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PUTOTO

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I took a trip to Montreal in August, 2012. It was my third trip to MTL, and this time I mainly wondered around the city as much as I could to see and feel what this city's really about. Here are some random photos I took.
(all photos are taken by my iphone, so the quality might not be very good)


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Light poles at Place des Arts. the most beautifully and perfectly designed thing of its kind I've ever seen in North America so far.


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Monument to Sir George-Étienne Cartier. What's written on the back there is not so clear in the photo, but when I read it I thought it was a joke (since it's standing in Montreal).


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Part of the Underground City


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Another nice square with a nice historic statue. - I feel NYC here, I don't know why.


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The skyline of Downtown Montreal seen from the Biosphere

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How come I've never encountered this animal in Toronto until now?


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Concordia University

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the Old Port

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A very pretty house.

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Not just because of the grand church and the historic atmosphere around it, not just the beautiful geographic slope, not just the nicely designed light poles and the trees in between... The view was just so perfect.


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In a Metro train. Btw, can you read the English there?


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This picture was taken while I was taking a tour in McGill University. It's an English speaking institution. Take a closer look at the photo.



Now, I'd like to talk about my personal impressions of Montreal.

〈 Architecture, City 〉
Some people say Toronto is very American, but I felt and think Montreal is more like American city, say New York. (Yes, NYC is an American city). The old and brick and stone high-rise buildings with rich ornamentation, great historic monuments in nicely designed public squares, streets with more artistic(?) objects and sophisticated street lights, etc.

Yes, I definitely felt Montreal was like a NYC of Canada, just except that it has much smaller downtown area with a few high-rise buildings peaking up.

I don't think those things are found in Toronto at least with the same quality. For example, statues and monuments in Toronto are generally smaller in scale and also poorly ornamented and placed. The streets with massy hydro lines and also poorly designed street lights can't be compared to the ones of Montreal filled rather with objects with much better taste and trees.

Although Toronto's the rising star, I would say Montreal still wins at least for now. I guess Toronto has a lot more work to be done.


〈 Geography 〉
I think Montreal is like Women’s chest if Toronto is like Men’s chest?

Montreal really is more hilly and interesting than both New York City and the flat-chested Toronto. I at one point thought the rich geography might be one of the reasons how they could have such good pieces of architecture and enriched artistic taste even when they're poorer or equally rich city than/ as Toronto. These nicely shaped waves of ground make Montrealer's life more visually inspired as well as granted with opportunities to exercise constantly while they move around.

When it comes to the map of Montreal with the grand rivers and islands, ah.. my favourite one in all of North America.


〈 Weather 〉
According to some people, Montreal tends to be less windier than Toronto. But, when I was there for a few days it was as windy as Toronto. :l
In terms of temperature, one day it was hot, and on the next day it became a little chilly: a typical continental climate.

Speaking of temperature, I was surprised how hot it was in their Metro system. I don't know whether if they're trying to save energy or the way it's designed can't control heat very efficiently. But it was very hot inside of their stations as well as in subway trains. It looked like the cooling system was not functioning in the trains at all - just air conditioning.


〈 People 〉
For some reason, I found people of Montreal more fashionable + good looking. :) Hmm, I wonder what made them look different from Toronto. The language doesn't change your physical appearance as far as I know...?

I also found people there looked colder (more unkind or unfriendly) than Torontonians who are supposed to be "cold as ice" according to the rest of Canada. I hardly found smiles on their faces in shops and so on. (I wonder if it was because of the T-shirt I was wearing all the time which had a Canadian flag and some (positive) english words on it...)

Also, I found there were so many beggars, as many as I saw in Chicago; They were almost all over the city. The only difference between the two was, while in Chicago 90% street beggars were blacks, in Montreal 90% were whites... Oh, Montrealers were more witty on their begging signes. One lady had this written on it. "smile if you masterbate"


〈 Language 〉
Since I am a person who you might call it a first generation Canadian, I was not aware of the history of Canada nor the French-English battle very well before I came to this country. Also, I speak English as my 3rd language, and since I didn't get my education in Canada, I had almost no knowledge of the French language.

But, between my 2nd trip to Montreal (last year) and the 3rd one, I somehow watched about a hundred videos on the history of Quebec and Canada, and then I ended up watching videos on Rene Levesque, Parti Quebecois, and the Bill 101. So perhaps naturally, this time one of my focuses of the trip was on the language issue.

Although I spoke English all the time in Montreal, I'd like to tell you I had a French learning book stayed in my bag all the time and had some intention to put effort to speak/ learn French.

