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Found 100 results

  1. Dans le SFGate Montreal's quartet of cultures creates a colorful pattern Margo Pfeiff Updated 11:25 am, Friday, July 4, 2014 Tourists gather near the Basilique Notre-Dame in Montreal. Photo: Joanne Levesque, Getty Images The Ogilvy Piper makes his way through the jewelry section of the iconic department store at noon every day. Photo: Margo Pfeiff, Special To The Chronicle A room at Old Montreal's classic 18th century Hotel Pierre du Calvet. Photo: Margo Pfeiff, Special To The Chronicle Old Montreal's classic 18th century Hotel Pierre du Calvet. A terrace at an Old Montreal restaurant. Photo: Margo Pfeiff, Special To The Chronicle Activities at the Lachine Canal National Historic Site. Photo: Margo Pfeiff, Special To The Chronicle Ninety percent of all first encounters in downtown Montreal begin with the same two words. That are the same word. "Bonjour. Hi." Respond one way and you parlez français; answer the other and you're in English territory. Despite periodic bickering - including threats of Quebec's separating from the rest of Canada - the biggest French-speaking city outside of Paris has actually become increasingly bilingual and harmonious over recent decades. But with the strong bilateral English-French vibe, what's often overshadowed is that there were four founding cultures that laid down strong roots on this island in the middle of the St. Lawrence River almost 350 years ago. I'm reminded of this as I wait at a traffic light staring at each culture's national symbols on a flapping city flag - the French fleur-de-lis, the red English rose, an Irish shamrock and Scotland's thistle. Though Montreal is wildly multicultural today, in the 19th century, 98 percent of the city's population was French, English, Irish or Scottish. Is it still possible, I wonder, to experience each of those distinct original cultures - including real, non-poutine France and genuine tally-ho England - in modern Montreal? Heart of New France Since I believe every cultural quest is improved with a signature cocktail, I start with France and I order my very first absinthe at the Sarah B Bar, named after Sarah Bernhardt, queen of French tragedy. As couples cuddle in "Green Fairy" alcoves, my bartender pours the notorious chartreuse liquor that Hemingway, Toulouse-Lautrec and Oscar Wilde imbibed in their Parisian days into a specially shaped glass. He rests a flat, perforated "absinthe spoon" topped with a sugar cube across the top, then drips ice water until it is melted, turning the absinthe milky. Legend has it that absinthe has driven men to madness and drove Van Gogh to slice off his ear. Sipping the herbal, floral and slightly bitter cocktail, I look closely at the bottle's label - while the current version is a hefty 160 proof, it's missing the likely source of "la fée verte" (green fairy) hallucinations, wormwood. I teeter on uneven cobblestone streets to the heart of New France in Old Montreal amid clip-clopping horse-drawn carriages. Bells chime from Notre Dame Basilica with its Limoges stained glass windows from France, artists sell their crafts in narrow alleyways, and in the evening, gas lamps still light up rue Ste.-Helene. I check into La Maison Pierre du Calvet, a nine-room guesthouse spanning three small buildings dating back to 1725. It's a stone-walled time capsule with random staircases, crooked hallways and an antique-filled library with ancient fireplaces. Escargot and stag fillet are served in a grand old dining room, and the chateau luxury includes a grand step-up, monarchy-caliber canopied bed. The morning streets waft cafe au lait and croissant aromas as I walk to the walled city's original market square of Place Royale to Maison Christian Faure, a chic new French pastry shop. In the hands-on cooking school, I glean the secrets behind crisp-on-the-outside, chewy-on-the-inside, iconic French macarons. It's so simple they even offer kids' classes, and it's made all the more fun by Lyon-born Faure himself, a Meilleur Ouvrier de France (MOF) - an elite group of France's best chefs - and the stories of his days as pastry chef for French President Nicolas Sarkozy and the prince of Monaco. "I moved here because the public markets are like those in Provence," he croons in a Lyon accent, "and because Montreal is so, mmmmm ... Europe." The pipes are calling While French zealots came to the New World to save the souls of "sauvages," the Scots came to make money. And you can still see plenty of it in the Golden Square Mile's historical buildings sloping up from Sherbrooke Street, downtown's main upscale shopping boulevard, to Mont Royal, the park-topped hill after which the city is named. The area was a residential tycoon alley from 1850 to 1930, occupied by rail, shipping, sugar and beer barons with names like Angus, McIntyre and Molson who owned 70 percent of the country's wealth. About 85 percent of the lavish estates were lost before heritage finally won over demolition in 1973. When I walk those hilly streets for the first time instead of whizzing by in my car, I'm surprised to see downtown with different eyes, an obviously British and Scottish quarter with an eclectic architectural mix from Neo-Gothic and Queen Anne to Art Nouveau, estates with names such as Ravenscrag and castles crafted from imported Scottish red sandstone. These days they're consulates, office headquarters and the Canadian McCord Museum; 30 of the beauties are campus outposts bought by McGill University, a legacy of Scottish merchant James McGill, who donated his 47-acre summer estate to become one of Canada's leading universities. One of my favorite buildings is the 1893 Royal "Vic" (Victoria) Hospital, where you can get your appendix yanked in a Scottish baronial castle complete with turrets. And where there are Scots, there are bagpipes. Montreal's most famous piper is at Ogilvy, a high-end department store on Ste. Catherine Street. Every day from noon to 1 p.m. since 1927, a kilt-clad piper plays marches and reels as he strolls around all five floors, down spiral staircases and beneath massive chandeliers where purchases are packed in tartan bags and boxes I also hear the whining tones of "Scotland the Brave" as I head toward my Highland cocktail at the Omni Hotel, where a kilted piper every Wednesday evening reminds folks emerging from Sherbrooke Street office towers that it's Whisky Folies night, a single-malt-scotch tasting in the Alice Bar. I choose five from the 10- to 20-year-olds served with a cuppa fish and chips. A local Scotsman drops in for a wee one, informing me that there's been a benefit St. Andrews Ball in Montreal every November for 177 years, "but come to the Highland Games, where there's dancing, throwing stuff around and looking up kilts - fun for the whole family." Montreal's bit o' Irish Snippets of the four founding cultures pop up repeatedly when you walk around town - statues of Robbie Burns and Sir John A. Macdonald, the Glasgow-born first prime minister of Canada; the green Art Nouveau ironwork of a Paris Metro at the Victoria Square subway station, given by France; British hero Adm. Horatio Nelson overlooking Old Montreal's main square (though the original likeness was blown to bits by Irish republican extremists in 1966). Ah, the Irish. They arrived in Montreal in big numbers in the early 1800s to build the Lachine Canal to bypass rapids blocking the shipping route to the Great Lakes. They settled nearby in Griffintown, currently a maze of condos and cranes. Stroll along rapidly gentrifying Notre Dame Street, still an eclectic melange of antiques-and-collectibles shops, funky cafes and local bistros. The Irish were unique among English-speaking immigrants - hatred for their English oppressors back home had them cozying up with the French, fellow Catholics. Surprisingly, the Irish legacy is dominant in Montreal; about 40 percent of the population has a wee bit of Blarney blood. Of course there are also pubs and churches, St. Pat's Basilica being the ornate religious hub, its interior adorned with intertwined fleurs-de-lis and shamrocks. Conveniently nearby, sacred brew is served over the altar of Hurley's Pub, a favorite hangout where Irish and Newfoundlanders work magic with fiddles, pipes and drums - even the Pogues have jammed here. I love Hurley's because it's a rare pub with Guinness stout on tap both icy cold and traditionally lukewarm; I prefer the latter for bigger flavor. "Watch him top that brew up three times," Frankie McKeown urges from a neighboring stool. "Even in Ireland they hardly do that now." The Irish come out of the woodwork on March 17, when Canada's oldest St. Patrick's parade turns downtown green, as it has since 1824. "It's amazing," says McKeown. "In Dublin it's all done in 45 minutes, but here we're watching floats for three hours." A grand party ensues afterward at Hurley's. "But it's just as much fun on Robbie Burns Day, when a haggis held high follows a piper through the pub." Britain in the mix Britain enters Montreal's picture after the Seven Years War in the 1760s when France dumps Quebec in exchange for the sugar colonies of Martinique and Guadeloupe. By 1845, about 55,000 British top out as 57 percent of Montreal's population - and the percentage has been dwindling ever since. While there may not be much Scottish brogue or Irish lilt left these days, there's plenty of culture on the plate and in the glass, though surprisingly not so much representing British roots in Montreal. In 2012, English chef Jamie Oliver made big waves by teaming up with Montreal chef Derek Dammann to highlight creative British tavern-inspired fare at the popular Maison Publique (Public House), serving locally sourced, home-smoked/pickled and cured angles on Welsh rarebit, hogget with oats and cabbage, and the like. Otherwise, the truest of Montreal's British establishments is the Burgundy Lion in Griffintown, one of the few places to offer Sunday British "footie" on the big screens, as kippers 'n' eggs, Lancashire pot pie and cucumber sandwiches are dished out by gals in tight, mod-'70s outfits. I happen to drop in during England's National Day, St. George's, to find the place hopping with dart-throwing, papier-mache piñata-style "dragon slaying" and ballad singing. I wind up at the bar sipping my pint of Boddingtons between two fellows, both dressed in fake chain mail. The one also draped in a Union Jack British flag clicks my glass with his bottle, announcing "Here's to Blighty!" before raising the visor on his medieval knight helmet to take a royal slug. Can you still experience Montreal's four founding nations in this multicultural modern city? Oui. Yes. And aye. If You Go GETTING THERE Air Canada offers daily flights from San Francisco to Montreal year round. (888) 247-2262, www.aircanada.com. WHERE TO STAY La Maison Pierre du Calvet: 405 Bonsecours St., Old Montreal. (514) 282-1725 or (866) 544-1725. www.pierreducalvet.ca/english. Lavish French colonial inn. From $265 double with continental breakfast. (Two on-site dining rooms serve French fare.) Fairmont Queen Elizabeth: 900 Rene Levesque Blvd. West. (866) 540-4483. www.fairmont.com/queen-elizabeth-montreal. A classic fit for everyone from the Queen Mother to John and Yoko; where they recorded "Give Peace a Chance" in 1969. From $209 double. Hotel Nelligan: 106 St. Paul West, Old Montreal. (877) 788-2040. www.hotelnelligan.com. Chic boutique hotel named after a famed Irish-French poet. From $250 double. WHERE TO EAT Le Mas des Oliviers: 1216 Bishop St. (514) 861-6733. www.lemasdesoliviers.ca. Classic French cuisine at a landmark downtown restaurant, one of the city's oldest places to eat. Dinner for two from $120. Also open for lunch. Restaurant L'Express: 3927 St. Denis. (514) 845-5333, www.restaurantlexpress.ca. Popular, casual French bistro, a Montreal icon. Dinner for two from $60. Maison Publique: 4720 Rue Marquette. (514) 507-0555, www.maisonpublique.com. Jamie Oliver's hip, up-market and creative take on British tavern fare. Very popular, no reservations. Dinner for two from $60. Burgundy Lion: 2496 Notre-Dame West. (514) 934-0888, www.burgundylion.com. Only true British pub in Montreal. Large selection of local and imported brews and one of Canada's biggest single-malt whiskey collections. English gastro pub menu with lunch and dinner from $40 for two. Hurley's Irish Pub: 1225 Crescent St. (514) 861-4111, www.hurleysirishpub.com. Great selection of brews, a traditional Emerald Isle pub menu, and Irish and/or Newfoundland fiddle music nightly. Entrees from $10. WHAT TO DO Point-a-Calliere Museum of Archaeology and History: 350 Place Royale, Old Montreal. (514) 872-7858, www.pacmusee.qc.ca/en/home. Excellent museum set atop the original city town square. Closed Mondays except in summer. Adults $18. McCord Museum: 690 Rue Sherbrooke West. (514) 398-7100, www.mccord-museum.qc.ca/en. Extensive cultural museum of all things Canadian. Frequent exhibitions of Montreal's various cultures. Closed Mondays. Adults $12. Fitz and Follwell Co: 115 Ave. du Mont-Royal West. (514) 840-0739, www.fitzandfollwell.co. Guided Montreal biking, walking and unique snow tours. Martin Robitaille: Private history-oriented city guide. [email protected] Maison Christian Faure: 355 Place Royale, Old Montreal, (514) 508-6453, www.christianfaure.ca. Hands-on French pastry and macaron-making classes. There's even a pastry-making boot camp for kids. Whisky Folies, Omni Hotel: 1050 Sherbrooke West. (514) 985-9315, http://bit.ly/1iCaJxc . Single-malt scotch and whisky tastings with fish and chips every Wednesday, 5-9 p.m.. From $16 to $40. My Bicyclette: 2985-C St. Patrick (Atwater Market). (877) 815-0150, www.mybicyclette.ca. Bike rental and tours of the Lachine Canal region. MORE INFORMATION Tourism Montréal: www.tourisme-montreal.org. Tourism Québec: www.bonjourquebec.com. Margo Pfeiff is a freelance writer living in Montreal. E-mail: [email protected]
