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Web-users’ favorite Francophone Québécois – Part A (#307)

The last couple of posts looked at who web-users voted as their favourite ANGLOPHONE Québécois.

The next few posts will look at who web-users voted as their favourite FRANCOPHONE Québécois.

Although these rankings may not be scientific (anyone can cast their votes anytime on Rankopedia), the rankings are probably not far from reality.

One thing I have noticed is that many of the personalities “span the ages”.  This means that people of all ages must have voted, because some people may be well known to people over 40 or 50, but not necessarily as well known to someone in their 20s or 30s.

Let’s take a look…

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1.  Celine Dion

  • Pop Singer (Born and raised in the greater Montréal region)
  • I don’t think I need to say anything more about Celine (is there anyone who doesn’t know her?).
  • I will however say that recently she has unfortunately been (inadvertently & unwillingly) dragged into politics for the first time in 25 years by her politically overzealous friend, Julie Snyder.  It’s actually quite sad (like others, I feel bad for Celine).  I wrote a post about it which you can read it by CLICKING HERE.

2.  Gilles Villeneuve

G.Vil

  • Race Driver (From St-Jean-Sur-Richelieu, Québec.  An interesting sidenote:  St-Jean is the city where the French-language Royal Military College of Canada is located.  It is one of two military colleges, with the English language college located in Kingston, Ontario [for American readers, this would be the Canadian equivalent of Westpoint].
  • Canada’s first Formula One superstar from the late 1970s to the early 1980s.   Winner of six Grands Prix.
  • Accredited with making large segments of both Québec and Canada society hooked on Formula One.
  • Tragically killed in a track accident in 1982.
  • Owing to his God-like status among fans at the time of his death, he has become a permanent emotional fixture in Québec’s collective psyche, and is still regularly talked about today.

3.  Jacques Villeneuve

J.Vil

  • Race Driver (Born St-Jean-Sur-Richelieu, Québec, Raised in both Québec and Switzerland).
  • Son of Gilles Villeneuve (above).
  • The hopes of a Formula One-hooked society were transplanted from Gilles Villeneuve to his son Jacques when he began to walk in his father’s shoes.
  • Those hopes were realized as Jacques Villeneuve began to win racing championships which placed him among the best in the world.
  • The peak of his glory peaked in the 1990s when he was the 1995 Indi 500 champion, the 1995 PPG Indi World Series champion, and the 1997 Formula One champion.
  • In Québec, Villeneuve has pretty much walked on water for much of his life.

Here is an interview with Jacques in ENGLISH for you.

4.  Julie Payette

J.Pay

  • Astronaut (Montréal, born & raised).
  • She has captured the imagination of kids and die-hard space fans across the country (Payette has lived and worked all across Canada, including as a captain at the Air Base, Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan – a city I have always thought of as my second or third hometown owing to all the family I have there).
  • Was the chief Astronaut for the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) based in Longueuil, Québec (the Canadian equivalent of NASA).
  • Was flight crew aboard the shuttle Discovery and mission specialist aboard the shuttle Endeavour.
  • She is a director of the Bank of Canada, and also a host of Découverte (the French-language equivalent of something like Quirks and Quarks meets The Nature of Things).

Here is a speech she gave in ENGLISH

Here is a short clip of her hosting the very popular FRENCH-language television program Découverte.

5.  Georges St-Pierre

G.St-P

  • Mixed Martial Arts fighter (From St-Jean-sur-Richelieu).
  • His role as a world champion fighter brought the sport to the forefront in Québec and to sold-out shows in his sport across Canada (even to this day).
  • I already wrote a post on St-Pierre.  You can read it by clicking HERE (Québec’s Rough’n Toughs)
  • The last few years, he has been treated as a pop-culture celebrity in Québec, brining guaranteed viewer ratings to any television program he appears on.

We’ll look at more web-users’ “Favorite” Québec personalities in the next few posts.

