Montreal the metropolis in the south-west of Canada and biggest town of the French speaking province Quebec has always been famous for its bilingual society. The majority of the citizens consists of Franco-Canadians but in spite of the official language being French one could easily get along his whole life speaking English in Montreal. The news-stands are crammed with English and French newspapers, traffic signs written in both languages strike the eye and fresh croissants for breakfast are as usual as in Paris. In the cinemas, English and French films are shown at the same time like in New York or in Paris and English people from London visiting the town have a certain déja-vue experience because of the architects being influenced by the style of former British colonists. On the other hand the existence of two languages in a town also entails many momentous problems. On account of the different culture and behavior and the fear of the French language being extinct a quite big number of Quebecois want Quebec to become an independent, self-administered state separated from the rest of Canada. Especially Montreal, the residence of many Franco-Canadians has become the stage of the struggle for separatism. Regarded with the eye of a tourist the town offers many interesting squares, buildings, shops and parks. The inner-city is quite save even after midnight and so visitors can stroll along the shop windows without any risk. The huge bridges over the St. Lawrence in addition to the beautiful landscapes surrounding Montreal make it a really interesting town that is worth seeing. The following report wants to give some impressions of Montreal, describe the way of living of the inhabitants, point out the special character of the town because of its bilingual society but also show up the problem of Canadian separatism.

Foundation of Montreal

After Columbus' discoveries of the New Continent a lot of expeditions were undertaken to explore the new world. One of the leaders of these expeditions setting off for the new world was Jacques Cartier, a native of St. Malo who received his orders from the French king Francis I. Cartier left Europe on the 20th of April,1534, with two ships and reached the Gulf of St. Lawrence on the 10th of August. After having made some discoveries on the coast which are not worth to be mentioned, he decided to examine the interior by following the river of St. Lawrence. But not far away from the coast of a huge island in the river he was stopped by impassable rapids. It was here where the foundation of Montreal had its origin. On the 3rd of October, 1534, Cartier entered an Indian village named Hochelaga. This little village was situated on the island of today's Montreal. Having had friendly contacts to the natives he left Hochelaga to winter at St. Croix but returned in the next year. One day he made the decision to climb up the mountain of the island to get a wide view of the landscape surrounding the island. Being overwhelmed by the beauty of the nature he had experienced over there he gave the mountain the name of "Mount Royal", "from which the city of Montréal took its name". Then he took possession of the mountain in the name of Francis I. This event took place on October the 2nd ,1535. Cartier also "was induced to consider the village below him as a favourable site for a French settlement", but it was not him who made this idea come true. In fact it took one more century to the foundation of the settlement. In the following years the Canadian area became more and more attractive for the Europeans. The fur trade especially with beaver furs expanded and the new continent was thought to contain a plenty of mineral resources like gold or silver. The new king of France "Henry IV" gave the monopoly of the fur trade to his friend "Sieur de Monte" who was a very faithful protestant. One of his most important friends named Samuel de Champlain, a well-known scholar, accompanied him to the new world. Champlain should become one of the two first Europeans to visit Montreal island since Cartier left it in the 16th century. He made several expeditions to "La Nouvelle France" how the French Colony in North America was also called "to meet the savages and to identify an appropriate place for a settlement". On July the 3rd, 1605, he founded the city of Quebec what made him known as the "Father of 'La Nouvelle France". In 1611 Champlain came to Montreal island and had to recognise that the Indian village of Hochelaga which was mentioned in scripts of Cartier didn't exist any more. He instructed his men to reclaim a petite region on the coast that he baptised "Place Royale", a name that is still used today for this location. In 1615 he visited Montreal island once more where he got to know two priests of the Récollet Order. These two priests and the men of Champlain celebrated the first Christian mass on North-American territory. In 1627 the Prime Minister of France, Cardinal Richelieu made king Louis XIII grant the property rights of "La Nouvelle France" to "The Company of One Hundred Partners"- a group of men with much property and credits. This company gave the rights for Montreal island to two missionaries: Jean-Jacques Olier and JerÎme de la Royer de la DauversiÚre. These men decided to establish a mission on the island of Montreal to convert the heathen Indians. In 1641, after having collected a plenty of money, they set off for Montreal island accompanied by 50 members of the lately founded "Société de Notre Dame de Montréal". Their leader was Paul de Chomedey who was also called Sieur de Maisonneuve. Having arrived at the island Maisonneuve founded his colony "Ville Marie" on top of Champlain's "Place Royale". Montreal was born. In the beginning the settlers distinguished between the name of the settlement - Ville Marie and the name of the island - Montreal. But in the course of time the town used to be called Montreal as well. There has always been a tremendous conflict between the historians whether Montreal was founded on the 17th or the 18th of Mai, 1642. Some historians insist on the fact that workings for the settlement started right after the arrival, others say that there wasn't done any work until the next day.

