Dear Quebec (Canada),
The French speaking province in this big country. Since I left you 10 years ago, you don’t know how many times I’ve had to explain that being French Canadian did not mean that I was born in France then moved to Canada. You’re definitely not France, much bigger in size, but yet only inhabited by about a 1/10 of its population. And you don’t speak exactly the same language. Some say you speak the old French, “la langue de la colonie”, which in my opinion, gives you all your charm.
You’re not exactly Canadian either. Ok, you have the vast countryside, mountains, forests, the proper four seasons with your harsh snowy but sunny winter, your warm flowery spring, your hot sunny sometimes thundery summer, and your warm colourful autumn. I miss your four seasons, I miss your colours in the autumnal trees, but mostly I miss your snow! You are different in your culture, language, and traditions from the rest of Canada.
And you Quebec City, my city. I took you for granted when I left you over 11 years ago. Now, very few friends and family members live within your limits. I shared over 22 years of my life with you. I find it unfortunate that most people have heard of your bigger sister, Montreal, but not of you, the capital of Quebec the province, the very first North American city, the only European-looking city in North America which still has its town wall. I have recently visited you again and I am still amazed how beautiful and special you are, less Americanised compared to other Canadian cities. Your old town with its narrow, cobbled streets and castle (although it’s a hotel) reminds me of my adoptive city, Edinburgh. Perhaps this is the reason why I feel at home here, in Scotland’s capital. I will always have a special place in my heart for your old town, Quebec City. From trying to keep warm during the “Carnaval de Quebec” at minus 25 degree Celsius in February to the long hot summer nights spent on your “Plaines d’Abraham” with friends and attending the “St-Jean-Baptiste” show on these plaines on our “national” day, all these memories will always be precious to me.
Despite all this, I left you for the old continent. One thing was always missing for me, my dear city, my province, and you Canada, my country. Even though you are the oldest city in North America Quebec, you’re still only just 400 years old! I believe I found what I was looking for here in Scotland, especially in Edinburgh with its character and history. As my granddad recently said, he always knew that I would not stay still and travel. This is why he called me “papillon” (butterfly) from a very young age, and still to this day, he knew that I would spread my wings and fly away.
Although my life and love are now in Edinburgh, I will always have a special place in my heart for you Quebec and mostly for you Quebec City. I am proud to say that I am Quebecoise from Quebec City, which makes me a Québécoise Québécoise!
À bientôt! Valerie
Reply from Quebec
Ma chère Valérie,
Quel plaisir de recevoir de tes nouvelles après tant d’années! Even if I don’t speak English as well as my big sister (Montreal) does, I will continue this letter in my second language for the benefit of the inhabitants of your adoptive city.
I am very pleased to know that you have chosen to settle in Edinburgh because it reminds you of me. I am actually flattered! Although, I am not daft, I am well aware that she is much older and more charming than me. She probably has buildings older than I am! But I must admit I am a bit disappointed that you have decided to leave me for an older city. I do understand your eagerness for history, old architecture, and adventure. Believe me, if I could travel, I would! But I do get the chance to see the world through those millions of tourists who come to visit me each year.
I am surprised that you miss the four “proper” seasons, particularly the snow! But after reflection, who likes cold rain in the winter?! I do hope that you are happy in your new city, but most of all, I hope that you are not losing your first language. I noticed that you have not mentioned it in your letter. Don’t you miss speaking Quebecois? I guess you’re still in touch with family and friends and do get the chance to visit once in a while, so I assume that you are still speaking your mother tongue on some occasions.
I know that most of your family and friends have also deserted me for other towns and cities around this vast province which shares my name, but I hope that you will always remember me and visit me whenever you get a chance. My “plaines” and old town will always be there for you.
I wish you all the best. À bientôt!
Your city, Québec