Quebec City and Carnaval

Trip Start Nov 04, 2011
Trip End Jul 27, 2012

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Flag of Canada  , Quebec,
Friday, February 10, 2012

Up at about 7.45 this morning, gathered my things and headed to the bathroom to get dressed.  Then downstairs to the cafeteria to have breakfast.  They had yoghurt, toast, cereal, boiled eggs.  I had some yoghurt, vegemite toast and cereal and some orange juice, nice!  I just missed the breaky rush, and there was a big queue waiting when I left.

After breaky I checked out of the hostel and made my way down to Chateau Frontenac.  Centennial celebrations were held in 1993 for this world famous hotel.  It was named after comte de Frontenac, illustrious governor of Nouvelle-France.  Inaugurated in 1893, construction of this imposing structure was completed in 1924 when a central tower section was added.  Two historic conferences were held here in 1943 and 1944, attended by Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill, as guests of the Canadian Prime Minister MacKenzie King.

First on the agenda was to have a look around the Chateau and there was a great view over the river from Dufferin Terrace a promenade overlooking the river and the lower town.  Before the Terrace is the Samuel de Champlain monument, in honour of the founder of Quebec, a work by Paul Chevre, inaugurated in 1898.  I had a look inside the Chateau but was only allowed to look in the lobby and the shops downstairs.  A very cosy posh looking hotel.

I went down to musee du fort and found out that the first show would be at 10.45.  So then I decided to continue with the walking tour picking it up at the Chateau.  I saw the bronze, granite and glass monument commemorating the UNESCO proclamation of Vieux-Quebec as a World Heritage Site in December, 1985. Cradle of French civilization in North America and only walled city north of Mexico, Quebec is the first North American urban centre to be added to this prestigious list of World Heritage Treasures. The monument recalls the UNESCO emblem, where the world is represented by a circle, and human accomplishments by a square. The prism in the center symbolizes the historic part of Quebec City as a World Heritage Site.

Continuing down Rue Saint-Louis, on the corner of rue du Tresor, there is the former palais de Justice (courtroom).  Built in 1887 by E.E. Tache, the palais stands on the site of a church and monastery built earlier by the Recollets when they first landed.  I spotted another ice bar walking along Saint-Louis.  Then at number 17, maison Maillou is a good example of our ancestors' talent for lasting constuction. Built in 1736 by Jean-Baptiste Mail lou, architect and stone mason, the building today is the headquarters of the Chambre de commerce et d'industrie de Quebec. At number 25 a little further on, maison Kent is a superb residence built between 1648 and 1650; this is where the capitulation of Quebec was signed in 1759.

At number 34 Rue Des Jardins, on the busy intersection is maison Jacquet, a remarkable construction highlighted by a very slanted roofline, typical of 17th century dwellings. Purchased in 1815, it became the home of Philippe Aubert de Gaspe, author of "Les Anciens Canadiens". The restaurant in the building today is named after the novel.

Further along rue des Jardins, "monument des Femmes" comes into view, a memorial to those nuns who dedicated their lives to education. Further down is Cathedral Holy Trinity, first Anglican cathedral to have been built outside the British Isles. Inaugurated in 1804, this temple stands on grounds previously known as le jardin des Recollets.  Modelled after London's Saint-Martin-in-the-Fields, this cathedral houses numerous precious objects donated by King George Ill. The benches are made of oak imported from the Royal Windsor Forest.  The sovereign's seat is located in the royal box in the balcony and may be occupied only by the reigning sovereign or her representative.  Every summer, "Les Artisans de Ia Cathedrale" (craftspeople) gather in the busy cathedral courtyard to offer their works.

At number 6 rue Donnacona stands one of the narrowest houses in all of America. It was built in 1842. Up the street is the Monastere des Ursulines founded in 1639 by Marie de l'Incarnation and Madame de Ia Peltrie, the school for girls in this convent is the oldest in North America. The Vieux-monastere (Old-Monastery), with its timbered structure and interior staircase, is one of the few 17th century architectural ensembles remaining in Quebec City today.  Next stop number 12, rue Donnacona, to view the Musee des Ursulines.

At the corner of rue Corps-de-Garde and St-Louis there is a cannonball at the foot of the tree, reminiscent of the city's military past.  At number 72 St-Louis a plaque dedicated to American General Richard Montgomery is found.

It was getting closer to time for the show, so I returned to musee du fort via the information centre.  There was a group booked in for the 10.45 show, and they didn't turn up until after 11, so I waited in the theatre and had some morning tea.  When they showed up the show started.  There was a little model of the city and the show told us the early story of Quebec about all the fighting over possession of the city.  It was interesting and the little model lit up with lights and smoke with the gunfire and fires!

After the show I headed to the Quebec experience, which was closed, and didn't look like it had been open for a while.  So I wandered to Notre-Dame and rejoined the tour.  I saw Seminaire de Quebec; reception centre for the Musee de I' Amerique francaise.  I proceeded to the ramparts and took in the view and admired the VieuxPort de Quebec (Old Port) and the marina. Most of the homes on rue des Remparts were built between 1850 and 1900.  The cannons are part of the city's battery defence system, and were used for protection against enemy attacks.

