Day Twenty-four: LĂ©vis

The rain had stopped this morning, but the strong cold winds continued unabated as we packed up the car for the day. The snow geese were making the most of the tail wind, thousands glistening bright white against the black clouds. Such a beautiful sight to start the morning.

We took the main highway rather than the coastal route but still had good views of the mountainous north shore of the St. Lawrence.

IMG_20181016_085312.jpg

I’d read that Kamouraska was considered one of the top twenty prettiest villages in Quebec so we took a detour to check it out. It’s a small village right on the shore of the St. Lawrence and the houses are all unique. Some have big front porches, many are narrow wood siding, some are old stone, and at least one was this unusual tile that I have often seen along the coast.

IMG_20181016_093552.jpg

I don’t think I need to explain what this shop is. 😊

IMG_20181016_093300.jpg

And yes, we stopped even though it was only around 9 am.! So many choices…a tough decision!

The landscape was constantly changing. From rocky hillsides to long stretches of fields.

IMG_20181016_091404.jpg

IMG_20181016_091158.jpg

We also stopped in Montmagny, the Snow Goose Capital.

IMG_20181016_112201

Every year in October, they hold a snow goose festival. We missed that but thought perhaps we’d see some of the birds along the water’s edge. Instead, they were all overhead so we’re glad we had the chance to see them in Matane.

Montmagny does seem to have some resident artists. This rock was near the waterfall.

IMG_20181016_111932.jpg

And this mural was in town on the wall of the bookstore.

IMG_20181016_104651.jpg

By noon the sun was out and the colours along the road and across the river were vivid.

IMG_20181016_114615.jpg

We drove past the sign for Grosse Ile and the Irish Memorial site. This trip has taught me a great deal about our uncomfortable history.

Grosse Ile was set up as a quarantine area by the Lower Canadian government in the 1830’s to contain a cholera epidemic thought to be caused by the influx of European immigrants. It was reopened in the mid 1800’s for Irish immigrants who had contracted typhus during their voyage (escaping the Potato Famine).

Over 3000 Irish died on the island and over 5000 are buried there, many having contracted typhus from the unsanitary living conditions on the island. Ships were not allowed to sail past Grosse Ile until they had assured authorities they were free of disease.

By 1847, the island was overwhelmed and did not have sufficient facilities or medical staff to care for the numbers arriving. Requests to the government for additional funds and staff apparently fell on deaf ears.

Many who arrived healthy often died within a short time, hundreds left lying on the beach with no shelter, food or water. Even doctors and nurses became sick and died.

Although we didn’t stop at the site (it is a National Historic site and is closed for the season), just reading about the tragic history was yet another reminder for me of the many times we, as a people, have misunderstood, ignored, neglected, harmed and turned our backs on those in need.

As a nation, there is a large part of our history that we must remember and acknowledge the role we played.

While we can’t change the past, we can take a different approach to the future.

IMG_20181016_114731.jpg

Advertisements

Day Twenty-two: Ste-Anne-des-Monts

Looking back on today’s journey, I think I’d describe it as a rollercoaster ride. A lot of ups and downs, literally.

First we hiked up to Cap Gaspé.

IMG_20181014_093351.jpg

It’s a point of land in Forillon National Park that juts out into the Gulf of St. Lawrence. It’s a four km hike, mostly uphill, especially the last half km. The cliffs in the eastern side fall 700  feet to the ocean but where the lighthouse is located, it’s about 300 feet above the crashing waves. It’s also where the Appalachian Mountains meet the Atlantic Ocean and is the head of the Appalachian Trail.

The Mi’kmaq called it Gaspeg meaning Land’s End. From the lighthouse, we took a trail down the cliff through the woods to a lookout point.

IMG_20181014_100211.jpg

We saw a whale, seals, and many seabirds.

seal cropped.JPG

In the distance, we even saw this.

sailing ship cropped.JPG

It was easy to imagine Jacques Cartier or Samuel de Champlain was sailing past, and we had slipped through a gap in time.

