From the Townships, with love

From the Townships, with love

By Ross Murray

I’m ashamed to admit it (well, not hugely ashamed, certainly not public-apology ashamed, definitely nothing that’s going to make me skip town and take on a new identity, hardly ashamed at all to be truly honest) but I’ve only been to Quebec City twice. Three times if you count the time I was driving to the Maritimes and somehow got onto the bridge and had to make a U-turn to re-easternize myself.

“Hey kids,” I said, “now you can say you’ve visited Quebec City. Hello, Quebec City! Goodbye, Quebec City!”

Those are postcard memories, folks.

As an aside, building cities on rivers has turned out to be not especially brilliant, don’t you think? Bridges and ferries were fine when no one really travelled, back when a visit chez grandmama was referred to as an “expedition” and involved rationing pemmican and the risk of losing a couple of young ’uns to the elements. But now: cars, trucks, fonctionnaires, ugh!

But at least Quebec City has a land-based escape route. Montreal is another nightmare altogether. I’m always reading how those perpetual fretters upriver want to keep people from leaving the island for the suburbs. Easy; just get rid of the bridges.

But I’m not here to talk about those Montrealers because they talk enough about themselves. Let’s talk about us, Eastern Townshippers and Quebec Cityists. (Cityvites? Citycrats? City-City-Bang-Bang? I’ll never get this right.) I think we have a lot in common and should really get to know each other better.

DEJO-Ross-Murray-Cover_webI’ll be making my triumphant return to Quebec City next week to launch my new book, and I’m very much looking forward to enjoying my publisher’s hospitality and being treated to more barbecue-chicken-in-a-box for which, he assured me on my last visit, the city is world-renowned.

As a visitor to Quebec City, I like to think of myself as an ambassador for the Townships. In fact, many people have called me an “ambassador,” though usually without the “amb” and the “ador.”

Just as I’ve been to Quebec City far too few times, I’m sure there are some of you who have never been to the Townships. As ambassador, I feel it’s my duty to fill you in on details about the Eastern Townships and the Townshippers therein.

Here then are your Townships Quik Faks!

          Townshippers are terrible spellers.

          When Townshippers talk about clogging they mean dancing, not toilets.

          The Eastern Townships were settled by Americans who knew a thing or two about displacing Native populations. Good job, us!

          Townshippers would never build a city on an island.

          The Eastern Townships are home to the province’s oldest English weekly, The Stanstead Journal, a claim it can make because the Quebec Chronicle-Telegraph, though older, was originally a daily. This debate has driven the editors of said publications to partake in bare-knuckle boxing over the years (1953, 1997 and 2009).

          The Eastern Townships were a major economic engine of Quebec until the Great Muffin-Cupcake Schism of 1874. The tea-and-sale industry never fully recovered.

          To get to the Eastern Townships from Quebec City, you take the 20, the 55, then turn at the restaurant. No, not that restaurant, the new one, the one Doreen bought with the lottery money. Go about yay miles and look for Mount Bill on your right, except the signs won’t say “Mount Bill,” they’ll say “Mont-Wooshatook.” When you see that, veer off a ways until you hit a T in the road. Go right over a bridge and when you see strangers waving at you, you’re in the Townships.

          Townshippers are damn good looking!

This is the kind of knowledge that I’ll be bringing with me next week when I visit your fair city – Townships author and Quebec City publisher coming together to make beautiful chicken. I’ll see you there! If I can navigate the bridge.
You can read Ross Murray on, in Life in Québec Magazine, in The Sherbrooke Record, and you can hear him on CBC radio.

Ross is currently promoting his new book Don’t Everyone Jump at Once.

Come and hear Ross Murray speak – You can also see him live in all his glory, in Quebec City on May 8th and in Stanstead on May 11th.

Categories: News

About Author

Ross Murray

Ross Murray is an award-winning humorist and radio contributor and the author of two books ‘You’re Not Going to Eat That, Are You?’ and ‘Don’t Everyone Jump at Once’. Raised in Nova Scotia, Ross has lived in the Eastern Townships of Quebec since the early 1990’s with his wife Debbie, four children and far too many pets. After all this time, Ross feels comfortable calling himself a Townshipper; his neighbours call him something else.

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