Saturday, July 01, 2006

Cultural Oddity

Today is July first. For many Canadians, this is a day to demonstrate gratitude for the country and to honor it with parades, barbeques and beer drinking. Pretty much like the 4th in the states. But for the French Canadians, this day has a very different meaning.

It's moving day.

You see, here in Quebec, flags are flown and heritages are honored on June 24th. That is when the Quebecers wave their flags, have their barbeques and drink their beer. July 1st is moving day here and up and down the streets in every neighborhood in town, you will see people moving out of and into apartments. It's a huge choreography that began a week ago.

For the last week, as everyone who is moving this year readied their belongings, scavenging has been quite lucrative for the second hand store men crawling the alleys. I used to go out and bring things home (a down jacket! a chest of drawers! a perfectly good pair of leather shoes! a mirror!) but spouse now forbids it. For him, if it has been thrown out by someone else, there's some kind of stink on it that can never be gotten off. It is amazing to me the things that people will throw out that are perfectly re-sellable.

The reason that today is moving day is that the government issued rental agreements are standardized for one year beginning July 1st. Rent control is very strong here and although one can move in or out of a place at any time, the lease always is prorated to July 1st and then renewed annually.

Moving companies charge ridiculous hourly amounts for the trucks today. Some companies burst into existence for just this week and vanish just as quickly, pocketing, I imagine, tidy sums.

You can envision the logistical nightmare this is. Driving is impossible as moving trucks clog residential streets. Moving out and in is all done this day with all the apartments changing hands. Cleaning must be done in between and everyone has to hurry because the people and trucks are booked somewhere else after you.

Quite bizarre, wouldn't you agree?

We don't have to deal with any of that this year. Our renters are staying as are we. The Jazz Festival has begun and there are some good things playing tonight. They've also closed down the village for an art festival. I like it for the people watching. I'll try to get some pics.

22 comments:

Polt said...

Oh those silly French Canadians! What WILL they think of next? :P

Anonymous said...

We're celebrating with the standard neighbourhood party.

Happy Canada Day!

Jane

Ed said...

Just a suggestion but wouldn't it be better to have say June 1, July 1, August 1, as moving days? Then the streets wouldn't be so clogged and only a third would move each time maybe by alphabetical order such as our license plates are done here in the lower 48. still to have it all over in one day has its benefits I guess. Spouse won't let you scavage? That's just cruel to those of us who live to find useful things others have discarded. Bicycles will come in handy today, eh?

CoffeeDog said...

I never knew what Moving Day was, now I do. What a bizarre day! What's Boxing Day mean? Is that the day everyone packs their stuff in boxes to prepare for Moving Day?

I'm with Spouse, used stuff has cooties.

Em said...

All you have to do is spray the used things with anti-cootie spray. Sheesh.

Rebekah said...

I am so into the used stuff finds.

I still have a lamp and a great old briefcase-y kind of bag I got out of a dumpster years ago when I was living in a big apartment building.

Most of the folks who lived there were elderly, and when they left it was either to a nursing home or...you know... left for good. Always a lot of great stuff thrown out then.

I want to go to the Jazz Festival! Are the programs still too small?

nongirlfriend said...

It's like Snake Whacking Day - makes no sense!

St. Dickeybird said...

I always thought Moving Day was a myth. It always seemed to stupid to be true. But now I believe.

GayProf said...

I had heard of Moving Day previously. Though I appreciate the Québécois for their tenacious ability to preserve their language and sense of community, sometimes they seem a wee bit stubborn. How, in our era, does having this type of standardization help anybody? As a people, can’t they just agree that this is a dumb thing?

Oh, and found items are great!

Snooze said...

I love found stuff. I only wouldn't take something that I couldn't somehow wash or clean, but otherwise, it's all good.

dirk.mancuso said...

I had never heard of moving day before. I cannot even imagine the insanity of that day. Very interesting.

And I'm with you on the second handing stuff. Lot of good stuff out there that people just pitch.

The_Gay_Dude said...

We just went through a smaller version of moving day here around the campus of Johns Hopkins....I'm always amazed at the 'junk' students throw away....as they graduate....and move....onto bigger and better things....over the years I've accumulated a vintage steamer's trunk, a 1920's art-deco wardrobe and some kewl artwork....I don't care bout someone else's stench!

Freak Magnet said...

There was once a joke going around that if you needed to be out of your house in an hour, call me because I was so good at it. Ah, the days of not owning anything heavy to move.

jpdc said...

Find your blog via Gayprof. I am impressed.

Moving when you're the only one in town doing it sucks; couldn't imagine the whole town doing it the same day. Imagine trying to get a couch down a hallway when there's another couch coming at you from the opposite end.

Daniel, the Guy in the Desert said...

I shrink to admit it, but I love rummaging through stuff, too. It's the voyeur in me.

The Lone Rangers said...

Sorry have to agree with the spouse esp. considering someone elses shoes!!

toobusyliving said...

You explained Moving Day well..I remember trying to explain it to people and they thought I was crazy. I guess it has to be seen to be believed - it really is quite a sight, I remember sitting on a patio a few years ago drinking beer and just watching the chaos.

Kalvin said...

This sounds like an absolute nightmare. I would just crawl into my apartment and wait for the shitstorm to end.

jmmpangaea said...

I love it!

CLL Canuck said...

i lived through Moving Day. It was awful and took us well into the wee hours of the second.

Hope you're enjoying the fest.

Patricia said...

a national moving day. how perfectly organizingly canadian!

i would want to be bringing all sorts of things back home, too. and i'm pretty sure the evil part of me would wrap up my best find as a gift for spouse, just to see him love it before i tell him where i got it.

D e s i g n Girl said...

I had no idea Canada had moving day or that it was anything like that. Interesting! It just goes to show how little Americans know about their neighbors and other countries.