postcard: Quebec City

The good side (that we didn't get to see) of Quebec City.

I still needed a tad more research for my novels, and our trip was drawing to a close. I was unsure about the topography along the St. Lawrence east of Montreal. I knew there were mountains out there somewhere, and I needed a mountain for my book. Via Rail ran several trains each day between Montreal and Quebec City. I suggested that we take the train out a hour's worth, to Drummondville, and then return to the city.

The chef at the Bistro de Paris disagreed vehemently with that. "Non non. Now, west of Montreal, that's where you want. Lots of interesting villages there."

But non, we didn't. Karen suggested that we duck over to Quebec City, grab a bus tour or just walk around, and then come back to Montreal. In all, we'd spend six hours on a train, and that would be restful to our aching blisters.

The man at the train station information desk also told us we didn't want to go to Quebec City. There was just one train left that day, one train back. We'd have 1 1/2 hours to see Quebec City. "How about Drummondville?" I asked.

"Ah non. Drummondville is rural. I live around there. It's a nice enough town, but it's dull. You don't want to go there. You get your husband to rent a car and drive around, but don't go to Drummondville, and don't go to Quebec this late in the day."

I asked the man to find me a husband and I'd follow his advice. He said that if he weren't on duty, he'd take me on a tour.

At any rate, I reported back to Karen. Only 1 1/2 hours in Quebec, I told her. Not enough time for anything except grab a postcard and a tee shirt. But she really, really wanted to see Quebec City. This was her first big trip, and she wanted to travel!

So we went to Quebec City. The Montreal portion of the ride is quite nice (and there's a mountain to the south of Montreal that I could use in my book), but then the landscape turns into American MidWest: flat, farmland and monotonous. The few towns there were consisted of a couple hundred modest homes (of which half that we could see had above-ground swimming pools) with a sudden, twin-towered gothic cathedral rising over the plain of mediocrity. No wonder all the houses were so unassuming; all the people's money must go to the cathedrals.

Once we saw about thirty silos all clustered. As we approached, we saw that the silos and houses associated with them were all lined up along one road, with the farmlands stretching back from them to infinity. It was economical of them to do it that way, but it looked very odd.

There were a few young children on board, and one little boy kept toddling up and down the aisle. Since the trainride was a typical one, the car shook from side to side and the boy would topple. Once an official walked through the car, gathered up the boy and pleaded with his mother to please keep him in a seat for his own safety. Within minutes, the boy was on the loose again.

He had admirers in front of us, senior citizens. One gentleman leaned across the aisle to talk to the child and his friends, and it was as if we had tuned into "The Great White North" show with the MacKenzie brothers: the short consonants flatted out, and every sentence ending in "eh." Karen couldn't keep from laughing. The speech pattern I'd always thought was a vaudeville was real and absolutely unexaggerated!

Landscape for the last forty-five minutes of the trip was a lot more interesting, especially the spectacular crossing over the St. Lawrence. Oh my! We'd crossed several picturesque rivers with waterfalls as the land grew hillier, but this was fabulous. We hung for a way along a cliff overlooking the river, and you could peer down and see ant-people walking along the shoreline so far below.

next to train station, Quebec

An interesting building next to the train station in Quebec. On a later trip I discovered that this is some kind of tax building.

QC's the capital of Quebec, so you'd think their train station would be larger than it is. It only had two gates (one for first class, one for economy, both funneling people onto the same walkway) compared to Montreal's 16. The station was that gothic architecture that the really grand edifices have in Quebec. In the lobby we looked up to see one of those amazing ceiling treatments that some of the more outre buildings have. This had a huge stained glass map of Canada on it.

"Why is it backward?" I asked Karen, who hadn't noticed. Then I thought, it's because the sun will shine through it and turn this entire lobby into a gigantic map of Canada!

Then why had they installed a cart rack in the middle of the lobby, right where the map should shine on it and be horribly distorted?

I don't know, maybe the rack's not in the way of the effect when it happens. Maybe I'll come back on a sunny midday and see for myself, and maybe not.

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