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Real-life documentary: Le Garage, “Bienvenue chez Normand” (#215)

This documentary, “Le Garage”, caught my eye the moment I first saw a short 20 second clip, and now I’m hooked!

I’ll provide you with trailers, and an official link for online viewing a little further below.

This is one of the most “real” documentaries I think I have ever seen.  I have never seen a documentary quite like this one before; one which has surprisingly left me with a feeling of having a strange bond with the people featured in it, despite never having met them.

At the very bottom, I’ll provide you with links to official sites where you can watch the full hour-long documentary, officially approved for internet viewing.

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The Trailer:  Here’s how the film maker, Michel Demers, describes his film (translation) : “It is along the banks of the North Coast where we find The Garage.  Between forest and sea, adults, children, and grand-parents all gather in the garage to tell their stories and to gossip.  In an atmosphere in which everyone has each other’s back, you can sample the moose meat, trout, and mussels that everyone has pitched in to bring home together.  Norman and his sons are mechanics, and are under the ever-so-watchful eyes of those who drop in and who watch from the side-lines”.

C’est à Longue-Rive sur La Côte-Nord que nous retrouvons LE GARAGE. Entre mer et forêt, adultes, enfants et grands-parents s’y rencontrent pour raconter histoires et menteries. Dans une atmosphère de solidarité et d’entraide, on déguste orignal, truites et moules que l’on a capturé ensemble. Normand et ses fils y font de la mécanique sous les yeux des gens qui “veillent” dans le côté salon.

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THE STORY LINE:

The film maker’s brother, Norm, lives in a very small village, Longue-Rive, in the relatively remote region known as Québec’s North Shore.    Norm is a mechanic in the village, and works out of his garage set up on his property.   In small towns and villages across Canada, particularly those which are quite remote, neighbours have grown up together and/or know each other very well.   In such places, people often do not lock their doors at night, and villages take on a family atmosphere of sorts (you can walk into your neighbour’s homes without knocking, everyone knows where everyone’s chilren are at all times, and adults spend a lot of time with each other.

Map1

Map2

In Longue-Rive, there is no bar or cafe.  But the blue-collar nature of the small town makes it so everyone has a garage where they work (either professionally or as a hobby), and everyday life revolves around the garage (much like everyday life may have revolved around kitchens 50, 70 or 100 years ago).

I’ve personally driven through Long-Rive a while back, as well as many other communities like it along the North Shore, and all across Canada.  In villages like these, it tends to be more cultural the norm, rather than the exception, to see homes with detached garages, in which residents work or whittle away their time (even in my own family, we I have a number of relatives whose lives semi-revolve around their garage).

Culturally, it is very Canadian to see this phenomenon in remote, rural settings, in all provinces.   It’s something I have never really thought of before, but I think it’s an aspect of our rural culture.    It’s a part of our culture which the film maker, Michel Demers, has captured beautifully.

In the absence of a bar or café in town, Norm’s garage doubles as the local hang-out for family and friends.  People drop by in their free time, pull up a chair (or a “living room recliner”) and meet for a beer, to chat, to eat, organize group activities and just pass away the time.  And it’s not only the village men who have turned Norm’s garage into their local “hang-out”.  Women and children also gather to gossip, joke, and play.

Because everyone shares the same lifestyle (a love of the outdoors, catching up on community news, bonding as a community, hunting, trapping, fishing, clam digging, ski-dooing, etc.), there are more than enough topics for everyone to talk and laugh about.  There is rarely a dull moment.  People bond, and the entire village becomes one big family.

WHAT I TOOK AWAY FROM WATCHING THIS DOCUMENTARY:

What I love about the film is its simple and genuine nature, its innocence, and how life is uncomplicated for those we see on the screen.  If one member of the community falls on hard times, there will be a whole network of others around to help pick him/her up by their bootstraps and step in until that individual is back on their feet.

Although I now living in our largest city (with Toronto at the heart of the “Golden Horseshoe” which counts over 10 million people), and even though I have lived in a few cities overseas which have ranged from 8 million, to 17 million, to 25 million people people, a film like this still resonates so strongly with me because I see so many echoes of my own early childhood in it;  be it clam-digging close to home with my family, ski-dooing with my dad and his buddies, spending time with my dad as he did odd things around his own garage, or simply growing up in a small, isolated community in which neighbours spent the bulk of their time together.  I talked about many of these things in a couple of earlier posts:

It find it quite interesting that so many aspects of life on the North Coast of Québec (where the St. Lawrence meets the Atlantic) are almost identical to many aspects of life on the North Coast of British Columbia (where the Skeena meets the Pacific), and a good number of other places.  Fascinating stuff!

