All posts by jj1951

My husband and I retired in 2007 and decided to spend the kid's inheritance by travelling as much as we could until either the money or our health runs out. So far so good.

2014 Jul 28 – Day 39 – Miramichi, NB to Moncton, NB

Today we woke to damp driveways, puddles and overcast skies.  But…it didn’t rain until we were almost at our destination, so not too bad.

Before we left Miramichi we wanted to go to the National Historic Site at Beaubears Island.  This island and the nearby mainland bay were the refuge of 2000 Acadians deported from Quebec.  They were promised support from the British but it did not arrive and the food and supplies that were sent by the French Admiral who suggested the area would be a safe haven were stolen and sold for profit by unscrupulous French captains.  Consequently many of the people, including all of the children died the first winter.

IMG_4259 IMG_4260But eventually, with the help of the local Mic-Mac, they learned to fend for themselves and the area became a thriving shipbuilding center.  I expected another of Parks Canada’s fabulous Interpretative centers with placards beside archaeological digs or artifacts on the island.  What we found was a small, but interesting center and a 1 1/2 km long pine forest island with a trail down the middle of it – accompanied by hordes of hungry mosquitoes.   So….this blog is not full of boring prose; instead it is mainly a photo-journey through the pine forest.


IMG_4262 IMG_4265

1 IMG_4282

3  Thanks JohnIMG_4286 IMG_4291 (2) IMG_4292 (2) IMG_4276IMG_4294 (2) IMG_4298 (2) IMG_4306 (2) IMG_4311 (2) IMG_4322 IMG_4324 IMG_4334 IMG_4340 IMG_4342 IMG_4345 IMG_4350 IMG_4315 (2)After we went back to the mainland we hit the road for Moncton via the small coast roads as is our preferred route.  John spotted a lovely crane beside a river (New Brunswick is teeming with rivers! We are constantly going over bridges) so we pulled over for a photo shoot.

IMG_4387Our only other stop today was at the Bouctouche Dune.  This is one of the few remaining sand dunes on the North American east coast.  It is 12 miles long and a narrow stretch of land with hundreds of lobster traps between it and the mainland. The dune changes shape every time there is a storm and it is a protected area.  Unfortunately, that is when the rain began and we were not able to walk the boardwalk very far.


IMG_4393 IMG_4397 IMG_4395

2014 Jul 27 – Day 38 – Bathurst, NB to Miramichi, NB

As predicted I did not take any photos of the old cars at the Show and Shine in Bathurst.  Shocker!

Today we left Bathurst after two days of down time and itinerary planning.  We have worked out a circuit to see the Maritimes: Eastern New Brunswick, to PEI, to Nova Scotia going counter-clockwise to end up in Sydney to take the ferry to Newfoundland, returning to the mainland and doing the north east of Nova Scotia, back up to New Brunswick for the south coast and the west.  Kind of makes a loop.  Most of the things we plan to see in NB are along the south and west, which we won’t see until quite a bit later.  But we did want to drive the Acadian Peninsula on the east coast and cross the bridges to the two Acadian Islands of Lemèque and Miscou to Land’s end.

IMG_4133On the tip of the Acadian Peninsula is the town of Caraquet where there is a New Brunswick Provincial Park – The Acadian Heritage Park.  It contains about 40 authentic 1820-1905 houses from the area around Caraquet that were moved to the site to preserve the buildings of the French (Acadians) who settled here after being expelled by the British from Quebec in 1755 because they would not swear an unconditional oath of allegiance to the British king.  They were willing to swear a conditional oath; the condition being that they would not be made to fight against their former French comrades and Mic-Mac allies.   This was unacceptable to the king.

We spent almost 3 hours at the park.  They have people in period costume doing 19th century work and crafts in each building.  They explain who the house belonged to, info about the family – number of children, occupation, when it was built and any special features.  They also do the work of the owner of the house, or in the case of the women the evening or winter crafts.

