Life in Quebec: Am I a tree or a weed?

treeLast week, I was standing around watching some high school students working in the local community garden. The students had been assigned to pull up all the dead plants, which made me think about indentured service, but it also made me think about roots, specifically my roots in this province.

I’ve just celebrated my 24th anniversary in Quebec. If Quebec and I were married, the etiquette guides say we should be marking the occasion by giving each other musical instruments. And then I might make a speech, like: “Even though it’s hard to keep the magic alive, and even though you drive me crazy most of the time, I still love you, Quebec. And you still make me horny – in a purely musical instrument kind of way, of course!”

I’ve established roots in Quebec. This is where I got married and raised a family. It’s where I’ve built my career. It’s where I learned that just because you can buy beer and wine until 11 p.m. doesn’t mean you should.

But every now and then – usually when the political climate turns nasty, as it seems to with cyclical predictability – I wonder what’s keeping us here.

Read the rest at Life in Quebec


About rossmurray1

I'm Canadian so I pronounce it "Aboot." No, I don't! I don't know any Canadian who says "aboot." Damnable lies! But I do know this Canadian is all about humour (with a U) and satire. Come by. I don't bite, or as we Canadians say, "beet."
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32 Responses to Life in Quebec: Am I a tree or a weed?

  1. My husband and I often have a similar discussion about staying in one place too long. I can’t wait for him to read your article. I really enjoyed it. Both raised to be trees, yet we both enjoy being a nasty little weed our extended family loves to hate. As adults we try our best to be trees, but sometimes we allow that nasty little weed, the comfortably living vagabond we continually share between our sholders whom often shares advice for the open road, to take over.

  2. I loved this line: “every time a nationalist bell rings, an anglo packs his things.” Very funny!

  3. ksbeth says:

    i think you are like that weed that you just cannot totally eradicate from a site no matter how many times you try to pull it out, it just keeps popping up.

  4. Elyse says:

    You could come on down to Washington, Ross. That’ll make Quebec seem far more homey.

  5. List of X says:

    I am definitely an invasive species – came on an airplane from another continent, and put down roots here. And, judging by the circumference of my trunk, I am definitely a tree, not a weed.

  6. cat9984 says:

    Yesterday was my 24th anniversary. Nobody told me to buy him an instrument. Wonder if stores still sell kazoos (no musical talent).

  7. Its funny how we get attached to a place, even if it may not be the most interesting place. After awhile it just sort of becomes what we know and where we are supposed to be, I guess.

  8. nobsj says:

    Yep still waiting for my $$$

  9. shalilah2002 says:

    I’ve established roots and have lived in this city since 1974. Sometimes I get negative thoughts but then maybe the grass is not greener on the other side.

  10. Yahooey says:

    I feel I’ve been in the same place too long and I moved here because I felt the same about the last place I lived. I am uncomfortable as a tree.

  11. benzeknees says:

    Please don’t take this any way but as a curious question: How do you feel about being an Anglo in a French province? I know there are a lot of people in the rest of the country who do not like “Quebec” (as if everyone who lives there is just the same). I often hear others saying Quebec is a selfish province, demanding a lot of special attention & threatening to separate when they don’t get it. I would like to know what you think since you live there & can have an insider’s opinion. Again, I am not trying to start a political discussion here or further perpetuate a stereotype, I am looking for information so I can form my own opinion.

    • rossmurray1 says:

      It’s a question many ponder, and it would be easier for me to walk away because I’m not from here originally. It is, quite frankly, a maddening province. But put it in perspective. Every government is maddening in its own way; it’s just that this one is maddening in a way that speaks to the very core of identity. It’s not about, say, health care or taxes, it’s about the French Canadian obsession for survival in the sea of North American English. So I would say I and most English Quebecers sympathize with this, empathize with it really, since we’re trying to survive in our own very large lake of French. But it is hard when we’re often seen as the enemy. BUT, take away the politics and this is a fantastic place to live, rich in culture, the arts, the different languages, and the people are mostly warm and generous. You have mountains and ocean and rivers, the vast north, and strong communities! Anglos are weird: we complain about Quebec when we’re here but brag about it when we’re away. I could go on and on (and do) but don’t hate Quebec; try to figure it out. Impossible to do, but never boring.

      • benzeknees says:

        As an Anglo, I have had trouble (in the way distant past) when dealing with a French corporation in getting someone to speak to me in English (this was a national bank I was dealing with). I learned French in school, but not enough to carry on a business conversation. When I called this particular bank I explained I would require an English speaking person with which to deal & I was assured I could receive this service with no problem. When I was transferred to the employee, she assured me she could speak English & we carried on about half our conversation in English, but then she stopped speaking English & refused to revert back. I had to speak to the manager to get the help I needed. To me, it felt like I was being discriminated against because I could not speak French. Do you ever find this happening since you live in the province or do you speak fluent French?

        • rossmurray1 says:

          Generalizing is what gets us in trouble in the first place, but for the most part, I’ve not had any bad experiences in this regard. I’m not fluent but I can manage. If anything, I’ve had people be more apologetic about not speaking English than beligerant. As I’ve written elsewhere, there’s a dance that takes place to decide what language you’re going to speak in, and sometimes it ends up you both speaking your second language. Weird!

          • benzeknees says:

            I’m glad it’s not so sharp as the news portrays. From news reports it sounds like you couldn’t get service in English even if you wanted it. I’m glad it’s more relaxed than portrayed.

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