INTERNATIONAL SCREENINGS:

Apart from the various Canadian cities in which this documentary has or will be screened (both inside and outside of Québec), it is also set to be screened or has been screened in cities as far away as Moscow, Marseilles, Brussels, Chicago and Mexico.

A NOTE ON THE STYLE OF FRENCH USED :

The French accents and expressions spoken are those commonly heard in Québec’s North Coast region.   This style of French has more in common with French spoken in Québec’s Gaspé region, the Atlantic Province’s Acadian regions, and the older generations of Prairie French speakers than it does Western Québec (which includes Montréal) or Ontario.   (You can click the above links for more information on these various accent styles).

However, if your French is at an upper advanced level, and if you’re used to hearing a couple of different Canadian French accents to a fluent level, you should not have much difficulty understanding what is being said.   Just be aware that even if your French is perfectly fluent, or even if French is your first language (such as for those from Montréal or Québec City), but if you are not used to hearing a North Coast accent, the super-strong accents of a couple of Normand’s buddies may throw you off here and there (there were a couple of times when I had to rewind to catch the words in a couple of different phrases).

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SOME ADDITIONAL OUT-TAKES:

Here are some clips of people in the documentary talking about their lives and their”Garage” culture:

Here are some clips of reactions from local residents in Long-Rive when they first viewed a showing of “Bienvenue chez Normand”.

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The documentary’s official website: http://www.micheldemers.com/?cat=67

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HOW TO VIEW THE ENTIRE DOCUMENTARY ONLINE, FOR APPROVED VIEWING:

The documentary will be available on Radio-Canada’s “Tou.tv” website for free viewing until approximately September 2015.

The direct link is as follows:    http://ici.tou.tv/les-grands-reportages/S2015E189

Subtitles (in French) are available in the video if you need them (click the subtitle button at the the bottom of the screen).

Happy viewing !!

“Regional” Vocabulary and Expressions – Other Regions of Québec – 6 of 6 (#174)

This is the last post in our several-part series on regional vocabulary & expressions from different parts of Québec.  This last post will cover variations from several regions around Québec. A map of some of these regions was given a few posts ago (you can view the map by clicking here).

The vocabulary in this post is presented in the following format:

Name of the REGION or city:  Word “X”  (this will be the word or expression which is most apt to be heard in the specific region)

  • Word “Y” (this would be the equivalent of what could be heard more in the Montréal region or province-wide).  I will also include the English equivalent as well as reference notes.

Once again, there is no hard and fast rule regarding this vocabulary (after all, this vocabulary is based on very informal colloquialisms [informal oral speech]).  Words change with time, and a number of what is presented here may not be said by most people in the stated regions, some words may have fallen out of use with time, and others may also extend beyond the stated region.


Bas-Charlevoix: Pour que c’est fait pas simple de même?

  • Pourquoi tu fais simple comme ça?

Brayon / Acadie: Cuillère à marde

  • louch = ladle (it gets its name because it used to empty bed pans in the olden days – yum yum… eat your soup Johnny!)

Brayon:  ça va d’être

  • Ça va être

Brayonespère moi

  • attends moi

Brayontire-jus

  • Mouchoir = Kleenex

Brayon:  un bat-à-ball

  • une batte de baseball = baseball bat. (note:  un club de baseball is a baseball team/club, but it can sometimes also be heard as the term for a baseball bat… but it sounds strange and hick’ish when used to refer to a bat).

Chaudière-Appalaches:  Fouettes tes brousailleuses

  • Clean up ones mop (ie: clean up one’s scruffy hair).  Bousailleux means scruffy (don’t ask me why it’s said in the feminine form in the above expression or when referring to someone or oneself when cleaning up their scruffiness. It’s a weird expression)

Chaudière-Appalaches:  hauller le char

  • pousser le char (en panne) – To push a car which is broken down.

