August in Quebec
8/11/12 - We got a rain delayed start for the 100 mile drive to Cousin Kathie's home in West Chester where we spent a couple days to allow me to practice my diving skills in anticipation of qualifying for the 2016 summer Olympics in Rio. Having substantially depleted Kathie's larder, we departed for a four hour (205 miles) drive to a nostalgic stop at a KOA in Saugerties, NY near the site of the famous 1969 Woodstock Festival. After restoring ourselves with bratwursts and spending an uneventful but disappointing night at an aging KOA infrastructure, we decamped next morning for the four and a half hour (266 miles) drive through a relatively quick border crossing to a KOA just south of Montreal.
The French explorer Samuel de Champlain established a fur trading post on the Island of Montreal, on a site initially named La Place Royale. At the confluence of Petite Rivière and St. Lawrence River, it is where present-day Pointe-à-Callière stands. In 1639, Jérôme Le Royer de La Dauversière obtained the Seigneurial title to the Island of Montreal in the name of the Société de Notre-Dame de Montréal to establish a Roman Catholic mission for evangelizing natives. Paul Chomedey de Maisonneuve was the governor of the colony, which was established on May 17, 1642. In 1689, the English–allied Iroquois attacked Lachine on the Island of Montreal, committing the worst massacre in the history of New France.
Montreal was incorporated as a city in 1832. The opening of the Lachine Canal permitted ships to bypass the unnavigable Lachine Rapids, while the construction of the Victoria Bridge established Montreal as a major railway hub. The leaders of Montreal's business community had started to build their homes in the Golden Square Mile from about 1850. By 1860, it was the largest city in British North America and the undisputed economic and cultural centre of Canada. By 1951, Montreal's population had surpassed one million people. The Saint Lawrence Seaway opened in 1959, allowing vessels to bypass Montreal. In time this development led to the end of the city's economic dominance as businesses moved to other areas. During the 1960s there was continued growth, including the World's Fair known as Expo 67, and the construction of Canada's tallest skyscrapers, new expressways and the subway system known as the Montreal Metro.
8/15/12 - At 9:30 AM our KOA shuttle took us over the Pont Champlian which crosses the St. Lawrence in parallel with the old Pont Victoria which was the longest bridge in the world when it first opened in 1860. At the Centre Intouriste de Montreal at Metcalf Street on the corner of Dorchester Square, we climbed to the upper deck of a red, double-deck tourist bus. First we paid homage to the glory of the Montreal Canadiens by driving past Bell Centre located in downtown Montreal, near the corner of Avenue des Canadiens-de-Montréal and Rue de la Montagne. After rounding the statue in the Place Jacques-Cartier we turn right at the corner of René Lévesque Boulevard to look at the Cathedrale Marie-Reine-du-Monde with its roof adorned by the 13 statues of Montreal's patron saints. Mary, Queen of the World Cathedral is Montreal’s first catholic cathedral. The previous building was burned in 1852 and the bishop commissioned Victor Bourgeau with the task and asked him to model the church on the St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. . The name was changed in 1987 after the death of Quebec premier René Lévesque. A portion of the thoroughfare located in the largely anglophone city of Westmount, between Clarke and Atwater, retains the name "Boulevard Dorchester", as does a portion in the mainly French-speaking Montréal-Est, where it is known as " Dorchester Street".
The first official stop on our tour is at St. Patrick's Basilica where many people leave the bus to pay traditional homage. Our tour guide explains that Montreal and the rest of Canada have evolved like Europe into treating church buildings as historical and artistic objects rather than locations for supplication or submission of requests to a personal deity. The interior is heavily ornamented with motifs that combine a French fleur de lys and Irish shamrocks; more stunningly are the large columns, all carved from the same white oak and encased in marble. It features three altars, four rosette stained-glass windows 150 oil paintings of saints. The church is known for its historic links to the Irish Canadian community. St. Patrick's celebrated its 165th anniversary in 2012. English-speaking Catholics first assembled in Montreal at the Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours church in Old Montreal, however their numbers were swelled by the massive arrival of Irish immigrants around 1817.
Our next stop is Montreal's Chinatown located on La Gauchetière Street and around Saint Urbain Street and Saint Lawrence Boulevard, between René Lévesque Boulevard and Viger Avenue, occupying roughly the area of a city block. The part of La Gauchetière that crosses through Chinatown is a pedestrian walkway, making it more inviting for a stroll. The first Chinese that created Montreal's Chinatown belonged to the Chan, Hom, Lee, and Wong clan groups. Many Taishan Chinese settled in the area because they worked for the railways and it was convenient for these occupations. Over the years, Hong Kong Chinese and ethnic Chinese refugees from Vietnam also set up shops and restaurants in the area.
We then drove past the colorful Palais des Congrès de Montréal to our next stop in Old Montreal where we leave our first bus at the Pointe-à-Callière Museum. Here in 1605 Samuel de Champlain set up a fur trading post at Place Royale. However, the local Iroquois successfully defended their land and the post was abandoned. The original site of Montreal in 1642, then known as Ville-Marie, is known as the Pointe-à-Callière, a piece of land at the confluence of the St. Lawrence River and Little River. The founder, Paul Chomedey de Maisonneuve, built a fort in 1643 called Société Notre-Dame de Montréal for the conversion of the Indians in New France. The company was created by the Sulpicians Jean-Jacques Olier and Jérôme Le Royer (Sieur de La Dauversière) in 1642. The Société acquired sovereignty over the island of Montreal and brought the first settlers to house, feed, educate and care for the Amerindians. Because of flooding, they had to cross to the other side of Little River on the north shore where the Soeurs hospitalières (Hospital Sisters) of Montreal (under the direction of Jeanne Mance) built and operated the first hospital.
From our lunch stop in Old Montreal we caught another double-deck bus guided by a Chinese woman with somewhat limited English speaking skills. We rode past abandoned grain silos then across the Lachine Canal and along the Lachine Rapids to cross over the bridge onto the island where the World's Fair known as Expo 67 was held from April to October in 1967. As we drove along the fast flowing river we passed in front of Habitat 67 designed by Moise Safdie. It was originally conceived as his master's thesis in architecture at McGill University and then built as a pavilion for the World's Fair.
