It seems Montrealers don’t really go in for celebrating this day as much as other holidays; such as last Monday's bank holiday for example. Jean Baptiste Day/Fete Nationale appears to be a big deal here in Quebec, and is a celebration of Francophone identity. The events put on varied from the larger public concerts and firework displays to the neighbourhood barbecues and picnics. So that would explain the picnic which was the reason for the barriers across the alleyway when we returned from our unsuccessful cheese & waterfall road trip.
But maybe Canada Day's lack of festivities in the city is due to a huge proportion of the cities' residents moving house...
...In Montreal and the surrounding Quebec province, this date is also known as ‘Moving Day’ (‘Premier julliet’).
Apparently this long standing tradition was started by the government of New France, who forbade landlords from evicting the tenant farmers before the winter snows had melted. Later on, this process was transferred to urban leases and May 1st was denoted as Moving Day. However, in the 1970’s the Quebec government decided to move the day to summer so students would not have to move during the school year, so the big date for moving became July 1st. Most leases are a year long and start around this date; up to thirteen percent of Montreal residents move around this date, and around 70,000 people are expected to move this year.
It sounds to be a pretty crazy time, as moving trucks have to be booked as far as six months in advance, the rates for removal services rocket, the roads are congested with vans (which cannot be helped by the fact that many streets downtown are blocked off for the Canada Day parade...), and unwanted items line the streets for either someone to pick them up and give them a new home, or the bin men to collect.
Take away businesses must love this time, in fact one famous pizza store reckons July 1st is their second busiest day of the year behind the Super Bowl. That's a lot of pizzas!