Important events in the history

The years passed by and Montreal grew more and more. But in the middle of the 18th century a new menace took shape. The British - full of envy concerning the French - began an invasion of Canada. In the beginning the French managed to stop the British because of their commandant, Louis Joseph Marquis de Montcalm being a strategic genius. But unfortunately, the French had to defend their country in Europe against English and Prussian troops and so they were not able to sent enough soldiers to Canada. The consequence was the defeat of the French army near Quebec. Montcalm was killed on the "Plains of Abraham" by the British General James Wolfe who also died afterwards in this battle. On the 13th of September, 1759 Quebec had to surrender to the British troops. The remains of the French army reunited in Montreal. The commandant of the remaining French troops, de Levi, intended to conquer the former French regions but failed. So on September the 7th. ,1760, Montreal's Governor Vaudreuil had to realize "that defence was hopeless" and on the 8th he surrendered. The British took possession of Montreal and Montreal's French era was over. This event was responsible for Montreal's bilingualism of today. In the following years prosperity in Montreal increased. But as soon as wealth rose another threat came into view. America considered to revolt and the Americans also wanted Canada to be freed of the British, colonial suppression. Montreal was bombarded. The first attack of the Americans failed but in autumn of the year 1775 General Richard Montgomery attacked Montreal with a very high number of soldiers and Governor Carleton had to capitulate. But in spite of being independent the inhabitants of Montreal didn't celebrate their new freedom. On the contrary they refused independence, what bothered the Americans. Under the rule of the British the citizens had a good life and that's why they didn't look forward to Canadian independence. In 1783 the Americans left Canada and a contract between the United States of America and Great Britain was signed, leaving Montreal under British administration. But 30 years later, in 1813, the Americans returned, this time not to free, but to conquer Montreal. They were beaten near Chateauguay by only about 1,000 Canadians fighting against American troops which were much more numerous. In 1825 Montreal got the right to be called a town and the first mayor, Jacques Vigers, was elected. Because of the unjust distribution of the offices, the fact of the Franco-Canadians being paid less than the Anglo-Canadians and similar other reasons another conflict kindled in 1837/38. In Montreal "Les Patriotes", a group of revolutionary Franco-Canadians and their leader Louis Joseph Papineau claimed the deposition of the government, intending to replace it by a government elected by the bourgeoisie. But the English declined Papineau's proposal of the new political system and one more conflict was the consequence. On October the 6th a violent riot took place in St. James Street and in the night Papineau's house had been totally destroyed. Two weeks after this event Sir John Colborne sent troops to persecute the "Patriotes" and their adepts and to "punish anyone who took part in or supported the insurrection" but most of the rebels escaped to the US like Papineau. The rest got executed. In 1841 the provinces of Upper- and Lower Canada united and in 1843 Montreal became the capital of the new Canada, but not for long. During the European revolution Montreal's parliament passed a law to indemnify the "Patriotes" for the cruelties of 1837. Flown into a fury reactionary elements set fire to the Parliament building, its members fled in panics. Right after this incident the parliament was displaced to Toronto until Ottawa finally became the Capital of Canada. Nevertheless Montreal developed successively into one of the most significant economic and cultural centres in America.