IMG_4146 IMG_4151 IMG_4152  IMG_4162 IMG_4166

IMG_4170  Carding and coloring woolIMG_4179

Making a hook rugIMG_4185

and spinning flax to make linen


The blacksmith


 Making broomsIMG_4200

Straw hats from barley stalks

IMG_4201 IMG_4203

The grist mill – grinding flour and putting it into sacks.IMG_4212 IMG_4216 IMG_4227 IMG_4228

You can even stay in this hotel

IMG_4231 IMG_4232  the tinsmithIMG_4233  the cobbler

IMG_4175  New friendsu

New Brunswick was the first bi-lingual province so almost everyone is fluent in English and French.  They converse with each other in French but switch to English as soon as they hear “Hello” instead of “Bonjour.”  They are fiercely proud of their heritage and the Acadian Flag (French flag with a yellow star in the upper left corner) is flown everywhere.  Many houses have the flag painted on lobster traps on the lawn, on mini-lighthouses, on their family name sign on the house, on light posts and mailboxes.


IMG_4143 IMG_4147


IMG_4234  More wildlifeIMG_4235We didn’t make any more tourist stops – except a quick couple of photos of the fishing boats at Shippagan and the  lighthouse at Land’s End (the easternmost part of NB) before a drive down the south coast of the peninsula to Miramichi for the night.

IMG_4243 IMG_4250

2014 July 24 & 25 – Days 35 & 36 (and probably 37) – Bonaventure, QC to Campbellton, NB to Bathurst, NB

Our last day in the Gaspè was Thursday, July 24.  We woke to sunny skies and a cool wind but it wasn’t too long before the top on Poppy went down.


A nice sunset in Bonaventure IMG_3966

We saw wildlife!

My CCA travel book listed the Notre-Dame Oratory of Mont-Saint-Joseph near Carleton as having outstanding views of Chaleur Bay and New Brunswick.  I had no idea what an Oratory was but have since learned it is a Roman Catholic place of prayer and meditation. For millennium people have gone to high places for prayer and Mont-Saint-Joseph is the highest place in the area.

The road was paved all the way up; narrow, winding and very steep, but the view at the top was phenomenal!  There is a small chapel that was built in the 1800’s and has been encased in a new, larger structure that houses art and history exhibits. But the real gem was the 133 meters (400′) of boardwalk around the edge of the 555 meter (1820′) high hill.  This gave us a 270 degree view of the farm land, the Chaleur Bay, the town and marina of Carelton, and the forests for miles and miles.  It was gorgeous.  Unfortunately my new laptop does not have my photo-stitch program on it so I am not able to stitch the pictures together to give you a real sense of the immensity of the view.  Well worth the drive up and the cautious drive down again. IMG_3995 IMG_4015 IMG_3992 IMG_3970

The four photos go from left to right (with some missing bits, obviously,  in between.

The only other stop we made was 5 km past the bridge between Quebec and New Brunswick that takes you into Campbellton.  There is a National Park at Restigouche.  (Thank goodness for the annual pass we purchased last year in anticipation of this journey.  We just get to walk right into any National Park or National Historic Site.)

History Lesson (feel free to skip to the end): In 1760 the British were blockaded in Quebec City after winning the battle on the Plains of Abraham in 1759.  The armies of the British inside the city and the French trying to retake it from the outside were both in desperate need of provisions – food, arms and men.  Both ‘mother’ nations had dispatched ships to assist their colony.  The commanders of both armies were aware that the ones who received the reinforcements first would win Quebec City.

The French sent 6 ships with 2000 barrels of supplies and 400 men from Bordeaux, France on April 10, 1760.  They had to run a British blockade just a day after leaving port and lost two ships and another went down east of the Azores.  The remaining three ships made it to the Gulf of St. Lawrence in nine weeks only to learn that the British ships had sailed down 10 days earlier and were lying in wait for them to arrive.

In hopes that he could hide and out-wait the British the Captain of the French Fleet had them sail into Chaleur Bay thinking the deeper hulled British vessels would be unable to navigate the bay’s shallow waters.  Long story short, they were wrong and the French ended up scuttling all three of their ships – plus 9 Acadian frigates that had come to assist them – in an attempt to blockade the British out of the bay and/or prevent the cargo from falling into enemy hands.  Thus ended the hope of reinforcements for the French army at Quebec City and they surrendered when they saw the British ships sail in to the harbour; as did  Montreal a month later without firing a shot. The Battle of Restigouche sealed the fate of New France.                                End of History Lesson.

In 1939 parts of one of the ships, Le Machault, were raised and divers recovered all kinds of artifacts.  The museum at Restigouche displayed it all and told the tale.

I couldn’t get good photos of them, but they had on display the stem and the rudder of Le Machault; both over 9 meters (30′) tall.  It was really amazing to see parts of a ship that was built of trees harvested in the mid-18th century!  They also had one of the anchors on display.


