Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Leaving Quebec? Here's how to explain why you moved away

   So you want to leave Quebec?
   The latest local news contrivance is shows that a lot of young English-speaking Montrealers have thought about moving away, which a suddenly-caring French newspaper has confounded with wanting to leave.
    No other place inspires as many tortured narratives of departing disappointment as Montreal
    Quitters consider it mandatory practice to enumerate their bad feelings about Montreal.
   This index of personal disappointments makes for awkward listening, no, we're not your boyfriend or girlfriend or psychiatrist. We didn't sign on to hear you moan.
   French Quebecers are even more vitriolic in their denunciations of their former province on sites such as quitterlequebec, which runs withering Quebec-bashing attacks penned by those who left and found bliss elsewhere.
   Most know that misery comes with the luggage. You can't run away from it.
   Life in that other place will invariably be riddled with the usual assorted disappointments. You'll still be stuck with yourself, minus a few friends and family that you made here.
   So the problem might not have been Quebec but unreaslistically high expectations concerning your life outcomes. (I thought you said you weren't their psychiatrist- Chimples)
  Some depart with grace, the best example being Leonard Cohen, who mused fondly about Montreal after he relocated to Los Angeles while also hinting that he'd eventually return.
   The most epic of all renouncing Quebec moments came from Janet Torge who was 28 when she arrived in 1975 after growing up in Ohio.
   She raised three kids here but unlike most anglos, she voted for the PQ and voted yes in the referendum, which would make many English-speaking bretheren welcome her departure but she figured it made her a model immigrant for many French-speakers. So her departure renunciation was meant to be a big deal. 
   She penned a leaving letter in La Presse on 30 April 1991.
   I'm exhausted. I'm sick of paying for the crimes of other anglos who left long ago for Toronto. I'm sick of feeling responsible for Coffee Crisp bars in corner stores. (What's that about?- Chimples) I've heard enough talk about cocktails and fur coats on the West Island. That's nothing to do with who I am.  
There are plenty of bilingual anglos who haven't got any plans to leave. To keep them they must be brought in and not pointed to due to their mother tongue. Some small gesture to show that all Quebecers can be partners 
As for myself, I'm leaving with some bitterness and I've given in to the temptation to do it symbolically. I've rented a U-Haul for June 23 and will leave St. Jean Baptise Day. Je me souviens, from a distance.
   Torge returned to Ohio, then on to Ottawa to become a flak for the NDP and moved back to Montreal in 1997. She presumably doesn't have her La Presse column stuck to her fridge door.
  Others who couldn't resist parting shots while leaving Montreal include
  • Jay Baruchel who said something or other about politics before leaving for Toronto that we didn't read. 
  •      Crazy Suzanne Verdal, immortalized in Lenny's Suzanne, left in bitterness, although there was also that $5,000 Hydro Quebec bill she couldn't pay. 
  • Pudgy CBC personality Wayne Grigsby once wrote that he would never leave his hometown. Within weeks he was moving to Toronto. 
  •  Expos Manager Buck Rodgers said when leaving in 1991 that Montreal would be a ghost town in 10 years.  
  •    One of Paul Theroux's characters in his trans Siberian express book makes everybody miserable with him complaining about how bad things are in Quebec.

   There might be money in such see-ya-later-Quebec missives. So Coolopolis is developing a leaving-Quebec app. Here's a trial note from the beta version. 
   When I arrived in Quebec I saved orphans from fires, ate only poutine and shook everybody's hand while singing "gens du pays."
   I paid millions in taxes, employed hundreds of unemployable people and was planning to hire thousands more at my used Garou CD store.
   I always smoked a corncob pipe and wore a shaggy tuque in honour of the local culture and served des fromage grille to my friends at the Quebec Solidaire rallies.
   But once while helping elderly from the metro I was asked "T'es pas frette sans coat?"
   My life transformed at that moment.
   All the unspoken subtexts,all those glares behind my back,all that shoveling, all those frustrated job searches and lines at Tims suddenly crystallized into the inescapable conclusion that I must move to Peru where harmony exists between all people.
  Farewell Quebec, c'est a ton tour



11 comments:

  1. Interesting and insightful!

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  2. Meanwhile, the disgruntled people who left for "greener pastures" in Toronto, Calgary, Vancouver, etc., soon discovered that restarting their lives and re-establishing their businesses came at a significant price considering the higher rents and inflated property costs largely created by greedy, non-resident, foreign ownership abusing the system.

    Drug and gun crime is also significantly higher elsewhere in Canada. Who would think that today even Winnipeg has become a hell-hole?

    Didn't radio announcer Terry DiMonte run away to Calgary for bigger bucks, only to return after he felt homesick for Montreal?

    By the way, whatever became of former Anglo firebrand Mr. Galganov? I seem to remember he left because he got tired of "waking up every morning feeling angry". I will hazard a guess he's just as angry today outside Quebec.

