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My images of Quebec

by Carl Stieren
Ottawa Monthly Meeting (Quakers)
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

In 1968, I hitchhiked to Quebec City from Toronto with my friend Peter, and we were put up at his friend Marie’s parents’ apartment. Marie gathered up the whole gang-her friend Jacques, whom I came to know fairly well, and other friends, and gave us a wonderful tour of the city. We had decided that we would all speak French in Québec, and when they came for a visit in Toronto, everyone would speak English. At one point Marie looked at me and then asked Peter, “Does he have an accent?”. Peter said, “You mean in English?” Marie said, “Yes, because he has a very thick German accent in French!”. We all laughed - English was my mother tongue, but the only person I’d ever spoken French with was my father, who had - in French as well as in English - a thick German accent.

Finally, in 1996, a month before the second Québec referendum, I called up Jacques to see if he would welcome a visit from me. I asked him if he remembered me, and he replied, “Carl, it seems like yesterday you were right here talking with us.” When I visited him in Quebec City, he was as wonderful and as gracious as ever. Jacques, in his kitchen, proved that the Parisiens do not have the monopoly on fine French cooking. We would have discussed Quebec and Canada, but we ran out of time - talking about life, love, and each other’s joys and sorrows was much more important.

Revised November 21, 1997 by C.S.