We cross the Jacques Cartier Bridge with its miniature Eiffel Towers to arrive on St.Helen's Island and make a stop at the former French Pavilion which now serves the gambling community as the Casino de Montréal. Next we return across the Jacques Cartier Bridge for a stop at the Biosphère, a museum dedicated to the environment. It is located at Parc Jean-Drapeau, on Île Sainte-Hélène in the former pavilion of the United States for the 1967 World's Fair. Wanting to insure that all visitor's tastes were fully satisfied, our guide next arranged a stop in an area of West Montreal called Gay Village located on Saint Catherine Street East, centred on Beaudry metro station, and on Amherst Street in the Ville-Marie borough of the city. The Village runs approximately from St-Hubert Street to De Lorimier Street on Saint Catherine Street, and between Sherbrooke Street and René-Lévesque Boulevard on Amherst Street, a distance of nearly two kilometres, making it the largest in North America in terms of scope of the complete area. Formerly a poor working-class neighbourhood, part of the Centre-Sud area of the city, the area was occupied by the gay and lesbian community after the huge expulsion of many gay businesses from an area closer to Saint Lawrence Boulevard (or "The Main" as the locals call it). The area has been considerably gentrified, due in part to recent investment from the various levels of all governments.
Leaving Le Village, we drove along Boulevard St. Laurent and then made a left turn on Rue Sherbrooke past McGill University then passed by many of the great buildings along the base of Mount Royal to a stop at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. After a long loving half hour look at all the artwork outside of the museum we decided to return the next day and spend the whole day. We hopped the next tour bus and finally found a guide who truly loved his city.
We climbed up the 764 feet to the top of the mountain known as Mount Royal Park. Some tourist guidebooks, such as the Michelin Guide to Montreal, state that Mount Royal is an extinct volcano. The mountain is not a traditional volcano as such. However, it is the deep extension of a vastly eroded ancient volcanic complex, which was probably active about 125 million years ago.The mountain was created when the North American plate moved westward over the New England hotspot, along with the other mountains of the Monteregian Hills, by a process known as intrusion: The magma intruded into the sedimentary rocks underneath the area, producing at least eight igneous stocks. The main rock type is a gabbro composed of pyroxene, olivine and variable amounts of plagioclase. During and after the main stage of intrusion, the gabbros and surrounding rocks were intruded by a series of volcanic dikes and sills. Subsequently, the surrounding softer sedimentary rock was eroded, leaving behind the resistant igneous rock that forms the mountain.
Mount Royal Park (in French: Parc du Mont-Royal), is one of Montreal's largest greenspaces. The park was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, who also designed New York's Central Park, and inaugurated in 1876, although not completed to his design. Olmsted had planned to emphasize the mountainous topography through the use of vegetation. Shade trees at the bottom of the carriage path would resemble a valley. As the visitor went higher, the vegetation would get more sparse to give the illusion of exaggerated height. City officials wanted a reservoir atop the mountain instead and Olmsted planned a grand promenade around it. However, Montreal suffered a depression in the mid 1870s and many of Olmsted's plans were abandoned. The carriage way was built, but it was done hastily and without regard to the original plan. None of the vegetation choices was followed, and the reservoir was never built. There are two cemeteries in the area: Notre Dame des Neiges Cemetery (Catholic), Mount Royal Cemetery (non-denominational but primarily Protestant, and including several small Jewish cemeteries) — all of which are now running out of space.
Our first stop in the park is at Saint Joseph's Oratory of Mount Royal, the largest church in Canada. In 1904, Saint André Bessette, C.S.C., began the construction of St. Joseph, a small chapel on the slopes of Mont Royal near Notre Dame College. Soon the growing number of visitors made it too small. Even though it was enlarged, a larger church was needed and in 1917 one was completed and has a seating capacity of 1,000. In 1924, the construction of the basilica of Saint Joseph's Oratory was inaugurated; it was finally completed in 1967. The basilica is dedicated to Saint Joseph, to whom Brother André credited all his reported miracles. These were mostly related to some kind of healing power, and many pilgrims (handicapped, blind, ill, etc.) poured into his Basilica, including numerous Protestants. On display in the basilica is a wall covered with thousands of crutches from those who came to the basilica and were allegedly healed. Pope John Paul II deemed the miracles to be authentic and beatified Brother André in 1982. In October 2010 Pope Benedict XVI canonized the saint. A reliquary in the church museum contains Brother André's heart, which he requested as a protection for the basilica. More than 2 million visitors and pilgrims visit the Oratory every year.
Our next stop provided a breathtaking view of Montreal from the upper deck of the bus including a telephoto look at the Olympic Stadium built for the 1976 summer Olympics and finally paid for in 2007. The stadium is the largest by seating capacity in Canada. After the Olympics, it became the home of Montreal's professional baseball and Canadian football teams. Since 2004, when the Montreal Expos relocated to Washington, D.C., the stadium has no main tenant, and with a history of financial and structural problems, is largely seen as a white elephant.
When we leave the bus again to wait for our KOA shuttle to take us back to the campsite, we restore our strength at a little cafe across from the bus station. Linda chose a simple soup and salad option while I enjoyed the more exotic meat and cheese platter featuring elements of a pig's head and a lovely ham of duck. Next we wander around looking for photo opportunities and I try to capture the essence of Place Jacques-Cartier. Near Place Jacques-Cartier on rue de la Commune, an original piece of the wall of the old fortified city can still be seen in the basement restaurant of the Auberge du Vieux-Port. At the upper end of the Place stands what may be the most controversial monument in all of Montreal: Nelson's Column, installed in memory of Admiral Horatio Nelson. Dating from 1808, it was erected by the English merchants of the city. The 8-foot statue is the world's first Nelson commemorative and predates that in London by 33 years.
8/16/12 - Having become the undisputed masters of the Montreal domaine on our first day, we opted for a specialized study of the fine arts at the Musee des beaux-arts de Montreal on our second day. We broke our fast at a boulangerie patisserie sharing some buttery flaky viennoiserie bread rolls named for their distinctive crescent shapes celebrating the victory over the Ottoman Empire back in whatever. Adopting an easy, streetwise amble we made our way up the Rue Sherbrooke to join others waiting for the 11:00 AM opening of the museum. The museum is partitioned into three pavilions: a 1912 Beaux Arts building designed by William Sutherland Maxwell and brother Edward Maxwell, now named the Michal and Renata Hornstein Pavilion; the modernist Jean-Noël Desmarais Pavilion across the street, designed by Moshe Safdie, built in 1991; and the Liliane and David M. Stewart Pavilion.