Montreal today

Today Montreal represents Canada's largest city with more than 3 million inhabitants. Montreal island is totally covered by buildings and streets, which are connected to the mainland by numerous bridges. Additionally Mount Royal, rising 233m in the air, strikes the eye. The Canadian leading port is located in Montreal and many Canadian companies have their main central offices in the inner city. From 1960 to 1970 the centre of Montreal has changed. Numerous very high skyscrapers were integrated into the townscape, with huge underground shopping complexes. These complexes are connected by the Metro, a subway system constructed in the '60s. In winter everybody can shop and work in the underground city without getting outside. All destinations can be easily reached by bus and the new highways drawing through the city grant the connection to all the other important cities. Montreal owns two airports, one for national, the other for international flights and is often described as the town of "Hospitality with a definite French flavour" and " a thriving metropolis on the threshold of a new millennium". Looking at the cultural aspects Montreal's victory over the great rival Toronto is obvious. But concerning financial, commercial and industrial primacy in Canada, Montreal has to compete with Toronto, which supplanted Montreal as the ruling city of Canada some years ago. But what kind of people live in Montreal? The town offers an extraordinary high number of prominent people. Almost all the Canadian stars setting great store by national reputation own at least one House in Montreal, normally in Outremont, the wealthier, French part of the city. Movie stars settle in Montreal because of the "Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC)" having its headquarter there and the popular festivals arranged every year. The life in modern Montreal is tremendously marked by the bilingualism of the citizens. Two thirds of Montreal's inhabitants are Franco-Canadians, a quarter is English speaking and the rest consists of a mixture of immigrants preferring their mother tongues. After Paris Montreal is the second-largest French speaking city in the world. In principal Montreal can be divided into two parts: Westmount and Outremont. The greater part of the Anglo-Canadians lives in Westmount, Outremont represents the Franco-Canadian part of Montreal and of course there are sometimes some people living in the "wrong" part. Although a high percentage of people living in Montreal speak both languages perfectly and they often switch between English and French they mostly have their friends and relatives in one of the two communities. Rarely there are marriages or relationships between Anglo- and Franco- Canadians since for both groups there exist own schools, universities, theatres and hospitals. The Canadian romanticist Hugh McLennan called the two wings the "Two solitudes" because of their parallel, separated development. In the course of time some expressions of the two languages made their way into the other one. For example the Anglo-Canadian calls a demonstration a "manifestation" and a drug-store is called "dépanneur". Shop-owners are inevitably forced to speak both languages. It's utopian to compare Montreal with Belfast. The bilingualism doesn't drive the inhabitants into fights, in Montreal a certain state of coexistence has been formed by making compromises, supplemented by tolerance. Montreal is not only the city of English and French Canadians. It's also the town of Italians, Greeks, Jews, Asians and other nationalities, making the town a multicultural metropolis. Even a little Chinatown can be found in the suburbs. The immigrants come to Montreal because of the town being so hospitable. Nobody, no matter what complexion, is despised or isolated. The multicultural character of the town also attracts many tourists and the variety of shops, restaurants and "dépanneurs" enforces the international interest in Montreal.

