Posted by: glenswatman | August 1, 2007

200707 -2- CANADA Quebec, Ontario

MONDAY 16 JULY – We leave the main road and
take the side road along the banks of the St Lawrence River.  It’s much like rural France except that most
of the roofs of the houses look like ski jumps, an indication of just how much
snow they have here in the winter and I don’t mean that they ski off their
roofs.  Kamouraska has some very
attractive buildings but the place we like best is St Jean Port Joli.  The local park is full of huge wooden
sculptures and also the road is lined with shops where the artists sell their
own carvings.  In Montagny we pause to
admire the weir then make a lunch stop just outside town at a roadside rest
area.  It’s a lovely afternoon so we sit
out and enjoy that sun for an hour or so. 
Reach Levis late afternoon and check on to the Wal Mart car park.  Levis is conveniently located directly
across the river from Quebec City so we are hoping to take the ferry to when we
visit tomorrow.  Unfortunately no on in
the Wal Mart store speaks English or can understand our questions about the bus
service and the same applies at a nearby Hotel.   Chat to our neighbour Pat from California who has been into the
city today but they tow a car so it was easier for them.  In the evening she calls round with her
husband Norman and they give us lots of advice for our travels and an invite to
visit them in Los Angeles.

LEVIS – WAL MART

 

TUESDAY 17 JULY – We must not be alone in our idea of visiting
Quebec from here as we wake to find 18 RV’s parked up.  Norman calls round and offers to run us down
to the ferry port in their car in the hope that we can get information from the
tourist office to find our own way back. 
Leave just after 8am and catch the 8.40am ferry across the river $2.65
(£1.30) giving us stunning views of Chateau Frontenac.  Dock in the old port and begin to follow
that walking tour from the tourist brochure. 
We are immediately impressed by the quaint Petit-Champlain street and
mural on a wall at the far end.  The
problem with our early start is that none of the museums have opened so keep
walking and just enjoy the scenery especially a huge mural created on a
3-storey end of house wall depicting all the characters associated with Quebec
City.  Our stroll takes us along the
riverbank and eventually out to an area beyond the railway station.  We’re making great progress but can’t pass
up the opportunity of a tour when we see a free bus. Reckon we will do the loop
and then continue our walk but we stuff up as it is not a circuit bus but
simply takes us back to where we started! 
However the Maison Chevalier house (free) is now open so we take a look
around.  Shelve the lower area walk and
begin the climb up to the old town.  We
emerge in Place d’Armes and immediately see why Chateau Frontenac is the most
photographed building in Canada as it is superb.  There are interesting buildings down every street including one
of the narrowest houses in America – not that much narrower than our Parkwood
Street house in England.  We get fine
views walking along the Dufferin Terrace and this leads us to the citadel where
we take the free 1-hour tour of the governor-generals house.  It’s an amazing mixture of neo classical
architecture and old furniture and very nicely done.  It’s almost 2pm and we are starving so take the Rough Guide
recommendation restaurant “L’Apsara” 71 rue d’Autuil.  The 3-course Cambodian style lunch with coffee is good value at
$10.95 and gives us chance to rest up and plan our onward walk.  Artillery Park ($3.95 without pass) is
surprisingly good with costumed guides in each building taking on the part of
their character in order to give out information.  Finish up in a square surrounded by the City Hall, Price Building
(first sky scraper in the city done in art deco style) and the Notre-Dame.  Feeling rather weary but more than happy
with what we have seen we return to the ferry. 
Arriving at Levis the tourist office tell us we need a #28 bus to Galaries
Chagnon to connect with the #22 up to Wal Mart.  The fare is $3.10 (£1.50) and includes a free transfer.   Arriving at Galaries Chagnon we ask our
driver where to catch the other bus and he immediately gets on the phone.  His bus has arrived late and the last bus to
Wal Mart has just left, but turns round to pick us up.  So we arrive back just after 6pm after a
good 10-hour day out. 

LEVIS 2 – WAL-MART

 

WEDNESDAY 18 JULY – Take the
132 west following the south bank of the river.  The road is very bumpy but the pretty villages more than make up
for it.  Almost all the houses have beautiful
flower displays, well kept gardens, often with swimming pools and not a shabby
property to be seen.  Each village has a
large impressive church that seems almost too big for the population.  At Leclerkville there is a special parking
area by the river with toilets and you can stay overnight for a $5 (£2.40)
donation.  It’s a really neat spot and
in no time at all Steve has had a swim in the river, collected fresh
raspberries from the bushes and we are sat down at our riverside table eating
freshly cooked spaghetti bolognaise washed down with red wine.  We’re both a bit whacked so have an
afternoon snooze before a walk around the non-existent village.  We get back just before a storm begins and
what a storm it is.  Thunder and
lightening with rain pelting down and this continues throughout the night.

