Monday, May 26, 2008

Quebec vs. Montreal

In his latest post BB wrote about how he loves going back to Quebec city, how he feels he has deep roots there.

Neither of us were born there, but our family (on both sides) hails from Quebec city for generations. So yeah, there are roots I suppose.

But unlike BB, I feel the exact opposite. Don't get me wrong, Quebec is a nice place to visit, but I would never want to live there again.

I've never felt comfortable there. I always felt just a little off, not quite in the groove of the place. As though the track is right there and try as I might I'm always six inches out of it.

And despite BB's contention, it's not because I'm into the nightlife - I got over that, like many people do, in my 30s. And I don't prefer Montreal because of Mr. Jazz - I didn't like Quebec way before Mr. Jazz ever entered the picture.

I don't know what it is about Quebec that grates on me. The fact that, other than the old town - approximately 5 square km - it's one big sprawling suburb where everything has a sort of cookie cutter sameness about it? That's definitely part of it. The fact that I've never felt I fit in? Also part of it. The francophone whiteness of Quebec city also doesn't do it for me (of course, the all white all french thing is pretty much par for the course everywhere in Quebec outside of Montreal).

Whatever it is, no roots there for me, or at any rate, roots that were very easily pulled out.

When I got to Montreal, on the other hand, I felt at home right away. Montreal has an energy that Quebec simply does not. It has a huge diverisity of people and styles and cultures. It was an easy fit for me, there is no set path. When I set foot on the corner of Maisonneuve and Peel I knew I had found my place, that this is where I was meant to be. I never looked back, never missed Quebec, and honestly pretty much the only reason I ever go back is to see my sister and mother. I'd perhaps go once every few years to play tourist, but no more. It holds nothing for me, it doesn't draw me. At all. Contrary to Montreal.

In the past 25 years, I've put down my own roots here, I've found the love of my life, and made a life for myself that I'm not at all sure I could have found in Quebec. When I'm on the highway, on my way back from Quebec, I'm coming home. It's as visceral and BB's feeling for Quebec, and for a city that, unlike me, he's never really warmed up to.

Funny that, same family, same roots and such a different take on two perfectly neutral places.


Hageltoast said...

some places just feel right to certain people. 3 kids in our family and we each sought out totally different lifestyles and totally different homes.

A Happy Downtowner said...

Yep, some places just feel right whereas some just don't jive. I feel like that with Toronto, not at the beginning but now. And yet, I feel like that about Montreal as well. Typical Libra I guess :)

geewits said...

I think I really I get this post. As beautiful as North Carolina is, and oh how I love the beaches, I am always ready to come back to Texas. I was surprised when my parents finally made that decision to live in N.C. permanently. They had been here a little bit longer than I have, but I guess they never let go of their N.C. roots like I did. You found your place and I found mine.

Susan Tuttle said...

I will have to visit Montreal someday. I went to Quebec on my honeymoon and adored it - it felt like we were in Europe. Great food there! (there was this amazing Vietnamese restaurant there - know the one I am talking about?) - that's all we really did was eat and walk, eat and walk - I have very fond memories!


Jocelyn said...

This is incredibly interesting to me. I'm adding it into my Jazz File.

Which is starting to get thick.

Josie said...

I fell in love with Montreal too when I first saw it. Vancouver is beautiful but Montreal is Canada's truly cosmopolitan city. I remember when it used to be the centre of business too, until everything moved to Toronto. Toronto didn't have the same "flair" that Montreal had, and still doesn't.

Vancouver is exquisitely beautiful, like the beautiful young woman who doesn't quite know what she wants to be when she grows up. I love Vancouver, but it does lack a certain certain something that Montreal has.

Janelle said...

great site! i love it. liked the reasons for blogging site..still asking myself why?

Ian Lidster said...

Alas, I have never been to QC, to my regret. To Montreal, yes, and I loved it and found it fabulously European in ambience. Refreshing after west coasty Vancouver (California North) and amazingly overrated and uninspiring TO.

furiousBall said...

I've visited both places years ago and even as a young guy, I thought Montreal was waaaaay cooler. Mostly because Chris Nilan played for the Habs

XUP said...

I don't think I'm that attached to any one place. I fall in love, have a relationship, fall out of love and move on. Maybe one day I'll find a place where I feel I really, really belong. Very interesting

Anonymous said...

I think the sense of "home" is very quirky and individual. I'm sure none of my sibs would pick the same places as me.

Dr.John said...

Your post certainly gives one something to think about even if one has never been to either place. The broader question is " Where is home?" Is it where I grew up or where I live.

Rachel said...

I need to check out Quebec City sometime. I adore Montreal, and I'm curious now how it compares to Quebec, in my own eyes.

I don't think I've ever found a place where I truly belong, in the sense you have described it. I don't think I have ever felt at home anywhere. Maybe it isn't in me, or maybe I haven't found it. Though I suspect, considering how much I love water, "home" would be somewhere on the water...