What a whirlwind it is been!
2 nights in Montreal… the first evening a tour of the city, the port and the old old shipping mercantile area (circa 16-1700) dense with towering stone buildings resonant with memories of bustling importance. Then off to vibrant downtown Montreal for a delicious hot chocolate (French style and rich) as the night streets came to life.
Cydia, our native born host, collected us from the airport after our 24 long hours of travel, and has, with generous thoughtfulness, kept us fed and watered and answered our incessant questions with endless patience.
When you hear of French Canada you never quite imagine the absolute French spirit of Quebec Province. How lucky we were to be with a local who negotiated shopping and highways even helping us find the correct nuance to words both familiar and new. Nettie took to French like she was born to it, not always sure of the words, but absolutely at home with the inherent panache and intonation!
We set off early the next morning, our first real day on Canadian soil, for Quebec city, approx 270 kms east of Montreal. First we had to leave Montreal City which is actually an island in the St Lawrence River, an incredible artery that drains the vast interior of the Canadian Plains through the Great Lakes, Toronto, Montreal, Quebec City and finally out into the ocean beyond the Labrador shoreline. It was the doorway to the French exploration and settlement.
Rather than take the highway we followed the old wagon trail along the banks of the St Lawrence through little villages hundreds of years old, first established for wayfarers in much the same way of the Cobb and Co Inns in Australia. Trois Rivieres (Three Rivers) was the halfway point, a village built around the blacksmith forges so necessary to refit the wagons and drays as they pushed west on roads rough with ice and stone. Churches stood over the houses in every village, indicating the strong Catholic background, but also the uncertainty of survival on a river both treacherous and essential. Most of the way the far bank was lost in the distant haze, across a vast body of fast moving current. To the Australian eye, after these last dry years, it was resource of extraordinary abundance.
And so to Quebec City… what a treat.