Hiking back down, the foliage was brilliant.

IMG_20181014_114700.jpg

Snuggled into the trees I spotted a sleeping porcupine.

porcupine cropped.JPG

As we were driving out of the park, we saw something unusual crossing the road and so we stopped for a closer look.

lynx cropped.JPG

It was a lynx!

The rest of the day was spent driving up and down high mountain roads and deep valleys. I can’t count how many times I have said “Wow!” on this trip. Every turn offers a new feast for the eyes.

IMG_20181014_153250.jpg

One of our many detours was along a dirt road that climbed steeply upward.

IMG_20181014_141019.jpg

Suddenly the road took a sharp turn and head straight down toward the ocean. It took my breath away.

Our destination was yet another lighthouse (Pointe-à-la-Renommée) but of greater interest was the building where Marconi set up the first maritime radio station in 1904.

IMG_20181014_142708.jpg

The northern coast of the Gaspé Peninsula is far more dramatic than the south side. The mountains are steeper and more rugged, the wind blows harder, and the coastal villages seem to hug the shelter of the coves more tightly.

IMG_20181014_161912.jpg

In one community, we found a covered bridge.

IMG_20181014_152729.jpg

And in another, we came upon a 115 foot sailboat in the harbour.

sailboat cropped.JPG

We chatted with the owner who is waiting for a break in the weather so he can sail it to Lake Ontario.

After that we had a long stretch of road with mountains on one side and crashing ocean on the other.

IMG_20181014_155720.jpg

IMG_20181014_163900.jpg

We’re now officially on our way home, having turned west after leaving Cap GaspĂ© and Land’s End this morning. Still a few more days to go and places to discover!

Day Twenty-One: Cap-aux-Os

You never know what the day will offer.

This morning at breakfast, we were chatting with a couple from France. They told us about a boat tour around PercĂ© Rock and Bonaventure Island. It was a beautiful morning – clear sky and sunshine – so we decided to do it.

It wasn’t until we had bought our tickets and were approaching the boat that I questioned my sanity. The boat was bouncing up and down at the wharf like Tigger having an exuberantly happy day. My stomach lurched and I reached for gravol (which I carry in my purse just in case!)

Getting on the boat involved two men pushing a passenger on board in perfect timing as the edge of the boat rose with the swell to meet the wharf…and two other men catching the passenger on the other side.

The swells increased as we headed out into the Gulf of St. Lawrence but the photo opportunities were worth it (although we nearly froze even with all our warmest layers on). Thankfully, the gravol helped!

IMG_20181013_084913.jpg

The view of PercĂ© was extraordinary and as we passed Bonaventure Island, we saw grey seals and a huge gannet nesting area. All the photos are on my good camera though and I haven’t had a chance to download them yet.

We dawdled around Percé all morning, checking out historical buildings, and wandering along the shore.

IMG_20181013_122037.jpg

IMG_20181013_122948.jpg

Then we continued our drive along the coast. Once again, the view was awe-inspiring – mountains in every direction and more hues of orange, yellow, red and green than I dreamed possible. We certainly lucked out with our timing for this trip in terms of seeing the peak of the fall foliage.

IMG_20181013_133358.jpg

As we came around the other side of the bay, I was able to capture one more shot of Percé Rock with an abandoned house in the foreground.

IMG_20181013_135634.jpg

The City of GaspĂ© is nestled into a mountainside on the Bay of GaspĂ©. It’s a picturesque spot with great views in all directions including these tidal flats.

IMG_20181013_134310.jpg

Tonight we’re staying in a former school in Cap-aux-Os, about 20 minutes east of the city of GaspĂ©. The bedroom appears to have been a classroom with the original wooden cupboard doors in one corner, and big windows overlooking the playground. Funny how schools always feel like schools no matter how they are repurposed.

Tomorrow we get to explore Forillon National Park. And it looks like another nice day.

Day Twenty: PercĂ©, QuĂ©bec

We started and ended today in the fog. The drive began in Bathurst, New Brunswick which I am sure is beautiful in the sunshine and the summer.

