They make house calls…



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Flowers and Fruit, 1899 - Louis Valtat
Flowers and Fruit par Louis Valtat, 1899 (

I apologize for not posting more frequently. First, someone is reading my posts as I write them. He or she may have the best intentions. Still, I have always worked alone. Although I have read and continue to read books and articles on Molière and insert quotations in learned articles, I usually present a significantly personal analysis of Molière.

It seems, however, that I may henceforth publish shorter posts. Last Wednesday, I tried to do some online banking. However, the company has created a new and safer version of its online tools. I followed the instructions, and a message appeared confirming that all was well. However, I could not log in.

So I phoned the company and waited for a few minutes until someone was available, but I started to cry when a young man answered. Technologies are a genuine obstacle, and technical problems may trigger a vulnerability. At any rate, within a few minutes, two large policemen were inside my apartment. I put on my mask, and we spoke.

I mentioned that my cat had died on 29 November 2019 and that it would soon be a year since he died. Moreover, I had been inside my apartment since March, avoiding the coronavirus. As well, in the space of three years, I had failed to settle in my apartment. Finally, Sherbrooke is now a red zone. One cannot call a carpenter, until a degree of safety has been reached. Who would help during a pandemic?

One of the policemen suggested I adopt a cat, and one offered to remove a heavy box from the hallway. They were good persons. I thanked them because I felt much better. It had been an accident.

One returns to life as usual, a narrower life because of Covid-19, but life.

However, I reflected that in the days of the coronavirus, if a citizen of Sherbrooke, Quebec, feels distraught, his or her best help could be the police. They are available twenty-four hours a day and they make house calls.

Love to everyone 💕

Afficher l’image source
Anemones and Green Jug by Louis Valtat, ca. 1926 (courtesy Art Resource, NY)

© Micheline Walker
20 November 2020

Chronicling Covid-19 (7): The Plan



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I would invite you to reread the article I posted yesterday.

I have not changed my mind. I believe that we have to test people and let the healthy return to the workplace. Self-isolation alone will not keep us safe. Not if we can no longer work and earn a living. There is no overnight miracle, but testing may allow the economy to recover more quickly.

Testing is much easier than discovering a vaccine. As I mentioned yesterday, there is an American group who is working with doctors and scientists and would send the healthy back to a safe workplace. Testing would be needed.

A vaccine will be produced, but it may not be produced in the foreseeable future, luck being a factor. Who will come up with the brilliant idea that will allow a cure and also allow the world to be as it should be. We can now see the magnificent Himalayan range of mountains.

Leaders, doctors and scientists must work together, but expertise must inform decisions made by elected officials. Mr Trump is ready to send people back to work to save the economy. But we cannot allow people who test positive to return to work. They must still self-isolate, or the pandemic will continue.

A Triage: Testing

What I am suggesting is a triage that would separate the healthy from the sick and allow those who test negative to return to work. The sick would be treated, but the healthy would keep the economy alive. We have new tools: Skype, etc. Although humanity has been scourged for millennia, it has survived.

I have a healthy nephew whose employees are healthy, but they are not allowed to work. So why do we not test them? Testing was carried out in Germany quite successfully.

We cannot close the future down. We cannot let massive unemployment follow the pandemic. That is a grim scenario. Scientists would continue to search for a vaccine, but the economy would not crumble. Testing may be difficult to organize, but it has to be organized. There is no other way.

Expertise is what world leaders need. I do not wish to trivialize world leaders, but they need guidance from doctors, scientists and economists, which is leadership in the days of the novel coronavirus.

Streets would still be disinfected as well as the workplace, but we would ensure economic stability and lift the world’s morale. Can we truly justify the self-isolation of my nephew and his healthy employees?

I am not a medical doctor, a scientist, or an economist. I am quite simply civic-minded. If we test and test, we will find those who test negative. I’m scared, because this virus may be airborne. Hence cleaning the workplace. But why isolate people who would test negative and create a new nightmare.


The Creation
, Die Schöpfung, by Joseph Haydn


Jerome Adams, Surgeon General of the United States.

© Micheline Walker
12 April 2020








Valérie Milot plays Smetana



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The Moldau Pinterest

TOP 10 Amazing Photos of The Magnificent Prague

Valérie Milot plays the Moldau

Escale à Versailles

Love to everyone


© Micheline Walker
8 March 2020

Molière’s “L’Avare:” Doublings



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L’Avare by François Boucher (drawing) and Laurent Cars (engraving) (Photo credit: Pinterest)


  • Plautus (c. 254 – 184 BCE)
  • commedia dell’arte
  • French 17th-century misers: sources
  • Hellenic (ancient Greek) sources
  • French medieval farces and fabliaux
  • translations into English

As indicated in a previous post, Molière‘s L’Avare, The Miser, was first performed on 9 September 1668 at the Théâtre du Palais-Royal. It is a five-act play, in prose, inspired by Roman dramatist Plautus‘ (254 – 148 BCE) Aulularia, the Pot of Gold. As we have seen, it is also rooted in the commedia dell’arte as well as Italian comedies and tales, and in France’s own medieval farces and the largely scatological fabliaux.

However, Molière also drew his material from La Belle Plaideuse (1655), by François le Métel de Boisrobert, which features a father-as-usurer, and Jean Donneau de Visé‘s La Mère coquette (1665), where a father and son are in love with the same woman.[1]

L’Avare is one of Molière’s better-known comedies and it was translated into English by Thomas Shadwell (1772) and Henry Fielding, the author of Tom Jones. However, it was not a huge success in Molière’s own days. It has been speculated that Molière’s audience expected a play written in verse, the nobler alexandrine verse (12 feet or syllables), first used in the twelfth-century Roman d’Alexandre.


L’Avare (

The dramatis personæ is:

Harpagon, father to Cléante, in love with Mariane.
Cléante, Harpagon’s son, lover to Marianne.
Valère, son to Anselme, lover to Élise, and “intendant” to Harpagon
Anselme / Dom Thomas d’Alburcy, father to Valère and Mariane, and 
Master Simon, broker.
Master Jacques, cook and coachman to Harpagon.
La Flèche, valet to Cléante.
Brindavoine, and La Merluche, lackeys to Harpagon.
A Magistrate and his Clerk.
Élise, daughter to Harpagon.
Mariane, daughter to Anselme.
Frosine, an intriguing woman.
Mistress Claude, servant to Harpagon.

The scene is at Paris, in Harpagon’s house.

Act One

We will be focusing on the manner in which the young couples featured in the Miser, L’Avare, manage to overcome the obstacle to their marriage. Short of a miracle, they are condemned to do as their father’s greed dictates. All the elements of L’Avare’s plot are introduced in the first act of the play, which reflects the Græco-Roman origins of comedy and tragedy. As a five-act play, Molière’s L’Avare is a ‘grande comédie,’ not a farce (Molière wrote both), and its plot is the archetypal struggle, also called the agôn, between, on the one hand, the alazṓn of Greek comedy, or the blocking character, and, on the other hand, the eirôn, the young couple and their supporters: valets, maids, zanni. In other words, it is a traditional blondin-berne-barbon plot. The young couples will succeed in marrying.

A Comedy of Manners and A Comedy of Intrigue

  • doublings: two young couples and two fathers
  • Harpagon is the father of Élise and Cléante
  • Anselme is Valère and Mariane’s father, which we do not know until the fifth act (V. v) of the comedy

L’Avare is both a comedy of manners, a form we inherited mostly from Greek dramatist Menander, and a comédie d’intrigue, a comedy where the plot prevails. As the portrayal of a miser, L’Avare is a comedy of manners (see the full text in Wikisource and eBook #6923). Harpagon’s greed constitutes the obstacle to the marriage of Cléante (Harpagon) and Mariane as well as the marriage of Valère and Élise (Harpagon).

Cléante gambles and wins, which allows him to buy elegant clothes and court Mariane, but he does not have sufficient money to marry and must therefore go to a moneylender. Ironically, the moneylender happens to be Harpagon himself who demands no less than the now metaphorical “pound of flesh” (Shylock) as repayment. The moneylender episode—act two, scene two (II. i) [II. 2]—shows to what extent Harpagon’s greed is an obstacle to the marriage of our young couples. The plot advances in that Cléante cannot obtain a loan that might enable his marriage. Another “trick” must be devised. However, plot and manners (greed) are inextricably woven.

