Humour of Quebec

The Culture of Quebec emerged over the last few hundred years, resulting from the shared history of the French-speaking majority in Quebec. It is unique to the Western World; Quebec is the only region in North America with a French-speaking majority, as well as one of only two provinces in Canada where French is a constitutionally-recognized official language (New Brunswick being the other). For historical and linguistic reasons, Francophone Quebec also has cultural links with other North American French-speaking communities, particularly with the Acadians of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Franco-Ontarian communities in Eastern Ontario, and to a lesser extent with the French-Canadian communities of Northern Ontario and Western Canada and the Cajun French revival movements in Louisiana, United States. As of 2006, 79% of all Quebecers list French as their mother tongue;[1] since French is the official language in the province, up to 95% of all residents are capable of speaking French.[2]

History made Quebec a meeting place for cultures, where people from around the world experience America, but from a little distance and through a different eye. The culture of Quebec is connected to the strong cultural currents of the rest of Canada, the United States, France, and the United Kingdom. As such, it is often described as a crossroads between Europe and America. The Encyclopedia Britannica describes contemporary Quebec culture as a post-1960s phenomenon resulting from the Quiet Revolution, an essentially homogeneous socially liberal counter-culture phenomenon supported and financed by both of Quebec's major political parties, who differ essentially not in a right-vs-left continuum but a federalist-vs-sovereignty/separatist continuum.

Folklore

In terms of folklore, Quebec's French-speaking populace has the second largest body of folktales in Canada (the first being Native people); most prominent within Quebec folklore are old parables and tales.[3] Other forms of folklore include superstitions associated with objects, events, and dreams.

Tales

When the early settlers arrived from France in the 16th and 17th century, they brought with them popular tales from their homeland. Adapted to fit the traditions of rural Quebec by transforming the European hero into Ti-Jean, a generic rural habitant, they eventually spawned many other tales. Many were passed on through generations by what French speaking Quebecis refer to as Les Raconteurs, or storytellers. Their tales vary in length: good Raconteurs can recite tales lasting over two hours, or even tell them over the course of a few evenings. A great many of the stories were never written down, but rather have been passed on through word of mouth.[4] Almost all of the stories Native to Quebec, were influenced by Christian Dogma and superstitions. The Devil, for instance, appears often as either a person, an animal or monster, or indirectly through Demonic acts.[5]

The Devil at the Dance

The Devil at the Dance is an example in which the Devil was used to reinforce Christian ideals. It is the story of a young couple in love. The girl's parents, who are Heretics, refuse the young man's suite after discovering he is Christian. When the daughter protests, her mother announces that she would rather have the Devil himself courting her daughter than the young Christian. The following Sunday afternoon, a stranger comes to call. Due to the vast amount of snow on the ground, he has arrived in a horse pulled carriage which had been left in front of the dwelling. Not too long after, the young Christian comes to visit his beloved. Noticing that all of the snow surrounding the steed had melted away, he realizes that this was no ordinary horse. Rushing inside, he spies the young girl’s father and explains to him what he saw outside. "It’s none other than the Devil himself! Your Wife invited him in with her heresy," explains the Christian. Afraid, the young girl’s father begs the Christian to fetch his Priest while he keeps an eye on his daughter. The Priest, who recognizes the urgency of the matter, rushes over in order to prevent the Devil from stealing the young girls soul. Armed with holy water, a crucifix, and a prayer book, the priest approaches the Devil. Having seen the holy man, the Devil quickly rushes to a corner of the room. When the priest asks the Devil why he is here, the latter replies that he is here ‘because I was invited’. Determined to remain in the dwelling, the Devil ignores the Priest's requests to leave. It is only when the holy man had started to read from his Bible and sprinkled holy water about, that the Devil finally left in a fit of pyrotechnics. Overwhelmed with joy, the mother and father fell on bended knees in front of the Priest, thanking him and promising to convert to Christianity. The three of them –mother, father and daughter- converted and the young couple got married.[5] There are various versions of this tale: One paints the young girl as being very disobedient and flirtatious. Although her parents warn her of the evils of selfishness, her actions do not change. Thus, the Devil was able to enter her home because of her Unchristian behavior. She is saved once again by the Priest, and converts to Christianity. Another version has the tale happening in a remote village in New Brunswick, but with the same basic storyline. Clearly, the tale evolved depending on what message the storyteller was trying to portray. Regardless of the version, the vast influence of the Catholic Church is clearly noticeable.

