Sunday, 8 September 2013


OK, so I knew that the Canadians in Quebec province spoke French, but I didn't really expect them to be soooo French! Except for an innocent little roadside sign announcing "Quebec", I would hardly have noticed that I'd crossed to another province in this vast country.
Then I noticed a number of things (I'm not sure in what sequence!). Every gas station and corner store sold beer! (In Ontario province there were government liquor stores, spread rather thinly across the land). The large grocery stores had different names, and they sold certain different products. All road signs and shop signs were only in French. But perhaps more surprising to me, suddenly people couldn't understand a word I said! (some would tell me - in perfect English - that they don't speak English). I'd been singing praises about the friendliness and hospitality of the Canadians, but now this bunch in Quebec seemed rather rude. However, the longer I stayed in Quebec, the more that perception changed. If I tried to address people in the bit of feeble French which I knew, they would soften up and try their best to assist me. (Sometimes I found myself speaking Spanish rather than French - I suppose that is not surprising after spending so much time in Latin America).
Anyway, I was still following the St Lawrence (Saint Laurent) all the way East through Quebec. There was quite a bit of shipping traffic, but the larger container vessels didn't seem to go any further than Montreal.
Further east at Quebec city there was even a big cruise ship moored in the port. Another difference from some other provinces was that I couldn't cycle on the freeways (but there was always an alternate route, sometimes even a dedicated bike path). In Montreal I accidentally ended up on the freeway, but the patrol car which pulled me over was quite friendly, and simply escorted me to a road along which I could proceed.
Quebec runs along both banks of the St Lawrence, and understandably there are many connecting bridges.
There are a series of dams in the river, forming lakes such as Lac Saint Louis. There are a number of hydro-electric power plants, usually positioned at the dams.
There were many churches, and it seemed that just about every village centred around a large church with twin steeples.
As it turned out, the people of Quebec had no problem with me camping wherever I wished. They regularly directed me to go off and camp in the local town park.
At times the weather was wet and cold, but I generally seemed to find some sort of shelter. Once I camped under the verandah of a visitor info centre, and another time the only reasonable shelter I could find was the glass covering around the local village post boxes.
From Quebec I entered into New Brunswick provice, the only officially bilingual province of Canada. However, the further I moved SE, and away from Quebec, the less evident the French became. I had thought of going all the way to Halifax, but I changed my mind and from New Brunswick I headed towards the USA border and the State of Maine.
Daily distances cycled since entering Quebec have been:- Beauharnois 106 km; Montreal 109 km; Becancour 124 km; Saint Croix 89 km; Montmagny 118 km; Port Joli 61 km; Riviere Du Loup 61 km; Saint Honore 71 km; Degelis 73 km; Saint Leonard 72 km; Aroostook 69 km; Hartland 80 km; Nackawic 88 km; and Vanceboro (USA border) 86 km. The total distance cycled across Canada is 6 577 km, and the total distance cycled so far on this journey is 116 377 km.

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