While waiting for the museum to open I took pictures from the external sculpture garden including every possible angle on "The Eye", a magnificent free standing sculpture created by Montreal artist David Altmejd and installed here this past spring. The reaction of passersby is always the same. A glimpse upwards toward the giant winged angel-like figure, standing contrapposto on its granite plinth. Then, a double take. A halt in one’s tracks. A turning of the head in confusion, surprise, revulsion, even joy. A walk around all sides. A rummaging in one’s bag for a camera, any camera. The creature vaguely evokes Michelangelo’s David in form. But the similarities stop there. The Eye’s legs show an Altmejd trademark, a kind of putrefaction or metamorphosis. Its wings are weighed down by what appear to be entrails, or an enormous, creeping parasite. The head, a startling mass of human hands, the tangle of fingers appearing like feathers around a non-existent face. And then it hits you: there’s a giant, square hole in its torso. More hands emerge from the empty space.
The single flower sculpture at the front of the Michal and Renata Hornstein Pavilion was fascinating in the morning sunlight but the light was not as good for getting a good shot of Jaume Plensa's "Shadows II" so I combined some details from the previous day to convey the intricacy of the welding for this excellent work. I tried also to give proper attention to "Claudia the Cow" by Joe Fafard and to the "London Apple" by Claude Lalanne.
At eleven we walked past the twin six foot heart sculpture by Jim Dine and into the soaring atrium of the Jean-Noël Desmarais Pavilion designed by Moshe Safdie famed for his 1967 design of the Habitat. The main draw for the day's visitors was the Tom Wesselmann exhibit "Beyond Pop Art" but we bypassed the cues and opted to view the museum's permanent collection. An example of one of Picasso's fascinating-and disturbing erotic images gives the viewer the odd impression that he has just indiscreetly barged into a private room where you ought to have knocked before entering. However, there is no gratuitous sensationalism to be found in these saucy, jubilant visions. I never could find any information describing a gruesomely true to life sculpture depicting two emaciated male apemen in the process of killing and beginning to eat an obese female ape woman who may or may not be a representative of the same species. It raises thoughts of genocide, of gender wars, and plain old cannibalism without any intellectual satisfaction of any sort.
After a stroll down Rue Guy passing many street musicians we turned left on Rue Sainte Catherine then right on Rue Peel to have lunch a a little pub across from the Centre Intouriste de Montreal. With the embarrasment of an inexperienced tourist, I then partially ate the worst "Fish and Chips" that have ever been presented to me, but very much enjoyed the ambiance of the place. At 4:00 PM we reclaimed our seats on the KOA Shuttle and had the special pleasure of taking the old Victoria Bridge to Saint-Laurent. Opened in 1859, the bridge was the first to span the St. Lawrence River and regarded as the eighth wonder of the world. It remains in use to this day, carrying both road and rail traffic, with rails in the middle and roadways (part of Route 112) on both sides. It is actively used by the Canadian National Railway on its Halifax to Montreal main line. When the bridge was being built, workmen discovered the human remains of Irish immigrants to Canada, who had fled the famine in Ireland, only to die during the typhus epidemic of 1847 in fever sheds at nearby Windmill Point. At the bridge approach, a large rock was erected, officially called the Irish Commemorative Stone but locally known as The Black Rock.
8/17/12 - After a meticulous night of route planning, we drove northeast on Route 20 through Drummondville to cross the St. Lawrence on Route 55 and join the famous chemin du Roi on its way from Montreal to Quebec City. When construction was completed in 1737, the chemin du Roi was 7.4 metres wide and streched over 280 kilometers, crossing through 37 seignories as the longest road in existence north of the Rio Grande. For a century and a half, the chemin du Roi would convey mail and travellers by chaise, stagecoach, mail coach and sleigh in winter. There would be up to 29 relay stations along the way. Among the busiest, owing to the location, was Berthier, where lunch was always served, and Deschambault. The trip could be made in two days at full gallop! Today Route 138 follows the old road, for the most part, from Saint-Augustin-de-Desmaures to Repentigny, passing through Trois-Rivières.
For a long time, the area that would later become known as Trois-Rivières was frequented by Algonquins and Abenakis, who used it as a summer stopping place. The French explorer Jacques Cartier described the site while on his second journey to the New World in 1535. The name "Trois-Rivières", however, was given only in 1599, by Captain Dupont-Gravé, and first appeared on maps of the area in 1601. French sovereignty in Trois-Rivières continued until 1760, when the city was captured as part of the British conquest of Quebec. Sixteen years later, on June 8, 1776, it was the theatre of the Battle of Trois-Rivières (part of the ill-fated Invasion of the province of Quebec by Americans from the Boston area—les Bostonnais) during the American Revolutionary War.
Driving east along the north bank of the St. Lawrence, the first little town that we reach on the chemin du Roi is called Champlain where I get a quick snapshot of the Church of Notre Dame de la Visitation. Our guidebook says that the church was built in 1879, replacing an earlier church of 1710. The earlier church must have been of quite some historical significance in this kind of area where history seeps from every stone. A few miles west of Batiscan we pass the Old Presbytery of Batiscan. The guidebook says that a presbytery was here on this site in 1723. The land around here had been given to the Jesuit order of priests who had been among the most active in bringing the Gospel to the First Nation Canadians and instead of Heaven being their reward, they were rewarded here on Earth with the land around this area. In 1696 they chose this site for their presbytery.
By the time that we reach Batiscan we are weakened by hunger and find a pretty outdoor cafe overlooking the St. Lawrence. Batiscan is named for a chief of the Algonquin people in the area of Trois-Rivières. He met Samuel de Champlain upon his return to Quebec in 1610 and held a feast for him. In 1611, Champlain met Batiscan again, and the chief provided him with useful information about other tribes in the area, although he declined to furnish the French with guides. Like the village of Champlain, Batiscan is blessed with a lovely church named Sainte-Genevievre-de-Batiscan-church and another named for Saint Francis Xavier.