Superstitions

Other aspects of Quebec folklore include superstitions surrounding objects, events, and dreams. In essence, these stem from the belief in both White Magic and Black Magic, where the former is seen to be beneficial and seeks to bring about positive outcomes, and the latter being essentially malicious, sinister, and all-around evil (sometimes also called witchcraft).[6] Although Christianity had slowly chipped away at most forms of magic, the populace still held on to its various superstitions for generations. Where religion provides Quebec with a societal structure, these beliefs sought to predict the future, to help alleviate fear of the unknown.[6]

Listed below are objects along with a brief description of the superstition associated with them.[6]

Age

A woman, regardless of marital status, will experience an important event during the year following her 31st birthday.

Animals

When animals are nervous, it means there is an impending death or disease.

Bee

If a wasp, a hornet, or a bee bites your tongue you will not be stung.

Bonhomme sept-heures

This man is said to kidnap children who are out of bed after seven o'clock at night. He hides underneath balconies and, equipped with a mask and a bag in which to dispose the children, enters a home after the clock strikes seven.

Eldest child

If its a boy, the father will die before the mother will. Likewise, if its a girl, the mother will die first.

Freckles

Having freckles on your arms is a sign of sensuality.

Gifts

You should never give someone a mirror, a knife, or any religious object as a gift because it brings bad luck.

Hairbrush

If a young woman drops her hairbrush, she'll lose her fiancée.

Happiness

If you dream about being happy, then the next day you will have a huge fight; vice-versa is also true.

Matches

  • Hold onto a match while it burns itself out. Make a wish, and when the fire goes out, your wish will come true.
  • If, by mere coincidence, two matches cross each other and create a crucifix in an ashtray, then someone will die.
  • It is bad luck if you are the third one to light your cigarette using the same match. For the other two, however, it means they will find love in the future.

Needle

  • If you lose your needle, you will also lose your horse.
  • If you drop a needle and it sticks itself into the ground, then someone is thinking ill of you.
  • If a friend gives you a needle, you must prick yourself with it immediately to avoid an argument.
  • If you find a needle and it is pointing towards you, you will have bad luck; if it pointing away from you, you will have good luck.

Trees

Trees die after those who have planted them die.

Rats

To dream of rats means there are enemies nearby.

Spiders

  • Throwing a spider under a cupboard will bring you luck and money.
  • It is good luck to kill a spider with your right hand or foot. Likewise, it is bad luck to kill one with your left hand or foot.

Stars

Count nine stars nine nights in a row, and the last star will point towards your future husband.

Creative arts

Cinema

Main article: Cinema of Quebec

The first public movie projection in North America occurred in Montreal on June 27, 1896. Frenchman Louis Minier presented a film on a Cinematograph in a Café-Theatre on Saint Lawrence Boulevard. However, it was not be until the 1960s when the National Film Board of Canada was established that a genuine Quebec cinema industry would emerge. Important contributions to world cinema include Cinéma Vérité and artistic animation. In 2004, a Quebec film, The Barbarian Invasions, won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.

Circus arts

Quebec has carved a niche for itself in the field of Circus arts, where it emphasizes the European tradition of circus.

The Cirque Du Soleil circus troupe is known for its artistic productions with rich musical scores. Its productions include Varekai, Dralion, Alegría, Corteo, KOOZA, Quidam, , Zumanity, Love, Mystère and O, which is performed on a water platform. It is one of the world's few circuses without animal performers. Other internationally successful troupes include Cirque Éloize and Cirque ÉOS.

Cavalia, a Shawinigan-based horse show, has, since 2003, gained massive popularity in Montreal and Los Angeles. It features both acrobatic and equestrian arts. All of the horses are male, most of which are stallions.

Comic strips

Comic books in Quebec traditionally follow the European tradition of comics, combining both graphic design and literature. Though most are aimed at children, they are generally considered more dignified entertainment and there are many notable exceptions of graphic novels and comic books aimed at an older reading audience, such as the ones published by the Montreal-based Drawn and Quarterly, 400 Coups and La Pasteque.

