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.
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.
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.
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.
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 uneanamnèse. Pélagie builds a past.
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 last post may have confused certain readers, which is very sad. I was fully vaccinated but, during a visit to an emergency room, I was diagnosed with Pericarditis. Pericarditis and Myocarditis may be caused by a vaccine, including the vaccine protecting us from Covid-19. I would like to make it very clear that I was vaccinated against Covid-19 too early for the vaccine to be associated with the onset of Pericarditis or Myocarditis. Moreover, my diagnosis was not clear. Therefore, my illness was not associated with the vaccine against the Covid-19 virus.
During two visits to an emergency room in Sherbrooke and Magog, I was diagnosed with inflamed muscles in the rib cage and with a degree of deterioration of my left shoulder. The pain goes from the shoulder to the wrist. Doctors now suspect a musculoskeletal condition. I caught the H1N1 virus 46 years ago and never recovered. It caused Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome). Although my heart still feels as though it was squeezed by a powerful hand, I suspect a mere continuation of ME/CFS.
In short, the vaccine did not cause Pericarditis.
Please listen to Dr Fauci, the CDC, the WHO, and top doctors in various countries. Since the beginning of this crisis, the words of politicians have been deemed truer than the words of experts.
Above, we see Clarence Gagnon’s depiction of Midnight Mass. Traditionally, Quebecers used mass as the weekly get-together. Christmas was no exception. They then walked home for the réveillon.
The above is a copy of a Susor-Coté of still life entitled Nature morte avec oignons(Still life with onions). It is the work of Marc-Aurèle de Foy Suzor-Coté, a prominent Canadian artist and a friend of my grandfather’s family. The legend goes that my grandfather met my grandmother when she was an employee of Suzor-Coté. She was an artist. Would that I could interview her. She died many years ago.
Medicine in Quebec
I have gone to a hospital emergency room five times. I did so whenener I felt I would go into cardiac arrest because my heart was queezed as in a vice and my blood pressurce was climbing rapidly. I am suffering from pericarditis, from inflamed muscles in the rib cage as well as a musculoskeletal condition on the left side of the rib cage including a damaged schoulder and pain from the shoulder to the fingers. Using a computer is well nigh impossible, but I will try to carry on as soon as I can use my left arm again. I am left handed.
My visits to Emergency Rooms gave me the opportunity to see that medicine in Quebec was facing great difficulty. At the time of the Quiet Revolution, a prosperous Quebec planned to be a Welfare State (un État-Providence). Canada could be described as a Welfare State. It should be noted that Welfare States cannot sustain their programmes without levying taxes, nor can Welfare States afford extremely high fees. When Quebec declared it would be unilingual, Bill 22 (1974), and passed Bill 101, the Charter of the French Language (1977), affluent English-speaking citizens of Montreal left Quebec. I may be wrong, but I believe Quebec’s status as a unilingual province inside a bilingual Canada and ensuing laws caused well-to-do English-speaking Quebecers to leave. There cannot be a unilingual province in a bilingual Canada. It makes no sense.
My visits to the Emergency Room in Magog’s hospital provided me with an opportunity to witness what could be the impending breakdown of the medical system in Quebec. For instance, it surprised me not to be asked to remove my earrings and necklace when X-Rays were performed. Only one radiologist asked me to take off my jewellery. I could not lift my arms, so he helped me. I was also surprised that very scant attention was given to the severe pain I felt. If my mother had been subjected to this much pain at the age of 77, I do not think she would have survived. I have aged more slowly.
Yet, my worst experience was watching an old lady who had taken her number and was waiting her turn. At one point, she went to the wicket to ask when she would be seen. She was told that she would have to wait for her number and her name to be called. She sorrowly returned to her chair. Never in my life had I seen so immensely sad a face. What, in Canada? There are no doctors in Magog. The clinic closed when the doctors retired. If one is unwell, one must go to a hospital Emergency Room, take a number, and then wait, however dire one’s needs.
It could be that some doctors will attempt to leave Quebec, but one wonders whether doctors who do not hold a Bachelor of Science degree would be hired elsewhere. French-language universities do not require a Bachelor of Science degree for admission to a medical school. Future doctors spend two years in a Cegep: Grades XII and XIII, and then enter medical school. Yet, there are excellent doctors in Quebec, but many, if not most, are good technicians. They know how to send a patient for a test and probably count on the test to determine a diagnostic. They also have a book listing medications. As well, outside Quebec, a pregnant woman may be delivered by her obstetrician. In Quebec, one goes to a humble birthing-room, however complicated the pregnancy and childbirth.
