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Gettin’ down ‘n vulgar! – Swears M to SAC – Part 4 (#242)

WARNING:   These few posts are not suitable for minors.  They contain quite explicit vocabulary.

Let us continue our little adventure down the road of French swear words.   They are something which certainly adds more than just a little colour to our French in Canada and Québec.

Apart from informal talk between friends and peers, you will also tend to hear them used extensively in stand-up comedy, movies (dramas, and especially comedy movies), and literature which features Joual.

You may recall the earlier post on Elvis Gratton.  When watching the Elvis Gratton movies and television series, you would almost get the impression that every third word uttered was a vulgarity in some form or another.

I find it unfortunate when I hear learners of French say they have a difficult time understanding us in French when the language level becomes a bit more informal.   Of course, one reason is the structure and vocabulary used in Joual, but vulgarities and obscenities (swear words) certainly can throw a person off if you’re not familiar with them.

Hopefully these few posts give you some context and help to fill some of the missing gaps (I actually find it kind of awkard to write about this topic… it’s rarely written about in any depth – but all the more reason for me to cover it, and for you to hopefully find it useful 😉 ).

Reminder notes:

NOTE 1:  In the examples below, it is difficult to give an exact translation for every word.   I’ve therefore given the closest approximates with respect to their degree of impact.  That is why I list more than one English equivalent after most words.

NOTE 2:  Underneath the main words, I also list the “toned-down / softened” versions of the words.   These are versions of the main swear word which are considered to be milder, and more acceptable to a wider audience.   In English, the equivalent might be the transformation of “F&@#” to “Fudge”, or “Damn” to “Darn” (the latter words which could be acceptable, even on television).


Marde – Shit!, Damn it! Crap!

This one is interesting because it is softer than “shit” in English (which is “Merde” in French).   “Marde” is also softer than “Merde” — soft enough to the extent that you will hear it on television and the radio.   It also is used in many expressions:

  1. “Un tas de marde” (a pile of crap),
  2. “C’est de la marde” (it’s crap),
  3. “Toute cette marde” (all this crap),
  4. “Marde!” (Crap!, Damn!, Shit!).

I recommend that you try your best to replace “Merde” with “Marde” as much as possible.   It sounds better and less offensive.

Maudite merde – Shit!, Damn it!, God damn it!, Piss!

Maudit – Shit!, Damn it!, Crap!, God damn it!, Piss!

This is one of the most common curse words out there…  Right up there in the top five.

  • Mardi
  • Marois grand P
  • Maudasse
  • Maudine
  • Mausus
  • Mautadit
  • Morpion
  • Morsac
  • Motadit
  • Saudit
  • Saudine
  • Sautadites
  • Zaudit

Maudit bâtard – Damned bastard / F’ing bastard!

A bit Stronger — AVOID if possible, because it is a direct insult.

Although “Maudit” is not so serious of a word when said on its own, if you add “bâtard” after it, you’re looking for trouble (especially if you call someone this).

Maudit calvaireFor Christ’s Sake!, For F’in Sake!

RATHER STRONG, Recommend not using it.

Merde – Shit!

See “Marde” above.   It’s stronger than “Marde”, and roughly the exact same meaning, impact, and degree of acceptability (or non-acceptability) as “shit” in English.   This is also one of the most common curse words (likely in the top five).

Moses – Christ!, Damn it!, Shit!

  • Mosus

Mon… XXX –  Used to form “self-curses” by placing “Mon” in front of the curse word.

In English, there are four levels of “self-curses” which are used to give emphasis.   Examples:

  1. Least offensive could be “My Goodness”.
  2. One level up might be “My bloody luck”.
  3. A level higher might be “I’ll be damned”.
  4. The most offensive level would be “F*** me!”

French also has similar levels of “self-curses”.    Examples:

  1. Mon bonjour!
  2. Mon bon Dieu!
  3. Mon ciboire!
  4. “Mon Tabar*** !” or “Mon Câlisse!”.

The rule is this:  In Canadian French, you can pretty much add “Mon” in front of any Canadian-specific obscenity (it will work 90% of the time).    The more offensive the word to which “mon” is added, the stronger the message.   Exception:  You generally can NOT add “Mon” in front of most swear words which also exist in Europe (ie:  It does NOT work to say “Mon maudit”, “Mon pute”, “Mon foutre”, etc.)