Dance

Main article: Dance of Quebec

Theatre

Main article: Theatre of Quebec

Quebec theatre was largely based on plays originating in France, Great Britain, or the United States before the mid-20th century, when plays written by Quebec dramatists gained popularity. Gratien Gélinas gained fame in Quebec and made an important contribution to Québécois identity with his character Fridolin, a Montreal boy who speaks in local slang and has humorous views about everyday life. Michel Tremblay brought themes such as Quebec identity, working class values, gay relationships, and urban life to the stage. Robert Lepage is a prominent Quebec playwright, actor and director. Wajdi Mouawad is known for the critically praised play Scorched, which was filmed as Incendies.

Literature

Main article: Literature of Quebec

The first literary output from Quebec occurred under the French regime with the many poems written by the early inhabitants of New France. It was, however, during the late 19th century that Quebec novels were first published. Popular French-language contemporary writers include Louis Caron, Suzanne Jacob, Yves Beauchemin, and Gilles Archambault. Mavis Gallant, born in Quebec, has lived in Paris since the 1950s. Well-known English-language writers from Quebec include Leonard Cohen, Mordecai Richler, and Neil Bissoondath.

Music

Main article: Music of Quebec

The traditional folk music of Quebec has two main influences: the traditional songs of France, and the influence of Celtic music, with reels and songs that show a definite affinity with the traditional music of Canada's Maritime Provinces, Ireland, Scotland, and Brittany. This traditional music is becoming increasingly more popular, with the success of groups such as La Bottine Souriante.

Quebec has also produced world-class classical music over the years, such as the Montreal Symphony Orchestra (MSO), founded in 1934. Under the direction of Swiss conductor Charles Dutoit from 1977 to 2002, the MSO gained a truly international reputation. Montreal is also home to the Orchestre Métropolitain du Grand Montréal, the early music ensemble Arion, the all-female ensemble La Pietà, created by violinist Angèle Dubeau, to name but a few; Quebec City is home to the Violons du Roy under the direction of Bernard Labadie and the Orchestre symphonique de Québec under the direction of Yoav Talmi. Quebec has a number of classical music festivals, such as the Festival de Lanaudière, Festival Orford chamber music festival held at the Orford Art Centre, and where the ensemble the Orford String Quartet was first formed.

Classical music aficionados can attend performances in a number of concert halls. Salle Wilfrid Pelletier at the Place des Arts cultural centre in the heart of Montreal is home to the MSO. Montreal's McGill University also houses three concert halls: Pollack Hall, Tanna Schulich Hall and Redpath Hall. The Université de Montréal has its Salle Claude Champagne, named after Quebec composer Claude Champagne. The Grand Théâtre de Québec in Quebec City is home to the Orchestre symphonique du Québec. A regional centre, Rimouski, is home to the Orchestre symphonique de l'Estuaire and has a large concert hall, the Desjardins-Telus theatre.

Jazz also has a long tradition in Quebec. Montreal's annual Montreal International Jazz Festival draws a number of visitors each summer. Many Quebecers have made a name for themselves in the jazz world, such as Oscar Peterson, Oliver Jones, Karen Young, Lorraine Desmarais, Vic Vogel, Michel Donato, and Alain Caron.

A number of performers enjoy considerable success at home, both in terms of record sales and listenership, while remaining relatively unknown outside Quebec. In a number of cases, French-speaking Quebec singers are able to export their talent to France and Belgium. Artists like Céline Dion and the pop-punk group Simple Plan have achieved considerable success in English-speaking countries by expanding their audience base. Celine Dion, for instance, has sold over 50 million albums in the United States alone.[7]

A growing population in Quebec (young adults and teenagers) are listening to more "underground" music, including world known Metal, Hardcore, Punk bands. In fact, the Quebec scene is renowned in metal circles for its production of some of the world's finest Technical and Progressive Death metal bands such as Voivod, Gorguts, Quo Vadis, Neuraxis and Martyr as well as Augury and Unexpect. The Quebec metal scene also produced other fine bands such as Kataklysm (northern hyperblast), Despised Icon (deathcore) and Cryptopsy (death metal).

