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So leaving our little motel in Beauport that Monday morning in late April 2012 the morning after my mega-ramble around the city, it's here here that I welcome the readers who have been following my journeys of 2010 and 2011 . We're all leaving town together

Now there is one thing about leaving Quebec via Beauport that I really ought to explain. I don't know whether you have noticed the same, but whenever I am looking for a motel in the evening, I usually encounter everything but. And when I'm looking for a petrol station, I usually encounter everything else but those as well.

No matter what vehicle I've hired at Montreal, it's always on leaving Quebec that I need to refuel and as you would expect in a street full of motels, there's no petrol station.

Well, there is, but it's right at the beginning of the street and if you miss it as I did in 2010 as I was heading east, you have a very long and nervous drive until you find the next one, which is right out of town on the main highway.

In 2012 the day started as I meant it to go on as I almost missed a red traffic light along here and had to screech to a halt to avoid driving through it.

It does bring to my mind the press release that we received back in the 1980s from the police in Paris when I worked for a major coach company in the UK. This told us, without a trace of irony, that
"the policeman who directs the traffic in the centre of the Arc de Triomphe will from now on be floodlit, to make sure that motorists don't miss him in the dark".

Those of you on the trip with me in 2011 missed quite a lot as it happens because although it was only about 18:00 when I left the city, I was taken completely by surpise at the speed at which it went dark. It was just as if someone has flicked a switch, and that was that. It goes without saying that a certain Brute Stringbean album came straight to my mind.

A short drive later the road merges onto the highway that bypasses the city, and this is where we welcome our fellow-travellers on our journey here over the New Year period of 2000-2001

I should perhaps mention that I haven't merged the account of that journey into these pages. The reason for that is that it was my first visit to Canada, it was the middle of winter, and I was tentatively finding my way around an unfamiliar terrain in some kind of difficult driving conditions.

Sightseeing was really only a secondary consideration then, and so while that journey is interesting in itself, it doesn't really play any part in what I'm trying to achieve in this series of pages.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, to drive onto the highway, you need to pass underneath it along the road that heads to the bridge across to the Ile d'Orleans and then turn left at the traffic lights. It is here that there is the best view of the famous Chute de Montmorency but I have described elsewhere the difficulties that are encountered when trying to have a close-up view of the waterfall. If you want to have a good look at them, you'll need to have a look at this page

Not too far down the main highway heading east, there's a huge petrol station on the right hand side of the road. I stopped here for fuel on my first journey referred to above, and I stopped here again in 2010 to fill up the car.

pont ile orleans quebec beaupre coast st lawrence north shore canada october octobre 2010

At the back of the garage were some magnificent mudflats that stretched out into the river, and so in 2010, once I had filled up the car (and purchased a coffee to fill myself up, of course) then by a little judicious wading out into the aforementioned, I managed to take a photograph of the impressive Pont d'Orleans, the bridge across the north channel of the St Lawrence to the Ile d'Orléans.

You can see exactly what I meant by "wading" too if you look closely at the photograph.

And that wasn't all either. I mentioned on another page that there was a huge cruise ship, the MSC Poesia, moored at Québec as I drove past the harbour in 2010 and that I wasn't able to find a decent viewpoint to take a photograph of it.

msc poesia cruise quebec harbour beaupre coast st lawrence north shore canada october octobre 2010

However, you have to admit that a decent high-quality lens is a magnificent purchase. No such issues with the ship from this particular viewpoint.

A crop here followed by an enlargement there and a little bit of sharpening, and the ship, even from a good ten miles away, leaps out of the previous photograph with all of its glory fully revealed. You can't do much better than this.

grand allee modern quebec beaupre coast st lawrence north shore canada october octobre 2010

And there's more too. Using the same technique, I can drag out a section of the modern part of the city too if you don't mind the bridge being in the way.

That's the area around the Grand Allée that we visited one Sunday in late April 2012 and if you look closely at a few of those photographs on that page, you will recognise a few of the buildings.

All in all, it was well-worth the effort involved in taking this photograph, even if I did find myself up to my knees in ... errr ... silt.

canadian traffic lights mont st anne quebec beaupre coast st lawrence north shore canada october octobre 2010

having had enough excitement for now, it's time to go back on the road and continue our drive along the north bank of the St Lawrence. There in the distance is the Mont Ste Anne, an outcrop of the Bouclier Canadien or Canadian Shield.

But that wasn't why I wanted to take this particular photograph. I don't know if you have noticed but the traffic lights here are horizontal, and this is something that we will be encountering again and again.

Now people from North American moan at me because I install my North American electrical sockets horizontally when apparently they are supposed to be fitted vertically, but judging by the way they install their traffic lights, they have no room to complain.

u turn demi tour quebec beaupre coast st lawrence north shore canada october octobre 2010

And something else too. I've been seeing these signs for Demi-Tour or "Half-Tower" for quite some time now all along this road. They are everywhere. This place must be quite enormous and yet there's no sign of it on any map that I have ever seen. "Are you sure about this?" ...ed.

Another thing that caught my eye back in 2010 was that across the road from me on the old railway line heading back towards the city was a train of about 10 open wagons of the coal type or some such being pulled not by a locomotive, would you believe, but by a lorry complete with rubber tyres. It was going quite slowly, mind you, but advancing all the same.

