Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Bienvenue, Quebecois

When TigerBlog turned the page on his desk calendar today, this notation appeared below Wednesday June 24:

St. Jean Baptiste (Quebec)

So, 365 miles north of Princeton in the province of Quebec, it's a national holiday. According to Wikipedia (where else would you go for basic info on some unfamiliar topic these days?), June 24 was declared Quebec's patriotic day in 1977, 69 years after Pope Pius X named St. John the Baptist the patron saint of French Canadians. There's your history lesson for the day.

The Wikipedia article goes on to say that the Canadian government then stepped up promotion of July 1, one week later, of Canada Day as the national holiday for the rest of Canada. That's nice too, but what does this have to do with Princeton?

Though the vast majority of Princeton athletes are from the United States, some come from the Caribbean, Mexico, Asia and Europe. Canada, however, is the most popular homeland for foreign Princeton student-athletes.

In all, 36 Canadians are currently on Princeton rosters between 11 teams. Not surprisingly, ice hockey claims 23 of those, with 13 men and 10 women counting O Canada as their true national anthem.

Only two of those Canadians, however, are from Quebec. And although the province has 527,029 square miles of land, more than 60 times the size of New Jersey (thanks again, Wikipedia), both Stephanie Denino '10 (ice hockey) and Emma Bedard '11 (lightweight rowing) are among the almost 2 million people who call the island of Montreal home, and both attended the same post-secondary school.

So, to Denino and Bedard, happy celebrating. The rest of the Canadians will have to wait a week for their big day, and of course, the fireworks and barbecues will come for most of the rest of Princeton's student-athletes a week from Saturday.

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