    Emigrate elsewhere? Even a relatively progressive place like New Zealand is located in the Ring of Fire with a history of serious earthquakes as well as being the inevitable target for major tropical cyclones (read about recent Cyclone Gita).

    Australia is like a furnace in summertime where their largest cities experience major infrastructure breakdowns and crime there has ramped up, particularly among the youth where roving gangs are now common. Car-jackings, broad-daylight robberies, road rage, etc. For whatever reason, the laws are way too lax downunder with criminals too often receiving only a slap on the wrist. A "Bad boy. Don't do it again.", mentality.

    The U.S.? Overpopulated, with a crumbling infrastructure and fraught with never-ending race issues and problematic immigration overburdening a broken health system.

    No, there is no paradise, but I will stay here, thank you very much.

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    1. NZ & Oz have crazy house prices. Ottawa is really boring and its Somalian gang murder thing is a real problem. Toronto isn't my kind of place but it might not be all that bad. I like it here but I don't denounce someone for moving away, I just disagree with them slagging it as a form of justification for their displacement.

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  3. It is inevitable, of course, that anyone who feels unwelcome in the place where they grew up and who then flee for whatever reason--valid or not--will feel the urge to back-bite and criticize those who remain behind. It's almost a "blood sport".

    Imagine how many Cubans felt after Fidel Castro nationalized their businesses and seized their properties--a situation which remains a sore point among exiles today who yet hope for compensation. They may not live long enough to see that day, however.

    To digress somewhat, I once read that Castro even nationalized all foreign banks but left the Canadian ones untouched. Can anyone confirm this? If this is true, there must have been a good reason. Quite likely this was done to allow at least one western financial institution to function as a kind of "back door" to benefit the Cuban economy--such as it was.

    I do know that Canadian cellphone networks were permitted to establish themselves in Cuba for the benefit of their citizens several years before the those of other countries, just as European hotel chains were given the green light to open for business there.

    Cuba's run-down buildings are badly in need of paint, so whatever paint company gets in on the ground floor there is going to make a bundle.

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  4. The last time I checked you didn't need a "valid" reason for leaving Montreal and restarting your life somewhere else. We live in a free society. Many who grew up in Montreal had family members who came from other countries. Moving on is a part of our Canadian social history. The biggest exodus from Montreal was in the 70s. It is only in the past 20 years that housing prices went through the roof in places like Toronto and Vancouver. I bought a waterfront house close to Vancouver for 154K in 81' and a 3 bedroom townhouse in Richmond, BC in 88' for 119K. I don't see why Australia, New Zealand, or Cuba for that matter, are part of this conversation. How many ex-Montrealers decided to move to those places? Many ex-Montrealers found the city an interesting place to grow up in. Like every other city in the US and Canada things changed as time went on. You can't relive the old days. They only come by once. If you chose to stay in Montreal and don't mind the freezing winters, along with the huge puddles and pot holes, or the unbearably humid summers, more power to you. Chaq en sans gout!

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  5. Honestly - I left Montreal for better opportunities. As a young lawyer with a common law degree I could practice law in many provinces instead of limiting myself to only one. It was just that simple - I don’t forget that my Scottish grandparents came to Montreal for opportunity it’s a simple as that! I and really love Montreal ( I am visiting this weekend) I live in Ottawa and seriously I really like it there and have no regrets ! I will never bash Montreal when I discuss why I left.

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  6. As the old, diehard seps loved to say to Anglos: "Go back where you came from", presumably meaning back to the U.K. or, in their deluded mentality, "back to Ontario", despite the fact that most Montreal Anglos never came from Ontario in the first place. But then, the bad losers will never get over the Plains of Abraham (or Waterloo, for that matter).

    I remember legendary CKGM talk-show host Pat Burns suggesting that the disgruntled seps move to Algeria if they didn't appreciate the privilege of being Canadian, but of course they didn't like to hear that and some even made explicit threats on his life for saying it.

    As for New Zealand and Australia, obviously being English-speaking countries with parliamentary governments they would be a logical choice to restart a new life without the "threat" of another language lurking in the background.

    Would Anglo-Quebeckers consider emigrate to South Africa, Zimbabwe, or other English-speaking African nation? Hardly. How about to certain Caribbean nations? Not unless you're a millionaire retiree.

    Incidentally, former CJAD radio hostess Melanie King (remember her?) packed up and moved her family to Australia in the mid-1990s. She must have had enough big bucks or "pull" to be allowed in, though, as that country's entry rules are notoriously strict unless you marry a citizen, and even then it would take years to fully qualify for permanent residency and citizenship. Due to the constant flow of "boat people", illegal immigration and the current policy of off-shore detention is an ongoing political football downunder, and I don't mean rugby. As a matter of fact, during the six times I've visited there, I met many former Canadians and Quebeckers.