Video games

Main article: Video games in Quebec

Video games are popular in Quebec, as they are in the rest of Canada and the United States. The majority of video games come from either the United States, Canada, or Japan. Only some games have been translated into French, but the government of Quebec and the Entertainment Software Association of Canada made a deal in 2007 that will require all games sold in Quebec to be translated into French by 2009, as long as they are available in another part of the world in French as well.[8] In some cases the game includes optional French text and/or subtitles, while in other cases the game is fully translated in French complete with dubbed voice acting (as is the case with games by Montreal-based Ubisoft), which may be recorded either locally or in Europe.

Visual arts

Main article: Visual arts of Quebec


For many years a mostly rural society, Quebec has a tradition of craft art, including the making of stained glass windows, as exemplified in the art of Marcelle Ferron.

The group known as Les Automatistes, and its best known artist, Jean-Paul Riopelle, is perhaps Quebec's best known contribution to the world of fine art.

Lifestyle

Family life

During the 1950s and 1960s, Quebec maintained record fertility rates. The Roman Catholic church using their priests (established in all parishes and small towns) guided and directed people's attitudes and morals in those days. In the post–Quiet Revolution era, this attitude completely changed. In 2001, the fertility rate in Quebec was 1.474 per thousand.

In Quebec, many, if not all, married women retain their maiden names when they marry, as was the case in the Middle Ages. This is mandated in the Civil Code of Quebec. This followed the 1970s strong feminist movement and the Quiet Revolution. Since June 24, 2002, Quebec has had a civil union system available to both opposite-sex and same-sex couples. On March 19, 2004, Quebec became the third province in Canada to legally perform a same-sex marriage, following a court challenge brought by Michael Hendricks and René Leboeuf. The province is known as one of the most tolerant and gay friendly places in North America.

Work

The province at the turn of the 20th million , was known for its low-paid blue-collar workers employed in textiles, paper plants and shops. Quebec also has a long tradition in forestry. Quebec's lumberjacks were known and popularized in New England and even all the way to Minnesota. In the first part of the 20th century, many lumber camps in Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire were staffed by French-Canadian workers.

Since the 1960s, union membership has grown in Quebec. Today, Quebec has the highest percentage of unionized workers in North America. Quebec is the only jurisdiction in North America where a Walmart store was unionized (Jonquière, now closed). Most union leaders in Quebec have strong ties to the Parti Québécois.

Vacation

Starting probably in the late 1940s and reaching its peak in the 1970s, some Quebec residents have vacationed or spent the whole winter months in southeast Florida, mainly in the Hallandale Beach and Fort Lauderdale regions. Initially a trend that only the wealthy could afford; this destination is now considered by many as outdated and Un-stylish. It did, however, spur the coining of the term, "Floribécois," a Quebec snowbird. The increasing real estate taxes might explain why Quebecers increasingly tend to visit the North Miami area instead of residing there for part of the year. Many snowbirds owned a trailer or a house but were renting the land where their property was located. New locations and resort areas such as Mexico, Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Caribbean islands are now favoured by many Quebecers to spend their traditional sunny one or two-week vacations.

Humour

Le Poisson D'Avril (April Fools) is an old French tradition involving tacking fish (usually paper ones) on people's back without their knowledge. It dates back to 1564, and is still to this day a tradition in Quebec, although now people play pranks on each other instead of the fish, as is done in most other parts of the world.

Many Quebec television shows contain humour, and a lot of talk-shows ask for comic people to participate. A famous show called Bye-Bye, broadcast each year on December 31, was a funny way to review the year just completed and laugh about any news (political or not) that happened that year.

The Just for Laughs festival is considered the world's largest comedy festival of its kind; it started in Montreal and has expanded to Toronto and Nantes in France, as well as to other countries.

Prior to the modern independent political movement, many citizens of Quebec decided to express their dissatisfaction with federal elections by forming the Rhinoceros Party of Canada. Founded in 1963, the party fielded humorous candidates in many ridings with a satirical platform. They added colour to many otherwise drab elections for more than two decades.

