This is an old blog recovered from my old website. From time to time I will post one of these. The photos all need to be uploaded, so I don’t do this often… It records a road trip back to Montréal, Québec City and Ile d’Orléans. It deals also with my France and Ile d’Orléans roots. I can trace my family tree back to the time of Louis XIII in France.
We began our August with a road trip to Québec, the province where I was born and raised. It was the 400th anniversary of the City of Québec, and seemed to be a must time to go. Anita and I drove first to Ste. Adèle to my cousin Mary’s place, opposite a small ski hill in the centre of this beautiful town in the Laurentian Mountains just north of Montréal.
Mary’s mom, Helen, who, in 2008, was “94 plus tax” entertained us on the piano. Helen learned piano in school in Montreal and also can play by ear. She handled requests admirably.
Helen passed away in 2009. Here is a photo of Helen making a sparkling speech at her 95th birthday party in April, 2009:
Now, to return to our 2008 trip and Ste. Adèle…
Mary’s location is within walking distance of a health clinic, theatres, a bandshell and shopping.
Mary took us on a short drive to St. Sauveur, where we visited Hill 70. My Dad, Lou, in his youth, would climb Hill 70 on his wooden skis, gaze from the top at a descent so steep he couldn’t see the bottom and then swoosh down with crisp stem christie turns. His father, Alphonse, owned 40 acres of property in St. Sauveur. My grandmother shortsightedly sold it for 25 000 dollars back in the 40′s or 50′s. It would be worth millions today.
We bought scrumptious pie and bread at Pagé’s, a must stop for anyone staying in or passing through St. Sauveur. The bakery and this town together were a trip down memory lane for me. I have a photo, taken in 1967, of my dad on the 40-acre property – long after it was sold:
In 1967 after I returned from my two-year CUSO Trinidad teaching assignment, my parents and I drove up to St. Sauveur and checked out the place my Grandpapa Alphonse used to own. He was a millionaire on paper before the depression of 1929. Interesting timing for this particular memory, as this post was originally written in scary 2008! I now keep my money “in a sock.” Here’s a photo of Alphonse’s old “cottage.”
We stayed two nights at Mary’s and had a wonderful time swapping stories and sharing warm family memories.
Québec City and Île d’Orléans
After Mary’s we drove from Ste. Adèle to Québec City, where we dined downtown in a pub with Serge and Carole, who were members of our St. Anthony’s Folk Group in the 1970′s.
We met Carole near the CN station and had a bite to eat at a local pub.
After our meal, we walked to Espace 400ieme at the port and waited for Le Moulin à images. This, huge wonderful A/V show by Robert Lepage and Ex Machina was projected onto the port’s grain silos. This “vrais spectacle” was commissioned in honour of the city’s 400th anniversary, and looked at, guess what?, four fascinating centuries of Québec history.
We froze our touches whlie waiting for the show, sitting on a concrete wall above the water.
Our time here was divided between Quebec City and nearby Île d’Orleans, where my ancestor, Abel Turcault, settled in 1662.
We stayed at a B&B on the island called La Picardie where the breakfasts were gourmet and included the fresh berries and other produce from our hosts’ garden. The guests at breakfast were mostly Québecois and they were gracious to us. English and French were spoken interchangeably at the table. A couple from Holland revealed that there are no private schools in Holland and that the top public grammar schools teach Greek and Latin. Now, that is a truly enlightened country…
Tuesday we were booked for a historical trip to Grosse Île, where, between 1832 and 1937, immigrants to Canada (so many of them Irish) were quarantined before being allowed to enter the country. We waited on Île d’Orléans for the cruise boat, which was to depart from the Port of Québec and stop at the St. Laurent pier on our island. After waiting in vain for an extra hour past the pick-up time, someone in our little group phoned Croisières le Coudrier and learned that the Grosse Île cruise was cancelled. Merci beaucoup, hostie!
Eh bien, we took advantage of the one nice day to do Le Tour de l’Île, whose 42 miles were made famous by the Félix Leclerc song of the same name. I have since learned to sing and play this very patriotic song, much loved by our hostess, Monique Picard.
On our own tour de l’Île we drove counter clockwise from the St. Laurent pier, managing not to collide with the many brave cyclists doing le même tour. Due homage was paid to my SLR along the way.
We stopped and had a very nice coffee and meal at La Brûlerie, above
It was enjoyable waiting for our meal.
Rene Levesque commemorated 300 years of St. François history here in front of La Brûlerie in 1979.
After our meal we climbed a wooden lookout tower and looked out on the farms, the river and the mountains on the North shore, before reaching Ste. Famille, my ancestral church. Built between 1743 and 1747, it is the oldest intact church consecrated during the French period.
This beautiful church is the oldest on the Island.
The parish of Ste. Famille was founded in 1661 by Bishop Laval. Many of the settlers, including Laval, sailed from La Rochelle on the west coast of France. In 1995 we visited La Rochelle and the village of Mouilleron-en-Pareds, where Abel was born in 1631 during the reign of Louis XIII. (2012 Note: We revisited Mouilleron again in 2009 and were given an incredibly warm reception by our French cousins, 300 years removed, les Turcauds de Mouilleron with whom we have corresponded since we wandered the streets of Mouilleron in 1995 with notes taken from a local telephone directory. We sheepishly walked up to one of three houses on Rue du Pont Dogue which the directory told us were occupied by Turcauds. Turcaud is probably the original spelling of my family name. The priest in Canada who registered Abel’s marriage spelled it Turcault. It later became Turcotte, which is pronounced differently, but that’s another story… Yet one more story is the suspicion that Abel had left a wife and child(ren?) in France when he emigrated. The original church records, protected by clear plastic, still exist in France. I was allowed to go through them. A genealogist with whom I have since corresponded let me know of this latest, spicy discovery.
Anyway… back to Canada… Next to the church at Ste. Famille is a museum to the families of the Island that has been moved from the basement of the church to the rectory. What an improvement in venue over the last time we were there!
Inside the museum is a model of the island, near Ste. Famille. The cliffs on the north shore are very steep.
The island is very old, very traditional and excruciatingly beautiful, reminding us of France. It is easy to be moved by this place.
One of the last places we visited was the memorial to Abel Turcotte. Originally he was said to have arrived in 1659, the same year as Bishop Laval. This tablet seems to indicate 1662. I must look into it.
Tuesday night we dined and sang at Serge and Carole’s place in Charlesbourg. Wednesday we went to the Museum of Civilisation with Carole and walked around the old city in the rainy weather. It was so bad that we chucked our tickets for the fireworks at Montmorency Falls and spent the evening singing at the B&B with our hosts, Monique and Marcel. Driving home, we encountered hail so bad that visibility was poor enough to have most drivers pull over on the 401. We carefully followed an 18-wheeler and, when it cleared up, we had the traffic behind us.
Despite the weather, our Quebec trip was wonderful.