Obstacles to Two Marriages

  • “genre” art
  • a family tyrant

The action takes place in Harpagon’s house in Paris and can be described as genre arta depiction of ordinary people engaged in ordinary activities. Will G Moore has remarked that Molière’s characters

“[a]re concerned with everyday life; the stuff of which it was made was by tradition the doings of ordinary people in ordinary surroundings.”[2]

L’Avare is a five-act comedy, but it is written in prose, not verse, and Harpagon, our blocking character, is an enriched bourgeois. Although he does not feed his horse properly, he owns a carriage and he has servants. As depicted by François Boucher, the interior of his house is rather elegant. However, he is extremely greedy and he behaves as though he owned his children. He is a domestic tyrant. In act one, Harpagon states that he has arranged for his children to marry, but has not consulted them. Cléante will marry a “certain widow,” our tyrant has just heard of, and Élise will be “given” to Mr. Anselme, a gentleman who will not request the customary dowry, or “sans dot

Quant à ton frère, je lui destine une certaine veuve dont ce matin on m’est venu parler; et, pour toi, je te donne au seigneur Anselme. (Harpagon to Élise, [I. iv])
[As to your brother, I have thought for him of a certain widow, of whom I heard this morning; and you I shall give to Mr. Anselme. [1. 6] [eBook #6923]

Élise does not know Mr Anselme and refuses to marry him, threatening to commit suicide. As for Harpagon, he plans to marry Mariane, who loves his son (Cléante). For Harpagon, Mr Anselme is a perfect choice because Élise will marry at no cost to the miser: “sans dot.” (I. iv FR) (I. 6 EN) 

Harpagon’s Rigidity

Valère will attempt to save Élise from a marriage to a person other than himself. Valère, Harpagon’s “intendant,” begs Harpagon to free Élise. However, the objections he presents are followed by Harpagon’s “sans dot” (without a dowry). Molière’s blocking characters are inflexible or rigid. This rigidity is the feature Henri Bergson (18 October 1859 – 4 January 1941) attached to the comical or comedic in his Laughter. Valère’s objections having been rebuked by a litany of “sans dot,” he is literally speechless. He simply repeats what the Harpagon, the miser, has told him:

Lorsqu’on s’offre de prendre une fille sans dot, on ne doit point regarder plus avant. Tout est renfermé là-dedans, et sans dot tient lieu de beauté, de jeunesse, de naissance, d’honneur, de sagesse, et de probité. (Valère à Harpagon, I. v)
[When a man offers to marry a girl without a dowry, we ought to look no farther. Everything is comprised in that, and “without dowry” compensates for want of beauty, youth, birth, honour, wisdom, and probity.] (I. 10[eBook #6923]

But there is some hope. As the story goes, Valère’s father, Dom Thomas d’Alburcy, is believed to have drowned when he and his family (his wife, Valère and Mariane) were fleeing Naples. It appears, however, that Dom Thomas has survived and that he is a man of means. Valère was looking for him when he met Élise. At her request, he decided to stay near her and made himself Harpagon’s “intendant,” but someone else is looking for Valère’s father.

Mais enfin, si je puis, comme je l’espère, retrouver mes parents, nous n’aurons pas beaucoup de peine à nous le rendre favorable. J’en attends des nouvelles avec impatience, et j’en irai chercher moi-même, si elles tardent à venir. (I. i)
[However, if I can find my parents, as I fully hope I shall, they will soon be favourable to us. I am expecting news of them with great impatience; but if none comes I will go in search of them myself.] [I.1]

The curtain will then fall on an anagnorisis  (V. v) [V. 5], a recognition scene. However, when Anselme enters Harpagon’s house and hears that there is opposition to the contract he has come to sign, he tells Harpagon that he will not coerce a woman into a mariage, which frees Élise. He also remarks that he will not “lay claim to a heart which has already bestowed itself,” thereby allowing Mariane, his daughter, to marry Cléante, Harpagon’s son, rather than Harpagon.

Ce n’est pas mon dessein de me faire épouser par force, et de rien prétendre à un cœur qui se serait donné ; mais pour vos intérêts, je suis prêt à les embrasser ainsi que les miens propres. (Anselme to Harpagon [V. v])
[It is not my intention to force anybody to marry me, and to lay claim to a heart which has already bestowed itself; but as far as your interests are concerned, I am ready to espouse them as if they were my own.] (V. 5) [eBook #6923]

Anselme seems a fine gentleman whom the anagnorisis (V. v) [V. 5], the dénouement (see Dramatic Structure, Wikipedia), will identify as Valère and Mariane’s father. A greedy Harpagon has chosen Anselme as the perfect groom because Anselme would marry Élise without requesting the customary dowry, or at no cost to the miser: “sans dot.” (I. v) [I. 5]


Qu’il faut manger pour vivre, et non pas vivre pour manger. (III. i)

A Comedy of Intrigue

  • a plot or intrigue
  • a chiasmus (a mirror image in a sentence)
  • a quiproquo (a misunderstanding)
  • the doubling of the father figure (mirror image)

Harpagon’s greed is enormous, so students are taught that Molière concentrates on manners rather than the plot. He does, but in L’Avare, although the plot is mainly episodic, manners and plot (intrigue) are inextricably linked. For instance, when Harpagon is having a meal prepared to celebrate the marriage(s) that are to take place that very day, Harpagon hears Valère say that il faut manger pour vivre and not vivre pour manger, that one should eat to live and not live to eat, Harpagon so loves Valère’s witty chiasmus, that he wants these words engraved in gold and placed above his fireplace. (III. i) [III. 1] It is unlikely that Harpagon would use gold to celebrate greed, but it is true to character and comical. A meal often ends comedies and may solemnize a wedding.

Moreover, it is a quiproquo, a comical misunderstanding which, in L’Avare, leads to the anagnorisis. When Harpagon realizes his cassette has disappeared and may have been stolen, he loses his composure and accuses Valère, at the instigation of Maître Jacques. Maître Jacques resents the trust Harpagon has placed in Valère. If he could, Harpagon would have Valère drawn and quartered. Valère has not stolen Harpagon’s cassette, but he and Élise have signed a promise to marry another. Valère has ‘robbed’ Harpagon, but it is Élise he has taken, not a cassette. (V. iii & iv) [V. 3 & 4] [eBook #6923]

Anselme first steps foot on the stage as the battle rages. Given Élise’s promise, he cannot and would not marry her. However, Valère stands accused of a theft and wants to tell his story. The anagnorisis has now begun. To give himself credibility, Valère says that he is the son of Dom Thomas d’Alburcy, which Anselme hesitates to believe because he is a friend of Dom Those and, to his knowledge, all members of Dom Thomas’ family drowned as they were trying to flee Naples, which is not the case.Valère says that he was rescued by Pedro, a servant, and later adopted by the captain of the ship he and Pedro were allowed to board. He can prove his identity. As he speaks, Mariane realizes that Valère is her brother.

For their part, Mariane and her mother were also saved, but their helpers were corsaires, pirates, who enslaved them. Following ten years of enslavement, they were released and they returned to Naples where they could not find Dom Thomas d’Alburcy. They therefore picked up a small inheritance in Genoa and moved to Paris. Mariane’s mother is Valère’s  mother and Dom Thomas d’Alburcy’s wife. As he watches this scene, Dom Thomas learns that no member of his family died leaving Naples. He has just found his children and his wife. He would not stand in the way of Valère and Mariane’s marriage who wish to marry Harpagon’s children. Le sieur Anselme knows le sieur Harpagon.

Le Ciel, mes enfants, ne me redonne point à vous, pour être contraire à vos vœux. Seigneur Harpagon, vous jugez bien que le choix d’une jeune personne tombera sur le fils plutôt que sur le père. Allons, ne vous faites point dire ce qu’il n’est point nécessaire d’entendre, et consentez ainsi que moi à ce double hyménée. (V. v)

[Heaven, my dear children, has not restored you to me that I might oppose your wishes. Mr. Harpagon, you must be aware that the choice of a young girl is more likely to fall upon the son than upon the father. Come, now, do not force people to say to you what is unnecessary, and consent, as I do, to this double marriage.] [V. 5] [eBook #6923]


Molière’s L’Avare has an intrigue which resembles the intrigue of most comedies. A young couple wishes to marry, but a blocking character, or alazṓnprevents their marriage. However, Molière has doubled the young couple who are a brother and sister wishing to marry a brother and a sister, so Molière has therefore doubled the father figure which happens during the anagnorisis. As Dom Thomas d’Alburcy, Anselme is the eirôn who allows the young couples to marry.