LECLERKVILLE

 

THURSDAY 19 JULY – It’s still raining when we
decide to get up.  The roof is leaking
and we have water in the shower and on the kitchen worktop.  When we open the blinds we see that we are now
parked in the middle of a lake but luckily Harry has the power to get us
out.  We continue along the riverside
road but the rain masks our views so we cross at Trois Rivieres to join the
main motorway west to Montreal.  We’ve
been offered street parking outside a Couch Surfers home and easily find the
place.  Sylvain is a bit surprised to
see us when he gets home at 8pm.  He
didn’t receive our E-mail due to a computer shut down after yesterdays storm
and our telephone message came out garbled. 
He recovers pretty quickly and invites us into the house for a shower
and to taste a few samples from his beer collection. He’s a bit of a
connoisseur and plans his holidays to visit countries that excel in beer.  In fact he’s going away on a beer-tasting
weekend tomorrow but says we are more than welcome to stay parked up
outside.  He gives us lots of info about
the public transport and gets around by BMW, bus, metro and walk!  We get tips on specialities of the area and
places to eat them and tips on other things to look out for including the fact
that Montreal is famed for the number of houses with outside staircases leading
to upstairs flats.

MONTREAL

 

FRIDAY 20 JULY – It’s rained all night and is
still pouring first thing so we delay our visit to the city in the hope of it
easing off.  In the meantime I make use
of the Internet and book us a 7-night Inside Passage cruise to Alaska to
coincide with our wedding anniversary in September.  I’ve been searching for deals for a couple of weeks and find that
the cheapest inside cabins are now all sold out but they have just reduced the
outside staterooms to almost the same price so reckon now is the time to buy at
US$1310.37 (£637.00) for both of us.  We
go on 12th September on the Holland & America ship Zaandam so
I’m very excited.  Head off around 11am
and buy a 3-day metro and bus ticket $17 (£8) each.  Observe that the underground system is efficient, clean and seats
are immediately given up for the elderly or disabled, no I don’t mean that we
got one!  Begin at Place D’Armes and pay
our $4 (£1.90) admission to the Basilique Notre Dame.  It’s superb inside with areas of glass ceiling, an amazing rear
lit alter area and other unusual features. 
We take a part of the free tour and learn that the organ comprises of an
unbelievable 7000 pipes.  You can go
inside the nearby Bank of Montreal to admire the architecture and to visit the
unusual numismatic museum.   Begin
walking along the Rue Notre-Dame but we are getting soaked and decide to head
off for lunch.  Catch a bus to the
famous Schwartz’s restaurant where a long queue awaits.  We eventually get a table and order their
famed smoked meat sandwich, fatty, medium or lean.  It doesn’t taste smoked at all and is delicious, piled high with
meat and well worth the wait.  All the
sights we want to see are outdoors so we call it a day and head for home.  Begin reading the bumf from the tourist
office including one about the “just for laughs” festival taking place this
week.  Notice that Billy Connolly is
performing this weekend so hop on the Internet and secure us 2 tickets for
Sunday ($136.79, £64.20).  Steve then
reads that Frank Skinner is on tonight but I can’t buy tickets on the Internet,
as it is less than 1-hour before the show starts.  Make a quick decision to head back into the city and try and buy
them at the door.  Race to the metro and
manage to arrive just in time and get 2 tickets discounted to $15 (£7)
each.  It’s at Ste Catherine’s theatre,
more like a small village hall with just a handful of seats, certainly less than
100.  There are no seats allocated and
we end up in the front row.  Frank is a
stand up comedian and soon establishes that the bulk of the audience are
English.  He is brilliant and has us
laughing for almost the whole hour. 
It’s stopped raining once we leave the theatre so we hang back and get
to chat to Frank and have our pictures taken together.  Stroll the streets where many areas are
closed to traffic and open to street performers.  Human statues and figures walking round on stilts compliment bands
and other acts.  We sample another local
delicacy of “poutine”, chips covered in gravy and curd cheese.  What an exciting, but extremely expensive,
day.

