seemingly) the basic citizen’s knowledge of another one, I’d say a pretty high degree of acculturation has taken place.

    But that being said, what’s so wrong about being Americanized, if that’s what those people want to be?

    Acajack

    May 30, 2008 at 3:16 pm

  24. On the ethno-genetico-blood purity of “the us”, much information on Thursday’s Vous êtes ici http://www.radio-canada.ca/radio/vousEtesIci/indexJour.asp?date=2008-5-28 on la première chaîne, hosted by Patrick Masbourian, of armenian ancestry, thus unpure.

    Louise Pothier talks about an expo at musée Pointe-à-Callière: France, Nouvelle-France – Naissance d’un peuple français en Amérique
    http://www.radio-canada.ca/Medianet/2008/CBF/VousEtesIci200805282105_1.asx

    She says (my rough short translation):

    “in the English colonies, people where leaving almost a whole village at a time… in Nouvelle-France it wasn’t the case: for the entire period (of Nouvelle-France), around 250 families emigrated from France, very few. Single young men emigrated.

    it’s the originality of the french ideology for populating Nouvelle-France, they send few people, to be “crossbred” with the aboriginals who are expected to become good christians and subjects. Champlain will even say: ‘our sons will marry your daughters’ “

    deprenyl

    May 30, 2008 at 6:15 pm

  25. Good stuff Deprenyl

    I never get to listen to Masbourian now that he has that akward evening spot. I liked him much more than La Charette.

    angryfrenchguy

    May 30, 2008 at 6:27 pm

  26. Hmm, I dunno if the “ideology” was so “original” — I think you have to have a policy before you can have an ideology. Apart from the whole filles du roi thing (basically a one-off), Louis XIV doesn’t seem to have really made populating New France a big priority, one way or another.

    Nor, I’m afraid, was the English model of village-by-village migration really a political triumph, though it did manage to get people across the Atlantic quicker! My understanding is that most of the emigrants from the British Isles were the victims of land clearances, whereby landlords, realising that wool was more profitable than grain, drove their age-old tenants off the land. Some then went directly to the New World and some decided, after a few years of penury in the new urban slums, that the New World looked pretty good.

    However, the point is a very good one! And probably accounts for the singular beauty of Quebec women (as vs., say, Picardy women).

    hoo-boy

    May 30, 2008 at 8:58 pm

  27. Back to the Eternal Questions ™ & my Lower Town comrade:

    “Interestingly enough, Montreal has of late made something of a comeback on the Anglo-Canadian cultural scene, but perhaps only in the alternative music field. Once again, it’s probably because Montreal is on the margins or the fringes of Anglo North America that its music scene has a uniqueness, or an “edge” to it that other cities lack.”

    Hey, you talking about me! Or rather, the old, happy time on the Plateau — the real Good Old Days, when my rent was $350 for a 3 1/2 and shish taouks were $1. Seriously, I think it was all about the low cost of living . . . I hear things are gentrified a bit these days, but nothing like Toronto, or Chicago, or San Francisco (forget New York). Bohemia — if you build it, they will come.

    “To be bluntly honest Hoo boy, after living in the ROC for almost 30 years, my impression when I left there was that people who feel like you are unfortunately a shrinking minority and that even many of those who might have cared at one point have thrown in the towel.”

    Yeah, tell me about it. “How long, O Lord, how long?” In fairness, the total failure of political leadership in the last 20 years has a lot to do with it. Fortunately I’ve never judged success by popular support — something I have in common with the separatists these days. Objectively, Quebec will never separate, and Canada will never be glorious, and we’re all a bunch of anachronisms in the nihilist paradise of the 21st century, but what the hell? Gotta go down swinging, right, AFG?

    You’re quite right about the regions in Quebec. I wasn’t really up on them until I had a roommate in Montreal from Beauce. Couldn’t understand her very well, but she was extremely nice. My ear for French accents isn’t great, but are the Acadians really as difficult for a Montrealer to understand as the Newfies are to me? I remember crossing from Sydney to Port-aux-Basques and sharing a smoke with a Newfoundlander, and I only realised at the end of the conversation that I hadn’t understand a word he’d said.

    But of course you are right about language being the great unifier. Couldn’t be otherwise, I suspect. Still, the Americans are a lot more culturally unified than we are — at least consciously: always kissing the Stars & Stripes; also unconsciously: I went to school there for five years, with fellow students from all over, and I can’t remember regionalism ever coming up once. Vermont and Texas (fairly extreme contrast!) may be different, but they’re not really rivals, and they don’t hate each other half the time. You’re right that no Canadians are as different as Hungarians and Croatians were/are; but neither do we have a capital city like Vienna. Hmm, my analogy really doesn’t work . . . Maybe modern Germany? I gather the place is rife with jealous Saxons and offended Thuringians.

    I’m curious, Acajack — what do you see as the real advantage of an independent Quebec? What would change? Wouldn’t the same problems of integrating immigrants, and dealing with the anglos, and tinkering with the modèle québécois, persist? Would the air be cleaner, or the puppies cuddlier?

    hoo-boy

    May 31, 2008 at 2:33 am

  28. “I’m curious, Acajack — what do you see as the real advantage of an independent Quebec? ”

    Short Answer: In doubt that Quebec will still be a francophone province in 100 years without independence. As a francophone I want Quebec to stay francophone… that’s why I support independence.

    now do u still need the long answer?

    quebecois separatiste

    May 31, 2008 at 10:38 am

  29. If I too can take a shot at the question you asked Acajack: Why an independent Québec?

    Growing up in bourgeois NDG with Anglos and Francos co-existing fairly well, each with their own schools and things and able to be good neighbors nonetheless, I though Canada worked great.

    Then I went to High School. 96% of the kids in my High School were not born in Canada. None of them had chosen themselves to come here, but then neither had their parents. They had come to Canada, not Québec. They had not anticipated this French business (which is a minority language in western Montréal), or why they couldn’t go to the English schools – that were right there!

    To them, before they came, Canada looked like an English country, or if they were a little better informed, a bilingual country where you picked and chose the language you wanted. That is very much the image Canada projects on the international stage.

    They felt cheated. They were cheated. Canada had lied to them. No one ever told them that there was this society within Canada where there was another common language.

    An independent Québec would put these immigrants in the position where they would choose to come to a country where French is the dominant language. Québec’s branding in the world would correspond with the image Quebecers themselves have of their country, thus, integration, although never a simple matter – see France – would be just that much more easier.

    French and English will continue arguing, as they have done since the Normans invaded Britain, and maybe, just maybe, we’ll be able to spend some time, money and energy on issues that are not about language and national unity.

    That plus, Canada vs. Québec at the World Hockey Championship.

    angryfrenchguy

    May 31, 2008 at 11:38 am

  30. Dave, what’s that on your shoulder? Could it be a huge chip perhaps?

    Acajack

    May 31, 2008 at 2:07 pm


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