How many Quebec anglo communities are there?

How many Quebec anglo communities are there?

By Andrew Greenfield, a resident of Quebec since early 2009

This past weekend I attended a media conference at the Morrin Centre in Quebec City.

There were three panel discussions throughout the day covering satire, sports, and news as headline topics.

The event was well-planned with the panels moderated by, and featuring, industry names.

Satire
Yannick Lemay (Y-Greck) – Journal de Montréal, Xavier Piech – Le Navet, Alex Vietinghoff – The Manatee

Sports
Jack Todd – Montreal Gazette, Kathleen Lavoie – Le Soleil, Stéphane Turcot – TVA Sports

News
Debra Arbec, CBC Montreal, Carol Off – CBC Radio, Paul Wells – MacLean’s

I wish to focus on the news panel, or more accurately, a train of thought that resulted from it.

During the discussion, expertly chaired by Angelica Montgomery, CJAD Montréal’s Quebec City Bureau Chief, the subject of the Quebec province anglophone community inevitably reared it’s head.

Carol Off, who although now living and working in Toronto, knows Quebec City extremely well having worked in the region for a good number of years.

She stated that when she left the province to work elsewhere, most of the friends at her leaving function were francophone, and that the ‘English community’ was extremely difficult to penetrate, or get to know well.

She quickly clarified this as the older anglophone community members. This due to them being close-knit.

Debra Arbec seemed to agree with this. Arbec herself born and raised in the province in an anglophone family.

Paul Wells, current Maclean’s political editor and former Montreal Gazette journalist, went further.

He stated that there were two distinct elements to the Quebec anglophone community – those born and raised here whose families have been here for years, and the transient anglos.

At this point I thought to myself ‘So which category do I belong to?’

You see, I’m neither an old-stock anglo and never will be, nor do I consider myself transient.

I moved here from another country in my thirties and brought my family with me.
My wife is from the province and is francophone.
Our children are schooled in French and have a massive English influence at home. By sheer good fortune they are being brought up in two languages.

So is there a third Quebec anglo community category? To my mind, there definitely is.

Let’s give it the title ‘Non-transient’, purely because I can’t think of anything else to call it.

The vast majority of anglos who move here do so for love, work, to learn French, or a combination of those.

The transient element obviously stems from this. Sometimes those things just don’t work out, so they up sticks and leave the area.

This is perfectly normal and completely understandable. As Carol Off pointed out ‘It’s difficult enough to move to Quebec as it is and most anglos look for work and scrape by.’

You can put this down to the language issue. It is difficult to move here and make a go of it, but many do. And some thrive in the province.

The difficulty lies when applying for jobs. Invariably you’re going up against a local, and their English is usually better than your French. You are immediately on the back foot, so Off’s point is a very valid one. It’s one that hits home hard.

So those of us who stick it out, stay, and make a go of it – are we the ‘Non-transients?’

I think when we move here initially we could be categorized as transient, after all we have no way of knowing how our relationships, jobs, or language learning efforts are going to pan out.

At what point to do you move from the transient to non-transient?

I’d like to think that after over six years here I’m no longer referred to as transient.

I’ve lived in Quebec long enough now to know that, although none of us can reliably say with 100% certainty what’s going to happen tomorrow,  I’m here for the long haul.

So which category are you in?

Old school Quebec anglo
Transient Quebec anglo
Non-transient Quebec anglo

I know which one I’m in – happy and staying put.

Let’s leave it at that.

Categories: Opinion

About Author

Andrew Greenfield

Andrew Greenfield moved to Quebec in 2009. He is part of the team responsible for the publishing company behind LifeinQuebec.com and Life in Québec Magazine. He has been involved with online and print media since 2001. He is passionate about cricket, is a qualified coach, and his real ambition is to start a cricket team in Quebec City – something he freely admits is probably beyond him. Follow him on Twitter @GreenfieldAndy

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