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Old 02-27-2010, 09:00 AM
 
Location: Portland, Oregon
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Most American English speakers are NOT of English descent, is it the same with Quebec? Like are a lot of French Canadians not even French in heritage but just speak the language?
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Old 02-27-2010, 09:53 AM
 
Location: Colorado
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Quebecois come from a variety of backgrounds French, British, Irish, Native (Huron), German and more recently places like Asia and especially French speaking places in Africa and Haiti. However, it's not on the same scale of "mutt" ancestries you'd find in the US or English Canada. By that I mean there far are more "French" descended Quebecois than "English" descended Americans. If you watch Quebecois TV for example, often the entire line of credits for a show are composed entirely of "French" last names. Most incoming immigrants to Canada bypassed Quebec to settle the cheap open lands west of it or else were assimilated to "English Canadian" culture in places like Montreal. The Irish however did often intermarry and join the community more often than other immigrants because they shared the same fath - Catholicism. This was a time when Catholics and Protestants tried to keep separate.

Keep in mind that at the time of colonization though, the "French" colonists actually came from regions of modern day France that at that time spoke their own dialects such as Normandy, Gascogne or Bretagne. In those days "French" was spoken only by a minority in what we consider "France" today. What we consider to be "French" today is really the language of "Ile-de-France", the area of France where Paris is located. Quebec actually became monolingual French speaking before France itself did.I await Acajack to better infrom you!
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Old 02-27-2010, 05:09 PM
 
Location: Vancouver, BC
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That's right - French speakers in Canada come from diverse backgrounds. A whole patchwork of immigrants moved there. You do have those who came from France 400 years ago, but you also have people from England, Ireland, Scotland, Greece, Italy, China, Lebanon, Haiti, etc. You also have aboriginal heritage mixed in as well. Over the centuries it's all blended and most people in Quebec tie their family heritages back to a variety of backgrounds.
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Old 02-28-2010, 12:50 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hobbesdj View Post
Quebecois come from a variety of backgrounds French, British, Irish, Native (Huron), German and more recently places like Asia and especially French speaking places in Africa and Haiti. However, it's not on the same scale of "mutt" ancestries you'd find in the US or English Canada. By that I mean there far are more "French" descended Quebecois than "English" descended Americans. If you watch Quebecois TV for example, often the entire line of credits for a show are composed entirely of "French" last names. Most incoming immigrants to Canada bypassed Quebec to settle the cheap open lands west of it or else were assimilated to "English Canadian" culture in places like Montreal. The Irish however did often intermarry and join the community more often than other immigrants because they shared the same fath - Catholicism. This was a time when Catholics and Protestants tried to keep separate.

Keep in mind that at the time of colonization though, the "French" colonists actually came from regions of modern day France that at that time spoke their own dialects such as Normandy, Gascogne or Bretagne. In those days "French" was spoken only by a minority in what we consider "France" today. What we consider to be "French" today is really the language of "Ile-de-France", the area of France where Paris is located. Quebec actually became monolingual French speaking before France itself did.I await Acajack to better infrom you!
What about the Italian and Lebanese communities in the Montreal area? Both are strong Catholic based cultures as well. In the caser of the Lebanese, they were also colonized by the French. So, that also could be why so many immigrated to Quebec, as well as other locales in Ontario, the Maritimes and even in the New England states, NY and MI.
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Old 02-28-2010, 03:09 PM
 
Location: Colorado
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Let me be more specific; in reference to the wave of immigration Canada experienced from the late 19th century until World War One, most immigrants did not assimilate to Quebecois society. I use Quebecois to refer to the society established by the descendants of the colonists of New France. If the newcomers learned French, in most cases but not all, it was passable French as a second or third language. Lebanon became a French mandate after 1918 as a result of the Ottoman collapse during World War I, and only the elites of Lebanon would learn it, the rest of society spoke Arabic. Historically, it was largely the Irish who joined the Quebecois society in large numbers because of tension between Catholics and Protestants and for their universal dislike of English who had occupied their homeland. This is not to discredit people of other ancestries which did, because it occurred, but the Irish were present in Quebecois society from New France until the modern day. One can, for example, drive to a truly Quebecois town like Trois-Rivieres or Saguenay and find people who are as Quebecois as any other - the only difference being that their last name is MacMahon in a sea of names like Gagne, Robataille, and Brossard.

The Italians generally learned English and joined the anglophone community. The reasons for this being that the English-speakers controlled the vast majority of the wealth in Quebec until the Quiet Revolution despite compromising a minority of the population. Believe it or not, Quebec City in the mid 19th century was about 40% English speaking; today it is nearly all francophone. Montreal at the same time was also home to a much larger English speaking community than today - if you look at pictures of Rue Ste Catherine during the early 1900's, street signs and advertisements were generally in English, not French. The Quebecois were effectively "colonized" by the British much like Algeria or Lebanon by the French. An example of this legacy can be seen at my university, Concordia University in Montreal. There are huge numbers of students who are of Italian origin and speak English as a first language but only speak passable French - and only if pressed into the situation. The same students complain that now the "French" took over (referring to the Quiet Revolution), that they are "forced" to learn French, and hold significant resentment against the Quebecois. (This is not representative of my point of view).