Food

Main article: Cuisine of Quebec

As in European countries like Italy or France, where cooking is considered one of the fine arts, fine dining is a passion among the well-to-do of Quebec society. While Montreal has the greatest concentration of fine cuisine restaurants in Canada, even small communities proudly boast of famous inns where the chef has an international reputation. This could be partly explained by a strong immigration in the 1960s and 1970s from Italy, Belgium, Switzerland and France. Many of those immigrants were waiters, cooks and chefs. Food from Quebec include most of the foods from Canada, France, The Americas and then some scattered other food.

Sports and hobbies

Sporting activities are increasingly popular in Quebec. As Quebec is snow-bound for several months of the year, typically from November to March, it is no surprise that many winter activities have taken root and, in a few cases, even originated here.

Ice hockey is by far the sport of choice in Quebec. It lives in the hearts and minds of Quebecers thanks to the rich legacy of the Montreal Canadiens. The rules of the game were set up by students at McGill University in 1875. There are many junior ice hockey teams, and one would be hard-pressed to find even the smallest community without a rink available for organized play.

Association football, known in North America as soccer, canadian football, baseball, basketball, rugby union and volleyball are the most practiced and watched sports during the summer season in Quebec.

Cross-country skiing is very easily accessible due to the abundance of snow and an unending supply of open fields. With the Laurentian Mountains close at hand, some of the best downhill skiing in Canada east of the Rockies is to be found in Quebec as well.

The snowmobile (or "skidoo"), invented in Quebec by Joseph-Armand Bombardier, is a popular hobby, though its reputation has been marred by several deaths each year. Through the 1990s, the Mont Tremblant and Mont Sainte-Anne ski resorts became popular destinations internationally.

Another popular pastime is ice fishing. Rivers freeze over quickly come wintertime and as soon as the ice is solid enough to walk upon, one can find dozens of tiny homemade shacks (ice houses) dotting the frozen surface.

Quebec is home to many professional sports teams and events, the majority of which call Montreal home.

Existing teams

Defunct teams

Events

Athletes

Noted Quebec athletes include:

Events

June and ending in late July. The fireworks are synchronized to music which is also broadcast over a local radio station. Spectators can purchase tickets to be seated on site at La Ronde, providing an exceptional view of the lower altitude display and of the whole perspective. However, tens of thousands of people watch the fireworks for free from nearby locations. Because of its proximity to La Ronde, the Jacques Cartier Bridge is closed down to automobile circulation and is flooded by thousands of pedestrian spectators for the duration of the show.

The Just for Laughs Festival, or Festival Juste pour rire, a comedy festival, again highlights Quebec's love of humour. Gala events are held nightly for several days and an atmosphere similar to the Jazz Fest is seen on the streets of Montreal, with many street performers and crowds.

The Francofolies is a festival celebrating the diversity of francophone music. Many out-door shows are given for free.

Media

The major newspapers in Quebec include the broadsheets La Presse (Montreal), Le Devoir (Montreal) and Le Soleil (Quebec City), the tabloids Le Journal de Montréal (Montreal) and Le Journal de Québec (Quebec City), and the English-language broadsheet The Gazette (Montreal).

Other smaller centres have their own newspapers, and there are also several free papers including "alternative weeklies" and daily micro-presses available in cafes and the Montreal Metro.

A number of television networks and stations broadcast in Quebec. Two public broadcasters broadcast over the air in French: Radio-Canada, operated by the federal government, and Télé-Québec, operated by the provincial government. Two private broadcasters broadcast over the air in French: TVA (which generally has the highest ratings of all French-language broadcasters) and V. These Quebec television networks produce a considerable amount of their content locally, including the popular téléromans.

The three main Canadian English networks also broadcast over the air in Quebec: public broadcaster CBC and private broadcasters CTV and Global Television. These networks provide some local content, primarily news and public affairs programming. Montreal's CJNT, owned by Global, is a hybrid affiliate of English language CH system and multicultural programming.

A number of networks are only available to cable and satellite subscribers. Subscribers can watch a wide range of specialized French-language TV channels. Amongst these offerings is TV5, the international French-language network. Most major Canadian English-language cable and satellite networks are also available.

Most American television networks are available in Quebec, although in some locations farther from the border they are not available over the air, but only on cable. The PBS affiliates from the neighbouring states, WETK in Burlington, Vermont and WCFE in Plattsburgh, New York, sometimes run Quebec-specific material.