The anagnorisis, the recognition scene, does not take place unannounced. As mentioned earlier, as he despairs,Valère tells Élise that he hopes to find his father who may still be alive. Act one (I. i) [I. 1] has prepared the reader or spectator:

Mais enfin, si je puis comme je l’espère, retrouver mes parents, nous n’aurons pas beaucoup de peine à nous le rendre favorable. (Valère à Élise, I. i)
[However, if I can find my parents, as I fully hope I shall, they will soon be favourable to us.] [I. 1] [eBook #6923]


Der Geizigue, Harpagon & La Flèche by August Wilhelm Iffland, 1810 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


In L’Avare, Molière does not use a deus ex machina. He simply introduces a second father figure who will allow the young couples to marry and will pay all costs. L’Avare‘s young couple are in fact very resourceful, but one cannot marry without money. Mariane (Dom Thomas) recoils at wishing Harpagon’s death, feelings that are reciprocated by Cléante (Harpagon).

Mon Dieu, Frosine, c’est une étrange affaire, lorsque pour être heureuse, il faut souhaiter ou attendre le trépas de quelqu’un, et la mort ne suit pas tous les projets que nous faisons. (Mariane à Frosine, III. iv)
[Oh, Frosine! What a strange state of things that, in order to be happy, we must look forward to the death of another. Yet death will not fall in with all the projects we make.] [III. 8] [eBook #6923]

Que veux-tu que j’y fasse ? Voilà où les jeunes gens sont réduits par la maudite avarice des pères ; et on s’étonne après cela que les fils souhaitent qu’ils meurent. (II. i)
[What would you have me do? It is to this that young men are reduced by the accursed avarice of their fathers; and people are astonished after that, that sons long for their death.] [II. 1] [eBook #6923]

When his father falls, accidentally, Cléante is worried:

Qu’est-ce, mon père, vous êtes-vous fait mal ? (III. ix)
[What’s the matter, father? Have you hurt yourself?] [III. 14] [eBook #6923]

Critic Northrop Frye states that “[t]he tendency of comedy is to include as many people as possible in its final society: the blocking characters are more often reconciled or converted than simply repudiated.”[3]

As for Harpagon, although he may he has been tyrannical, when Dom Thomas and the young couples leave to bring good news to Dom Thomas’ wife, Harpagon is off to see his dear cassette. His cassette, a casket, his vital to Harpagon.

Et moi, voir ma chère cassette. (I. vi)
[And I to see my dear casket.][1. 6] [eBook #6923]


I have already suggested that Molière uses doubling and fusion of functions.[4] Harpagon is a miser and will remain a miser ready to sacrifice his children. It is a sad reflection on humanity but perhaps less sad than the intervention of a deus ex machina. Dom Thomas d’Alburcy is a  major member of the play’s society, the intervention of a second father figure allows the happy ending the play demands. An anagnorisis may not be as dazzling a dénouement as the intervention of a deus ex machina, the prince in Tartuffe and a godlike figure in Dom Juan, but all’s well that ends well. 

Love to everyone



Commedia dell’arte


Sources and Resources

The Miser is a Wikisource eBook (Charles Heron Wall, translator)
The Miser is an Internet Archive publication EN
The Miser is a Project Gutenberg publication [eBook #6923] EN
The Miser, Henri Fielding is an eText EN
L’Avare is a publication FR
Molière21 is a research group
Le Salon littéraire FR
The Miser is a LibriVox text publication (YouTube)
Laughter, Henri Bergson is an Internet Archive publication EN

[1] L’Avare in Maurice Rat, Œuvres complètes de Molière (Paris : Éditions Gallimard, coll. La Pléiade, 1956), p. 968.
[2] Will  G. Moore, Molière, a New Criticism (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1968 [1949], pp. 69-70.
[3] Northrop Frye, Anatomy of Criticism (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1973 [1957]), p. 165.
[4] Micheline Bourbeau-Walker, « Le Misanthrope, ou la comédie éclatée, » in David Trott & Nicole Boursier, eds. L’Âge du théâtre en France (Edmonton, Alberta: Academic Printing and Publishing, 1988 ), 53 – 63. (papers from a conference held in Toronto, May 14 – 16, 1987) ISBN 0-920980-30-9 — PQ527.A33 1988

The Miser


L’Avare by Jean Degrassi, 1955 (

© Micheline Walker
1 December 2016

Monet’s Magpie


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Claude Monet‘s Magpie


December brings the longest night and promise for a better year. I’m still here. My eyes have returned to their normal color. Both are hazel, and I see perfectly well. However, my ability to concentrate has lost ground. It started declining when I developed chronic fatigue syndrome/ME. That is a very long time ago.

The word for Magpie, une pie, is not flattering, but Monet had yet to see this landscape. I’m working, but time passes so quickly.

I heard rumors that Canada’s Province of Alberta wants to renegotiate its relationship with Ottawa. Quebec has language laws, but separatism is no longer seen as the best option.

Alberta is a rich province, and the Rocky Mountains begin in Alberta. However, the Rocky Mountains have several ranges.

May the new season bring peace and chase away viruses.

Love to everyone 💕

Thierry Châtelain plays Beethoven
Double Amaryllis

© Micheline Walker
1st December 2022

To Lori Weber: Language Laws in Quebec, 2


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La Chasse-galerie d’Henri Julien, 1906


I am a few minutes away from publishing a post on La Fontaine., but …

The events of the week kept away from you. A vein broke near my eyes. My eyes were filled with blood and one eye went from deep green to blue, but I’ve recovered. It didn’t hurt and I am recovering.

The Project: no Language Laws

I will first get in touch with Champlain-Lennoxville, the Advantage programme. Reforms are necessary, and French-speaking students have been enrolling in English-language Cégeps for several decades. It’s their English-language immersion finishing schools and there is no tuition fee. I must then talk to Justin Trudeau and François Legault. Attending a Cégep after grade eleven does not threaten a student’s knowledge of French.

The more difficult step is convincing French-speaking students to have anglophones as their classmates. A few changes are needed. As a university teacher of second-language acquisition, four years at McMaster University, and I wrote articles on the subject, I have the necessary background. I have also edited books on this subject.

Interestingly, people have realized that Internet Archives, Gutenberg, Wikisource have published a wealth of free books including audio texts. I have used these to write articles of every play Molière wrote. Henri van Laun is a scholar.

I am returning to the fables of La Fontaine, but I will be busy working on a better relationship between English-speaking and French-speaking Quebecers. There has to be trust that the French will not lose their language. The Battle of the Plains of Abraham took place a long time ago. We are now a free people, and our official languages are French and English.

The conversation begins. Cégeps are the starting point. French-speaking students themselves have used Cégeps. We keep this alive.

Wherever I phone, I hear: English will follow.

Here is an introduction to Lori Weber. She speaks four languages and is an author.

Love to all of you 💕

A Cégep is a publicly funded post-secondary programme in Quebec.

Honoré Beaugrand‘s La Chasse-galerie (FR) Office national du Film
Le Patriote d’Henri Julien, 1904

© Micheline Walker
26 Novembre 2022

To Lori Weber: Language Laws


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Lori Weber in Saint-Vallier, near Quebec City, as she leaves Quebec last week. Courtesy of Lori Weber.


Lori Weber is leaving Quebec because the Province needs serious repairs.

Dear Lori,

I am a French Canadian with mixed ancestry and considerable love for all good human beings. I want you to know that I oppose language laws and that I am not alone. Quebec made a mistake: decades of language laws without a strong mandate to enforce these. I pledge to work very hard for the repeal of language laws and I was thinking of using CEGEPS as my starting point.

Here in Sherbrooke, French-speaking Quebecers have turned Champlain-Lennoxville, the local English-language CEGEP, into an English-immersion program.

I know that you are very sad. Quebec has been your home for many years. No one wants to leave Montreal. It’s a jewel and it is vibrant.

It’s a promise. Language laws will be abolished by Québécois themselves. You know that it will work because you have been a teacher to Québécois.

Hang in there. The Language Laws will be abolished for many reasons. Québécois will not lose their language, unless they continue passing language laws.

Love to you,


Bill 21 is an act respecting the laicity of the state. One cannot wear/display signs of a religious affiliation in the workplace.
Bill 96 is an act respecting French as the official and common language of Quebec


Love to everyone 💕

Alan Mills sings “Un Canadien errant”

© Micheline Walker
25 November 2022

Winter has come …


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Baie-Saint-Paul, par Clarence Gagnon

Winter has come. I was 78 in July, but the photo at the foot of this post was taken on 19 September 2022. I expected to have many wrinkles by the age of 78, but I don’t. However, I have aged. My skin is rather transparent, and my lips are thinner. Moreover, my memory fails me and when night falls, past events leap upon me. I regret some of the decisions I have made.

New Computer

But the business of the day is the purchase of a computer. I needed help choosing the right computer. So, I am in Magog where my friend John helped me to choose a good computer and set it up. I should have replaced the former computer a year ago, but a Covid vaccine caused pericarditis and gout.

