ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

French Canadian or Canadien French?

Updated on December 14, 2019

Bilingual Canada - Yes. Bilingual Quebec - No.

Shortly after landing in Canada I decided to take two old people’s courses at the local college. They are called Encore Courses, which is a fancy name for ‘let’s give these old farts something to occupy their feeble little brains and they won’t dwell on the fact that their next stop is the knacker’s yard.’

I put my name down for Creative Writing and Conversational French. The reason for the first course is obvious. There are four reasons for the French course.

1) I feel guilty at dropping French at 13 because I would never, ever, ever need it, not in my wildest dreams imagining I would leave Scotland and eventually live in a bilingual country. (I dropped Latin as well, never thinking I would ever be speaking to any Romans, but, believe this or not, one of my new friends in Canada is a retired teacher – she taught conversational Latin - can you believe that?).

2) When our boat broke down in the middle of the St Lawrence, the only people who paid attention to our screams for help were a Quebec couple. They couldn’t speak English and we couldn’t speak French. We managed to communicate, but I vowed to learn some everyday French, like perhaps. ‘Can you give us a tow into the dock?’ Or ‘Just how exactly are you supposed to start a 3 cylinder 70 hp outboard when you have a dead battery?”

3) Our friends have a daughter who is 9 years old. Her mother is French and her father is Canadian. That doesn’t sound right? Ah yes. Her parents are bilingual Canadians. When the daughter speaks to us, you can see her mind working as she computes and translates. I find it fascinating and I want to be able to say more than. ‘Oh yes?’ to her when she asks me ‘Your woman she is well?’ and ‘You will die soon at your old?”

And the fourth and last reason:-

4) Montreal! What is it with that city? I’ll give you some advice about driving through Montreal –Don’t. I appreciate Quebec trying to keep their language and culture alive but they shouldn't push it. I know, I know, the Official Languages Act 'ensures respect for the English and French languages and ensures equality of status and equal rights and privileges as to their use in Federal Institutions.' That's about as daft as the new Scottish Parliament having to ensure their members of parliament have to speak Gaelic and English.

Canada is supposed to be a bilingual country, but I haven't noticed any bilingual signs in Vancouver or Newfoundland. Certainly, in Eastern Ontario, where the sensible Quebecers escaped to when there was talk of Quebec seceding, the road signs are bilingual - they are printed with English first and a French translation underneath or to the side. You would expect a slight difference in Montreal, perhaps French first and then English. But what is there? French. A word of advice to the highway maintenance guys…..this is not France, it is Canada. This is a dangerous practice.

Imagine If I lived in Dunnet Head, the most northerly point on the Scottish mainland and I wanted to erect a sign that said. ‘Don’t drive any further or you will go off the edge of the country and your car will get damp’. Would I print it in Gaelic which hardly anybody can read? No! I would print it in Gaelic and English. (And so would everybody else…except of course, Jock McGillivary, who is actually responsible for said signs and can’t speak English, but then he already has the boats in the Pentland Firth, each one equipped with heavy lifting gear. Apart from that he has the scrap metal dealership and four heavies to ensure that nobody messes with him.)

Mmm Just been talking to our 9 year old friend. She says that as I drive through Montreal I should remember road numbers and destinations, just as her daddy does. How does her daddy do this, I asked her?

“He keeps saying, ‘Route 20, Route 40, or Toronto’. He sings it out loud.”

I asked her when her father chanted this mantra. “Just when he gets to the start of the city after he crosses himself.”

Out of the mouths…

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • John MacNab profile imageAUTHOR

      John MacNab 

      8 years ago from the banks of the St. Lawrence

      Jess.

      Let me tell you a story - one of the reasons why Cornwall is not recognised. At the gym a few years ago, a new arrival to the city was raving about it. He was becoming a bore about how wonderful Cornwall was. I said to him, "I suppose you've told all your Ottawa compatriots how magical this area is?"

      "Not on your life," he replied. "And have them moving here? No danger. I keep telling them what a crap, smelly city it is. I'm not that silly."

      And this was long after the smelly factory closed down.

      The city needs a better marketing manager than him.

    • JessBraz profile image

      JessBraz 

      8 years ago from Canada

      I definitely agree with you about the weather... It was quite gloomy this morning, but now, nothing but sunshine over the mighty St. Lawrence.. Being so close to two major cities (Montreal & Ottawa) plus a hop skip and a jump away from upstate New York is quite nice... It makes for lots of places to visit in the summer.. Sometimes I feel like our neck of the woods doesn't get the recognition it deserves for being such a nice little nook of Canada.

    • John MacNab profile imageAUTHOR

      John MacNab 

      8 years ago from the banks of the St. Lawrence

      Again, Jess, thank you for the visit and comment. We don't live very far from Montreal either, in fact a friend of ours who passed away a couple of years ago, was an escapee from Quebec in the 80's.

      It is odd that although we live in Eastern Ontario, we have to know French to obtain an official job. There is one very good thing about living on the edge - the weather systems - apart from the ice storm, seem to pass us by. We can see the weather over the Adirondacks, and as long as it stays there to give us a spectacular view, we are quite happy. Thanks again Jess.

    • JessBraz profile image

      JessBraz 

      8 years ago from Canada

      I enjoyed your hub!

      I'm from Ontario, also along the banks of the St. Lawrence River and very close to Montreal.. I know enough French to be able to read the signs for the most part (thanks to being forced to take French from Kindergarten straight though high school) but I usually refuse to attempt to speak French when in Montreal.. beyond "Merci beaucoup" .. It is a bit of a sticking point for some of us here in Eastern Ontario... I have to be able to speak French to the French people that come here, (there are lots of jobs you won't get here, if you're not fluent in French.. even though we're in Ontario) but when I go there, they don't have to speak English for me... We're in a weird little spot on the map, caught between two languages..

      Cheers on the great hub!

    • John MacNab profile imageAUTHOR

      John MacNab 

      9 years ago from the banks of the St. Lawrence

      When it comes to ice hockey - only 'hockey' here - I just suggested last week that all the world's countries disband their armies. Instead, replace them with ice-hockey teams. I think I'd support the 'Royal Hockey Fusiliers of Ontario.'

    • Jools99 profile image

      Jools Hogg 

      9 years ago from North-East UK

      People are odd about their territory aren't they? Look at Sunderland and Newcastle supporters? Or Celtic or Rangers or Arsenal and Spurs - sport can divide people, never mind land ownership. It's great though that you've got a great mix in your part of Canada between ex-pats on the one hand and Canadians (Canadiens?) on the other - in programmes like 'How I Met Your Mother', one of the characters takes the pee out of the Canadians constantly but there's nothing 'vanilla' about the country - it seems to thrive on its diversity and difference, though I still don't get the violence of ice hockey where they're allowed to take off their gloved to finish off their fights - imagine that in footie?

    • John MacNab profile imageAUTHOR

      John MacNab 

      9 years ago from the banks of the St. Lawrence

      Ta for visiting, lass. There is a simmering animosity in this part of Canada against the Quebecois and the Mohawks. Isn't it strange how a large number of people can be disenchanted by another large group of people, but in small groups we all get on famously. I play billiards with Quebecois/Americans/French-Welsh-English-Scots Canadians, and Mohawks. We slag each other off about our nationalities/religions/languages and other oddities, but we don't look upon our banter as either racial or religious slurs.

    • Jools99 profile image

      Jools Hogg 

      9 years ago from North-East UK

      Loved this, very enlightening! Luckily we don't do signs in Geordie or nobody would understand 'em.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://corp.maven.io/privacy-policy

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)