If the next u-turn had not been 5 kilometres away I'd have done a U turn and gone back to take a photo of it to show you, but by the time I've gone up here 5kms and turned round and gone 5kms back, Heaven alone knows where it might have gone to.

But you are not going to be disappointed because when I was around here in 2012 I happened quite by chance to stumble upon the monster, and I was even able to take a photograph of it.

strawberry moose quebec beaupre coast st lawrence north shore canada avril april 2012 copyright free photo royalty free photo

Whenever I'm on my travels these days I usually bring a travelling companion with me. Most people familiar with my adventures will immediately recall Strawberry Moose, the former and very controversial mascot of the students of the Open University in the United Kingdom.

He is of course never one to miss out on a photo opportunity whenever one presents itself, especially if it involves his distant relations. Here at the side of the highway he engages one such relative in meaningful conversation.

Just after here is an enormous religious edifice that first caught my eye as I drove past on my journey over the New Year of 2000-2001 and had the weather been more favourable and had it been earlier in the day, I would have stopped to photograph it.

On my outbound journey to Labrador in October 2010 I was in a desperate rush and it was also rush hour, so I didn't have a chance to stop to photograph it. I therefore made a vow to come back to photograph it on my way back to Windsor.

However, in a fit of divine retribution for my sins, when I got back here at 17:15 Quebec time in early November, a time that would normally have given me a good hour at least of reasonable light to take some photographs, I was up to my neck in miserable grey skies, heavy overcast clouds, squalls of rainstorms and snowfalls. Hence the pitch-black weather

Not even I can legislate for the weather.

canada november novembre 2010

The edifice with which we are concerned is the Basilica of Saint Anne de Beaupre. She is not only the mother of Mary and hence the grandmother of Jesus, but also the patron saint of mariners.

In the early 1650s a group of mariners were taken by surprise by a sudden tempest and, in fear for their lives, prayed to Saint Anne to save them. They struggled ashore just near here and, in 1658, they erected a wooden chapel in her honour.

During the erection of the chapel, someone by the name of Louis Guimont, who was crippled by rheumatism, suddenly threw away his crutches and walked normally. Not an unusual occurrence as we know in the 21st Century - salt water and sea bathing have produced similar effects in others - but sea bathing in the 1čth Century was unheard-of and so the effects of salt water were poorly understood.

Nevertheless, a miracle was proclaimed, and people began to flock here. And other, similar miracles were proclaimed. Such were the crowds that a bigger church was built in 1661, and then a bigger one still in 1676.

An enormous church was built here in 1876 and was one of the religious sites that was entrusted to the tender attentions of one of our heroes, Father Frederic Jansoone, about whom we had a considerable discussion when we were at Trois Rivieres - he who was recruited to the Quebec Catholic Church due to his "talent for selling" and "his knowledge and skill in presentation".

canada november novembre 2010

However, divine intervention and miracles were not enough to keep the Basilica from harm, and if you have followed these pages as keenly as I have written them, you will not need to be told what happened here.

However, if you would like me to tell you, then let me say that in 1922 the building caught fire and was burnt to the ground. The building that you see here today (if you peer through the doom and the gloom and the rain and the snow) dates from 1934.

I don't know about you, but I'm nothing at all like convinced to any degree at all about this question of miracles, and when a site of miraculous and divine intervention can't even summon up something to save itself from destruction, then I'm not sure how anyone else can be convinced either.

The Basilica does however summon up to my mind the poet WH Auden. I'm no fan of his, having had to sit through an endless stream of poems from him and his ilk when I was studying for my English Literature "O" Level, but I do recall his famous comment, when discussing churches, of
"Luxury liners laden with souls"
"Ahhh! Souls" I hear you say. And you would be right. I couldn't put it any better myself.

canada november novembre 2010

The town of Saint Anne de Beaupre is quaint enough too, stuck up here against the cliffs right at the edge of the flood plain. Ordinarily I would have gone for a wander around to take a few photos but there is a limit as to the sacrifices that I am prepared to make for my readers.

If you think that I'm going for a good walk in the appalling weather conditions that I was experiencing, you are mistaken. You'll have to make do with this photo for now and we'll see what happens in the future.

In 2011 on my way past the Basilica, there were roadworks all along here and so we were diverted down a winding little country road that was probably Highway 138 about 75 years ago. It was already dark by this time and what with all of the time that it took to resolve all of the traffic issues, that was basically the end of the evening. I simply battened down all of the hatches, rigged the Dodge for silent running, and climbed up over the back of Cape Tourmente into the mountains and into the night.

In 2012 however I timed my arrival at the town of St Anne de Beaupré for mid-morning as I had plenty to do, and doing it in daylight is always a good idea. However, I still don't understand even now why I didn't stop for half an hour here for a better look around.

quebec beaupre coast st lawrence north shore canada avril april 2012 copyright free photo royalty free photo

As an aside, if you recall my visit just now to the Ile d'Orleans you will remember that I speculated that there was still some snow on the upper slopes of the Mont Ste Anne. From this particular viewpoint there is no doubt about it. That is definitely snow up there.

And on a south-facing slope as well. It's just as well that I'm keeping to this side of the mountain. I shudder to think about what it might be like on the north side.

What I am now going to do, though, is to head south. There's a little road that I have noticed in the past that leads down to the foot of Cap Tourmente and I set aside some time in 2012 to go for a little exploration.

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