These are difficult years: Covid, Putin invading Ukraine, inflation, and a devastatingly sick climate!

The Language Laws

I will no longer discuss Quebec’s language laws. I had to speak English during the decades I lived outside Quebec, but I was in a very friendly environment, and the difficulties I faced were not related to my mother tongue.


Sources and Resources

Clarence Gagnon EN


Love to everyone 💕

Clarence Gagnon, L’Hiver (I have used this video previously.)

© Micheline Walker
15 November 2022

Micheline, 19 September 2022

The French in Canada: a “Distinct” Society


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Return from the Harvest Field by Marc-Aurèle de Foy Susor-Coté, 1903 (National Art Gallery of Canada)


The Treaty of Paris, signed on 10 February 1763, was a tragic event for the citizens of New France, the Canadiens. Jacques Cartier discovered Canada in 1534, and Port-Royal (Acadie) was settled in 1605, three years before the city of Quebec was settled. Therefore, in 1763, Nouvelle-France had been a French colony for 229 years. In fact, France possessed a large territory in North America, where it barely settled. Canadiens lived on the shores of the St Lawrence River, where they were censitaires, seigneurs, members of the clergy, habitants, and voyageurs. Censitaires paid “cens et rentes” to their seigneur as well as la dîme (tithe) to their curé, Parish priest. They had tilled their “thirty acres” since the early 1620s. Habitants were a new social type. They owned their house, farmed, and some engaged in the fur trade. They were “Americans.” (See Habitant, The Canadian Encyclopedia.)

Le régime seigneurial a engendré un nouveau type social dont il consolide les intérêts: l'habitant indépendant, exempt d'impôt personnel, propriétaire de sa terre, très mobile à cause de la traite et de l'abandonnance des terres, libérés des corvées seigneuriales et sur le même pied que le seigneur vis-à-vis les pratiques communautaires.[1][2]

Many were the legendary voyageurs who travelled to the countries above, “les pays d’en Haut” (1610-1763), in canoes Amerindians built. By and large, the people of New France had a good relationship with future Canada’s Amerindians. Given Nouvelle-France’s cold climate, the French needed Amerindians to settle and earn their living. They never colonised the Indigenous people of North America, but sins were committed. Canadiens gave trinkets and alcohol to Amerindians in return for precious pelts. Amerindians guided explorers and voyageurs and opened up the North American continent. In fact, voyageurs married Amerindians. When the beaver neared extinction, the French still went to the countries above, “les pays d’en Haut.” They were bûcherons, lumberjacks, and draveurs, river drivers.

New France exemplifies Montesquieuthéorie des climats,” and, to a large extent, Nouvelle-France is also one of the birthplaces of the Noble Savage. Le bon sauvage is le baron de Lahontan‘s Adario, a Huron.

Le Bon Sauvage also inhabits Philippe-Joseph Aubert de Gaspé‘s Les Anciens Canadiens, a novel belonging to La Patrie littéraire, a homeland of literary and historical works, but also other achievements. Le bon Sauvage illustrates that virtue need not stem from religious convictions, a dilemma for missionaries.

Adario le Sauvage discute avec Lahontan le civilisé; et ce dernier a le mauvais rôle. A l'Évangile Adario oppose triomphalement la religion naturelle. Aux lois européennes, qui ne cherchent à inspirer que la crainte du châtiment, il oppose une morale naturelle.
[Adario the Savage discusses with Lahontan, the civilized; and the latter plays the bad role. To the Gospel, he opposes, triumphant, natural religion. To European laws that seek only to instill fear, he opposes a natural moral.][3] 

Besides, not only had France been in North America for two centuries, but the Battle of the Plains of Abraham lasted less than a half-hour, and it was fought between uneven forces. Should such a battle cost so much to a nation? New France was a nation. During the Seven Years’ War, France and its allies were waging war against the British and their allies, each side seeking world hegemony.

In the days of empires and colonies, the loss of New France and France’s vast territory in North America was mostly collateral damage Colonies were forgettable. The Duc de Choiseul hoped France would regain its North American colonies, but France “needed peace.” (See Treaty of Paris 1763, Wikipedia.) So, the Thirteen Colonies would soon declare their independence while a foreigner entered New France. The first rule had been to assimilate the French in Canada, and the first résistance would be a struggle to preserve the French language manifested in Quebec’s current language laws. Bill 22, 1974; Bill 101 (the Charter of the French Language, 1977); and Bill 96 (2021). Moreover, the “foreigner” inhabits the mind of members of the Patrie littéraire and Félix-Antoine Savard’s Menaud maîre-draveur (1937), the literary schools created after Lord Durham stated that Canadiens lacked history and literature. Works associated with the Patrie littéraire, the literary homeland listed on Canadiana.2 page.

Jeffery Amherst could not understand the Canadien‘s grief. He was British, and the British had won the war. He would be returning to Britain, which would soon be a large empire. As for France, it would remain France and survive a regicidal Revolution.

Much land that had been owned by France was now owned by Britain, and the French people of Quebec felt greatly betrayed at the French concession. The commander-in-chief of the British, Jeffery Amherst noted, “Many of the Canadians consider their Colony to be of utmost consequence to France & cannot be convinced … that their Country has been conceded to Great Britain.”

(See Jeffery Amherst quoted in Treaty of Paris, 1763, Wikipedia.)

Under the Treaty of Paris (1763), France chose to cede Nouvelle-France, a colony and a province of France. It also ceded land east of the Mississippi River, part of Louisiana. France kept two small islands off the coast of Newfoundland, Saint-Pierre and Miquelon. These would accommodate French fishermen. France also kept sugar-rich Martinique and Haiti. The British had won the Seven Year’s War. However, France had ceded a small nation to Britain.

Earlier, in 1713, at the Treaties of Utrecht, or Peace of Utrecht, France had ceded Acadia, one of the two provinces of New France, Newfoundland, and territory bordering the Hudson Bay. Between 1755 and 1758, the British expulsed Acadians. Imperialism was ruthless. The Expulsion may have been caused by conflicts between priests from France and New Englanders mainly. Father Le Loutre’s War lasted between 1749 and 1755, the year the Acadians of Grand-Pré were deported. The map below shows the territory lost in 1713 (mauve) and the territory ceded at the Treaty of Paris in 1763 (blue).

Map of the British and French settlements in North America in 1750, before the French and Indian War (1754 to 1763), which was part of the Seven Years’ War (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


The Quebec Act of 1774: a Period of Grace …

It was not altogether a “period of grace,” but James Murray and Sir Guy Carleton were kind to the defeated Canadiens. The Royal Proclamation of 1763 directed James Murray to assimilate the Canadiens. However, after the Treaty of Paris (1763), only a few British Americans moved to the former New France, so few that many Canadiens did not notice they had lost their land. Besides,

As governor of the former New France, Murray opposed repressive measures against French Canadians, and his conciliatory policy led to charges against him of partiality. Although exonerated, he left his post in 1768 and was appointed governor of Minorca in 1774.

(See James Murray, Britannica.)

These British Americans exacerbated Governor James Murray and Sir Guy Carleton, James Murray’s replacement. Britannica describes these “British Americans” as follows:

Their bourgeois mentality and repeated demands for the “rights of Englishmen” tended to alienate the conservative British officers who administered the colony. 

(See Early British Rule, 1763-1791, Britannica.)

Moreover, the Royal Proclamation of 1763 directed James Murray, the Governor of Britain’s new French-speaking subjects, to assimilate the people he governed.

James Murray may have been inclined to spare the Canadiens, who had just fallen. In Philippe Aubert de Gaspé‘s Les Anciens Canadiens, governor Murray is touched when he hears that aristocrats returning to France perished off the coast of Cape Breton island. They were returning to France aboard a frail ship named l’Auguste. (See Chapter XV, Le Naufrage de l’Auguste; Chapter XIV, The Shipwreck of the August.)

No sooner did New France fall to Britain than it attempted to assimilate its new subjects. Governor James Murray failed because the Canadiens were too numerous. Besides,

He [James Murray] was recalled in 1766, but he was exonerated. His replacement was Guy Carleton, (later) 1st Baron Dorchester), who was expected to carry out the policy of the proclamation. However, Carleton soon came to see that the colony was certain to be permanently French. He decided that Britain’s best course was to forge an alliance with the elites of the former French colony—the seigneurs and the Roman Catholic church.

(See James Murray, Britannica.)

