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Here's how I became bilingual

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Growing up in Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, my world was bilingual. My best friend Diane, who lived around the corner on Hochelaga St., had a British mother and a French-Canadian father. Nobody batted an eyelid when she spoke English. It was not a barrier, barely an oddity.

We both attended nearby Hochelaga Convent: she, a day girl on the English side, with the American girls who came to Montreal to get a good Anglo-Catholic education; me, a boarder with the French pea soupers.

No one thought it strange that English-speaking students would share a school with French-speaking girls, but the truth is, we had very little contact with each other. And what encounters we had were rarely pleasant. We were peasantry, including local anglos, in the eyes of little rich girls from New York and Chicago.

We only met in the shower room at night. We did not even share a dorm. We were kept strictly apart, even at meal and church times. English girls were like ghosts.

The Black Watch tartan everyone wore during the........

© Montreal Gazette