Faced with a slumping economy and high unemployment rate back home, the number of French citizens in Montreal has soared in recent years, particularly among the 25-40 age demographic.
In recent times, the unmistakable accent of the Old Country echoes through the bars and cafés of the city’s trendy Plateau district. Specialty stores offering made-in-France delicacies and pubs that televise French rugby and soccer matches have also recently popped up.
By 2013, nearly 55,000 French citizens were registered at the French consulate in Montreal, a rise by about 45 per cent from 2005, according to the consulate. However, this number in reality is likely much higher. A consulate spokesman estimates only about half of the French in Canada register, putting the estimated number of French citizens in Montreal at about 110,000. Toronto and Quebec City are the next most popular destinations with each being home to about 10,000 registered French citizens.
The growing French presence in Montreal has even stirred up hints of resentment. A satirical song called ‘Y’a trop de Français sur le Plateau’, which takes jabs at the perceived snobbiness of the French and their love of cigarettes, has been viewed 143,000 times on YouTube. The tune was written by Fred Fresh, a musician who is a Frenchman himself.
Many still view Montreal as a place of opportunity but it’s unclear how many of these new arrivals will stay for the long haul. Over the past decade, 30,000 immigrants from France have gained permanent resident status in Quebec, according to the consulate, far below the total number here on temporary student and work-travel visas. But it’s still among the top immigrant countries of origin in Quebec, alongside Algeria, Morocco, China and Haiti.
Many immigrants feel less restricted by educational background in Canada and if stable employment is available here then the only other factor that could dissuade anyone from making Montreal home is the brutal Canadian winter.
Source: The Globe and Mail