Friday, June 13, 2008

We made it!

Thursday, June 12, we arrived in Saint John NB, my home base for the next three months. Here’s where we’ve been since last Sunday.

We left gorgeous Ste. Agathe with equally gorgeous Catherine, Mary and Mark’s daughter, and drove to Quebec City. Catherine is a law student at Laval University and was returning home to Quebec City and her summer job. The bonus for Dianne and I was having Catherine as our own private tour guide. We poked along the secondary route on the north shore of the St. Lawrence River for part of the way and then Catherine took us through old Quebec City. We stopped at a lovely little restaurant for supper. Then we pointed Bessie back to the north shore and spent the night in a nicely wooded campground at Beauport.

Last Sunday when I called my brother Jim’s home to speak to Mum (who was there for supper), Jim pointed out that the largest pilgrimage shrine in North America, Ste. Anne de Beaupre, is just 30 kms from Quebec City. So that’s where we headed on Tuesday morning. The basilica is magnificent – the mosaic art and statuary is a real testament to the creativity and artistic ability of the hundreds of artists who have plied their craft there. While we were touring around, we could hear singing in the main part of the basilica and returned there to find that mass was starting – in French. So we stayed. The liturgy followed a familiar pattern even if we didn’t understand the words.

From there we took the bridge to Ile d’Orleans. We drove around the perimeter of the island (64 kms) through lovely villages with old homes, farmland and vineyards. We also discovered that the oldest golf course used continuously in North America is located there.

We left Ile d’Orleans and hooked up Bossy (GPS in case you’ve forgotten) to help us navigate Quebec City and lead us to the south shore. Bossy spewed out her directions – and led us right back down to the old town! Yikes – in right in the midst of supper hour traffic. Big Bessie and narrow streets, not a great combination. We unplugged Bossy, reset her and tried again. Same result. So we did what one does when you need directions: we rolled down the window and asked people. The first person didn’t speak English, but the next one did – she got us on the right track and soon we were over the Pierre La Porte Bridge and on the way to Beaumont where Dianne’s ancestors landed on the shores of the St. Lawrence in 1672.

Beaumont is a beautiful village just a short drive from Quebec City. It still has some original old stone homes. It is a clean and tidy village with an air of peacefulness about it. We first stopped at the local restaurant (there is only one) to have supper. The proprietor, who also seemed to be the cook and server, didn’t speak English. She was very accommodating as we ordered in very broken French and even managed to produce both Yellow and White Pages in response to my badly delivered request , “Avez-vous un livre de telephone?”

The library is housed in one of those original stone buildings with two-foot thick walls and we headed there after supper to see if they had any information on Dianne’s people. They had a couple of local history books for sale that mentioned them so Dianne bought them and photocopied some other information – all in French. The next day we went to the local historical office and gathered some additional information from records from the old church.

Then it was on to New Brunswick. We camped that night just north of Fredericton on the Saint John River and headed to Kings Landing, an historical village, first thing in the morning. Kings Landing depicts life along the river over a couple of centuries and requires a lot of walking to cover it all. We ate lunch there and left feeling virtuous for having gotten some exercise after so many days in the car.We headed to Saint John after lunch and reached my sister Shirley’s around 3:30 pm. My Mum was there waiting for us and we had a lovely supper and visit.

Today, Friday the 13th, Dianne flew back to Edmonton ending the first leg of this adventure.
I’ll be reconnecting with old friends over the next couple of days, doing laundry, finding a site for Bessie, making arrangements for a small economical car, etc. And then I’ll be back to blogging. I have discovered much to my delight that one of my sister’s neighbours has an unsecured wireless connection that I can “borrow”.

So watch for upcoming blogs on speaking English in Quebec and eating “Dianne’s way”. (I even lost weight over the last two weeks though our exercising was sparse!)

1 comment:

john said...

Just missed you in Quebec City. We were there for the annual Fed. Can Mun meeting. We went to Montmorency, Ste.- Anne-de-Beaupre and Ile d'Orleans as well. Lots of opportunity to practice my French. I think Miss Carter would be surprised you much she apparently taught me! Spent time on the Champs de Bataille and after some wandering found the Anse au Foulon and the spot where Wolfe and the British Army achieved the heights. I assume you are experiencing the same good weather in Saint John. Regards to all your family and especially your mom.