Anyway, frist I wanted to see what's really going on with the stop signs in Montreal with my own eyes.
I wondered around the city as much as I could, and I found there were actually 3 kinds,

-Arrêt : in most parts of Montreal
-Stop : in English speaking areas like Westmount
-Arrêt/ Stop : in federally owned places like Jacques Cartier Bridge

Here, I don't know why, Quebecers refuse to use STOP in there stop signs because it's STOP in French as well. I always thought it's awesome that the word Information in English is also written as Information in French. And 国家(means nation) in (simplified) Chinese can also be written as 国家 in Japanese (Kanji) and 国家 in Korean (Hanja). And that could be understood by all the people of the East Asian countries. I mean, I thought it's great how they have the same word for the different languages. It somehow builds bridges. Of course, they must have their rational in Quebec to use Arrêt. But still, I do not understand why they can't use STOP for stop signs in Quebec, which is a word that is French/ English/ in fact almost international.


Other than stop signs, most things (government & public) were written in French Only. For example, at Tim Hortons near Westmount Square(in English speaking area?), everything including the menu board was written in French only. Government buildings had only French signs for their names and so on.
(But you know, if you go to Ontario provincial government buildings, things are written both in English and French.)

Certainly I was able to sense that "the protecting of French" means bashing/ ignoring the presence and importance of English in Quebec. No matter how others might rephrase my sentence it's what's clearly happening. Even after 9 years of the provincial liberal party(Parti libéral du Québec)'s reign, what I felt was 'it's very much anti-English or non-inclusive(considering the English speaking population of the island)'.

Well,
Anglicization by dictionary definition is the act of anglicizing; making English in appearance.
Francization is the same thing for French.
But, in my opinion, these words in North America have another meaning.

Anglicization (with/ without bashing other languages)-> North Americanization
Francization (especially when it's with bashing languages like English)-> Isolation

I don't mean to attack any particular race or culture really. But I think it's really obvious because the reality clearly tells you that about 98% of the population accepts English as the primary language(s) of communication in North America, with only 2% being the French (in Quebec).

But I don't think 'North Americanization' here should mean the ultimate assimilation that some Quebecers are afraid of. Province of Ontario is different from the State of Florida, and New York City is so much different from Seattle. And Quebec City can never be the same as Las Vegas for example even if let's say they accept the North America's communication language (namely English language).

I'm not a native English speaker, and I've learned it as my third language. After years of practicing and polishing, I can now express myself without a big trouble. I can communicate with people with smiles, and most importantly I live my life in Canada happily and fully. I might speak the same language as some others but that actually allows me to talk to the "98%" of the population, not to be same as them. I mean I'm still "I" who is with the unique identities and values. I celebrate all of this. I don't think Quebecers should be afraid of this to be honest. Quebec is and always will be Quebec regardless of what language the people of Quebec choose to speak under any law. And they don't need to hate or bash the "language of the communication" in the name of some glorious protection or preservation.

Je me souviens, and accept and love where you belong and enjoy the freedom!
 
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Very interesting take on Quebec. I have always loved the European vibe felt throughout Quebec. Montreal and Quebec City are probably the 2 most beautiful cities in Canada. The culture and food and overall old world aesthetic makes it an amazing place to visit. All those things aside, the suppression of the English language is something that doesn't sit well with me. Language laws proved to be a major factor in companies like BMO moving their head offices to Toronto, so in a sense Quebec has paid a hefty price for the preservation of French. I am not even going to start on the topic of "Quebec Sovereignty" - to do so would result in me going on a rage fueled tirade.
 
Some of North America's largest retailers have taken Quebec's language office to court over its demands that they modify their outdoor signs to comply with the province's language laws. Wal Mart, Best Buy, Gap, Old Navy, Costco, could all shut their doors if they are forced to comply with language laws. If they do close and put all those people out of work and people have no where to shop, watch how fast the language laws will be changed!!
 
Some of North America's largest retailers have taken Quebec's language office to court over its demands that they modify their outdoor signs to comply with the province's language laws. Wal Mart, Best Buy, Gap, Old Navy, Costco, could all shut their doors if they are forced to comply with language laws. If they do close and put all those people out of work and people have no where to shop, watch how fast the language laws will be changed!!

The absence of those multi-nationals would probably be a huge boon for local businesses and entrepreneurs. Frankly, I have no sympathy for Costco, who can't even be bothered to order "washroom" signs for their Canadian stores or Wal-Mart, who shut down the store in Quebec where workers unionized.
 
These language laws are incredibly isolationist. Where the rest of the world is opening up through globalization (for the most part) Quebec is circling its cultural wagons. Never a good thing!
 
Impressions of Montreal and Quebec...and the topic of French-only language laws...

PUTOTO: Good impressions of Montreal...I will agree that Montreal and especially Quebec City have some European feel to them...

Everyone: I noticed a newspaper mention that Quebec now is ruled by a party that has separatist leanings:
Is that what I remember to be the Bloc Quebecois or is it a Parti Quebecois revival?

Tewder: I agree with you in that Quebec's language laws can be isolationist and it can be compared to those in the
US who feel strongly about English-first or English-only laws: They tend to be white and right politically...

LI MIKE
 

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