Quebec separation

Quebec separation – what a bunch of nerds!

In my estimation, I feel this is nothing more than a group of power-tripping publicity seekers stirring a bucket of what can be classified as little less and nothing more than the fertilizer by-product of the average bovine stable. It is not the first and only time that the bull’s tail has been raised and its out-pourings flung in the faces of Canadians. Let me jog your memory.

I am now on the upside of 80, but at the way-back time when I was still in my low 20s, I owned and operated a pet shop on Wilson Street in Guelph. My store was so situated that from my counter I could see straight down Carden Street across Wyndham Street to the train station, which was across from one of the better hotels in town.

I used to arrive at my place of business quite early in the morning, as creatures had to be cleaned out, fed and watered before I opened at 9am.

One morning as I chatted with Chuck, a friendly talkative Chinese chap who operated a laundry, drying long lines of white shirts on the rooftop across the street, a long train with a couple of passenger cars hooked on behind the steam-belching engine pulled in to the station.

We could see as we kibitzed a small, tightly-gathered group heading for the hotel across the street, while a young couple lagged behind, each carrying a small suitcase. It was obvious, as they stopped often looking this way and that, that they were not sure where they were heading.

Seeing Chuck and me standing outside, enjoying the sunshine, they ended up wandering down the street and subsequently indicated that they wanted to go into my store, pantomiming that they were cold and wanted to warm up.

Animals seem to speak an international language. Tails began to wag and smiles instantly appeared on the faces of the young couple. When they spoke quietly to each other, I realized that the tongue spoken was French, a language that I had taken for only a few months in high school. Lucky for me, Chuck, the Chinese chap, though having trouble with English, spoke French fluently, and beyond simple salutations, acted as interpreter.

As they walked and stood with their hands clasped each in each other’s, my first query was, “Are you on your honeymoon?” To which they answered, “No, we had married about six months earlier but are leaving Quebec because of the talk of Quebec leaving Canada, and we want no part of raising our family there if that attitude is to continue.”

They went on to say that they were looking for a reasonably priced rooming house where they could stay for a few weeks until they had a chance to get oriented. I called a lady with whom I had boarded in my single days, and she assured me that she had the same large attic room available that I had occupied several years earlier.

“The pictures you sketched on the walls are still there,” was her comment. She also mentioned that her old cat had just died and she was feeling a little blue about that.

As the couple by this time were playing with one of the small Persian kittens that I had, I explained the situation, and tucking it into the young lady’s handbag, sent them off  on a ten block walk with a small hand-drawn map to take a look.

Less than a week later, they dropped back in to thank me and told me that their new landlady loved the kitten and also that he was starting to work at the W.C. Woods Co., and she was already employed as a waitress at the Green Rooster restaurant just down the street.

Over the years I have often thought of this incident, and my mind often wonders where and how this clear thinking young couple made out. They could have grandchildren now the same age as my great grandkids. Who is to say?

It is my thought, as theirs, that those crazy-thinking Quebeckers ought to clean up their act, or buy a one-way ticket to the country of their choice.

Take care, ‘cause we care.



Barrie Hopkins