Noune – Cuss word for vagina.

It is not quite as bad as saying “C$#%” (female genetalia) in English, but it certainly is harsher than saying “Pussy”.   It’s sort of half way between.   In Europe they say “chatte” (a female cat) – which can sometimes also be heard on this side of the Atlantic.

The funny thing is that there is even a well-known, comical song parody using this word (it has gone viral in Québec).  You can listen to it by going to its YouTube link:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OYcq4nGeYu0

Ostensoir – Shit!, Damn it!, Crap!, God damn it!, Piss!

Ostensoir à pédale – Shit!, Damn it!, God damn it!, Piss!

Patente à gosse! – Shit!, Damn it!, God damn it!, Piss!

Sacré – Shit!, Damn it!, God damn it!, Piss!

Sacre bleu – Shit!, Damn it!, God damn it!, Piss!

Sacréfisse – Shit!, Damn it!, God damn it!, Piss!

Sacrement – F***!, Jesus f***ing Christ!  Quite Strong.

Generally do not use this unless you are on familiar territory with the person you are speaking.  However, this word has lost much of its punch over the last couple of decades (it was considered much stronger when I was a child than what it is now).

  • Sacrement de fesses!
  • Sacarment
  • Sace
  • Sacidoux
  • Sacramère
  • Sacripant

Sacrifice – Shit!, Damn it!, God damn it!, Piss!

The funny thing is that I used to say this one quite a bit in my teens, but I don’t anymore.  I suppose the older I got, the more I realized it sounds fairly uncouth.   But I do sometimes say the softer “Saint-Sacrifice!”.

—– —– —– —– —– —– —–

The list will continue in the next post.  Hold your tongue until then !!



Gettin’ down ‘n vulgar! – Swears CI to J – Part 3 (#241)

WARNING:   These few posts are not suitable for minors.  They contain quite explicit vocabulary.

This is the 3rd post in a multi-post series on our French swear words.   A couple of things to note…

There are people want to see this series — I have received a couple of emails with questions regarding French swear words.  Thus I am presenting them in an objective format, considering there is not much comprehensive information out there – especially for language learners.   It all constitutes an aspect of culture (albeit a bit more “twisted” aspect of culture). 😉

NOTE 1:  In the examples below, it is difficult to give an exact translation for every word.   I’ve therefore given the closest approximates with respect to their degree of impact.  That is why I list more than one English equivalent after most words.

NOTE 2:  Underneath the main words, I also list the “toned-down / softened” versions of the words.   These are versions of the main swear word which are considered to be milder, and more acceptable to a wider audience.   In English, the equivalent might be the transformation of “F&@#” to “Fudge”, or “Damn” to “Darn” (the latter words which could be acceptable, even on television).


Ciboire – Shit!, Piss!, Damn it!, God damn it!

This one is a bit interesting.  It is said quite often, but it has a very “hick” tone to it.  It’s certainly not the worst of the swears, but it’s perhaps a couple notches higher up the offensive scale than mere “mild”.  That may be the reason we hear it often on the street, but not on television or the radio.   Yet, some of the substitutes below can be heard on the radio and television (“cibole” is the most common softened substitute in all circumstances).

  • Câliboire
  • Cibolaque
  • Cibole
  • Cibonte
  • Ciboulette
  • Ciboule
  • Ciboulot
  • Cinliboire
  • Gériboire
  • Liboire
  • Siblème

Cinclème – For crying out loud!, Christ!

Cré – Shit!, Damn it!, God damn it!, Piss!

  • Crétaque

Cré maudit – Shit!, Damn it!, God damn it!, Piss!

Cré tornon – Shit!, Damn it!, God damn it!, Piss!

Criffe – Christ!, Cripes!,  For Christ/Cripes sake!

