Thursday, November 30, 2006

A round for all my friends!!

I was going to respond to comments from my previous post in the comment section, but decided my idea warranted a whole entry.

I believe I’ve unlocked the reason why Montrealers are perceived to be friendlier/ chattier/ warmer than Vancouverites.

Add up the “facts” from comments to that last post, including information that was sent to me privately, and I think the reason will be obvious to anyone:

Randy extended “more friendly” to everywhere else in Canada, not just Montréal. **

SMM commented on the car culture in Vancouver, which is very, very different from Montréal’s transit culture.

Severen, who is one of those old friends I made in my first year in Montréal, and who still lives in the city, said (in an email, rather than as a comment): “I wonder if Montréal feels more like home to you because of how intense the years were. There was so much going on all the time. I just say that because, while Montréal feels like home to me, it doesn't feel "friendly".”

Massawippi, another one of that 18-25 year old gang, and who made the move to the Lower Mainland commented that “Montreal feels like home… because they sell beer and wine at the corner store.” (Which MVL challenged, but I have to agree with Massawippi, which should become clear in a minute).

Doug, who has lived in pretty well every major city in Canada, said in an email, “I love Vancouver. I have great friends, a great life, and it is certainly beautiful. But compared to Halifax or Winnipeg... well, it doesn't.”

MVL said, among other things, “as a native Vancouverite, I don't find this city unfriendly at all. My neighbours all chat, I have conversations with strangers, I find meeting people easy.”

Here’s how I add this all up.

When Severen says that my years in Montréal were “intense” and that there was “so much going on all the time” what he means, if my memory of those years is the same as his, is that we spent an enormous (probably unhealthy) amount of time drinking at pubs and going to see live music (which involved great amounts of alcohol).

Massawippi’s comment reflects the fact that the alcohol culture in Quebec is very… progressive. Kids can buy beer from the corner dep for their dad… or for themselves as long as they say it’s for Dad. And all my friends started drinking with their families as children… my brother got his own beer stein at age 5 or 6.

I don’t know Doug very well (never met him), but I know that he was born in Halifax and grew up in Winnipeg – thus his younger years were spent in the two cities he says don’t compare to Vancouver, where he now resides as an over-40 adult.

SMM’s comment can be linked to drinking and driving issues. If you’re driving everywhere, you can’t be drinking to the same degree as you can when you have a friendly bus driver to take you home at the end of the night.

And MVL, despite being 40 or older like the rest of these commenters, manages a pub as his job, and reviews live music and theatre as a hobby… and he experiences Vancouver as friendly.

Can you see where this is going?

D’uh! Cities are friendlier when you’re consuming copious quantities of alcohol and surrounded by others who are also three sheets to the wind!!

Which is why I’m going to be going out to the Whisk(e)y pub behind the Irish Heather in Gastown next Tuesday night, gettin' friendly with the locals!

** Randy I tried to find some statistics that would support (or refute) Vancouver having lower per capita alcohol consumption than other cities, but came up dry!


Anonymous Anonymous said...


By this reasoning, wouldn't Paris would be a very friendly place indeed and the DTES the friendliest part of Vancouver?

During my stint at BCIT as a student one of the documents we read was a Stats Can breakdown of charitable donations by region. British Columbians outgave the Quebecois by a significant margin. But I countered the growing smugness in the classroom by reminding them that taxes in Quebec were considerably higher and the social services more broadly delivered. Quebecois gave as much or more, just not through its churches but through its government.

We live in East Van where people are community oriented, tend more to walking and local shopping, and to be the home of younger families. Commerical Drive is often compared in feel to Montreal's St. Denis (I refrain from comment on that).

But does 'friendliness' lead to a better quality of life? Are the Montrealers or the Torontonians happier because they are more gregarious? Is it gregariousness we're talking about or friendliness. I give money and assistance to those that need it, isn't that a friendly act?

I've always sensed that that level of gregariousness to be a little superficial and a poor comparison to real friendship. I never come away from a conversation on the bus thinking, 'wow, this is an improvement over my dark, dank existence' but rather thinking, 'one less chapter read.'

On the other hand, my friend BadMark confesses to loving me, 'in a manly way. And when I say manly I don't mean bending over in the shower in prison sort of way' and yes, he's usually drunk at the time.

So, you may be on to something. 'Alcohol helps make friends.'

November 30, 2006  
Blogger Donna said...

MVL, depite the fact that you are muddying my argument by mixing friendly with charitable with gregarious, I'll respond, best I can (but we all know you're more clever and likely smarter than I).

