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Quebec Reminiscences

by Edward S. Bell
Ottawa Monthly Meeting (Quakers)
Ottawa, Ontario

In 1951 I was working for Northern Electric (now Northern Telecom) in Montreal in the Engineering Department. One of the French- Canadian engineers I was working with told me that when he said to his family that he intended to study engineering they were surprised and asked him " But why don't you study one of the professions, Law Medicine, or the Church?"

In 1952, when I was studying engineering at McGill University, Henri, one of my French-Canadian friends told me that when he said to his parents that he was getting engaged to an English-Catholic girl they were shocked and asked him "But why are you going to marry a bloke?" (bloke was French-Canadian slang for an English speaking person).

By 1958 I had married Mary, a bilingual English Quebecer born in Quebec City and we used to travel back from Toronto to Quebec City by train, with our (then) three children to spend holidays at Lac St Joseph, where her parents lived. On the train, going through Ontario, we always sensed that young children were considered a nuisance by other passengers, or were barely tolerated. However, once we got into Quebec the atmosphere changed completely and the French-Canadians always helped to feed the children and to keep them amused on the journey. We always remarked on the warmth of the welcome we had in Quebec.

Edward S. Bell is a retired engineer who was formerly Clerk of the Canadian Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers).