Saturday, October 9, 2021

[QUÉBEC] Vive la Francophonie!

There seems to be a pattern here. Vancouver has Victoria. Toronto has Ottawa. Montréal has Québec. In a sense, these provincial capitals all appear more lax and chill, perhaps because just about everybody else is busy getting caught up in the rat race in their corresponding metropolises. You also have the provincial capitol that seems to subscribe to only one architectural style, with the exception of Ottawa’s, perhaps because it serves as the national capital. Oh wait, Toronto is the capital of Ontario? Well, I guess you just can’t have both. Okay, back to Québec City now.

The province is called Québec. The capital city is also called Québec, sometimes referred to as Quebec City to differentiate it from the province itself. If you are a Francophone, the definite article of choice marks the difference. The province is masculine: LE Québec. The city is feminine: LA Québec. That means for French speakers, it’s clear when someone says Je vais au Québec (referring to the province) or Je vais à Québec (the city). If you are in Montréal, meaning you are already in Québec the province, it's self-explanatory that you are referring to the city.

As for personal biases, Victoria still wins the battle of the Canadian capitals I’ve been to so far despite it being the most inaccessible. Québec, on the other hand, has got to be the most accessible of the three vis-à-vis their distance from the bigger city in their province. Ottawa is a long drive from Toronto. As for Victoria, it’s a four-hour journey in a combination of metro, bus, and ferry just to get there. It only took me two hours on a comfortable bus to get from Montréal to Québec.

Québec wins the cultural showdown for me, though. Given its French heritage prevalent in the city up to this day, the vibe just feels more European but with an American twist. Victoria felt like a chill colonial European city to me, while Ottawa is just straight up boring given the administrative purpose that it serves. Of the three, it is in Québec where I felt the clash of cultures the most, but even the term “clash” is debatable given how it felt more like some sort of synergy to be honest, a fusion of what were once two distinct worlds.

Québec also has a more touristy appeal because of its old town. I am not sure if the cobblestoned streets and alleys were preserved or just remodeled after the original, but they do make you feel like you stepped into some sort of Twilight Zone and got caught between Europe and America. Add the Frontenac Hotel as a backdrop to almost every other photo and that vibe is just reinforced even further. I guess what I didn’t like was the wind chill, perhaps courtesy of the city’s location along the Saint Lawrence River.

Despite my rather limited time in the city, though, I felt like I’ve seen enough. Of course, there are more sights to see and visit if you venture away from the Old Town, but for me who just wants to take a stroll and imbibe the local vibe, I think I’ve had enough for the half day that I spent there. To reiterate, overall, I felt as though I were back in Europe again, somewhere in France obviously because of the French I’ve been hearing and reading just about everywhere.

I know this topic is also controversial, but I was just wondering, what if Québec did manage to secede from Canada and ended up as its own nation-state? With Montréal being the second largest French speaking city in the world after Paris, could this have meant a tug-of-war for supremacy in terms of hegemony of everything French, from language to pop culture, pretty much like how ‘Merica ended up eclipsing the United Kingdom as far as global cultural dominance is concerned? Seeing how Brazil also ended up doing the same to Portugal, I’m guessing it would have been the same case of the colony colonizing the colonizer.

[QUÉBEC] Vive la Francophonie!

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