IMG_4089  Model of  Le Machault


The top of the bow stem that cuts through the water.

IMG_4092 IMG_4094 IMG_4110  IMG_4098This leather pouch with the cannon ball kept inside was used for secret messages or documents.  In the event the ship fell into enemy hands, the captain just threw the satchel overboard and the cannonball would ensure it sank.

We spent over 2 hours there.  It was great.  Canada Parks does a really good job with the displays and video re-enactments of our nation’s history.  All the places we have been are displayed differently, well documented, easy to follow and understand, and give a real feel for the particular event featured.

We spent last night in Campbellton, New Brunswick – Province number 6.  After we checked in to our hotel John wanted to see if he could find the cemetery and graves of his maternal grandparents and aunt.  All he knew was the cemetery overlooked the sound (bay) and the family grave was near the top of a hill.  There has been a settlement in this area for 400 years.  I was pretty sure there would be a lot of cemeteries to check as he did not know the name of the one he wanted.

We were following the directions of Stella, our GPS, to our hotel and drove up this narrow back lane past a cemetery.  John says, “I think that is it.”  Our hotel was three blocks away so after we put the luggage in our room we went back and took a look see.  Thankfully the cemetery was not really large.  We started checking the graves on the hill – no Foulkes marker.  We made our way to the far side – no Foulkes marker.   Finally we looked on the flat area near the entrance. Behold – Foulkes; Thomas Williams, Marguerite Kennedy and their daughter Marion K.  What are the odds???  I mean really!


This morning we drove the coast road to Bathurst which is only a couple of hours away.  And we didn’t stop to see anything.  Well – John stopped once to take a couple of photos of some small boats he saw near a bridge.  I didn’t take any scenic or historical photos at all. We are spending two nights in Bathurst.  Not because there is anything to see or do here (although we found out that there is a car show and shine on Main Street tomorrow), but I wanted a day to do some travel planning.  Unless I feel the need to upload photos of nice cars this blog will cover the 26th as well.  Keep your fingers crossed.

2014 Jul 24 – A Special Edition blog

We have been in the Province of Quebec for a week and I have noticed a few things.  One – like the folks on Hecla Island in Lake Winnipeg, the Quebec folks like to mow large areas of lawn.  Most houses in the countryside and along the Gaspè coast have 1/2 – 2 acres of lawn. Seriously; where would you find the time?

IMG_4075 IMG_4073 IMG_4068 IMG_4060 IMG_4047 IMG_3968Second – it is a Quebec pastime to sit on the front porch or veranda and watch the cars go by.  We noticed this especially on Sunday afternoon.  Almost every house we passed had one or two people sitting on the porch.  We have since taken notice of the number of houses that have one or, more often, two chairs on the deck, porch or on the ground in front of the house.  We see this every day – people sitting watching the cars go by.  I wonder if you are considered un-neighbourly if you don’t sit on your porch? What is so interesting about the cars driving past the front of your house?

IMG_4079 IMG_4062 IMG_4053 IMG_4048Three.  People in Quebec villages LOVE colors.

IMG_3619 IMG_3631 IMG_3643 IMG_3646 IMG_3696 IMG_3808

IMG_3969We have seen bright green houses, bright blue houses, even purple houses but there seem to be an inordinate number of yellow houses.

IMG_3368 (2) IMG_3806 (2) IMG_3809 (2) IMG_3849 (2) IMG_3851 (2) IMG_3853 (2)IMG_4067IMG_3925 (2) IMG_3932 (2) IMG_3933 (2) IMG_3934 (2) IMG_3941 (2) IMG_3951 (2) Since yellow is my favorite color and my house is yellow…… well, you get the idea.

Just thought I would share.

2014 July 22 & 23 – Days 33 & 34 – Ste-Anne-Des-Monts, QC to Bonaventure, QC

The last two days were scenic days.  The route from Ste-Anne-Des-Monts on the north shore of the Gaspè Peninsula around the end to the town of  Gaspè and down the south shore to Bonaventure is a lovely piece of coastline.  There are lots of steep hills; 15%, 17%, 7% grades with rock bluffs periodically on both the forest side and the coast side.  The highlight, of course, is the famous rock at Percè and we were very fortunate to have a sunny day to see it.


The St. Lawrence River – no opposite shore in sight.