I lived in Paris for six months in my early 20s. Paris is still my favourite city in the world, of all those I've visited and lived in. I lived in the 19ieme arondissement... the North African community. Overall, a poor neighbourhood in an expensive city. And, the friendliest damn community ever.

And yes, I live off Commericial Drive because it's most like my old St Henri 'hood, which was very friendly - and after the DTES, is one of the top 10 (bottom 10?) poorest urban neighbourhoods in Canada.

And I spent 8 years working on the edge of the DTES... friendly enough neighbourhood there too.

Maybe income is the common factor we can link to friendliness...

I believe that there are legitimate links between income level (low) and alcohol consumption (high)...

Perhaps my peeps are low-income alcoholics... could that be why I dig you so much?? Really, MVL, you are one of the friendliest (and most clever and funniest) locals I've met in my 15 years here. An anomaly in my world.

November 30, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, Donna, not muddied. How about nuanced? Let's go with nuanced.

I also found Paris to be a friendly place but differently friendly from Los Angeles, say, or Montreal.

And I live in East Van cause there are more left-wing people here, people whose social and political assumptions are more like mine. People like you.

And I think the DTES is the poorest postal code in Canada.

And where is everyone else in this discussion. Don't tell me they have jobs or obligations or something like that! Jeez.

And smarter than you? Flattery is effective, I see.

November 30, 2006  
Blogger Doug said...

Anyone who buys an (ex-)stranger poutine is an overflowing cup filled with the very cream of human goodness.

November 30, 2006  
Blogger Donna said...

Indeed... where are the other opinions? I do suspect that they have "real" jobs...

MVL - I've been flattering you, on and off, for almost a year now... effective?? I guess.. if my only goals were to practice the art of public directness and increase the "comment count" on my blog.

Doug - Moi? An over-flowing cup? I know many who would argue that I overflow with many things, but human goodness is new one! Merci, monsieur.

All this talk about Montreal I had to have poutine today. And now... I'm trying a vegetarian Montreal-style smoked meat sandwich! (I'm grateful it's been 20 years since I actually ate the real thing, because I'm certain what I'm eating now has nothing to do with what I used to eat at Ben'r or Schwartz's, back in the day.)

Me thinks the girl is homesick... juste un peu

November 30, 2006  
Blogger no said...

If excessive car culture were inversely related to friendliness, as was suggested, then Calgary (my *shudder* hometown) wouldn't have the reputation for friendliness that it does.

But then maybe that's where drinking comes in. An (ex)premier who boozes with the riff raff and then yells at them to get off their lazy asses and get jobs sets a fine example. (Tangent: This same premier passed out drunk on my mother's shoulder on a bus at the '82 Commonwealth Games in Brisbane. A fine man indeed!) And the rest of residents stay as drunk as possible so that they can hide from the reality that the economic prosperity of their city is built on a short-lived resource. Gotta keep boozin' 'cuz 10, 20, 50, 100 years from now the hangover is going to be deadly.

But, yeah, they're friendly (gregarious) and they drive a lot there. I'll take a joint and a slow bike ride anyday. (OK, maybe not the past week...)

Hey wait a minute! That's why Vancouver isn't friendly, a good portion of the population is spliffed to high heaven and as paranoid as George W. at the Kaaba.


December 01, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmmm. Isn't everyone in Canada all the same? That is, non-American?


December 01, 2006  
Blogger Donna said...

No need to duck! Actually, Albertans tend to be more American than Washingtonians or Orgegonians... right borderlineschizo??

December 01, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We all know that the friendliest people in Canada are those of the much maligned, eastern most province. If you didn't know that you're doing yourself a disservice by not visiting Newfoundland.

Nova Scotia is a close second. Here, I can actually chat with the person beside me in line, as we wait for the cashier to ring through someone's salomon gundy. People in Toronto look at me like I've escaped from the asylum if I say as much as "hi" to them in the cue.


December 02, 2006  
Blogger no said...

sad, but true, Donna, sad, but true...

December 03, 2006  
Blogger Donna said...

I was wondering when you'd pipe in G. And i can't argue with you. My trips to NS have been fabulous -- some of the nicest locals in all my travels across Canada. And my big regret before moving to the left coast was not having ever made it to what is generaly accepted as the friendliest province in the dominion.

One day... maybe you'll invite me to stay in yours and Leah's tiny new pad on my way to Newfieland... but I'll wait until you've got your cutlery unpacked! Can I bring you a chocolate fondue pot as a house warming gift?

December 03, 2006  

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