In 1834, Ludger Duvernay, a founder of the Lower Canada newspaper La Minerve, was inspired by a St. Patrick’s day celebration to create a day for his home country. He gathered his friends and fellow patriots, and “On this June 24, George-Étienne Cartier’s ‘Ô Canada! mon pays, mes amours’ was first sung during a grand patriotic banquet gathering about sixty francophones and anglophones of Montreal in the gardens of lawyer John McDonnell, near the old Windsor Station. The ‘Canada’ in the song refers to Lower Canada, today’s southern Quebec.” At least according to wikipedia.org.
Ludger Duvernay had passion. Ludger Duvernay had charisma. And Ludger Duvernay had a vision. A vision that consisted of a large group of people gathering together to celebrate the incredible entity that Lower Canada, now Québec, had become. These people would band together, and band their arms in orange. One of these people would be deemed the chasseur, and would count two minutes while all the other people spread throughout a predetermined area of the city. When the chasseur finished counting he would seek the other people, tagging them and turning them magically into other chasseurs until all the people had become chasseurs. Or until thirty minutes had passed – whichever came first really. But they couldn’t really know if anyone was left who was not a chasseur until the thirty minutes were up, so they tended to just go with the latter.
This year, we celebrate Ludger Duvernay’s vision by continuing in the tradition of the chassehumaine, as he may or may not have called it. We gather all together at the corner of St. Laurent and St. Viateur on Saturday, June 23, at 5pm. We unite in orange armband tying, and we hunt each other down like dogs. I mean like dogs that hunt, not like dogs that get hunted. I don’t condone hunting dogs. Again, I mean “hunting dogs” as in the verb phrase not the noun phrase. I’m not sure I condone hunting dogs either – the noun that is – but that’s not really the discussion here, is it? We’re talking about the transitive verb hunting and the accusative dogs.
Thankfully, in today’s technological age, we also have maps to show use where to meet and the predetermined area in which we shall hunt. I mean they had maps then too, but they weren’t very good because everything was warped a little bit, and also because they didn’t have high-speed Internet access so it took like three hours to download them.