Quebec City: linguistic and real-estate notes - Macleans.ca

Quebec City: linguistic and real-estate notes

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So as I prepare to leave Quebec City (later than planned: thanks, Air Canada!), here are a few notes from the Conservative caucus meeting in nearby Lévis.

(a) Lévis is not nearby. The maps are deceptive. Note to Accounting: mondo taxi bills on the way.

(b) Actual dialogue with a member of the Conservative caucus last night:

MP: “So the headline is fish or cut bait?”

PW: “Yeah.”

MP: “Did he actually say that?” (Note: weak amplification in the arena at St. Agapit was the only flaw in an otherwise well-executed rally.)

PW: “Yup. ‘Fish or cut bait,’ in the text.” (Note: PMO gave us the text of the speech two hours before the PM opened his mouth. Glasnost!)

MP: “Did he say it in English? I wonder how you say that in French.”

PW: (shrugs)

Cut to this morning’s Le Soleil, with this pull quote: “M. Dion doit décider s’il part à la pèche ou s’il retire l’appât.”

Each mystery solved brings a new mystery. Literally: “Mr. Dion must decide whether he will go fishing or whether he will pull his bait out of the water.” But if his bait is in the water, has he not already decided to go fishing?

(c) Tuesday night featured a visit with a friend from earlier political wars, who has a massive two-bedroom condo in an Old Quebec heritage building with jacuzzi, bare-brick walls, and a balcony view of the Château Frontenac and the Price Building that Hitchcock would have killed for. Everyone took turns on his balcony admiring the view. He paid $330,000 for the place. One of his visitors, from Calgary, couldn’t believe it. Our host shrugged: there’s places like this all over Quebec. His neighbours upstairs are from Boston and spend maybe two weeks a year in their place; his neigbours downstairs were delighted when he moved in, because he was going to be the only other guy in the building who actually lived there full-time and it was nice to have company.

Back to this morning’s Le Soleil, which describes a real-estate boom in Le Vieux, as those American neighbours who’ve been keeping Quebec City pieds-à-terre for seven years realize they can now unload them for lots of devalued U.S. dollars. To whom? French and Belgian customers whose healthy euros can fill the pockets of American sellers — and social climbers from Trois Rivières who want a foothold in the big city. Quebec City looks healthier than it has in decades, and if I had some spare capital I’d buy in. Word to the wise…