One of the benefits of being in EO (Entrepreneur’s Organization) is the forum experience. Our Atlanta EO chapter has 100+ members, who each join a forum with 6-10 fellow EO’ers. My forum, called LAVA, is a close-knit group of guys who share advice, contacts, and friendship. Many of us have been together in the same forum for nearly 5 years.
Each year we go on an annual forum retreat. Our first one was in Miami, then Playa del Carmen, then the Dominican Republic, and this year in Montreal. My good friend and forum-mate Rocky planned the retreat this year and did a phenomenal job.
Rocky reached out to several members of EO Montreal beforehand and they really laid out the red carpet for us. We met with prominent Montreal businessmen, had a private tour of the Bombardier aircraft factory arranged by their CEO, and got reservations at the city’s most exclusive restaurants. It wasn’t exactly in the standard Chasing Summer style of travel, but hey, it was a business expense!
Limos, fois gras, fine French wines and spa day aside, it was a mind-opening experience. Montreal is a beautiful city with a complex history and political situation. It’s a pleasure aesthetically… clean, hilly, and built with a very European flair. The French cuisine was the best I’ve had outside of Paris. What really stood out though was mix, and the tension, between the English and French culture and language.
Montreal is divided between Anglophiles (English speakers) and the Francophiles (French speakers.) Predictably enough we spent most of our time with Anglophiles, who are a minority in the Quebec provence yet traditionally possessed most of it’s economic and political power. However several years ago the Francophiles revolted. They voted in a “hard line” French-speaking government who insisted upon protecting the French language and culture within the provence. They mandated that all public signs appear in French, that public schools should be held in French, and even that foreign movies must be dubbed in French instead of subtitled. I’m told that businesses can’t even get government contracts unless the CEO has a French name.
Within the Montreal city limits English is still widely spoken, but outside the city it’s pure French. Whereas poor rural folk can be identified in the US by poor grammar and country accents, they’re identified in Quebec by their French monolingualism. This seems odd to us Americans who usually imagine French as a sophisticated language spoken by the educated elite while sipping on cafe au lait.
I put together a short video to capture the Montreal experience. This is now my second foray into video editing but I think I’m getting the hang of it (many thanks to Apple iMovie for making me appear more talented than I really am.) Enjoy!
Next on the Chasing Summer itinerary is a few days in San Francisco followed by 2 weeks driving down the California coastline. Stay tuned for more pictures, videos, and inspiring prose 😉