As we drove to Campbellton, the colours in the trees were stunning in spite of the foggy conditions.

IMG_20181012_103606_1

We crossed the bridge at Campbellton and arrived in a new province and a new time zone.

IMG_20181012_102359.jpg

IMG_20181012_102457

As the day progressed, we travelled through history once again. This mural, in the shape of a Canada goose, captures the life of people in the Carleton-sur-mer region and celebrates the 250th anniversary of the community.

IMG_20181012_110727.jpg

The fog finally lifted for a while and we were able to get some spectacular views of the surrounding countryside as we headed east along the Gaspe Peninsula.

IMG_20181012_111742

We climbed Mont Saint-Joseph in the hope of getting a better view. Instead, we found snow and entered an even thicker fog bank.

 

IMG_20181012_113557

IMG_20181012_113530

In Bonaventure, we stopped at the Quebec Acadian Museum to see a display of work by two local rughooking artists. Unfortunately the museum was closed for lunch. So I took this photo instead.

IMG_20181012_121115.jpg

A little further along the coast in Paspébiac, we came upon a series of buildings that had been built between 1783 and 1900 by fishing companies from Jersey.

IMG_20181012_124452.jpg

PaspĂ©biac was Quebec’s first cod fishing port. It has Basque roots and the residents’ accent is different from the rest of the region.

In Chandler, we took a walk along the beach to stretch our legs and enjoy the crashing of the waves along the shore.

IMG_20181012_135817.jpg

And tonight we’re in PercĂ©. Although we can’t actually see the Rock because of the fog. Since it’s past the tourist season, very few restaurants are open. We went to one that was recommended but we were turned away because it was fully booked by a large group. We went to a pub that only offered drinks, no food (although we were told we could go to the grocery store next door and bring some food back to the pub).

We ended up at a small bistro where we were the only customers. The menu was limited to four items (end of season) but it was just what we needed.

Here’s hoping for clear skies tomorrow!

 

Day Nineteen: Bathurst, New Brunswick

Today it rained. And rained. And snowed. And rained.

IMG_20181011_131957

We crossed the border into New Brunswick first thing and stopped to buy a map. At the roadside stop, there were three larger-than-life semi-palmated plovers with some facsinating information about these and other shore birds.

IMG_20181011_090105

After breeding in the Arctic, they spend the summer months in the mudflats along the Bay of Fundy eating shrimp-like creatures. They eat until they have doubled in size and then fly 4300 km non-stop to South America.

We were lucky enough to see some semipalmated plovers on our travels.

Although the weather wasn’t great, we did identify a few more birds today. We found some Dunlin, Greater Yellowlegs, Hooded Mergansers and Black Ducks. I did try to take some photos but they didn’t turn out that well.

We stopped for our picnic lunch on Hay Island near Neguac. We were in the heart of the Acadian Peninsula, and the lighthouse was painted in the colours of the Acadian flag.

IMG_20181011_115333.jpg

For those unfamiliar with the tragic history of the Acadians, they were of French descent and settled in the Maritimes in the 17th and 18th century. Between 1755 and 1764, the British forcibly removed the Acadians and deported them to France, Britain and the Thirteen Colonies (which later became the U.S.). Approximately 11,500 of the 14,000 Acadians were deported.

As we drove along the coast of the Acadian Peninsula and out to the Islands of Lameque and Miscou, the Acadian flag was proudly waving in front of homes and businesses, painted at the base of telephone poles, on boats and even on buildings.

IMG_20181011_153346.jpg

Fortunately the rain lifted when we reached Miscou Island. It was one of the first areas explored by Jacques Cartier in 1534. It was a fishing base for Basque fishermen, fishermen from the Isle of Jersey and for Acadians. Indigenous people had seasonal hunting camps there.

Today, the majority of residents speak French and fishing is still the major industry (lobster and herring).

IMG_20181011_155544

IMG_20181011_153659.jpg

Most of the island’s peat moss has not been harvested and there are boardwalks through the area.