Sights and attractions of Montreal

In the following paragraph the sights and attractions of Montreal will be described in detail, mentioning just a few. Especially the old town named Old Montreal is full of curiosities and attractive sights. The heart of Old Montreal is Place-Jacques-Cartier, a colourful, flower-bedecked square dating from the first half of the 19th century with a cobblestone pavement and Victorian street lamps giving the square plenty of charm. Numerous cafes and restaurants invite to relax and in the summertime acrobats and jugglers meet at Place-Jacques-Cartier to entertain the tourists. In January the "FĂȘte des Neiges", a winter festival ( see picture p. 6) takes place, celebrated with ice-sculptures and snowboard demonstrations at the square. Another important sight in Old Montreal is the "ChĂąteau Ramezay", an old stone home built in 1705. From the 18th century until now it served as residence of the British governors, court, school, government office and lodging for the American troops during the liberation wars ( see Chapter1: II). Even Benjamin Franklin stayed there for a few days. Today it's a museum of the 18th century with an authentic furniture. In the street "Rue St-Paul" the "MarchĂ© Bonsecours" is situated, which used to be the most photographed edifice of the town. Its dome was constructed in the style of Renaissance and in former times ships, sailing on the St.-Lawrence had to orientate towards the dome high above all the other buildings, sparkling in the sun. First the "MarchĂ© Bonsecours" was used as a market but special circumstances forced it to serve as parliament building (in 1849) and as town hall (from 1852 to 1878). Today the "MarchĂ© Bonsecours" stands as a "symbol of Montreal's boom" ("Symbole d'un MontrĂ©al en plein essor") Speaking about Old Montreal the most famous church of the town, Notre-Dame, has to be mentioned. Constructed in 1829 by the architect James O'Donnell the exterior view of the basilica is artless but impressing due to its bigness. O'Donnell even converted to Roman Catholicism just "to be inhumed under his church" ("... pour pouvoir ĂȘtre inhumĂ© sous 'son' Ă©glise") In the west tower a huge bell, weighing 12 tons, is installed which used to need 12 men to ring it. The two towers of Notre-Dame are 69 meters high and were finished in 1845. The interior of Notre-Dame was conceptualised by Victor Bourgeau (see picture), rich beautifully decorated in wood and bright colours. Several masses are celebrated for the tourists every day. Near Notre-Dame the Bank of Montreal is situated. The building dates from 1847 and has a very artful storefront created by John Wells. The interior is full of pillars, marble pedestals and chandeliers, all is decorated with beatgold. The large windows light the rooms and during the daytime there's no need to switch on the lamps. The main hall contains a museum of money with some grant collections of banknotes and coins. In the west of Old Montreal the oldest building of Montreal, the Vieux SĂ©minaire de Saint-Sulpice, can be found. Froncois Dollier de Casson was the draughtsman of this edifice, constructed in 1680. On top of the building a big clock was attached in 1701, which was the first, public clock of Canada. Modern Montreal has its own attractions. The principal shopping street is Rue Sainte Catherine which offers large department stores with the famous subterranean complexes mentioned in Chapter1 III. In Rue Sainte Catherine tourists can relax in one of the cafĂ©s, buy souvenirs or stroll along the shop windows. "Ogilvy and Sons", "Simpsons" and "Eatons" are the three most famous shopping centres in the street. Parallel to Rue Sainte Catherine Rue Sherbrooke stretches. This very fashionable street is full of galleries of, for example, painting- and glass-art, attracting the tourists. In the northern part of Rue Sherbrooke the "MusĂ©e des Beaux-Arts" is open for the art-interested people. It was founded in 1860, representing the oldest museum of Canada. Inside, the museum contains a huge collection of paintings and sculptures from Europe and North-America. Because of the building being not big enough for all artistic treasures the town had to finance a new building across the street. As you can see on the picture even the exterior of the building is sometimes decorated with art. Another important place in Modern Montreal is the "Dominion Square". With business moving from Old Montreal to the Centre, this old square grew of importance in the end of the 19th century. Numerous companies, a railway station and hotels made it a good, economic location. Furthermore it is one of the last "green dots" on Montreal's map, surrounded by high skyscrapers. The main attraction of the Dominion Square is the "Sun Life Building", which used to be the highest building of Canada. Montreal is the "town of festivals" ("Stadt der Festivals" ). The first festival of the summer is the "International Fireworks Festival" combining a gigantic fireworks performance with classic music, followed by the "International Jazz Festival". International Jazz stars performing their greatest hits make the festival one of the most important Jazz events of the world. The next festival is the "Comedy Festival Just for Laughs", where comedians from the US, Europe and Canada amuse the spectators. The last festival of the summer is the "International Film Festival". The cinemas show more than 200 films in a few days. In winter the famous "Snow Festival" takes place at Place-Jacques Cartier (see picture and description p.8) Of course Montreal offers much more attractions and sights, but naming all would fill a whole book.

