WHEN I WAS A KID, there was a large map of Quebec tacked up to the wall of our cottage in the Ottawa Valley. I spent countless hours studying it, tracing its contours with my finger, impressed by the span of its territory, excited by the idea that all this was “ours” and that I could one day go out in discovery of its forests the breadth of Belgium, its sea-like lakes, iceberg-furrowed seas and mountain chains right out of Middle Earth. The map was an inexhaustible source of fascination for me, limited by dotted and unrealistically straight lines as mysteriously sinuous as the history that must have forged them.
It was around 1980, the time Quebecers appropriated their territory, and it was a time when its boundaries—whether physical or symbolic (political, cultural, linguistic, social in the larger sense)—were clearer.
Of course, things were never as simple ...