  2. Even if i'm very intolerant of the PQ - and it's devastating consequences on the Quebec economy - this is why English Canada is half the battle. There's so much bullshit in this article I don't even know where to begin. http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2012/10/06/conrad-black-as-quebec-decays-toronto-seizes-greatness/ The announcement this week of an effort spearheaded by art collector and impresario David Mirvish, international architect Frank Gehry and innovative developer Peter Kofman to provide Toronto with a novel vertical, arts-based downtown residential complex is potentially a big step in Toronto’s quest to vault itself into the front ranks of the world’s cities — where it has sometimes prematurely claimed to belong. Whether Canadians from other centres like it or not, Toronto is now and will remain the comparative metropolis of the country, having surged past Montreal after that city entered into a sustained suicide attempt based on separatist agitation and accompanying racial and cultural discrimination. Behind the pretenses to egalitarianism that dress up confiscatory Quebec tax laws and repressive language laws, the real driving ambition has been to push the non-French out of Quebec, buy up the real assets they cannot physically take with them, especially their mansions and office buildings in Montreal, and eliminate up to half the emphatically federalist votes in the province. Montreal’s loss has proven to be Toronto’s gain. Historically, almost all Quebec’s non-French (comprising about 20% of the provincial population) are anti-separatist; and about an equal number of Quebec federalists are authentic French-Canadians who have thrown in their lot with the pan-Canadian option, and are routinely reviled by their peppier Quebec nationalist compatriots as vendus, sell-outs. (In my recent debut as a co-host with Amanda Lang on her CBC news program, the only line of mine that was excised was to this effect — so squeamish does the CBC remain about calling Quebec nationalism what it is: outright racism, at least in the worst cases. Radio Canada, the French CBC, is a notorious infestation of separatists.) The principal bulwark of federalism in Quebec, and therefore in Canada, has been the English-Canadians, who have habitually voted Liberal, and have been shamefully neglected by the Liberal Parties of Canada and Quebec (the first now eviscerated and reduced to the unimaginably dubious expedient of elevating a leader whose sole qualification for high public office was surviving childbirth, and the second defeated and discredited, and now about half English, despite all its ingratitude). But 50 years of nationalist pressure in Quebec, uncompetitively high tax-rates on upper income groups and the endless redefinition of the use of English as a “privilege” that can be whittled down and compromised, have driven over 500,000 people out of Quebec, most of them to the Toronto area. These former Quebecers, and the comparative welcome that Toronto has given external immigration (unlike the Québécois, who are generally hostile to any non-French immigration and none too accommodating even to ostensibly francophone immigrants who don’t speak like Québécois and aren’t too preoccupied with Quebec nationalism), has made Toronto an unusually, almost uniquely multi-cultural city. In fact, Toronto is one of the few jurisdictions where multi-culturalism has not been a disaster. The Netherlands has just rolled back its former official deference to the non-Dutch, and required assimilation in the education system, a belated response to an Islamist influx that is threatening domestic tranquility and social coherence. For less defensible motives, Quebec is placing further strictures on the teaching of English in the state school system, a terrible disservice to the province, which despite its ululations of sufficiency, is a demographically dwindling repository of a not overly dynamic French fact outnumbered 50:1 by its English-speaking North American neighbours, and which by its addiction to transfer payments from English Canada has become a white-collar secular clerisy that contributes little economic added value to anything. Electricity, over-unionized base metals and forest products industries, and a scattering of high tech and financial services are all that generate any earned income for Quebec now. The migrations from Quebec and elsewhere have gradually, over 50 years, transformed Toronto from a tank town of low church Protestant bigotry and ugliness, and radical segmentation between the Catholic and Protestant sections of an almost monochromatic white city — where only hotels had liquor licences, and cinemas were not open on Sunday, and even on Saturday night, everything (which wasn’t much) shut down before 11 o’clock — to a serious metropolis by international standards. The forces of racial and cultural snobbery and intolerance have retreated into a few fetid clubs, where the denizens fester like despotic toads in their unregenerate hypocrisy. Greater Toronto has over 6 million people, the fifth metropolitan area in North America, and 160% of Greater Montreal, and about one fifth of the people who live there are non-whites, and over 30% speak a language other than English or French at home, the exactly opposite policy to the desperate and restrictive cultivation of French in Quebec. These trends will continue, and the rise of Toronto as an increasingly important metropolis of a steadily more important Canada is almost inevitable. This is why it is hazardous, as well as dishonest, for the NDP to paint itself into the Quebec corner, complaining of Albertan oil, and calling, in effect, for repeal of the Clarity Act, to facilitate the separation of Quebec by a bare yes majority on a trick question, and committing the federal government virtually to ban English among its employees in Quebec. It is a disgraceful policy of pandering, minority cultural oppression, and regional abrasion, completely unsuitable for the official, pan-Canadian opposition. It is as if Gilles Duceppe and his unlamented Bloc Québécois had held its majority of Quebec MPs but also elected 40 people in other provinces, mainly Ontario and British Columbia. Returning to this revolutionary plan for Toronto’s entertainment district, all three project leaders, David Mirvish, Frank Gehry and Peter Kofman, are, in their different fields, innovators and creators, and precisely what Toronto needs to translate economic boom and ethnic diversity and population growth into a distinctively great city. Toronto is recognized to be liveable by world standards, and relatively safe and prosperous. But as a great city, it lacks history, drama and flair. History, dramatic historic events, epochal personalities, and great cultural achievements and trends can’t just be confected. And drama is mainly violence: the French Revolution and Napoleonic and other wars in Paris; the Civil War and Blitz in London, the drastic changes of regime in Berlin, and the incomparable drama of Rome, as the imperial and ecclesiastical, and then reunited Italian capital. Even New York and Chicago have the tragic mystique that surrounds gang and gangster wars, revolutionary and Indian skirmishes, countless riots, earth-shaking financial upheavals, 9/11. Toronto obviously does not seek tumult and bloodshed to tart up its ambiance; so to be great, it must ensure that more of its growth comes in the form of brilliant architecture — the construction of iconic projects of the future. The Mirvish project consists of a trio of unusually interesting, 80-storey buildings. It will contrast well with the city’s existing skyscrapers. (Three of Toronto’s impressive bank office complexes, for instance, TD, CIBC and BMO, while fine plazas, are just knock-offs from Mies Van der Rohe, I.M. Pei, and Edward Durrell Stone.) Frank Gehry, who appeared to be descending into self-indulgent eccentricity with his proposed memorial in Washington to Dwight D. Eisenhower that featured a statue of the victorious theatre commander and two-term president as a 14-year-old farm boy, has produced a beautiful design (though it would be better if the Princess of Wales Theatre could be preserved). Toronto must avoid the Canadian tradition of nit-picking the ambitious and original and, as it did when it built the new city hall, it must seize and promote this great and self-generated opportunity.
  3. By Caroline Wyatt BBC News, Paris The reality of Paris does not always live up to the dream A dozen or so Japanese tourists a year have to be repatriated from the French capital, after falling prey to what's become known as "Paris syndrome". That is what some polite Japanese tourists suffer when they discover that Parisians can be rude or the city does not meet their expectations. The experience can apparently be too stressful for some and they suffer a psychiatric breakdown. Around a million Japanese travel to France every year. Shocking reality Many of the visitors come with a deeply romantic vision of Paris - the cobbled streets, as seen in the film Amelie, the beauty of French women or the high culture and art at the Louvre. The reality can come as a shock. An encounter with a rude taxi driver, or a Parisian waiter who shouts at customers who cannot speak fluent French, might be laughed off by those from other Western cultures. But for the Japanese - used to a more polite and helpful society in which voices are rarely raised in anger - the experience of their dream city turning into a nightmare can simply be too much. This year alone, the Japanese embassy in Paris has had to repatriate four people with a doctor or nurse on board the plane to help them get over the shock. An encounter with a rude Parisian can be a shocking experience They were suffering from "Paris syndrome". It was a Japanese psychiatrist working in France, Professor Hiroaki Ota, who first identified the syndrome some 20 years ago. On average, up to 12 Japanese tourists a year fall victim to it, mainly women in their 30s with high expectations of what may be their first trip abroad. The Japanese embassy has a 24-hour hotline for those suffering from severe culture shock, and can help find hospital treatment for anyone in need. However, the only permanent cure is to go back to Japan - never to return
  4. some of you might have already seen this, but a friend posted this on facebook and thought it was funny: YOU KNOW YOUR FROM MONTREAL WHEN : • You pronounce it "Muntreal", not "Mahntreal". • You have ever said anything like "I have to stop at the guichet before we get to the dep." • Your only concern about jaywalking is getting a ticket. • You agree that Montréal drivers are crazy, but you're secretly proud of their nerves of steel. • The most exciting thing about the South Shore is that you can turn right on a red. • You know that the West Island is not a separate geographical formation. • You bring smoked meat from Schwartz's and bagels from St-Viateur if you're visiting anyone. • You refer to Tremblant as "up North." • You know how to pronounce Pie-IX. • You greet everyone, you meet with a two-cheek kiss. • You're not impressed with hardwood floors. • You can watch soft-core porn on broadcast TV, and this has been true for at least 25 years. • You were drinking café-au-lait before it was latte. • Shopper's Drug Mart is Pharmaprix and Staples is Bureau en gros, and PFK is finger lickin' good. • You really believe Just For Laughs is an international festival. For two weeks a year. • Everyone, – drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists – think they're immortal, and that you'll move first. • You're proud that Montréal is home of the Great Antonio... • You know that Rocket Richard had nothing to do with astrophysics. • You've seen Brother André's heart. • No matter how bilingual you are, you still don't understand "île aux tourtes." • You know the difference between the SQ, the SAQ, and the SAAQ. • You measure temperature and distance in metric, but weight and height in Imperial measure. • You show up at a party at 11 p.m. and no one else is there yet. • You know that Montréal is responsible for introducing to North America: bagels, souvlaki, smoked meat. • You don't drink pop or soda, you drink soft drinks. • You have graduated from high school and have a degree, but you've never been in grade 12. • There has to be at least 30 cm of snow on the ground in 24 hours to consider it too snowy to drive. • You remember where you were during the Ice Storm. • You used to be an Expos fan, but now all you really miss is Youppi. • You know that your city's reputation is for beautiful women. • You discuss potholes like most people discuss weather. • "The Futuristic City" is actually Habitat '67. • You find it amusing when people from outside Québec compliment you on how good your English is. • You have yet to understand a single announcement made on the Métro PA system. • You think of Old Montréal as nothing but a bunch of over-priced restaurants, old buildings. • You understand that La Fête Nationale is not a celebration of "Québec's birthday" • You don't find American comedians speaking "gibberish" French even remotely funny. • You don't find it weird that there's a strip club on every corner downtown. • You know the words to the national anthem in French. • You often switch from "heat" to "A/C" in the same day. • You use a down comforter in the summer. • Your parents drive at 120km/h through 13 feet of snow during a blizzard, without flinching. • You carry jumper cables in your car and your girlfriend knows how to use them. • You design your kid's Halloween costume to fit over a snowsuit. • Driving is better in the winter because the potholes are filled with snow. • You know all 4 seasons: almost winter, winter, still winter, and construction. • You don't understand anyone from Lac-St-Jean, but you can fake the accent.
  5. http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4154160,00.html There is also video clips if you click the link, don't worry the video clips are in english and not hebrew.