Jews of Montreal

One of Montreal's most conspicuous linguistic minorities are the Jews. When they arrived more then 50 years ago because of European holocaust and prosecution, they settled at "Boulevard St-Laurent", the part of the town dividing Westmount and Outremont. But they were not the first Jews in Montreal. The first synagogue was already built in 1777 by the descendants of the Jews escaping to Montreal because of the Spanish inquisition. In 1881 the Tsar of Russia was killed and the Russian Jews "had to serve as scapegoats" and so more than 13000 Russian Jews fled to Montreal. They came to Montreal as totally destitute people and were sweated by Canadian capitalists. They had to work in manufactories with long working times and low salaries. But in the course of time they made it in society. The "Workmen's Circle", a kind of labor union fighting against capitalistic exploitation, was founded and the Jewish working conditions improved. In 1940 Montreal counted more than 50 synagogues. The Jews opened shops and engaged in art and science. Many Jews left the Jewish quarter and moved to better areas. Today Montreal has many Jewish quarters especially in Outremont, the French part of the town. About 100.000 Jews live in Montreal, still speaking Yiddish. But the Jewish community has a problem of age. In 1986 more than 20 percent of the Jews were over 65 years old. Many old Jews can't supply themselves any longer with food and cloth. So it is necessary to found organisations to help them. Another fact is that a high number of Jews are afraid of Yiddish being extinguish by the bilingualism of Montreal. Institutions like the Yiddish theatre group of Dora Wassermann try to prevent this extinction. To remind people of the cruelties of holocaust the "Montreal Holocaust Memorial Centre" was established, concerning the extermination camps in Germany during the Second World War.

Ice hockey - more than sports?

People in Montreal have always had a fable for sports. Baseball and Football were very popular but no sport has ever had such a high importance as Ice hockey. Ice hockey and Montreal belong together like the pope and the church. Almost every child in Montreal starts skating on the ice being younger than seven years and the idea of becoming a famous ice hockey star in the "National Hockey League" is the dream of nearly all Canadian kids. For Canadians ice hockey is an "expression of national values" ( "...Ausdruck nationaler Werte"), and as a matter of fact the Canadian players are the best Ice Hockey players of the world. Surprisingly the Canadian Ice Hockey team is of less interest for the fans. Canadian Ice Hockey enthusiasm concentrates on the "National Hockey League" (NHL) where the great North-American teams of the big cities play against each other. In North-America there's a quarrel between Halifax, Kingston and Montreal where the first North-American ice hockey match took place. In fact on the 3rd of March 1875 two teams of Montreal had a match against each other. The two teams consisted of rugby players who couldn't do their sport in winter. In the beginning people used the frozen St.-Lawrence to play ice hockey and in 1885 two students of Montreal's McGill-University invented and wrote down the rules of the game. In 1907 the "International Ice Hockey Federation" was founded and in 1917 the NHL was established. At that time Montreal had two teams playing in the NHL: The "Montreal Canadiens" and the "Maroons". Until today the Canadiens managed to win the "Stanley Cup" 23 times, which is the trophy for the season's winner. Today the number of teams playing in the NHL has increased up to 26, so the fans can watch more matches than in former times. The NHL has developed into a huge "company" with players earning millions of dollars and TV broadcasting rights costing enormous sums. For many of Montreal's inhabitants the Canadiens are a team they can identify with. Allegedly the "H" on their tricots stands for "Habitants", but probably it actually stands for "Hockey". In the 1940s the Canadiens even were responsible for a change of the rules. Maurice Richard and his team had such a hard power play, making 2 or 3 goals during every penalty time of the other teams, that the NHL had to change the rules. From then on the power play has been finished after a goal of the advantaged team. Nevertheless the Canadiens won the Stanley Cup from 1956 to 1960 five times in a row and four times in a row from 1976 to 1979. The most serious rivals of the Canadiens have always been the Toronto "Maple Leafs". Just as the two cities have competed in economic domains, the ice hockey teams have tried to keep the sporty proud of their towns alive by beating the other one. Normally the Canadiens were the winners. At the moment both teams have a crisis and haven't won the Stanley Cup for decades. But in spite of the Canadiens failing in the play-offs it is almost impossible to get tickets for their matches.

