Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Quebec City, Canada

On the southern shore of the Saint Lawrence River the British built  Fort Levis. It was to protect Quebec City from the Americans in the war of 1812. It is an active military base still today. It houses the Canadian 22nd Regiment and along with the Governor General of Quebec Providence, who has a summer house within the Fort. The fort was built in the shape of a half pentagon with large guns at each point with high walls made of dirt and ditches dug in between. The Fort served as a weaponries warehouse and barracks for troops waiting to be sent to Europe in World War I and II. It was during WWI this regiment was honored. They took a strategic city in Germany; one that no one else could take and so honoring the country of Canada. Canada upon this victory was revered globally, recognized as a major military country and with that Great Britain would give them their independence. There is a large Gaelic cross on the grounds to honor those soldiers of that victory. They still post guards at the front gate dressed in Canadian red with large black fur hats.

Within walking distance of the old fort lays the city of Quebec. Built within the city in 1805 is the Sainte-Anne Hotel. It looks like a large fairy tale like castle. In front of the hotel is the monument to Samuel de Champlain to honor the founder of Quebec City.

We walked the charming city streets where we viewed art shops, tourist’s shops and French style sidewalk cafés. As we sat and sipped wine at a café in Old Quebec City while viewing the tourists walking within this picturesque city,  Peggy asked me if this was what Paris would feel like. We saw two of the largest churches within the walls of the city, Notre-Dame de Quebec Basilica-Cathedral and St Andrew Presbyterian Church. St Andrew is where the Scots from Wolfe’s army would gather. It has a very large stained glass window. In the distance we could see the neo-Gothic steeple of Chalmers-Wesley Methodist church.

Montmorency Sepaq Falls

We headed up the highway to climb to the top of Parc de la Chute Montmorency Sepaq (falls), up 487 steps.  This awe-inspiring site is 272 ft. tall; Niagara Falls is only 98 feet high. From atop the falls you can view all of the St. Lawrence River way. This is where Montcalm (French) and Wolfe (British) fought for the control of Canada. This war did determine the destiny of Canada. This area would eventually be divided into Quebec and Ontario and the British would ultimately create the union confederation Providences known as Canada. This is where others from General Wolfe troops would gather on Sunday during the war of 1812. 

Peggy on the long climb...up..up & up!

After spending several hours climbing and hiking we then took a ride in the car across the bridge to Ile d’Orleans Island.  My legs were sore from all the climbing and walking we had done in the last two days. This is the largest island in the waterway and is covered with many types of agriculture; apples, strawberries, grapes, corn, dairy, several berries types and wineries. We stopped at the Domaine Steinbach winery and purchased two bottles of Ice wines and a jar of tomato-jelly.

The old hotel and officer's quarters

These were the giant heaters that dried all the clothes of the immigrants
One of the old shower stalls that were used

One of the many graveyards - just a representation
One of the old quarantined hospital buildings still standing

Young tour guide dressed like a nurse
Saturday we took a boat ride across the south channel to Grosse-Ile (Isle-Aux-Grues) Island. I would compare this to Ellis Island in New York City. From 1832-1937 it was a transition point of more than four million immigrants. In 1837 during the potato famine in Ireland more than 90 percent of immigrants were Irish. There are over 7,000 bodies buried on the island, mostly from 1837-1839.  Either Typhoid, Smallpox, Influenza, etc. killed a lot of the children and women. There are two churches on the island - Catholic and Anglican.
There were three hotels on the island too, one for first class, one for second class and tents for third class passengers, (barracks were to come later). We checked to see if our names were on the list of those buried there and found we didn’t make the list.  We finished by viewing the Decontamination Center. Any ship passing down the St Lawrence River was stopped and inspected for health problems. If they found only one person on that ship…any class, first, second or third, they were required to stop and all were to be inspected. All clothing and suitcases were put through a large decontamination heater to kill bacteria, along with any insects. All the people, no matter what their class, would be required to take hot showers where the water contained small amounts of mercury. The clothes they were wearing were then sent onto the decontamination boilers below. They were then inspected for any health issues. If cleared, they would spend seven days on the island then released and ferried back to their ships that had been cleaned too, allowing them to move on to their destination. The island was divided into three divisions, the west side where those who had no health issues awaited their departure. The center was where the doctors, nurses and staff lived. The east side was where those with major hospital requirements were stationed, each section divided by a fence and guards. There were three cemeteries where mass graves were dug and those who were buried were put in simple wooden caskets, stacked on top of each other.  The cemeteries were divided by religion; Catholic or Protestant. Over 8 million left Ireland because of the potato famine, which had the largest death totals of any one country of modern times without a war. Canada not only encouraged the migration but enticed them by giving them 160 acres of free land in the western Providences. Canada was concerned that US citizens might move into those Providences and they would take the land like they had done in Texas from Mexico.

Well, my legs were tired from all that walking and it was raining, so it was a good day for some down time.  While Peggy went to the grocery store to resupply I took a is good to be King George! 
Happy travels,
George (plus Peggy & Coco)

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