MONTREAL 2

 

SATURDAY 21 JULY – What a difference a day
makes as we wake to sunshine.  We’re
getting the knack of the public transport system so use a mixture of bus and
metro to get us to Place D’Armes where we begin our sightseeing.  There are lots of very interesting old and
new buildings around often side by side. 
One outside wall of the Palais des Congress is made up of large sheets
of different coloured glass making a super backdrop for a photo of the unusual
fountain in Place Jean-Paul-Riopelle. 
Inside the World Trade Centre we find a chunk of the Berlin wall and an
elaborate fountain of Poseidon’s wife. 
It’s hard to believe it is Saturday morning as even the shopping areas
are dead quiet.  Within Central Station
we pause to admire the departure hall decorated with historic frescoes, and for
me to eat my MacDonalds caramel McFlury! 
Out into Canada Square surround by beautiful buildings including a
miniature version of St Paul’s in Rome. 
Just behind the tourist office we slip into a cinema to catch the latest
“Harry Potter and the goblet of fire”, $10.75 (£5) each.  Make it our lunch stop as well and sit
eating hot dog and nachos in the auditorium. 
It’s a good movie but we both still prefer the books.  Back in the sunshine we make a longish walk
out to the sculpture garden opposite the Canadian Centre for Architecture.  It’s really wacky with strange sculptures on
the tops of poles.  Catch a bus back to
Rue St Dennis to watch some of the afternoon festival acts in the streets.  Next stop is the Casino, out on a small island;
a huge area spread over 5 floors.  We
can’t believe just how many people are in there gambling as more than half the
machines have punters throwing money into them.  The free bus back to the city gives us fine views of the skyline
and river area after which we connect with the metro home.  Steve is so tired he falls asleep by 9pm. 

MONTREAL 3

 

SUNDAY 22 JULY – The temperature is climbing
so we make our first stop of the day the walk up to the top of Mount Royal
where we get superb city views from the terrace in front of the Chalet.  Using bus and metro (with long waits at the
bus stops) we make our way to Lachine area. 
This is a suburb crossed with canals. 
Sustenance comes in the form of poutine, cheaper at $3.75 and much nicer
than the other one.  Walk out alongside
the canal to the outdoor sculpture park. 
It’s incredibly busy with locals picnicking, skating or cycling around
the park with seemingly no barriers to the age of the skaters.  It’s very hot so we take half an hour
respite in the shade of a tree.   Next
stop is the National Historic fur museum (normal price $3.9

5), surprisingly interesting and informative displays
educate us on the trading conditions and about the Hudson Bay trading
corporation.  It’s now late afternoon so
we make our way back home to refresh ourselves for the evening.  Back in the city we head to Theatre
Maisoneuve for the “Too old to die young” show.  Billy is fantastic and performs non-stop for over 2-hours.  His main theme being the changes in your
body once you turn 50 so we can easily relate to his observations.  Leaving the theatre we explore a small
section of “The Village” area favoured by gay people.  It’s great entertainment to watch the transvestites strutting
their stuff and a great atmosphere in the streets.  Catch the metro back home just before our 3-day ticket expires at
midnight.

MONTREAL 4

 

MONDAY 23 JULY – Join Sylvain for breakfast
giving us chance for a better chat with him. 
Leaving he city the traffic is heavy even though we have waited until
long after rush hour.  Cross in the
province of ONTARIO and pick up our tourist info.  Signs on the motorway advise us of the applicable fines for
speeding, guess this is the point where the fast drivers do a quick check on
their wallet!  Petrol is much cheaper here,
for the first time we see it at under $1 litre.  Stop at a Canadian Tire store to use their free dump
station.  Arrive in the Orleans suburb
of Ottawa to meet our Globalfreeloaders host Ruth.  Their drive is sloping so her husband Kevin suggested we park the
van there but stay in the house and transfer our stuff to their fridge and
freezer.  They have a cat and also a dog
called Whiskey, a cross spaniel.  She
enjoys playing hide and seek where they hide a rubber container holding a dog
chew in the lounge.  Whiskey knows to
stay in the kitchen until called and then does an excellent job of seeking out
her prize.  Their son Alex, 19, arrives
home from his summer school job as a tennis coach.  He goes to college in New York State where he can pursue his love
of baseball.  Needless to say the topic
of conversation between him and Steve is sport.  The family also love playing card and board games and Steve is
soon playing backgammon with Alex after which the 4 of us play cribbage.  Kevin arrives home and it’s almost like we
have know them forever as we have so much in common.  The rest of the evening is spent playing the card game “Oh Hell”.

