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A short distance further on from here I arrive at a T junction. The Lady Who Lives In The Sat-Nav wants me to turn left because just down that way is the junction with Highway 138.

But never mind that for a moment. I'm turning right on the Route de Pointe Noire - "Black Point Road" - because look what I have found.

railroad installations pointe noire sept iles gulf st lawrence river north shore quebec canada mai may 2012

Just down there in the foreground is what might be an abandoned trackway which might have been something to do with the old railway line from Clarke City. Behind it we have a modern railway line complete with wagons and locomotives. How exciting.

We also have quite an array of high-voltage electricity cables, and all of this tells me that there is a major industrial plant in the vicinity.

And I'll tell you something for nothing too. Pulling off the road onto the shoulder here to take the photo, you might like to know that the ground clearance on the Dodge is nothing like what it ought to be and nothing like what it was on the PT Cruiser either, as I have just found out to my chagrin.

We mentioned when we were at Port-Cartier that Sept-Iles is famous for its very sheltered deep-water harbour. And if ever a deep-water harbour is more sheltered than this it would be a sight worth seeing ... "Halifax? " - ed

bay sept iles gulf st lawrence river north shore quebec canada mai may 2012

Its a circular bay with land about three-quarters of the way round, and the mouth is guarded by, would you believe, seven islands - sept iles, hence the name.

The largest ships afloat can fit in here with no problems at all, and this is one of the largest ships that I have ever seen. She's far too far away for me to be able to read her name, so unfortunately I can't tell you any more about her.

industrial installations sept iles gulf st lawrence river north shore quebec canada mai may 2012

There's an endless stream of cars coming down this way from the far end of the Route de Pointe Noire, and seeing as it's now just a couple of minutes past 16:00, I wonder if it's a change of shift for whatever is that is down here.

Because what there is down here is one of the most impressive industrial plants on the whole of the North Shore and this is the building that I saw from the other side of Pointe-Noire a few minutes ago although from here I can't find a decent spec to take a decent photo of it.

aluminerie alouette sept iles gulf st lawrence river north shore quebec canada mai may 2012

You can see why they call this headland Pointe Noire, can't you? The rock here is totally black as you can see on the left. But the rock on the left is only of passing interest.

We said when we were Baie-Comeau yesterday that one of the most energy-hungry industrial processes is the smelting of bauxite and its transformation into aluminium.

When you have a site with abundant electrical energy from all of the hydro-electric installations in the hinterland and a huge, sheltered deep-water harbour to hand, aluminium-smelting is an obvious candidate..

aluminerie alouette sept iles gulf st lawrence river north shore quebec canada mai may 2012

What we have here is the aluminium-smelting plant owned by Alouette Aluminium - Aluminerie Alouette. It's been here since 1992 and with its capacity of 600,000 tonnes per annum, it is largest aluminium plant in the whole of the Americas.

It's also the largest employer in the region too, with a workforce of about 1,000 employees - hence the crowds that swamped me as I arrived.

The company offers guided tours of its plant, in the mornings from mid-June to the end of August, which rules me out on all accounts as you might expect.

And in view of the dangers of walking around a working industrial plant, operates a rigid dress code for its visitors. You need to check with them before turning up, to make sure that you comply with the code.

In 2012 the tour was free - didn't cost a penny, which is very kind of the company. And so, after the count of three -
Gentille Alouette
... etc ...

I'll get my coat.

railroad installations aluminerie alouette sept iles gulf st lawrence river north shore quebec canada mai may 2012

I've not quite finished with Alouette yet. Down at the far end of their premises is the far end of the track and there are all kinds of interesting locomotives and rolling stock there.

As you might expect, I was quite keen to wander over there for a closer look but it was all fenced off to the public and there was some "Security" staff in a guard hut who were quite intransigent. So this is the best that I can do.

But if you are interested, which I'm sure that you are, we've seen some more of this railway line on another occasion. When we were leaving Labrador City in Ocitber 2010 to be precise.