IMG_3716 IMG_3717We drove the last leg of the north coast and around the point of the peninsula – through Forillon National Park – and to the town of Gaspè.IMG_3718 IMG_3731 IMG_3736 IMG_3671There are lots of lighthouses around this coastline.

You can’t drive around Forillon National Park.  It is located on a spit of land at the very tip of the Gaspè Peninsula and the drive along the north coast is about 3 km to Cap-Bon-Ami.  IMG_3742

Cap-Bon-AmiIMG_3746 IMG_3747Then you drive the 3 km out again, cross 7 km to the south coast and go 6.6 km down to Grande-Grave before retracing your route once more and continuing on.  IMG_3752 IMG_3769 IMG_3770

Grande-Grave 1871IMG_3779There are many, many camping spots, picnic sites, and hiking trails throughout the park but only the two roads and it is a very popular vacation spot.

Gaspè was the landfall for Jacques Cartier in 1534 – the ‘official’ discoverer of Canada.  He erected a cross near the shore and ‘claimed’ the new land for France.  What was very interesting to me was that he and his crew made the acquaintance of the local Iroquois.  They gave them beads, combs and other trinkets, which the natives thought wonderful things and showed them around their ship.  When  he sailed home to France Cartier had the two sons of the Iroquois chief with him. They were to help him with his navigation of the coastline and the river when he came back to Gaspè.  Can you just imagine what those young men must have been thinking?


I really liked Gaspè.  It was a town of about 15,000 and is built primarily up a hillside so there are pedestrian stairways between the streets.  It was a very pretty little town with a nice big boardwalk and park area along the river.

We woke this morning to beautiful sunshine which lasted almost all day.  We drove into heavy cloud and rain about 45 minutes out of Bonaventure but we had driven by all the nice scenic bits by then.IMG_3864 IMG_3872 IMG_3877 IMG_3878 IMG_3881

Perce Rock and VillageIMG_3885


Perce Rock National Park.IMG_3919 IMG_3922As I said in my last post this peninsula is just village after village after village.  The larger towns are: Rimouski, Matane, and Sainte-Anne-Des-Monts on the north coast, Gaspè at the end, and Chandler and Bonaventure on the south. Including those six there are 113 communities along the 885 km coastline.  There are only two towns in the interior and three roads that cross through the rugged mountain in the middle.

Tomorrow is our last day on the Gaspè.  We drive from Bonaventure to Campbellton, New Brunswick, the hometown of John’s mom so we will do a bit of exploring.  Then begins our intensive touring in the four Maritime Provinces.  We have yet to plan the route, but we will figure it out in the next couple of days.

2014 Jul 20 & 21 – Days 31 & 32 – Quebec City, QC to Ste-Anne-Des-Monts, QC

A lady at the copperware store – where I bought a copper plaque of the BC Coat of Arms – asked me what the taxes in BC were.  I told her 5% GST and 7% PST.  She said, “We have 9.5% PST.  Quebec is a poor province,” and she grinned.  She may be right in some respects.  A lot of their roads have been patched many times and could do with a complete do-over, but there are some VERY nice houses here; big estate properties.  There are also many small houses (even smaller than our 1100 sq ft. house).  But, what we rarely see is a rundown property or yard.  Almost every house is cared for with a nice yard – not necessarily lots of flower gardens, but neat and tidy.

IMG_3622 IMG_3631We left Quebec City at 11 am and drove to Rimouski, our first of five days on the Gaspè Peninsula.  The sky was overcast all day so everything in the distance was grey.  But – the good news – there are actually some almost-mountains here, rocky ones and everything.  I felt so much better.

IMG_3449IMG_3446And….we crossed the Salmon River.  Must have been a good day!IMG_3435Our hotel at Rimouski was across the street from a very nice pedestrian boardwalk.  After dinner we took a walk and some photos. An hour after these photos the tide had come in and everything was underwater.  It is a very strange notion to have a tidal river, but the St. Lawrence has tides that vary 13-15 feet due to fresh water going out and meeting ocean water tides coming in.

IMG_3454 IMG_3450Monday, July 21 we were up early – 7 am, if you can believe it – and were on the road by 9.  We had several things we wanted to see between Rimouski and Ste-Anne-Des-Monts and a couple of them could each use up a few hours.

We didn’t have to drive very far from Rimouski to Pointe-au-Perè Lighthouse.

IMG_3465 IMG_3477There were two other things of interest there besides the lighthouse; one was a museum and video about the CPR Steamship passenger liner Empress of Ireland that sunk 10 miles further up the St. Lawrence River from Rimouski on May 29, 1914.

