Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Ça déménage! / Moving Day!

I was sitting home one day, young, single and unemployed, when my Dad, who worked at the Bell Telephone Co. Of Canada, called me and said "Get ready to start work tomorrow!" It was mid-April, and the telephone company was getting ready for the big "May Move".

This is a phenomenon unique to Quebec. Anybody who rented and their lease was up, moved May 1st. The tradition began in New France when the seigneurs were forbidden from evicting tenants in the cold of winter and had to wait until the snow was melted. Later the Civil Code of Lower Canada of 1866 required that urban leases begin on May 1st and end on April 30th. Over a hundred years later in 1973 moving day was changed to July 1st, Canada Day. This was so kids could finish their year in the same school, and people didn't have to take a day off work to move. The lucky ones were able to get into their place the day or weekend before, leaving them free to celebrate Canada Day and relax. To this day landlords are not allowed to have tenants evicted during the winter months.

Besides the hassle of already narrow, car-lined city streets being blocked by moving vans and pick-up trucks, it is also difficult to find movers for the big day. People often reserve their movers 6 months in advance. Not to mention the fact that everyone is looking for an apartment at the same time!  Back in the day when people moved, even across town, they had to cancel their phone service, and get service hooked up at their new place with a new phone number. Now there is getting an appointment with cable and internet providers to contend with. Everyone wants it all on the same day!! 

The weekends leading up to Moving Day are the best times for garage sales, when people would rather sell it than  pack it and move it. Lots of freebies are to be had as people sometimes go away and leave furniture and appliances on the curb for anyone who wants them. 

I moved 8 times in Quebec, and each one was an adventure!

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