<-Back Canada et / and Québec [Peaceweb Home Page] Oct. 26, 1996 Next->


by Margaret Dyment
Victoria Monthly Meeting (Quakers)
Victoria, British Columbia

In the autumn of 1964 my husband, Paul, began Library Science at McGill University while I cared for our seven-month-old son and worked at a thesis on Albert Camus. We had no money but we were on an adventure together. I was determined to try to speak French when I went out for groceries and met my neighbours. It turned out that we were indeed part of a minority group, but for religious reasons, not language. I learned not to invite my neighbours in for tea on Friday evenings after sundown, the beginning of Sabbath.

Once a week I took a bus and then climbed the long wooden staircase to l'Université de Montréal, to a French conversation class. Finally I gained experience talking with other people in this language I'd studied so long from books. Twice the class trooped off to a play and were entranced by a young unknown French-Canadian actress named Genviève Bujold.

All of it was strange, all of it exciting: Paul's studies; Camus' ideas; our son's first steps and his making mayhem of the apartment; trading recipes with neighbours; the comedy of errors whenever I took my carefully-learned French into the real world.

Margaret Dyment is a Victoria novellist who has lived in Montreal and Ottawa.