Crime (also “Crim”) – Christ!, Cripes!, For Christ/Cripes sake!, Adds EMPHASIS

This one is said quite often.  I would said its impact is closer to “Cripes” than it is to “Christ”.  Therefore it is acceptable to use in general conversation, even with your boss.  Now that I think of it, I say it quite a bit – perhaps more than any other “sacre”.

You’ll often hear it at the beginning of sentences to add a tad of extra punch to what is being said… it adds general EMPHASIS.

Here are some examples to let you see what I mean (don’t be afraid to use this one… it’s rather OK):

  • “Crime! Il fait beau dehors!” (Wow, it’s a beautiful day today).
  • “Crime! J’ai pas pensé à ça!” (Man! I didn’t think of that!).
  • “Crime! Il conduit mal!” (Holy smokes! He’s a bad driver!).
  • “Crime! Il a raté le but!” (Cripes! He missed the goal!)
  • “Crime! Elle a faillit bercher une bonne!” (Whoa! She just about took a tumble!)
  • “Crime! Qu’y sont sérieux” (Geez!  They’re really serious!)
  • “Crime!” (Whoa!), (Cripes!)

Crisse – Get the F*** out!, Don’t give a F****!, F***ing angry!, Shit!

When used on its own, it only means “Shit!”.

When used in other contexts, it needs to be inserted in a a sentence:

  • Je m’en crisse (I don’t give a shit / F***!)
  • Crisses-toi d’ici (Get the F*** out of here!)
  • Ch’en crisse! (I’m pissed/angry!)

Crucifix – Shit!, Damn it!, God damn it!, Piss!

Damn – Shit!, Damn it!, God damn it!, Piss!

Enfant de chienne – Son of a bitch!, Shit!, F***!

Personally, I would avoid saying this.  It sounds vulgar, likely because it is not as common as you would think (less common = it gets more attention when said).   There are so many other words out there which can be used to express the imperative “Son of a bitch!”   Generally speaking, any of the words which have the same impact as “Shit!, Damn it!, God damn it!, Piss!” also can be used if you wish to give the same impact as the imperative “Son of a bitch!”.

However, if you specifically wish to call someone a “son of a bitch”, then you could use this expression (in France & Europe they would say “fils de pute/putain”).

  • Enfant de chishe
  • Enfant de nanane
  • Enfant de néanne
  • Enfant de nénane

Esprit – Shit!, Damn it!, God damn it!, Piss!

Étoile – Damn!, Cripes!

Eucharistie – Shit!, Damn it!, God damn it!, Piss!

  • Caresse
  • Eucharesse

Fuck – Damn!, Damn it!, God damn it!

This word is quite interesting when said in French versus in English.  It is not nearly as bad in French as in English.

You will even hear it said often enough on French-language radio.  The CRTC (Canada’s federal government body which regulates what is and is not acceptable to say over the airwaves) does not consider “FUCK” to be a “bad word” when inserted in French sentences.   Ironic, isn’t it?   I surprisingly hear it on the radio.

Nonetheless, you may wish to be careful when you decide in which “region” to say it in Québec.  It does not sound very nice when inserted in general French-language conversation in Montréal, simply because there is a higher concentration of Anglophones in Montréal versus other regions of Québec.   Personally, I choose not to say it when speaking French, but it doesn’t bother me when others do (it’s all in the context).

HOSTIE – Jesus f’ing christ!, For F*** sake!   Rather strong.

Try to avoid it in general conversation unless you are on very familiar terms with the person which whom you are speaking.   Personally, I rarely even use the “softened-down” words below, unless I know the person very well, or unless the “softened” word is quite different from the original swear word (such as “stie”, or “Ostination”.

It’s just best to avoid it unless your French is at an advanced or native level (and best to only say among friends, close peers and family).

  • Esti
  • Hastie
  • Hostie au lard
  • Hostie fee
  • Hostination (this can also be a noun which means “Connerie” or “Crap” / “Rigamarole” in English… “Toute cette hostination”)
  • Hostique
  • Ostie
  • Ostination (this can also be a noun which means “Connerie” or “Crap” / “Rigamarole” in English… “Toute cette ostination”)
  • Stie

Jésus-christ – Jesus Christ!, Christ!, God damn it!

