.....The geography, the history, the language.As we careered down steep, narrow, icy roads in a minivan, strolled through colourful 17th century streets named after saints and kings and ordered double doubles in French, our trip to Quebec city taught us so much about a much flatter, newer, more Anglophone- no- more Allophone Toronto.
We were buzzing on a Francophone high. Even our little one worked up the courage to speak French. After one restaurant meal, she returned triumphantly to the family, waving a styrofoam container. 'Je voudrais des boites' had been her brave request to the lady at the counter for a couple of takeout boxes for leftovers. Now how was I to know that a disposable cup was un verre jetable not une coupe a papier much to the bewilderment of the waitress at the breakfast place?
It takes time to get used to the idea of winter here. The constant windchill which I guess blows in from the St Lawrence river gives a new meaning to 'it's cold out.' I now understand why the most successful settlers of New France were those who could learn from their aboriginal hosts and survive the winter. They even have an ice hotel here: for fun!
We snow scared Torontonians simply do not have the same winter smarts. Take the sidewalks for example. Only out-of-province tourists use the sidewalks here during the spring thaw. Locals walk merrily by on the asphalt and you watch helplessly from behind the snow dunes as you sink into ankle deep puddles and rivulets. Hey even their driveways are snowproofed. White tarp like tents offer protection against the laughable idea of actually having to shovel out front. Back sore Torontonians: watch and learn.
But do you know what really sealed our newfound identity as - not Torontonians but- Ontarians? The squeejee kid in Montreal who, after briskly cleaning our van windscreen at the traffic lights while we sat there avoiding eye contact, calls out to my husband "Go back to Ontaareeo man!"