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Snapshot of the Canada Montréal Mission — Canada’s two official languages are English and French, and French is the official language in the province of Quebec (pronounced k-BEK by locals). There are significant numbers of Anglophones (English-speakers) in the province as well as Spanish and other foreign language speakers, especially Chinese and Haitian. Montreal itself is the second-largest city in Canada, with over 3.8 million people in its metropolitan area—and is the second-largest city with French as its primary language, after Paris, France. About two-thirds of Canadians are Christian, with another 24% not having any religion. Canadian culture has been mainly influenced by England, France, and native traditions. Canada has lots of cultural crossover with the United States – American entertainment is popular in English-speaking areas, while many Canadian musicians, entertainers, and writers have found success internationally as well.
Ice hockey and lacrosse are Canada’s most popular sports, though curling and Canadian football (a variant of American football) are also popular. Popular Canadian foods include Poutine (french fries covered with cheese curds and gravy), butter tarts (a dessert item), and maple syrup. Several different types of meat are hunted and eaten in more rural areas of the country, including caribou, venison, elk, and even seal. Street vendors sell hot dogs, falafel, pizza, and other fast-food-type items in major cities.
Missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the 1830’s frequently traveled through but found little success in Lower Canada (as the province of Quebec was then called). Proselyting was difficult amongst its largely French-speaking people. In 1836, however, Hazen Aldrich and Winslow Farr proselyted in Stanstead County and baptized a number of people. Twenty-three of these emigrated on July 20, 1837. After the 1840s, missionary work slowed as many Canadian church members joined other Latter-day Saints who were gathering in the western United States.
The Canadian Mission was organized in 1919. By 1930, an English-speaking branch (a small congregation) began meeting in Montreal. A meetinghouse for this branch was purchased in 1942 and served local Church members until the late 1970s. In 1961, six French-speaking missionaries were sent to the areas near Quebec. The missionaries attracted converts and established a base for more Latter-day Saint French-speaking immigrants. Later missionaries entered Quebec City where a branch was organized in 1969. The Quebec Mission (later changed to the Canada Montreal Mission) was created in 1972, and by 1974 several French-speaking branches were created.
Today, church membership in the area is 11,145. There are four stakes, 35 congregations, and one temple., which was dedicated in 2000 by President Hinckley.
Quebec’s most well- known food products are poutine (fries covered with cheese curds and gravy) and maple syrup. They are well-known for “Cabanne a Sucre” which is a seasonal restaurant where everything is made with maple syrup (the real kind). Many foods are French- and Irish-influenced, such as tourtière, which is a meat pie endemic to the region. As Montreal is a very international city, one can find all sorts of food from various countries. Some of these include FuFu from Ghana, grillo from Haiti, shwarma from Algeria, tacos and burritos from Mexico, papusas from El Salvador, and Chinese food.
Montreal is very dependant on public transportation. It has a very modern, efficient metro and bus system. Missionaries on the island of Montreal are required to have metro passes, which are supplied by the mission. These allow missionaries to have unlimited access to the metro and buses on the island of Montreal. Quebec City and Ottawa also have a great bus systems (with no metro). Some missionaries may have cars and drive, depending on the urban/rural size of their area and assignments.
Canada is a naturally safe country, as much of the area is rural and there are heavy regulations for firearms. However, Montreal, like any large city, has more dangerous areas. There is a red light district in Montreal (the road rue St. Catherine) is probably the biggest road in Montreal and is avoided by most missionaries. Particularly, the metro stop called Beaudry, an area known as “the village,” is one of the stops on this road that ought to be avoided.
Missionaries should prepare for harsh winter temperatures and follow the counsel of the mission president for extreme winter conditions.
Québec’s main sport is hockey. Montreal has a professional team called the Montreal Canadians. The H on the logo is a tribute to the French culture, which stands for “Habitant,” meaning resident. French culture is very prominent in Québec, and there remains a big push to separate themselves from the English culture; Québec has actually tried to secede from Canada. Those from Québec province are generally known as “French-Canadians,” although the term “Québecer” has gained usage in recent years. Both Québec City and Montréal feature many universities, fine arts, and other cultural events.
The Catholic church had a powerful stronghold on the people in Québec early on during its colonization and sometimes treated settlers harshly. This stronghold has lasted many years and put a lasting impression on the people of Québec, resulting in a large shift from Christianity to Atheism.
The French in Quebec has a lot of (American) and English influence and has a different accent than that of European French, including different vowel pronunciations. There are many expressions specific to this variant of French. Some of those include the following:
“A tanto” (ah tohn-TOE) — see you later
“C’est Correct” (say corREKT) — that’s ok
“Tse” — you know
“C’est le fun” (say luh FUHn)— it is fun
“That’s it that’s all” (with a French accent)
People who are often referred to in the U.S. as “Native Americans” or “American Indians” are typically called “First Nations” in Canada; the aboriginal peoples historically located in Quebec province mostly come from Algonquian (i.e., Cree, Algonquin) and Iroquian (i.e., Saint Lawrence Iroquian, Mohawk) tribes.
Montréal is a cold continental climate for about 6 months of the yea and has moderately warm and humid summers. Quebec City and other more northern cities are colder throughout much of the year. However, much of the cold weather clothing from other places in the world is not suitable for the Quebec winters. It is recommended to buy winter clothing in Quebec, as it will be built to withstand the weather specific to the area.
470 Rue Gilford
Montreal QC H2J 1N3
What items were hard to get or not available?
“We had most everything.”
“Everything was available”
“Hot sauce/spicy foods.”
What did you eat the most of?
“Soup and bread.”
“Potatoes and steamed vegetables.”
What is the craziest thing you ate?
“A fish head.”
“Six-meat pie, made from 6 different wild animal meats, which was amazingly good.”
What was most surprising about the culture?
“There is a role reversal. It was the Brothers who cried all the time bearing their testimonies, the Sisters were tougher. That and there was a casualness towards inappropriate conversation over the dinner table. The humor was based on ‘double entendre’. (Phrases with two meanings).”
What advice would you give to someone going to this Mission?
“Know your scriptures and love the people!”
“It is imperative in Quebec to stick to the mission rules and guard your companion. The time from ‘returning with honor’ to being sent home can be blindingly fast; there is a casualness towards intimacy that members from English-speaking parts of North America will never have experienced. Non members love to bait the missionaries, and answer the door naked… ruins your day for sure. LOL.”
What do you wish you had known before you served?
“More language skills.”
“More about the Catholic Church and it’s role in the history of North America. It was the dominant force in Quebec. Elders who served just before me were escorted out of towns and told not to come back.”