Look closely at this picture and you’ll see one of the very few Canadian flags hanging limp, in the province of Quebec. The lovable red maple leaf is notably missing from government buildings, businesses, and homes across the French section of Canada. Are separatists still at work there, trying to divide our country.
Cathryn and I spent twelve days on the road, motorcycling from Windsor to Quebec City, and back. We spent the Canada Day weekend in the Kingston/Gananoque area, where civic and country pride were evident everywhere. Red and white banners, Canadian flags, and the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary flag were everywhere.
We saw street parades and parties, fireworks, and in one small northern Ontario town all of its inhabitants lined both sides of the road in front of their church, waving small flags at us as we drove past. In The Thousand Islands Canadian flags were more numerous than their American counterparts on their side of the St. Lawrence River.
Something happened when we crossed the border into Quebec. Although there is no wall or border crossing, things changed immediately. Everyone spoke French and all signs on roads, billboards and businesses were in French. Aren’t we supposed to be a bilingual country, required to don both languages?
It wasn’t just the fact that every town, street, church and school are named after saints, there was something absent; the Canadian Flag. We purposely looked for and could not see one anywhere. No 150 year anniversary flags either, nothing but the odd province of Quebec flag, on certain tall buildings. No red and white or maple leafs anywhere.
Finally, in the walled city of Old Quebec, we found a Canadian flag flying outside of Chateau Frontenac. Still, there were no maple leafs on government buildings and no evidence of Canada’s birthday. Shameful. The city is easily the most unique Canadian city Cathryn or I have ever visited; we sampled food and took in sights that can only be found inside the century-old walls.
Although the locals and old city lacked our countries colors, they weren’t shy on hospitality and friendliness. Language was not a barrier, and in some cases people apologized to us for not speaking English. Most menus had an English version, so we did not go hungry.