Sir Guy Carleton’s Quebec Act, 1774 (Britannica)


Seigneurial System: New France’s River Lots (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

James Murray’s replacement, Sir Guy Carleton, negotiated the Quebec Act of 1774 with Seigneurs and the clergy. It restored the Seigneurial System and excluded the Test Acts. One did not have to renounce Catholicism to enter the civil service or hold public office. It pleased seigneurs and the Clergy, whose income it guaranteed, but censitaires begrudged the Quebec Act. They would have to pay cens, rente and la dîme (tithe), an obligation not rigidly observed during l’Ancien Régime in New France. Except for the conditions of his tenure, there were times when the censitaire showed complete independence in his relationship with the master of the mansion. He did not recognize his authority, and seigneurs exerted no influence on his opinions:

[H]ors des conditions de sa tenure, le censitaire possédait en fait et manifestait à l'occasion une pleine indépendance à l'égard de son maître du manoir. Il ne lui reconnaissait ni autorité sociale, ni emprise sur ses opinions.[4]  

Yet, flawed as it was, the Quebec Act of 1774 can be seen as the Bill of Rights granted Canadiens. It placed the censitaires under the rule of seigneurs and the clergy, an unfortunate precedent. But it also put French-speaking and English-speaking citizens of an enlarged Province of Quebec on an equal footing, or almost. In earlier posts, I have compared the Quebec Act of 1774 to the Royal Proclamation of 1763. In both cases, these are letters patent for both Amerindians and the defeated French.

Matters would change. After the American Revolution, United Empire Loyalists, the citizens of Britain’s former Thirteen Colonies who had remained loyal to Great Britain, sought refuge in British North America and elsewhere. United Empire Loyalists wanted to live in Quebec the way they had lived in the former Thirteen Colonies, where their Rights as Englishmen had been recognized. Besides, Quebec’s Civil law (Code civil) differed from the Common law. The Quebec Act was as intolerable to them as it had been to the British Americans who wanted to secede from England.

Although France was defeated at the Battle of the Plains of Abraham and Nouvelle-France ceded to England at the Treaty of Paris of 1763, Guy Carleton, later 1st Baron Dorchester, passed the Quebec Act of 1774. The Quebec Act restored Nouvelle France’s Seigneurial System. Censitaires were disgruntled, but the Quebec Act empowered seigneurs and the Clergy. However, it had been conciliatory with the French, a defeated nation. United Empire Loyalists insisted on redress, which was a legitimate request. United Empire Loyalists had been loyal to Britain and had left their home to remain British subjects. (See Constitutional Act of 1791, Wikipedia.)

As governor in chief of British North America (1786–96), Guy Carleton promoted the Constitutional Act of 1791, which helped develop representative institutions in Canada at a time when the French Revolution was threatening governments elsewhere.

(See Guy Carleton, 1st Baron Dorchester, Britannica.)

The British parliament passed the Constitutional Act of 1791. The Constitutional Act separated a down-sized Province of Quebec into Upper and Lower Canada. Most English-speaking citizens would live in Upper Canada under the Common law. Lower Canada would be home to Canadiens and would keep its Civil law. However, Lower Canada’s Eastern Townships would belong to United Empire Loyalists who, initially, did not allow Canadiens to settle in the Townships, a policy that changed when factories opened in the Townships, creating a need for employees. These were French Canadians and the Irish who had been driven away from their homeland by the Great Famine, a potato famine.

Until 1791 the region was organized under the seigneurial system of New France. In 1791 the region was resurveyed under English law. It was divided into counties, which were in turn subdivided into townships. (Eastern Townships, Wikipedia)

(See Eastern Townships, Wikipedia.)

Britannica’s entry on the Constitutional Act of 1791 suggests a “fear of egalitarian principles.” Despite the distance and limited literacy, the citizens of New France were familiar with the French Enlightenment. Louis-Joseph Papineau, who replaced Pierre-Stanislas Bédard as the leader of le Parti canadien, Canada’s first political party, renamed le Parti patriote, had read Voltaire. Louis-Joseph Papineau led Lower Canada’s patriotes during the Rebellions of 1837-1838.

The Act of Union

  • Robert Baldwin and Louis-Hippolyte LaFontaine
  • Lord Elgin (James Bruce, 8th Earl of Elgin)

French Canadians had feared the union of Upper and Lower Canada. In his Report on the Rebellions of 1837-1838, Lord Durham recommended the union of Upper and Lower Canada. The Act of Union was voted into law in 1840. However, Robert Baldwin and  Louis-Hippolyte LaFontaine succeeded in creating a bilingual Province of Canada. (See Editorial: Baldwin, LaFontaine, The Canadian Encyclopedia.) Much was accomplished during the “great ministry.”

In 1848, Lord Elgin (James Bruce, 8th Earl of Elgin) established a responsible government in the Province of Canada. Moreover, Baldwin and LaFontaine passed the Rebellion Losses Bill. It was given royal assent by Lord Elgin. An “English-speaking mob” (See Lord Elgin, Wikipedia) set Montreal’s Parliament Buildings afire. (See Burning of the Parliament Buildings in Montreal, Wikipedia.) The Baldwin-LaFontaine great ministry had created a bilingual Canada.

Confederation (1867)

  • John A. Macdonald
  • Residential schools
  • “Uniform” schools
  • French Canadians are minoritised

When Canadian provinces federated, Manitoba had as many English-speaking citizens as it had francophones. However, John A. Macdonald, the father of Confederation, acted as though Canada had just begun. He did not negotiate the entry of Manitoba into the Canadian Confederation. Land surveyors arrived at the Red River unannounced and prepared to transform long, narrow lots abutting a river into square lots. The river was a highway: a canoe in summer, a sleigh in winter, not to mention skating blades. Louis Riel embodies a flawed Confederation. The Canadian government simply arrived. Moreover, in 1867, Manitoba had separate schools, French and Catholic (the French were Catholics) and English. John A. Macdonald also began applying Macaulayism.

In the infamous Residential Schools, Indigenous children were punished if they spoke a native language. So harsh a fate did not befall French Canadians. Still, as Canada unfolded westward, the children of immigrants had to attend “uniform” schools or schools where the language of instruction was English. John A. Macdonald minoritised the French in Canada. Moreover, French Canadians could not leave the province of Quebec if they wanted their children to be educated in French. He, therefore, created the “schools” question and the “Quebec” question. He made the “Canada” question.

In the eyes of Europeans, the defeat of France on the North American continent may have been, as I have named it: “collateral damage.” Although the French and their allies lost the Seven Years’ War. France remained as it was. As for New France, it was a colony in the eyes of European belligerents in the Seven Years’ War, the European theatre of the French and Indian War. Besides, at the beginning of the French and Indian Wars, New France was home to 60,000 settlers. (See French and Indian War, Wikipedia.)

Americans view the French and Indian War as more than the American theater of this conflict; however, in the United States the French and Indian War is viewed as a singular conflict which was not associated with any European war. French Canadians call it the guerre de la Conquête (‘War of the Conquest’).

(See French and Indian War, Wikipedia.)


Confederation hurt Canada. Minoritising French-speaking Canadians jeopardised their survival. As immigrants arrived in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and elsewhere, their children were educated in “uniform” schools, schools where the language of instruction was English. If Québécois wanted their children to be educated in their mother tongue, they remained in Quebec. It is difficult to ascertain whether John A. Macdonald was aware that he was introducing Macaulayism in Canada, thereby creating the “Quebec question.” He was an Orangeman from Ontario.

Louis Riel was a Métis and a Catholic, educated in Montreal. He is a controversial and tragic figure. He embodies a flawed Confederation and the “schools” question. In 1867, Manitoba had “separate” schools. Moreover, Riel did not expect surveyors to arrive at the Red River ready to cut long and narrow lots abutting a river into square lots. These river lots were used as a highway. During the summer, a boat sat on the river. In winter, a sleigh replaced the ship. These were New France’s river lots.

So, Riel formed a provisional government and allowed the execution of Thomas Scott, which would cost him his life. It is difficult to ascertain whether John A. Macdonald was aware of Macaulayism. In Residential Schools, Indigenous children were punished if they were caught speaking a native language. As Canada unfolded westward, the children of immigrants had to attend “uniform” schools. The “schools” question begins in Manitoba, where language and religion cloud the issue. The French were Catholics. In Ontario, the debate is about language.

The Ontario schools question was the first major schools issue to focus on language rather than religion. In Ontario, French or French-language education remained a contentious issue for nearly a century, from 1890 to 1980, with English-speaking Catholics and Protestants aligned against French-speaking Catholics.

(See Ontario Schools Question, The Canadian Encyclopedia.)