I should also note that when a patient enters a hospital, he or she will not be treated by his or her doctor. Doctors do not leave their office. I have already mentioned that medicine is more successful if there is a trusting relationship between a doctor and his or her patients. One must be able to reach one’s doctor if a crisis occurs, such as the death of a child. There is no center in my depiction of medicine in Quebec.
Quebec’s Premier François Legault is trying to get doctors to work a little more, but they are protected by powerful syndicates and command very large salaries. I fear the premier will not succeed. It has been about fifty years since doctors worked under the best possible conditions.
I do not know what caused my sudden heath problems. It could be solitude and my not finding help to remove books from my apartment and settle comfortably. It has been a very stressful time in my life.
I wish to thank you for being my community. I hope to continue operating my weblog, but I will not be at the computer for as many hours as I used to. Lying down and using the swimming pool will now be more important. I will also require help performing household tasks. Everything has to be simplified.
My posts are delayed because of essential business. Quebec is closed.
My main meal comes from meals-on-wheels. As I was going to pick it up, wearing protective gear, I bumped into an assembly of people who doubted we should take authorities seriously. They were not standing at a distance from one another and I saw a person coming out of the swimming pool room.
I didn’t think I had it in me to transform myself into the manager of the building. It was an incredible moment. What I said and wrote in emails was, basically,
disperse immediately and do not let anyone into the building. If something is delivered, it stays in the lobby and someone rings your apartment. Three apartments are for sale. Real Estate is not an essential service. No one comes to visit apartments. If a rule is broken, I’ll call the police, the RCMP (Mounted Police), la GRC (Gendarmerie royale canadienne) …
This morning I saw a sign asking people not to use the swimming pool.
Our worst enemies are the people who are too arrogant to obey the law. They don’t know that their freedom ends where the freedom of others begin. Only food, medication and the mail can be delivered.
I then had a conversation with a friend who is a postmaster. Mailmen will not ask you to sign if there is a delivery. That is contact. Covid rests on surfaces, which may include the mail.
One must also realize that there is very little medical help. I often tell people that if they wish to be well treated, they should go to the vet’s office. They have to learn medicine carefully as animals do not speak, except “en son langage.”
I am embedding music played by Hank Knox, a member, by marriage, of Sir Ernest MacMillan‘s family. My dear friend Andrea, whom I lost to cancer recently, was Sir Ernest’s niece. I knew the family but not closely, except for Andrea. We became friends when David and I rented the lower floor of her house.
David had found employment in Toronto. We were in a hotel looking for a home. David drove through streets he knew I would like. He saw a sign on a big tree and Andrea standing outside. He learned that she loved music and cats. So David said he would pick me up because he was certain I wanted to live in that house and that a friendship would grow. I must phone Betsy. She sent me harpsichord music.
It’s Sunday, which remains a sacred day for me. Other days serve different purposes and have an origin. Saturday is Saturn as in Saturnalia, a Roman festival taking place on the day of the longest night: Christmas. Humanity has always cherished symbols, but these change from culture to culture. They attach a story to things otherwise “ordinary.”
To decorate my post, I chose Jean-Paul Lemieux (18 November 1904 – 7 December 1990) who lived in Berkeley, California for several years. His family may have wished to escape cold winters. He and Leclerc were born the same year and were good persons. Lemieux returned to Québec, despite the cold, the snow, various ice storms and numerous heat waves.
Félix Leclerc (2 August 1914 – 8 August 1988), was born in La Tuque, Quebec and studied at the University of Ottawa until the Great Depression. There was no money. He then found work in radio stations, as speaker or writer. In 1939, he was employed by Ici Radio-Canada, the French counterpart of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, the CBC. He may have written radio dramas, which my father did, at approximately the same time in the history of Quebec.
After the war, Félix Leclerc, and his guitar, went to France where he took courses. He met kindred spirits, such as Boris Vian. In 1950, at the age of 36, he was discovered by French impresario Jacques Canetti. His daughter says that he divided his life between l’île d’Orléans, where he owned a house, and Paris.
In Le Tour de l’île, Leclerc also mentions a blue-eyed grandfather standing guard, which reminds me of Octave Crémazie‘s poem, entitled « Le Vieux Soldat canadien » . The first French ship to sail down the Saint Lawrence after the “Conquest” was La Capricieuse, in 1855.