IMG_20181011_152526.jpg

Miscou Island’s lighthouse was built in 1856 and is still in use.

IMG_20181011_140350.jpg

We were able to go inside for a tour right up to the top.

IMG_20181011_133749

Sheltered from the wind beside the replica of the lighthouse keeper’s house, we could see the coast of Gaspe (our destination tomorrow).

IMG_20181011_140215

Day Eighteen: Amherst

This is the view we woke up to this morning. Kelly’s Mountain near Sydney, Nova Scotia.

IMG_20181010_091242.jpg

As you can see, the fall colours are at their peak, and continued to captivate us during today’s drive.

IMG_20181010_092308.jpg

IMG_20181010_092828.jpg

Beautiful as it was, I found myself missing Newfoundland and Labrador. The landscape there is so vast and wild, with more trees, mountains and coastline than people. Here there are rolling fields, cattle and sheep grazing, and plenty of towns with gas stations and coffee shops.

We discovered too late that the Celtic Colours International Festival is on now in Cape Breton. How wonderful it would have been to attend a ceilidh! Another trip perhaps.

We skirted away from the TransCanada highway to explore some coastal communities and we considered taking the ferry to Prince Edward Island but our timing was off for that too.

We did stop in Tatamagouche to visit some shops.

IMG_20181010_142715.jpg

And we came across this delightful lighthouse in Wallace Harbour.

IMG_20181010_145453.jpg

And this was our view of Prince Edward Island in the distance.

IMG_20181010_133451.jpg

We also came across a lavender farm in Seafoam (yes, that is a real place).

IMG_20181010_135151.jpg

And drove past Denmark!

IMG_20181010_140621.jpg

You never know where your adventures will take you 😁

 

Day Seventeen: Sydney, Nova Scotia

 

IMG_20181009_092155

I did mention that I’m not a morning person, right? My partner took the risky step of buying me a coffee. My first. And I’m sad to report that it went down far too easily!

The early morning drive along the coast of Newfoundland to the ferry was just as stunning as every other we’ve taken on the island.

IMG_20181009_082504.jpg

Right to the end of the drive, mountains rose on either side as if saying a fond farewell.

IMG_20181009_085126.jpg

The ferry ride was smooth and we scored the best seats ever. We paid a bit extra for cushy reclining chairs in the reserved section. We overlooked the stern of the ferry, on the 9th level (the only thing above us was the observation deck) and windows all around.

IMG_20181009_115100.jpg

About an hour into the seven-hour crossing, Newfoundland became the suggestion of a pencil smudge on the gloomy horizon. After that we were cocooned in fog.

The rain and clouds finally began to lift as we approached Cape Breton.

IMG_20181009_172715.jpg

As we drove away from the ferry, my first impression of Nova Scotia was one of brilliant colour. Oh maple trees of orange, gold and red, how I have missed you! It was dusk and too dark to take photos but I know tomorrow’s drive will be spectacular!

Day Sixteen: Stephenville

The highlight today was the landscape. We drove in sunshine from Rocky Harbour to Stephenville, albeit via a rather circuitous route. Why drive directly to your destination when there are so many things to explore?

Once again, we saw brilliant colours on tree-covered hillsides followed by rugged mountainsides around the next corner.

IMG_20181008_111733.jpg

IMG_20181008_111626.jpg

At times, you could see for miles and all you could see was range after range of mountains. I was reminded of that children’s song about the bear going over the mountain to see what he could see. And all that he could see was…another mountain!

IMG_20181008_111951.jpg

As we approached Stephenville, we turned off and headed out to explore the Port-au-Port Peninsula joined to the mainland by a causeway with a stony beach.

IMG_20181008_123020

The area has the most diverse ethnic and linguistic mix on the island including Mi’kmaq, French (descendants of French and Basque settlers from the 1700’s) and Acadians. We saw the Mi’kmaq flag for the first time today, and many of the signs were in 3 languages – French, Mi’kmaq and English.