  • Jésome
  • Jésus de plâtre

Joualvert – Cripes!, Damn it! (soft enough you’ll hear it on the radio).

—– —– —– —– —– —–

Crime! J’dirais que ça roule presque! Pas vrai?  I’ll see you soon with continued posts in this mini-series on swears.



Gettin’ down ‘n vulgar! – Swears A to CH – Part 2 (#240)

The last post gave an introduction to French swears as we use them on this side of the Atlantic.

This post and the next few posts will give you concrete examples.  These lists are not exhaustive, and they generally do not include swear words from Europe.

WARNING:   These next few posts are not suitable for minors.  They contain quite explicit vocabulary.  I have received a couple of emails with questions regarding French swear words, so I decided to present them in an objective format, considering there is not much comprehensive information out there – especially for language learners.

We hear these swear words all the time (sometimes even on television and the radio), and they often confuse language learners.   Thus, this resource may be useful to elementary and intermediate-level language learners (after all, I’m not writing these posts for the sake of being “vulgar”).

When developing language skills, it must be a very confusing experience for elementary (and even intermediate) learners because they would have not learned these words in school.  Yet, when curse words are encountered in the street, learners may incorrectly believe their French skills are failing them for not understanding what is being said.  But if learners are at least able to identify these words as swears, they can then forgive themselves for not understanding, and simply move on.  (Note:  Language learners will encounter Québec and Canadian French swears far more often than European French swears, and they are used more often and more liberally than English swears).

European (France, Belgium, Swiss) swear words are also used on this side of the ocean.  The most common being:

  • Merde (Shit)
  • Vas te faire foutre (F-off)
  • Trou de cul (A. Hole)
  • Vas chier (screw off)
  • Ça fait chier (piss me off)
  • Mange la merde (F-you)
  • Putain (whore)

But there are some European swears which we do not generally say on this side of the ocean.  Some which we do not generally use are:

  • Casse toi! (Piss off, F-off)
  • Chatte (vagina… rarely said – in Canada we generally say “noune”)
  • Encule (F-off)
  • Fils de pute (Son of a bitch… however “pute” can sometimes be heard by itself)
  • Fils de salope (Son of a bitch… however “salope” can sometimes be heard by itself)
  • Zut (darn)… This one makes me laugh because it is taught in so many FSL classes around the world, but is never ever said in Canada.  We’d be more apt to simply say “Merde” or something like “Crîme” in Canada/Québec.
  • Gros cul (fat ass)

NOTE 1:  In the examples below, it is difficult to give an exact translation for every word.   I’ve therefore given the closest approximates with respect to their degree of impact.  That is why I list more than one English equivalent after most words.

NOTE 2:  Underneath the main words, I also list the “toned-down / softened” versions of the words.   These are versions of the main swear word which are considered to be milder, and more acceptable to a wider audience.   In English, the equivalent might be the transformation of “F&@#” to “Fudge”, “Hell” to “Heck” or “Damn” to “Darn” (the latter words which could be acceptable, even on television).


Acré gué – Shit!, Piss!, Damn it!, God damn it!

Argya – Shit!, Piss!, Damn it!, God damn it!

Balls – Shit!, Piss!, Damn it!, God damn it!

Baptême – Jesus Christ!, God damn it!,  Christ!

  • Baptiste
  • Bâteau
  • Batêche
  • Batéye
  • Batince
  • Bazwel

Barabbas – Christ

Bâtard – Bastard

Bondance – For crying out lout!, Christ!

Bonyeu – (short “Bon dieu”) Holy crap!, Holy Shit!, Shit!, Damn!

  • Bondance
  • Bonguenne
  • Bonguienne
  • Bongyeu
  • Bonjour
  • Bonyenne
  • Bonyousse
  • Boyenne
  • Vaingieu
  • Vingieu
  • Vinguienne

Bout de crime (sometimes said Bout crime) – Christ!,  God damn it!

Bout de crisse – Christ!,  God damn it!

Bout de Bon Dieu – Christ!,  God damn it!