    Unfortunately, the place is not what it used be with the familiar problem of wealthy foreign "home collectors" brazenly grabbing properties to "flip", thereby forcing up prices with the resultant housing shortages and even the phenomenon of on-the-spot auctioning--the spectacle of would-be home buyers battling it out in the driveway to hopefully become "the lucky owner".

    New Zealand with its much smaller population is evidently less strict regarding immigrants but their cost of living is markedly higher due to import costs. I won't soon forget one pharmacy listed $36.00 for those one-a-day type vitamins which in Montreal average anywhere between 10 to 15 bucks for exactly the same product.

    Bad weather exists all across Canada. It happens. We are a country with four seasons. Only the thin-skinned refuse to acclimatize themselves and whine about it. It has been discussed here before ad nauseum and no one's opinion will be changed so it's a bogus argument. In any event, ongoing climate change can deliver mild winters in Quebec and severe ones in B.C., not to mention the recent, almost unheard of droughts and terribly destructive forest fires in that province--your expensive home burned to the ground.

    No pot-holes in Vancouver? Are we really supposed to believe that? What about their horrendous drug problem? Some streets you dare not go near. Deadbeats abound in Victoria. Would you prefer to live in St. John's or Halifax where nor'easters are common and even hurricanes have made direct hits. What would you do to amuse yourself up in Whitehorse or Yellowknife? Probably get drunk to relieve the boredom. You'd likely be bored stiff in Hamilton, Windsor, or Regina.

    So, good luck to those who decades ago managed to buy a house reasonably cheap in Vancouver or Victoria. Rest assured that won't happen again. Greedy "investors" have essentially restricted B.C. to the one-percenters.

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  7. Anonymous10:50 am

    Ottawa better than before: lots of summer festivals. Anyway, I live on the Quebec side, where booze is still easier to get.

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  8. When the British Empire comprised a quarter of the globe and offered many attractive destinations for immigrants, British or otherwise, Canada was a prime choice. No one was told that landing in Quebec City or Montreal meant arriving in a French-speaking and Roman Catholic land. Some travelled further, some stayed. Most managed to establish roots while having no or very little contact with the natives. In the 1960's Québec decided it was time to modernize. But not by becoming another Rest-of-Canada. Anglophones started to worry. They might be part of the majority in Canada, but were a minority in Québec,something they had never really realized.

    Things got unnerving very quickly. Realizing that they were a majority in Québec, francophones stopped considering themselves part of the French-Canadian minority in Canada. From now on, Québécois no longer meant a resident of La Vieille Capitale.

    Anglos, whether descendants of Wolfe's soldiers or newly arrived from just about everywhere, started to move out. Whenever they told francophones: "You won't be able to run the place without us !", they were greeted by a stony silence or by: "Don't worry, others will come..." and others did.

    The demise of the great British Empire had repercusions everywhere. Pity...

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  9. Urban Legend.....first of all let me give you credit for calling out Kristian on his Montreal murder list. It does seem to be an obsession and after a bit of reading it gets kind of depressing. I guess some people like that kind of stuff.

    As to your comments on BC and Vancouver.....Vancouver lost a lot of it's charm when it just got too big and too damned expensive. Fortunately there were other choices although no choice is perfect. My choice years ago was the Nanaimo area of Vancouver Island. The city is big enough that there are good hospitals and decent restaurants. There are lakes that are stocked within the city limits and close to the city that are stocked with trout. The ocean and deep forests are only minutes away. For the past few years we have had close to two months of solid sunshine in the summer months. Even on the hottest days there is a slight breeze that comes in off of the ocean. We don't need air conditioners and mosquitos are almost unheard of.

    Some winters we don't get any snow at all. This year it has snowed several times but the rain washes it away in the next several days. Yes we get a fair amount of rain and that's not great for those who get depressed easily. On the other hand we don't have to shovel rain or dig ourselves out of it. Mexico is often an option for many in the winters.

    The "deadbeats" you describe in Victoria are mostly from back east including places like Montreal. BTW, so far Vancouver Island has been spared any huge forest fires.

    Some folks prefer the "urban" life where they are close to shops and bars. My bar days are mostly done and these days I buy some of my clothes at Costco. I love the lifestyle here and always being close to nature. Hopefully "the big one" earthquake happens after I'm gone.

    My best advice for those that are getting on in years? Get yourself a big dog who needs to go for a long run each day. Find a place where you can take the dog that's off-leash. An hour hike each day will do wonders for you. Keeps the juices flowing.





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  10. WOW!!

    Mr. Urban Legend DESERVES HIS OWN Park/Parc?? Too!

    Bravo! Monsieur!

    Pizza used to be better on Hochelaga.

    Ditto Chish and Fips on Decarie @ Dalou.

    BBQ Chicken on CSL east of the Tramways @ Girouard.

    Lunch at Mountain and Wellington.

    Rush hour twice a day rather than ALL day.

    Lots of parking for free!

    Thank You.

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