Perhaps I should have brushed up on my French before I went to Canada.
As it turns out, while Canada is a bilingual country, the Quebecois (the peeps from Quebec) really love their Français. That means, you really ought to be familiar with the language before you head up to Quebec City and Montreal (although English is much more common in Montreal).
As you traverse through Quebec, it seems totally out of place when compared to its neighbor, the English-speaking Ontario. Quebec, particularly its capital city, Quebec City, is playing the cheating game on Great Britain's Queen Elizabeth II. Officially, the province of Quebec, like the rest of Canada, is married to the queen (Canadians refer to her as "their" queen, and they put her on all of their currency).
But, Oh La La, I'm going to let you in on a little secret. The Quebecois are seemingly having a dirty little affair with France, even if France does not know about it. Well, maybe it is more like a tawdry affair with French culture.
At first glance, it may not seem too out of the ordinary, considering the fact that the French founded Quebec, particularly Quebec City and Montreal, centuries ago. But, you have to understand, Quebec has taken it much further, with a few close votes in recent decades on whether it should break off from the rest of Canada, and form its own French-speaking country. Separation keeps being only barely defeated.
Quebec City likes to overestimate its importance to France, during the colonial days, and there is a distinct undercurrent in the city, in that it sees itself as being a real French city — perhaps the only real French city — in North America.
During a tour of the "National" Assembly (the legislative body for the province of Quebec) in Quebec City, it is pointed out that members of the assembly use French during all of their business (you would think they could at least try having English translations).
Then, there is a short presentation at the Fields of Abraham that portrays the British as bad guys for trying to make the people of Quebec learn how to speak English. And, they have the audacity to say, in the same presentation, that the "French dream" in North America officially "died" when France lost Quebec at the end of the French and Indian War, in the mid-18th Century.
Uh, hello, Louisiana? The French only held control of that very large colony for several more decades after losing Quebec. I think the "French dream" in North America actually died when Napoleon sold Louisiana to the United States in 1803.
You just know that if New Orleans could fight Quebec City (I mean the city as in the physical land that is the city, not its people, getting up and fighting each other). You just know New Orleans, with its influx of Cajun blood, could whip Quebec City's rear end 10 ways to Sunday.
It's almost like Quebec City is going around acting like Quebec and France were lovers and England came in, ripped the pair apart and forced Quebec into a loveless marriage. Now you have Quebec City acting like the person who is married to one person, but lusting for its former lover (and its baguettes, arrogant "hu-hu-hu" laughs and risqué can-can dancers).
It's almost like you can hear the city saying. "Oh France." with lust in its heart, instead of "Oh Canada," with heart-pounding pride.
Curt Yeomans covers government for the Clayton News Daily. He can be reached at (770) 478-5.