I read more and more Montreal blogs — ones that deal with the city and with urban (and suburban) questions in general. I’ve got a postdoc interested in communication infrastructure and the US/Canadian landscape, and I’m reawakening to old interests in urban planning and suburban form as I start to get inklings of post-mp3-book projects.
My latest find is newurbanshapes, which has this fascinating post about Americans settling in Montreal (Anglos, scroll down for English). My favorite bit:
Why aren’t immigrants from America flocking to zones of Anglophone resistance, where they’ll supposedly be more comfortable and accommodated – able to use their native language and still pick up a few French words if they care to? Isn’t that, after all, what every English-speaker wants? [….]
The New American immigrants stem from a new breed of “lefty” (we’re assuming that since they’ve come and stayed here, they’re mostly on the “left”, a term I dislike, more on this another day) that is less universalist and more comfortable with particularity, the exotic, the conflicting, or even the offensive. They identify less with the individualist pretensions of the Canadian Nation, and are more attracted to “foreign cultures” which, in the East End, Saint-Laurent and Laval, with their foreign languages and strange ways, are more readily available. We’re assuming here that Québécois culture and language are the main draws — for the young and mobile American, there are plenty of other spots for taking in Chinese, African and Arab ambiance, whatever the case may be. Living next to people who complain endlessly about them and would like to have them dismantled in the name of “progress”, much like what happened in Louisiana, where you can no longer move to in order to learn and live in French, would prove to be a very unappealing option.
The writer underestimates the appeal of Canadian anti-Americanism for “lefty” Americans like me (though I confess to annoyance once or twice when it has been directed at me), but otherwise I’m right there with the analysis.