Friday, July 01, 2005

Why is July 1st Moving day in Quebec ???

I went looking for this information, and it took awhile, but here you go. Bits and pieces about the "origin" of the Quebec Moving day becomming July 1st.


The province of Quebec is the only place in the world where leases end on the same date: June 30.

This uncommon practice was introduced in 1973, when a provincial law that made July 1st the annual moving day was created. To a lot of observers, the exact reason might be nebulous; and it might even be considered weird for people outside of Quebec.

Particularly, in Montreal, since three-quarters of residents are tenants, the volume of people moving can be somewhat impressive and even creates quite a mob, which leaves sociologists puzzled.

In some popular Montreal neighbourhoods, up to one tenant out of two will move on that day. In fact, according to Danielle Dionne, spokesperson for the city of Montreal, more than half of the city population has moved in the past five years.

For the moving industry, July 1st is a godsend. It is quite common to see moving fees double and even triple around this time. A distant cousin with a pick-up truck can be quite appreciated!

The phenomenon is so unique that foreign filming teams often come to Montreal to cover this spectacle.


1. In Quebec, apartments are usually leased for a fixed period of one year. The normal lease period starts on July 1 or September 1 of each year and runs for 12 months. However, some landlords may agree to an 8 or 10 month lease.


Moving day conspiracy

Curious, isn't it, that the province's busiest moving day just happens to fall on Canada's birthday? Why do you think that'd be? Maybe because sweaty, exhausted tenants who've just finished slogging their belongings up and down stairs all day would be too wiped out to make merry on Canada Day? To associate July 1 with misery and heat stroke? As a deliberate insult to the province's proud federalist patriots?

You bet, according to Jimmy Kalafatidis, president of the provincial Equality Party. In a press release issued on Sunday, Kalafatidis says, "The separatist government has in the past sought every means it could to reduce Canada's presence in the minds of Quebecers." In an interview, he states that he is "absolutely 100 per cent" sure there is a conspiracy afoot at the provincial level. "I don't think there's a territory anywhere in North America that has a moving day on a national holiday," he says. "Would the Americans do it on July 4? Or Quebecers on June 24? It's absurd."

The party plans to introduce a motion in the National Assembly upon its return to change moving day from July 1 to another weekend.Housing activist Arnold Bennett, who runs the housing hotline (481-2517), is less conspiracy-minded. "The law was changed in 1971, because moving day used to be on May 1, and there were too many kids in school," he says. "So all the leases were extended by a couple of months. It was brought in by Jérôme Choquette. A Liberal." :
-Patrick Lejtenyi


Both Aaron Straup Cope and Kate McDonnell took the time to write and explain the whole Moving Day business.

First, Aaron:

My understanding is that it began in Montreal and has spread across the province over the years. I don't know the exact history but I find the conspiracy theories a little hard to believe.

The first thing to remember is : July 1st is guaranteed to be warm evenif it's not necessarily nice. It doesn't snow here in June, like itsometimes does in Calgary, but you know who the hell wants to move in December?

The second thing to remember is that regardless of your feelings about Canada Day the real party, in Quebec, is a week before on St. Jean Baptiste. Given that both are holidays if you had the opportunity to get loaded and shake your booty on St. Jean and move on Canada Day (thus not having to take a day off work, or your weekend) it's sort of a no-brainer.

Kate has tracked down some antecedents for the practice:

According to what I've read, the origins of Moving Day are actually Scottish. In Scotland at one time they had something called Flitting Day — here's a typical web cite: "In Scotland, however, Whitsunday is a fixed term day, May 25, referred to as 'flitting day' because the year's house-lease runs from that date." One doesn't think of Quebec as being very Scots now, but there was a time when a lot of Scots lived here. The flag of the city of Montreal includes, among other things, a thistle. So it seems most likely the idea of all rental leases starting at the same time was adopted from the Scots, and since Montreal has always been a huge renters' city — they say 70% of us are tenants — Moving Day is a huge event here.

Scottish readers, the baton passes to you. Flitting Day?

Meanwhile, Aaron and Kate have now helped make Idle Words the authorative source for information on this important topic. Truly not a role I foresaw for the blog when I started it, but one that makes me very happy.


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