I continued up the street to parc Montmorency.  Memorials to Louis-Hebert, first Canadian farmer, and to Sir Georges-Etienne Cartier, one of the founding Fathers of Confederation, are found here, as well as a plaque commemorating the First Parliament. Across the street from this park is the Archeveche, a superb stone structure built in 1844, under the supervision of architect Thomas Baillairge.

I saw the memorial to Monseigneur de Laval, first bishop for Quebec; this work is by Philippe Hebert (1908). Also porte Prescott, built in 1797, this first gate was named after the governor in office at that time. Demolished in 1871, the present structure was built in 1983.  By now it was around 12 so I called Jen to find out where they were, and they were looking for the markets down below the funicular.  

I said I would meet them there in about 5 minutes, so made my way down the stairs to the bottom of the cliff.  What a cute area down in the lower city!  The restored houses lining Rue du Petit-Champlain are now home to bistros, art galleries and specialized handicraft boutiques (leather, jewellery, decorative arts, clothing, wood and more). All year-round, visitors are enchanted by the romantic European atmosphere of this quaint neighbourhood, site of the Quebec's first port, and can see here some of the colony's first houses.

We walked around the streets of the lower city and saw the Petit-Champlain fresco by Murale Creation.  This mural, in trompe-l'oeil style, tells of the origins of the Cap-Blanc district, as a port and as a community.  In addition to depicting the bombardments, landslides and other major events to have occurred here, it illustrates the lives of the people who built, inhabited, worked in and set down roots in this district.  We then stopped for lunch in a little place called Le Petit Cochon Dingue.  Jen and I had the egg and salad roll with cream of broccoli soup and I had a hot chocolate.

We sat upstairs in the shop and relaxed.  After lunch we walked up to palace royal a square in the lower city.  Place Royale is the cradle of French civilization in North America. In 1608, Samuel de Champlain began the construction of the first permanent settlement in New France:a small fort at the foot of Cap Diamant. Rich merchants set up shop in this public square, then called place du Marche, and did brisk business. After a bust of Louis XIV (the Sun King) was installed here in 1686, the public square became known as Place Royale.

The merchants, ship owners and shipbuilders established in Place Royale during the English Regime transformed it into a trade hub. However, commercial activity began to claudel Huot stagnate around 1860, marking the slow decline of Place Royale, which eventually retook its former name, place du Marche. By 1950, one of the oldest districts in North America had become poor and rundown. But Place Royale's fortunes would soon change. In the 1960s, efforts were undertaken to rehabilitate this part of the Old City, whose narrow streets and architecture reflect four centuries of history.

On the border of the square, built in 1688, Eglise Notre-Dame-des-Victoires is one of the oldest stone churches in North America. Destroyed by cannon fire in 1759, the church was restored twice. Remarkable interior. A scale model of the ship II Le Breze, which transported commander Marquis de Tracy and soldiers of the Carignan-Salieres Regiment to New France in 1664, is suspended in the nave. .

On our way back to the upper city we admired the Mural of Quebecers, a fresco in trompe-l'oeil style depicting 400 years of Quebec City history.  An interpretation panel identifies the 15 historical figures represented in the mural.  Pare de Ia Cetiere is nearby. A series of interpretation panels tell about the different buildings that were erected on this site over the years.

We decided to then head to the carnival, so made our way up Saint-Louis.  Paid our entrance fee and got our "effigy" a mini plastic bonhomme, which we attached to our jackets!  We passed through the carnival looking at some of the ice sculptures on the way.  At the back of the carnival were the horse sleigh races, and we went there first to watch a couple of the timed trials run.  The horses were very stately and beautiful.

After watching for a bit we went down to the hydro Quebec tent and I went off and bought myself a beaver tail with maple butter!  We sat in the warm and I ate my beaver tail which was yum!

We had a look inside the ice bar dome and got our picture taken with a life-size replica of bonhomme!

We continued walking around the carnival and spotted the rafting and tornado slide down the side of the hill.  It looked like fun so I decided to give it a go.  Jen and Barbara waited down the bottom of the hill and got a photo as I came down.  I did the rafting and it was good fun, the tornado looked great too, a circle raft which spun around as it went down the hill!

We decided it was getting a bit chilly and we were tired of walking around, so walked around the other side of the carnival past the rest of the ice sculptures to the exit.  We crossed Saint-Louis as there was a man dressed in traditional clothing with 2 huskies getting his photo taken with people for tips.  The dogs were white and fluffy and so cute!

Back to hotel de vile du haute where I downloaded some of Jen and Barbara's photos onto my iPad before packing my bag for the return journey.  I called the taxi at about 4.45 and went and waited out the front.  When the taxi hadn't arrived at about 5 I called again and I think they had the wrong street. Lucky!

The taxi arrived about 5 minutes later and I was on my way to the train station.  Lucky it was a quick trip and I got there just as they were boarding the train at about 5.15.  

The train trip was nice and relaxing.  I wrote a few blogs, and watched some more of Arthur while eating my dinner.  I had a ham croissant and banana bread!

We arrived into Montreal and I walked through the underground city and found myself a pharmacy to get some Claritin and then emerged on Saint Catherine.  Walked the rest of the way home and back to the apartment.  

Unpacked my bags, and got my stuff ready for skiing tomorrow, and then had a shower and off to bed, what a busy day!

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