“I just need to survive a few more months before I retire.” – Cyrille Estève, The Spoonman

 

“I’ve been a busker here for twenty years; it’s my livelihood. The present by-law requires me to move 60 metres every 60 minutes. Can you imagine? I’m sixty-five years old. Moving 200 kilograms of equipment every hour is exhausting. It’s nonsense. I’ve started a petition for handicapped and elderly people to be exempt from this by-law. It’s become harder to earn a living. For years, I was allowed to sell spoons on the streets, as any busker could sell goods or services having a direct link with his permit. My spoons have been described as one of the most representative objects of the history of Montreal. Now the city has changed the bylaw and I can no longer sell spoons. They say musicians can only sell items ‘directly resulting from their performance.’ Many say the by-law was made to get rid of me, which is illegal and unconstitutional. I’m not saying that, but I’ve heard it. Maybe somebody somewhere doesn’t like me. Ogilvy is powerful and they don’t like to see someone playing the spoons on their sidewalk. The ex-vice president once asked me if I paid them rent to play my ‘silly’ music outside their office. I don’t need to pay rent because I’m playing traditional Quebec music on the sidewalk. Why on this sidewalk? Because it’s wide and has enough space for my equipment, it’s busy so I can actually make some money, but, most importantly, I’d feel frightened sitting at any other corner, knowing nobody. This is my family; my village. All the people that I see here everyday walking by are my friends and family. I just need to survive a few more months before I retire, and when I do, I’ll always remember that I’ve been described as a living symbol of French Canadian culture in the National Geographic magazine. I’ll retire knowing I stood up for my beliefs and did something important with my life.”