Friday, October 26, 2007


I didn't have internet access for a while, thus the silence. We boarded the Grand Princess in New York and headed north, to Boston, Bar Harbour, St. John, Halifax, Sydney, Cornerbrook (Newfoundland), on to Quebec where the cruise-part of the trip ended. From there we took the car to Montreal.

After that unusual heat wave in New York, the weather continued to be erratic - at times chilly, rainy, and then warm once again, even in Montreal, just a few days ago. During the early part of our trip, the leaves hadn't turned. A cold snap is needed for the leaves to change color, and it wasn't until Bar Harbour when we finally saw leaves that had turned color in the Acadia National Forest.

There's much to talk about - the sights we saw, the history of the places, and all the fun we had in the cruise ship as well - I don't know where to begin really.

The place that enchanted me most was Quebec. Quebec, the only walled city in North America, sits perched on a hill, with ramparts around it. We stayed in the Marriott in Place D'Youville and right in front was an ice skating rink where people skated - the children were the best to watch, some with their training poles (like walkers). Quebec has numerous stone buildings from the 1800s and earlier, and it feels very European. The people speak French and are fiercely proud of their Quebecois culture. I laughed when I saw a newspaper article about Quebec wanting their own citizenship requirements. My French daughter-in-law says the French spoken in Quebec is different from that spoken in France; and it would be, of course. But some food dishes seemed authentically French - French onion soup with a thick layer of cheese; escargot in garlic-butter; croissants of course, other dishes. They did have Quebecois food - I had reindeer stew, and there was an interesting dish called Raclette, which consists of an assortment of vegetables, cheese, meats that's slowly cooked and eaten with a potato pancakes.

When I went antiquing in Quebec, a dealer made some comment about not having a lot of sterling silver items, just silverplate, because the people in Quebec were poor. I also saw a folkloric performance, dancing and music which sounded a lot like Louisiana Zydego. The costume looked like farm clothes; and instruments were variations of kitchen utensils.

But I suspect that these settlers of this cold place were tough and tenacious, having had to fight the British, and to resist being Anglosized.

The one thing that made me sad was the situation of the Catholic churches there. There are numerous beautiful churches, but few people go to church, and so some of these churches are being turned into condominiums (the facade is preserved); and others operate more like museums. They are beautiful but lack life; and they feel sad. But there are churches that are still used and you can feel the difference when you walk into the church - the Shrine of Sainte Anne de Beaupre for instance is a living, vibrant church. In fact this is a major pilgrim site for devotees to St. Anne, mother of Mary, grandmother of Jesus. Many miracles have taken place here, and there are walls showing crutches and canes, proof of miraculous cures.

All for now, more next time.

P.S. Oct. 31 - John Allen writes to say, "I've been enjoying reading your blog since you and Lauren went to Philly. I have one historical correction. Despite what you heard in Quebec there are three walled cities (charming as they are it's a good, pleasant thing there are so few) in North America: St Augustine (founded 1565), Quebec, (1608) and Charleston, S. C. (1680). All three are fun places to visit."

I did more research and the following statement is correct: Quebec City is home to the only preserved and maintained walled city in North America.
Other walled cities in North America are in St. Augustine, Florida and Charleston, South Carolina.

READ ALSO a 2013 article re Quebec

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