Reporting, Recording and Relaying - But Always Telling It As I See It

Sunday, June 27, 2010

La Fête nationale du Québec

The copper roofed, historic Frontenac Hotel; the roaring majesty of St. Anne’s Gorge; the cobblestone streets of Old Quebec; the kids rolling a joint from a baggie of marijuana on the Plains Of Abraham. Nothing stirs the interest of twelve year old boys like illicit drugs (maybe the trendy clothes store FUCKlamode in lower Old-Town.)

But to be fair, all of Quebec was in a celebratory mode, and really, a joint to start the evening may have been the least of the carnage. When you see barriers being erected around your hotel and a note from staff under the door stating that you will be required to show your room key to security to gain access, you can expect a little madness; the posters stating that the last of the bands would be starting at 3:00 AM only add to the drama. Now, move the entire party consisting of 300,000 people to the park next to your hotel and you get the idea.

The Quebecers (pronounced ka-BEEK-ers) take their National Holiday of Quebec (La Fête nationale du Québec) extremely seriously. This is a province that twice in the last thirty years voted on a referendum for secession from Canada. It’s a complicated dynamic; suffice to say it is a result of Quebecers feeling as though they were never given the social, political and cultural respect they deserve from greater Canada. Much of this stems from constitutional back-stabbing in the eighties whereby the Canadian government created their constitution through back-door dealing with the other nine provinces…Quebec still has not ratified the constitution. You heard me…Quebec has NOT ratified their country’s Constitution. (To be fair, Quebec hasn’t always worked and played well with the other provinces…in 1977, as a slap in the face to the Federal Government; they made French the official language of the province. It would be like Nebraska making Rastafarian their official language.)

So, in an effort to again trump the Feds, the Quebecers throw a blow out party on June 23rd, a week before the lightly celebrated Canadian National day of July 1st. Even though our hotel was modestly protected, the rest of the city was up for grabs. Apart from the dope, alcohol consumption was not only tolerated on city streets as well as the park, but seemingly encouraged. So, we have: 300,000 independent minded Quebecers + a long winter + copious booze + unsanctioned fireworks displays = Mardi Gras, Carnival, Running With The Bulls; all on Human Growth Hormones.

After partaking in some fanatical Quebec flag waving near the main stage and a few refills of local brew, the family and I strolled once more through the park. By this time, about ten o’clock, legions of youths were traipsing past our hotel with coolers. I knew from the previous days wandering where the US Consulate was in case evacuation was needed…I was picturing going helicopter style like in Vietnam…getting plucked off the roof. Alas, other than the occasional Roman Candle flitting past our window, we survived unscathed. The same couldn’t be said the next morning for the guy who covered the entire street outside of our hotel as he plunked one heavy foot in front of the other, back and forth, back and forth, as he made his way home.

(The picture above is from the day after the party.  Notice any mention of Canada is crossed out...among other things.  Really, they are serious about this.  But you know, they are damned nice to us Americans.)


Anonymous said...

Guess What? I am Canadian/American...I am a Newfie...Born in Newfoundland, Canada...Dual Citizenship...Guess who???...haha! and I am fo' real! ~*C*~

Kristine said...

That doesn't sound like a vacation to me, to tell you the truth, but as I get older I value peace & quiet more. Did you get any moments of calm bliss?