OTTAWA

 

TUESDAY 24 JULY – The weather seems to have
settled so I get a load of washing done first thing.  Kevin’s job is to check out cars returned on lease and he goes
out and has all his work done by 10am. 
They drive us into the city and relieve me of the job of being
guide.  Begin on the north side of the
Ottawa River at the adjoining town of Gatineau, back in Quebec province.  The museum of Civilisation is an unusual
building in a stunning location on the river opposite the houses of
parliament.  Without paying the
admission fee you can go in and admire “The Great Hall” and a few other things
and walk around the sculptures in the garden. 
Back in Ontario they park near the centre of the city and begin our
tour.  Byward Market is very interesting
with artistic displays of produce including orange and purple
cauliflowers.  We have to try the local
delicacy of “beaver tails” and kind of flattened doughnut with different
toppings.  Steve takes the cheese and
garlic and I have chocolate spread with M&M’s.  Chateau Laurier and the Old Railway station are impressive
buildings but surpassed by the Parliament Buildings.  Our free guided tour takes us into the chambers and also the
fantastic gothic style round library. 
At the end of the tour you can tag on a free ride in the lift to the top
of the bell tower for superb views over the city.  The Rideau Canal cuts through downtown and it’s interesting to
watch the many boats traversing the locks. 
The war memorial and statue with the story of Terry Fox’s run across
Canada are other lasting memories of a surprisingly beautiful city.  Finish with a meal at Saigon restaurant on
Clarence Street.  Returning back to
Orleans we pass a huge farming area in the middle of the city, a research farm
that was there long before the city grew. 
Pass the remainder of the evening looking at Kevin & Ruth’s photos
then playing cards.

OTTAWA 2

 

WEDNESDAY 25 JULY – We don’t want to do
anymore in the city but opt to stay another day to spend time with the
family.  In the afternoon Ruth & I
walk to the nearby shopping mall to buy a colour for my hair and look at some
clothes for our up coming cruise.  I cook
us all a pasta meal after which Alex, Kevin & Steve go off to watch a
baseball match followed by games of pool and Ruth (a trained hairdresser) puts
lowlights in my hair then cuts and straightens it for me.  Ruth is leaving in the early hours to fly
out and visit their daughter Lindsey in Halifax but we still on end up having a
late night.

OTTAWA 3

 

THURSDAY 26 JULY – Kevin is not working until
late morning so we make a leisurely departure. 
Once again these are hosts who we will no doubt keep in contact with and
most probably see in the future.  We’ve
also given them a bit more food for thought about their future plans as they
had always intended doing something like us. 
Fill up with fuel at the lowest price seen in Canada so far, 97.6c
(£48p) then pick up the 417 highway to get us around Ottawa and onto the
17.  Set our sights on Pembroke for a
lunch stop, as the town is famous for its many murals.  It does not disappoint us with many very
impressive ones and some that are in 3d. 
“Marching toward the millennium” is 264’ long and shows the founder of
the town then runs through all the ages, featuring locals in the costume of the
day, and ends in the first baby to be born in 2000 with her mother.  It’s a lovely town and we have a nice
parking spot by the marina but we need to press on.  Late afternoon we are both sleepy so pull up at a rest area.  Must have needed a snooze because it’s after
5.30pm when we wake up.  Our back up
plan is to Wal Mart overnight in North Bay but we keep trying side roads in the
hope of something better.  Spot a
telephone repeater station and drive up to it but on the way see a family sat
out in their garden.  Steve asks the guy
where we might park overnight and we get in invite into his yard.  Paul is very chatty and tells us where to
pick raspberries and blueberries but also gives us a few warnings about the
area.  Along with native bear and lynx
there are a family of pumas around, descendents of a mating pair that escaped
from a wildlife park 16 years ago. 
We’re invited to join their fire later on but the mosquitoes eventually
force us all inside.

