Sunday, March 11, 2012

Fall '76: Party Over


To me, there will always be a connection between the city of Mississauga and Quebec separatism.

November, 1976, brought an intriguing turn of events to my portion of the world.  By then I was 15, and was therefore—in the manner of 15 year olds—the only person in Montreal, possibly in all of Quebec, possibly in the entire universe, who knew exactly what these events signified. I just can’t remember what it was I knew.  But mine was certainly not the only opinionated teenage analysis bouncing excitedly around my Montreal high school the day after the separatist Parti Québécois was elected as our provincial government.  With René Lévesque as our new Premier, change was in the air.  It certainly came, but in the end, I was not much affected by it. 

Once I had noted and analyzed the election itself, I didn’t pay close attention to what followed.  The politics and economics of Quebec in the years after that election were significant; but they are, to me, like stories in newspapers (or better yet, editorial cartoons).   My siblings and I were on the home stretch of high school, and so we weren’t affected by language laws; and none of us had any vested interest in the effect that separatism was having on the local economy.  Besides, Montreal (and the Metro that took us everywhere) was still a great place to be.  La Ronde, Mount Royal and the downtown Cineplex (which was soon showing “Star Wars”) were unchanged by politics.

Most affected was my Dad, whose employer (DuPont of Canada) left town along with many other major companies. DuPont was the reason our family had ended up in Montreal in the first place. We could have moved away with the company; but Mom and Dad liked living in our Montreal suburb, and they didn’t see much point in uprooting a bunch of teenagers.  This is a good thing, because a move to Ontario would have meant two extra years of high school. Dad took a management position at the company’s Montreal warehouse, and we all stayed happily put.

But many of our neighbours and friends did move away; and we started getting Christmas cards from a mysterious land: Mississauga.