Us French Canadians are an odd little bunch of people. Only 8 million of us, and yet we managed to get quite notorious both within Canada and beyond, for various reasons. Here are 6 things you may not know about us.
French Canadians drink a lot.
We are quite the elbow benders in our great province. Wine, beer, spirits, cocktails, bring it! Any occasion is a good occasion to get a drink, and we are very fond of the “it’s 5 o’clock somewhere” theory. Despite the hefty taxes on alcohol sales (most of it is regulated by a government in specially appointed stores called SAQ), we are always more than happy to cheer to whatever is worthy of cheering, be it a hockey game, a relaxed dinner, a birthday, a sunny day, a rainy day, a snowy day. You get the point.
French Canadians are not French.
That’s probably the most important lesson of all. Never, ever ask a French Canadian if he’s French! It’s just as bad as asking a Canadian if he’s American, or a Scottish if he’s English! We are most definitely not French. We don’t do la bise to total strangers (only family and close friends). We don’t shut the country down on Sundays. We aren’t always on vacation. We are our own people. We like to tease our fellow French comrades, but we are nonetheless very different.
So no. Not French. But we do have a few French habits, and are French speaking. About this…
French Canadians have their own way of speaking French.
That’s something that sets us apart from the French people: we might speak the same language, but we speak it in completely differently ways. While the French accent is more popular and internationally accepted, and despite the fact that we were colonized by the French at one point, we have developed our own way of speaking the language, our own vocabulary, expressions and swear words – which are completely unique and of which we are very fond. You know a lot of languages that use church words to curse? This language is called joual, and is just another way of speaking French.
French Canadians are very proud, creative people.
Just for Laughs. Cirque du Soleil. Ubisoft. Simple Plan. Arcade Fire. Xavier Dolan. Ring a bell? These are only a few of our cultural hits. We even have Celine Dion! And although most Quebecers will never say it aloud (something about her not being very cool, and loving kayaks…), we are quite proud of her journey. She put Quebec on the map, so to speak, and hasn’t denied her roots despite her smashing success. We produce excellent artists in Quebec, and have an equally strong appetite for them, regardless of the genre or medium.
French Canadians are a very good mix of both French and British cultures.
- We’re a little bit like the British. We say thank you a lot. We queue as if our life depended on it and death-stare at anyone who doesn’t. We love our hearty, rich traditional meals. We love casual dinners out at the pub. We aren’t scared of a bit of bad weather.
- We’re a little bit like the French. We do love ourselves a strike. We like to try out fancy delicacies from time to time. We whine for just about anything. We’re strong minded.
The thing is, if you ask a Quebecer if he’s more British or French, it’s very likely you’ll get a different answer every time you ask. For we have been colonized by both, and adopted several habits of each of their cultures, creating unique, likeable personalities, that can’t be found anywhere else in the world.
French Canadians are very indecisive when it comes to sovereignty.
That’s a debate that has been going on for about 50 years now. To be a country or not to be a country, that is the question. Quebec is actually a province within the confederation of Canada, as is Ontario or Saskatchewan. But there is no doubt that because of its unique heritage, and language, Quebec is entirely different from its neighboring provinces. And a lot of people think that would justify total independence from Canada and her Majesty the Queen (but not me – I love Lizzie). In the last 35 years, we’ve had two referendums, several uprisings, lots of tears, extremely tight results, but the answer was always the same: Quebec is part of Canada, and will remain that way. Until the next referendum anyway.
Nationalism is a very touchy subject, and Quebecers are very divided on the topic. Each one of us has an opinion, some more rigid than others. Who knows what the future holds for us!
Have you learned a few things about French Canadians? Are you familiar with them?