Miles Meets Quebec (Part One)

Leaving the rain behind us, we headed straight east through fields of corn and soya beans, passing smaller wood frame houses and dairy farms along highway 43 into Quebec towards Montreal.  Miles, our mascot, knew we were craving some interaction with family so he steered us right into St. Lazare where Jim’s nephew Ken and his wife Lynn live.  It was so good to wrap our arms around family!  And the timing was perfect because Lynn would have two days off and Ken was on holiday.  How lucky for us!

A cold drink on the patio was followed by dinner and it wasn’t long before we had the board games out.  We played a game called Buccaneer which involves gathering treasure legitimately as well as stealing treasure from opponents by attacking them if they passed by.  Twice I missed the chance to attack and I was soon labelled the “nice pirate”…a name that would remain with me the duration of our stay there!  Incidentally, nice pirates don’t win!

The next three days were packed with fun.  Ken and Lynn were wonderful hosts, touring us all over the area.  They live west of Montreal where little towns like St. Lazare,  Hudson, Senneville, and St. Anne de Bellevue merge into each other with little winding roads lined with huge oak, ash, maple and elm trees.  There are flowers everywhere and historic buildings and homes are interspersed with modern homes, all with what we would consider pretty large yards.  In one spot, they showed us a stone fence that was built by hand by piling stones of various sizes with no mortar and it was as straight as could be!  The Ottawa River and the St. Lawrence River meet in this area and surround the island that Montreal sits on.  Traffic to and from Montreal is heavy but Lynn has it mastered so we relaxed in the back seat while she just took it in stride!

We spent a full day in Old Montreal and the Old (Vieux) Port.  Cobblestone streets and three hundred year old buildings give it so much charm, not to mention the horse drawn carriages and the musicians in the squares. One could tell that so many years ago, Upper Canada was bustling with everyday commerce.  Today, the old liveries and warehouses are filled with restaurants, art galleries, museums and upscale shops.  Awnings and flowers adorn their facades and tourists fill their spaces!  The Old Port is lined with outdoor artisan markets and expensive luxury yachts are moored at the marina. Climbing apparatuses have been installed as if they are masts of old ships and it’s not unusual to have someone zip line above your head as you walk along the promenade.

We toured the Notre Dame Basilica in all its extravagantly ornate glory and wondered how much it must have cost to build back in those days.  I was amazed at the intricate details in the carvings and the stained glass.  Not a corner of the church was left unadorned in some way!




We also checked out the Bank of Montreal, the first banking institution in British North America.  This particular bank was erected in 1847 and is still in use.  I thought the BMO in Winnipeg was beautiful…this one is even more magnificent with black granite columns and marble floors.  It also has a small museum in it that shows the cage that the teller would have stood in as well as money and bank books from the Dominion of Canada to present.

We saw the Hotel de Ville (City Hall), the Chateau Ramezay which was Quebec’s first building to be deemed a historical monument and lovely parks and gardens. We wandered the streets and checked out a couple of galleries until our feet were aching. The day was hot…we were glad to sit in the rooftop patio of one of the pubs and enjoy some cold beverages at tourist prices!

The highlight for me while visiting Ken and Lynn was going for a ride in a glider!  Ken is a member of the Montreal Flying Club so he took me out for a morning.  I was rigged up with a parachute and a quick lesson on what the various controls are for and how they work.  Then I climbed into the front seat of a dual glider and Ken took the controls in the seat behind me.  Either person can operate the controls but I left the flying up to him!  Once we were strapped in and the cockpit was closed we were towed by a small plane to 4000 ft.  My job was to release the tow line when we reached that elevation, at which time Ken swerved the plane to the right and the tow plane swerved to the left.  Now we were on our own at the mercy of the atmosphere.  It was an extremely hot day with very stable air.  Ken tried hard to find a thermal that would give us lift and take us higher but we weren’t able to gain much in elevation.  So we settled for a nice slow glide over the Ottawa River in the area of Hawksbury, Ontario.  We flew over Quebec on one side of the river and Ontario on the other.  Eventually we glided our way back to the Flyimg Club runway to land and my job was to let the landing wheels down.  Woohoo!

Jim was merciless with his crib games against Ken, skunking him more than once so we thought it was time to repack the van and move on before we got kicked out!