The next village is called Sainte-Anne-de-la-Perade which, unknown to us at the time, is the world capital of Tommy Cod fishing. During Tommy Cod season, generally from late December to mid-February, thousands of tourists come to Sainte-Anne for ice fishing and a small fishing village is built on the frozen waters of the Sainte-Anne River that bisects the town. Our purpose in Sainte-Anne-de-la-Perade was to satisfy our need to cut some cheese. We sought out one of the rare cheese dairies that makes non pasteurized cheese that is certified organic. The cheeses are made using milk from their own farm cows, which is why the term ‘farm cheese’ is used. The aging process is then carried out in Sainte-Anne-De-La-Perade where the ripening is performed according to artisanal cheese making traditions.
Moving on to our campground we caught a quick glance at the Eglise St-Marc-des-Carrires in Portneuf and another in Cap Sante before returning to the faster Route 40 and then 540 to cross the St. Lawrence on the Pont Pierre Laporte to our KOA in St. Nicolas.
8/18/12 - About 9:15 AM we boarded our shuttle bus and returned across the St. Lawrence on the Pont Pierre Laporte where we headed northeast along the lovely promenade Samuel-De Champlain extending along the south bank of the river and passing the Government House on our left just before the famous Plains of Abraham. The Plains of Abraham is a historic area within The Battlefields Park that was originally grazing land, but became famous as the site of the Battle of the Plains of Abraham, which took place on September 13, 1759.
At the west end of the Plains of Abraham we turned onto the Grande Allee Boulevard which took us through the West Gate of the city walls. Grande Allée is one of the most famous streets of Quebec. It is situated on the hill of Quebec, parallel to the St. Lawrence River, in the boroughs La Cité-Limoilou and Sainte-Foy-Sillery-Cap-Rouge . It is famous for its restaurants and beautiful buildings. The Grand Allee becomes Rue Saint Louis and then ends at the breathtaking square called Vieux-Québec–Cap-Blanc–colline Parlementaire This area is certainly the most visited and most toured in the city. It is in this partly fortified area where a building that symbolizes Canada to the world, the Château Frontenac, is found, with its large terrace overlooking the city of Lévis just across the Saint Lawrence River. Dozens of cafes, tourist shops, restaurants, hotels and inns are found here. Had the Greeks founded this city, this would have been their acropolis.
The Château Frontenac was designed by American architect Bruce Price, as one of a series of "château" style hotels built for the Canadian Pacific Railway company during the late 19th and early 20th centuries; the newer portions of the hotel—including the central tower—were designed by William Sutherland Maxwell. CPR's policy was to promote luxury tourism by appealing to wealthy travelers. The Château Frontenac opened in 1893, six years after the Banff Springs Hotel, which was owned by the same company and similar in style.
Facing the Chateau Frontenac from across the square is the Parlementaire with Linda in the bottom left examining the sculpture marking the site as being preserved as a UNESCO World Heritage site (note UN blue flags). At the right of the Parlementaire is the Musee du Port which presents a sound and light show on the military history of the city.
At about 10:30 we climb aboard our Quebec City tour bus to continue down the Rue de Fort where we turned left to take the Rue de Buade past the Basilique Notre Dame de Quebec where we spotted the Cafe D'Orsay, with windows made for people-watching, as a potential lunch spot across from the Quebec City Hall. We turned right onto the Cote de la Fabrique to go around City Hall and in front of St. Pat's Pub at the corner of Rue Ste. Jean, where we made a left turn to climb Parliament hill and made a turn onto Aut Duferin Montmorency toward the Parc de L'Esplanade giving us a great view of the upper city, the city walls, and the St. Lawrence. We then stopped for pictures of the new parliament building before circling the Fontaine de Tourny to continue our tour. The parliament building was designed by architect Eugène-Étienne Taché and was built from 1877 to 1886. It features the Second Empire architectural style that was popular for prestigious buildings both in Europe (especially France where the style originated) and the United States during the latter 19th century. Although somewhat more sober in appearance and lacking a towering central belfry, Quebec City's Parliament Building bears a definite likeness to the Philadelphia City Hall, another Second Empire edifice in North America which was built during the same period.
The Fontaine de Tourny spent the first one hundered years of its life in France before becoming a Québec City landmark. It was originally created by French sculptor Mathurin Moreau and received a gold medal at the 1855 Paris World's Fair. From 1857 to 1960, it adorned a broad avenue known as the Allées de Tourny in downtown Bordeaux. In 1960, the City of Bordeaux removed it, citing maintenance costs. It was safely stored away until the turn of the 21st century when it was purchased by a Paris antiques dealer and given to Quebec City for its four hundredth anniversary.
Leaving the Parc de L'Esplanade we make our way to the Plains of Abraham for a half hour stop at the reconstructed Martello Tower. The culmination of a three-month siege by the British, the battle at the Plains of Abraham lasted about 15 minutes. British troops commanded by General James Wolfe successfully resisted the column advance of French troops and Canadian military under Louis-Joseph, Marquis de Montcalm, using new tactics that proved extremely effective against standard military formations used in most large European conflicts. Both generals were mortally wounded during the battle; Wolfe received a blow that would end his life within only a few minutes of engagement and Montcalm died the next morning after receiving a musket ball wound just below his ribs. In the wake of the battle, France's remaining military force in Canada and the rest of North America came under increasing pressure from British forces. While the French forces continued to fight and prevailed in several battles after Quebec was captured, the British did not relinquish their hold on the fortress. That tenacity carried over to other areas in North America; within four years, with the Treaty of Paris, most of France's possessions in eastern North America would be ceded to Great Britain.
From the Plains of Abraham we drove along the promenade Samuel-De Champlain to Quebec City's old port for a half hour stop. The huge old Bunge grain elevators are now used for the automated projection of laser and multi-media presentations called the Image Mill, representing the largest projection ever done. It requires the use of fine technology to project a huge quantity of images and films on the grain silos of the Quebec Harbour, an oversized screen, 600 meters wide by 30 meters high! The technical side of this is no less impressive. Twenty-seven 20,000-lumen projectors are combined with 238 spotlights and 329 speakers, with a radio-broadcast soundtrack by René Lussier.
We next drove past the bright blue and yellow tents of the Cirque du Soleil, the beautiful main train station, and Quebec's port market for an extended and somewhat scornful look at the "Cube" sculpture bestowed on Quebec by France.
