Fifty years after France’s President Charles de Gaulle uttered the infamous words “Vive le Quebec libre” the balcony where that speech took place was open to the public.
Hundreds waited in lines to take a tour of the balcony that faces Notre-Dame Street East.
For some, the speech served as a rallying cry of sorts for Quebec’s separatist movement.
Since the speech, two referendums took place in the province.
Those who came to city hall to visit understand the historical value of the balcony.
“It was a focal point in the sixties,” Maureen Latour, who came to visit the balcony, said. “I mean I’m not Quebecoises, but I understand how significant that moment was.”
Later in the evening, the Saint-Jean-Baptiste Society held a gathering outside of city hall to commemorate the anniversary.
The same place where a large crowd stood to listen to de Gaulle’s speech in 1967.
Groups of Quebec sovereigntists had hoped to use the balcony to help reenact the speech, but the city refused.
“Maybe they don’t want us on the balcony, but we’re here anyway,” Jennifer Drouin, Anglophones for Quebec Independence President, said. “We’re going to hook up some microphones and we’re going to speak.”
The balcony hadn’t been open to the public in nearly 20 years.