Quebec was the victim of John A. Macdonald’s “uniform” schools or schools where the language of instruction was English. Quebec was the only province where children could be educated in French. So, the children of immigrants to Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and elsewhere entered English-language or “uniform” schools. The “schools” question was fought in Manitoba, Ontario, New Brunswick and elsewhere. “Uniform” schools created an imbalance. Most Canadians spoke English only.

After Confederation, French Canadians could not leave Quebec if they wanted their children to be educated in French. Consequently, Québécois view Quebec as their province. Moreover, historically, Quebec is the older Canada. Therefore, Quebec passes language laws to build a workplace in Quebec.


There has been no formal separation of Quebec from Canada, but John A. Macdonald separated Quebec from other provinces of Canada. The “schools” question justifies unilingualism. Besides, Quebec is a “distinct society,” despite hesitancy. (See Quebec as a Distinct Society, The Canadian Encyclopedia.) I doubt that Québécois see Québec as a province. A unilingual province within a bilingual country is a province. However, the view that Quebec is a “distinct” society has often been expressed. But this view has opponents.

In fact, the Supreme Court Act provides that three of the nine judges on the Supreme Court of Canada must come from Quebec, in order to represent the civil law tradition in the Court. 
(See Quebec as a Distinct Society, The Canadian Encyclopedia.)


Sources and Ressources
Language Laws and Doing Business in Québec
(Canada, Early British Rule, 1763-1791, Britannica.)

Les Anciens Canadiens ( FR
Cameron of Lochiel ( ), Sir Charles G. D. Roberts, translator. EN
Cameron of Lochiel is Gutenberg [EBook#53154], Sir Charles G. D. Roberts, translator. EN


[1] Denis Monière, Le Développement des idéologies au Québec des origines à nos jours, Éditions Québec/Amérique, 1977.
[2] Jean-Pierre Wallot, « Le Régime seigneurial et son abolition au Canada » (Canadian Historical Review, l, 4, décembre 1969, p. 375.) (Quoted by Denis Monière, p. 61.)
[3] Paul Hazard, La Crise de la conscience européenne, (Paris: Fayard, 1961), p. 12.
[4] Gustave Lanctôt, Le Canada et la révolution américaine (Montréal: Beauchemin, 1965), p. 82. (Quoted by Denis Monière, p. 103.)


Love to everyone 💕

© Micheline Walker
7 November 2022

The Old Smoker, by
M.-A. de Foy Susor-Coté, 1926
National Gallery of Canada (NGC)

Language Laws in Quebec: a Balanced View


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Marc-Aurèle Fortin

The figures I provided in my last post were misleading. I put the post aside.

In the sombre days of imperialism and colonialism, Prime Minister John A. Macdonald created “uniform” schools where English was the language of instruction. He minoritized French-speaking Canadians. As immigrants arrived in Canada, their children had to attend English-language schools. Children could not be educated in French outside Quebec. He made Quebec their only home.

Québécois would like to retain their language. They have done so since Nouvelle-France fell to Britain. But the obligatory francization of businesses is unacceptable. Quebec is trying to assimilate its anglophone population and drive it away from Quebec. No company should be asked to obtain a Certificate of Francization. Quebec is a province of Canada, and Canada is officially bilingual. Moreover, anglophones have the right to bilingual services in such areas as the Eastern Townships.

John A. Macdonald created uniform schools, and l’Office de la langue française is creating a uniform province.


Here is a list of English-language educational institutions in Quebec. Some of these institutions are private schools, but cégeps are not. I am also providing an entry for Champlain Regional College (click).

Look at the list of English-language educational institutions in Quebec. There are three English-language universities in Quebec: McGill University in Montreal, Concordia University in Montreal and Bishop’s University in Lennoxville, a borough of Sherbrooke.

The figures (list of colleges) I am providing show that Quebec is home to both anglophones and francophones. I would hate to think that we cannot live together happily. Many Anglophones live in Montreal. They have their literature, songwriters, artists, and institutions. McGill University is a monument to the world of learning.

Doctors at the Montreal Neurological Institute work miracles. Imagine Quebec has the Montreal Neurological Institute, but Quebecers cannot find a doctor. That situation is infamy. So much of our tax dollars is spent on doctors, but medicine is deficient in Quebec.

Let’s get rid of the language laws.

Love to everyone 💕

La Vie d’autrefois

Marc-Aurèle Fortin

© Micheline Walker
3 November 2022

A Unilingual Province in a Bilingual Country


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Red House by Lawren Harris, 1925 (


I have underlined the sentence revealing that a question can lead to multiple answers. My name is a problem. I wrote that my mother tongue was French. But how was this interpreted?

Overview as of the 2016 census

In the field of linguistics, the word allophone means “other sound.” It is used to describe when a phoneme (the smallest unit of sound in speech) sounds slightly different depending on how it is used in a word. In Canada, this idea of “other sound” is applied to the notion of languages other than French or English. (See Allophone, The Canadian Encyclopedia)
(See Language Demographics of Quebec, Wikipedia)

Knowledge of Languages

The question on knowledge of languages allows for multiple responses. The following figures are from the 2021 Canadian Census and the 2016 Canadian Census, and lists languages that were selected by at least one per cent of respondents. See Language Demographics of Quebec, Wikipedia)
  • 49.99% knew French only
  • 44.46% knew English and French
  • 4.62% knew English only

(See Language Demographics of Quebec, Wikipedia)

Another set of figures under Knowledge of Languages gives us:

  • 93.72% Francophones
  • 51.96% Anglophones

(See Language Demographics of Quebec, Wikipedia)

About Language Laws in Quebec

Having provided figures, we are returning to the subject of Language Laws in Québec.

In 1974, five years after Canada passed the Official Languages Act of 1969, the Liberal Government of Quebec, under Robert Bourassa, passed Bill 22. Bill 22 made Quebec a unilingual (French) province in an officially bilingual country. Many Canadians could not believe that Quebec had declared itself unilingual after the “Canada” question had been solved. The Official Languages Act of 1969 had been passed. So, when Bill 22 was passed, there was an exodus of English-speaking Montrealers, the Province of Quebec’s best taxpayers. They moved to Toronto but soon moved to Calgary and Vancouver. These were their favourite destinations. Bill 101 (The Charter of the French Language) was passed in 1977 by René Lévesque‘s Parti Québécois. Bill 96 updates The Charter of the French Language. It was passed in 2021 under François Legault‘s Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) government.

Bilingual Areas

The Province of Quebec has bilingual areas. Montreal has an anglophone and allophone population. The Eastern Townships of Lower Canada, future Quebec, were given to United Empire Loyalists shortly before the Constitutional Act of 1791. Quebecers living in small communities in the Eastern Townships receive services in English. Moreover, although Montreal is not a bilingual area of Quebec, many anglophones live in the Greater Montreal Area. The North West Company, a fur trading company, was headquartered in Montreal from 1779 to 1821. Many lived in the Golden Square Mile.

Introduced by Camille Laurin, Bill 101, the Charter of the French Language (1977) made French the official language of the Government and the courts of Quebec. French became the "normal, everyday language of work, instruction, communication, commerce and business."
(See Bill 101, the Canadian Encyclopedia.)


The validity of Bill 22 (1974), passed under the Liberal government of Robert Bourassa, and Bill 101, the Charter of the French Language (1977), passed under René Lévesque‘s Parti Québécois, and Bill 96, a continuation of Bill 101, passed by François Legault‘s Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) has been questioned. It is an assimilative process. Bill 96 is a continuation of Bill 101, the Charter of the French Language. The majority of Quebec’s citizens are francophones, but Quebec has anglophone citizens. As mentioned above, the Eastern Townships of the province of Quebec are a bilingual area, as are other communities. Besides, many anglophones live in the Greater Montreal Area.

Quebec may wish to make French the “normal, everyday language of work, instruction, communication, commerce, and business.” Still, Quebec is not universally unilingual and therefore promotes unilingualism in an officially bilingual country. Moreover, francisation comes at a price. In the workplace, businesses are supervised by the Office québécois de la langue française, which jeopardizes “doing business,” a foolish policy and one that is calculated to drive anglophones away from Quebec. Businesses are not language schools. Language laws also penalize businesses and other groups (numbers matter) that are not contributing substantially to Quebec’s francization. Companies must comply with Quebec’s francization or be punished.

If a business doesn’t follow the francization rules, it might have to pay a fine ranging from $700 to $30,000, or even more. (See Language Laws and Doing Business in Quebec.)  

Businesses are supervised by l’Office québécois de la langue française until they receive a Certificate of Francization. However, they must carry on with the good work because, after three years, the business must report to “l’Office québécois de la langue française.” (See Language Laws and Doing Business in Quebec française.)

It must also report to the Office every three years on the use of French in the business. 