Cultural institutions

Many cultural institutions were set up in Quebec in the wake of the Quiet Revolution.

Among the key institutions are:

Quebec's rich heritage of culture and history can be explored through a network of museums, which include the Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal, the Musée de la civilisation and the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec.

Many of Quebec's artists have been educated in universities' arts faculties and specialized art schools. Notable schools include the Conservatoire de musique et d'art dramatique du Québec, the École nationale de théâtre du Canada, the École nationale de l'humour and the École nationale de cirque.

Prizes and awards

Quebec rewards its singers, musicians, authors, actors, directors, dancers, etc. regularly. Among the awards are:

Regional cultures

Montreal

Main article: Culture of Montreal

Montreal, Quebec's largest city, is the second largest French-speaking city in the Western World after Paris. The city is known for its culture, cuisine, and shopping. Montreal also has a large English-speaking population. Most immigrants to Quebec settle in Montreal, and many come from French-speaking nations.

Quebec City

Quebec City, the provincial capital (albeit dubbed La capitale nationale, national capital, in French), is best known as the first permanent settlement and the only fortified city in North America north of Mexico. The old city, partially encircled within the centuries-old walls, has a European flair.

Saguenay–Lac-St-Jean

A region known for its blueberries, its tourtière which is a kind of a stew inside crust, its soupe aux gourganes and other specialties, Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean is also the birthplace of many of Quebec's public figures such as former Quebec premier Lucien Bouchard, singer Mario Pelchat and Olympic athlete Marc Gagnon. The accent of this region is one of the most distinctive and peculiar ones found in Quebec. The region hosts many festivals during summertime and receives many tourists.

This area is the heartland of the Quebec sovereigntist movement.

Gaspé

The Gaspé Peninsula (Gaspésie in French) borders on the Maritimes and shares its marine culture. Acadians are a majority in many towns such as Bonaventure, and Québécois Gaspesians have an accent very close to that of their Acadian neighbours.

The culture of the Gaspé is very much based on the sea. Tourist attractions include the shrimp industry and salmon pass of Matane, regional food, coastal scenery, the Percé Rock, and the Chic-Choc section of the Appalachian Mountains.

Eastern Townships (Estrie)

This southeast region is located along the US border (Vermont, N.H., and Maine) and received a strong anglophone influence during the 19th century as American loyalists settled there. Although today a large majority of its population is French speaking, we can find many towns and counties with English culture. Its main city is Sherbrooke and the region is also well known for its skiing centres (Orford, Sutton, Owl's Head, all part of the Appalachian mountains).

Aboriginal peoples

People of 11 aboriginal nations live in the territory of Quebec. They make up around 1% of the population. Their influence on Quebec culture has been and continues to be significant. They are the ones who taught the first French settlers how to survive and to adapt to the harsh winters. Later, the French engaged in trade with a great number of tribes inside and outside Quebec.

There are many words in Quebec French that come from aboriginal languages, such as manitou (wizard) and mocassin (soft leather shoes) as well as many places, rivers and lakes that have a native name.

Influences from abroad

Quebec's cultural roots not only draw from the St. Lawrence River, but also from the cultures of France, the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, and the United States.

France

Since the 1960s, cultural ties between France and Quebec have increased significantly and the exchange between the two has resulted in much mutual exposure to each other's arts and societies. The Quebec government does not charge foreign student fees to students from France and certain other French-speaking countries, and France has also provided support for Quebec's national project, particularly during the era of President Charles de Gaulle.

The intellectual elites of French Quebec are divided on this matter. One branch looks to Paris, France for all things cultural, and the other considers New York City as the cultural capital of the universe. The mass of the population tends to favour local talent or adopts a surprisingly cosmopolitan attitude, listening to Brazilian rhythms and going to Asia as well as Florida, Mexico and Cuba for vacations.

United Kingdom

The influence of British culture on Quebec began gradually after the Battle of the Plains of Abraham and its aftermath in 1760. At first, the establishment of a British administration did not truly affect the life of the inhabitants in the area. For some time after 1763, this area was incorporated into the first Province of Quebec. The British population was in fact very low for a long period of time until around 1783 when United Empire Loyalists began colonizing the Eastern Townships. The arrival of many immigrants directly from Britain, including a large number from Scotland, greatly affected the cultural life of French-speaking Quebecers, with many Scottish traditions and influences still evident in Quebec today.

