<-Back Canada et / and Quebec [Peaceweb Home Page] Oct. 25, 1996 Next->

Canadian / Québécois Glossary

* Acadians

French Canadian inhabitants of Acadie, now the provinces of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, Acadians in mainland Nova Scotia and New Brunswick fell under English rule after the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713. Those on Cape Breton Island became unwilling subjects of His Majesty after t)he fall of Louisbourg in 1758. In 1755, thousands of Acadians were deported from Nova Scotia, a historical tragedy memorialized by the American writer Nathaniel Hawthorne in his epic poem, Evangeline. Thousands of Acadiens hid in the woods, escaped the English, or made their way back after deportation and live today in New Brunswick, mainland Nova Scotia, Cape Breton Island, and Newfoundland.

* anglophone

A Canadian whose mother tongue is English (derived from francophone)

* Bloc Québécois

A Canadian federal political party dedicated to achieving independence for Quebec. The BQ was founded by members of the provincial Parti Quebecois. They took 54 seats in Quebec in the 1993 federal election and became the Official Opposition in the House of Commons in Ottawa, just two seats ahead of the right-wing Reform Party, which arose in Western Canada in opposition to the Liberals, the Conservatives and the New Democrats.

* bloque

Québécois. A slang term used by Montrealais to describe an English Canadian.

* bôite à chançon

Québécois. A night club which features jazz, blues, pop, or folk singers. The best ones in Montreal are tucked away in modest quarters, such as storefronts on the main drags or off on little side streets in the student quarter or Rue Crescent or elsewhere.

* Calgary Stampede

An excuse by residents of Calgary, Alberta, to don cowboy hats, sing country and western songs and tear loose once a year.

* Canada Day

Always July 1 each year, in commemoration of the Confederation of 1867.


Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Founded in 1936 out of a railway radio network, the old Canadian National Radio Network, it grew to six networks: a French and an English radio and stereo (classical and arts) network, an English television network, and a French television network. Funded by the federal government, with ad revenue for television only, the CBC has received steady annual cutbacks to the point where local programming in radio and TV may disappear entirely, with only network shows capable of surviving.

* Confederation

The union in 1867 of the British colonies of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and the United Province of Canada (Canada split into the provinces of Ontario and Quebec when they entered Confederation. The original constitution was an Act of the British parliament, the British North America Act. Only in 1982 did Canada reclaim power to amend its constitution without requesting an amendment from the British parliament. Quebec, however, did not agree to the 1982 constitution.

* dépanneur

Québécois. A corner store in Quebec, often called a "mom and pop store" or a "milk store" in Ontario, since the largest ones at one time were Mac's Milk and Becker's.

* distinct society

A phrase applied to Quebec, which was included in the ill-fated Meech Lake Accord of 1987, a constitutional compromise which the then Liberal government of Quebec agreed to. The Meech Lake Accord was defeated when Manitoba rejected it and Newfoundland did not act on it within the one-year expiry period.

* drumming

Native Peoples' sacred music, performed with a drum and one or more singers, in a style that is as recognizable as Christmas carols.

* federalist

Someone who believes in a solution for Quebec within the federal structure of Canada (as opposed to a sovereignist).

* Fête de St-Jean Baptiste

Québécois. The day of the patron saint of Quebec, John the Baptist. It has become the "national day" of Quebec, and is always celebrated on June 24 each year.

* First Nations

The Native Peoples of Canada. Since Mohawks, Cree, Ojibway and other peoples consider themselves nations, the national aboriginal federation changed its name to the Assembly of First Nations in the late 1980s or early 1990s.

* francophone

Québécois. Someone in Canada whose mother tongue is French.

* internaute

Québécois. An online, wired, or on-the-Web person who spends time on the Internet.

* joual

Québécois. The slang spoken in the streets of Quebec. The term was made popular in a book, Les insolences du Frère Untel (The impertinences of Brother Anonymous) around 1960, when the author reported that he heard students saying joual instead of cheval (horse).

* Loyalist

Short for United Empire Loyalist, an American who remained loyal to the British Crown during the American Revolution and whose house and goods were often confiscated by the American Revolutionaries. Thousands of Loyalists settled in what is now southern Ontario, the Eastern Townships (Cantons de l'Est) of Quebec, and in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, where the Crown often gave them land or monetary compensation for their losses. Americans called these people Tories, though many had no allegiance to that particular political party.

