The story behind the "Vive le Québec libre" photograph, 1967

On 24 July 1967, during a state visit to Expo '67, French President and 20th century hero General Charles de Gaulle announced a sentence from the balcony of Montreal's City Hall that would change Canadian history: "Vive le Quebec Libre". Translating to "Long Live Free Quebec", it is considered by many to be a semi-formal endorsement of Charles de Gaulle's concept of Quebec sovereignty.

However, a head of state, de Gaulle, did not arrive in the Canadian capital, Ottawa, as would be the traditional protocol. Instead, she took time off to board the French Navy's Mediterranean flagship, the cruiser Colbert, to reach Quebec City, the capital city of the province of Quebec.

There, de Gaulle was greeted with enthusiasm, while the new governor-general, Roland Michener, was booed by the same crowd as "God Save the Queen" was played upon his arrival. In his speech, de Gaulle spoke of his country's "developed" relationship with Quebec, hinting at his support for Quebec sovereignty.

On 24 July, de Gaulle arrived in Montreal and was escorted from the Chemin du Roy to Montreal City Hall, where Mayor Jean Drapeau and Premier Johnson waited. De Gaulle was not scheduled to speak that evening, but the crowd chanted for him; He told Drapeau: "I have to talk to the people who are calling me".

According to several personal interviews with high-ranking French officials, as well as documents discovered by him, scholar Dale C. Thomson wrote that de Gaulle's statement was planned and he used it when the opportunity presented itself.

De Gaulle came out of the balcony to give a brief address to the gathering, which was also broadcast live on the radio. In his speech, he remarked that his drive down the banks of the Saint Lawrence River, as it was accompanied by enthusiastic crowds, reminded him of his triumphant return to Paris after liberation from Nazi Germany.

Speech "Vive Montreal! Vive le Quebec!" ("Long liv Montreal! Long liv Quebec!"), but then he added, "Vive le Québec libre! Vive, Vive, Vive le Canada français! et vivé la France!" ("Long Live Free Quebec! Long Live, Long Live, Long Live French Canada! And Long Live France!"), to which the crowd roared with approval, especially after hearing, "Vive le Quebec libre!" .

De Gaulle particularly emphasized the use of the word 'libre', as he leaned into the microphone in front of him and spoke it more slowly and louder than other elements of his speech.

By repeating the slogan of the Quebec independence movement, de Gaulle provoked a diplomatic incident that resulted in the cancellation of his visit, launched an unrelenting campaign of French interference in Canada's domestic affairs, and, above all, gave his worldwide reputation. Quebec independence movement. A year after de Gaulle's visit, René Lévesque founded the Parti Québécois and Canada will never be the same again.

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