How lucky we were that Cydia decided to buy a brand new Subaru Impreza just in time for our travels. We boarded our luxurious incredibly safe ride into Eastern Quebec with a mere 140 kms on the clock!
To journey to Quebec City is to travel along the St Laurence River, the gateway of European settlement into Canada and the USA, and even French settlement as far south as New Orleans. Within minutes of leaving Montreal we are in rural Quebec which, barely three weeks after the first buds of spring, is verdant green with the rush to complete a summer growing cycle of a mere 12 or so weeks. A great example is the maple tree that over winter generates a sugary powder beneath its bark waiting for the spring thaw. As the ice turns to water, the maple draws it up from the ground, dissolving the sugars to nourish and sustain the rapid growth of new leaves. This is the maple water that is tapped and boiled down into that delicious syrup we just can’t get enough of!
On Tuesday we visited the Huron-Wendat Nation traditional village and with our guide, Brian, learned of the sophisticated lifestyle of these people. Organised in permanent villages with three to six families to every long house, a village could be made up of up to twenty houses, each with their own clan mother who voted for the village chief. We ate sunflower soup and elk sausages prepared the traditional way and complemented with corn meal bread. Cydia tells us that in contrast to the distinct class divisions perpetuated by the English, the French were far more likely to integrate with the local community and most Quebecers are descended from mixed ancestry. From the old photos the Huron-Wendat looked almost European with very aquiline features.
The Huron-Wendat nation is one of Québec’s most urbanized aboriginal nations. Some 1,300 Huron-Wendats live in Wendake, a municipality neighbouring Québec City, and 1,700 live outside this municipality. The Huron-Wendats have adopted French as their language of everyday use to the detriment of the Huron-Wendat language.
Prior to the arrival of the Europeans, the Huron-Wendats led a semi-sedentary life in the area around Georgian Bay in Ontario. They grew corn in large abundance as well as tobacco, and used the surplus to barter on a large scale with the other Indian nations, notably from the Great Lakes to Hudson Bay.
In 1634 and 1639, epidemics reduced the Huron-Wendat population of approx 30,000 by one third. Beginning in 1640, the majority of the villages of Huronia fell into the hands of the Iroquois. In 1650, approximately 500 Huron-Wendats left the region to seek refuge in Québec City with the French, who were major trading partners. The newcomers lived on île d’Orléans and in Sillery, before settling on the current site of Wendake in 1697.
Then off to the powerful waterfall of the Montmorency River as it drops to the level of the St Laurence. A vast river in its own right yet a mere tributary to the great St Laurence. Just can’t help but love this abundant wateryness of the Canadian landscape as we remind you again that Canada contains one fifth of the world’s fresh water. After not a drop of rain for over ten weeks this summer in our Australian Otway home it was a delight to saturate a while in the deafening roar and mist laden air of this powerful element.
We ended the day with a misty 70 kms tour of the île d’Orléans…….Quebec City’s version of New York’s Ellis Island vis a vis immigrants…….lovely old barns and with its mirco climate perfect for growing strawberries and wine……..
A big thank you to Cydia’s cousin Helene and husband Andre for their very generous hospitality – we enjoyed staying in their beautiful home very much……