Rimouski was the pilot stop for all ships going in and out of the St. Lawrence to Montreal.  The Empress of Ireland had just dropped off the pilot at Rimouski and was heading out to the Atlantic for Liverpool when a sudden fog came in.  The Captain saw another ship coming their way and, due to bad decisions on the part of both ships the coal ship Stordohl, coming toward Rimouski to get their pilot, rammed the Empress dead center on her side.  She sunk in 14 minutes, killing 1012 passengers and crew.  465 were saved by the Stordohl crew.  2014 is the 100 anniversary of the disaster.IMG_3534The second interesting thing at Pointe-au-Pere is the Onondaga, a Canadian submarine that served from 1967 to 2000 before being decommissioned.  We were able to walk through the thing from stern to bow with audio-guides describing all the things along the way.  Too, too cool!  70 men would live in the tiny tube for 2-3 months at a time.  Talk about crowded conditions.IMG_3485 IMG_3498 IMG_3508 The helm We made a brief stop at Sainte-Flavie to see the cement sculptures of artist Marcel Gagnon.  There are over 80 of these life-sized figures ‘rising out of the sea’ – as the St. Lawrence River is called in these parts because it is so wide here you cannot see the other shore.  As a matter of fact the ferry that sails from Matane (1/2 way between Rimouski and Ste-Anne-des-Monts)and Baie Comeau in Eastern Quebec takes 2 1/2 hours to cross the river.


IMG_3554Another 20 or so kilometers up Highway 132 is the village of Grand-Métis (this Gaspé coast is just a village, and a village, and another village).  Located here is the Reford Gardens, considered to be among the nicest gardens in North America.  It was very nice but, since I have been prejudiced by the Butchart Gardens in Victoria, it didn’t blow me away.  The garden was showcasing designs in an International Festival of Gardens.  Again, having been seriously prejudiced by the garden designs at the Chelsea Flower Show in England, most of these were very poor imitations of ‘garden’ designs.  Some of them were kind of neat though.

IMG_3568 IMG_3576 IMG_3578 IMG_3580 IMG_3581 IMG_3585 IMG_3588 IMG_3601 IMG_3605 IMG_3606 IMG_3609Our final, short stop was at Cap-Chat 12 miles west of Ste-Anne-des-Monts. We drove about 500 meters off the highway to see the Aeolian Windmill.  It is the tallest and most powerful vertical-axis windmill in the world – 110 m (360′) and created 4 megawatts of electricity. IMG_3652 It is now retired but you can climb to the top – 22 stories by ladder.  Takes an hour.  Unfortunately we didn’t feel we could take the time.  The view would have been incredible on such a nice sunny day.

I leave you with some of the wonderfully colored cabins/homes we have seen on our drive.

IMG_3657 IMG_3658 IMG_3634

Bon nuit.

2014 Jul 18 & 19 – Days 29 & 30 – Quebec City, QC

We spent the last two days in Quebec City.  This is the only ‘big city’ we intend to visit on our trip; and that is only because one just must see Old Town Quebec.  This city is the birthplace of our nation.  There has been a settlement here for over 400 years and the old town is preserved within the fortified walls of the 18th century.

We, being us and lazy, did not attempt to catch the 8:15 am shuttle from our hotel and we only missed the 9:45 shuttle by 5 minutes – and that only because it came early.  Truly.  But all is well, we caught the 10:05 city bus instead and it took us to the top of the Old Town rather than the bottom where the hotel shuttle stops. This worked out well because we were able to go to the Quebec parliament buildings without climbing the hill from Old Town.  We next went to the Plains of Abraham – National Battlefields Park; the first National Park in Canada, and the site of the 1759 battle that lasted 30 minutes between  the British and the French.  This battle was the beginning of the end for the French colonization of Canada.  Montreal surrendered a month later and Britain gradually took over all of the French settlements. IMG_3146 IMG_3155 IMG_3182 IMG_3180



The drill hall at Battlefields National Park.



After an extensive tour of the Plains we walked over to the Citadel which was built by the British between 1820-1852 to fortify Quebec against annexation by the US.  The Citadel is still a working military base and the home of the Royal 22nd Regiment.  Since we had spent longer than we planned on the Plains we did not take the hour long tour inside the Citadel but did walk the top of the exterior wall. The buildings of the citadel are hidden below the hilltop and beyond a huge stonework dry moat.