The drive to Cape St. George and back around was spectacular. Here are some of the amazing views.

IMG_20181008_131218

IMG_20181008_143820.jpg

IMG_20181008_140719.jpg

On the way back to Stephenville, we suddenly descended from the mountains to a low coastal beach. The beach itself was made of thin stones that sank under your feet like sand.

IMG_20181008_151703

IMG_20181008_151840.jpg

Newfoundland continues to surprise us with its diversity.

IMG_20181008_160245.jpg

Tomorrow we will be up before the sun to drive a couple of hours to Port-aux-Basques for the ferry to Nova Scotia. I’m not a morning person (as some of you well know!) so it’s a good thing I’m not the one driving 😊

IMG_20181008_143856.jpg

Day Fifteen: Gros Morne Park (Part Two)

We are now halfway through our trip. We have seen so much yet it feels like we have only skimmed the surface.

Speaking of which, today we had the rare opportunity to walk on the Earth’s mantle. The Tablelands in Gros Morne National Park look like a barren desert with steep slopes rising to flat-topped mountains.

IMG_20181007_131056.jpg

The golden brown rock – peridotite – is thought to have been forced up from the depths several hundred million years ago during a collision between tectonic plates.

IMG_20181007_141508.jpg

The rock has toxic amounts of heavy metals and lacks nutrients to sustain plant life so the area looks like a moonscape.

IMG_20181007_144948.jpg

Yet the land and mountains on the opposite side of the road are lush and green.

IMG_20181007_110852.jpg

The plants that do grow on the tablelands are alpine and found only in the lower part of the landscape. The pitcher plant (a carnivorous plant like the Venus flytrap) is vibrant red and prevalent.

IMG_20181007_141605.jpg

So is the creeping juniper. We saw some tiny ferns near a waterfall as well as some purple asters.

IMG_20181007_150012.jpg

The whole day was one of contrasts. I had no idea that this part of Newfoundland was so mountainous. Every time we came around a corner, a new breathtaking view arose before us. And what a mix! Snow-covered mountains, jagged peaks and flat table tops, lush valleys, deep lakes and fjords…

IMG_20181007_094620

IMG_20181007_110645.jpg

We stopped as always in a few coastal villages along the way. We were particularly charmed by Norris Point nestled between Bonne Bay and the East Arm and surrounded by rolling hills and mountains in glorious fall colours.

IMG_20181007_095944.jpg

In a couple of valleys we saw the unmistakable crimson of maple trees – the first maples we’ve seen since Quebec. It actually made me feel a bit homesick for the range of fall colours we usually see this time of the year.

Tomorrow we continue south to Stephensville, and the next day, we’ll be catching the ferry to Nova Scotia. Only two more sleeps in Newfoundland. I will miss the extraordinary land and sea as well as the open and welcoming people who have made us feel so at home.

Oh, and the partridge berry pie!

Day Thirteen: Rocky Harbour

Just for a change, let’s go backwards through our day today.

IMG_20181005_185241.jpg

It ended in Rocky Harbour at the lighthouse, watching the sun set over the mountains.

IMG_20181005_184929.jpg

The drive there was spectacular, and couldn’t be captured in photos. The road followed the shoreline with the vast Gulf of St. Lawrence on one side and the towering range of Long Mountains on the other.

IMG_20181005_153242

We slipped in and out of tiny coastal villages and stopped at the breathtaking Arches Provincial Park.

IMG_20181005_140617.jpg

Before we left Port-au-Choix this morning, we went for another hike along the coast.

IMG_20181005_101745.jpg

We came upon a herd of caribou grazing. We counted ten: several young males off to the side and a large male with his “harem” at the other end of the meadow.

caribou cropped

We were able to follow the path down toward the ocean, passing quite close by the young males. Once we reached the trees, the large male began to charge one of the younger males. It was a bit unnerving to see how quickly he could cover the ground without any effort.

We now have two full days to explore the Gros Morne area. So many vistas and trails to choose from!