(james benedict brown) on the road

Courrier interne

Posted in Posts by James Benedict Brown on 8 June, 2006

Internal e-mail, received today, at 11h05:

Bonjour!

Prenez note que les vendredi 23 juin et 30 juin, nous serons fermés pour les congés de la fête Nationale et la fête du Canada.

Bon congés à tous

Living in Northern Ireland last year, I benefited from two sets of public holidays – those derived from important Catholic festivals and those derived from important Protestant festivals. For instance, St. Patrick is the patron saint of the predominantly catholic Irish Republic, but St. Patrick’s Day is also a full public holiday in Northern Ireland. For the Unionist community, much of July was occupied with the preparation before and clean-up after the notorious 12th of July festivities. The night before the twelfth sets the tone for the follow day’s Orange Order processions, as orange flames leap into the sky from five metre high bonfires that are constructed in the preceding weeks in abandoned lots all across Northern Ireland’s unionist communities.

Here in Québec, there are no bonfires. But there are two ‘national’ holidays. Saturday 24 June is Saint Jean-Baptiste Day, or Québec’s National Day. One week later, Saturday 1 July is Canada Day. And for those of you who are confused, let me explain. Québec is not a separate country. The last time a referendum in favour of independence was taken in 1995, the result was just approximately 49% in favour, 51% against. But rather than get bitter over this narrow defeat, Québec sovreigntists went right ahead and continued to celebrate a ‘national’ holiday every July. In the same manner, Montréal recently acquired it’s own ‘National Library of Québec’. So while Québec remains in the steely iron grip of the oppresive Canadian Empire, and while the army patrol the streets in armoured Land Rovers (just kidding), Québecois everywhere can at least pretend they are free.

And in the mean time, we in Québec get two national holidays, which means two days off work, and two long weekends in a fortnight. C’est pas pire, ça?

I plan to take full advantage of these two long weekends, and plan to be in Québec City for Jean-Baptiste day. I have yet to decide where to spend Canada Day. Asking for opinions on the Lonely Planet Thorn Tree produced a fairly broad consensus that Ottawa would be more fun (it’s also closer and cheaper to get to) but I wouldn’t mind finally spending that long weekend in Toronto I’ve been promising myself. My last visit was too brief, and I’d also like to go before a friend leaves the city. Watch this space for my eventual decision…

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