Well, I guess the same thing could be said of the people of Ottawa or Pembroke.Why don’t all of them speak french, living so close to the Quebec border..?I live in Gatineau and across the street from us live a nice family with 3 great kids.
The parents speak a bit of english but I’m sure their entire conversation with their children has always been in french.The kids went to french language schools, probably watched mostly french language shows.I don’t know if they speak english at all.
As well, I’ve met folks born and raised in the Outaouais who don’t speak a word of french.Only english.They actually refuse to even mutter a word in french on top of that.
This is my opinion only.Others may have better responses.English Canada and French Canada come from very different origins.
If one consults history the relationship of British/English and France/French has not always been compatible.Consequently the two languages are not always seen by each group to be desirable.There are also cultural differences.
If you live in Quebec, children can learn English in school but if the environment is french speaking, French will dominate.If as a Quebecer you wish to work for the federal government or with the public learning English can be useful but not compulsory.Similarly children in Ontario can learn french through a style of instruction called “French immersion”.
Not every school offers French immersion.But unless there is the need to speak french or english most people will resort to their mother tongue.Again working in Ottawa which is government town being bilingual is almost a necessity.
In addition Canada is a bilingual country.
Those that are not bilingual to any significant extent do not have much interaction with people who speak mainly English.I’ve coached many francophones from the Gatineau area in English, and many lead their lives mainly in French.All are somewhat bilingual – they range from beginners to those with very good skills in English, as well as French.
The ones who are good in English work at least some of the time in English, in contrast to the language they speak at home.
Inhabitants of Gatineau, smaller than Ottawa and forming with that city and other smaller communities the National Capital Region, actually are highly bilingual.According to the 2016 Canadian census, 37.6% of the population of Ottawa speaks English and French, including the 15.0% who claim French as their first language.In Gatineau, meanwhile, 64.0% of the population speaks English and French, with only 15.0% having English as their first language.
Gatineau stands out, in short, as exceptionally bilingual, even relative to an Ottawa that of all mostly English-speaking cities in Canada has the largest population of speakers of French.
Perhaps a better question would be to ask why all the residents of Ottawa are not fully bilingual since they live so close to the province of Quebec.
In fact, my experience is that most of the residents of Gatineau are bilingual while only a small proportion of the residents of Ottawa are bilingual
For the same reasons residents of Ottawa are not fully bilingual when they are so close to Gatineau.
Why are the residents of Ottawa not fully bilingual when they are even closer to Ottawa?