Languages have terminologies. There are languages within languages. Does l’Office québécois de la langue française have examiners who know all terminologies? But, more importantly, if a bilingual and competent employee can no longer bear the burden of francization, will he or she stay in Quebec. No, he or she will not. Therefore, I genuinely fear losing the experts currently managing my pension fund. They are bilingual, but what I need is their expertise. Competence is my first criterion.

Competence and Francization

On 4 October 2021, I was diagnosed with pericarditis in an emergency ward, but my new doctor told me to buy Voltaren. I still have a large toe. One can develop gout as a result of pericarditis. I had at least five attacks a week for four months of what felt like a heart attack before my doctor prescribed medication. Had it not been for doctors at the Magog hospital emergency room, I would not have been medicated. That happy period lasted two weeks. So, give me a competent doctor. I’ll struggle with the terminology.

Québec remains a bilingual province in a bilingual country, as per the Official Languages Acts. Ironically, this francization occurs because “[a]ll workers in Quebec have the right to work in French.” (See Language Laws and Doing Business in Quebec.) Certain professions demand knowledge of English.

I am told that if a business, or other entity, needs a translator, it must be at the cost of this business. Where will this business find a translator? My father worked as a translator for the Canadian Poultryman, which has a new name. He dutifully learned everything about chicken and eggs in French and English, but he could not retire. His employer could not find a replacement for him. So, the magazine is no longer published in French and English. There are steps. First, one learns the language. The article will not otherwise make any sense.

Moreover, businesses must have enough employees to manage the francization task. (See Language Laws and Doing Business in Quebec.)

Language Laws and Doing Business in Quebec lead to other areas, such as education. You may explore.


Small localities in the Eastern Townships may have services in English, but if the population drops below the “acceptable” number, they will lose these benefits. If Bill 101/96 is respected, the anglophone population will fall below the good number. Moreover, people are receiving government documents in French only. These used to be issued in French and English. Canada remains an officially bilingual country.

It is a Sword of Damocles scenario.


As you know, I oppose language laws. Languages are learned at home and in schools. French-speaking Quebecers, Québécois have been enrolling in English-language cégeps (Collège d’enseignement général et professionnel). Cégeps are a two-year pre-university programme, and they are public schools. Students are protesting Bill 96 because they know English is the current lingua franca and wish to learn it. It turns out that Champlain College-Lennoxville, in Sherbrooke, offers an Advantage programme. Students who require special assistance may avail themselves of the “Advantage” and “Advantage +” services. I do not know whether French-language cégeps welcome English-speaking students who wish to learn French. My work is not over.

Le parcours Avantage s’adresse aux nouveaux étudiants qui auraient besoin de temps et de soutien à la réussite pour faciliter leur transition aux études collégiales. Dans ce cheminement, les étudiants suivent plusieurs cours conçus à la fois pour améliorer leurs méthodes de travail et de recherche et pour mieux comprendre leur rôle en tant qu’apprenants. Bien qu’un tel parcours soit d’abord fait pour les étudiants qui ont besoin d’un soutien scolaire additionnel pour réussir au collégial, le cheminement pourrait aussi profiter grandement à ceux qui ont toujours étudié en français en leur permettant d’améliorer leurs compétences en anglais parlé et écrit ainsi qu’en lecture par des cours spécifiquement conçus à cet effet.

This approach could also benefit those who have always studied in French by allowing them to improve their knowledge of spoken and written English and reading skills in English by taking courses designed for this purpose.


John A. Macdonald created “uniform” schools where the language of instruction was English. I have not invented the term “uniform” schools. I have seen it somewhere. As immigrants settled in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, or elsewhere in Canada, they had to attend English-language schools. Quebec was the only province where children could be educated in French. It created an imbalance, and French Canadians viewed Quebec as their home. This drama unfolded in the “schools” question. In Manitoba, Catholicism clouded the issue. Did Manitobans want French schools or French and Catholic schools? But the Ontario “schools” was unambiguous.

The Ontario schools question was the first major schools issue to focus on language rather than religion. In Ontario, French or French-language education remained a contentious issue for nearly a century, from 1890 to 1980, with English-speaking Catholics and Protestants aligned against French-speaking Catholics.
(See Ontario Schools Question, The Canadian Encyclopedia)

The “Quebec” and “Canada” questions are rooted in the “schools” question. John A. Macdonald lived when the British Empire was at its apex, and he adopted Macaulayism. Thomas Babington Macauley believed that the British had an empire because they spoke English. In Residential Schools, indigenous children were punished if they spoke a native language. French-speaking children were spared that ignominy, but John A. Macdonald’s programme of anglicisation led to the growth of a primarily English-language country and Québécois were minoritized and could not leave Quebec.

Therefore, the French language must be promoted, but this sort of process usually occurs at home and in schools. I wonder if French-language cégeps would welcome English-speaking students. Cégeps are public schools. One does not pay a fee. The process could encourage French-speaking students to polish their French. Terminologies are learned after one has acquired some fluency in a second language, and terminologies are not always extremely complex. If our businessman or woman has been thoroughly frenchified, he or she will not be able to work outside Quebec or French-language countries. What will Quebec have gained?

The age of imperialism and colonialism is over. The French and English nations are Canada’s founding nations. Nations are not easily quantifiable. We, therefore, provide citizens with bilingual documents. L’École acadienne de Pomquet is a model. Pomquet is “home” to 900 inhabitants. But it is very near Antigonish and may attract anglophone students.

I am so sorry I left Antigonish. It was home, and it will always be.

I was tired the day I published this post. I had to rewrite it. I also discovered that it is not possible to tell the exact population of Quebec. I am still a little confused, but the relevant information is available




Sources and Ressources
CTV News.
l’Office québécois de la langue française
Language Demographics of Quebec Wikipedia
Language Laws and Doing Business in Quebec
The Charter in the Classroom (Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms)
Micheline Bourbeau-Walker, Le Poids de l’histoire : à la recherche d’une pédagogie, Canadian Modern Language Review (Vol. 40, No 2, 1984) pp. 218-227.
Micheline Bourbeau-Walker, ed. Tendances et pratiques actuelles en didactique du français langue seconde. Mosaïque, Apfucc, 1988. (Apfucc : Association des professeurs de français des universités et collèges canadiens)

© Micheline Walker
29 October – 1st November 2022

Winter Landscape with Pink House by Lawren Harris, 1918

Mistakes and a Serenade



Once again, I made mistakes. I’m ageing and, perhaps, exhausted.

I wrote “learning English as a second language” instead of “learning French as a second language.”

My text should read:

In this respect, I would like to repeat that, in Quebec, learning French as a second language should be in the curriculum. Moreover, I would not prevent French-speaking students from enrolling in an English language CEGEP, a two-year post-secondary programme, or similar institutions. Finally, I would recommend improvements in teaching French as a mother tongue.

Micheline Bourbeau-Walker was my name for a very long time.


Kindest regards to all of you 💕

Marc-Aurèle de Foy Suzor-Coté, The Magog River, 1913

© Micheline Walker
2 October 2022

Language Laws in Quebec: la Patrie littéraire, the Literary Homeland


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Marc-Aurèle de Foy Susor-Coté, Coin de mon village, Arthabaska, 1914 (Musée des Beaux-Arts du Canada. NGA)


I made changes to my last post. There were little mistakes, “surface errors.” I’m ageing. However, I would like to add that, in my opinion, Canadians have not paid sufficient attention to the findings of the Royal Commission of Bilingualism and Biculturalism (1963-1969) and Canada’s Official Languages Act. It was passed in 1969 and amended in 1988. The effort provided by Canadian Parents for French has led to the creation of French immersion schools. Canadian Parents for French is an organization that needs members and support.

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms may be the better tool for promoting bilingual education. It guarantees minority rights when numbers warrant. I suspect that l’École acadienne de Pomquet owes its existence to Section 23 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

In this respect, I would like to repeat that, in Quebec, learning French as a second language should be in the curriculum. Moreover, I would not prevent French-speaking students from enrolling in an English language CEGEP, a two-year post-secondary programme, or similar institutions. Finally, I would recommend improvements in the teaching of French as a mother tongue.

Moreover, Harvard’s new course on North America’s francophonie may prove an excellent initiative. Canada’s founding nations were France and Britain, but the French opened the North American continent. Francophonie overrides the Battle of the Plains of Abraham. It also overrides the expulsion of the Acadians, many of whom live in Louisiana. Moreover, 900,000 French Canadians moved to the United States between 1830 and 1930. They could not find work in Canada. They may no longer speak French, but they are part of North America’s francophonie.

