Home at Last

Home at Last

Have you ever felt as though you don’t belong? I’m not talking about finding yourself alone in the bra department at Sears while your wife is in the changing room. No, I’m talking about a deep-rooted feeling that you should be somewhere else. To quote the Irish rock band U2, “I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.” I used to feel like that. I think other Anglophones and Allophones have felt the same way, that is, until they discovered Québec City.

I was born in Montreal and my family moved to Chateauguay when I was five years old. When I was eight we moved again, this time to the Golden Horseshoe area, not far from Toronto. Burlington was a great city to grow up in and Toronto was an interesting and vibrant place to attend university, but something was missing. It wasn’t until a summer spent in Halifax that I realized what I needed was to be surrounded by a sense of history.

When an opportunity to move to Quebec City presented itself, my wife was quick to say that Toronto just wasn’t doing it for her anymore and that she would really, REALLY like to move back to her hometown. So, without over thinking things, we sold our house, packed our things into a large U-Haul, diapered our colicky baby and moved to the only completely garrison-walled city north of Mexico. Does any of this sound familiar? I’ll bet it does. Every time I meet an Anglophone, I put my hands on their forehead and go into a psychic mind reader trance and intone the phrase; “Let me see…you married a Francophone from Quebec City.” They’re amazed, and a little ill at ease, and maybe that’s why I’m not meeting as many new people as I used to…

We are the perpetual tourists, at home in a strange, but oddly familiar landscape. We come from all around the world, drawn to the charm of this UNESCO World Heritage Site. Even so, I used to feel self-conscious speaking English out loud in public, mostly because people would whip their head around to look at me. One day, as I was whipping my own head around to look at somebody speaking English, I realized that fellow Anglophones instinctively look when they hear their native language being spoken.

Speaking more than one language is a definite asset. Three weeks spent in France and Spain taught me that I really should have spent more time with my Spanish for Beginners book over the winter. Taking in all of the beauty that France and Spain had to offer was next to impossible. It was mind boggling to imagine existing alongside buildings that looked as though they had grown up from the rocks around them. I was somewhat heartened upon my return to realize that Quebec City was like a little slice of Europe. I can walk along the cobbled streets of the Quartier Petit Champlain and gaze up at the Chateau Frontenac perched high above on Cap Diamant. I can enjoy watching ships make their way up the icy St. Lawrence as I relax in the upstairs alcove of a quiet café. And I can envision important events in Canadian history just by walking through the Plains of Abraham.

As for being an Anglophone, that is really a misnomer for many of us. My family tree is riddled with the French names of my ancestors, just as many Francophones can claim English, Irish, Scottish, German or Italian heritage. Still, to my neighbours, I’m somewhat of an outsider, but I don’t mind. Somebody once made the comment that I had “an exotic name” and then proceeded to ask me if I was Canadian.  I am a Canadian, I am a Quebecer, I speak English, I have spouse who speaks French, I live in Quebec City, I love it here and I am not alone.


Categories: Opinion

About Author

Jason Enlow

Jason Enlow is a Special Education Technician at an English elementary school. He was born in Montreal, Quebec and grew up in Burlington, Ontario. Jason studied Radio and Television at Ryerson University in Toronto. His previous employers include CityTV, CBC, The Weather Network, and Global Television. He’s worked as a DJ, camera operator, musician, teacher, translator and video game content designer. Jason moved to Quebec City in 1997 where he still lives today with his wife and three sons.