TROUT POND ROAD, JUST W OF RUTHERGLEN

 

FRIDAY 27 JULY –             We have a sleepless night, 3 trains go through hooting
their horn when approaching crossings and we reckon there are about dozen
within earshot.   Head to North Bay
where there are still lots of motorhomes on the Wal Mart parking lot.  The Dionne Quints were born at Corbeil, near
here in 1934.  Kept alive with drops of
whiskey the miracle children became too much for their parents who had 5 other
siblings.  The government, in their
wisdom, took the 5 girls away and until 9-years old they were on display in a
glassed-in playground attracting up to 6000 sightseers a day.  A museum in North Bay tells more of the
story and displays cots and other items used by the girls.  Seem to remember seeing either a film or documentary
about them myself.  We press on to make
the most of the hot weather and visit Jewel Lake Wilderness.  It’s a rustic naturist club and after about
8km of dirt road we turn into their drive. 
It’s passable for us but so narrow that a car heading out has to back up
to allow us through.  Owners John &
Betty got our E-mail and were expecting us so we are soon settled on a site
with a picnic table provided.  It’s a
beautiful spot with a lake you can swim in or canoe on.  John walks us round the site and introduces
us to some of the members.  After lunch
we pick up a canoe (free use) and surprise ourselves with our new found ability
to row all around the lake.  Many people
come by to introduce themselves and chat. 
There’s a wood fired sauna and after it has gone dark at 9pm we join
some in there and then move on to a communal bonfire.

JEWEL LAKE WILDERNESS 
$20 (£10)

 

SATURDAY 28 JULY – The day begins cool and
overcast but improves with time.  Lots
of people stop by to chat.  Spend time
in the afternoon giving Harry a second waxing, much nicer cleaning the van
whilst naked as you don’t get your clothes wet.  Most people gather for an evening session of cards and it turns
out they are playing a version of a game we know as “golf”.  Participants put $1 into the kitty and when
the first person scores over 100 the prize is given to the player with the
lowest score.  It takes ages as there
are 18 players leaving plenty of time for socialising.   Dave wins both the games with Steve a close
second.

JEWEL LAKE WILDERNESS 2

 

SUNDAY 29 JULY – Knowing that the days take a
while to warm up we linger in bed but straight after breakfast crack on with
cleaning the van before it gets too hot! 
Again we get a number of callers and keep braking off to chat.  Mid afternoon a bell is sounded to announce
a darts game.  No idea what the game or
the rules are but we get up and follow instructions on what to aim for when our
turn comes around.  It’s hot sitting out
in the sun so most of us head down to the lake for a dip afterwards.  In the evening we are invited round to Janet
& Ray’s caravan for a game of canasta. 
Once again we find different rules making it impossible to play
seriously but enabling us to have lots of laughs. 

JEWEL LAKE WILDERNESS 3

 

MONDAY 30 JULY – Ray has leant us his naturist
directories for Canada and America so we spend the morning plotting the places
onto our travel map.  We’ve also made
the decision to make the bulk of our Trans Canada trip in North America where there
are more things to interest us (and the fuel is cheaper).  Spend the afternoon by the lake
chatting.  In the evening Dave & Sue
invite us round for a meal eating some moose that Dave himself killed.  It makes very tasty steaks and goes down
well with mushrooms and chips and the setting is just perfect with a fine view
of the lake.  Continue the evening by
playing a card game called “Wizard”, very similar to Oh Hell and great
fun.  Once it is too dark to play we retire
to the sauna for a relaxing end to the day. 
On our camping pitch we have been surround by 2 families, not only that
but they have sited their tents in a way that they are closer to our picnic
table than we are.  This definitely
helps with our decision to move on tomorrow.

JEWEL LAKE WILDERNESS 4

$20 (£9.50) night – 10% INF discount

 

TUESDAY 31 JULY – We are woken before 7am by
the children and then by the parents shouting out to the kids.  Stuck between the two families we have to
suffer them walking noisily behind our van directly by our bed.  Give up and get up early.  We feel we can’t even sit by our van to read
as it is so noisy so we walk down to chat to Sue & Dave who want to look at
some of our travel photos.  She asks if
I will take the computer into the recreation room as she thinks one or two
others would also like to see them.  End
up with about a dozen of us sat around a table like a seminar with me doing a
slideshow whilst extolling the virtues of our lifestyle.  Now maybe I could make a living touring
round and doing this – no that’s work. 
Set off early afternoon but we are both tired from our early start and
pull over at a rest area for a nap. 
Arrive in Sudbury and park opposite Bell Park where someone suggested we
could stay overnight.  We are not
impressed as it is at the side of a busy dual carriageway.  In the park there is a superb sculpture to
the miners of the area and lots of nice flowerbeds.  Getting close to the sculpture is interesting as all the rotating
sprinklers are on and you have to race between them but the cool shower is
quite welcome.  Back track to Wal Mart
for our overnight stay.

SUDBURY – WAL MART

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