French tail wags Canadian dog

Quite possibly, I should have known better. Most definitely, I was wrong in thinking of Canada as bi-lingual. Everything you see, read and hear that ‘everything is in both English and French’ – forget it in Quebec and Montreal. It’s French! Signs in both languages are rare to non-existent. The spoken word is almost exclusively French too. A few individual people, by the nature of their jobs, are truly bi-lingual but mostly it is “English as a second language” with varying degrees from ‘getting by’ to ‘impossible’ regarding both understanding and making themselves understood in English. Ottawa is different with, I was told, 75% of people speaking English. Certainly, signs are in both languages, with equal prominence given to both, though English comes first.

It’s been a strange experience. I have to keep reminding myself which part of the world I’m in. Contributing to this “where am I?” feeling is the (historically) Catholic nature of the area with saints names abounding as street and district names and so many churches looking very European, very French.

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