Bout de calvaire – Christ!,  God damn it!

Bout de sacre – Christ!,  God damn it!

CÂLICEFor F***s sake!, Jesus f***ing christ!  (quite strong).

AVOID THIS in general conversation.  But it is quite acceptable to say one of the words below, with the most common being “Câline”.  Just to give you an idea, I don’t even say câlice (and often you’ll see it blanked out in texts:  C******).  But I will say “Câline”, or even “Câll”.

  • Câlasse
  • Câlif!
  • Câline
  • Câline de binne
  • Câlique
  • Calistirine

Calvaire – Piss!, Damn it!, God damn it!, Oh Christ!

  • Calvanasse
  • Calvasse
  • Calvenus
  • Calvette
  • Calvince
  • Calvinisse
  • Cataplasse

Chette – Shit

Chrisse qui pisse – Piss me off!, Damn it all to hell!, For Christ’s sake!, What the hell!

Christ – Christ!, Jesus Christ!, God damn it!, Shit!

  • Christie
  • Christine
  • Christophe
  • Chrysostôme
  • Clif
  • Clisse
  • Clousse
  • Crème
  • Cric
  • Cris
  • Cristal
  • Saint-sicrisse


The next posts will continue with more lists.

Restes-là câline!! 😉



Gettin’ down ‘n vulgar! – Introduction to swear words – Part 1 (#239)

Swear words lend a colloquial (spoken) impact to the message being shared.   Swear words traditionally relate to matters which are most likely to offend others. This attracts people’s attention and invokes an emotional response from those who are listening.

If you travel anywhere in Québec or listen to Francophones speak anywhere in Canada, you will certainly run into swear words or obscenities.  They are used much more loosely used in French than in English.

In East Asian societies (China for example), the most sacred aspects of society are family networks and honouring one’s parents and ancestors.  It is therefore no surprise that East Asian swear words have mostly to do with one’s mother, ancestors, and family relations (if you were to say “Your mother” to someone in Chinese, don’t be surprised if you get an angry response).

In Western societies, for many centuries the Church was the most sacred aspect of society.  Religious blasphemy was the most sure-fire way to invoke a negative or emotional reaction.  Therefore many of our Western English swear words in Canada and the USA relate to God, or subjects which were determined taboo by religion and religious puritan principles.

Examples are “Damned” (which relates to hell), “F@#$” (which is an affront to the Church’s conservative views towards intercourse), “Hell” (self-explanatory), “Shit” (which indirectly contravenes the notion of the Church’s early puritan obsessions with cleanliness and purity), “Pissed” (for the same reasons as “shit”), “C#@t” (which relates to genitalia – a subject rendered taboo by the church), etc. etc.

In Canadian and Québec French, swear words also stem from a liturgical (church / clerical) origin.   However, unlike more abstract Canadian English swear words, most Canadian French obscenities stem from the objects used in Catholic ceremonies.

Swear words in Québec and Canadian French are called “des jurons” or “des sacres”.

Important note:  French swear words in Canada are very different from French swear words in France, with only a few exceptions (such as merde/marde, pute/putain, etc.)

In Québec and elsewhere in French Canada, there’s a general consensus that most of the objects and swear words relate to traditions in the Catholic Church.  Yet what most people in Québec do not realize is that Canadian & Québec French swear words would not have existed had it not been for the Protestant church’s presence in Québec and North America from the time of Samuel de Champlain (essentially, day one).


A photo I took of a bar sign in Montréal the other day.  A photo full of irony.   A “Ciboire” is both a sacred Catholic wafer box / ciborium, but is also a French swear word.  Here, the bar is playing on the irony between its modern “obscene” meaning, and its historical “religious” meaning.

There were three major parishioner groups in North America in the 1600s and early 1700s:   (1) the French Catholics, (2) the French Protestants (known as the Huguenots) who were prosecuted in France and who fled to the North America to escape persecution from French Catholics, (3) Anglophone (as well as Dutch speaking) Protestants.

