The Most Glamorous Girls Live In Quebec
WHEN I am in Montreal I sometimes stop at the information desk in the foyer of the Dominion Square Building and play a slightly wolfish, harmless and extremely fascinating little game with Paul Berlinguel. Paul, who has the bearing of a movie diplomat, the voice of Charles Boyer, the manner of a marquis, and the penetrating eye of a house dick, can usually tell the instant a girl walks through the massive doors almost 100 feet away whether she has a French or English background.
The game consists in trying to outguess Paul. This is tough because he is rarely wrong. However, Pve learned how Paul can tell.
I’m no yogi or voodoo master of the black arts but in my book the reason you can spot Canadien girls is that they have more individuality than their English-speaking sisters have now, ever did have, or ever will have.
And another thing I’ve discovered is that, for my dough, they are the most attractive group of girls in the country.
They have personality, and that’s something you can’t buy, beg, steal or borrow. It’s like red hair; you’ve got it or you haven’t. The Canadien girls have. They’ve got personality, vivacity and quality.
They’ve got flair and grace and these are pleasant and useful things to have. They are debonair and winsome and these are engaging things to be.
They have laughter, sex appeal, fragrance, style, poise or what they call chic, but above everything else in this packet called personality they have animation and animation is both lure and life.
This animation is part of the picture from romper days through school to the bridal gown to maturity, and with maturity there comes a new age with new compensations—the age of tranquility.
In girlhood our French-speaking sister is usually one in a large family and thus she has but little chance to seek or seize the undivided attention of mother or dad to the selfish exclusion of others.
In maturity she is usually the rallying point for a family of her own. She has the toniclike knowledge that she is needed and wanted and that gives her a radiance delightful to see.
One recent Saturday I was in a narrow little side street near the employees’ entrance of the great Dupuis Frères store in Montreal when several hundred young women came tumbling out.
Their laughter and gaiety were infectious. Many had worked long and trying hours behind their counters and many had grubby little homes to go to, but as they spilled into the street you’d have thought each one was Cinderella on her way to the biggest party of her life.
Even on rainy days it’s so.
Even when the week-end prospect is a crowded car ride to a walkup flat their attitude says: “Here we are, free at last. Let’s have some fun and find the big surprise.”
One winter morning several years before the visit to Dupuis I had the luck to get aboard a cruising French liner at Port Moresby, the main port for New Guinea, and sail, by leisurely steps, to Singapore. Her passengers were largely the idle rich of France together with a few Canadians and I had fun because the voyage took 19 lazy days.
With a Quebec girl, Suzanne Jacques, of Montreal, I had long palavers and thus learned that Sue and her type had a much different approach to marriage than did our English-speaking girls.
Sue had no use for that ridiculous and unworkable philosophy called romantic love. She didn’t believe the Hollywood hokum that once a man and a maid go to the altar their amorous problems are automatically solved and they’ll live happily ever afterward. Sue and her sort identify that lie for what it is. The delusion that marriage is, or will be, a perpetual extension of courtship with children as some future possibility is not part of the Gallic theory.
Canadien girls realistically approach marriage with the realization that a family is not some vague and speculative adventure over the horizon but the very purpose of the union. And they are the better for it, spiritually and physically.
The home is the foundation of the nation and of civilization and the girls of Quebec have a greater awareness of this than have the others.
For 15 years now I’ve been loose-footing it by ship, plape, train, camel and car. Been all over the place many times. Crossed all the continents, all the seas except the Antarctic, bedded down in 88% of all the countries, and been plenty homesick too.
Naturally enough, homesick or not, a chap’s bound to do a little research into the subject of home-town women. From the tawny temptresses of Siam and South China to the goona-goona girls of Bali or the blond and blue-eyed maids on Bavarian mountains, I’ve seen none to excel, and few to equal, our Canadien girls in the twin fields of mobile or expressive faces and gay laughter.
There is laughter that’s cynical and laughter that’s cruel. That’s not the kind I’m writing about. I mean the laughter of Continued on page 35
From the blondes of Bavaria to the goona-goona gals of Bali, Sinclair took a long look before handing out his laurels to the mademoiselles
Continued on page 35
Continued from, page 13
joy and cheer and happiness. The big economy-size package comes at a Quebec family reunion.