You will have noticed that Leclerc mentions independence. As paradoxical as this may seem, I believe Québécois have their own country, albeit informally. But, their country is in Canada, where it is probably a safer and more stable place than outside Canada. Québec has yet to sign the Patriated Constitution (1982).
Les Ursulines are a teaching order founded by Marie de l’Incarnation (née Marie Guyart), in 1639. The Ursulines’ main monastery, built in Quebec City, is the oldest institution of learning for women in North America. As a religious order, the Ursulines were founded in Italy.
I have worked on the Battle of Quebec and grouped the lines differently. Folklore has its rules, but the “Battle of Quebec” is a challenge. Lines vary in length. The French lines would be called “octaves.” The words “La Danaé” would be at the end of each octave.The English lines (4 stanzas containing 4 lines) seem a response.
La Récréation (playtime)
Before the Révolution tranquille, teachers were nuns and school girls wore a navy blue pinafore dress over a white blouse.
Pour supporter To bear
Le difficile The difficult
Et l’inutile And the useless
Y a l’tour de l’île There’s the island to go round
Quarante-deux milles Forty-two miles (67 km)
De choses tranquilles Of things quiet
Pour oublier To forget
Grande blessure Gaping wounds
Dessous l’armure ‘neath the shield
Eté, hiver Summer, winter
Y a l’tour de l’île There’s the island to go round
L’Ile d’Orléans L’île d’Orléans
L’Île c’est comme Chartres The island’s like Chartres
C’est haut et propre It’s high and clean
Avec des nefs With naves
Avec des arcs With arches
Des corridors Corridors
Et des falaises And cliffs
En février In February La neige est rose The snow is pink
Comme chair de femme Like a woman’s flesh
Et en juillet And in July
Le fleuve est tiède The river’s tepid
Sur les battures On the sandbars
Au mois de mai In the month of May
A marée basse At low tide
Voilà les oies Here come the geese
Depuis des siècles For centuries
Au mois de juin In the month of June
Parties les oies The geese have gone
Mais nous les gens But we the people
Les descendants Descendants of people
De La Rochelle From La Rochelle
Présents tout l’temps We’re here all the time Surtout l’hiver In winter mostly
Comme les arbres Like trees
Mais c’est pas vrai But it’s not true
Ben oui c’est vrai Well, yes it’s true
Écoute encore Listen again
Maisons de bois Wooden houses
Maisons de pierre Stone houses
Clochers pointus Pointed bell towers
Et dans les fonds And in the back
Des pâturages Grazing fields
De silence Of silence
Des enfants blonds Blond children
Nourris d’azur Fed by the sky
Comme les anges Like angels
Jouent à la guerre Play war
Imaginaire War imaginary
Imaginons Let’s imagine L’Ile d’Orléans L’île d’Orléans
Un dépotoir A dump
Un cimetière A cemetery
Parcs à vidanges Parks of sewage
Boîte à déchets A box of waste
U. S. parkings U. S. parking
On veut la mettre They want to put her
En mini-jupe In a mini-skirt
And speak English And speak English
Faire ça à elle Do that to her
L’Ile d’Orléans L’île d’Orléans
Notre fleur de lys Our fleur de lys
Mais c’est pas vrai But it’s not true
Ben oui c’est vrai Well, yes it’s true
Raconte encore Tell me again
Sous un nuage Under a cloud
Près d’un cours d’eau Near a stream
C’est un berceau It’s a cradle
Et un grand-père And a blue-eyed
Au regard bleu Grandfather
Qui monte la garde Stands guard
Il sait pas trop He doesn’t quite know
Ce qu’on dit dans What they say
Les capitales In large cities (capitals)
L’œil vers le golfe Looking towards the gulf
Ou Montréal Or Montréal
Guette le signal Hewatches for the signal
Pour célébrer To celebrate
Quand on y pense When one thinks about it
C’est-y en France Is it in France
C’est comme en France It’s like France
Le tour de l’île Round the island
Quarante-deux milles Forty-two miles
Comme des vagues Like waves
Les montagnes Mountains
Les fruits sont mûrs The fruit is ripe
Dans les vergers In the orchards
De mon pays Of my land
Ça signifie It means
L’heure est venue The hour has come
Si t’as compris If you understood