Our bus leaves us near the Place Royale where we are greeted by the sound of a musician playing wine glasses which vibrate away from my focus. Our guide has directed us up a pretty alley to the Place-Royal, in the square where French explorer Samuel de Champlain founded the city in 1608. This small plaza is considered by Quebecois to be the literal and spiritual heart of Basse-Ville, the birthplace of French America. There is a bust of Louis XIV in the center. In the 17th and 18th centuries,Place-Royal or "Royal Square" was the town marketplace, and the center of business and industry. Eglise Notre-Dame-des-Victories dominates the plaza. It's Quebec's oldest stone church, built in 168 after a massive fire in Lower Town destroyed 55 homes in 1682. The church was restored in 1763 and again in 1969. Its paintings, altar, and large model boat suspended from the ceiling were votive offerings brought by early settlers to ensure safe voyages.
Continuing on through the Place-Royal we arrive in another small square with a trompe l'oeli mural depicting the early city.While waiting for people to stop posing in front of the mural, I took a look at some of the original foundations of the city.
After we return to Haute-Ville on the tour bus we quickly make our way down the Rue de Buade to the Cafe D'Orsay where we are provided with a good people watching position across from the plaza in front of the Basilique Notre Dame de Quebec.Located on this site since 1647, the Cathedral has twice been destroyed by fire throughout the centuries. It was rebuilt from plans by Gaspard-Joseph Chaussegros de Léry draughted in 1743. The belltower, however, was designed by Jean Baillairgé, who also oversaw construction. The interior was designed by Jean Baillairgé and his son François from 1786–1822. In 1843, François' son, Thomas, suggested a reconstruction of the façade to resemble the church of Sainte-Geneviève in Paris, resulting in the finest Neo-classic façade in Québec. At the left of the Basilique Notre Dame de Quebec is the Musée de l'Amérique francaise located in a building that is part of the Séminaire de Québec site, founded by Monseigneur de Laval in 1663,
After lunch we strolled along Rue de Buade and while Linda examined the wares of a Roots Store, I explored the interior of the Basilique Notre Dame de Quebec. In May, 1993, the remains of Mgr. de Laval were moved to this funeral chapel. François de Laval, beatified on June 22, 1980 by Pope John Paul II, is represented by a bronze recumbent statue inspired by those of the Middle Ages. When Linda had secured her goal we watched together as a member of an acrobatic troupe displayed her skills in the plaza before walking through the Avenue of the Arts to return to Vieux-Québec–Cap-Blanc–colline Parlementaire.
After only a minor expression of qualms, Linda joined me in memorizing a city map at the northeast corner of the esplanade, before we spiraled our way down a scenic staircase overlooking the Place Royal to return to the Lower Town. At the bottom of the stairs we walked past a restaurant specializing in rabbit, another in pork and were then entertained by street musicians while we sat in a little park. Then the quality of Linda's day began to dim from the effects of food poisoning. Leaving the phantasmagoria, we rode the funicular back up to the Upper City for one last look over the city that we had come to love before climbing back on our bus to return to the campground.
8/19/12 - After recovering nicely from the bad mussels served to Linda at the Cafe D'Orsay on the previous day, we again boarded the tour bus at KOA to return to Quebec City for brunch at Le Petit Cochon Dingue in the Old City. We chose a lunch special of a sandwich of the day and it came with soup or salad and a drink. We later tormented ourselves on hearing that the onion soup was the best in town. The three-cheese topping is said to be worth dying for and the bread is thick and hearty with perfect bouillon. We pledged a return. After brunch we strolled among the many shops and performers to return to the Place-Royal for a stop in the Visitor Center followed by beers in the cafe overlooking the Place-Royal.
I don't think we will ever be able to say that we have had our fill of the Old City but we hopped aboard the funicular for a return to the esplanade to give longer looks at places within easy walking distance. The Funiculaire du Vieux-Québec opened on November 17, 1879, and originally used the water ballast system of propulsion, similar to that still used by the funicular I rode in Montreaux, Switzerland. The line was converted to electrical operation in 1907.
We decide to walk up the Grande Allee Boulevard toward the West Gate where our guide told us it was possible to climb and walk the city walls. We stop in a Native American Art Gallery where a man helps me to understand some figurines that I have been seing in many shops. They are called inunnguaqs or inukshuk in English and they were originally a stone landmark or cairn built by humans, used by the Inuit, Inupiat, Kalaallit, Yupik, and other peoples of the Arctic region of North America. These structures are found from Alaska to Greenland.dominated by the tundra biome and with few natural landmarks. The inuksuk may have been used for navigation, as a point of reference, a marker for travel routes, fishing places, camps, hunting grounds, places of veneration, drift fences used in hunting or as a food cache.The Inupiat in northern Alaska used inuksuit to assist in the herding of caribou into contained areas for slaughter. Varying in shape and size, the inuksuit have longtime roots in the Inuit culture.
Arriving at the wall I am able to persuade Linda into climbing to the top in the hope of following them around and back to the esplanade. Our goal was soon interrupted so we settled for some pictures of the city from the wall. Our efforts had produced a mild dehydration so we stopped on the way back for a glass of wine at the Restaurant Aux Anciens Canadiens. This handsome establishment is named for a 19th-century book by Philippe-Aubert de Gaspé, who once resided here. The house, dating from 1675, has servers in period costume and five dining rooms with different themes. For example, the vaisselier (dish room) is bright and cheerful, with colorful antique dishes and a fireplace. People come for the authentic French-Canadian cooking; hearty specialties include duck in a maple glaze, Lac St-Jean meat pie, and maple-syrup pie with fresh cream.
As we waited from the shuttle in Vieux-Québec–Cap-Blanc–colline Parlementaire, I waited while the parents of two little girls posed them with frozen, look at me faces and then found them as a pretty composition in the sunlight.
8/20/12 - We leave the KOA at 9:00 AM to follow the east bank of the Chaudière River ( French for "Cauldron" or "Boiler River) upstream from the Chutes-de-la-Chaudière near the KOA. The river's basin has nearly 50% of the faunal richness of Quebec, namely 330 out of 653 vertebrate species known in the province can be found here. The Chaudière valley mostly crosses the Beauce area. The river impacts its industries and way of life, particularly during spring run-off, when it frequently overflows into populated areas, in spite of the 160 dams and levees. The river flows through several cities and villages of the area such as Sainte-Marie, Saint-Georges, Beauceville, and Saint-Joseph-de-Beauce to arrive at the Armstrong-Jackman border crossing into Maine at about midday. The US state of paranoia and ignorance since 9/11 has, of course, deteriorated relations between the two countries. If there was any monetary gain for Canadians in cross-border shopping it is now negated by the costs of the required documentation to travel to the US. Canadians now have another reason, besides quality, to buy Canadian and support Canadian businesses.