(On a personal note, I’m in part descended from several families of the original Protestant French settlers, not the Catholic French settlers… among them Louis Dubois, the head of the Huguenots, and several others from 1614 to the late 1600s.  The Protestant French colonialists made their way westward, and Western Canada is now populated with many of their descendants.  Interestingly enough, the total number of descendants of the original Protestant French settlers now probably outnumbers all the descendants of the original Catholic French settlers in North America.  All of this is something which is not taught in Québec’s education system… which unfortunately contributes to the notion of the Two Solitudes [It can be a bit frustrating]).

The “Protestant French” population in North America was viewed by the “Catholic French” population as being blasphemous and as “outsiders” (despite being of the same French origins).  The Catholic French population in North America made a specific point of demarcating the difference between “Catholic French settlers” and “Protestant French settlers” by creating swear words which related to “Catholic-specific” ritual pieces (this is why North American French swears are based upon Catholic “objects”, versus North American English swear words which are based upon general abstract religion).



Swear words in Canadian & Québec French are often inserted into sentences in the same way as in English.   In very general terms, the most common ways of using them follow four simple rules. (There are other ways to use them, but the following are the main ways we use them the most often):

1.  As an imperative:

  • F#@#!  I’ve had it!
  • Tarbarwatte!  Que j’en ai marre!
  • Shit that’s great!
  • Crisse qu’y est bon!
  • God-damn it!
  • Câlisse!

2.  Using “de” (of a) to link the swear word with the object to which it refers:

  • C’est un ciboire de char!
  • That’s a hell of a car!
  • Toé, le p’tit câline de morvaillon!
  • You, ya little pisser of a brat!

3.  As a tensified verb:

Generally by adding the equivalent an English “-ed” at the end (which is “é” in French).   Thus, hostie (damn) can be conjugated to a past/present passive tense, hostié (damned).

  • Son hostié char!
  • His damned car!
  • C’t’un cristié bon gateau!
  • God-damn that cake is good!

4.  Adding “en X” after a verb, an adjective or an adverb

  • Je suis tanné en cimoinak!
  • I’m so F’in tired of it!
  • Le ciel et si bleu en ostie!
  • The sky is so god-damned blue!



You can have a lot of fun with our French swears.  They’re much more flexible than English swears.  You can mix and match them, and play on sounds.

Example 1 :  My main gym buddy for many years was Francophone.  He always used to tease me about one physical aspect or another of mine.   But I would throw the insults right back at him.    I played on the French swear expression of calling someone “Viande de chien” (dog meat).  But I modified it and always called him “Viande de bouche de cheval!” (horse-mouth meat).  His busted a gut every time!  (“Hé, toi-là!  Viande de bouche de cheval, que c’est qui se passe?”, “Hey! Horse mouth meat, what’s up?”).

Example 2 : Instead of saying a hard-core swear word, you can substitute it with a less-offensive word which takes the first letter of the offensive swear word, or which sounds similar.

Take this sentence for example: “Il a trop acheté en ciboire!” (Christ, he bought too much!).

“Ciboire” can be replaced by something as mundane as s’il vous plaît, Simon, cite, etc. 

They all start with a “SEE” sound.    Thus you can say “Il a trop acheté en s’il vous plaît“.   This is best when you are unaware of how the obscenity (such as “ciboire”) would be taken by the person you’re talking to.  Creative, isn’t it?



One of the reasons why there are so many swear words in Québec and Canadian French is owing to the number of “softened” swears.    Softening makes them much more acceptable and allows them to be said to a larger audience.

In English a softer version of “Damn” would be “Darn”.  A softened version of “Shit” would be “Schnoot”.  A softened version of “F#@$*” would be “Fudge”.   “Pissed” is softened to “Peeved”.   “C*&#” is softened to “Pussy”, and so on.

Unlike in English, the softening possibilities in French go on and on and on – to the extent that there are hundreds of them (English likely only has a few dozen, or less).



The next few posts will give alphabetical lists of many swear words in Québec and Canadian French, and related “softened” words.   Best now to charge your pace-makers, and to put passwords on your computers for the kiddies!!



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.


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.



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.



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 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!


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.


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).



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”.


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



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 !!