July 1 has unique meaning in Quebec
By Galit Gilor
For the majority of Canadians, July 1 is a day of celebration, where the population comes together to pay tribute to Canada’s history. However, in Quebec, this date takes on a completely different, although unique, meaning.
Boxes lining the streets, piled-up one over the other; garbage cans filled with rubbish; moving trucks roaring from street to street; people forming human chains, gathering their belongings — these are scenes typical of July 1 in Quebec.
While the rest of Canada is preoccupied with waving flags, the people in Quebec have their minds filled with other concerns, such as how to get their newly-delivered oven up the narrow stairway that leads to their second floor apartment. Front door, or back porch? That is the existential question.
For outsiders, seeing thousands of people moving in and out on the same day might be curious but, to us, it is normal. On July 1, leases begin and end. It is common to see individuals dragging their stuff out of an apartment, while new tenants try to navigate the same stairway to get their items in the same apartment. And, to avoid such chaos, creativity is key.
Maude Beaumier, 25, has been living in the Villeray neighborhood for the past year. On July 1, she moved to a new apartment that was merely two streets away from her old one. However, she had to get organized, or else all the plans she had made would fall through. Not only was she expecting a new washer and dryer set to be delivered, she was also waiting for a technician to install the Internet.
“I made sure that the old tenant would leave the apartment before midday, because we had rented a truck and were arriving in the afternoon,” says Beaumier.
What made Beaumier leave her previous apartment is a common reason: a nosey roommate. Added to the Moving Day chaos is the quest to find a compatible roommate for those who are not lucky enough to already have found one in their close friends or spouse.
“A good roommate is someone who is respectful and open-minded. My previous roommate was nothing of that,” explains Beaumier.
Miriam Altounji, 24, lives in Saint-Henri and has been looking for a roommate for the past month.
“My previous roommate decided to move in with someone else, “ says Altounji.
This has led her on a quest to find someone suitable to live with, which to her means “someone fun, clean, and responsible.” As a whole, she is not a fan of Moving Day.
“I mean, who likes to pack their stuff in boxes, stress about finding a place or a roommate, and then find friends to help you move, or help friends move. It’s just plain annoying,” says Altounji.
Such a reaction is common, especially since the demand for housing has been increasing steadily for the past years. To find an apartment, Beaumier spent her time on websites, such as Kijiji or Craigslist.
“I was refreshing the page constantly,” she says.
Luckily, she did find an apartment; however, it took her more than a month. “I really wanted one apartment I had visited, but I was one of twenty who had filled out an application,” says Beaumier.
July 1 in Quebec is a day of chaos, creativity, but also competition. Although most manage to tackle the day with success, some are not as lucky. Individuals who are in need of housing are advised to contact the city of Montreal for assistance (*311).
This article was written last Summer (July 2010) as an assignment for Introduction to Print, a class part of Concordia University’s Graduate Diploma in Journalism.