On the way to Jackman we pass through a town called Dennistown Plantation which might be cosidered as a future home for those suffering from certain racial intolerance issues. As of the census of 2000, there were 30 people, 10 households, and 9 families residing in the plantation. The population density was 0.8 people per square mile. There were 38 housing units at an average density of 1.0 per square mile. The racial makeup of the plantation was 100.00% White.
We steer well clear of Burying Place, ME to pass through Moscow and continue along the banks of the Kennebec River to Skowhegan, the birthplace of former Maine senator Margaret Chase Smith. Among the town's features is the Swinging Bridge, a suspension footbridge first constructed in 1883 to connect Skowhegan Island with the south side of the Kennebec River. Another landmark is the Beaux-Arts style Municipal Building and Opera House, designed by noted Portland architect John Calvin Stevens, and built in 1907-1909. On the north side of the municipal parking lot stands a 62-foot-tall sculpture depicting an Abenaki Indian, carved by Bernard Langlais. In 2003, Skowhegan was a major filming location for an HBO movie based on the 2001 book, Empire Falls.
At Newport, ME we joined I-95 for a fast run across the Pennobscot River at Bangor to an efficient docking at the KOA Oceanside Campground on Mount Desert Island.
8/21/12 - On our first morning on MDI we took the shuttle to Bar Harbor's village green where we debarked near the controversial fountain where a nude boy with a fish, standing on a pedestal thick with garlands, gargoyles, wolves and dolphins has been offending the more prudish members of the Bar Harbor community for more than 100 years. From the village green we wandered down to the esplanade above the harbor where we watched the Margaret Todd beginning to lower her sails at the end of a voyage. I found an arbor to frame the harbor. We then ambled along the net bordered boardwalk above the harbor to where we could watch the return of the Friendship II from a whale watching expedition. I asked some of the passengers on the whalewatch about their success in spotting whales and they reported great success. Then while I was getting a picture of some colorful furniture at a dockside restaurant, I turned in horror to see a whale in the process of putting the chomp on Linda.
By Afternoon we were ready for a loop tour of Acadia Park on the free park shuttle subsidized by L.L. Bean. Our driver explained how George Buckman Dorr spent must of his adult life bringing the park into being. Dorr was a private citizen whose life covered the last half of the 1800s and the first half of the 1900s. He came from privilege, the son of affluent Bostonians. He inherited fortunes from both his parents. He attended Harvard University and Oxford and traveled widely in Europe with his parents. He was a gentleman scholar and lover of nature who first visited Mount Desert Island in 1868 on a vacation with his parents and made the decision to make the island his primary home. The remains of the family residence, Old Farm, at Compass Harbor in Bar Harbor, are part of Acadia National Park today. He never married; instead he focused his time, energy, and intellect on preserving the natural beauty of his beloved island. Over four decades he worked tirelessly to acquire tracts of land for protection. He persuaded and cajoled others to give land or funds with which to acquire them, and he gave several parcels of his own. Dorr worked closely with the Civilian Conservation Corps as they worked in the park and with John D. Rockefeller Jr. when he built the carriage road system. Dorr was ever vigilant that anything done in the park would be of the highest quality and not mar the incredible beauty and uniqueness of the area.
We leave some hikers at the North Ridge Trailhead to Cadillac Mountain, pass the Precipice Trailhead to Champlain Mountain, and then make a quick stop at Sieur-de-Monts Spring where Dorr built the Spring House over the spring in 1909 and carved “The Sweet Waters of Acadia” on a nearby rock. As we look out upon an old mansion on Great Head overlookng the sea near Egg Harbor, our driver explains that it was built in 1912 by a Princeton professor named Rudolf Brannow. The 43 room mansion named "High Seas" was intended a a wedding gift for Brunnow's fiance wh was then living in Europe. Tragically, his fiance booked her passage to America on the Titanic.Stories differ about her survivsl but High Seas was the only large estate to survive the terrible 1947 fire. Professor Brunnow laid out the now famous Precipice Trail near his house. He fell while mountain climbing and was not found until the following morning. He developed pneumonia and died at the house.
The next stop is Sand Beach where we watch climbers on The Beehive, a nearly vertical climb of 520 ft. using iron rungs that offers, in reward, a spectacular view of Sand Beach and Great Head. Moving on past Thunder Hole and Otter Cliffs, we leave the bus at Jordan Pond House in the hope of having lunch accompanied by their famous popovers, but settling for a sandwich in the snack bar and a look at The Bubbles.
8/22/12 - Back on the bus for me while Linda took the morning off after agreeing to meet me for lunch in Bar Harbor. My intentions were to catch the ParK Loop bus for a climb of ihe Beehive, but at the Sand Beach stop I decided to stay horizonal to walk along the Ocean Path passing Thunder Hole and winding up at the Otter Cliffs. I first walked in the direction of Great Head in order to find some quiet water that reflected the Beehive nicely. Then I waited until a Japanese family had finished their picture taking so thjat I could record the crumbled castle that they had constructed for the waves to take away. At the south end of Sand Beach it quickly transitions into huge black boulders and then rounded cliffs of pink granite. Leaving the beach when the going got rough, I walked south toward Thunder Hole and took a picture of the soft Sand Beach being commanded into reduced significance by the slashing diagonals of the foreground rocks.
As I walk along the Ocean Path I spot a free standing boulder that will soon be an island as the sea roils around it. The CCC created many walkways from the Ocean Path and many people use them to access their own best seat in the house. Small flowers struggle to gain their own perspective,
Thunder Hole is a small inlet, naturally carved out of the rocks, which the waves roll into. At the end of this inlet, down low, is a small cavern where, when the rush of the wave arrives, air and water is forced out like a clap of distant thunder. The sea is so peaceful this morning that I have no hope of hearing or seeing anything of consequence but on earlier visits I have seen the water spouting as high as 40 feet with a thunderous roar. South of Thunder Hole I find a pretty tidal pool and investigate it for interesting fauna. Next comes the rugged Monument Cove that soon gives way to the Otter Cliffs. One of the most noticeable features in most photos of Otter Cliff, along with the headland itself, are the thousands of rounded boulders in the foreground that are in the small cove immediately to the north. Over countless centuries, the rocks have been pounded by the sea and eroded by both water and against each other after being deposited by huge glaciers that once moved across the land here on the island. When the light is low on the horizon, the warm sunlit sides on the left contrast with the cool shadow sides on the right and these rounded shapes contrast further with the rugged and weathered vertical granite cliffs set ablaze by the sun.
