Quebec’s Moving Day is July 1

Here’s a fact I didn’t know until today:

Every year in Quebec, thousands and thousands of people pack up and move on July 1. It’s a 30-year tradition in this province. Actually, the idea of moving en masse goes further back than that. Leases used to end on April 30 in Quebec, says Marie-Andrée Jobin of the Régie du logement.

Back then, the headache of a move was only exacerbated by the fact that kids were being yanked out of classes before their school year was up. So on Jan. 1, 1974, a new Quebec law came into effect. It made all leases signed till April 30 of that year valid till June 30. Ever since, moving day in Quebec has been July 1.

For many Quebecois, the least period is always July 1 to June 30. How odd, eh?

There’s actually a pretty good Wikipedia article on this phenomenon. It apparently dates back hundreds of years. In New France it was “a humanitarian measure of the French colonial government of New France, who forbade seigneurs, the semi-feudal landlords of the seigneuries, from evicting their tenant farmers before the winter snows had melted.”

The CBC article indicates that, according to Hydro-Québec, 120,000 people changed accounts for that date in 2005. Assuming just two people a household, that represents 240,000 people moving on July 1. Statistics Canada says that an average of just under 5% of Canadians moved between July 1, 2004 and June 30, 2005. So that suggests that of all the people moving in Quebec in a given year, more than half of them move on one particular day.

I’m trying to imagine the upsides of this arrangement. There’s plenty of inventory from which to choose if you move in the summer. Of course, if you want to move at any other time of year, your options are far more limited. I learned this from somebody who once lived in Montreal, and he said it was a nightmare. I wonder why the tradition has been so resilient?


  1. It must be a unique challenge for businesses providing services related to moving. Moving vans and moving companies must get booked very early.

    I wonder if they suffer from not being able to serve so many people on one day, only to have slower business on the other 364 days in the year.

  2. It’s slowly changing, but it’s still insane. I remember moving into an apartment and having to make way in the staircase for the people who were moving out at the exact same time. And since the 1st of July is a holiday, movers get to charge you double. Lovely.

    There’s even a feature film (fiction) on the subject called: 1er juillet.

  3. I always thought this was an insane system, and I too can’t imagine why it persists, other than that there’s so much momentum in one-year leases. Does the law still require a July 1 end, or does it continue just because that’s when most people’s leases run till?

  4. If you’re not moving on July 1, it’s a great day to walk around and go sidewalk scavenging, as people just abandon things on the road.

  5. One of the strangest things I ever saw on Moving Day – I was walking along a street in Lachine and many were in full moving mode, and I saw smoke coming out of the rear of a stationwagon. I watched in amazement as I saw this guy putting stuff INTO this burning vehicle. ???
    I bet his insurance company would have loved to have me videotape this for them.

  6. A couple of years back, when I was still in the UK, I saw a documentary about this.

    If you own a moving van, you can expect to be booked solid from 6am til midnight on the 1st and the demand means you can set sky-high rates… but you’ll have pretty much nothing to do for the rest of the year.

    And to make things twice as chaotic, there’s a large chunk of town cut-off for the Canada Day parade… so the moving vans can’t get from A to B without going via C, D and E.

    A recipe for total disaster (and of course good ‘human crisis’ TV)




    1. Chill out dude… not everyone wants, needs, desires to celebrate Canada Day, plus we already had our Fête Nationale the week before. But heck, the good thing is that everyone is available on July 1st to give a hand to move since it a holiday! Wooo Hooo….

  8. Apart from the water … he is right … that is the reason I have been saying for years since I lived in Montreal. The Quebecous try to do what ever they can to erase the fact that they lost the war … oh well

    1. Oh give me a break… and get over it. Oh and by the way, it was the Provincial Liberal Party who was in power in 1973 and made the change to the lease. PS Alberta will build a wall way before Québec will and they separate from Canada before Québec, so give it a break and go see the fireworks.

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