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SERIES:  WEB-USERS’ VARIOUS QUÉBEC CULTURAL RANKINGS (11 POSTS)

You are going to know a lot more about Québec after this series of posts

Québec’s Rough’n Toughs (#74)

When Québécois think of the rough & tough side of pop culture, their thoughts will likely turn to two individuals — with 100 years of separation between their careers:  Louis Cyr and Georges St-Pierre.

I think this pair is quite well known to most Anglophones in Canada, but for those who may not know them, I’ll offer a bit of information.  In Québec, both their names can be heard more often than elsewhere in Canada, in general conversation or on television.  It’s probably a good idea to know who they are (as a cultural reference, if for no other reason).

Louis Cyr:

Louis Cyr was the strong-man of Québec.  He died in 1912 at the age of 49.  He was born to a very poor family, and did manual labour in Québec and the US to support himself.   He was a physical giant, and routinely worked out.  To entertain his friends, he would do strange things like lift horses and the like, quickly earning himself a reputation for having unusual strength.  This got the attention of a freak-show manager, who took Louis Cyr on a tour of Eastern Canada to earn money (performing a one-man act).  When his manger didn’t pay him, Cyr went home to Québec, got a job, but then decided to become his own one-man show, managed by his family.   He hit the road again, across the US and Canada, and earned a huge following.   Eventually he earned a reputation in North America for being the strongest man in the world, being able to lift a 100kg barbell with one hand, hauling over 1000kg (a metric ton) on his back, lifting a platform of almost 20 men (2 metric tons) on his back, lifting 250kg with one finger (hmmm… is that even possible? as far as the laws of physics go – ie: “snap!!), and pushing a train car up a hill.

But Cyr’s huge appetite got the best of him.  When he wasn’t performing, he was either a police man (in Ottawa, Montréal and a couple other small towns), or eating eating eating – not the healthy kind either.  His health deteriorated, and he died of kidney disease in 1912.   His legendary stories, however, live on today.   If you see a someone being a tough guy, you can use Louis Cyr as a metaphore and say “Who do you think you are, Louis Cyr?” (the binding-power of pop and folk culture).

Georges St-Pierre:

Back to the present, and to Québec’s present-day tough-man, Georges St-Pierre.

This dude is the definition of “fit”.   Born in 1981, he has already had a full, multi-million dollar career as world champion (several times over) in mixed martial arts and ultimate fighting.  He held top titles of various designations from 2006 through to 2013: Welterweiht UFC (3 times) and other sporting designations (MMA, Fight Matrix, ESPY).

During his peak years, if hockey wasn’t on the screens of bars and pubs across Québec, you would have seen St-Pierre’s matches on screen, as well has his famous post-match interviews (with his banged up black, blue and bloodied face as his battle trademark).  He’s likely known to everyone in Québec, even if they’re not a fan of ultimate fighting – and he is largely credited for bringing UFC into a mainstream sports sphere, not only in Québec, but across Canada as well.

Unfortunately, he had to vacate his title a few months ago when he tore his ACL – a ligament (Ouch!!!! Am a bit of a gym rat — I’ve been there done that several years ago with my own ACL injury – hurts like you wouldn’t believe!).  So…  the guy is down and out for the time being, trying to slowly train his way back through therapy.   Things are up in the air how much longer he’ll be out for, and what his professional engagements will be when he does return.   But regardless, he’s already the king for a certain demographic in Québec who follows UFC (and Québec’s demographic for this sport is larger than elsewhere in Canada or the US).   In the meantime, you’ll still see him on television doing the talk-show circuit, and sports columns provide the odd update on how he’s doing, and why they’re guessing will come of his recovery.

George’s official website is http://www.gspofficial.com/, through which you can access his daily facebook views.

Sorry, Louis St-Cyr’s website wasn’t up and running yet in 1912… a couple years too early (but I’m sure it would have been awesome!)