I then withdrew from this dreamlike setting to ride the shuttle to Bar Harbor where Linda and I had lunch on a second story balcony across from the Art and Soul framing shop. We returned in time to meet an old friend for reminiscing at our campsite.
Circumnavigatng Talbot County
When I first moved to the Eastern Shore I was intent on tracing its borders by kayak and bicycle. Talbot County is a peninsula on the Delmarva Peninsula. Its land boundary, marked by the Queen Anne Highway (Rte 404), is less than 3.5 miles between the headwaters of the Wye East River at Wye Mills and the middle of Tuckahoe Creek at Queen Anne. In contrast, its water boundary is a Mandelbrot lacing of 600 miles in length. The county was originally carved from Kent County in 1662 as the land lying between the Chester and Choptank Rivers. Later, Queen Anne (1706) and Caroline County (1773) were taken entirely or partially from Talbot’s holdings leaving the current borders plus or minus the erosive actions of the Chesapeake waters.
The Talbot peninsula rose out of the primeval waters about 20,000 to 25,000 years ago while what were to be its first human inhabitants were making their way across the land bridge between Asia and the America’s. In lifting itself, Talbot County drains away its excess water from the relatively higher ground of the northeast into the Miles, Tred Avon, and Choptank Rivers of the west and south. The fittest survivors of the larger animals that migrated into and out of Talbot would most likely have chosen the highest and driest paths available to them for their travels. These slightly raised paths from the numerous western and southern necks of Talbot converge into the main eastern path at a ford across Tuckahoe Creek just north of what would later be called Hillsboro. Here, where the game hunting was easy, the descendants of the Beringean adventurers from Asia built a village called (by later European arrivals) “Old Town”. To navigate the Talbot waters, they made canoes of giant tree trunks, burning and scraping them into vessels 10 to 30 feet long.
This golden age for canoeists and kayakers lasted until April of 1607 when Captain John Smith shifted the developmental paradigm by penning an advertising blurb announcing to real estate agents and the rest of the European world that here was:
A faire Bay compassed but for the mouth with fruitful and delightsome land. Within is a country that may have the prerogative over the most pleasant places of Europe, Asia, Africa, or America, for large and pleasant navigable rivers. Heaven and earth never agreed better to frame a place for man’s habitation.
By June 1631 Cecil Calvert, the Second Lord Baltimore was setting about finding ‘decent’ people with which he might populate this delightsome land of Maryland. Avoiding the experience of the earlier Virginians in Jamestown who had been forced to use canoes because they lacked other watercraft, the Marylanders had been instructed in the exact equipment each was to bring from England. Each colonist was to bring necessaries for a:
Boate of 3 or 4 Tune; as Spikes, Kayles, Pitch, Tarre, Ocome, Canvis or a Sayle, ropes, anchor, iron for each other.
Thus was established the unfortunate tendency to crowd the waters surrounding Talbot County with larger and noisier craft. According to Lord Baltimore’s “Conditions of Plantation,” the amount of land granted to a freeman was to vary in proportion to the number of persons he brought with him. “First settlers” who brought other people were entitled to a grant of 2,000 acres. If an immigrant brought fewer than five people, he received 100 acres for each person over sixteen years of age, including his wife and himself, with 50 additional acres for every person under that age.
The fencing of the Talbot peninsula began; by October 13, 1658 when a 100 acre tract called Salter’s Marsh was granted to John Salter. On November 5, 1658, Linton a tract of 600 acres was granted to Edward Lloyd. From this point, several names with a true Talbot ring begin to appear: Martingham, a tract of 200 acres, was surveyed on July 28, for William Hambleton; Hier-Deir-Lloyd, 3,050 acres was surveyed on August 11, 1659, again for Edward Lloyd; Plimhimmon, 600 acres, was surveyed on August 15, 1659, for Henry Morgan; Otwell, 500 acres, was surveyed on August 25, 1659 for William Taylor; Ratcliffe Manor, 800 acres, was surveyed on August 25, 1659, for Captain Robert Morris; and two separate 1,000 acre Tilghman tracts were surveyed—Canterbury Manor on August 23,1659, for Richard Tilghman and Tilghman’s Fortune on August 24, 1959 for Samuel Tilghman.
By 1662 and the founding of Talbot County, the Choptank region was well populated with European advocates of the land ownership concept. By 1675, all of the desirable land fronting on the Choptank had been surveyed and granted and later arrivals were well established on Tuckahoe Creek. While most commerce between these landowners and with the European motherland used the abundant waters of Talbot County, rudimentary roads were being constructed along the old paths formerly used by the county’s large game animals and the Indians who pursued them. The main south-north road led generally from Bollingbrook Neck through Barber,Trappe, Hole-in-the-Wall (now Hambleton), Ivytown, between the drainages of King’s Creek and Glebe Creek, and out what is now called Cordova Road and across the Tuckahoe at what was then called Tuckahoe Bridge about 300 yards north of the current Queen Anne-Hillsboro Bridge.
I came late to kayaking when I moved in the fall of 1998 to a house within easy access distance of the Delaware River in New Jersey. The Delaware/Raritan Canal and the river itself were forgiving waters in which a fifty something could learn the thrill of solitary kayaking. My support person would drive me up the river to whatever access that I had chosen from a helpful book written by Gary Letcher called “Canoeing the Delaware”, and I would follow his instructions to have many days of safe and satisfying kayak adventures.
I moved to Easton, MD in the summer of 2000 partly because over a decade of visiting the Eastern Shore, I never had enough time to see it properly through the eyes of a peddler and a paddler. After my first paddle up King’s Creek near my home, I was struck by the possibility of circumnavigating the county by kayak and bicycle.
