CHEMIN DU ROY
SHIPS AND FERRIES
When we were here in Canada in 2010 and 2011 we ran a competition for "101 uses for a redundant school bus". I'm not sure what number we reached in 2011, but whatever it was, this bus here that I encountered in 2012 is the next one.
I'm not even sure if this is an old school bus. It might be a Bluebird (I can't see the front grille) and if so it most likely was a school bus and therefore probably came from Girardin, the main agent for Bluebird school buses over the river in Drummondville.
There are a lot of ifs and buts in the above, but never mind. It's still an interesting use for a redundant bus no matter what its provenance.
When I was in Canada in 2010 I drove up the south bank of the St Lawrence and stopped in front of that nuclear power station to take a pic. I wasn't all that impressed with the result as I had the sun in my eyes, and so I wanted a better one.
Subsequently to that visit in 2010 I've been relentlessly travelling up the north bank of the river, and so here's a photo from my drive in September 2011.
When I was out in the Charlevoix later that year , an old guy told me an interesting tale about that nuclear reactor over there. Apparently the USA insists on sending some of its own nuclear inspectors over to inspect the plant just here to check on its security. I asked if Canadian nuclear inspectors go over to inspect Three Mile Island for the same purpose but he told me not to be silly.
Yes, my opinion of Canada is going downhill fast with its apparent unwillingness to tell the USA to sod off. It does remind me of Théoden in Lord of the Rings - standing idly by and refusing to do anything to provoke Saruman even though Saruman's forces were already busy ravaging the outer reaches of his territory.
From the same point of view I see in the far distance (long-hop telephoto lenses are really good pieces of kit) that huge factory on the outskirts of Tracy that I drove past when I was over there in 2010.
It wasn't possible to take anything like a decent shot of it back then, what with high fences and so on. From this side of the river though it's always possible to conjure up something worth looking at.
I bet that you are marvelling, not just at the dramatic improvement in the weather but also in the dramatic appearance of all of the foliage on the deciduous trees in the time that it has taken me to drive here from Lanoraie. But I must confess that I have cheated. Those two photos above were ones that I took in September 2011, but they did fit nicely into this travelog
Meanwhile, back in April 2012 I finally do encounter a couple of ships at anchor in the St Lawrence - my first ships of that year's journey and the first of many, I hope. I'm a big fan of transport, as you have probably guessed.
I didn't hang around long to take these photos because I remember very well the rumour that I had heard about Ray Milland coming here to stay for a few days back in the ... ohhhh, the 1960s, wasn't it? He then went on from here to Hollywood to play the title role in his next film, The Thing With Two Heads. Without special effects, so the rumour went.
As an aside, I did actually see that film and if you want to know my opinion I can tell you that it's a definite candidate for the worst film ever to be made by an actor of any note.
There were however some people hanging around for a while. These people are here to collect wild mushrooms and the plan is that when they have collected enough, they are all going to go home to cook them and eat them.
No wonder the mushrooms are wild! So would you be!
The guy in the red shirt told me that he is the wild mushroom identifier. He's there to tell them which ones they can eat and which ones they can't eat. The only thing that I can say is that you have to have a lot of confidence in a guy like that.
That did bring a smile to my face, especially as I recalled the interaction between Sid James and Peter Butterworth in Carry On Loving
SJ - "So you're a widower then?"
PB - "Twice in fact"
SJ - "So how did your first wife die?"
PB - "She ate a plate of poisoned mushrooms"
SJ - "And the second?"
PB - "She died of a fractured skull"
SJ - "And how did that happen?"
PB - "She wouldn't eat the mushrooms"
We mentioned a little earlier that Lanoraie was famous for its Centre Pepinière - the tree nursery. Here it is, just over the road from the mushroom-pickers.
It's also just across the river from the Nuclear Power Station of course and I suppose that that is quite significant. Any escaping nuclear radiation will stimulate plant growth and cause all kinds of mutations and the like, and that has to be good for these thousands of young trees. They'll spring up like ... errr ... mushrooms.
As they say, it's really an ill-wind that doesn't blow anyone any good.
We've had to wait a long time for this, haven't we? Here on the river between the nuclear power station and the industrial complex at Sorel-Tracy in August 2013 we have our very first ship of the day.
She's the Energy Pioneer, of 30,000 tonnes and registered in the Isle of Man. Built in 2004 in Busan, South Korea, she's Greek-owned and is operated by Golden Energy Management of Athens, Greece.
She's on her way in from Rotterdam, and she would in a few days time be leaving for Falmouth.
A mere cock-stride down the road, in May 2012 this time, I once more strike it lucky. How about this one for a Ship of the Day? This is the Federal Welland, a bulk carrier of 20659 tonnes built in 2000 and on its way to Hamilton in Ontario. That's going to be a tight squeeze in the locks of the Welland Canal, although not as tight as one ship, the Perelik that I saw in one of the locks in November 2010.
I'm not able to find out much more about the ship which is a shame, but I have been told that she is flying the flag of Hong Kong. E- if you know anything more about her.
