The French-Canadian name for grandmother is mémé. Mémère is another French-Canadian term for a granny or grandma. In some instances, mémère has a slightly derogatory tone, much like “old lady.” In Quebec, the term can be used to refer to a nosy person or a gossip. Mamie is another word sometimes used for a grandmother by French-Canadians. Même is a different word having several meanings and usages.
Learn the French-Canadian name for grandfather. See also ethnic names for grandmothers.
About the French Canadians
French Canadian is a generic term for those of French ancestry living in Canada. They sometimes call themselves Canadiens, the French for Canadian. Those living in Quebec are referred to as Québécois or Quebecers. Those with roots in the Maritime Provinces are referred to as Acadians.
Canada was settled by the French alongside the British. When British rule was formalized in the Treaty of Paris in 1763, the French began a long period of struggling to maintain their cultural identity. They had large families and usually married within their own community. The Catholic church to which almost French Canadians belonged was also a unifying factor. Catholics and French speakers were routinely discriminated against, and this made the French Canadians more determined to preserve their own culture.
The 1960s and 1970s were a time of change for the French Canadians, who mounted a largely successful campaign for a greater voice in government and society. Quebec named French as its official language, and French Canadians adopted a more secular, mainstream way of life.
French Canadian grandmothers and other family matriarchs were skilled genealogists, although their records weren’t always written down. They could, however, name all the members of their large extended families and describe how they were related. The Catholic church in Canada was strict about record keeping, and its records have made tracing those of French-Canadian ancestry much easier.
The French-Canadians celebrate an interesting array of holidays. Easter and Christmas are the most important religious holidays, and they are still celebrated mostly in the traditional manner.
Thanksgiving or Action de grâce is celebrated in Canada on the second Monday in October. It is celebrated modestly, with a family meal and perhaps a parade or two.
St. Jean Baptiste Day is celebrated on June 24. This holiday, with religious roots and ties to the ancient celebration of Midsummer, has become quite politicized and is now celebrated, especially in Quebec, as a day of French Canadian Pride.
National Acadian Day is celebrated on August 15, the feast day of Our Lady of the Assumption, the Acadians’ patron saint.
French Canadian foods are generally hearty and savory, based on a few readily available ingredients.
The most famous dish associated with the area is poutine, a combination of fried potatoes, cheese curds, and steaming hot brown gravy. Tourtiere, or meat pie, is another classic dish. Quebec is the world’s largest producer of maple syrup and maple sugar, used in the traditional dessert of maple sugar pie.