La Patrie littéraire, the Literary Homeland

I could not write my book on Molière during my last sabbatical leave because I was asked to prepare two new courses: Animals in Literature and a course on contemporary Quebec literature. That year, however, I lectured in Stuttgart, Germany. One of my lectures was on la patrie littéraire, the literary homeland. In his Report on the Rebellions of 1837-1838, Lord Durham stated that French Canadians had no history and no literature.

They are a people with no history, and no literature. The literature of England is written in a language which is not theirs; literature which their language renders familiar to them, is that of a nation from which they have been separated by eighty years of a foreign rule, and still more by those changes which the Revolution and its consequences have wrought in the whole political, moral and social state of France.

Lord Durham’s Report on the Affairs of British North America, Sir C.P. Lucas, K.C.B., K.C.M.G. pp. 294-295 (Internet Archive)

I have noted elsewhere that denigration of French Canadians sparked the creation of two literary schools: l’École littéraire de Québec and l’École littéraire de Montréal. Moreover, François-Xavier Garneau wrote an Histoire du Canada depuis sa découverte jusqu’à nos jours.

As my sabbatical drew to a close I wrote an article entitled La Patrie littéraire: errance et résistance, published under my professional identity, Micheline Bourbeau-Walker. Bourbeau is my mother’s family name. La Patrie littéraire is a term used by René Dionne in his section of Gilles Marcotte‘s Anthologie de la littérature Québécoise. It is a fine description of the works written by French Canada’s two early literary schools. French Canada became a literary homeland. Its writers were French Canadians.

My contribution to this concept is an analysis of Antonine Maillet‘s Pélagie-la-Charrette, the above-mentioned La Patrie littéraire: errance et résistance. Pélagie-la-Charrette is a novel which earned its author, Antonine Maillet, the prestigious Prix Goncourt 1979. The novel features Pélagie, the narrator, and a group of Acadians travelling up the east coast of the United States pulling a cart, la charrette. They are returning to Acadie. Pélagie presents her characters as “the son of” or “the daughter of:” le fils à or la fille à: “Bélonie à Bélonie,” providing a lineage for her characters. Our ancestors are larger than we are. They validate us. So, Pélagie-la-Charrette is an anamnèse and a creation of things past. The term anamnèse is used in medicine where it lists the medical antecedents of a patient, but Pélagie-la-Charette is also une anamnèse. Pélagie builds a past.

I am mentioning la patrie littéraire because much of the literature produced by members of the Quebec and Montreal literary schools gave an identity to French Canada. Pamphile Lemay translated Henry Wadsworth Longfellow‘s Évangéline, a Tale of Acadie. Évangéline is a fictional character, but she lives forever. Historian Mona Ozouf also created une patrie littéraire: Récits d’une Patrie littéraire (Paris, Fayard), the literary works of women writers.

I will close here, concluding, first, that French should be in the curriculum in Quebec’s English-language schools and that the teaching of French as a mother tongue could be revised. I also wish to emphasize that a nation may be une patrie littéraire. French Canada will always be a sum of its literary works and other achievements.


My kindest regards to all of you. 💕

Alan Mills sings Un Canadien errant
Marc-Aurèle de Foy Susor-Coté L’Automne (Pinterest)

© Micheline Bourbeau-Walker
2 October 2022

Quebec’s Language Laws, a Preface


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Marc-Aurèle de Foy Suzor-CotéWet Snow, Arthabaska (detail), around 1919, oil on canvas. Gift of Mrs Ruth Soloway, 2012 (55-004.45) Photo: Bernard Clark


A Sad Remnant of Imperialism and Colonialism

I wrote a long post on the background of Quebec’s “Language Laws.” The post is too long and language laws will not yield a positive result. If a new language law is passed, Anglophones are perturbed, and many leave Quebec, which hurts Quebec. Several Quebec Anglophones are the descendants of United Empire Loyalists. The Eastern Townships of the province of Quebec were given to them. It became their home.

In the 19th century, the British Empire was at its apex. So, Thomas Babington Macaulay recommended that the language of higher instruction in India be English. His policy, called Macaulayism, spread to other British colonies. Thomas Babington Macaulay was a fine man, but Britain’s success in accumulating colonies led to a belief that English was a superior language. One can understand Thomas Babington Macaulay’s belief, but it is not necessarily accurate. Macaulay was a product of his time.

I would recommend that language laws be abolished and that anglophones study French. However, if the teaching of French became compulsory, anglophones may think their rights and values are scorned. Quebec has bilingual areas. The Eastern Townships of Quebec are bilingual, and many Montrealers are anglophones. Bill 96 further restricts the use of the English language in these areas. Business must be carried out in French to a greater extent and more documents issued by the government of Quebec will not be available in French. Restrictions also include medical care, which is very personal.

As well, Bill 96 affects francophone students. French-speaking Québécois often enrol in an English-language Cégep to learn English. Cégeps offer a two-year programme following secondary school. Access to English-language Cégeps will be restricted.

The number of students in English-language CEGEPs, as a proportion of overall students, can’t be higher than it was the school year before and cannot surpass 17.5 per cent of the overall student population in Quebec.


When New France fell to Britain, at the Treaty of Paris, 1763, its governors were directed to assimilate the French, but it could be that they could not assimilate the French. The Act of Union (1840) was a purposeful attempt to assimilate the French, but Robert Baldwin and Louis-Hippolyte LaFontaine built a bilingual and bicultural Province of Canada. However, John A. Macdonald favoured schools where the language of instruction was English, “uniform” schools. French Canadians had to remain in Quebec to be educated in the French language. Therefore, immigrants and refugees who arrived in Canada, the prairies mostly, attended “uniform” schools or schools where the language of instruction was English. This created an imbalance that may not change, and which is reflected in Quebec’s controversial language legislation. The term “uniform” is not mine, but it was used in the literature I read.

So, John A Macdonald minoritised French Canadians. Quebec was the only province where French-speaking Canadians could be educated in French. Therefore, Quebec passes language laws that irritate its anglophone citizens, which summarises the “Quebec” question. The governments of other Canadian provinces do not pass language laws. The English language is not a threatened species and French can be learned at school. Finally, minority language rights are protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The Charter of Rights and Freedoms

Section 23 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms deals with minority language rights. One has the right to be educated in French, but numbers count. A school will not be created for a handful of French-speaking Canadians, but

[t]he school is the single most important institution for the survival of the official language community, which is itself a true beneficiary under section 23 of the Charter (Arsenault-Cameron at paragraph 29; (CSF de la C-B 2016, at paragraph 367).

Section 23

I will publish my long post, but the above suffices. In my opinion, language laws deepen the rift between francophones and anglophones. The alternative to language laws is bilingual education. Anglophones could encourage their children to learn French. Learning a second language benefits a child. However, anglophones cannot be compelled to have their children educated in a language other than English. It will not work. Ideally, one should wish to know French.

French is one of Canada’s two official languages, which does not mean that every Canadian should know the two languages. But Quebec anglophones cannot ignore Canada’s officially bilingual and bicultural status. I no longer want to hear someone boast that his or her nephew or niece studied at Bishop’s University in Lennoxville, Quebec, or a Montreal university and managed not to learn a word of French. One does not boast about such a relative. Failure to learn French while living in Quebec is not an achievement. I took courses in musicology at Bishop’s University. It’s a fine school.

Harvard University will now offer a course on francophonie. This, I believe, is a step in the right direction. A similar approach could be offered in Quebec’s English-language universities. It may lead to an understanding of Canada’s Official Languages Acts.

Yes, anglophones in Quebec have a right to live in English. I suppose that during the decades I lived outside Quebec, I also had the “right” to speak French, but English was my everyday language. In Antigonish, Nova Scotia one speaks English. Fortunately, I was a university teacher of French, which allowed me to express myself in my mother tongue.

Let me quote Lord Durham (John Lambton, 1st Earl of). John Lambton was asked to investigate the Rebellions of 1837-1838 and to present a report and recommendations. He wrote the following:

I entertain no doubts as to the national character which must be given to Lower Canada; it must be that of the British Empire; that of the majority of the population of British America; that of the great race which must, in the lapse of no long period of time, be predominant over the whole North American Continent. Without effecting the change so rapidly or so roughly as to shock the feelings and trample on the welfare of the existing generation, it must henceforth be the first and steady purpose of the British Government to establish an English population, with English laws and language, in this Province, and to trust its government to none but a decidedly English legislature.
Lord Durham's Report, the University of Victoria


The article may be listed on the right side of the page.


Kind regards to everyone 💕

Susor-Coté, discussed in Québec French
Le Vieux Fumeur par Marc-Aurèle de Foy Susor-Coté (NGA)

© Micheline Walker
29 September 2022