Canadian Separatism - facts and reasons

For a long period in history Montreal was Canada's most important city concerning economy and industry. But the problem of separatism changed this situation in a radical way. Many inhabitants of the French-speaking Canadian province Quebec wanted Quebec to break away from the rest of Canada, forming a new, independent country. This circumstance made a lot of companies and firms sceptical to invest in towns like Montreal or Quebec-City. Some investors even closed their manufactories and settled in Toronto. The consequence was Montreal's economical comedown and the new ruling of Toronto as Canada's city number one. The worth of premises in Montreal decreased, the growth of Montreal decelerated and unemployment rose. But what was the origin of the separatism? Firstly it was the conquest of Montreal by British troops in 1760 which made Montreal bilingual. This event formed the basis of the separatist movement. Many years of peace and tolerance followed until finally in 1914 the question of Canadian participation in the First World War triggered one more quarrel. The French Canadians didn't feel obligated to fight against the enemies of Great Britain and refused to participate. The Anglo-Canadians insulted them as cowards. The same situation reoccurred at the beginning of the Second World War and once more the government wasn't capable of solving the problem. The distrust on both sides rose. After the Second World War the conflict climaxed. The Franco-Canadians felt unprivileged because of the Anglo-Canadians being so mighty in politics. The "Parti Québécois" was founded in 1968 by René Lévesque and in 1970 the radical group "Front de Liberation du Québec" (FLQ) kidnapped the anglophone politician James Cross. Eventually he was freed but five days later the FLQ kidnapped Quebec's Labour Minister Pierre Laporte and killed him. All Canada was shocked about the cruel deed of the FLQ and politicians were afraid of further assassinations. Canada's Prime Minister sent 10'000 soldiers to Montreal to stop the FLQ and to prevent a revolution of the students. Nevertheless the separatist movement advanced. In 1976's elections the Parti Québécois became most important party. In 1979 the new government let Quebec voters decide in a referendum whether they wanted Quebec to secede from the rest of Canada but the separatists lost the referendum by a 60 - 40 margin. After the referendum the situation eased, the separatist movement still existed but its radical era was over. In the 1980s the Parti Québécois even lost the elections. But in 1988 enmity between Franco- and Anglo-Canadians reoccurred. The "Meech Lake accord" failed to be ratified in parliament. At this point it's worthwhile to name some important facts about the Meech Lake accord. Since 1982 Canada had a constitution Quebec has never approved, because it did not include any paragraphs protecting Franco-Canadian concerns like the French language or culture. The Franco-Canadians were afraid of their language and culture being extinguished because of Quebec's high immigration- and low birth-rates in addition to the Canadian majority consisting of English speaking people. That's why in April 1987 Brian Mulroney, the Canadian Prime Minister, invited the ten provincial premiers to join an assembly at Meech Lake, Quebec, to discuss this problem. Quebec's Prime Minister Robert Bourassa demanded more provincial power for his region and the assembly made a list of constitutional amendments in order to satisfy Quebec claims. To ratify the amendments, all provinces had to agree to the accord till the deadline of the 23rd June 1990. But in 1988 Bourassa made a tactical mistake. He passed a law "that banned English on outdoor commercial signs in Quebec". Shop owners in Montreal and other Quebec towns were forced to replace their bilingual written signs into French ones. English speakers in Canada reacted indignant and more than 60 municipalities declared English to be "their sole official tongue"14. In my opinion their indignation is understandable, Quebec claimed equality but on the other hand prohibited bilingual commercial signs. However, the 23rd of June arrived and three provincial governments refused to agree to the accord. Separatism and the Parti Québécois had a revival, finally culminating in Quebec's independence referendum in 1995.

