Discovering the Gaspésie

Trip Start Nov 14, 2011
Trip End Feb 28, 2013

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Flag of Canada  , Quebec,
Sunday, October 21, 2012

Mary's Impressions:
In my continual search to upgrade my French skills, I had heard of a program affiliated with the University of Western Ontario where for 6 weeks, I would live with a French-Canadian family in Trois Pistoles, Québec while taking French classes. This appealed to me as I had never been to Québec.  Plus the costs to enroll in the course were covered off by a bursury that I applied for.  I was all set to go!!  I took a train from London, ON (my hometown) to Montréal, QC where I had to switch trains to continue my travels to Trois Pistoles.  Since I had some time to kill, I toured around Montréal.  I was intrigued by the sounds of a concert that came flooding onto the streets of Rue Ste. Catherine in front of Place des Arts.  The music played was from the French-Canadian Rock band Harmonium , the song "Pour un Instant".  Listening to this song and feeling the ambiance created by the music among my fellow French-Canadians was the moment when I fell in love with French-Canadian culture.  I got back on the train and went on to Trois Pistoles.  While at Trois Pistoles, there was work to be had as well as lots of time for fun and discovery.  For one of the long weekends, a group of us decided we would hitch-hike to see the sights of the Gaspésie (a.k.a the Gaspé Peninsula).  Our intentions were good however we quickly found that 4 girls hitch-hiking together was not the ideal situation to get picked up for rides.  We ended up splitting up and reconnecting again at the next major town (ever so cautious as we were).  My friend and I were picked up by 2 French-Canadian guys who enticed us to come to Carleton-sur-Mer for a lobster BBQ party on the beach (they didn't have to convince us too hard).  We hooked up with our other friends and we all ended up staying together with our new French-Canadian friends that weekend.

I did feel some regret that I never made it to see the Gaspésie and the Percé Rock.  However life is long and with determination, somehow things work themselves out.  Jeff and I were now going to see the Gaspésie as part of our year of travel.  I had heard so much about the beauty and ruggedness of the area.  Seeing and experiencing it was as I imagined it to be.  Small communities located strategically on the edge of the mountains peering out to the waters.  Each town and village we passed had its church with the tall steeple centered in the middle of the town.  A past reflection of how much the Catholic Church played a role in the history of this province.  Our drive through the Gaspésie was moody and surreal – very little traffic and tourists (most places were “Fermé” with signs posted advising that places would reopen again in May 2013).  The rain and cooler weather also added to the somber mood of our travels – a period to reflect back on the many times I have come to Québec over the years to work and play.  My love for the French-Canadian culture and its people never diminishing.

We stayed at a B&B in Sainte-Anne-des-Monts where we were charmed by the couple who ran it (they were very happy that we spoke French).  Philippe who worked as a Photographer for the Québec National Parks spoke passionately of the scenery and wildlife in the Parc National de la Gaspésie (he also showed me a video that he created).  Watching the video I couldn’t believe the amount of wildlife so accessible and close – moose, caribou, deer, bears, coyotes, foxes.  We have beautiful, rugged and savage terrain that is just quietly sitting there for us to enjoy and experience.  It’s funny because we don’t have to go far to find it whether you’re in Quebec, BC or Ontario – wildlife can be found all around us (something that at times we forget or take for granted when living in the cities).

We did manage to see the Percé Rock although it was hidden by fog on the day we were there.  It kept teasing us poking out amongst the fog while Jeff and I waited patiently for the fog to blow out over the ocean.  We also made a stop in Trois Pistoles to have our lunch by the water.  The boats docked for the season, the water at low tide, everything standing still waiting for winter to come.

Although most places were shut down for the season, we still enjoyed our tour of the Gaspésie.  It gave us a chance to reconnect undisturbed with the beauty and isolation of some of the communities that make up the province of Québec.  Quel beau paysage!
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