  6. Launch of a love affair Ratings for Lévesque’s TV program sometimes hit an amazing 100 per cent by Daniel Poliquin on Thursday, September 24, 2009 10:20am - 0 Comments macleans.ca By the mid-1950s, Quebecers, like most other Canadians, had fallen in love with television. So overwhelming was the coup de foudre that although in some regions near the U.S. border only American broadcasts would come in, unilingual French Quebecers lapped it up anyway. Kids could be seen in the streets of small towns re-enacting their favourite show, The Adventures of Kit Carson, speaking in a made-up mumbo-jumbo language they believed was English. That was how it sounded to them anyway. Four out of five households in the province had a television set. And when the French-speaking people of Canada were all able to view locally made, francophone productions, they became a tight-knit virtual family, discussing at length the ending of the last sitcom or drama millions of others had watched, adopting as their own actors and actresses they had grown fond of, or, conversely, expressing unanimous hate for TV villains like Séraphin, the miser in the seemingly endless Les Belles Histoires des Pays d’En-Haut, which everybody watched. For good reason, too: there was only one French-language TV station; Radio-Canada’s monopoly ensured that all, and I mean all, francophones growing up in Quebec in the 1950s and 1960s shared a single TV culture. Lévesque was a regular commentator on current events programs, but he was mainly heard on the radio—until someone at Radio-Canada had the good sense to give him his own television show in October 1957. Here begins the legend of René Lévesque. The show was called Point de mire (Focal Point) and it was a 30-minute live broadcast first airing on Sundays at 11:15 p.m., and later, due to the show’s growing popularity, on Tuesdays at 10:30 p.m. For many, it was another coup de foudre. Here was this little man with the funny voice, equipped with a blackboard, a pointer, and maps, explaining the outside world to French-speaking Canadians, talking very fast but using only intelligible words. Let me paraphrase him: “Good evening. Thank you for joining me. Tonight, we are off to the Suez. It’s in Egypt, the land of the pharaohs that became mummies, you know, the land of the pyramids and the Sphinx. Here on the map is a canal, called Suez, built by French and British engineers in the last century. You can see here that it links up the Mediterranean and the Red Sea. So a very important route for international trade, because, thanks to the canal, ships stopped having to go all around the African continent to take their goods to the Orient, or the other way around. See?” (He would circle Africa with his pointer.) “Without Suez, the cup of tea from India you just had would cost you more because it would have to travel much farther. You follow me? Now, the Egyptians no longer have pharaohs. Egypt is now a republic, led by a man they call the Raïs—which means ‘president’ in Arabic—a man by the name of Nasser. So . . .” And on he would go. For many Quebecers with little schooling, Point de mire became their first window on the world. Not everybody watched, but those who did were enthralled, especially news junkies and all those hungry for knowledge. And in Duplessis’ Quebec, there were a lot of them. Thanks to the Radio-Canada monopoly, Lévesque’s ratings sometimes reached 100 per cent: a dream for any broadcaster and now an impossible feat, even on a day such as Sept. 11, 2001. To take the helm of Point de mire, Lévesque had had to give up his comfortable job as a broadcaster, with the guaranteed income, pension, and other benefits. But he was now earning $20,000 a year—more than any cabinet minister, provincial or federal. The real payoff, however, was instant celebrity. René Lévesque was now the star journalist who could explain the school desegregation in Little Rock, Ark.; the violent decolonization of Algeria; or the partition of Berlin and Cyprus. He could not walk the streets of Quebec without being accosted by adoring fans who would stop him to shake his hand and thank him. And he was more than loved; he was respected. In the words of novelist and social commentator Jacques Godbout, Lévesque was Quebec’s “first lay teacher.” Of course, the viewers did not see the man who never read his fan mail and never returned phone calls. Undisciplined but hard-working, incessantly feasting on magazines and newspapers in his smoke-filled office or at McGill’s nearby library to prepare for his weekly rendezvous with live television. Stressed out, as we would say today, but always focused. The badly dressed and unsuspected Lothario with doubtful hygiene who ate, talked, and smoked all at once, leaving a mess behind him all the time, driving like a madman in the streets in Montreal. Famous for his all-night poker playing, his chain-smoking; fond of sleeping late and seldom on time for appointments. Never at home, never where he was supposed to be. It was as though he was living three lives at the same time. During those years that he met Pierre Trudeau. The meeting took place in the Radio-Canada cafeteria, where artists and journalists congregated between assignments to talk and reshape the world in keeping with the fantasies and ideals in vogue. Trudeau was then a law professor and sometime TV commentator known for his scathing wit and erudition. He was well travelled, one of the few men in Canada who had visited China and reported on it. His Cité Libre was one of the very rare publications that dared to criticize Duplessis and public policy. Its circulation was of confidential proportions, but it was influential within the small, thinking elite of the era. The person who introduced them was journalist Gérard Pelletier, who was a friend of both Trudeau and Lévesque. For once, as Pelletier said later, Lévesque was not running, slowed down by the overflowing cup of coffee in his one hand and the stack of newspapers under his other arm. Pelletier motioned to him to come and sit down with him and the slightly balding man with the piercing blue eyes. He had wanted the two to meet for a long time. For the occasion, Trudeau put on his best snotty-nosed behaviour, complete with the French mid-Atlantic accent he had acquired at Montreal’s Jesuit-run Brébeuf College. Lévesque played the nonchalant TV star. This is how Pelletier remembers their conversation. I’ve added what I imagine must have been their internal dialogue in square brackets. Trudeau: Ah, the famous René Lévesque! How do you do? [Your Point de mire celebrity does not impress me at all, you should know that.] You speak well, sir, very well, but tell me something: can you write, too? Lévesque: Yes, but you know, writing takes time . . . [Don’t even think for a minute I would waste a second reading your Cité Libre . . .] Trudeau: Yes, you are right. You need time, and you also need to have ideas of your own, things to say, you know . . . [Watch out, buddy, I bite too.] The two were chalk and cheese from the get-go. They would meet again. From Extraordinary Canadians: René Lévesque by Daniel Poliquin. Copyright © Daniel Poliquin, 2009. Reprinted with permission of Penguin Group (Canada).
  7. Brisbane in Australia is currently having a boom in proposals and approvals for skyscrapers now it seems height limits in the city may be lifted by the powers that be. One of the most recent green-lights will see a two tower project that will house the most expensive apartments in the city. Named the French Quarter Towers the project comes from local developer Devine Limited, it consists of two towers which will be built in two stages, one standing at 54 storeys and the second at 40 storeys. With apartments ranging in price from $2.5 million to a whopping $15 million you might be expecting some spectacular, gimmicky, Dubai inspired skyscraper instead, what Brisbane will be getting is two towers which are rather reserved and elegant. Squared at the bases the towers rise up in a pretty standard boxy way until they get about a third of the way up where they begin to gently curve inwards on one side, the curve deepens before coming back out again creating a subtle sort of S shape at the tops of the towers. The shaping of the tower isn't detracted from by any epic spires or crowns the addition of which could have made the towers look decidedly trashy. The facades are glazed and balconied offering residents fantastic views and somewhere nice to enjoy a glass of wine and the odd sunset or two. Residents at the tower can look forward to unsurpassed luxury as soon as a winner is announced for a international competition to design the interiors of the towers though it can probably be assumed the towers will also be home to a six star luxury hotel that with gymnasiums, spas and restaurants you have to wear a tie in. One thing is for sure though the tower will offer the very latest in "technomenities", a fancy word invented by marketing bods that means the towers will have the latest generation smart home technology, which will include automated systems for lighting and climate, in-home entertainment and electronic concierge services. Despite the French theme, high tech auroma technology spewing out the smell of garlic will not be included, whilst the concierge is likely to be much friendlier to English speakers than a Parisian would be. Construction is hoped to start in 2009 with completion penned in for mid 2012. http://www.skyscrapernews.com/news.php?ref=1487
  8. Immigrants to Quebec find job search hard Last Updated: Friday, September 4, 2009 | 4:16 PM ET CBC News Recent immigrants to Quebec have a harder time finding work than the average person, according to a CBC report. Aurelie Tseng has been looking for a job in Montreal for two years.Aurelie Tseng has been looking for a job in Montreal for two years. (CBC)The unemployment rate for new immigrants living in the province is nearly double the national joblessness average of eight per cent. Language barriers are a major obstacle for many people looking for work, especially in Quebec, where the dominant language is French. But even for French-speaking immigrants, searching for employment can be frustrating. Aurelie Tseng is a Taiwanese immigrant who moved to Quebec two years ago to be with her husband. Tseng has a business degree, speaks French, and is looking for work in her field. But after two years of looking for a job, she remains unemployed, and her discouragement grows. "I have no clue how to do it," Tseng told CBC News. "It takes more courage [now] because I have been depressed for a long time." Tseng has sought advice from YES Montreal, a non-profit organization that offers job-search services. They told her networking is key to finding any job. But networking in a new country is daunting, Tseng said. "In my country nobody does that, nobody would tell you to do that," she admitted. Tseng believes her Taiwanese background has made her job search tougher. "We are more, you know, moderate and modest. You just want to say 'OK, yes, I probably can do this,' but for example people here, they don't like to hear that, they want you to say it out loud: 'Yes I can do it' not just, 'Oh yes I think I can do it,' for example." Tseng said she's hoping to eventually get a break at a bank in Montreal's Chinatown.
  9. Dieppe (Moncton,NB) pushes French, bilingual sign bylaw Proposed sign law open for discussion in January Tuesday, November 10, 2009 | 6:13 AM AT CBC News Dieppe is proposing a bylaw that will require all future commercial signs on the exterior of buildings in the southeastern New Brunswick city to be either in French or bilingual. Dieppe city councillors brought forward the sign bylaw on Monday night in an attempt to quell a long-simmering debate in the francophone city over the number of English-only signs. The proposed bylaw is not in force yet and the city will give people opposed to the idea a chance to speak at a public meeting in January. The move was greeted with applause by people in the audience at Monday night's meeting, including Martin Rioux-LeBlanc, who ignited the debate after gathering 4,000 names on a petition in January in an attempt to get bilingual signs in the city. "It's a big step for New Brunswickers, it's a big step for Dieppe and we can be proud of that," Rioux-LeBlanc said. The bylaw states that any new signs that go up in Dieppe will have to be either in French or bilingual, but existing signs would not be affected. Dieppe, a city of roughly 18,000 people, is the province's only francophone city that offers municipal services in both official languages. Natural progression Dieppe Mayor Jean LeBlanc said the proposal is a natural progression from years of trying to convince businesses through education to switch from English-only signs. "Dieppe has been promoting French and promoting French culture — the linguistic landscape of our city — for a long time. This is just a continued progression towards making sure our community is well reflected," the mayor said. Dieppe, along with its neighbouring Moncton, are popular shopping destinations for people in the Maritimes and have attracted a large number of businesses in recent years. However, most business signs are still in English only, which is what instigated the petition to adopt a new sign bylaw. Although New Brunswick is officially bilingual, the province's language law does not cover the private sector. So any regulation over the language on signs in municipalities must come from the local government. Municipalities are covered under the Official Languages Act, if they are designated as a city or have an official language minority that forms 20 per cent of the population. That would require, for instance, local bylaws to be published in both official languages, but it would not extend to commercial signs. Positive regulation Michel Doucet, a prominent constitutional lawyer who specializes in language law at the University of Moncton, has been pushing the city to pass such a bylaw. Doucet said this is a step forward for bilingualism. "It's something that will be very difficult for somebody, who is in good faith, to oppose this," Doucet said. "What the municipality has done is ensure that the linguistic image for this municipality transpires through its sign law. And I believe that the council now needs the support of the people of Dieppe to come forward and to congratulate what the council has done." Along with the public meeting on the bylaw that is planned for January, Dieppe city council is also seeking an opinion from the Greater Moncton Planning Commission on the bylaw.
  10. Read more: http://www.montrealgazette.com/life/Hear+that+anglo/2557359/story.html#ixzz0fTOymy7v This was a fairly interesting article. It's true that Italian, Jewish, and British anglophone Montrealers tend to speak differently. Being the latter, I tend to find that I don't have any accent whatsoever (in fact, my family from other parts of Canada says it sounds really "clean". I talk exactly like the anchors on Canadian news.) Strangely, this phenomenon is unique to Montreal it seems. Do you have an accent in English that is impacted by your first language, ethnicity, or place of origin?
  11. http://www.montrealgazette.com/life/Gazette+exclusive+EMSB+pitches+tout+fran%C3%A7ais/2414008/story.html This is much needed. And not all of it should be spent on grammar reciting either (as is often the case). I think a big part is just being able to learn to get use out of it. Practice comprehension and conversational skills first, then worry about written skills. Although I had great French teachers in school, how was I (or anyone else) to become fluent by spending only 4-5 hours a week on it? This compared to living the rest of the week entirely in English (except for the Habs/Expos game back in the day). Having said that, English instruction should be toughened up as well. The quality of written English of a good portion of university peers is downright abysmal. They should have to pass a stringent English exam to get accepted into a regular program (if they fail, they should take a year-long mini program designed at teaching them proper written and spoken English). From what I have heard, they offer English-Second-Language courses that are taught by immigrants with heavy accents (notably from Ukraine and China). WTF?
  12. Quebec sees growth in English-speaking population Last Updated: Monday, December 21, 2009 | 9:20 PM ET CBC News The number of English-speaking Quebecers is on the increase for the first time in 30 years due to immigration, along with a slowdown in the outflow of Quebec anglophones. The number has grown by about 5.5 per cent between the censuses of 2001 and 2006, reversing a trend that began in the early 1970s when provincial language policies and a push for Quebec sovereignty prompted many English-speaking residents to move elsewhere. The influx includes people moving from other provinces, as well as an increase in immigration by English-speaking people from south Asian countries. CBC News interviewed several families who have made the move. Steve Clarke and his family moved to Quebec City from Oklahoma and are impressed by the city's safety, its old-world architecture and by what he calls a "benign" government. "When people move to New York City, other people in New York City don't ask them 'why did you move here?' They just understand — you'd move here because it's a great place to live," he said. "But people in Quebec, because it's unusual for people who aren't French as a mother language, I guess it's a curiosity," Clarke said. Carrie-Anne Golding and Ryan Hughes, who moved to Montreal from Vancouver, enjoy the low cost of housing and the city's vibrant, 24-hour lifestyle, but admit cultural change requires some adjustments. "I think the first few months was sort of the honeymoon phase of everything is wonderful," Golding said. "And the reality of, you know, as an anglophone, you are in a minority in comparison." "I thought that we would merge in with the cultures a lot quicker," she said. "But it is a little bit harder. There is definitely some inroads to do in merging in with the French culture." The increase in Quebec's English-speaking population comes as a surprise to Jack Jedwab, a demographer and executive-director of the Association for Canadian Studies. Jedwab is also surprised by how little attention has been paid to the trend by Quebec's English media, compared with 30-year spotlight they focused on the so-called Anglo Exodus. "The community psychology is such that it's very accustomed to this erosion," he said. "It has become part of the [anglophone] community's identity. The shock of that demographic decline, it's impact on our institutional life." Jedwab noted that Quebec's civil service is almost entirely francophone, which can exacerbate the feeling of alienation in the English-speaking community. He suggested it may be time for anglophones to try to build on their increase in numbers, instead of clinging to the old complaint that they're a disappearing breed.
