2014 Jul 17 – Day 28 – Berthierville, QC to Quebec City, QC

I have come to a conclusion.  Something I have never really considered – but just assumed – I have discovered is not true.  Canada is not a land of mountains.  Canada is flat, except for BC.  In geography class we learned about the Algonquin Mountains and the Laurentian Mountains so I assumed they were like our mountains at home; not like the Rockies, of course, but at least like Mt. Ida or Mt. Bastion.  I now know that these so-called mountain ranges are just a line of hills and all the land around them is more-or-less flat.  I have been very surprised at the lack of hills we have encountered since leaving Calgary.  Sure we drive up and down a bit but more slight rises in the grade than a genuine hill; they have been few and far between.

We have not had any really long driving days since we got through all the nothingness in Western Ontario and we probably won’t be doing them for quite awhile.   We are now at the really interesting part of our nation’s history – the east.  Today we drove to Quebec City and we will spend the next three nights here.  As in Ottawa there is tons and tons to see and we are resigned to not seeing much of what is offered, but we will pick our most-wanted and see them first.

The drive from Berthierville to Quebec City takes about 3 hours if you just drive.  Of course, we don’t do that.  We didn’t even make it out of Berthierville until 11:30 am because John discovered that Berthierville was the birthplace of Formula I racing legend Gilles Villeneuve, father of Jacques Villeneuve.  Gilles was killed in a race accident in 1982.  John, being a die-hard FI fan needed to go to the museum.  I waited in the truck and read my book.   I did take a couple of pics of the outside for any who might be interested.

IMG_3037 IMG_3038We drove the quiet back roads to the National Historic Site,  The Forges of St. Maurice a few kilometers north of Trois-Rivieres.  This was the site of the first industry in Canada.  A Frenchman got a 100 year exploitation right for an iron works from the King of France and in 1730 the blast furnace at St. Maurice was lit after three years of construction.  The iron workers, charcoal makers, loggers and all their families lived at the forge and the company provided housing and bread and meat every day (cost of which was deducted from their pay).  At the height of the forge’s production 425 people lived in the company village.  The blast furnace was lit in April and kept running continuously until November making all manner of iron works with a pour every morning and another every evening.  During the French years the majority of the ironworks were cannon balls, hand grenades and other munitions to supply France’s constant wars with its neighbours.

IMG_3085 IMG_3064After the Conquest the British took over the forge and changed the products to those needed most by the many immigrants coming to the new land:  pots cauldrons, kettles, plow shares, stoves, etc.

IMG_3058 IMG_3057 IMG_3059 IMG_3060 IMG_3079 And pig iron that is used to make other types of steel.  They also cast railway wheels.

We were there for about three hours, looking through the exhibits at the Ironmaster’s House (which was also the storage area for supplies for the village), the blast furnace, and the location of the upper and lower forges.

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IMG_3087The blast furnace building was under what is now a hill but originally there was a large building with a chimney and huge stack.



There is a fast running creek that goes by and powered the water wheel.





Inside the blast furnace.


Notice the large red bellows on the right and the size of the ‘man’ on the left.  This is about 1/4 of the area of the blast furnace building.

We crossed the St. Lawrence River at Trois-Rivieres on the Laviolette Bridge, one of Canada’s longest bridges (11,450′) and the only bridge to cross the river between Quebec City and Montreal.  The St. Lawrence is a VERY wide river – with constant freighter traffic coming and going.  The side road we took paralleled the south shore of the St. Lawrence until we crossed it again to enter Quebec City at 6 pm.

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