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Beyond the Pale - A 'pale' is a fencepost. The English Pale was a boundary in Ireland marking out the part of Ireland under direct English rule circa 1450 (which included Dublin and environs). Those that lived 'beyond the pale', outside of English rule, were considered out of control and uncivilised. You decide...

Tuesday, October 4, 2005

Letters from the Americas 2005 (part 13) - Canada Montreal

My Gaf (or maybe it's Montreal Cathedral)

THE GREAT WHITE NORTH - LE GRAND NORD BLANC

We decided to take the Moose tour around the east coast (such a great idea) and our tour guide was French Canadian so it was great to see him in action. Every time anyone would beep him, he would wait until we were stopped in traffic and calmly get out of the bus, stroll on up the unsuspecting beeper in front and have a "French off", we could only see it mimed through the bus windows but it was highly entertaining, there would be wild hand gestures, red faces, French words left, right and center and then as calm as bedamned, your man would get back on the bus as if he'd just been meditating and drive on. The French eh?!


Montreal is a great spot, it definitely has a European influence especially in the Old Quarter but not nearly as much as Quebec does. For reasons that are not self evident, Montreal hosts the longest running St Patrick’s day parade in North America! It's home to one of the most impressive universities I've ever laid eyes on, McGill University. It boasts alumni including Nobel prize winners, and William Shatner, heehee, yes, James T Kirk himself went there. They even have a Shatner ballroom, where did it all go horribly wrong. Lets just bury that fact and move on. The campus is spread out, starting near the top of Mont Royal that overlooks the city and falling down the mountainside as the town opens up. As it was freshers week we stumbled across a frat party in progress, feeling brave we crashed it, Sharon was a Vancouver west coast computers student and I was a business post grad from Newfoundland!

Although the French stopped arriving in Montreal 400 years ago, there are still a lot of modern day parallels; mopeds clogging the streets, the preppie fashion of wearing a jumper over the shoulders, leather shoes with no socks, and good old-fashioned road rage. 


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