With the mental reservation that I’m a sucker I’ve showered down for tabs in such costly and cosmopolitan grog shops as Chez Eve in Bangkok, the Gloucester in Hong Kong, El Morocco in Manhattan.
I’ve watched befurred beauties coyly cuddle in Hollywood’s Brown Derby and most of the joints on Paree’s Place Pigalle. I’ve watched and even helped languorous lovelies build sand castles on the beach at Waikiki plus such other strands of sand as the Lido at Venice, the Malabar at Bombay and the Golden Mile at Monte Carlo.
Half of them deliberately act as though they’re playing hookey from a graveyard and the effort of lighting their own cigarette would upset their cold little hearts. Some of these discreetly discontented decorations get all tired out just fluttering their eyebrows.
But step into the poor man’s Stork Club which is the Bellevue Casino in Montreal’s Ontario Street and you’ll see life that bounces. Sure the drink is beer at half a clam a jug and the band is heavy on brass and bass but I’m writing about the girls. Can’t have a party without girls and the girls of Quebec do know how to be entertaining. There is little vulgarity or familiarity.
What I’m writing about is wholesome enjoyment without high cost and with no time wasted on the coy and casual ritual that marks the deadpan antics of so many women in Canada. What are they trying to be, inscrutable diplomats or something?
On the night last June that Prime Minister Louis St. Laurent was reelected I was in his birthplace, a little Quebec village namedCompton. Everybody there was having open house in honor of a native son who had gained
the greatest honor within the gift of his people.
The happiness of that night all came from the animation of the people. No band played, nobody broached a barrel of grape, but the people themselves were lighthearted and pleased with the result and they wanted all Canada to know it.
About 10 o’clock I started for Montreal, by car, stopping off in such bigger places as Sherbrooke, Bagot and St. Hyacinthe. All the swankiest hotels were filled with English - speaking people who were composed and quiet and discreet. About 80% of them, as results later showed, had voted for the winning side but their aloof and boring celebration was so tame as to sound more like a wake than a party. The festive spirit was in the hearts and the home of the Frendi people.
Canada’s French girls, for the most part, are less self-centred, more selfreliant.
They’ve been raised in homes where there was less money and fewer cars than in most English-speaking homes but more brothers and sisters. So they have had to rely on home entertainment rather than movies, dances and other away-from-the-family fun. This has made them good hostesses and showed them how to keep a conversational ball bouncing.
The percentage of Canadien girls who can sing or play some musical instrument is about twice as high as among English-speaking girls and some analysts consider that a good thing. This one hastily covers his ears in self-defense and hurries on to the next subject which is conversation. Even the shy little fisherman’s daughter has an ability to keep the conversational wheels oiled and turning without resorting to the weather and without seeming to be bored or boring.
Being personally shy on the social graces I don’t suffer conversational bores gladly just because it’s the polite thing to do, yet I can honestly declare that Quebec women—when speaking English which is the only tongue I know—are never a bore.
Perhaps it’s the shrugs, pouts, hand waves and other bits of showmanship that I enjoy. Perhaps the everchanging angle of the lip, shoulder or eyebrow. Maybe it’s the flourish and razzle-dazzle as the words pour out. Perhaps it’s the things they talk about. But whatever it is it’s clean, lively and interesting.
If you dug into the subject of French conversation as you would a research project and kept a chart on what these conversations were about they would soon simmer down to simple elements like food and how to cook or serve it; clothing and how to drape it or change it; relatives—the Canadiens are always talking about relatives—and men.
Chic From the Bargain Basement
The Quebec girls like every breed and type of man since Adam. They discuss men but I think they’re more interested in the men themselves, and the family behind the man, than they are in the jobs they hold, the moneys or lands they command or the worlds they’re planning to conquer.
In the wearing of clothes French women of Europe or Canada have no equals on earth. They have a flair, a transmission of individual personality to a mass-produced item.
Ever since this reporter was knee high to a baby panda he’s been reading pieces about the style centre of the world shifting from Paris to Hollywood, New York or Buenos Aires but it never gets there and never can because the people who live in those spots don’t have the exuberance or aptitude to create the feminine smartness that Paris can create with its hands tied.