* lose your deposit

For an electoral candidate, to win fewer than one per cent of the votes in a federal election, and thus lose the deposit (about $2,000) that each candidate must put up to ensure that only serious candidates compete in each federal election. This practice did not deter the Natural Law Party (their platform included astral projection) or the Rhinoceros Party (in Quebec) from competing in elections. In Quebec, before the emergence of the Bloc Québécois, the Rhinoceros Party candidate gained the second-highest number of votes in many ridings.

* minority government

A federal or provincial government in which the governing party has less than a majority of all the seats in the house. The party with the largest number of seats is usually called upon by the Governor General in the case of the House of Commons or the Lieutenant Governor of each province to form a government. Such governments usually run by negotiated pacts with smaller parties. Formal coalition governments are uncommon in Canada.

* Parti Québécois

A Quebec political party dedicated to the independence of Quebec. The PQ was founded by Réné Lévesque and others out of the merger of several smaller separatist parties in the late 1960s. It came to power for the first time in Quebec in 1976.

* pow-wow

A Native social gathering with dancing, drumming, feasting, singing. Pow-wows are usually open to Native People of other Nations, and non-Native Canadians are often welcome as well. However, one must abstain from alcohol for 24 hours before attending a pow-wow, and bringing alcohol into a pow-wow is forbidden.

* pure laine

Québécois. An adjective applied to someone descended from the original French Canadians. Many Québécois know the date on which one of their ancestors stepped off the ship from France, usually in one of the years between 1642 and 1760.

* Québécois

Québécois. Someone who lives in Quebec. Sometimes used to refer to only francophone québécois or even only to pure laine québécois.

* Radio-Canada

Québécois. Short for Societé Radio-Canada, the French language service of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. The SRC produces its own shows, and shows which appear in translation on the other language network are rare exceptions. The drama series Scoop was one which appeared on both networks.

* Reserve

Land set aside for a band of Native People by the Canadian government. Reserves were created under the Indian Act of 1885 and the Indian Act as amended in 1951. Canadian courts have bit by bit recognized the rights of Native Peoples to govern themselves on their reserves, with their own laws and customs.

* riding

An electoral district in English-speaking Canada. The term riding comes from Yorkshire in England, but is not used in England to mean an electoral district. (Yorkshire has three ridings, the only ones in England.)

* souverainist

Québécois. Someone who advocates the complete sovereignty of Quebec, often taken to mean someone who also believes in the complete political independence of Quebec. This is the term which most non-federalist Québécois call themselves. The word séparatist is considered a mild term of derision.

* status

A status Native Person is an aboriginal Canadian living on a Reserve. Status is a term used in the Indian Act to specify Native People who live on a Reserve. Such Native People have certain rights which those living off-reserve do not.

* sweat lodge

A Native religious ceremony in which a participant stays inside a dwelling containing hot rocks on which water is poured, until the person has a vision. It is used in purification ceremonies and by Native People seeking to regain their culture.

* sweetgrass

A type of grass which is carried by a Native Spiritual leader. In a sweet grass ceremony, the participants stand in a circle and acknowledge the four directions - North, South, East and West, the four ages of men and women: to be young, to be a parent, to be an elder, and to be dead. The sweet grass carrier lights the sweet grass and wafts the smoke from it over each participant, who then washes his face and his body with it.

* Time, gentlemen, time!

Anyone who repeats this phrase is a) over 40, b) male, and c) definitely not a teetotaler. Until the late 1970s, Ontario had two types of drinking establishments: Ladies and escorts lounges, and Men's beverage rooms. The men's beverage rooms, which served beer, were not always the most savoury establishments. At 12:55 a.m., the waiter would circulate with a trayful of draughts, calling "Time, gentlemen, time!", indicating that it was last call, the last time a beer could legally be bought until noon.

* True North

That mythical ideal of Canada carried by every Canadian. From the phrase in the Canadian national anthem, O Canada, "... "... with glowing hearts, we see thee rise, the true North strong and free ..."