Chaudière-Appalaches:  frock de cuire, une

  • une veste en cuire, un gilet en cuire = a leather vest

Chaudières-Appalaches:  pantrie, la

  • le comptoir (de cuisine) = the kitchen counter

Côte-nord:  beigne, une

  • The word is correct, but the gender can be feminine in the Côte-nord, whereas it is masculine in Montréal and elsewhere.  (I also met someone once from La Tuque, far north of Shawinigan, who also refered to beigne in the feminine).   An interesting note:  In France, un beigne (masculine) can sometimes (but rarely) be said for a doughnut, but is best known as a “beignet“.  However, when said in the feminine in France, une beigne, it means a slap (une gifle).  As far as I know, it does not have this latter meaning (gifle) in Québec or Canada (not that I’ve ever heard at any rate).   Another quirk:  note that the technical name for a doughnut, in the dictionary, is actually beignet… but nobody ever says this in Canada or Québec (and likely most people would not even be aware it is technically called a beignet.  Menus in Canada which serve doughnuts only show them as beigne (http://www.timhortons.com/ca/fr/menu/beignes.php).    In Belgium, Switzerland, and in different regions of France, a doughnut can have up to 23 different names, depending on the region… here’s the wikipedia article on it:  http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beignet

Côte-nord:  Ben manque…

  • Je pense que… = I think that…

Côte-nord:  frock, une

  • un manteau = a coat

Estrie:  pitoune, une

  • A four foot “chord” of wood (this word also has a more common meaning used everywhere, that of a nice looking woman, une belle pitoune)

Gaspésie:  Barbe-moi pas

  • Ne me derange pas = Don’t bother me.

Gaspésie:  bourriet

  • moutons de poussière = dust bunnies (note : they are “dust sheep” in Québécois and Canadian French)

Gaspésie:  Ça me barbe pas.

  • Ça ne me dérange pas = It doesn’t bother me (note: in old French, “faire la barbe à quelqu’un” meant to tease or make fun of someone.  I find it interesting that this very old language use managed to hang on so long in more isolated regions).

Gaspésie:  Pile pas dans mes bourriets

  • Get your mitts out of my stuff or things. Keep your hands out

Gaspésie:  tché-ben

  • Je sais ben, Je sais très bien = I understand

Matane:  rye, un

  • un ride, a ride

Maurice / Trois-Rivières / Shawinigan:  pelottes, des

  • Ragout à boulettes = meatball stew (“pelottes” is a specific recipe in the region). It has a funny name which makes people in other regions laugh when they hear it.  It becomes even funnier if you drop the word “ragoût” because the first “e” after the “p” is silent, thus the word sounds like PL#@TE… a very, very BAD word (it might even earn you a smack if the person you are talking to doesn’t know the context of what you are talking about) – Ta grand-mère là… son affaire de pelottes là, ça sent tellement bonne! Je peux-tu y goûter? (I’m going to skip on the explanation… suffice to say, just don’t say that to any females should they serve you ragoût de boulettes at Christmas or at any other time).

Mauricie / Trois-Rivière:  patate à frite

  • galette de pomme de terre, galette de patate, galette = hashbrown, (m’a prendre une patat’à frite = I’ll order a hashbrown)

Mauricie:  râdot, un

  • un petit rat = a small rat

Mauricie: magoua, un

  • quelqu’un qui manque un peu de classe = someone who is a bit rough around the edges and may not be the most classy

Sherbrooke / La Beauce:  sneaks, des

  • sneakers

Valleyfield:  miguenne, une

  • louche = ladle

Victoriaville:    coton, un

  • un coton-ouaté = a sweater. This word can also be heard outside the region.

Victoriaville:  fan, une

  • Fan = electric fan. Feminine versus masculine, un fan.

Victoriaville:  havralle

  • Combinaisons = Over-alls. The letter “r” takes the French pronounciation.

Victoriaville:  tarte à la tarlouche

  • tarte aux raisins sucrés = sweet grape pie (note:  Tarlouche is an old word from the Argonne dialect of French, Northeast of Paris near the Belgian border.  It used to mean a big piece of bread or meat in Europe.  I’m not quite sure how it made its way into Québec regional French or how it came to signify sweet grape pie).

That’s a wrap on the short blog-post series on Québec regional words and expressions.

Informal Québécois “regional” words and expressions (versus province-wide informal vocabulary) are very difficult (and almost impossible) to find online (most online material focuses on province-wide and Canada-wide spoken French words and expressions).  I am more than positive that what I have provided is just the tip of the iceberg, but I hope my own bit of insight through these last few posts has been of interest.

If you’re looking for informal, colloquial French vocabulary, but which is spoken all across Québec (yet sometimes Montréal specific, but also often Canada-wide), I’d like to refer you to Felix Polesello’s website, OffQc, at  www.offqc.com.  Felix has done an amazing job on his website, and has worked very hard and diligently to try to bring you what I believe is the web’s best and most interesting site on the subject.  Make sure to check it out.

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SERIES:  “REGIONAL” VOCABULARY AND EXPRESSIONS (6 POSTS)