A lot of languages are spoken in Montréal – French, Italian, Spanish, Arabic, Greek, Chinese, German, Portuguese, Creole, Vietnamese – but English is almost outlawed. In Montréal provincial Language Police roam the streets searching out English words on signs and ensuring they are smaller and secondary to the French wording. (There’s good use of tax dollars.)
A French tavern in Old Montreal had to remove the letters WC from its toilet doors.
The chef’s grocery list, which was written on a blackboard when the language police dropped by the restaurant, said “salade, oeuf, sucre and steak” and he was ordered to change “steak” to “bifteck.” (CBC news item)
An Italian restaurant was ordered to remove the word “pasta” from its menu.
Metro workers have been known to refuse to sell subway tickets to anglophones.
That being said, in March I visited Montréal – my second visit of the last two decades, and I still found it to be a city like no other, with a certain je ne sais quoi that charms.
The “underground city” has over 30 km (18 miles) of pedestrian walkways, indoor areas and tunnels linking 10 metro stations, 2 train stations, 2 bus stations, 62 buildings, 7 major hotels, 1,615 apartments,200 restaurants, 1,700 boutiques, 37 movie theatres and exhibition halls, 2 universities, 1 college and 10,000 indoor parking spaces. This is particularly appreciated during winter snows and March winds.
It’s famous for unique architecture and Ben’s smoked meat; for John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s legendary Bed-In at the Queen Elizabeth hotel in 1969, The Montréal Canadiens, (that’s hockey folks), and poutine – french fries with gravy and cheese curds.
Language issues aside, I had a good visit and no confrontations. These shots are from Rue St-Denis.