And if you look carefully at a couple of the photos on that page, you'll see similar wagons to those on the first photo of the railway on this page.

sept iles gulf st lawrence river north shore quebec canada mai may 2012

From here, I'm going to go round to the other side of the bay to look at the town of Sept-Iles. If you look across the bay in this photo here, you can see the town.

And this photo gives you another idea of the bay and how sheltered it would be in a storm. No wonder all of the shipping in the vicinity dashed here to take shelter during the storm of 1st December 1977.

riviere hall sept iles gulf st lawrence river north shore quebec canada mai may 2012

The town isn't as close as it looks, by the way. It's quite a drive to reach there, and across some wild country too.

However, I do think that if I'm going to have a river named for me, it may as well be here rather than anywhere else, because it is quite pretty just here.

There's also a nice country park a little further along here on the right and, if I remember, I stopped there for lunch on my way back.

steam locomotive sept iles gulf st lawrence river north shore quebec canada mai may 2012

Sept-Iles is unique along the North Shore in that it has a railway station - the only one east of La Malbaie. That, of course, has to be the destination for Yours Truly.

And here, parked up outsde, is an old Quebec, North Shore and Labrador Pacific (4-6-2) steam locomotive 702, formerly locomotive 702 of the Ontario Northland Railroad. I suppose that this was one of the locomotives that provided the motive power for the line here up to Labrador City and Schefferville in the days before diesels.

After all of this time in 2012 without seeing a steam locomotive, and now I've seen two in a day. And had I come here a couple of years ago I would have seen two here at this site, because the Davenport 0-6-0 was here on display.

It left here for Clarke City as part of the celebrations of the centenary of that town.

railway station passenger carriages sept iles gulf st lawrence river north shore quebec canada mai may 2012

So with there being a railway station here, you would expect there to be a train here too. And you aren't wrong. Every Monday and Thursday at 08:00 there's a passenger train, complete with observation cars by the look of things, that leaves here for Schefferville, way to the north.

The railway is the only practical means of reaching Schefferville, and I reckon that this must therefore be one of the most exciting railway journeys in the world. I'm going to look into this for sure.

burrowing mammal sept iles gulf st lawrence river north shore quebec canada mai may 2012

I was not alone while I was wandering around here looking at the railway relics. Some little mammal of some kind showed a great deal of interest at what I was doing.

I had to lie in wait for him for a while at the entrance to one of his many holes in this bank just here, and eventually he popped out his head for a look around.

Natural history is not my thing at all, and so if you are able to identify this creature, please to let me know.

And I can't believe that in all of the excitement of finding the railway and the steam locomotive, I forgot to go for a wander around the town for a look around.

Well, it wasn't so much of a "forget" but a case of "I'll be back here in a week or so and so I can photograph the town on my return so it's not so important right now". It wasn't my fault that the town was bathed in a thick rolling St Lawrence fog bank when I passed by on that occasion, so I couldn't see a flaming thing.

I shall just have to come back here another time.

However, there is a sign just outside the centre informing me that Natashquan is 376 kilometres away and so I ought to be moving on anyway.

beach sept iles gulf st lawrence river north shore quebec canada mai may 2012

But not before I've had an opportunity to look at the beach here at Sept-Iles. It's another one of these 200-odd kilometres of splendid North-Shore beaches

While I was here, I had a good chat to a young guy who was walking his dogs along the foreshore. It wasn't about anything of particular interest, but never mind. I really need to make an effort to be sociable when I'm out and about

Back on Highway 138 there's a petrol station on the corner right by the turning to the Moisie River Settlement or whatever it's called. And there's also a sign telling me that the next fuel is 100 kilometres away.

It is this kind of sign that is a sign to tell me that we really are about to disappear into the back of beyond, so when you see things like this you need to take full advantage of them.

It's not impossible for a service station further down the line to have run out of fuel or to have an electrical breakdown, and then you are really in the soup if you don't have enough fuel to move on.

I came to meet up with this petrol station on the way back too.

