5 Need to Know Quebecois Cultural Differences

The Quebecois cultural differences was a bit of a shock for me. I didn’t know what to expect, but I didn’t know what to expect.

I have family in Canada, but they reside in Ontario and British Columbia. All of them warned me against Quebec. They said Quebec was

  1. Racist
  2. Uneducated
  3. Anti-Canada

I still moved to Montreal. I love Quebec. I love Montreal.

In regards to my relatives’ points:

  1. In every country and society you will find racist people. Quebec and Montreal are no different.
  2. In every country and society you will find uneducated people. Quebec and Montreal are no different.
  3. There are some anti-Canada people in Quebec, but there are also many who are pro-Canada.

However, I have seen quite a few things that are different between Quebec and the rest of Canada besides the obvious language differences. Quebec is the only French province. New Brunswick is the only bilingual province (where the majority of people speak French AND English). Ontario really just speaks English even though Canada’s capital, Ottawa, is there.

I also noticed some differences between Quebec and their motherland, France. They speak the same language (more or less), but they are no way the same.

Here are my observations on what makes Quebec different culturally from the rest of Canada and France.

Handshake vs Kisses as Quebecois Cultural Differences

Unlike the kisses in France, Quebecois tend to be more North American with their handshakes. When you meet a new person or when you see a friend you either shake their hand or hug them depending on your relationship level with that person.

However, due to the amount of French individuals that live in Quebec, they do know how to do the kisses and are not bothered by it, but they don’t initiate it.

Segregated Mindset

Quebec does have a segregated mindset. This is one of the Quebecois cultural differences that I find annoying. It is not in a racist way, but more in a collective tribalism way. I attribute this to how the English speaking population, the Anglophones, have forced the French to become more Anglophone. This situation and history has now made them create this “us vs them” attitude.

Montreal is pretty divided among those who are Quebecois Francophone (East Montreal) and non-Quebec Francophone (Middle/West Montreal). There are a few Quebecois that are completely bilingual that don’t pick a side, but most pick a side.

And from my experience, most bilingual people say they are Francophone. Few Anglophones (that identify as Anglophones) are bilingual.

There is actually a law that says if your parents went to an English speaking school then you can (in Quebec). This keeps Anglophones segregated because often the English speaking parents enroll their kids in those schools.

Why?

“I want to be able to help them with their homework and I don’t know French.” Is the common answer.

West Montreal is a bit strange. There is an expensive area called Westmount, but around it is a lot of poorer areas. These areas have welcomed a lot of immigrants who’s first language, often, isn’t English or French. This contributes to the segregation of Quebecois Francophones and non.

Within this area of immigrants, like any big city, there are little “towns:” Korea town, Filipino town, Indian town, etc.

Because they tend to stay to their own community, there is no mixing in regards to friend groups. This is a basic human instinct. You hang out with people who are similar to you. This isn’t discrimination, this is animal instinct. You don’t see elephants hanging out with giraffes.

However, unlike other major big cities in Canada and the United States, due to the French component, in my observation, this causes the segregation to continue.

For many immigrants, it is easy to survive without French in Montreal, but this also means they focus on English and remain within their communities, the immigrant community, and the Anglophone community.

Because of the language barrier, Francophones don’t make efforts to include non-Francophones. They might not speak English or they have the mindset that because this is Quebec you HAVE TO speak French.

As an Anglophone, it is easy for me to say that learning new languages is better and a great thing for life, but if your first language is Turkish and you can barely speak English. I understand why you would want to practice your English first then learn French or not learn French at all. Learning a language is hard and English is the more global language.

Quebecois Cultural Differences: Outdoor Minded

Since Quebec gets pretty bad weather most of the year, when it is summer, when the sun is out with no snow on the ground, Quebecois are outside! They fill the parks, in the cities, as well as national and provincial parks.

Most restaurants, bars, and cafes build out a patio so patrons can still outside while enjoying their drinks and meals.

Even in the winter, Quebecois don’t stop. There is free skiing and skating and tubing. Kids are making snowmen all the time.

British Columbia is very outdoor minded as well, but because their weather isn’t as horrible as Quebec, I get the impression from my relatives that they don’t take full advantage of the weather because it will be fine tomorrow.

Versus, Quebec views it as, enjoy it now because in an hour it could change.

Swearing

Quebec has their own swearing culture. First, in French, their swearing is more religious objects: tabernacle, chalice, etc.

The real Quebecois will be saying swear words every other word. It comes to the point where these swear words are so overly used that they don’t have the same meaning anymore.

They also freely curse in front of children. This is normal for them while in other cultures it is frowned upon and parents scold other parents for doing that.

Construction

Quebec is always under construction. The roads are full of pot holes and cracks. The streets of Montreal are always having detours and one lane due to construction workers digging into the ground or doing whatever they do.

This is just a way of life. This ramps up in the summer due to the warm weather. Basically, it is better to take the metro then drive.

Part of the big construction push of 2020, during COVID, was to create new bike lanes around the city. This is great – environmentally friendly and can avoid traffic, etc.

However, it makes it more crowded for cars AND the bike lanes can be used like 4 months out of the year. Maybe. More like 2 to 3 months.

But, it does show you how much Montrealers value bicycles and public transportation. The metro system in Montreal is pretty good – two thumbs up!

Your thoughts?

What are your thoughts? Have you been to Quebec? Montreal? Do you speak French? Let me know in the comments!

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