While I was stopped to take that photo, I was passed by a bizarre kind of ex-military ambulance painted blue, and carrying German number plates. It seems to be becoming more and more popular to bring your European vehicle over here and I really ought to make more of an effort to bring Caliburn over here. I'm sure that he would enjoy the trip.
And not only that, a Canadian pick-up went past me, and it had one of these fold-down truck-bed camper units - a Starcraft, I think it was. That's something else that I must look into. If I do buy a Ford Ranger or something equivalent, seeing as I'm spending so much time in Canada these days, then one of these won't half come in handy.
But it all happens when I'm doing something else with the camera, doesn't it?
The town of Berthierville is a little further on down the road. This was the lunch-stop for the diligences on Day One of the 18th and 19th Century drive along the Chemin du Roy. The modern-day Highway 138 these days goes around the town.
The place takes its name from a certain Alexandre Berthier, a captain in the famous French regiment of Carignan-Salières about which we talked a short while ago. He was the commandant of the "Allier" brigade and brought his soldiers over on the ship Le Brézé, which arrived in Nouvelle France on 30th of June 1665.
His brigade had the most difficult of tasks in the fighting against the Iroquois, the Mohawk and the British - that of the rearguard - and upon his retirement from his post he was awarded the vital area around the confluence of the Rivière Bayonne.
He died in 1708 and was probably glad of the rest, for his retirement had been anything but peaceful. He had been engaged in a law suit with his neighbour, Geneviève Despré who held the territory of Rivière-du-Sud which adjoined one of his properties (for he had several) and by the time of his death, battle had been joined for all of 24 years without a conclusion having been reached.
If we forsake the modern route, and even the less-modern one and drive into the old part of the town we find ourselves on the Rue Frontenac.
The "Frontenac" who springs readily to mind is the enigmatic Louis de Buade, Comte de Frontenac. He was "somebody" at the French Court and having lost all of his fortune in France, was given the opportunity to go to Nouvelle France in 1672, ostensibly as representant of the King but more to use whatever methods he could to recoup his fortune.
He was a far better writer than he was administrator and ended up, by his machinations and his "mercurial personality", as some have described it, alienating everyone with whom he came into contact, even with the Hurons, upon whose amiability the nascent French colony depended for survival. This was too much, even for his supporters back at Court and in 1682 he was recalled.
Nevertheless the damage was done and he had left colony in something of a state of disarray. Seizing their opportunity, the Iroquois rediscovered their fighting spirit, turned on the disaffected Hurons and dealt them a savage blow, and then sacked the colony of Lachine, massacring all of the French settlers there. They also turned on the town of Lanoraie, as we have seen.
Frontenac's response was to refer his critics to the ... errr ... rather fanciful accounts that he had written about his own policies when he was there, to point to the difficulties that his successors were having in resolving the issues (omitting of course to mention that it was his policies that had caused the issues), and to say, basically, "I told you so". As a result, he was sent back to Nouvelle France to take up his old position.
He quickly dealt with the Iroquois and at the same time his forces and their Huron allies attacked the English settlements just across the border, on the grounds that those settlements had been giving support to the marauding Iroquois. Frontenac and his Huron allies were not merely content to attack those settlements - they dealt with the inhabitants in much the same way that the Iroquois had dealt with the inhabitants of Lachine.
An English retaliatory raid on Montreal and other places along the St Lawrence was repulsed and peace broke out for a while between the English and the French in Nouvelle France, with the 1697 Treaty of Rijswick restoring the status quo. For all of this, Frontenac was labelled a hero and he died in 1698 without ever seeing the dreadful price that his policies vis-a-vis the English would demand.
For the English might have been content to let sleeping dogs lie in North America had it not been for the frightful events of Frontenac's attacks on their settlements. Instead, they quietly resolved to take whatever subsequent opportunities presented themselves to remove the French from North America and the rest, as they say, is history.
Anyway, where was I? Ahhh yes, the Rue Frontenac. There are some really nice houses in this street as you can see. This particular one is currently being converted into apartments and I could really go for the tower. I've always had a fascination for living in a tower, although my acquaintances would wish that it were another kind of tower - something medieval with only one door, one that they could lock from the outside.
I'm not convinced by the extension though. I'm sure that they could have done better than that. It's rather reminiscent of 1930s hotel kitchen architecture if you ask me - but then again, what do I know?
The road turns to the left at the end of the street but there is a right turn there too, and that takes you onto a bridge over one of the creeks of the St Lawrence.
As it happens, I'm going that way, for reasons that will soon become apparent, but firstly I manage to discover some kind of discreet parking place where it is possible to take a really nice shot of the town, and once more, I'm glad I came here before the trees started to bloom. The late 19th Century "frontier American" building on the extreme right is particularly pleasing, don't you think?
I mentioned that we were turning right, not left, at the end of the road in Berthierville. This direction takes us over a few small islands on the north shore of the St Lawrence and into the town of St Ignace de Loyola.
The very good reason that I have for coming to St Ignace is that it's the terminal for the ferry that crosses the St Lawrence to the town of Sorel, and I wanted to take a few photos of the boats, even though the weather wasn't conducive to photography.