Referendum of 1995

In 1991 another separatist party was founded. The Parti Québécois, until 1991 the sole separatist party in Canada, now got support by the new "Bloc Quebecois", whose leader was Lucien Bouchard, a former member of the Parti Québécois. Two years after the foundation of the party, the Bloc Quebecois was elected into parliament, because of its candidates promising a new referendum attempt to the separatist voters of Quebec. And really, in 1995 a referendum took place on the 30th of October, which was made possible by Jacques Parizeau, the Quebec premier in 1995. So on the 30th of October Quebec voters had it in hand whether to secede from the rest of Canada or to stay unified. The biggest opponent of the secession was Canada's Prime Minister Jean Chretien, who saw his nation crumbling and who was embarrassed, because his home province wanted to break away from the rest of Canada. Before the referendum he gave the voters "... a final and very visible push for a 'no' vote". Separatists reacted with demonstrations intending to convince voters to say "oui" to Quebec's sovereignty (see picture p.15). The referendum was regarded all over the world and even the U.S. president Clinton phoned Prime Minister Chretien to point out his support for Canadian unity. In the end little more than 1% was missing to split Canada. The federalists won the referendum by a 50.6 - 49.4 margin leaving separatists disappointed and in anger. Quite after the announcement of the final results Prime Minister Chretien said in an interview: "I understand your deep desire for change. We must now seek innovative solutions". More than 93% of the voters participated in the referendum, 82% of the electorate were French-speakers. Special polls showed, that more than 60% of the Franco-Canadians voted "oui", but almost 100% of the remaining Anglo-Canadians especially in western Montreal and regions near Toronto voted "non". In the night after the referendum it came to quarrels and riots among the population. Federalists celebrated their victory while the anger of the separatists rose. In Montreal the police was called to stop the opponents fighting in the streets. Policemen arrested about 50 people committing violent attacks to their political enemies, but also two policemen were hurt by the crowd. In "Vaudreuil", a suburb of Montreal, the house of Daniel Johnson, one of the "no" campaign's leaders, was burnt down, when tempers became frayed. Separatist politics even aggravated the situation. "We want our country and we will have it"15 said Quebec's premier Parizeau. Separatists promised to continue fighting for a sovereign Quebec, and indeed a secession of Quebec from the rest of Canada is still conceivable in the future. In spite of the separatists losing the referendum, they decided to stay in Parliament. The Bloc Quebecois disposed of 53 seats in Parliament and kept them because "The objective of sovereignty is more alive than ever before". They were determined to fight against all attempts of the federalists intending to keep Quebec in Canada. They also promised further referendums to achieve their ambition to separate Quebec. That drove prime minister Chretien into a fury, because he really tried to satisfy the Quebeckers in what concerns their fear of being menaced by the overwhelming English speaking majority. In case of Quebec staying in Canada he even offered new privileges to the province, but also pointed out that he won't permit further referendums for the next years, since "Canada has a right to political stability"16. But Bouchard was not willing to compromise with Chretien. As a consequence of the lost referendum, the Quebec Prime Minister Parizeau resigned one day after the separatist defeat and Bouchard was supposed to be the successor. Finally the 1995 referendum results didn't submit independence for Quebec, but the closeness of the percentages voting for and against sovereignty showed, that a tremendous high number of Quebeckers was not content with the central administration of Canada, and so people demanded measures to protect their language and culture.

