My first parade of the Saint-Jean

Ma première parade de la Saint-Jean

In April 1939, for his 64e birthday, my grandfather bought a car. The first of his life. A Ford sedan 1937.

For the shelter of the dust of the main street, which was not paved, it was parked in the courtyard of his large house, which we occupied the second floor. Top view, the car looked new, especially when it gleamed in the sun. Every time grandpa returned, he époussetait with a chamois, and then he was rubbing the tires with a brush and soapy water to ensure that the sides remain white.

As Rita, the youngest of his daughters would begin in September its course letters and science, and that she had arrived at the top of its class reviews, grand-papa had promised to bring him to Montreal to see the parade of the Saint-Jean-Baptiste. Grandma was deathly afraid to ride in the car. She said that grand-dad was driving too badly. She refused to go to Montreal, and grand-dad gave to mom to bring us to see the parade, my sister and me.


In Waterloo, there was no parade. There was nothing going on the day of the Saint-Jean. A few French Canadians came out of the flag of the Pope, the Sacred Heart or one of the Knights of Columbus, but that was all. Grand-dad, himself, did not come nothing at all. There was a lot of English in the customer of his store.

In Waterloo, the chief town of the county of Shefford in the eastern Townships, there was more English than French Canadians and it was the English who were engaged in all. Dad worked for the Southern Canada Power. The boss was called Mr. Parks. Even if the three employees, Joe Paquette, Gaston Poirier and dad, were the French Canadians, was always that they speak English. Even between them. Seen in Slacks, which were cultivated mushrooms, and Perkins, where we embouteillait of the ” John Collins “.

Grandma had ordered grandpa to pass by the Victoria bridge, which he knew to have already borrowed, but he wanted to show us the Jacques-Cartier bridge, which he called the bridge from le Havre. At the end of the bridge, he turned to the left. We passed several streets and several houses, and then the car stopped in front of a fence marked ” NO TRESPASSING “.


“Look,” said grand-papa, surprised at the touch of the hand the wiper to blow the dust off the windshield, it was here that we made the Molson beer ! “It was a long gray building with black window arches and a fireplace so long that one could not see to the end.

Grand-dad got out of the car to go speak English with the man of the barrier. It showed the direction that should be taken, and then he approached the car. The rear tire was punctured. I don’t know how long it took to change the wheel, because I fell asleep. My sister and Rita also. When we arrived on Sherbrooke street, it was full of papers on the floor, chairs abandoned on the sidewalks, empty bottles of sparkling water, empty bottles of Molson, but no more.

Grand-dad made us promise never to say that we had not seen the parade. Today, on the eve of St. John, I empty my bag. Tomorrow, I’m going to prevent my twin.

Share Button