I don't know what to make of this Hull couple I had the misfortune to ask for directions.
I was in Ottawa for the day, drove in early morning, and drove back to TO later (8 hours, never again). The Bangladesh government had decided sometime ago that foreigners who landed in Bangladesh now required a visa that would no longer be granted on arrival. Apparently too many people were coming to Bangladesh, getting the 30-day visa on arrival, and never leaving. Imagine! Bangladesh had an illegal immigration problem!
So I drive to Ottawa to get a visa stamped on my Canadian passport. They take my passport at the High Commission, along with my Bangladeshi citizenship papers, and promise to have everything ready in four hours. So I have four hours to kill. I contact my cousin who works in Hull and he tells me to come over for lunch. Hull and Ottawa are two cities divided by a river between them, and Hull is in the province of Quebec (the French province) while Ottawa is in the province of Ontario. My cousin gives me directions to his office, and I drive off.
After crossing the river and driving around in Hull for a few minutes I realize I am lost. The street names are in French, as well as the parking meters, traffic signs and shop names. I park at a curb on a side street and exit the car. Seeing an older couple walking ahead, I run across to them.
"Excuse me, I am sorry to interrupt you." In my most polite tone possible, I say, "I am looking for this ---- street, there is an HRDC office there opposite a huge watch repair shop. Do you happen to know where it is?"
The man looks at his companion for one second, then replies "Oui." That's yes in French.
"Great." I reply. I am talking in English. "Could you tell me how to get there please?"
Again, they look at each other, then the lady steps forward and rattles off the directions.
After a few minutes of her 'tournez Ã droite' and 'aprÃ¨s le signe' I interrupt her.
"I am sorry." Still polite tone. "I don't speak French."
The lady replied, in perfect, clipped English, "You are in Quebec."
Then the couple turn and just walk away, leaving me with my jaw on the sidewalk.
Do they feel that strongly about the English oppression in Quebec? I went to Montreal and I never had trouble there - but it was a highly cosmopolitan city. I have always thought the French have it pretty good in Canada. When I was working one summer in the ministry, we had to publish every weather report in English and in French. I mean, who reads the pollen count of Winnipeg in French? Maybe I just ran into the Most Obnoxious Hull Couple of Year award winners.
Tags: Hull French Quebec