Next stop was to see another former roommate of mine from the U of A.  Sally is a Postmaster and lives with her husband and three boys in a little village called Durham Sud on the edge of the Eastern Townships, not far from Drummondville. We had lunch with her at her little house which is 116 years old…yellow with a white veranda on the front…so cute. Then she took us to see the house her husband has been building for them in his spare time on a 25 acre parcel of land they own.  She’s looking forward to the day he tells her it’s ready to move in but she’ll miss being able to walk home from work on her lunch break. It was great to see her after so many years and we were thankful that she could so easily switch from speaking French to English because my French needs a lot of work!

By late afternoon we were on the road again travelling through little towns and villages marked by church spires rising above the trees.  The landscape was changing as it became more hilly.  Large crop fields and pastures were defined by strips of thick forest.  One town after another was named after a Saint…we felt well protected as we headed through a thunderstorm so heavy we had to stop to let it pass!

Arriving in Trois Rivières, we were met with open arms by a dear friend from Claresholm who had moved away about 10 years ago.  Jeanne was the reason we had moved to Claresholm back in 1994 in the first place…she and my sister Kathy were selling their little restaurant, the Old Fox, and we bought it from them and operated it for the next ten years.

After many years in western Canada, Jeanne decided to move back to Quebec to be near her family.  We spent two nights and a day with her and had a chance to meet a few members of her crazy family!  When we first arrived, she was rattling off a whole conversation to us in French.  I must have looked like a deer in the headlights!  I know a bit of French but she was speaking so quickly I couldn’t make out a word she said! She suddenly realized, laughed so hard and then started over in English.  Her French speaking  sister and brother-in-law arrived and she would do the same to them but in reverse.  It was so funny…everyone was so confused! Finally she settled into a groove and switched back and forth, interpreting for all of us.

The next morning, after a gourmet breakfast, we were joined by Jeanne’s bilingual sister and walked downtown to see Trois Rivières.  The city was incorporated in 1634 making it 382 years old!  This would have been a major shipping port carrying goods down the St. Lawrence River to Montreal.  Even as we were there, a huge barge was sitting in port.  Hard to believe that a river could be wide enough to carry these big ships but it is.  Also in port was a luxury yacht from Great Britain.  Apparently it has been docked there for a couple of weeks now.

I’ve heard of cities putting pianos in their downtown public areas but never seen it until now.  What a good idea…two little girls were having fun with it as we went past.

We walked everywhere, through Champlain Park, past old monasteries and ancient hospitals, as well as modern theatres and office buildings.  Old houses backing onto the river were converted to B&B’s and restaurants with outdoor patios lined the downtown streets.

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When black thunderclouds started building we made our way back to Jeanne’s place, arriving just in time to avoid a heavy rain.  From her balcony we watched it pound down, welcoming the cooling effect it had on the hot, humid air. Sleep would come easier tonight.

It had been a great week of visiting family and friends.  We left Trois Rivières via the Chemin du Roy (the Kings Highway) which followed the north shore of the St. Lawrence past little farming villages.  Houses painted in cheerful colours…red, purple, bright yellow, and navy blue…all with white trim and verandas were so pretty surrounded with orange day lilies and large hostas.  “Fruites et Legumes” were being sold at roadside stands all the way to Quebec City. img_2173 img_2175Once we arrived at Beauport, just east of Quebec City. we picked up a rental car for the week.


Thanks to all who are reading this faithfully.  I love sharing this trip with each of you.  Until next week, au revoir!

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Recently retired with a passion for seeing new places and learning new things... This blog will be my attempt to diarize our travels and allow our family and friends the pleasure of the ride from the comfort of their homes. We're not rich....the blog will be a testament to travelling on a budget and optimizing our experiences with as much free stuff as possible!

7 thoughts on “Miles Meets Quebec (Part One)”

  1. That was wonderful. As a note regarding the piano in the town square…..Okotoks has one downtown and it is all painted up really cute!
    Looking forward to the next installment 🙂

  2. Montreal is way more gorgeous in the summer than the winter! Looks like a great start to Quebec, Mom and Dad!

  3. How delightful to see all the places that you visited. “See Canada” first should definitely be what we all should do.
    Our country is glorious. And how nice to see a photo of Jeannie again. Glad you got to visit her once more. “Time flys”.
    The west is so different and even building 100 years old look
    Glad to see through your eyes.

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