At the peak of British colonization in Quebec in the late 19th century, about 25% of Quebecers were Anglophones. Montreal, the largest city in Canada at the time, was a predominantly English-speaking city.

The first traces of British influence on Quebecers can be found in the beginning of the 19th century, when the population adopted British table manners instead of the ones used in New France: the fork to the left, the knife and spoon to the right and early dinner at 5-6 PM. Before that, the Canadiens of New France followed the French custom of the time, with everyone having a pocket knife ready to use when it was time to eat.

Increased trade with the United Kingdom transformed many of the habits of Quebecers. Especially in urban areas, they began to copy the way of life of the British. It became trendy for men to dress like English dandies, and households were decorated with all things British. The architecture of Montreal is full of evidence of a Victorian trend, which was followed in all British colonies.

Ireland

Irish immigration, like that of the Scots during the Clearances, had a huge impact on Quebecers as listening to Quebec's traditional music will reveal. The immigrants from Ireland were mostly Catholic, and the two populations intermarried to a much greater extent than with any other ethnic group. Although not as represented as the British in finance or industry, the Irish have been actively involved in Quebec politics, a fact alluded to by the two prime ministers, five premiers, many Members of the National Assembly of Quebec and court justices with Irish roots.

Today, many Quebecers have an Irish ancestor somewhere in their family tree. Quebec's most praised poet, Émile Nelligan, is born of a Quebec French-speaking mother and an English-speaking Irish father.

United States

American influences on Quebec culture go back to the first era of prosperity experienced by the American people after their independence. American culture and values began to pour into Quebec starting with the Industrial Revolution and continue to this day, thanks to an open border between the US and Canada.

Though the same phenomenon has occurred with the other Canadian provinces, Quebec, being mostly French-speaking and (formerly) Catholic, the contact of the two cultures has produced significantly different results. It has often taken the form of a conflict between the "old way" of living and the "new way" coming from the outside.

The United States drew a number of emigrants from Quebec, mostly during the period from the 1840s to the 1930s and mostly to New England, many immigrated to work in the timber trade or were seeking work in the heavily industrialized Northeast cities such as Boston and Providence. Some eventually returned to Quebec, but most stayed in the US. Jack Kerouac is a notable American descended from French-Canadian emigrants.

Hollywood

Movies and television have long been welcomed in Quebec and remain among the more popular forms of entertainment. However, due to the language barrier, most of the cultural flooding seen in most English-speaking areas has not occurred to the same extent. Dubbed US productions still enjoy great success. In fact, dubbed productions have seen a great boom in popularity over the last ten years. US productions are also enjoyed in their original language by many bilingual Quebecers, as well as anglophones; this may have been helped by the rise of the DVD, which allowed viewers to watch films in their original language with French subtitles if necessary, making it easier for the francophone viewer to understand non-French dialogue.

One regulation adopted under the Charter of the French Language stipulates that movie distributors are to release a French dubbed version of any major movie at the same time as the original English. Distributors had steadfastly opposed this measure, but once it took effect they found that their total sales of tickets for any given movie jumped dramatically in Quebec. They had not realized before then that many Quebecers capable of reading advertising or reviews in English, to some extent, were not fluent enough to really enjoy a movie in the original English. However, they also invested less money on the marketing of the dubbed versions. Nevertheless, by releasing both versions at the same time, all of the population, regardless of language or relative degrees of fluency in English, was subject to the same wave of publicity and movie reviews at the same time. Nowadays, movies are allowed to be shown in English with no French version as long as they only remain in cinemas for 45 days.

However, the movies are sometimes dubbed in France and use Parisian argot that the French-Canadian viewer would find incomprehensible. For example, politician Mario Dumont took his children to see the Parisian French dub of Shrek the Third, and was unable to understand anything that the characters were saying. Dumont proposed a bill stating that all French-language movies in Quebec must be dubbed locally, but the bill did not pass. Studios seemed to be more inclined towards dubbing their movies in Quebec after the incident.

See also

References

External links

  • Culture: Quebec Portal
  • Cultural links from American Council for Quebec Studies
  • Public domain literature of Quebec
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