Update 10

If B.C. brothers and sisters are a bunch of laid-back hippies, then French Canadians are a nation of hug-happy, perma-grinners. Montreal was epic! In the kindness department, we stripped for the McGill swim team (just to the waist) to help them raise money, served up some tasty veggie soup at a local mission, dispensed and carved hundreds of pumpkins, dressed up as the most compassionate devils Hallowe'en has ever seen and took house-bound seniors for the most hilarious afternoon of shopping at a local mall.

We have arrived in la ville de Quebec, the true heartland of French-speaking Quebec. Our walks in the old city seem like strolls through Paris; Quebec feels like a nation-within-nation, a veritable diamond after the industrial pits of Ontario. The season has finally turned and the mercury falls faster by the day. Quebec City is a winter wonderland, adorned with outdoor skating rinks, dark parkas and berets weaving in and out of century-old shops, tiny cobblestone streets barely wide enough to squeeze a motorcycle through, and a light dusting of snow blanketing the ground. Collectively, en francais we have the intelligence of a three-year old, but at least this bus-smash French puts smiles on faces. Thankfully, a-smile-and-hug transcends the language and cultural barriers and the warmth our group radiates melts these walls like popsicles in the summer sun. We feel connected to Quebec and our nation in a way we could never have imagined before crossing over Canada's cultural divide.

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