  13. Story from BBC NEWS:http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/programmes/world_news_america/7725979.stm Published: 2008/11/13 09:47:01 GMT © BBC MMVIII
  14. A sampling tour of Vermont and Montreal Miami Herald BY LIZ BALMASEDA This is the trip you take when you can't decide what trip to take. You want country-style serenity, but you also want big-city fabulous. You want glorious lake views and rolling green hills, but you also want cosmopolitan boutiques, downtown bustle and jazz. A tour through the soul-soothing Lake Champlain region of northern Vermont and the stimulating thoroughfares of Montreal is a best-of-both-worlds trip you can enjoy in just five easy days. But here's a word to the overly ambitious traveler who wants to see it all on every journey: Think of this tour as a gourmet sampling, not an all-you-can-eat buffet. COUNTRY: VERMONT'S WEST COAST Our tour began in Burlington, Vt., an easily accessible destination for South Florida travelers, since JetBlue has affordable, frequent flights from Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale, with a short layover at JFK airport in New York. For big-city escapists hoping to capture a few days of peace, the gentle signs that you've arrived are noticeable right away. I saw them just moments after my flight landed in Burlington, as I walked along an airport corridor to the rental car parking lot. There they were, perfectly white, wooden rocking chairs. Not generic airport seating, but rocking chairs. The quaintness continued on the 25-mile drive south toward Vergennes, on the shores of Lake Champlain, or Vermont's ''West Coast,'' as they call it here. Along carefree U.S. 7, we passed farms and creameries, vintage New England fa?ades, sloping country roads and even one of Vermont's vintage covered bridges. This road takes you past some of the area's most popular attractions. There's the Vermont Wildflower Farm, the Vermont Teddy Bear Company and the Shelburne Museum. There are plenty of teddy bears to hug, cheeses to taste, hiking trails to explore and folk art to buy along this route, depending on your time and interests. As for us, we were in a hurry to reach Lake Champlain and check into our lakefront hotel, the Basin Harbor Club. It was close to 5 p.m. and we didn't want to miss the daylight views. But as we turned on to Basin Harbor Road, we watched the sky blacken across the sprawling farmlands. Lightning streaked the sky in the distance. The sudden darkness along this solitary road gave me the creeps, but I tried to put up a good front for my travel companion, my 16-year-old niece, Natalie Alatriste. ''We're almost there,'' I reassured her, straining to read the passing road signs. But then, like some kind of joke from the universe, one sign called out to me: ''Sleepy Hollow Lane,'' it said. Natalie and I looked at one another and burst into laughter. I stepped on the gas and sped toward the hotel. We joked about what it might be like -- the Bates Motel, maybe? And when we had to dash into the resort lobby under a thunderstorm and take an old wooden staircase to our room, we wondered what kind of adventure awaited us. Indeed, as I opened the door, I gasped. It wasn't the room that stunned me, for it was ample and nicely appointed in a charming New England style, with a quiet balcony overlooking the leafy landscape. No, what stopped my suburban South Florida heart cold was what wasn't there: There was no TV. No TV? How could I survive Wednesday night without ``Top Chef Miami''? But moments later, we walked outside to find the sun had returned, casting a magical light on the trees, the lovely walking paths, the sturdy collection of cottages and the main attraction: the shimmering lake. We sat on brightly colored Adirondack chairs and gazed at the mountains that inspired their name. The sun shone well past 9 p.m., illuminating the landscape of mountains and lake. It was simply gorgeous. The resort sits on 700 rolling acres on the eastern shore of Lake Champlain, the sixth-largest lake in America. The historic resort, which is open from mid-May to mid-October, has been welcoming families for 120 years. It offers its guests a laid-back ambience and activities that include golf, tennis, swimming, boating, water sports and hiking. There's even a museum on the grounds, the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, devoted to the lake's history. In early October, this is a prime spot to take in northern Vermont's spectacular foliage. For up-to-date reports on leaf coloration until late October, travelers can call Vermont's 24-hour foliage hot line (for details, see below). About 7 miles from downtown Vergennes, the Basin Harbor Club embraces its remote setting, beckoning visitors to relax and forget big-city stress. That explained our missing TV set: In fact, there are no TVs in any of the resort's 74 cottages, 24 rooms or 14 suites. (I did spy a small television and two computers in a den tucked beside the bar in the main lodge. And there is telephone Internet access in the rooms.) The resort also embraces another tradition: All gentlemen over age 12 must wear a coat and tie after 6 p.m. during July and August. That first night, my niece and I dined at the Red Mill, the more casual of the two places that serve dinner at the Basin Harbor. With its funky red facade, its lively bustle and eclectic menu, the renovated sawmill quickly became our favorite place. We were hooked after our first taste of the house specialty, Basin Harbor Cheddar Ale soup: a creamy, lightly spicy tribute to one of Vermont's great gifts to the world -- cheddar. We paired it with a wonderful plate of crispy calamari tossed with scallions, pepperoncini and hot cherry peppers in a garlicky sauce. And because one can never have enough cheese, we ordered a plate of local cheeses for dessert. Our server kindly wrote down the names of our two favorites: Grafton Young cheddar and Crowley Reserve (both cow milk cheeses). The menu, varied and tempting, kept us coming back throughout our stay. Just check out the menu's description of the Champlain Valley Rabbit Papardelle: ''Braised rabbit, chocolate, espresso, brandy, paprika, raisins and hazelnuts,'' tossed over pasta. You get the idea. For breakfast, however, we preferred the Main Dining Room, an elegant, gourmet restaurant that really dresses up at night. In the morning, guests can get the same quality food and service without having to put on their fancy threads. If the cheese soup kept us coming back to the Red Mill, the French toast kept us coming back to the Dining Room. I should be more specific here: The prime Vermont maple syrup on the French toast kept us coming back. Good Vermont maple syrup, we learned, is not the sticky, overly sweet stuff they serve you at I-Hop. It's a perfectly balanced elixir that never overpowers your palate. More local delicacies awaited us in downtown Vergennes, Vermont's oldest city, established in 1788. The heart of this small, Victorian city is a great place to walk and take in the essence of Vermont. The streets are dotted with cafes and shops, along with a couple of bed-and-breakfasts. At the suggestion of locals, we stopped in at Vergennes' sweetest shop. Daily Chocolate is no regular candy store: It's a chocolate shop par excellence. Tucked below street level on a side street, it would be hard to find if not for the aromatic wafts rising from its kitchen. There, owner Floery Mahoney makes fresh batches of uniquely flavored chocolate each day. We found her behind the counter, arranging truffles and hand-formed chocolate barks. Natalie scooped up a bag of her favorite dark chocolate for the road. I was tempted by the wide selection of flavors, which included far-flung combinations like lemongrass/sake, maple/chipotle/pecan and green tea infused mint. But I resisted -- well, only because Mahoney told me the shop has a Web site, dailychocolate.net, and she gladly takes orders for shipment. TOWN: MONTREAL Fortified with Vermont chocolate, it was time to make a run for the border. Montreal is just 90 miles north of Burlington. The AAA Web site routes travelers west across the lake into New York state, where they can pick up I-87 into Canada. But that route would add at least one hour to our travel time, thanks to the Burlington-Port Kent, N.Y., ferry crossing. (There's also another crossing between Charlotte, Vt., and Essex, N.Y, a 20-minute sail along a particularly lovely part of Lake Champlain. But that crossing is farther to the south.) After conferring with Vermont locals, I decided to skip the ferry and the New York detour altogether and take I-89 north from Burlington, a breezy highway that turns into Canada's Route 133, a slower, but perfectly fine country highway that guides you into Montreal. The best part about it is there was no traffic at the border. We showed Canadian border guards our U.S. passports -- don't leave home without a passport or other valid immigration documents -- and we were on our way. While the landscape remains rural, the French signs remind you that you've entered another country, another culture. An hour from Burlington, and you can stop for French pastry and a cafe au lait -- or more maple syrup, if you wish. But once you've entered Montreal, with its skyscrapers and churning traffic, you're snapped into another reality, a world away from the rural pastures. The city carries the heart-pumping, electric charge of a big-time metropolis. We found our way to Rue Sherbrooke, a vibrant boulevard that anchors some of the city's best hotels. There, we spotted ours, the Omni Mont-Royal, a favorite of business travelers and weekend shoppers. The hotel is just off the main shopping drag, Rue Sainte-Catherine, and the entrances to the network of subterranean shopping malls that makes up Montreal's Underground City. Also within walking distance are some of the city's major museums, including the Musee des Beaux-Arts and the Musee d'Art Contemporain. But we -- meaning Natalie -- had decided this trip was not nearly long enough to squander on museum-hopping. Not when we could be shopping. We dropped off our luggage and headed for the shops. Back in Vermont, Natalie had looked up the locations of her favorite store, H&M, and didn't waste too much time directing me to the nearest one. Unfortunately, this one was not within walking distance. It was at the Rockland mall about 20 minutes north of the hotel. But the drive there gave us the chance to see the busy streets and storefronts of city's immigrant communities, a mix of cultures sharing blocks and buses. That night we met friends, transplants from South Florida, for dinner in the Vieux-Montreal quarter. They gave us a tour of the charming, Old World streets of old town. ''Doesn't this feel like we're in a tiny corner of France?'' one of my friends asked. Indeed. The narrow, cobblestone streets, quaint shops and bistros set off all sorts of French culinary cravings. Lucky thing my friends' favorite restaurant couldn't have been more French. Its name alone speaks to its specialties and no-nonsense nature: the Steak Frites. The restaurant, which anchors a corner of Rue Saint-Paul, is a cozy place where the menu is handwritten on a chalkboard. Of course, none of us needed menus -- we ordered steaks and fries all around, followed by a shared dish of profiteroles. The neighborhood is a great place to stroll at night, or listen to good jazz. After all, this is the city that each year gives us one of the best jazz festivals in the world. A perfect place to indulge in the live jazz sounds of Montreal is directly across from the Steak Frites restaurant. The Modavie is a restaurant, wine bar and jazz club featuring live music nightly. But you must dine there to watch the show. Later, as we toured the city at night, we stopped in at the sleek W Hotel, at 901 Square Victoria, for a Perrier. It was a fitting end to a great evening. The next morning, we breakfasted at Anton & James, on nearby Stanley Street, a chic coffee shop that bills itself as a ''cafeteria urbaine.'' Then we hit the Underground City, walking the malls from one end to another. As we made our way out of the city, we stopped to walk around the Plateau neighborhood, perusing the shops and storefronts along Rue Saint-Denis. I found a great music shop called L'Atelier Grigorian -- http://www.grigorian.com -- with an extensive collection of jazz. A few doors down, we also found a casual spot for lunch at La Brioche Lyonnaise, a pastry shop with outdoor seating. I could have spent hours on Rue Saint-Denis, but I knew we had to head back to Vermont. It was already afternoon, and we had a morning flight. Our drive to Essex Junction, Vt., was easy and relatively quick. We checked into the Inn at Essex, a cute 120-room country hotel that houses the New England Culinary Institute. And we arrived just in time for a spectacular dinner at Butler's, the inn's finest restaurant. There, a multi-course gourmet feast is prepared each night by the culinary students. This inn is perhaps the area's best bargain. For what you might pay at a Holiday Inn Express, you can stay at a charming, well-appointed inn with gourmet touches, spa services and culinary classes. Even the toiletries, sweet-smelling and organic, are yummy. And the place is only 7 miles from the Burlington airport -- there's an airport shuttle, too. The next morning came all too quickly as we packed our bags for our return flight. Outside, in the gardens of the inn, it was a glorious, Vermont morning, the kind that nudges you to stay a little longer. We couldn't, of course. But we did stop at the gift shop for a souvenir: a bottle of Vermont maple syrup.
