Last night I went to a sushi/hot pot party where I met a young woman from Winnipeg, now living in TO. We ended up discussing French (she considers herself bilingual) and French Canadians. She purported that Manitoba had the largest Francophone community outside of Québec, although conceded that New Brunswick had the highest perentage of Francophones. Being polite, I put up no argument, but in my head I thought that sounded wrong. Since I just had to know which province ourside Québec has the largest number of Francophones, I looked it up.
StatCan has some interesting figures on languages from the 2001 Census. The Franco.ca site puts it out clearly in table form, and confirms that my mind was right. Manitoba does not have the largest population of francophones outside of Québec, and certainly not the million this woman claimed there was; there’s just over a million total in Canada (excluding Québec), half of whom live in Ontario. I kept my mouth shut primarily because I didn’t want to come off as one of those “Ontario is the greatest province! we’re the most important! blah blah blah” type people. But I’m satisfied knowing I’m right and sharing this with all of you. I just feel the Franco-Ontarien community is very important and didn’t want it to be underestimated!
BTW, March 20th is the International Day of Francophonie. So go celebrate, maybe drink some French wine, or eat some Québec maple syrup, or listen to some Acadien music.