Where to start? My first impressions of Quebec were as a University student. I had spent the better part of a summer working as a labourer on an expansion of the trans-Canada pipeline. This meant following the line all the way from Regina to Sarnia, at which point I quit and went to EXPO 67 in Montreal. Such optimism! This was a time of na´ve wonder at what this country could become, and somehow the wonder is still there, though perhaps not so na´ve.
Last year I spent 6 weeks in Chicoutimi in French immersion. Not an easy thing, and I'm still rather a klutz in French, but the warmth of the people, especially the host family is what is strongest in my memory. I also remember cycling from Chicoutimi to Jonquiere along the Saguenay River on a very warm Saturday and thinking that the habits, aspirations, even the food and music of the people are very little different from what I had come to know living and working in Antigonish and Cape Breton. There are differences of course, some of them very difficult, but there is much more in common.