IMG_3191Then we walked down the steep steps to the Dufferin Terrace boardwalk along the cliff bank in front of the Chateau Frontenac.  We had lunch in the cafe and wandered Old Town until time to head back to the Chateau for the 6 pm shuttle to the hotel. IMG_3206 IMG_3193 IMG_3212

The Dufferin Terrace and the Chateau Frontenac



IMG_3226 IMG_3228 IMG_3248  cIMG_3257

IMG_3265 IMG_3277 Our second day we had a lazy morning (are you noticing a theme here?) and took a Countryside Bus Tour in the afternoon.  We went to the Montmorency Waterfall which is about 30 meters higher than Niagara.  We rode the gondola to the top of the falls and walked to the middle of the bridge for a good look straight down the front of the falls.  That is a LOT of water!

IMG_3298 IMG_3301 IMG_3303

487 steps to the topIMG_3322


The spill way at the top

IMG_3330We drove over the bridge to the Island of Orleans which was the first settlement by the French in Canada in the early 17th century.  32 families came over and received land on the island to farm.  Since everyone needed to access their land by boat (no roads back in the day of course) the French divided the island in half down the center and all the plots went from the middle to the river on both sides.  It is 22 miles long and 5 miles wide.  Over the centuries many of the farmers subdivided some of their land and sold it to summer visitors but there is now a total moratorium on subdivision and building on the island.

IMG_3310IMG_3355 IMG_3360We went to one of the oldest houses in Quebec, a farm house built in 1641 that is still lived in and is a bakery.  A favorite treat here is maple butter made from maple sugar and spread on bread and cinnamon rolls, etc.  Very tasty stuff, but very sweet.

IMG_3379We also went to St Anne’s Basicila on the Beauprè shore.  This church is a major pilgrimage for the Roman Catholic faith and over a million people visit it annually.  For most of this month they have special services and over 125,000 people come.  We had gone to the workshop and store of a family that works with copper the old European way – they are the only ones in North America to do it still.  The father of the people that now do the work designed and made the doors for the church and did all the silver and gold work in the Bascilica. Each door weighs 700 lbs. They were gorgeous.

IMG_3387 IMG_3400 IMG_3404 IMG_3401All in all we had two busy, diverse and wonderful days in Quebec City. Tomorrow we head for the Gaspè Peninsula.  It is 883 kilometer around the outside. We plan to take 5 days to do it; so it will be a leisurely drive.  The scenery is supposed to be fabulous but it is also supposed to rain, so we will see what we will see.

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.

IMG_3045 IMG_3047

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.

IMG_3120 IMG_3136


2014 Jul 16 – Day 27 – Ottawa, ON to Berthierville, QC

Another new province today, La Belle Provence; Quebec.  Our drive from Ottawa on Highway 148 took us parallel to the Ottawa River as far as a small town called Clarence.  At Clarence we drove right on to a little ferry – it held about 6 cars – and were taken across the river in 10 minutes ($9.00 for the car and passengers) to Thurso, QC.

Our destination was Berthierville, a small town west of Trois-Rivieres.  We totally avoided Montreal and its vast number of suburbs and drove through some flourishing farm land planted in many different types of vegetables; corn, cabbages, carrots, etc.


IMG_2981 IMG_3036Today was a French-Canadian history day.  Both stops we made were to homes of prominent French-Canadian political figures.  First was located at the town of Montebello: Manoir Papineau built in 1850 by Louis-Joseph Papineau.  Papineau was a Patriot (loyal to France) politician and man of culture in the 19th century.  The large manor house was built alongside the Ottawa River; “the most beautiful river in the world” according to Louis-Joseph.  At the time he owned 600 sq km of land with over 3000 residents making a living on the land and paying him rent.  He was charged with treason and had to flee but returned after the British granted pardons to all the Patriots 7 years later.

IMG_2986 IMG_2992 IMG_2990As we wandered the grounds checking out the various outbuildings we discovered The Chateau Montebello: a Fairmont hotel.  The Chateau was built by a consortium of prominent business men after the fourth generation Papineau sold the land.  It was a VERY exclusive private club.  The Chateau was built of 3000 BC logs in 3 months by 3000 workers.  The Fairmont actually also owns the manor house and all of its land and original furnishings, but since it is such an important historical building Parks Canada administers the house and pays for all the restoration and upkeep.  Average cost for a room at the Chateau in the summer is $350 per night.  Many guests or visitors arrive by boat and there is a nice marina 5 minutes walk from the hotel buildings.