  15. Un autre article intéressant du Telegraph de Londres. Ils publient régulièrement des articles touristiques sur Montréal et le Québec, toujours très flatteurs, d'ailleurs. Montreal: a thrilling collision of cultures Part French, part English and a lot more besides, Montreal is stylish, intriguing, and full of joie de vivre, says Kathy Arnold. On a sunny Saturday morning, we stroll through the Quartier Latin. Apart from a few dogwalkers and the occasional cyclist, the streets are quiet. We take a table at an outdoor café, order café au lait and read through La Presse, the local newspaper. It is all oh-so French, but when an American sits down nearby, the waitress slips effortlessly into English. We are in Montreal, the third-largest French-speaking metropolis in the world (after Paris and Kinshasa) – and one of the most intriguing cities I know. Montreal is proud of its Gallic roots. From its founding in 1642 until 1763, when the British took over, this island in the St Lawrence River was an important outpost of France. Down by the harbour, 19th-century banks and warehouses testify to the wealth generated by the port. It still ranks as one of the largest in North America, despite being 1,000 miles from the Atlantic. Traditionally, the Anglophones lived on the west side, the Francophones to the east. The dividing line was - and still is - the boulevard Saint-Laurent, referred to as “The Main” in English or “La Main” in French. The look of the city reflects this mixture of cultures, as if, in an architectural game of tit-for-tat, classic French designs are matched by traditional British. In front of the Hôtel de Ville, we crane our necks to look up at columns and porticoes as grandiose as any on a 19th-century town hall in France. By contrast, at Christ Church Cathedral, Anglican Gothic rules, from arches to spire. Then there are the street names: Saint-Jacques and Victor-Hugo share the map with Sherbrooke and Queen-Mary. And where else boasts a rue Napoléon and a rue Wellington? Canada’s second city may rest on European foundations, but its mirror-windowed skyscrapers are pure North America. So is the grid system of streets that spreads from the St Lawrence up to Mont-Royal, the hill for which the city is named. But unlike many US cities, Montreal is very walkable. We saunter along cobbled streets and lanes in the oldest part of the city, the Vieux-Port, where harbourside seediness has given way to galleries, trendy hotels and restaurants. Up the hill, in the Plateau area, we photograph the escaliers - the outdoor staircases that are a feature of the century-old duplex townhouses. Some insist that the curved steps reduced building costs; others say they created space for a front garden. Local lore suggests otherwise. “We are very Catholic,” a friend explains. “To ensure propriety, the church insisted on exterior entrances so everyone on the street could always see who was going in and out of each apartment.” Many Montrealers still live downtown, so the urban bustle continues after work and at weekends. Thanks to a passion for the arts, there is always plenty going on. Over the years, we have been to the Montreal Symphony Orchestra and the Grands Ballets Canadiens, enjoyed jazz and comedy at small clubs. And we have always eaten well. Like their cousins in the Old World, Montrealers love good food. As well as four busy, European-style markets, piled high with local produce, there is a huge range of well-priced restaurants. Some offer hearty Québec favourites such as smoked meat, tourtière (meat pie) and, thanks to the Jewish community, arguably the best bagels in North America. My favourite restaurants are those offering a modern take on traditional recipes; the most famous is Toqué!, whose chef, Normand Laprise, was in the vanguard of the foodie revolution. Still others reflect the influx of immigrants from Italy and Greece, Spain and China. These newcomers have spiced up the pot-au-feu that is Montreal: Vietnamese-run flower stalls look like mini-garden centres and red-shirted Benfica supporters celebrate the Portuguese club’s victory. Although locals still talk about the “French” and the “English”, meaning Francophone and Anglophone, Montreal today embraces so much more than just these two cultures. It all adds up to a city that is vibrant, confident and forward-looking, with a joie de vivre that is impossible to resist. As the franglais slogan for a local radio station puts it: “Plus de hits! Plus de fun!” Essentials Montreal is five hours behind UK time; the international dialling code for Canada is 001; the current exchange rate is C$1.88 to the pound. Where to stay Luxury The city is dotted with designer-cool hotels, such as the 30-room Hotel Gault at 449 rue Sainte-Hélène (514 904 1616, http://www.hotelgault.com; from £90), on the edge of Vieux-Montreal. Behind its elegant 1871 façade are bare brick and modern art. Traditionalists should opt for the Auberge Bonaparte at 447 rue Saint-François-Xavier (514 844 1448, http://www.bonaparte.com; £80), with its romantic ambience, excellent restaurant and 30 comfortable rooms. In fine weather, take in the views over Vieux-Montreal from the sixth-floor roof terrace. Mid-range The 60-room Hôtel XIXe Siècle at 262 rue St-Jacques Ouest (877 553 0019, http://www.hotelxixsiecle.com; from £70) scores for price and location – on the edge of Vieux-Montreal and an easy walk from downtown. The lobby and bar still have the high ceilings from the building’s origins as a 19th-century bank. Budget When the Auberge Les Passants du Sans Soucy at 171 rue St-Paul Ouest (514 842 2634, http://www.lesanssoucy.com) opened as an art gallery-cum-b&b some 15 years ago, Vieux-Montreal had yet to be revived. Today, guests staying in this 1723 stone house are steps away from galleries, shops and restaurants. Nine rooms only, so book early; Daniel Soucy’s breakfasts are lavish. What to see Museums For a quick history lesson, visit Pointe-à-Callière, built right on top of the city’s first Catholic cemetery (1643-1654). Look down through glass to the graves of Iroquois Indians buried near people named Tessier, Thibault and Hébert, family names that are still in the local phone book. On the top floor, L’Arrivage restaurant has great views over the port (514 872 9150, http://www.pacmusee.qc.ca). As well as the obvious European Old Masters, the Musée des Beaux-Arts (514 285 2000, http://www.mbam.qc.ca) has fine Canadian works. Paintings by the renowned Group of Seven capture the ruggedness of the country in the early 20th century; more contemporary are Quebecois talents such as Jean-Paul Riopelle and Serge Lemoyne . The Olympic Park From the 1976 Olympic Stadium, the Montreal Tower rises 537 feet (164m) - at an incline of 45 degrees. Take the funicular up to the Observatory for spectacular views across the city. Another legacy of the Games is the pool. For £2, you can swim where David Wilkie of Scotland took gold in the 200m breaststroke, breaking the world record in the process (514 252 4737, http://www.rio.gouv.qc.ca). Then there is the velodrome, recycled as the Biodôme. Under a vast roof, this space is divided into four eco-systems, which are always in season. Sloths hide in the Tropical Rainforest, cod and salmon swim in the St Lawrence Marine Eco-system, beavers build dams in the Laurentian Forest, but the biggest crowd-pleasers are the penguins, which torpedo into the icy waters of the Antarctic (514 868 3000, http://www.biodome.qc.ca). Montreal Botanical Garden An easy walk from the Olympic Park is the city’s answer to Kew Gardens (514 872 1400, www2.ville.montreal.qc.ca/jardin). Within its 180 acres are 10 giant greenhouses and 30 themed gardens. Learn all about toxic and medicinal plants; compare Chinese and Japanese horticultural styles. Montreal Insectarium Across from the Botanical Garden is the Insectarium (514 872 1400, www2.ville.montreal.qc.ca/insectarium), a must for children. This is a world of creepy-crawlies, with dung beetles, stick insects, cochineals, bees and more. There is even a set of scales that registers your weight, not in pounds or kilos but in ants. A 10-year-old weighs in at about 1.5 million. What to buy Shopping With sterling riding high, shopping is a pleasure. All the international brand names are here, but most fun are the boutiques featuring the work of stylish local designers. Downtown, head for rue de la Montagne, between Boulevard de Maisonneuve and rue Sherbrooke; up on the Plateau, check out rue Saint-Denis, chock-a-block with shops, and the funky boulevard Saint-Laurent. The three big department stores are Holt Renfrew, La Baie (Hudson’s Bay Company) and La Maison Ogilvy, where noon is still marked by a kilted piper playing the bagpipes. Markets Join locals shopping for produits du terroir at the art deco Marché Atwater, with its cheeses and maple syrup, and, next to Little Italy, the Marché Jean-Talon, ringed with busy bistro tables. The Marché Bonsecours in Vieux-Montreal no longer sells fruit and veg: the handsome 1847 building is now devoted to arts and crafts. Where to eat Toqué! Back in the early 1990s, Normand Laprise startled locals with his flavour combinations and the dramatic look of his dishes. As inventive as ever, his seven-course, £45 “mystery menu” could include scallops marinated in strawberry and bell pepper jus and suckling pig with a curry glaze (900 Place Jean-Paul-Riopelle; 514 499 2084, http://www.restaurant-toque.com). La Porte At this family-run operation, Pascale Rouyé looks after front of house while her husband, Thierry, and their son cook. They do what the French do best (local ingredients, classic techniques), and the five-course, £22 menu would be hard to beat in their native Brittany (3627 Boulevard Saint-Laurent; 514 282 4996) . Olive + Gourmando Wood floors and chairs and young, cheerful staff make this a pleasant place to start the day with steaming café au lait and a blueberry brioche (351 rue Saint-Paul Ouest; 514 350 1083, http://www.oliveetgourmando.com). Garde-Manger The disco beat gets louder as the evening progresses in this brick-walled restaurant. Get stuck in to ribs and platters piled with crabs, mussels and shrimp from Québec’s Iles de la Madeleine. Finish with maple-pecan pie (408 rue Saint-François-Xavier; 514 678 5044). Aszú In this basement oenothèque, David Couture’s modern cuisine is matched with 50 wines by the glass (212 rue Notre-Dame Ouest; 514 845 5436). Night owls During Prohibition, Americans escaped to Montreal for whisky and jazz. There is still no shortage of clubs and bars. Join the fun on rue Crescent, boulevard Saint-Laurent and rue Saint-Denis in the Quartier Latin. One of the best jazz clubs is The Upstairs (1254 rue MacKay; 514 931 6808, http://www.upstairsjazz.com). Getting there Canadian Affair has return flights from London Gatwick and Manchester to Montreal Trudeau International from £198; flights and six nights’ three-star accommodation from £396, based on two sharing (020 7616 9184 or 0141 223 7517, http://www.canadianaffair.com). Getting about No car is needed. The STM three-day tourist pass (£9) offers unlimited travel on the fast, safe metro and bus system. Metro stops are part of RÉSO, the network of cheerful, brightly lit underground walkways that stretches for some 20 miles, linking shops and apartment blocks, restaurants and museums. Getting in The Montreal Museums Pass gets you in to the 30 principal museums, and includes the three-day travel pass (£23, http://www.museesmontreal.org). More information Tourism Montreal: http://www.tourisme-montreal.org. At Tourism Québec, talk to a real person on 0800 051 7055 (http://www.bonjourquebec.com/uk). In the know Three of the best events on the city’s calendar include: Canadian Grand Prix, June 6-8 (http://www.grandprix.ca). International Jazz Festival, June 26-July 6 (http://www.montrealjazzfest.com). Just for Laughs Comedy Festival, July 10-20 (http://www.hahaha.com).
  16. Je ne suis pas sûr que c'est un compliment de se faire dire que Montréal goûte la poutine! Et les clichés sur notre supposée "joie-de-vivre", juste parce qu'on parle français, c'est un peu éculé, mais comme l'article est positif, on va leur pardonner... A foodie's guide to Montreal USA Today By Michele Kayal For The Associated Press Montreal may sound like Paris, but it tastes like poutines. A mess of french fries, gravy and cheese curds, this signature dish of French-speaking Canada's largest city captures its engaging and independent culinary personality. Originally inhabited by Native Americans, later populated by hunters, trappers and missionaries, and eventually battled over by the French and British, Montreal offers gutsy, creative and hearty fare that honors its diverse forbears. "There is a tradition of English cooking and French cooking, but it's taken on that lusty explorer, wilderness, joie de vivre," says Catherine MacPherson, a food columnist for Canadian Broadcasting Corporation radio. "It's rib sticking, and it's got that independent spirit." That wasn't always so. Until the early 1990s in Montreal, "good" cuisine meant "French" cuisine, and all the local stars had trained in France. That's also where they got their ingredients — lamb, lobster, artichokes, nearly everything. Until a young chef named Normand Laprise returned from the Continent more impressed by the freshness of ingredients in France than by their Frenchness. He began cultivating farmers and ranchers and launched a movement toward fresh, local ingredients that drew from Quebec's rich landscape. His restaurant, Toque!, opened in 1993, and remains the standard-bearer for upscale Quebequois cuisine. "When you come in Montreal, you feel that the food is more about us, about Quebec philosophy and Quebec roots," he says. "It's our produce, our chefs." Today, Montreal is "bigger and better," Laprise says, as the scene has filled with choice, from bistros to sandwich shops to corner grocers and cheese shops that offer fresh, delicious, local foods. The city claims 6,000 restaurants spanning 80 cuisines for its scant 2 million people, making it a city of foodies, by foodies, for foodies. The food scene could take weeks to explore, but with just a few days — and a big appetite — a dedicated eater can make a thorough and delicious survey. Start the tour at L'Express, a traditional bistro in the Plateau neighborhood where the floor is checkered, the ceilings are high and French is spoken all around. The steak of steak-frites is juicy and fatty, crowned with herb butter. The frites are crispy and light. Pistachio-studded pate literally melts on the tongue leaving hints of thyme and cognac behind. The chocolate tart is so glossy and thick with flavor that the otherwise stone-faced waiter is moved to speak, telling two diners that it is made with 76% cacao. Montrealers have made L'Express their local hangout for nearly three decades, but recently it's gotten some company. Around the corner, Au Pied de Cochon plumps up the bistro concept, making traditionally thrifty Quebecois cooking richer, fatter, heartier. Chef Martin Picard offers pickled venison tongue; a salad of rich, bitter greens topped with crunchy bits of fried pig cartilage; and nearly everything stuffed with foie gras, from peasant food such as pig's foot to the famous poutines. Picard's menu honors the region's sweet tooth not only with the famous tarte au sucre — literally, sugar pie — but even with a playful take on breakfast that features buckwheat pancakes, thick bacon, and yes, foie gras, all of it doused with maple syrup. On the other side of town in the Petite-Bourgogne neighborhood, Restaurant Joe Beef redefines the British pub with a decidedly modern take on roasts, puddings and other delectables. Named after a legendary tavern keeper known for scoring rations for his fellow British soldiers, the tiny restaurant's menu changes with the seasons and the whim of chef Fred Morin. But Joe Beef traffics in items such as fresh lobster tossed with bacon, baby peas and pasta, and dishes for two, such as sliced rib steak with marrow bones, or a whole rack of Quebec lamb with mint sauce. Tucked in the back, but at the establishment's heart, is the oyster bar, a half-dozen seats crowded around a dinged-up counter where three-time Canadian oyster-shucking champion John Bil recently popped dozens of briny bivalves mostly from the waters of Prince Edward Island. No matter where or what a visitor eats in Montreal, it's likely to be decadent. Butter, sugar, lard: these ingredients do not scare Montrealers. "There's never been a fear of indulgence or fats when it comes to their food," MacPherson says. "They see no reason for self-flagellation at the dinner table." Which brings us back to poutines. Gravy-and-cheese slathered french fries, are, perhaps, a dish best understood when inebriated. Or when you're very, very cold. "Imagine yourself being here in February, you're on a ski hill and it's minus 27," says Nathalie Cooke, a culinary historian at the city's McGill University. And she's talking Celsius. "You'd be amazed how good poutines can taste." Au Pied's foie gras-laden poutines are revered by gourmets, but students and bloggers seem to favor the slapped down version at Patati Patata, a tiny corner joint near McGill whose name roughly translates as "blah blah blah." But poutines aren't the city's only casual food. A flourishing culture of quick but delicious — and above all real — food can be found at patisseries, fromageries (cheese shops), and places that fall somewhere between bakery, sandwich shop and grocery store. At Olive et Gourmando in the Vieux-Montreal neighborhood, flaky palmiers are delivered alongside dense Valrhona brownies and hot sandwiches dripping with caramelized onions and succulent pork. "We're not interested in how many tables there are," Cooke says. "We're quite willing to go to a place that has two tables, or even to stand." At Au Pied de Cochon, chef Martin Picard offers a playful take on breakfast that features buckwheat pancakes, thick bacon and foie gras, all of it doused with maple syrup. Chef Yann Laguna puts the finishing touches on a salad at the McCord Cafe in downtown Montreal. The city is packed with bistros, bakeries, markets and cutting edge eateries.