This issue continues today, but not on the same scale as in pre-1970's Quebec. These people who learned passable French as a second language would not be considered "Quebecois" by most francophone Quebecois who were descended from the New France colonists. Some nationalistic Quebecois give this as a reason for wanting independence - the great majority of immigrants learn English rather than French in Quebec despite the great majority of the populace speaking French. This is was what Parizeau was referring to with his controversial "money and the ethnic vote" statement after the 1995 referendum.

A really excellent book which I highly recommend anyone read who has an interest in Quebec is "Dream of Nation" by Susan Mann. It presents the history of the Quebecois from colonists to the modern day independence question in great detail for the English speaker.
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Old 02-28-2010, 03:14 PM
 
Location: OK
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Not all Quebecois are French speaking. For example, one of the Island of Les Iles de la Madeleine (Entry Island) is 100% English speaking and the population are decedents of Scottish ship wreck victims.
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Old 02-28-2010, 03:50 PM
 
Location: Colorado
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Originally Posted by Annemieke Roell View Post
Not all Quebecois are French speaking. For example, one of the Island of Les Iles de la Madeleine (Entry Island) is 100% English speaking and the population are decedents of Scottish ship wreck victims.
Well "Quebecois" almost always refers to the French speaking of inhabitants of Quebec. Many Quebecois simply refer to themselves as "Quebecois" and to English speakers as "Canadian". "Quebecker" usually refers to an English speaker residing in Quebec. Then other times anglophones will be referred to as simply "English", and francophones simply as "French".If someone from England or France is present, the situation get confusing beyond belief. Come to think of it, I've never been a place in my life where nationality/national identity is so confusing. Quebec takes the cake!

A lot of it requires knowledge of French to really see both sides of the spectrum. When one is reading about Quebec and also Canadian nationality in English, the situation is always presented from a purely English-Canadian perspective. If one reads French speaking newspapers and publications in regards to Canadian politics and national identity, one can see that French speakers of Canada have a completely different perspective of how they view Canada and themselves. The francophones usually view Canada an equal union of two nations: Quebec (one nation) and English Canada (another nation). English speakers view Quebec as a simply another province out of ten. They might view these people on Ile de la Madeleine as a completely different nation in the same way Americans view Mexicans as another.

I really don't think it could get more confusing!
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Old 02-28-2010, 07:26 PM
 
Location: Gatineau, Québec
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hobbesdj has actually garnered a pretty accurate image of Quebec history and society in the few years he has lived here.

One thing I wanted to mention regarding immigrants is that the tide on this front has been (painstakingly) slowly turning in French's favour over the past 20 or 30 years.

For example, the most recent census of Canada in 2006 was the first ever to reveal that more immigrants in Quebec had switched to French as home language than had switched to English. About 55% of immigrants to Quebec now switch to French when they abandon their ancestral language. This still leaves 45% going to English, but it is still a lot better than in the 70s and 80s when it was 80% in favour of English.
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Old 02-28-2010, 07:38 PM
 
Location: Gatineau, Québec
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Originally Posted by hobbesdj View Post
By that I mean there far are more "French" descended Quebecois than "English" descended Americans. If you watch Quebecois TV for example, often the entire line of credits for a show are composed entirely of "French" last names.
The francophone population is indeed more "French" than the American English-speaking population is "English".

Still, it is interesting that you put "French" in brackets in reference to the names.

Many names which are widely considered to be old stock French Canadian actually hide other origins, such as Tisdelle (Teasdale), Meilleur (Meyer), Crégheur (Krieger), Riel (Riley), Sylvain (Sullivan), Sylvestre (Silvestri), Phaneuf (Farnsworth), Rodrigue (Rodrigues), etc.

Interesting also that you mentioned the credits at the end of TV shows. What you say about Quebec TV shows is true, but what I have noticed is that I can tell a (English) Canadian TV show (often indistinguishable from American ones except for this detail) by the much greater preponderance of anglo-sounding names in the credits.

English-speaking Canada is today a very diverse society, but what you might call the "white anglo" population in Canada is much more British-Irish than what you would call the "white anglo" population in the U.S.
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Old 02-28-2010, 07:43 PM
 
Location: Gatineau, Québec
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Originally Posted by MimzyMusic View Post
Most American English speakers are NOT of English descent, is it the same with Quebec? Like are a lot of French Canadians not even French in heritage but just speak the language?
In Montreal in particular, there is a rapidly growing segment of the French native speaker population that doesn't have a single drop of French blood in its bodies.

I addressed this very question in the following thread with a post on 06-25-2009 at 09:37 AM:

Areas in Quebec where you can't get by with only French
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