Sunday, October 13, 2013

La ville de Québec

The first time that I visited Québec City was 42 years ago when my Québecoise friend, Clémence, and I hitch-hiked here from her home in Sherbrooke. It seems a lifetime ago and indeed it is for Clémence because she died last October at the age of 60. I always meant to visit her again (last time was 1985) but like many things that we mean to do, it just didn't happen.

In 1971, we stayed at a hostel near the Plains of Abraham where we slept on the floor with a motley group of youth. Separatism was a powerful force in Québec in those days just after the October Crisis of 1970 and The War Measures Act. The music and the literature of the time reflected a growing cultural identity. Québec was an exciting place to visit for a 19 year old who wanted to experience more of the world.

I was expecting my daughter in 1975 when I next visited. My then husband and I drove along the St. Lawrence after attending a wedding in New Brunswick. It was the Festival d'été when we arrived in la ville where musicians were playing on just about every street corner. A summer cloudburst sent us scurrying back to a little hotel in the Upper Town. We lay on our bed and listened to the rain until the music began again outside.

In 1992, I spent a whole month at le Collège Mérici in la ville de Québec. The province of British Columbia provided a French language bursary for educators. I met so many interesting people and learned about the customs of the province. Once more, it was the festival and musicians from all over the French-speaking world performed in the streets of the Upper Town.

At this moment, I am writing from a stateroom on the Veendam where I am using a free wifi connection. I have subscribed to the pay for usage service but it is slow and costly. I shall visit the Upper Town today and I hope that I will find the same cultural and historic richness that I have experienced in the past. Travel is a very personal thing: the Romantic girl who wanted to understand the Two Solitudes of her country, the young wife expecting her first child and the educator wanting to share more of the culture of Québec with her students in far off Western Canada are all a part of the tapestry of my 61 year life.

My first vinyl record from Québec was Robert Charlebois who sings one of my favourite songs with two other great Québecois musicians, Félix Leclerc and Gilles Vigneault.

1 comment:

  1. I enjoyed this post very much, admiring how much you've nurtured your love for the French language and culture throughout your life. I've only been to Quebec City once, about 10 or 12 years ago, and have been meaning to go back. . . Happy Thanksgiving!

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