  17. Montreal's restaurants fluent in French BY RAPHAEL SUGARMAN Saturday, December 1st 2007, 4:00 AM Europea's chef, Jerome Ferrer, prepares a fine French meal. New Yorkers looking for the perfect destination to tantalize their palates needn't spend hours traveling overseas to Paris. They should instead make the relatively short jaunt to Montreal and enjoy a culinary tradition that is just as passionate and arguably more exciting than that of France. "The food [in France] is very good and very classic, but here we are more open-minded," says Normand Lapris, executive chef of Toque, a highly rated Montreal restaurant. "When I am cooking, I don't think to myself, 'I can't use this recipe or this spice because it is not French,'" adds Lapris. "If I like curry, I put curry in my food." Fostering classic French cuisine - while remaining open to North American eclecticism - makes Montreal an ideal city for food lovers. More than half the city's 20 top-rated restaurants are classified as French or French-Canadian, and the cuisine - and its Quebecois influences - undeniably inspires the greatest passion in Montreal's kitchens. A very good case can be made that the city's top French restaurants - including Chez L'Epicier, L'Express, Au Pied de Cochon and Toque - offer every bit as delectable and memorable a dining experience as any spot in Paris. Because Montreal is, by nature, a French city, dining in a bistro here offers a much more authentic experience than similar establishments in New York or other North American cities. "When you are dining at L'Express, you feel like you could be in Paris, like you are in another world," says Lesley Chesterman, restaurant critic for the Montreal Gazette. Much like France, the quality of restaurants in Montreal is driven by the superb food markets. At the Atwater Market in the Saint-Henri district, and at the Jean-Talon Market adjacent to Little Italy, locals and tourists alike marvel at the bounty of luscious, home-grown products. At Jean-Talon, make sure to visit Le Marche Des Saveurs du Québec (The Market Flavors of Quebec), a pair of shops that feature a staggering 7,000 delicacies produced in the province. "The small producers make all the difference here in Quebec," says Carl Witchel, a local food historian. "The difference between Montreal and New York is that here you can go into a really inexpensive bistro with 20 or 25 seats and have something really remarkable." IF YOU GO ... Where to stay: Le Saint-Sulpice: Cozy boutique hotel in the heart of Old Montreal, a block from Notre Dame. (877)-SULPICE. Hotel Le Germain: A gem in the city's downtown business district. (514) 849-2050. Where to eat: Nuances: Jean-Pierre Curtat's wonderful French fare, irreproachable service and ethereal sunsets. (514) 392-2708. Club Chasse Et Péche: You have to love a place that lists "Six Oysters with Charisma" on the menu. (514) 861-1112. Europea: The Lobster Cream Cappuccino with truffle oil is just one of chef Jerome Ferrer's inventive offerings. (514) 398-9229. Beaver Club: Located in the Fairmont Queen Elizabeth Hotel, this opulent stalwart has been serving classic French cuisine for decades. (514) 861-3511.
  18. Eat like a local in ... Montreal Poutine may still be a student staple but Kevin Gould finds fresh, inventive dishes in the city's bistros, delis and micro-breweries Kevin Gould The Guardian, Saturday June 7 2008 Slow food ... find friendly service and fresh food as part of Montreal's creative food scene. Photograph: Rudy Sulgan/Corbis I start my search for the fresh local tastes of Montreal at Marché Jean-Talon (7075 Casgrain Ave between De Castelnau and Jean-Talon metro). This is not some bourgeois foodie faux-farmers' market. Held indoors in winter, the market spills outside at this time of year, with countless eat-ins, takeaways, wine shops and stalls, busy with people expecting (and getting) high-quality, well-priced, local, seasonal produce. As with the rest of Montreal's food and drink culture, someone has done a marvellous job of inculcating the virtues of the Slow Food movement, without the pretentious nonsense we're often served up in Europe. Montrealers are disarmingly friendly. A cheerful tubby bloke munching a pickled cucumber on a stick invites me to his restaurant, a minute away from the market. Jean-Philippe's Kitchen Galerie (60 rue Jean-Talon Est,+514 315 8994, no website) has no waiters: you're served by one of the three chefs who cook your dinner. He pours me a glass of excellent red from L'Orpailleur in the eastern townships, which has the grace of a French pinot noir, and the energy of a Californian one. "We're not sommeliers," he smiles, "but we know how to drink!" They sure know how to cook, too. Minestrone with chorizo and calves' sweetbreads with soft-shell crab give a flavour of Jean-Philippe's full-on stance on food. The standout main course is a massive côte de boeuf with tarragon sauce and roast veg. You can "super-size" it with truffles and foie gras. Gloriously, ridiculously rich. Strawberry salad with basil syrup and 7-Up jelly completes the feast. The most creative, interesting food scenes in town are mostly in Le Plateau and Mile End, where you find a mixture of ethnic communities, students and sophisticates. I loved Maison Cakao (5090 rue Farbre, corner of rue Laurier, +514 598 2462) for its cupcakes and brownies, and Le Fromentier (1375 rue Laurier Est), where the bread and charcuterie are at least as good as anything you'll find in Paris. Fairmount Bagel (74 rue Fairmount Ouest, fairmountbagel.com, open 24 hours, 365 days) is a tiny local institution that hand-makes 18 varieties and bakes them in wood ovens. Another institution worth its reputation is Schwartz's (3895 blvd St Laurent, +514 842 4813, schwartzsdeli.com, all you can eat $15. No reservations, expect to stand in line), whose smoked meat - think salt beef with deeper flavour - is sensational and worth queuing for. Order your meat "lean" unless you're in with a cardiologist, and eat too much of it with gorgeous dark brown fries, crunchy pickles and a soda. Around the corner, Le Reservoir (9 rue Duluth Est, +514 849 7779) is a micro-brewery with a kitchen. It is the most happening place in the area for Sunday brunch - expect fresh cranberry scones with yoghurt; cod cheeks and chips with home-made ketchup; fried eggs and smoked bacon over sublime Yorkshire pudding. Poutine is a Quebecois speciality, consisting of oily french fries strewn with curd cheese and smothered in salty gravy. Oddly comforting, and excellent for mopping up alcohol, together with every last drop of saliva in your mouth. The Montreal Pool Room (1200 blvd St Laurent), an appealingly grungy, noisy and popular diner, is a good place to try it. If poutine is old-school Montreal cuisine, the Cluny ArtBar (257 rue Prince, +514 866 1213, cluny.info) is its new wave. Cluny is in the centre of town, only a short walk from the touristy joints of the old town. It's near the riverside, attached to a gallery in an ex-foundry. Come here for generous, innovative salads and grills. A few steps away, Le Cartet (106 rue McGill, +514 871 8887) is everything you'd ever want for a buzzy, Scandinavian-smart take on the communal canteen. Great for lunch, Le Cartet has a deli attached and also offers a blowout Sunday brunch buffet, where you can nurse the hangover you nurtured the night before at Pullman (3424 du Parc ave, +514 288 7779, pullman-mtl.com), the gastro bar du choix for Montreal's beautiful people. They're serious about their wine at Pullman, but also mix a mean cosmopolitan. Try tapas like venison tartare with chips, tuna sashimi with pickled cucumber salad, mini bison burgers and roasted marrow bones with veal cheeks. Were Pullman in London, it would be double the price and snooty. Here, it is honest, exciting and fun. As Montreal reinvents itself as a multicultural, modern city, so its young chefs have thrown off the shackles of classical French cuisine. My favourite example of this pared-down, matter-of-fact excellence was in the 10-table neighbourhood Bistro Bienville (4650 rue de Mentana, +512 509 1269, bistrobienville.com). There are no starters or mains, just whatever's good today. They'll fix you a stunning seafood platter, grill you a beautiful piece of fish, and roast you a perfect fat joint of beef. I also ate excellent local cheeses, drank fantastic wine, and thought that if I lived in Montreal, I'd be in here every day. Instead of parading a love of good food and drink as accessories to an ostentatious life, Montrealers celebrate the joys of the table with the matter-of-fact verve born of living half the year in the teeth of an Arctic gale. · Canadian Affair (020-7616 9184, canadianaffair.com) flies Gatwick-Montreal from £99 one way inc tax. The stylish La Place d'Armes (+512 842 1887, hotelplacedarmes.com) has rooms for around £125 including breakfast, cheese and wine and hammam. The training hotel, l'Institut de Tourisme et d'Hôtellerie (+514 282-5120, ithq.qc.c http://www.guardian.co.uk/travel/2008/jun/07/montreal.restaurants/print
  19. Not sure if all or any have heard of this by the office Québécois de la langue française concerning the pronunciation of pk subban's name? Not sure about other people's reaction or position on such things but as a Montrealer and Quebecer all my life I'm pissed that these people make such stupid and useless remarks. I for one see that there is a certain pressure to protect the language however this is not how one succeeds in such things. In language especially making it interesting and relevant, with bilingualism, events and places to go and things to learn in French here in Québec which make people want to learn the language and use it. I go to ÉTS and I as is evident I am pas mal anglaphone but I go there because of what they offer, it doesn't phase me to attend my courses in French it is simply a bit more work. Just take schools in the Uk or the states for example, people from all over the world who do not speak English go to places like MIT or Oxford because they have reputations to be some of the best. People then learn english and that's that. From what I see and who I talk to the opinions of the language police are not those of the people of Montréal. In some case sure like everything sold should have french but this bs of pronunciation of an english guy from Toronto is insane! Sent from my C6806 using Tapatalk
  20. http://www.townandcountrymag.com/leisure/dining/a5818/montreal-restaurant-scene/ Asked to name the best restaurant city in America—meaning the United States—I offered the only reasonable answer: Montreal, a city with the culture, the cooks, the restaurants, the provisions, and the hospitality. (Also of significance is Canada's nicely diminished dollar, which makes dining a deal.) Such a welcome package was neatly summed up by a Canadian pal, Mike Boone, who worked with me at the Montreal Star in the 1970s. He said, "We're not just nice, we're cheap." Of course, Montreal isn't exactly in the United States, should you be hung up on such details as international borders. (Obviously, I am not.) The city is in the province of Quebec, a part of Canada as long as there has been a Canada. My belief that Montreal is really a lost colony of the United States is strengthened by the indisputable fact that our Continental Army captured and briefly held it in 1775. One need only glance at a map from those days, when the province of Quebec was nestled just north of the 13 colonies, to admire the logic. Allow me to add this: The citizens of Quebec practically exhausted themselves trying to secede from Canada in the latter half of the 20th century, only to fail when a 1995 referendum lost by a few thousand votes. To me Montreal is spiritually a part of the U.S., a kind of New York City in miniature, although it's even more like an independent city-state. OLD MONTREAL AT NIGHT. DENNIS TANGNEY JR./GETTY IMAGES The restaurants of Montreal are the attraction. Their evolution, which started in this century, has been swift. They are modest in size and technically proficient, and they provide a sense of casual fine dining that is embraced more wholeheartedly here than anywhere in the U.S. The dining culture is descended from those of both France and England— thankfully, more from France—leaving Montreal a sort of culinary orphan, free to seek its own path. New York, which was considered the best American dining city in most eras, but no longer, has become ground zero for casual dining. (A restaurant critic for the New York Times recently announced his top dish of the year: a sticky bun.) Montreal has developed an engaging dining personality at the same time that New York has been losing the one it had. Famed Montreal restaurateur David McMillan (Joe Beef, Le Vin Papillon) says, "I'll tell you why Montreal is the best restaurant city, and it's not about the skill of our cooking. We have the most advanced dining public in North America. I serve lamb liver cooked rare to 17-year-old girls. I sell tons of kidneys and sweetbreads. Manhattan is one giant steakhouse. Everybody there wants steak, or red tuna. I don't want to know how much red tuna is sold every day." Chef Normand Laprise, the grand old man of Montreal chefs (even if he is only 54), adds, "I visit pastry shops in the States, and I know Americans are not open- minded customers. It's hard to sell any- thing other than cupcakes and macarons." Montreal has had multiple culinary revolutions in the past 50 years. When I worked for the Star the restaurants primarily served French cuisine, albeit not quite what you'd find in Larousse Gastronomique. The Beaver Club at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel featured such fantastical dishes as Le Coeur du Charolais Soufflé aux Splendeurs du Périgord. The top chefs, who came to Canada from France following World War II or stayed in Montreal after working at Expo 67, were a little too fixated on flambéing and melting cheese. After the financial debacle of the 1976 Olympics, which almost bankrupted Quebec, the restaurants declined precipitously. The only noteworthy and enduring establishment was Toqué!, operated by Laprise. In 2001 came Au Pied du Cochon, which was informal and inventive. Chef Martin Picard embraced local products and reinvented old, somewhat primitive dishes such as jellied pig's head and poutine, an ungodly assemblage of french fries, cheese curds, and gravy that arose in rural Quebec in the 1950s. Picard created a regional cuisine and, more important, prized local products as few before him had. ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW Joe Beef, the next great restaurant, did away with tablecloths and menus (using blackboards instead). That was followed by Les 400 Coups (in the French tradition) and Lawrence (quite Anglo), establishments embracing either side of the local language divide. They were among the places that made Montreal the best for restaurants in this hemisphere, one where fine dining has been transformed into a modern ideal. No other city does it as well. DAY 1: FARM FRESH MEETS CRAZY GENIUS Daniel Boulud, who has a restaurant in the Ritz-Carlton Montreal, tells me that a visitor can grasp the essence of the dining culture before arriving, simply by looking out an airplane window. "Twenty minutes before you land, you pass over the farms, the greenhouses. This isn't California. Here you have really small farms next to each other, not industrialized." So as I fly in I peer out the window. First I see mountaintops and lakes, then silos and barns. Boulud is right. After we land, my traveling companion and I head to Les 400 Coups for lunch. The room is primarily in shades of charcoal and black, understated. The clientele, like most people in this city, dresses stylishly. The food is auspicious. Our squash soup is not like other squash soups. No bulk. No boredom. It's speckled with drops of olive oil, as though they had floated down from a cloud. The duck croquette is precisely as duck should be: rich, savory, skinless, and easy to eat. If there were such a thing as a wagyu duck burger, this would be it. AN ARRAY OF DISHES FROM LE MOUSSO, WHICH FEATURES A NEW TASTING MENU EVERY DAY. @ONDEJEUNE Les 400 Coups also has a pastry chef, a category of professional disappearing from American restaurants. I don't mean to overdo the compliments, but the desserts are notable as well: delicious and artistic, a little Georges Braque, a little forest tableau; the lemon cream dessert includes sea buckthorn. I would not be surprised if the pastry chef forages when off duty. I feared that our choice for dinner, Le Mousso, an all-tasting-menu restaurant that had just opened, would be like all the tasting-menu joints in America, the chef desperately seeking to express himself. Such food is occasionally brilliant. Too often it's awful. My friend was intrigued, certain it would be different here. She was correct. The restaurant is very Brooklyn, with an array of seating options at tables and counters, plus hanging lightbulbs and a chef, Antonin Mousseau-Rivard, who sports a short beard, a knit cap, tattooed arms, and Adidas shower sandals. He is self-taught, mostly via Instagram, and he says, "I didn't even work at a good restaurant in my life." We are handed a printed menu. It looks weird, but tasting menus always do. We eat seven dishes, all marrying ingredients never previously combined. But the wagyu beef from Quebec accented with slightly salty sturgeon caviar is masterful, as is the cool arctic char nestled in what appears to be a paint box of colors and flavors. Even the desserts are arresting, and desserts prepared by savory chefs are rarely that. The first is labeled sang, which means blood. I'm frightened, as I'm sure the chef means me to be, but it's blood sausage ice cream as Häagen-Dazs might make it, plus Quebec cheddar crumble in an apple-vinegar reduction. (Yes, Quebec has a flourishing cheese industry.) I suggest to Mousseau-Rivard that he might be a crazy genius, and he replies, "I like the word crazy more than genius." DAY 2: LOCAL HEROES A few blocks from the Parc du Mont- Royal, a revered green space designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, sits Beauty's, a luncheonette owned by Hymie Sckolnick, 95. He is always there. Hymie bought the shop in 1942 for $500. He is nice enough not to brag about his investment prowess. BREAKFAST AT BEAUTY'S, A LOCAL FIXTURE SINCE 1942. MICKAEL BANDASSAK Breakfast at Beauty's followed by a park stroll serves two vital purposes: The park provides visitors with an aware- ness of the physical glory of the city, as it's built on the slopes of the multitier hill Mount Royal, and Beauty's remains a notable example of Montreal's enduring (and somewhat inexplicable) fascination with Jewish food, most famously its bagels—smaller, sweeter, and superior to New York's—and its pastrami-like smoked meat. ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW At Beauty's, bagels from the St.-Viateur bagel shop (officially La Maison du Bagel) accompany the "famous mishmash," a kind of omelet that would be scorned by French chefs, inasmuch as it is not golden yellow or elegantly contoured. It consists of eggs, scrambled and browned a bit, the way my grandmother made hers, plus hot dog, salami, green pepper, and fried onion. You will sigh. You will burp. Unmatched in Montreal (or anywhere) is Le Vin Papillon, owned by David McMillan. The food is casual, mostly vegetables. The place takes no reservations and for a long time was nearly impossible to get into, although recently it doubled in size and the struggle has subsided. I recommend arriving at 3 p.m., when it opens, although take care not to wait by the wrong door, the permanently closed one, or you'll feel as if you've been locked out. We have celery root ribbons bathed in bagna cauda, a Piedmontese sauce made with garlic and anchovies; charcoal-roasted white turnips with housemade pomegranate molasses; and the best dish of all: a curiously savory hummus of hubbard squash with homemade focaccia. LE VIN PAPILLON'S CHALKBOARD MENU. RANDALL BRODEUR We don't leave until 6 and decide to skip a formal dinner, choosing instead a late smoked meat sandwich at Schwartz's, which seems to be open day and night. Schwartz's never changes, although the ownership has. The original proprietor, a Jewish immigrant from Romania, is long gone, and Schwartz's is now the property of a consortium that includes Céline Dion. I order my smoked meat fatty—most customers request medium or lean—and the waiter says, "Good for you." Maybe the place has changed: That's a long speech for a Schwartz's waiter. The rye bread continues to be tasteless, the smoked meat is still really good, the cole slaw reminds me of North Carolina, and the fries aren't as great as they used to be, but they're not bad. DAY 3: OLD FRENCH, NEW BRITISH Maison Boulud is admirable for who owns it (Daniel Boulud), for where it resides (in the historic Ritz-Carlton), and for its lovely location adjoining a small garden and duck pond (request a table overlooking both). The restaurant is among the last of its kind, a French one (well, mostly French) in a city where French cuisine is vanishing. (This is happening everywhere in North America; it just seems more baffling in Quebec, where more than half the population is French-speaking.) I order a lunch that spins me back in time: housemade pâté of startling freshness and eminent richness, and confit of guinea fowl leg in a miraculously silken foie gras sauce. The kitchen sends out lovely ravioli stuffed with sheep's milk cheese. It doesn't taste French, and shouldn't—the executive chef, Riccardo Bertolino, is from Bologna. THE MAISON BOULUD KITCHEN. Dinner that evening is entirely anglophile, at Maison Publique, an appealing tavern that offers only Canadian wines (and somehow pulls it off) and plates of mostly meaty foods that sound peculiar, as British cuisine almost always does. I never miss a chance to eat here. We order andouille sausage (reddish, dreamy, and fiery) spread on toast, and tender lonza, or salumi, made from free-range piglets raised for the restaurant in the Eastern Townships of Quebec. The main room has an old wooden floor, dark paneling, and mounted deer heads with soccer scarves wrapped around their necks. The menu is a well-lit corkboard to which is pinned a list of food and drink. Folks gather around it to discuss the dinner choices, a sign of changing times. When I lived in Montreal in the 1970s, during the separatist movement, concerned young people gathered in bars and pubs to sing protest songs demanding freedom from Canada. Now they chat about the origins of local meats and vegetables. DAY 4: A POUTINE CHALLENGE We have made no lunch plans, but when desperate I always call the nearest hot dog joint. On Saint Lawrence Boulevard is the Montreal Pool Room, which opened in 1912 in a different location not far from the current one. (Other changes have occurred: no more pool tables.) In case you have trouble finding it, directly across the street is the garish marquee of Café Cléopatre, which features stripteaseuses and danseuses à gogo. ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW My friend calls the Pool Room and asks, "Are you open? Are you serving food?" A sweetheart of a counterman replies, "Yes, madame. Hot dog, hamburger, cheeseburger. You come, you eat." She has her first Montreal hot dog. They're famous, even if they're bland compared with New York's. Here they're served correctly: steamed and topped with mustard, relish, and mild chopped onions. She also insists on poutine. I await her disappointment, but she loves it, saying, "It filled my every poutine expectation." If you're from New Jersey and enjoy disco fries, you might love poutine too. Hot dogs followed by poutine can be filling, which makes Hôtel Herman—it's not a hotel and there is no Herman—an excellent option for dinner. It offers small plates that are unusually small. The food is unexpectedly elegant, given the rough-hewn decor (wide plank floors that look as old as Montreal itself, tin ceiling, bare lightbulbs). Little logs of housemade foie gras are brilliantly composed, topped with crumbs and cranberries. The chef, Marc-Alexandre Mercier, bakes his own bread, dark and earthy and easily worth the $2 surcharge. The sweetbreads come with mashed potatoes from a variety called Ozette, grown in Quebec. They are mesmerizing, and it's not just the added buttermilk and cream. Mercier tells me his way with vegetables is a result of childhood trauma: His mother made him eat a bowl of rutabaga so awful it made him cry. DAY 5: GENTRIFICATION FLAMBEE Lawrence, among the most Anglo of the Anglo establishments, is blessed with big windows that allow in an abundance of light, a major reason I love to have lunch there. The staff is sweet, the wine list just right, the crockery seemingly from a church basement sale, and the menu filled with dishes you might never have eaten before. Fried endive topped with snowy crab, an unlikely concoction, is crunchy and juicy, impeccably fresh. The desserts are simple but superlative, the "burnt" chocolate pudding much like an all chocolate crème brûlée, and the warm ginger cake is topped with a crème anglaise that I'm tempted to drink. In the evening we set out to see two new restaurants with unusual appeal. Both feature wood-burning ovens, which are unusual in Montreal, and both are in newly gentrified sections of the city. A TRAY OF OYSTERS AT HOOGAN & BEAUFORT. ALISON SLATTERY PHOTOGRAPHY Hoogan & Beaufort is in a former industrial park in Rosemont where the Canadian Pacific Railway once built locomotives. An excellent consequence: It has stunningly high ceilings. William Saulnier, one of the partners, says that in the restaurant's opening days many of the calls they received started out, "Where are you?" Foxy is in a neighborhood once largely populated by Irish immigrants. Both of these spots are following an established American trend, moving away from midtown to more remote locations where rents are cheaper and space more generous. We weren't able to eat at Hoogan & Beaufort, only peek in, because we were dining with Lesley Chesterman, a friend who is the restaurant critic for the Montreal Gazette, and she was reviewing Foxy. She seemed to like my theory that Montreal belonged to the U.S. She said, "Montreal has never felt less Canadian to me." I leave the analysis of Foxy to Chesterman, enthusiastic about everything except the two dishes prepared in the wood- burning oven. About my favorite she wrote, "I loved the flatbread we ordered. Covered in melted raclette cheese, red onions, potatoes, and house-smoked ham, it was reminiscent of an Alsatian tarte flambée. We scarfed it back in minutes, the only problem being that one of the pieces of ham popped off my slice and, as I discovered the next morning, fell into my purse under the table." DAY 6: END ON A SWEET NOTE For me, departure days begin with a trip to the St.-Viateur bagel shop, where I buy a few dozen to take home. The price these days is 80 cents each. Hymie Sckolnick told me they used to cost two cents. When I complain to the counterman, he laughs and tosses in a few extra. Hymie's is a good name to drop in Montreal. PATRICE DEMERS WORKS HIS MAGIC AT PATRICE PÂTISSIER. MARC KANDALAFT Our getaway meal is lunch at Toqué!, which is run by Laprise, that most essential of Montreal chefs. His new establishment is a member of Relais & Châteaux, and his kitchen is a marvel, overflowing with cooks. The food isn't what I think of as new Montreal cuisine—it's too precise and luxurious—but it's up there with the best haute cuisine in North America. An appetizer of arctic char is creamy and silky, tasting of smoke and lemon. My Montreal Star pal Boone, joining us, calls it "the cotton candy of fish." Chicken, prepared sous-vide, is so moist there's beading on the breast. My friend has what the waitress calls "a perfect egg," cooked slowly, with a sauce made from a long-simmering duck reduction. Dessert is so ethereal—mostly honey, jelly, and cream—that on the way to the airport we stop at Patrice Pâtissier so I can pick up a few stuffed-on-the-spot chocolate-banana cream puffs. Patrice Demers, the owner of this new shop on Notre Dame West, was the first pastry chef at Les 400 Coups and thus is a hero of mine. But then, so many Montreal chefs are. Alan Richman is a 16-time winner of the James Beard Award for food writing.
