Quebec Highlights - My Ford EcoSport Adventure July 4, 2018 · 11 min. readWhile the thoughts and opinions are my own, this article was brought to you by a third party. Also, this article may contain affiliate links.
The sun had long set when we crossed the border into Quebec. While we didn't see the official border crossing sign, once the bilingual road signs switched to French, we knew we had entered the final leg of our journey.
This is the third time I've been to Quebec, so I'm used to French signage. In fact, non-English signs are something I've grown accustomed to over the years. I've gotten plenty lost down streets with German, Italian, Austrian, Dutch, Japanese and Chinese names, so French wasn't anything different. For Krystal though, this was a whole new experience. She found the signs disconcerting and often googled what the translated version of them might be. Suddenly even commonplace words like "road" or "stop" were foreign to her.
When we arrived in Riviere-du-Loup it was 1:30 AM Quebec time, so it felt like 2:30 AM New Brunswick time. I'm used to late nights, but Krystal lives with two children and has a full-time job so staying up this late is something she wasn't used to. When we arrived at our hotel, Auberge de la Pointe, Krystal was ecstatic to find our room was not only spacious but also had heat. After two cold nights in PEI and New Brunswick, having a warm room to spend the night was a luxury we didn't know we needed.
The next day we already knew we would run short on time. Our plane left a little after 2 PM, and Riviere-du-Loup was two hours away from Quebec City. If we had to be at the airport an hour early, that means we would have to leave by at least 11 AM. But we wanted to leave even earlier.
I woke up around 7 AM to take the Ford EcoSport for a little drive around the small French community. Riviere-du-Loup is nice town, but similar to St. Martins, there isn't very much to do there, especially early on a Thursday morning.
Much like Oromocto in New Brunswick, Riviere-du-Loup is a very old community, having been established in 1673. It was named after the nearby river, Wolf's River, in which "wolf" translates into the French word "loup". Although "Wolf's River" sounds a little sinister, this is because there is no French word for "seal" and instead are called "sea wolves". This would then translate "Riviere-du-Loup" into "River of the Seal".
But, that doesn't mean there isn't anything sinister about Riviere-du-Loup. For anybody who follows my blog, you'll know that I love anything nuclear. I've been to Hiroshima, I've been to Chernobyl, I long to visit the Trinity Bomb Site, I've written about nuclear bombs in my Canadian X-Files article, it's just something I really find fascinating. Ford didn't tell me this, and I unfortunately learned it much later, but Riviere-du-Loup is actually the site of a nuclear disaster.
Well, accident, not disaster, but whatever.
In 1950, the same year the Flight 2075 crashed near Prince Rupert, British Columbia with a four-megaton nuclear bomb, a USAF B-50 was forced to drop their nuclear bomb over the St. Lawrence River, near Riviere-du-Loup. Probably due t what happened in Prince Rupert, this bomb was rigged to detonate in a non-nuclear explosion before impact. The bomb exploded, scattering 100 pounds of uranium onto the river and throughout nearby Riviere-du-Loup. The reasoning for the dropping of this nuclear payload was because of engine trouble but was kept secret by both governments for over thirty years.
I had about an hour to explore Riviere-du-Loup so I took a trip down to the ferry docks, Parc de la Pointe and visited a few quick sights around town. I then turned around and went back to the hotel. Krystal had gotten up by then and was packing her bags, so I finished packing mine and we checked out.
The drive from Riviere-du-Loup to Quebec City was as different as our drive from PEI to New Brunswick. While in New Brunswick I was amazed by the criss-crossing overpasses, here I was amazed by the freeways. The highways approaching Quebec City were six-lanes across and full of traffic. We probably saw more vehicles on the two-hour drive to Quebec City than in our entire trip through PEI and New Brunswick.
Wen I saw the signs for Levis, I got excited. Levis is the final resting place of Marie-Josephte Corriveau, a convicted witch that lived in Quebec City. After being found guilty for the murder of her second husband, Corriveau was sentenced to hang, and to have her corpse placed in an outdoor cage in Levis. After complaints by the locals, some justified and others paranormal, the cage was taken down and the body buried. Today she is buried in Levis, and her cage rests in Musée de la civilisation, Quebec City. If you want to know more about this story, please visit my earlier article about Quebec City.
Although Levis is right across the river from Quebec City – so close, in fact, that a cannon ball fired the Citadelle of Quebec once bounced off the ice of the river and crashed into a house in the community – I have never visited it. In fact, the whole area around Quebec City is a place I long to explore more fully one day. From Montmorency Falls to Île d'Orléans, Old Quebec to the mighty St. Lawrence, I would love to spend a lifetime in this part of the province.
