Thoughtful Canadian Reactions

to Travels with Samantha

  I recently took the time to read Chapter II of your book.  Actually, I only
read the part on Montreal.  I found that your opinions were strange -- I
don't know many people who have the same outlook on Quebec as you seem to

  First of all, as far as the language problem is concerned, it's a very
"HOT" subject in Quebec which can't be summarized in a few lines.  Basically
though, what's happening is that many Quebecquers want Quebec to become
independant because the seem to think that because the majority of the
population of Quebec speaks French, we somehow form a "distinct society"
(this a big point for discussion because no one seems to able to define the
meaning of a "distinct society").  The other reason some Quebecquers want to
separate from the rest of Quebec is for economic reasons -- they seem to
think that Quebec is what makes the world turn round and that they don't
need what the rest of Canada can offer -- at least not at the price we are
currently paying for it...

  Personnally, I think that if Quebec ever separates, I'm outta here -- I
would not want to live "outside of Canada" plus, to put things bluntly, I
would be very pissed off.  I speak both english and french fluently -- my
parents speak english so I learned how to speak english first.  I learned
french in school (I've done all my studies in french -- not always by
choice).  I'm sure you'll find some errors in this text but don't forget
that I spend most of my time writing in french and it's not often that I
write letters in english so I may be a little rusty (I  did the SAT's a couple
of years ago and I ended getting a score slightly higher that the average --
I suppose I could have done better if I studied :) ).

  Now, back to Montreal.  What you experience in Montreal was quite strange
-- I almost never go to watch a movie in french downtown, there are plenty
of excellent movies theaters in the downtown core.  As far as the french
only signs are concerned, this is because of the famous the 101 & 178.  It's
thanks to bill 101 that I did my elementary and secondary education in
french -- all imigrants who's parents did not study in english must study in
french -- pretty straightforward -- and I don't regret it I learned french
to the point where if I'm with some "pure quebecois", they won't know that
my first language is english unless I tell them ( I could be some kind of
spy :) ).  And YES, I do have english and french friends.  When I speak with
my friends who are bilingual we often switch between the two languages often
right in the middle of a sentence.

  As far as I'm concerned, Montreal is a very interesting city, there's
plenty of things to do.  I've been to Boston, NY, Vancouver, Kansas city, 
and a lot of other places in the states and I think that my two favorite
cities in North America (from what I've seen) are Montreal and Vancouver.

  Anyways, I don't want to write a never ending letter, I just wanted to
clarify some things on Quebec and Montreal (btw if you want to go to the
english part of town, go to the west island).  

A la prochaine,

Alexandre Naaman
Mechanical Engineering student
Ecole Polytechnique de Montreal

Well, I don't really know what to say or where to start.... I guess I'll start with, "What a terrifically written book." It really was amazing. Too many times on the net (strangely enough even more so on the Web) I find poor spelling, grammar, and writing, from people who should know better. All this makes it frustrating at times to enjoy using the net. Travels with Samantha is not only so well written that I'd recommend it for recreational reading, but it also contains a lot of interesting and intelligent reflection. It can't even remember where the reference is that directed me to the book, but I'm glad I found it. I've been reading it during my spare time over the past 3 or 4 weeks and I've found that I actually started MAKING time to read it. Your fascination with people and relationships was very refreshing for me (being in CS) and surprising based on other encounters I'd had with MIT students (noteably undegrads). It's great that you wrote about such things so extensively, because I suspect that readers can learn almost as much about people from reading Travels with Samantha as you did writing/living it. Whatever you do, don't let this disppear from the net!!! Christopher Smith (
Well, I must say that this is (thus far) the most creative and entertaining use of the World Wide Web! I have enjoyed your tales (with the possible exception of your PANNING of Edmonton! I hail from there, and I suppose if your only exposure was WEM, then you may have been misled. You seem to have missed: (1) Fort Edmonton Park (2) Elk Island National Park (3) Muttart Conservatory (those pyramid things in the river valley) (4) Alberta Legislature (5) Downtown with Canada Place, Hotel MacDonald, etc. Sure, there isn't a lot of cool, historic architecture, but you have to realize that Alberta wasn't even a province until 1902! As late as the 60's, cities had DIRT ROADS in them! (there are still many cities with dirt roads!) As for Calgary being better, well all I have to say is that Edmonton has: (a) much friendlier people (b) better layout (easier to find addresses) (c) the Edmonton Oilers [OK, so my anti-Calgary bias is showing! What is the best thing to have come out of Calgary? Highway 2 North! What do you call an intelligent person in Calgary? Tourist! You get the idea!] Alan Petersen (
Damn! I discovered your book two days from finishing a project. I am hooked now and I don't know what it is: is it the long and cold winter ... I enjoy reading your comments because they are personal-you don't hide your thoughts; critical, as an educated person might have and the confrontation (if you can call it that) of this education with ordinary folk(i know this sentence is probably the worst english you read in a long time, but i'm tired and don't feel like using my english structure/grammar parser). In case you are wondering, i was born in poland, am approx. 24 years old and lived in canada for 11 years-i saw recently l.a. and san francisco and i guess i feel like 'publishing' my own impressions from my travels after reading your book. Andrzej Semeniuk (
I have been very troubled in recent months to see the intolerance and provincialism of some of my fellow Americans regarding our neighbors to the North. Snide, contemptuous remarks indicating a perceived superiority have been too-frequently made in this forum. Canadians are a simple, happy, child-like people; living in peace and harmony in the perpetual twilight of their frozen land. Crime is unknown in their nomadic villages. They hunt and fish with implements they carve themselves out of the scarce wood they encounter in their wanderings, and many an explorer from our "superior" "sophisticated" society has found comfort and hospitality in their igloos. I urge my fellow Americans to show a bit more kindness in their attitude toward aboriginal peoples everywhere in this great big world, and an excellent place to begin would be in this present regard. Thank you for listening. (forwarded to me by an American living in Vancouver)