Stories Along the Way: St Lawrence Seaway

Sept 22

After a good rest at the camping park including a shower in the coed bathing house, and a bacon and eggs breakfast in the Sprinter, we excitedly drove into Magog. I watched sentimental Jim as he thought about his mother and grandmother arriving here for their summer holidays from Montreal. Of course it has changed dramatically since the 1930’s and 40’s and the small cottages they rented—high rise buildings, condos, busy main road shops and restaurants. 

We parked the Sprinter in a lot near the water; we’d pay upon leaving. We walked toward the water on the asphalt path, passing runners, walkers and bicyclists in their colourful Spandex. As we strolled arm in arm along the water, I imagined the men and women of the 1930’s strolling in the summer air, cotton dresses, straw hats and enjoying the time  in Magog, drawing up memories in the long, cold Montreal winter.

We walked down to the end of the dock and Jim climbed the tower, as he always does. I told him I know two things about him as a small child that must  have flummoxed his mother—-he climbed on everything and picked up tiny specks from the floor, looked at them, then put them in his mouth.

We passed the “dragon” whose legend still appeals to visitors. It is a lovely day, still warm and breezy.

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We drove downtown and looked in the shops. Not the typical tourist area, no shops showing trinkets and souvenirs. Fine clothing and housewares filled many store fronts. Magog is a thriving community. We stopped in a restaurant for a smoked meat sandwich, a Montreal treat I have not had for many years. As we headed to the Sprinter, I stopped in a small French bakery for a coffee. The takeaway cup is corrugated, and  a cup wrap not needed. I spotted date square, another childhood favourite. This is thick with dates and oatmeal crumbs, surely the finest date square ever. She placed it very carefully in a small paper bag and handed it to me. Her poor English and my poor French met in the middle as we said goodbye. My mouth watered in anticipation of this treat. The coffee is superb and I enjoyed every crumb once we returned to the Sprinter.

Jim called his sister in Pittsburgh, told her we were in the mysterious Magog they always heard about as children. They shared a childhood memory only available to siblings. They dearly loved their grandmother.

“So it really exists,” said Judy.

“Yes, I am standing right here,” Jim happily replied.

We continued north along the back roads, enjoying the early Fall day. Remember glider swings? For two or four people who sit across from each other. They are everywhere in the countryside at houses and parks for people with a few minutes to enjoy each others company, gliding back and forth.

We spent the night in a campground near Montmagny, a little concerned as the office was closed and we put in a digital code provided to open the gate. Once again, we drove past semi-permeant travel homes with gardens and sunrooms. We settled far back in the open slots and watched the sun go down while I dug out my flannel pj’s. Jim was already asleep and I settled in to read a few chapters of the delightful WARLIGHT.

It was chilly the next morning and a bit rainy as we headed to the exit. No matter, Madame was there to greet us in her high heels, summer dress and glittery earrings. Once again we crossed t he language bridge to learn the fee was a reasonable $28.

Tim Horton’s for breakfast. We headed to a shiny new TH near the small highway. I was terribly disappointed that there was no steeped tea , raisin biscuits and no washroom options of paper towels or hot air. The Canadians are disappointed that since Wendy’s bought the chain, their favorite Canadian spot is not recognized. Then again, Quebecois are more coffee drinkers than tea.

We left Hwy 20 to take route 132 along the St Lawrence Seaway heading to the Gulf of St. Lawerence. Every village, town and city has a tall steeple on the ever present Catholic Church that stand tall, most traditional stone or brick with a few modern new churches. A large flock of snow geese rest during their long journey south along the waterway. Each town brings another scene to enjoy.

I stopped at a grocery store and immediately found a basket of late season local strawberries, small and sweet. I stocked up on a few essentials and we are on our way. The sun is out, warming the day and we stop along the coast.

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There are  many deightful small towns along the coast including an “artists’ tour”. We stopped at Marcel Gargon’s studio in Sainte Flavie. His concrete sculptures in the water and along the walkway were enticing. In his studio, and store, he uses many mediums to convey his messages. The outdoor sculptures remind me of those that were done in Anchorage Alaska a few years ago. His poems are in French, but he did have interesting “folk art” cards and prints that depicted life in Quebec, specially happy village scenes….in the winter.

September 24

Every so often we decide a hotel is in order. We don’t really think about it until it’s a definite decision. Then the thought of a real bathroom (with tub), a bed (though never as cozy as our Sprinter bed) and a TV for Jim becomes a must. Sunday night I started looking for possibilities in the town of Cap Chat that was our destination for the day. First I played with small chateaus and fancy places. In the interest of economy, I selected the Pirate Motel and Camping. When we travel in the West and southwest, there are many free places to camp, not so on the East coast so we knew we must pay a fee each night. For some reason, the two star Pirate Motel got excellent reviews. And there we were. The desk clerk and I laughed as we worked through my fractured French and her fractured English until we had a room set. Like many motels, the Pirate was one level and we parked at the door. It was simple, but extraordinarily clean. There were two ceramic coffee mugs, matching, and a sparkling clean small coffee pot. There was a power strip on the night stand with two plugs and three USB ports. We spent a quiet night after Jim watched the Seattle Seahawks game and I had a long bath.

This morning we headed to the breakfast room. It was laid out beautifully with the pirate theme showing in several places including the table overlays. It was a continental breakfast but very nice and set in a solarium. Soon we were on the road again, but indeed impressed with the Pirate Motel and Camping.

As we drove along we noticed clothes hanging on clotheslines everywhere. Indeed it was Monday, washing day. Growing up, Monday was my mother’s washing day. I was nostalgic watching the clothes blowing in the breeze.

Stories Along the Way: St Lawrence Seaway

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