Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Camille Laurin, Anglo Enemy Honoured- Ouch!

Many years ago, business took me to the town of St. Georges-de-Beauce, south of Quebec City. As I drove through the town, I did a double take when I happened by a hotel with the unlikely name of 'Auberge Benedict Arnold.'
Now for those of you who don't know, Benedict Arnold was a general in the in the American Continental Army who switched sides and fought for the British during the American Revolutionary War. In America (and parts of Canada) it is common to call someone who betrays you, a 'Benedict Arnold.'
I guess it's not surprising that one country's traitor can be another country's hero, but I wonder if visiting American guests would feel weird about staying in a hotel named for an national villain. (I don't think I'd like to stay in the 'Hitler Hotel').

Well I guess I don't have to wonder anymore, because the Office Québécois de la Langue Française (OQLF) is renaming it's Montreal head office after the father of Bill 101, the infamous Dr. Camille Laurin.

Bill 101 (La Charte de la langue française) is the law passed in 1977 that made French the official language of the Province of Quebec and otherwise curtailed English rights.
There isn't a figure in Quebec language history who is as much reviled by anglophones, as is the good doctor (Louise Beaudoin is a distant second.)

While Rene Levesque viewed the language law as a necessary evil, Laurin, an unmitigated hard-liner, enjoyed dropping the hammer on the English community. His stern face and the nasty clipped delivery of his pronouncements made his message that much harder to swallow.

Now every time I drive by the location (125, Sherbrooke Street, West, Montreal) I'll know exactly what Americans feel like when they see the Benedict Arnold hotel.
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