The francophones are coming! -

The francophones are coming!


You can hardly blame the Montreal Gazette‘s editorial board for riffing on this study that found francophone Quebecers earn more than anglophone Quebecers:

“It’s part of popular culture among francophones to hearken back to the era when there was a class system in Quebec that was partly based on language,” Bourque said. “The image of the English boss maintains a powerful hold on the popular imagination.”

But lower wages for English-speakers are the norm across the province – even though anglophones are better educated on average than francophones, Jedwab said.

Anglophones earned a median wage of $24,617 in 2006 compared to $26,388 for francophones.

The kicker, as Léger’s Christian Bourque puts it above, is that francophones overwhelmingly think the opposite is true. According to Léger’s poll, only one out of 200 francophone Quebecers (0.5 per cent) thinks francophones earn more than anglophones (39 per cent mistakenly believe their tea-sipping, Union Jack-worshipping counterparts take home more money). Oh, conventional wisdom based on age-old stereotypes, why do you insist on making such fools of us? What next—a Le Devoir headline revealing us francophones didn’t, in fact, sleep with your wife?

What really got my attention, though, was this little nugget buried way at the bottom of the story:

While francophones earn more than anglophones on average in almost every region, the wage gap is particularly wide in Westmount ($42,171 for anglos age 25 to 44, compared to $56,799 for francophones in the same age range), Town of Mount Royal ($36,888 compared to $50,235) and Dollard des Ormeaux ($29,974 compared to $38,030.)

Those of you familiar with Montreal (12.5% anglo, median household income: $38,201) will recognize Westmount (54.1% anglo, median household income: $79,466), Town of Mount Royal (21.8% anglo, median household income: $86,743) and Dollard-des-Ormeaux (44.8% anglo, median household income: $65,046) as some of the wealthier anglo enclaves in the city. As a former Montrealer, they aren’t the places I would have guessed would have the sharpest divides.

What the study suggests is a barbarians at the gate-type scenario: as francophones become wealthier, they’re moving into areas that were traditionally associated with the anglo bourgeoisie. The anglos, meanwhile, are staying put (or perhaps moving there), no matter what their financial status may be. In other words, to the anglos, Westmount, DDO and (to a lesser extent) TMR remain anglophone neighbourhoods, but not necessarily wealthy ones, while for francophones, they’re wealthy neighbourhoods, but not necessarily anglophone ones. It used to be that assuming one meant assuming the other, but it appears that’s no longer the case.

What I’m finding most amusing about all this is the idea that wealthy francophones are effectively gentrifying the gold-plated ghettos of English Montreal. Forget keeping up with the Joneses. The challenge from now on is keeping up with the Jean-Guys.

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The francophones are coming!

  1. Well, I'm sure the facts won't get in the way of a good ethnic nationalist stereotype!

    Kidding, kidding, but seriously, interesting post. I think part of it, is that English minorities act much like any other kind of minorities within a broader society in which they don't always feel like they belong: they gather in smaller communities and enclaves. The few wealthy francophones in these specific enclaves create the wider disparities against the poorer anglophones, which make up the majority, I suspect.

  2. What the other "anglophone" enclaves like Point Ste-Claire? Are they gone? Become so multi-ethnic that they are no longer considered an "Anglo" place. One question, I would assume that most anglophones (The younger ones anyway) are bilingual and a very large proportion of the higher earning francophones are bilingual? I would note that study is about income and does not take into account actual wealth taking into account inheritances.

    • Well, MBT, as a francophone, I can assure you that, through inheritance or something else, I think anglophones are wealthier than francophones.

      Wait, that came out wrong.

  3. Good. Maybe Quebec can finally start to get over its insane obsession with perceived prejudice. Unless, of course, some nutty Anglo goes and starts complaining about anti-Anglo bias being the reason for the pay disparity.

    Get over it people: if you're not happy with your pay, work harder or move. If there really is prejudice at work, many of the best workers will leave and the business will lose in the long run. Pay disparity is a self-correcting problem as long as people can avoid whining about it.

    • Yes, after all, it's well known that jobs are just theoretical constructs and finding one has nothing to do with the economy, where you live, putting food on the table while unemployed, etc.. we all just wish really hard and the job we want miraculously appears.

      How fortunate that is, because otherwise people might actually decide to keep the job that pays unfairly rather than leave it behind for no job at all until the could find one that does pay fairly, and that'd completely destroy your ivory tower theorizing.

    • I suspect that this pay disparity is a result of people moving. Many Anglophones with money have left Quebec for greener pastures in English Canada.

      • I suspect you're right. In that case it is going to hurt Quebec.

      • That's an excellent point. Rich Quebec anglos don't live in Westmount and DDO anymore, they live in Rosedale and Forest Hill.

        • The difference is that the Rich Quebec Anglo's of today are billingual, read and watch the english as well as the french media, and feel at home in Quebec. 40 years back, the English community was living in a nutsell.

  4. Did you mean to say that TMR only has 21.8% anglos? Not sure how that can be considered an anglo enclave by any perspective…

  5. Here is another idea, all of the "wealthy" anglos left in the 1970's and 80's and the remaining anglos are generally less then affleunt. For example, look at the income level in those "high income" areas of montreal; compared to Calgary, Toronto, Edmonton or suburbs or Estevan Saskachewan these are low income areas. There only high income compared to Montreal. Even Michael J Fox is tall if you compare him to Webster.

  6. "What the study suggests is a barbarians at the gate-type scenario"

    It does not suggest this to me at all. Gohier makes leaps in logic that are at times incomprehensible non-sequiturs. Using Occam's razor, I'd suggest Gohier should stick with the simplest explanations – there are fewer wealthy English people than before. So many of the nicest households that were once owned by anglos have since been purchased by francophones, while the richest anglos can no longer afford the best houses. It's not like there's a whole lot of building going on in those places… the people that live there will be the people that can afford the existing pricey houses.