We had no idea that St. Jean Baptist Day, otherwise known as Fete Nationale, would take place on June 24th during our Montreal vacation. It celebrates the French culture, heritage, and history of the Province of Quebec. The English newspapers made no mention of it that day, but at least included the picture above on the following day - with no article. The French newspapers were another story!
Everything was closed. The downtown business district was deserted as if it were a Sunday. Shops and museums were closed. The post office was closed:
Even the grocery store was closed:
Places to celebrate and party, like restaurants and bars, were open. It made the history of Quebec very real, including the history of its separatist movement. Today the separatist political party is a minority. As one French Canadian told us, "we don't need separatism anymore, because Quebec is essentially autonomous under the umbrella of Ottawa," implying that the goals of the separatist movement were achieved without secession.
It was fun to be there to catch the spirit. I understand why an English speaking resident of Montreal, although a minority, said that there's no where else he would rather live!