I launched below the spillway near the Wye Grist Mill to pick my way down a ribbon of shallow water that is difficult at high tide and an endurance contest at lower than high tide. Within one hundred yards of the access point I was forced into disconnecting my paddle so that I could use the two parts as crutches for pushing through the sand and mud ridges. The first deadfalls were relatively small trees that I could saw and clear a path wide enough for my kayak to squeeze through. After what seemed to be a very slow half-mile taking about forty minutes of time, I came upon a deadfall of such dimensions that I could not saw through it. I was finally able to cut off some of the branches so that I could clamber through an accumulation of soda bottles and other slimy waste to get myself over the tree and drag the kayak behind me. Still, barely recovered from this task, I came upon another damming obstruction that I could not hope to cut my way through. A short portage appeared to be possible so I struggled for about 15 minutes to get myself around the obstruction and over some spongy hummocks of wetlands grasses to get back into the waterway. I don’t want to take away all of the romance of navigating this obstacle course but it was quite a lot of exhausting work for its yield of a tree filled with hulking Turkey Vultures, a lone egret, two Great Blue Herons, and a flock of canvasbacks. About 1/3rd of the 5.5 miles to Wye Landing stays narrow, crooked and without visible houses to give solace to a tired paddler. There is a tributary on the right, named Madam Alices Branch, about a mile and a half below Wye Mills, that is worth a bit of exploration. About 4 miles down the Wye East River from Wye Mills you will pass the dock of the River House Conference Facility of the Aspen Institute. From here the river stays wide and sparkling as it goes past substantial homes on the Talbot side to an easy sandy beach takeout at Wye Landing. Total time is a long, hard, and dirty two hours.
A large island (Wye I.) splits the lower Wye River. The island is unusual in that 2,450 of its 2,800 acres are state-owned and remain undeveloped. This is no accident. Just a few years back, Wye Island was destined to become one big, planned, residential and resort development. The state intervened in the mid-70’s and purchased the island. Wye Island is now administered as a natural resources management area. You can get out to it by bridge and then walk, cycle, or drive its network of country lanes past cultivated fields, old farm structures, and woodlots. One of these woodlots, on the western half of the island, is a long narrow stand of virgin oak forest, also worth a walk. You may also enjoy a leisurely paddle around the island, starting and ending at Wye Landing. The total distance around the island is about 15 miles.
By fall, I had paddled all of the boundary between Talbot and Caroline County along Tuckahoe Creek and the Choptank River and had revisited many areas to improve the quality of my notes and maps. The old Indian village of “Old Town” which later became Tuckahoe Bridge, then Hillsborough, and finally Hillsboro serves as an excellent beginning for the circumnavigation of Talbot County. Surveyors know the precise coordinate in the water for marking the entrance into Talbot’s boundary waters, but the townspeople know only that it is just on the other side of the old railroad bridge trestle.
Tuckahoe Creek forms the sinuous line between Caroline and Queen Anne Counties above the ‘twin-cities’of Hillsboro and Queen Anne. Park your car at the Tuckahoe State Park boat launch and go into the water below the spillway at the lake. The creek is tiny, tangled by fallen trees, and swampy for the 5 miles to where it passes under the bridge constructed in 1869 for the Maryland and Delaware Railroad. About 1 mile later you will pass under the Rte. 404 bridge marking the northern boundary of the town of Queen Anne on the Western Bank. After another .1 mile you will pass through the trestles of the Queen Anne Railroad Bridge and pass out of the portion of the town of Queen Anne that is located in Queen Anne County and into the portion of the town that is located in Talbot County. After another tenth of a mile you pass under the Main Street Bridge connecting Queen Anne and Hillsboro on the Caroline County side of the creek. Immediately after passing under the bridge you can leave the creek at the Hillsboro Public Boat Launch on the east bank.
Launching at the Hillsboro access, this section meanders placidly past large tracts of marsh and acres of lily pads into high wooded banks relateively untouched by developers. The width of the stream oscillates from very wide to narrow. After 2.6 miles it is possible to leave the water and recover your kayak from Stoney Brook Road on the Caroline County side. After another 3.3 miles you may pass around either side of a mid creek island and arrive at the public boat launch at Coveys Landing.
Entering the creek at Coveys Landing travel southeast around a large bend to the left and enter a large lake like widening of the banks. After about a mile on this widened surface, possibly bucking some headwinds, the river re-narrows for the remainder of the total of 5.1 miles to the public boat launch just north of the bridge carrying Rte 328 across the creek and into the portion of Tuckahoe Neck lying between the Tuckahoe and the Choptank at Denton.
From the Tuckahoe Landing just north of the 328 bridge it is 2.1 miles to the junction of the Tuckahoe with the Choptank. Those without the strength to row the full remaining 3.9 miles to Kingston Landing may wish to stop at the Ganeys Wharf Road access on the Caroline County side (.9 mile) for a rest before continuing. After Ganeys Wharf you will pass the community of High Banks on the Talbot County side but do not be tempted to make use of the community’s boat launch. Continue another 2 miles down the river past some handsome new houses and docks on the Caroline County bank to the first point where there is a break in the marshes on the Talbot County bank. You will see a large white house serving as the only mark of the publicly accessible (so far) Kingston Landing
While this document is concerned with the circumnavigation of Talbot County; Kings Creek whose entrance is located about .3 mile down the Choptank from Kingston Landing, is a tempting side trip. This is a most beautiful watery byway on which the paddler will see few structures from the water, and only a few farm fields indicate the intense cultivation beyond its high wooded banks. Expansive marshes at the mouth of the creek shrink into a green meandering tunnel as you progress upstream. The Nature Conservancy has bought some of the marsh and constructed a boardwalk along through it. This sanctuary can be approached by a small landing about a half mile from the Choptank. From this landing you should be able to go another 4 or five miles up Kings Creek (bring a saw) to where the deadfall makes further progress impossible. From Kings Landing it is 2.5 miles to the Dover Bridge carrying Rte. 331 to Bethlehem, Preston and beyond. From the bridge it is 1.7 miles to the Hog Island Road access from the Caroline County side. Hog Island marks the location of the original Dover Bridge and the ghost town of Dover on the Talbot County side. From Hog Island it is another 4.4 miles to the entrance of Miles Creek and then another 1.5 miles to the public landing at Windy Hill.
2012 Waterfowl Festival
2012 Hilton Head Thanksgiving