Quebec's and Montreal's future - some speculations

In 1998 the Parti Quebecois won the elections in Quebec for one more time. Its leader was an old-known friend, Lucien Bouchard, who rejoined his old party in the meantime. From 125 seats in Parliament the separatists won 75, which was less than expected. Bouchard announced, that he would create "the conditions for a winning referendum for the sovereignty of Quebec" ,although prime minister Chretien promised a better future co-operation between Quebec and Ottawa, the capital of Canada, in the future. Chretien also warned of further referendums, but to no avail. The nationalists still believe to succeed and face another decision of the voters. As likelihood for a new referendum is very high one has to wonder what would happen to Quebec and its biggest city Montreal in the case of secession. Firstly Canada would not be a bilingual country any longer, and Quebeckers would represent a French minority among millions of English speaking North-Americans. A separation would mean no more financial support from Ottawa, which has been necessary during the last years to keep unemployment low and to encourage provincial economy. In addition to that, the U.S., Mexico and Canada are members of the NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) allowing tax-free trade between these three countries. If Quebec seceded from Canada it would not be automatically a member of the NAFTA as well. Of course there's also the possibility to join the NAFTA after the brake-away, but for admission to the NAFTA all other members have to agree and it's unlikely that Canada would welcome Quebec to become a member. As a consequence all available goods would become more expensive in Quebec and this circumstance would create very bad conditions for business. Without a certain industrial sector Montreal and its province would be economically dead and unemployment rates would be higher than ever before. And what about the Hydro-Quebec dams? The dams producing most of Quebec electricity are situated in the "Great North", where mostly aboriginal citizens live. Over 90% of these native Canadians refuse the separation of Quebec, and whether Quebec separated their region would probably remain Canadian. In this case Quebec would be forced to buy the electricity from the Canadian state, who would certainly not sell it cheaply to their "old separatist friends". And what would happen to the English minority especially in Montreal? If I was an Anglo-Canadian Quebecker, I wouldn't want to stay in a French town full of separatists. So the main part of the English speaking inhabitants would probably emigrate to Canada or the U.S.. Montreal would probably lose its state as a bilingual metropolis and become French at all. And above all, does Quebec dispose of the money to afford an own administration, new passports for everyone, and an own currency? The answer is simple: No! In the last years Quebec even wasn't able to cope with its normal, provincial charges without federal support. Subventions from Ottawa had been indispensable to maintain Quebec's economic status. To avoid financial ruin the separatist leader Bouchard would like to keep Canadian currency and passports after a successful referendum. But would Canadians "allow Quebec to be a parasite on their economy?" Likely not! The other question concerning a separate Quebec is what would happen to the rest of Canada. Would they remain as one country, one Canada, or would other Canadian provinces follow Quebec and secede? In the case of Canada staying united Toronto would grow and develop faster because of its new inhabitants leaving Quebec. Without Montreal in Canada Toronto would get rid of its traditional rival and numerous Quebec companies would certainly leave Montreal for Toronto. Stobe Talbott mentioned in an article of the Time Newsmagazine "a classified State Department study of French-Canadian nationalism" speculating "that the secession of Quebec might lead the other nine provinces to sue for union with the U.S."19. Allegedly a KGB station in Ottawa even had material to proof "that U.S. agents were secretly aiding the Quebec Liberation Front [...] trying to destabilize the central government"19 There is no denying the fact that the U.S. would welcome a union with Canada, of course under American rule. In this case North-America would consist of two countries: Quebec and the U.S.. In my opinion it would not last very long and Quebec would also have to unify with the States due to its economic problems and then the only winner of Quebec's separation would be the U.S. possessing whole North-America. Goodbye Canada and welcome American Empire!


I personally have been to Montreal for two times and I really enjoyed my vacations in this charming city. As a tourist I wasn't concerned with Canadian separatism, but I remember my aunt and my uncle in law being upset about the bad economic situation caused by the nationalists. In my opinion one could neither describe Montreal as a peaceful bilingual society nor as a hell of separatists. The correct description lies somewhere in between. Speaking about Montreal nobody would imagine radical groups killing each other on the street like in former Yugoslavia, but who can foretell how bad the separatist struggle will become? When I was in Montreal I only realized a special kind of fanaticism concerning the French language. I wondered why on Montreal's "Stop"-signs, the stop was replaced by "Arret" though even in France these signs are written in English. But I have to say, that in principal it doesn't matter whether one speaks English or French in Montreal. Most of Montreal's inhabitants speak both languages more or less well. Except the separatist problem Montreal is a wonderful town in my eyes. Numerous festivals, museums, Old Montreal and the harbour contribute to the tourist's contentment. Montreal is one of the oldest towns in North-America, with a great history and culture, ancient buildings and citizens who have learned to cope with bilingualism and especially this bilingualism has made the town so fascinating and attractive. That's why I would prefer Quebec staying in Canada. But no matter how separatist fights will develop, I will always remain a fan of Montreal.

6478 Worte in "englisch"  als "hilfreich"  bewertet