  21. Earth to anglos: This is Quebec. Bus drivers speak French BY NICHOLAS ROBINSON, THE GAZETTE JANUARY 7, 2014 I’m an expat American whose family transferred here (my father worked for ICAO) in 1976. In 1988, after having gone to college and graduated in California, I moved to Japan and spent five years there, teaching English. When I returned, my parents had relocated to California, but left their condo here unrented and unoccupied. Naturally, I chose to resettle here instead of California, and I’ve been here ever since. I spoke French before I came to Montreal, having learned it in francophone African countries, so I had no problems getting around Montreal. Except in my lengthy absence, Bill 101 had been passed, and many anglos were hightailing it out on the 401. It was strange coming back to a Montreal that had language issues; I’d never had the Eaton-fat-lady experience while I had been here in the 1970s and had never had any problems back then. And at first, actually, for over a decade, I resented the ridiculous sign law that made English two-thirds smaller than French on signs, plus all the “tongue-trooper” shenanigans over the years. But then my mind started changing, and today I’m pretty much the polar opposite to what I was in 1994. I now teach Japanese to individuals in Montreal, having enthusiastically learned it from scratch while in Japan. Most of my students are francophone, but we usually end up having the class with a mixture of all three languages. Now when I hear about people “not getting service” in English in such institutions as hospitals, or not being responded to in English by bus drivers, my stance is: tough luck. When I moved to Japan, I quickly discovered that almost nobody spoke English, and that in order to function, I would have to learn Japanese — and fast, which I did. And now I feel maybe Bill 101 should have gone farther and made all signs only in French. After all, we are living in a French-speaking province that just happens to be in the middle of a vast country called Canada. Any anglos who have been here for any length of time — over a year or so — should at least be able to carry out basic living functions in French and learn how to read signs in French. The wheedle-factor here is enormous. To my mind, the French speakers of Quebec have been incredibly tolerant of the anglophone “community,” and a vast swath of them have gone to the immense trouble of learning English — when they don’t have to at all. Yet they do, happily and willingly and without a single murmur of protest. Why then, can’t the so-called “anglophone community,” knowingly residing in a province that has every right in the world to make everything in French, not do a better job of learning French? Earth to anglos: this is Quebec. In Quebec most people speak French. Bus drivers have every right in the world to respond to you in French, even when you speak to them in English. And my suggestion to these besieged individuals is simply: learn how to speak French. There are literally hundreds of places where you can learn it absolutely free. Or take some of my classes and move to Japan, where there is a severe shortage of English teachers; I promise there are no French speakers there to hound you. Nicholas Robinson teaches Japanese in Montreal. © Copyright © The Montreal Gazette
  22. http://world.time.com/2013/04/08/quebecs-war-on-english-language-politics-intensify-in-canadian-province/ To live in Quebec is to become accustomed to daily reminders that French in the Canadian province is the most regulated language in the world. Try, as I did recently, to shop at Anthropologie online and you’ll come up empty-handed. The retail chain (which bears a French name) opened its first Montreal boutique in October, but “due to the Charter of the French Language” has had its site shut down: “We hope you’ll visit us in store!” Montreal’s transit authority maintains that under the present language law, its ticket takers must operate in French, which lately has spurred complaints from passengers. Last year, the city of Montreal erected 60 English safety signs nearby Anglophone schools in an effort to slow passing vehicles. The Quebec Board of the French Language and its squad of inspectors ordered that they be taken down; a snowy drive through town revealed that all had been replaced by French notices. Since the Parti Québécois (PQ), which calls for national sovereignty for Quebec, won a minority government in September, the reminders have become increasingly less subtle. In February, a language inspector cited the swank supper club Buonanotte, which occupies a stretch of St. Laurent Boulevard, Montreal’s cultural and commercial artery, for using Italian words like pasta on its otherwise French menu. The ensuing scandal, which has come to be known as “pastagate,” took social media by storm. “These are problems we had in the 1980s,” says restaurant owner Massimo Lecas. “They were over and done with; we could finally concentrate on the economy and fixing potholes. And then this new government brought them all back. These issues might never go away now, and that is a scary sort of future.” It’s true: despite the nuisances and controversies generated by Bill 101, Quebec’s 1977 Charter of the French Language, the province had settled in the past years into a kind of linguistic peace. But tensions have mounted considerably since the separatist PQ returned to the fore. In the wake of pastagate, the language board allowed that its requests were maybe overzealous; the head of the organization resigned. And yet the PQ has prepared for the passage of Bill 14, a massive and massively controversial revision to Bill 101. The bill’s 155 proposed amendments go further than any previous measures have to legislate the use of French in Quebec. Most English speakers see the changes as having been designed to run them right out of the province. “Definitely non-Francophone kids who are graduating are leaving,” says restaurateur Lecas. “If you don’t have a mortgage yet, if you’re not married yet, if you don’t own a business yet, it’s like, ‘I’m so outta here.’ But leaving is not the solution because when you leave, they win.” In a poll conducted by the research company EKOS in January, 42% of the Anglophones surveyed said they’ve considered quitting Quebec since the PQ was elected. If Bill 14 passes, military families living in Quebec but liable to be relocated at any time will no longer be permitted to send their children to English-language schools. Municipalities whose Anglophone inhabitants make up less than 50% of their populations will lose their bilingual status, meaning, among other things, that residents won’t be able to access government documents in English. For the first time, companies with 25 to 49 workers will be required to conduct all business in French, a process set to cost medium-size businesses $23 million. French speakers interested in attending English-language colleges will take a backseat to Anglophone applicants. The language inspectors will be able to instantly search and seize potentially transgressive records, files, books and accounts, where currently they can only “request” documents that they believe aren’t in accordance with the law. And no longer will they grant a compliance period. As soon as a person or business is suspected of an offense, “appropriate penal proceedings may be instituted.” Jamie Rosenbluth of JR Bike Rental is among the business owners who’ve had run-ins with the ever more bold language board, which already has the authority to impose fines and, in extreme cases, shut enterprises down. A month ago, an inspector asked him to translate the Spanish novelty posters that paper his shop and increase the size of the French writing on his bilingual pricing list by 30%. Says Rosenbluth: “I told her, ‘You want me to make the French words 30% bigger? O.K., how about I charge French-speaking people 30% more?’ It is so silly. Are they 30% better than me? Are they 30% smarter than me?” Since the encounter, he has covered the offending posters with placards of his own that say, in French, “Warning: Non-French sign below. Read at your own discretion.” The PQ is trying to reassure its separatist base of its seriousness as a defender of Quebecois identity. To pass Bill 14, it will need the support of at least one of the province’s two primary opposition parties. In other words, if the bill doesn’t succeed, Premier Pauline Marois of the PQ will be able to hold the opposition accountable and remain a hero to the hard-liners. The PQ knows that, in its present incarnation, it will never drastically expand its core of support, but it can galvanize its troops. Some of those supporters rallied together in Montreal last month to protest “institutional bilingualism” and champion the bill. Cheers and applause resounded when journalist Pierre Dubuc called out: “If someone can’t ask for a metro ticket in French, let them walk.” Public hearings on Bill 14 began in early March at the National Assembly in Quebec City and are ongoing. “I can tell you that if someone came to Côte-St.-Luc to tell us we would lose our bilingual status, you will have chaos, you will have opposition of people you wouldn’t think of who will take to the streets,” testified Anthony Housefather, mayor of the municipality of Côte-St.-Luc, on the first day. “People are scared, people are very scared.” By the time Quebec’s largest Anglophone school board, Lester B. Pearson, came forward on March 19, it had already collected 32,000 signatures on a petition against the bill. “There are many ways of protecting French, and coercion isn’t one of them,” says Simo Kruyt, a member of the board’s central parent committee. “Fourteen of our schools have closed over the past seven years. We are getting fed up. We are getting tired of having to fight to be who we are. English is the language of commerce and we parents believe we are part of a world that’s larger than Quebec.” It’s hard yet to say if the bill will make it through. The opposition Liberals have flat-out refused to support the legislation. The Coalition Avenir Québec, which holds the balance, has said that it might — if certain of the more controversial measures are “improved.” In fact, the Coalition has only come out against four sections of Bill 14, and these don’t include the provisions that would give the dreaded language inspectors new and extraordinary powers. In the face of such antagonism, it’s no wonder some are leaving. Kruyt’s eldest son, a bilingual 27-year-old engineer, is preparing to relocate to Ottawa, the Canadian capital that sits near Quebec’s western border. Says Kruyt: “There, they’ll appreciate his French and won’t hammer him because of his English.” Read more: http://world.time.com/2013/04/08/quebecs-war-on-english-language-politics-intensify-in-canadian-province/#ixzz2PxmWuSHp
  23. The French election and business The terror The 75% tax and other alarming campaign promises Apr 7th 2012 | PARIS | from the print edition EUROFINS SCIENTIFIC, a bio-analytics firm, is the sort of enterprise that France boasts about. It is fast-growing, international and hungry to buy rivals. So people noticed when in March it decamped to Luxembourg. Observers reckon it was fleeing France’s high taxes. It will soon be joined by Sword Group, a successful software firm, which voted to move to Luxembourg last month. As France enters the final weeks of its presidential campaign, candidates are competing to promise new measures that would hurt business. François Hollande, the Socialist candidate, and the current favourite to win the second and final round on May 6th, has promised a top marginal income-tax rate of 75% for those earning over €1m ($1.3m). He has declared war on finance. If the Socialists win, he pledges, corporate taxes will rise and stock options will be outlawed. Other countries welcome global firms. “France seems to want to keep them out,” sighs Denis Kessler, the boss of SCOR, a reinsurer. Jean-Luc Mélenchon, an even leftier candidate than Mr Hollande, has been gaining ground. Communists marched to the Bastille on March 18th to support him. The right offers little solace. Nicolas Sarkozy, the incumbent, is unpopular partly because of his perceived closeness to fat cats. To distance himself, he has promised a new tax on French multinationals’ foreign sales. If Mr Hollande wins, he may water down his 75% income-tax rate. But it would be difficult to back away from such a bold, public pledge. And doing business in France is hard enough without such uncertainty. Companies must cope with heavy social charges, intransigent unions and political meddling. The 35-hour work week, introduced in 2000, makes it hard to get things done. Mr Hollande says he will reverse a measure Mr Sarkozy introduced to dilute its impact by exempting overtime pay from income tax and social charges. The 75% income-tax rate is dottier than a pointilliste painting. When other levies are added, the marginal rate would top 90%. In parts of nearby Switzerland, the top rate is around 20%. French firms are already struggling to hire foreign talent. More firms may leave. Armand Grumberg, an expert in corporate relocation at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, a law firm, says that several big companies and rich families are looking at ways to leave France. At a recent lunch for bosses of the largest listed firms, the main topic was how to get out. Investment banks and international law firms would probably be the first to go, as they are highly mobile. Already, the two main listed banks, BNP Paribas and Société Générale, are facing queries from investors about Mr Hollande’s plan to separate their retail arms from investment banking. He has also vowed to hike the corporate tax on banks from 33% to nearly 50%. In January Paris launched a new €120m ($160m) “seed” fund to attract hedge funds. Good luck with that. Last month Britain promised to cut its top tax rate from 50% to 45%. No financial centre comes close to Mr Hollande’s 75% rate (see chart). Large firms will initially find it hard to skedaddle. Those with the status ofsociété anonyme, the most common, need a unanimous vote from shareholders. But the European Union’s cross-border merger directive offers an indirect route: French firms can merge with a foreign company. Big groups also have the option of moving away the substance of their operations, meaning decision-making and research and development. Last year, Jean-Pascal Tricoire, the boss of Schneider Electric, an energy-services company, moved with his top managers to run the firm from Hong Kong (where the top tax rate is 15%). For now, the firm’s headquarters and tax domicile remain in France. But for how long? Pressure to leave could come from foreign shareholders, says Serge Weinberg, the chairman of Sanofi, a drugmaker. “American, German or Middle Eastern shareholders will not tolerate not being able to get the best management because of France’s tax regime,” he says. At the end of 2010, foreign shareholders held 42% of the total value of the firms in the CAC 40, the premier French stock index. That is higher than in many other countries. It is not clear whether the 75% tax rate would apply to capital gains as well as income. As with most of the election campaign’s anti-business pledges, the detail has been left vague. Mr Sarkozy has offered various definitions of what he means by “big companies”, which would have to pay his promised new tax. Some businessfolk therefore hope that the most onerous pledges will be quietly ditched once the election is over. But many nonetheless find the campaign alarming. French politicians not only seem to hate business; they also seem to have little idea how it actually works. The most debilitating effects of all this may be long-term. Brainy youngsters have choices. They can find jobs or set up companies more or less anywhere. The ambitious will risk their savings, borrow money and toil punishing hours to create new businesses that will, in turn, create jobs and new products. But they will not do this for 25% (or less) of the fruits of their labour. Zurich is only an hour away; French politics seem stuck in another century. http://www.economist.com/node/21552219
  24. http://travel.nytimes.com/2011/10/16/travel/36-hours-in-quebec-city.html Hmm... might take a little trip to Quebec for the weekend. Seeing I haven't been in over a decade.