Nor is this the exclusive talent of the big-name designers. In some measure every girl with a French heritage has this gift.
With a bit of ribbon here and a spot of lace somewhere else mademoiselle has learned to change something from the bargain basement into a creation designed to her own taste and figure.
Can our English-speaking girls do that? Probably yes, but many of them don’t or won’t take the trouble.
Canadien girls have also had the good sense not to ape men in clothing. They’ve had the brains and intelligence to realize that now, as in cavemen days, one of their greatest assets is their femininity.
English-speaking women in Canada probably spend $3 for every $1 their Quebec sisters put out for facial varnishes, lures, rebuildings and assorted tonics and tighteners for waning sex appeal. And what does it get them? Frustrations and complexes! Given the full treatment from those chemical labs and they come forth with about as much sex appeal as you get with purple hair and green skin.
The Canadien girls have the original article, all wool but the buttons. It comes from being their unadulterated selves; female and glad of it. They’re equipped for honest laughter, genuine grief, emotion which is unaffected.
Like the sad heroine of song and film Quebec girls have a mother’s love for “silks and satins and buttons and bows.” They even go for “the French perfume that rocks the room.”
Whether it’s an Easter bonnet or a parka for the hills they go for color in heart-warming doses too, and color with laughter and gaiety is the combination of friends and optimists.
Paul Berlinguel and many like him sit, as in a duck blind, watching faces in big buildings, stations and shops. They look at faces all day long and often as not they read thoughts written or hidden there.
For no obvious reason the thoughts of the English-speaking girls seem less
happy and tranquil than those of their French sisters. Somehow, too, they seem less like individuals and more like robots from a chain store.
Walk some of the better streets in Quebec, like Montreal’s Mount Royal Boulevard or Quebec City’s Grande Allée, of a Sunday morning and you’ll see in the faces of middle-aged women a contentment and poise that seem to wear thin in women who live under the social and economic pressures of Toronto or Vancouver.
An even better time to see this inner glow of contentment, and know that it springs from the deep wells of family life, is on Saturday afternoon in working-class Montreal when young mothers take the baby in a hand-medown pram for a shopping walk.
Stop them to deliver idle flattery about the cherub in the pram, or the toddler who’s trying to keep up with the pace, and the Canadien mother’s face will light up like a Roman candle.
Nothing unusual about that because the inscrutable Chinese or the stolid Dutch will also respond to yippees for their young. But the effervescence of the Canadien out-bubbles all others and leaves most of them, in comparison, looking like lugubrious bloodhounds.
Modeling is another spot where the Quebecers excel on sheer personality.
The manager for Walter Thornton of Canada Ltd.—the well-known model agency—told me that, beauty being equal, a Canadien girl would corral the profitable posing positions every time. Even if she was a bit shy on standard beauty she still had a 50-50 chance at all jobs because superior personality more than makes up for inferior beauty.
Adrian Williams, a Hamilton photographer who recently completed his third world tour photographing women of all colors and races, puts the Canadien at the pinnacle of the personality tree.
Says Adrian: “When French faces light up in anticipation or delight they go all-out in lustre and glow while English-type faces hold back as if it were childish or undignified to break loose with a completely uninhibited
Pep and Peace of Mind
Executives of the trans-Canada network of the CBC are probably exposed to more high-powered and temperamental personality than anyone else in the land and these agree that Canadien girls have that certain sparkle that sets them above and beyond the routine.
“Name one,” I demanded.
“On some shows she’s ‘Meet Giselle’ on another she’s ‘The Girl Next Door,’ on still others she’s Giselle LaFleche. She sings in English and French, to her own accompaniment, and has more sparkling personality in her little finger than most pop singers have in their whole bodies. Matter of fact we’ve seldom known an Englishtype Canadian to transmit half the personality that Giselle does. You can just feel it ooze out of the speaker.”
Any Canadian male over the age of 12 can recall incidents in which “She’s French” has goaded his anticipation to a new high. Seldom on meeting the girl with so provocative a label has he been disappointed.
She’s witty, gay, alluring, realistic and unselfish. In youth she has personality and pep. In maturity she has peace of mind and tranquility. She’s a good sport, imaginative cook and an entertaining companion.
What more can you ask and where can you find it? ★