IMG_2997 IMG_3001 IMG_3003 IMG_3006Our second stop was much shorter.  We spent 25 minutes in Saint-Lin-Laurentide and visited the family home of Canada’s first French-Canadian Prime Minister Sir Wilfred Laurier.  His father was a surveyor and farmer so had a reasonable income and the house is a sturdy brick one with four rooms downstairs and two up.




Now that is a well used washboard.IMG_3016We arrived in Bethierville at 6 pm.  My biggest concern about being in French-speaking Canada was the menus.  Road and other signs are all in French but have international symbols on them so are easy to understand.  Hotel and tourism staff all need to speak both languages, but menus are local and I expected them to be in French.  However as soon as I told the fellow at the the restaurant we were “l’anglais” he reached for the English menus.  Our server as well spoke fluent English.  “Would that we could speak French as well.”  I did spend the time  while we waited for our food translating the dessert menu that also had trivia questions about the restaurant chain on the back.  Did quite well too.  But don’t ask me to speak it!  “Je ne comprendez francais.”


2014 July 14 & 15 – Days 25 & 26 – Nepean, ON to Ottawa, ON

We drove the short distance from Nepean to Ottawa and John located the house his Aunt and Uncle lived in when he stayed here for a month.  We also drove by the church where his dad married his aunt in 1968 and the hospital where his other aunt was a nurse.

IMG_2766 IMG_2763Confederation Avenue                                 The Rideau Canal

We had two full days in Ottawa so we picked the things we most wanted to see and did them first.  If there was more time we would do other things (there wasn’t).  First on the list was Rideau Hall, the home of Canada’s Governors General – the representative of Her Majesty the Queen.  We had a great tour, just the two of us and our guide Nicholas.  Since it is a working residence no photos were allowed inside.  The grounds are massive, with open park land, a children’s play area, a rose garden and a large grove of trees; mostly oaks and maples but a few other varieties as well.  All of these trees have been ceremonially planted by royals or heads of state when they make official visits to Canada – there are over 100 of them.  The Queen has planted 5 trees.  We found at least one tree that was planted by every member of the royal family, including the one planted by Prince William and Kate, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.  There are trees planted by five US Presidents.  We found three of them: JFK, Truman, and Nixon.  Many other nations were represented as well.

IMG_2774 IMG_2798 IMG_2785After Rideau Hall we drove out to the RCMP Musical Ride Stables only to find they were closed for two weeks holiday.  The exhibits inside were interesting though, but I was very disappointed not to see the horses.

IMG_2805 IMG_2808 IMG_2817

The Official Landau






Night view from our hotel



The second day in our nation’s capital we wanted to see two museums: The Museum of Nature that had an exhibit of the top 25 photographs from Canadian Wildlife Magazine’s photography contest and The War Museum that had two special art exhibits: one called “Witness” which was paintings done by war painters during WWI and “Transformation” which paralleled the works of Canadian artist A.Y. Jackson and German artist Otto Dix before WWI, during the war, the time between WWI and WWII, and during WWII.

At both museums we went directly to the special exhibits we wanted to see then toured the rest of the buildings.  We spent 2 1/2 hours at the Museum of Nature (and didn’t see it all)

IMG_2865 (2) IMG_2867 (2) IMG_2842

Marcasite – very fuzzy lookingIMG_2852 (2)




Calcite – Chrysanthemum Stone IMG_2871 (2) IMG_2870 (2)IMG_2879 (2) IMG_2884 (2) IMG_2889 (2) IMG_2891 (2)and 4 hours at the War Museum (and didn’t see all of it either.  It is a full day museum).

IMG_2896 (2) IMG_2901 (2) IMG_2918 (2)

IMG_2922 (2) IMG_2945 (2)By the time we left the War Museum when it closed a 6 pm we were very foot sore.  But….we had to see the Parliament Buildings and the Chateau Laurier before we left so we had our cab drop us off on The Hill and after taking our photos we walked the kilometer back to our hotel, stopping at The Fox and Feather Pub for dinner.

IMG_2954 (2)                            The Hill – Canada’s Parliament Buildings.

IMG_2953 (2) IMG_2965 (2) IMG_2968 (2) Fairmont Chateau Laurier


Two full, but interesting days.