Thursday, 28 August 2014

The Provinces of Quebec and New Brunswick

It was only a ten minute  ferry ride from Ontario but it seemed to us that we had arrived in faraway France. The Province of Quebec proudly maintains its French origin and whereas in the rest of Canada, signs are bi-lingual (English and French) and everyone speaks English with some French, here in this Province all signs, both road and business, are in French only and the French language is universal with only a very little English spoken. Added to that, the countryside and the houses have a decided French air about them. Very picturesque. 

We try to avoid motorways were possible, and so we began driving along the very lovely Route des Navigateurs – a country road that travels alongside the St.Lawrence River from from Baie-du-Febvre to Sainte-Luce, a distance of about 470 kilometres. Small villages line this route all with their own lovely village church – usually stone-built or sometime painted white with a silver tower and spire. I think that in the wintertime snow the silver and white churches would almost be impossible to see!

Our first night in the Province was in a country area in a very French gite (B&B). Luckily the wife could speak English but it certainly was a different experience in a very old 1770 farmhouse decorated in old French style.

After several days travelling here, I had to pinch myself to remember we really were in Canada and not in the middle of France. Our extremely basic knowledge of French is getting a work-out. “Excuse-moi, Messieurs/Madame, parle-vous Anglais?”

One excursion along the Route des Navigateurs was to St.Jean-Paul-Joli where just about all the residents seem to be wood-carvers or sculptors. A display of many of their carvings was stunning. A special exhibition featured many of the artwork of Norman Rockwell recreated in beautifully carved and painted bas-relief. 
A Rockwell painting reproduced in carved relief.

All these are hand-carved.

We had several days in pretty Montmagny right beside the St.Lawrence River. It is a lovely 350 year old town and is designated the Snow Goose Capital. The town holds a festival to celebrate these graceful birds in October.

Lighthouse at Cap Bon-Ami with the Marconi building on left.
We travelled all around the stunningly beautiful Gaspe Peninsula and one day drove right to Cap Bon-Ami and from there you can see Lands End which is the most easterly point of mainland Canada. On a warm blue sky day, no scenery could surpass it. The 1904 Marconi transmitting hut was there and as it signalled such a leap in communication at the turn of the 20 th century, we wonder what Marconi would think of the instant communication we now enjoy. What would he have thought of the internet and Skype??

On leaving the Peninsula we travelled over the bridge to New Brunswick and suddenly there were English signs and English speakers. Again this area is lovely and our friendly host at our B&B in Cocagne told us a little of the way of life for people living in New Brunswick. We have had some very interesting conversations with the various B&B hosts recently.

One of the  towns we passed through had painted all their fire hydrants as cartoon characters. We counted about two dozen and all different. Here are a few that we photographed:

Finally, just over the New Brunswick border we enter Nova Scotia and then across the very long 12.9 km Confederation bridge, we are ready to explore Prince Edward Island.

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