1995: The forgotten French community in Port-au-Port, Newfoundland

Monday, June 21, 2010

Here's an interesting article from 1995 on Port-au-Port, a peninsula in Newfoundland with some 4000 French speakers that according to the article has been forgotten by the rest of the French-speaking world community. Some interesting bits from the article:

- There are three communities where French is most common on the peninsula: Cap-Saint-Georges, Grande-Terre and Anse-à-Canards.

- Official bilingualism instated by former PM Pierre Trudeau aided the situation of French in the peninsula and in September 1975 a bilingual school was opened in Cap-Saint-Georges:

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- Since 1988 Grande-Terre has been the only place in Newfoundland with a 100% francophone high school with some 100 students.

- The main cultural influence in the peninsula has been from Brittany and Normandy, and in the 1950s there were still some there that spoken Breton as well.

And a lot of other information as well, including the local variety of French spoken there. As for what the situation is like since 1995...you can read a PDF in French on that here. The most telling graph is certainly this one:

You can see that it's somewhat typical of a language in decline for a while but with a growing young population, something seen in many languages such as Basque and Welsh, and besides 85 and plus the age group with the highest ratio of French speakers to total population is that from 15 to 19 years old.

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