We emigrated to Quebec from England when I was 4 months old and landed in Valcartier, a tiny French Canadian village just outside Quebec City. We only lived there a couple of years, and I have no conscious memories, but my babysitter was Quebecois so I got two mother tongues: English and French, though schooled in English only.
The next village was Portneuf, which was closer to Montreal and we lived there till I was 5. Again, I haven’t a lot of memories, but things stick in my mind, like the long toboggan run Dad made behind our house, and sliding down full speed ahead, laying flat on my belly, or swimming in the Cupezes dug out swimming hole, hanging out with Glen; and when we moved away – at age 5 – kissing him good-bye in a tent pitched in his back garden (my first kiss), my fifth birthday party and sitting proudly at the head of the table which Mother had decorated with crêpe paper streamers, and all my little friends seated round the table. Where are they now? I have no idea, though Mother often speaks about friends she made during the years we lived in Quebec and some have also retired to the west coast.
We left Quebec when I was 5 and I returned years later to live in Montreal for a year in 1989 and again from 1997-2002.
I suppose, although born in Yorkshire, England, Quebec is my first home. When I was there in the late 1990’s I met a PQ politician at a sports centre where I trained. When she heard I’d spent my first five years in Quebec, she said: “You are one of us then, vous êtes Québécois.”
Oui, mais je suis Canadienne! …and British.
How many nationalities do you have?
- Cracks starting to show in Quebec’s student solidarity (theglobeandmail.com)
- Outaouais university ordered to reopen classes (cbc.ca)
- Bilingual newspaper succeeds in ‘far west’ (moroccotomorrow.org)
- Is Brahma Still Available in Quebec? (buglersbeerblog.wordpress.com)