I was followed for about 20 kilometres coming into Sept Iles by one of the Province of Quebec's finest, evidently with his speed radar gun poised at the ready, but I gave him one of the most boring 20 kilometre drives that he hasprobably ever had.

As soon as I saw him ghost in behind me I checked the speed limit around here (90 kph) and set the cruise control in the Dodge to 88 kph. Then we pounded out the Highway just like that until we reached the petrol station where I shook him off my tail by doing a quick in-and-out on the forecourt.

Now he can go and follow someone else, can't he? And a big hooray for cruise control! It's a good job however that he didn't notice that I wasn't wearing my seat belt.

series land rover moisie river sept iles gulf st lawrence river north shore quebec canada mai may 2012

But the excitement gave me the opportunity to check upon something that I'd seen briefly on the way out of Sept-Iles just opposite the petrol station.

Over there, parked up on some land by some kind of garage premises were a couple of old "Series" Landrovers. I was surprised to see them - but then again I wasn't because I've always said that if I lived out here in this kind of area, I wouldn't consider any other vehicle than a "Series" Landrover

series land rover moisie river sept iles gulf st lawrence river north shore quebec canada mai may 2012

However, I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of Landrovers, Series or Coil-Sprung, that I have seen over here in Canada. And that's certainly puzzling. I would have expected to have seen them all over the place.

These three together, and I can't new remember whether they were Series 2 or Series 2a, were the most that I have ever seen in one place anywhere over here.

And a grateful thanks to the owner of the premises for allowing me to photograph them.

The Moisie River is said to be somewhere that is quite beautiful to visit and so I took myself down there. I didn't stay long down there though and I didn't go for a look around as there was "something" going on down there.

There was some kind of squatters' camp down at the end of the road that seemed to be related to whatever was happening, and it didn't look like the kind of environment in which I would be happy leaving the Dodge unguarded while I went for a walk.

Back up to Highway 138 again where I was to turn right to continue my journey eastwards.

But to the left, on the edge of Sept-Iles, I could tell that we would be approaching "civilisation" if we were to go back that way, because there was a sign for one of those outlets of a certain fast-food chain of which the name shall never be uttered in anything that I ever write, and which was ruled by a British High-Court judge to be exploiters of children etc.

I'm now looking for somewhere to sleep as the evening is drawing in and, sure enough, there's a camp site a few miles out of Sept-Iles. It's officially closed but there were loads of people milling around doing all kinds of things.

I spoke to the guy in charge and he wouldn't even let me have a little corner of the camp-site to park up the Dodge for the night. When pressed, he gave me directions to this camp of squatters that I had just visited.

No, thanks. I'll push on - or push off as the case may be. Something will be bound to turn up further along the route.

moisie river sept iles gulf st lawrence river north shore quebec canada mai may 2012
You aren't going to miss out on your view of the Moisie River, however, because back on Highway 138 a short distance after the camp site, I do encounter it crossing my path.

It's said to be one of the best salmon-fishing rivers on the North Shore and fishermen come from all over the world to try their luck. I can't therefore understand why it is that the owner of the only camp site in the vicinity was so surly and unhelpful when I spoke to him just now.

Pont Donald Gallienne moisie river sept iles gulf st lawrence river north shore quebec canada mai may 2012

Not only does it look quite beautiful, It's also one of the widest rivers that I have seen for quite some time, and there's quite something of a bridge that spans the gap.

It's a long, low, modern concrete affair that is not of any particular interest to anyone, I have to say. It has a name too - the Pont Donald Gallienne and I wonder who he might have been.

I was right about something turning up for tonight, although I did have to drive for ages before I came across it.

riviere au Bouleau sept iles gulf st lawrence river north shore quebec canada mai may 2012

At the mouth of a little river was some kind of parking area and there was a little corner of this area, sheltered behind a hedge, that looked quite accommodating and so I tucked the Dodge in there.

After tea and a little while on the computer, editing the photos and writing up my notes, I crashed out at about 21:30 (mostly due to the cold that made me crawl into bed underneath the quilt) and that's my lot until 6:30 the following morning.

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