Le français/ using French

• 8 novembre 2012 • Le Droit

Le triste constat du français dans le Pontiac

En 1955, Pierre Laporte, alors journaliste au Devoir, avait, dans une série d’articles intitulée « Le scandale du Pontiac », parlé de la piètre situation du français dans le Pontiac… il y a de ça 57 ans ! En 2002, Luc Bouvier, alors professeur au Collège de l’Outaouais, dénonçait à son tour cette situation dans un livre de 240 pages truffé de tableaux et de statistiques intitulé « Les sacrifiés de la bonne entente – Une histoire des francophones du Pontiac ».
Avec l’éditorial « Pontiac : au secours ! » (Le Droit, 2 novembre), Pierre Allard dénonce lui aussi. Il y parle de taux d’assimilation à l’anglais « similaires et parfois supérieurs à ceux que l’on enregistre à l’extérieur du Québec ». Cette assimilation a fait son oeuvre. Les Shaun Poitras et les Willow Cléroux en sont le résultat. Et, tout comme en Ontario ou au fédéral, dès qu’une personne unilingue anglophone apparaît, le français disparaît. Si on insiste un peu trop, on nous traite d’intolérant, de méchant « séparatisse » et j’en passe.
On nous fustige en se référant à la belle harmonie qui existe entre francophones et anglophones. Dans la grande majorité des cas, cette exemplaire harmonie existe parce que les francophones switchent automatiquement à l’anglais lorsque surgit un unilingue anglophone.
• Jean-Claude Carisse, Pontiac (secteur Luskville)

(approximate translation)
8 November 2012, Le Droit, letter to the editor

The sad state of French in Pontiac

In 1955, Pierre Laporte, then a journalist for Le Devoir, talked about the poor situation of French in the Pontiac in a series of articles entitled "The scandal of the Pontiac"... this was 57 years ago! In 2002, Luc Bouvier, then Professor at the Collège de l'Outaouais, in turn denounced this situation in a 240 page book loaded with tables and statistics called Les sacrifiés de la bonne entente – Une histoire des francophones du Pontiac (Sacrifices of understanding - a history of Pontiac francophones.)
In the editorial "Pontiac: to the rescue! "(Le Droit, November 2), Pierre Allard also denounced the situation. He speaks of assimilation rates to English "similar and sometimes higher than those that are recorded outside Quebec". This assimilation has  worked. Shaun Poitras and Willow Cléroux are the result. And, just as in Ontario or at the federal level, as soon as a unilingual English-speaking person appears, French disappears. If we insist too much, we are treated as intolerant, evil separatists, and so on.
We are criticized for complaining, because of the beautiful harmony between Anglophones and Francophones. In the vast majority of cases, this harmony exists because the French-speaking switch automatically to English when there's a unilingual anglophone.
• Jean-Claude Carisse, Pontiac (secteur Luskville)


  1. To answer your question, 'The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few or one.' ~ Karl Marx among others. Spock also said this in the Wrath of Kahn. Okay first of all you come from 'secteur Luskville'. Just out of curiosity, are you aware that the namesake of Luskville is an Irishman by the name of Joseph Lusk. Arriving in the the late 1800's the prolific Lusks eventually married into most of the families along the Ottawa river all the way from Shawville to Ottawa - English, Irish, French and more. Shawville - another village named after an anglophone - James Shaw. Pontiac - not a French name but named after an Indian tribe in the area. The Pontiac region truly is a mix of cultures and backgrounds. Colonized by the English, Irish, Scots, Germans, Poles and French, Pontiac is a true cultural mosaic. More than fifty-seven percent of its residents are Anglophones, and about 40% are Francophones. Just because it exists in Quebec does not mean that everything has to be exclusively French in spite of the efforts of those who believe that language purity is everything. It does bring up a question though, why do the hard core French hate the English and the English language? After spending time in the Quoyon area I have to say that for the most part, English is very tolerated there - in my opinion this is much to the credit of the residents who have largely adopted a bi-lingual lifestyle for the most part. To be totally fair to history, the Pontiac probably has more to thank the Irish for than the French. You speak of harmony existing but there are more of them then there are of you. In spite of the position taken by Pauline Marois, English is the international language of trade and commerce. Truth is, no one cares whether it was English or martian, just that there was a standard means of communication that did not require translation. The current lingua franca of international business is now English. No one cares that it is English, just that there is a standardized means of communicating.

  2. Joseph Lusk (1783-1879) and his wife Esther Balmer (1789-1873) came from Ireland and settled in Eardley township (Breckenridge creek area) about 1820, not "the late 1800s".

  3. I will take your word for it, having only looked at it in passing a few years ago while doing genealogy for the Milks family. And very prolific the Lusks were.