We crossed Quebec Bridge and formally entered Quebec City. Traffic was much heavier once we got inside the city limits, but also much slower, so it was easier to navigate. I followed the GPS throughout the winding city, gawking at architecture as we went, until we finally found the towering walls of Old Quebec. This neighbourhood and everything in it is four centuries old, dating back to 1608. The walls are built with non-uniform grey bricks, the streets are lined with cobblestone and the alleyways are narrow and twisty. For those who love France, Quebec City is the next thing to it – and unlike France, most people in Old Quebec speak English.
Krystal and I went shopping while in Old Quebec since we didn't have much time to go shopping any other point on the trip. We used what was left of our $650 pre-paid VISA gift cards and took a stroll up to the Chateau Frontenac – the most photographed hotel in the world. We took a few pictures, wandered the grounds and then headed back to the car. I wish I had had more time to explore Old Quebec and show my sister the winding staircases, the churches, the shopping districts, the cannons, the military forts and everything that comes with this incredible city, but we had to go back or we would miss our flight.
We drove the half hour to Québec City Jean Lesage International Airport, found somewhere to park our car and began unpacking everything from our home-on-wheels. When we got to the departure gates, we met up with Denis and chatted about our trip. We had had an amazing time, and so he did. While our adventure ends, his continues as the next drivers of the Ford EcoSport would arrive in just a few hours.
We shook hands, said our goodbyes and headed towards our gate.
Although our trip was rushed, we still saw plenty, made some new friends and experienced much of Eastern Canada along the way. I should have known there was no way we could fully explore three provinces in three days, but we gave it a good effort. We had one of the longest legs of the trip, with the people coming after us only doing Quebec City to Montreal.
The Ford EcoSport passed through Regina a few days ago and should near the end of it's cross-Canada trip within a few weeks.
Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania shut its doors in 1970. A year later, in 1971, it would briefly reopen and house inmates from Holmesburg Prison after a devastating riot. After the prisoners were returned to Holmesburg, Eastern State would sit empty for over two decades. It would rot, decay and collapse. Trees and shrubs would grow into the structure and a clowder of cats would take residence. These hallowed halls would sit empty, the only noise being the chatter of startled birds and the trotter of feline paws.
The following decades would see various discussions of what to do with the building. Eventually, it was decided to preserve it and turn it into a tourist attraction. Although it officially opened for tours in 1994, attendants would have to sign a waiver and wear hardhats before entering until 2008. They had 10,000 visitors the opening year, a number of tourists not seen in the prison since 1858.
From 1829 to 1970, Eastern State Penitentiary underwent a variety of changes and transformations. This massive, sprawling, 11-acre complex was founded under the belief that solitary confinement was the cure needed to prevent criminals from committing future crimes. It was believed criminals who served in solitary confinement would turn to a higher power to reconcile with themselves for their crimes – hence feeling "penitent". To assist in this process, each cell was equipped with a slit window on the ceiling nicknamed "The Eye of God". It would be the only light source available to the inmate.
About a year and a half ago I visited Kyiv, Ukraine. As I walked down the millennium old streets and gawked at the towering cathedrals, I saw the beginnings of a new country, one that was slowly rebuilding from a much darker time. The process of what I was seeing had a name. It was called decommunization.
Decommunization includes renaming architecture, changing laws and protocols, and even tearing down monuments. People's Friendship Arch in Kyiv, for example, which symbolised the friendship between the Communist East and the Capitalist West, was torn down. Some statues, like war memorials, are exempt, but there is still talk of making modifications to them. Anywhere you go throughout the former Soviet Union, the hammer and sickle are being removed – not from history, but from modern society.
If you're visiting Alberta this summer, you probably have your heart set on visiting the mountains. After all, places like Lake Louise, Banff, Waterton and now Castle Provincial Park are some of the most beautiful sites in Canada, and they're always a hit on Instagram (if you're into that kind of thing). But, between Regina and the mountains is a whole province with plenty of sights to explore.
Last year I took more trips than I could count to southern Alberta, but most of them ended near Medicine Hat. Had I gone a bit further, I would have found myself in a myriad of attractions to see, from historical museums to sites of natural disasters and just about everything in-between.
For those looking to make a few stops on their way to the Rocky Mountains, or for those who are just looking for an Alberta road trip, here are six attractions you must visit while in southern Alberta.