The town is named of course for the founder of the Jesuits. This is due to the fact that Charles Jacques Huault de Montmagny, the Governor of Nouvelle France during the period 1636 - 1648, was accompanied by a Jesuit priest Paul Le Jeune during a voyage of exploration which passed by here in 1637 and of course one has to do the right thing when in company of such a devout companion.
The first settlers came here in 1699 but it was almost two centuries later that the municipality (1897) and the parish (1895) were created, by which time there were 844 inhabitants. It wasn't until 1939 that the three bridges that I have just driven over that connect St Ignace to the north bank of the river were built.
You are probably expecting the next few photographs to be taken from on board the ferry and, knowing me, that would have been a reasonable assumption. After all, being a Pisces I have something of a major fascination with water and the day that I learn to walk on water then I shall be away.
Right now, though, I'm far too busy and I've lost too much time to make a quick aller-retour. I'll have to leave that for another time.
But while I'm on the subject, that does remind me of an incident that occurred a good few years ago during the war-time conference at Quebec, attended by Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin.
During a lull in the proceedings they went fishing in a rowing boat in the river just here off the shore of St Ignace and at 12:00 precisely, Stalin announced
"time for a Vodka"
He stepped out of the boat, walked right across the water to the bar, bought three vodkas, and walked back across the water to the boat, where each man drank his vodka.
A little later, Churchill then looked at his watch.
"Four o'clock. Time for tea"
and he too stepped out of the boat, walked across the water to the bar, and came back with a pot of tea and three cups and saucers.
Some time later, Roosevelt looked at his watch.
"Seven o'clock - time for a Bud"
He stepped out of the boat, put his feet on the water - and sank straight to the bottom.
"A fine ally you are, Stalin" said Churchill. "Fancy not telling him where the stepping stones were!"
"What stepping stones?" asked Stalin.
What I did actually come down here to do was to take another photograph of that large industrial complex that I was talking about earlier. The advantage of taking the photos from across the river is that there are no high fences, trees or other obstructions to block the view.
There is also a ship at the quayside there, the Oakglen out of Montreal and operated by Canadian Shipping Lines. She's a bulk carrier of almost 23,000 tonnes and built by Cockerills of Hoboken (a suburb of Antwerp in Belgium) in 1980. She seems to spend an awful lot of her time shuttling between here and Havre St Pierre further down the St Lawrence, which is where I'm going to be in two weeks' time.
In the town of Sorel there is something of a harbour and I had a wander around there one evening in early October 2010 when I was passing through the town.
However, we did have the same problems as we did for the industrial complex. There are too many other objects crowding out the harbour and it wasn't possible to take a decent photo of the scene. Hence, the photo from across the water.
We also find a couple of large ships moored in the harbour and the advantage of having a decent camera and a a high-quality lens is that you can crop bits out of one photo and blow them up (the bits, not the ships) without losing very much in the way of quality.
I can't see the name on the blue-and-white one but the nearer one is the VSL Centurion out of Québec and owned by Vanguard Shipping LInes of Ridgeville. She's a bulk carrier of 17500 tonnes, built in 1987 by Fincantieri at their Castellammare di Stabia shipyard at Naples in Italy.
I wouldn't be surprised if she is quite new to Vanguard as, according to her register, she has had two previous names - Sagittarius, from 1987 to 2009, and Beststar from 2009 to 2011.
The final photo that I took from down here is of the queue of the vehicles waiting for the ferry, but that's not the reason for the photo. My attention was drawn to the building to the left of the queue of traffic, the building with the sloping roof and small tower.
Of course, I know little about Québecois industrial architecture, but if I had seen a building like that in France or maybe the border areas of Belgium and Germany I would be off looking for the remains of a freight-carrying railway line in the immediate vicinity.
Strangely enough, when I looked into this a little later, I discovered that there is a 80-kilometre cycle track between St Ignace and St Barthélémy, passing through several other towns too. Now isn't that very suggestive?
And I have to say it, even though I suppose that I shouldn't, but with all my experience of travelling and photographing in all kinds of other countries over the last 40 years and more, I have yet to find any nationality that makes so much effort in researching and cataloguing their abandoned railways than the Brits.
The total silence that I have encountered concerning abandoned and disaffected Canadian railways is totally bewildering. If you can help me out, .
So that's the St Ignace - Sorel ferry, and it's a major event for me to turn my back on the chance of going for a sail. But don't worry - I'll catch up with it again.
But it's never really a Good Idea for me to become closely involved with ferries. It does nothing for my good humour. After all, every time I see a ferry it usually makes me cross.
We've mentioned a famous inhabitant of each of the small towns through which we have driven so far on this part of our journey, and so surely there must be a famous inhabitant of Berthierville other than Alexandre Berthier, I hear you say.
And you are right, too. Berthierville was home to one of the very few successful North American Formula One racing drivers - Gilles Villeneuve.
There is a museum dedicated to his memory, and it's situated in the house that was his home at the time of his death. It's situated, as you might indeed expect, in the rue GIlles Villeneuve, but Brain of Britain here forgot to make a note of which house it is, and there was nothing immediately evident on any of the houses in the street.
Anyway, it's down there somewhere.