Drive to Lac-Saint-Jean
May, 2002:

Roger Kenner
Montreal, Qc,
Canada 2008

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Drive to Lac-Saint-Jean
Wednesday - May 29 to Friday - May 31, 2002

Picture Key
Original Photos
Period Documents
My photos, other times
Other, modern sources
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I had a forced vacation, in that I had to take off some extra vacation days from work, before the end of the fiscal year, or lose them. When we looked at the map to try and decide where we should go for a short outing, I suggested it would be nice to take a drive up to the Lac Saint-Jean area, a region of Quebec that I had never seen. To make it more interesting, and because it was also the shortest route, I suggested we drive up the Mauricie River to La Tuque, and then cut over from there. This, too, would be a new road for me. Little did I know how beautiful and spectacular the Canyon of the Mauricie was. Driving up the canyon and then around the Lake was just an appetizer, which would leave me hungering for a return visit.

Day 1: Wednesday, May 29

On the Monday of the week, we had gone out to Le Biftheque for a nice steak dinner. On the Tuesday, I took Sheryl cycling along the Chambly Canal, from Chambly to Saint-Jean and back. We were all set on the Wednesday, then, to head on out on our adventure.

We did not get started until 11:00. I headed east along the Ville-Marie and Notre Dame until I came to the 25, which I took north to the 40. As I drove east out of the city along the 40, we both relished in the bright, sunny day as we hunkered down for a couple of hours of straight driving along the expressway. I continued to just past Three Rivers, where I took exit 220 at Champlain and headed north along Route 359.. Drive straight through to exit 220, just past Three Rivers. Exit and take Hwy 359 north. We tanked up just a little bit further on, in the town of Saint-Luc. We stopped at a Metro Market (13:58) in Champlain to pick up some eats for a picnic lunch later. (Little did I know that I would be overnighting in Champlain on a solo bike ride to Quebec two years later!)

Click to Enlarge (Ministry of Transport)
Route 359: Champlain to Grand-Mère
A Map here shows the path of Route 359 as it climbs from Autoroute 40 to Grand-Mère


We connected with Route 155 at Grand-Mère, passing by the famous inn, the Auberge Grand Mere. I caught only a fleeting glance as we drove up by the falls and crossed the bridge. Heading north on Route 155, we were soon into the spectacular canyon, the road running right alongside the water.

(Web Image,
Auberge de Grand-Mère
An image of the Auberge de Grand-Mère is shown here.


Click to Enlarge (Taken with Pentax in May, 2002)
View South along Mauricie Canyon


We stopped for lunch around 15:00 at a beautiful rest area along St. Maurice River.

Lunch: Alongside St. Maurice River w eats purchased at market: salami, cheese, cucumber, peas, followed by dates and cashews in car.
Click to Enlarge (Taken with Pentax in May, 2002)
Rest Area on the Mauricie - Looking North


After an hour or so do enjoying the canyon as we drove north, we finally reached La Tuque. There, I did a little driveabout, looking for the famous falls, but I could not find find them. At length, we continued on. The road past La Tuque as empty, except for the endless woods and the constant trucks. When we came out at Lac Saint-Jean, we were treated to a marvellous vista of the whole lake, before descending to meet Route 169 at Chambord.

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Nikon on 050525)
View of Lake from Lookout along Rte 155

We took Route 169 west, towards the nearby major town of Roberval, where we had decided to spend the night. While driving along the lake, I was quite excited to see the bike paths to our right, hugging the waterfront. (I resolved to find out more about this!) We checked out the motel scence and, after one false start, lucked out with a nice motel right by the water.

Click to Enlarge (Period Document)
Roberval Motel


Click to Enlarge (Taken with Nikon on 050524)
Roberval: Motel of 2002 Visit


Once settled, we drove through town to the pier, for a lookout onto the lake. Then we returned to the small downtown, where we walked about. We bought some magazines and books at the pharmacy. Then we found a Steak House for supper. It was raining when we came out so we drove back to the motel and sat out on the sheltered porch to watch the lake. It was impressive seeing the lightning out on the dark water.

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Pentax in May, 2002)
Lac Saint Jean from Roberval


Click to Enlarge (Taken with Pentax in May, 2002)


Supper: Roberval: Pierre Steak House: Filet of Dore (rk), Chicken caesar salad (sh)
Click to Enlarge(Period Brochure)
Roberval Map
A map of the streets of Roberval is shown here.


Day 2: Thursday, May 30

We got up around 08:00 and, after going for a little walkabout by the lake, we headed on up for breakfast to the restaurant attached to the motel where we had almost stayed. The place was a "dive"! We could tell from all the music equipment strewn about that it must have been a big night scence.

Roberval: Bfast: Motel ?? in Roberval (where we almost stayed) Big night spot. Egg/bacon/toast/coffee

After breakfast, we drove back east to the entrance to the Val Jalbert resort, whose impressive waterfalls high up on the cliff wall were visible to all. The $11 each entry fee turned us both off, however, and we decided to give it a pass. Over breakfast, I had studied the Veloroute brochure that I had picked up at the motel.

Click to Enlarge(Period Brochure)
Veloroute Brochure
Map of Veloroute des bleuets, taken from 2002 brochure


Click to Enlarge (Satellite Image)
Lac Saint-Jean
Satellite Image of Lac Saint-Jean Area


Click to Enlarge(Period Postcard)
Val Jalbert
Postcard image of Val-Jalbert


We headed back westward once more, passing Roberval. Our next stop was at the first flea market we encountered, in Saint-Prime.

St. Prime: Economeuble: books 30-May
Click to Enlarge(Period Document)
Saint-Prime Antique Stop


Our next stop was in St. Felicien at the market (12:30, a very fancy IGA, Sheryl was impressed). We bought some stuff to have for lunch later. There was also another antique store to explore.
St. Felicien: IGA: eats 30-May)
St. Felicien: Books 30-May
Click to Enlarge(Period Document)
Saint-Felicien Antique Stop


I saw from the map that there was a "Shortcut" across to Dolbeau/Mistassini, on the far side of the lake. We passed lots of blueberry fields, though I did not recognize them at first because they were all brown from its being so early in the season. The trees up here were just beginning to leaf out. Many had only buds.

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Nikon on 050523)
Blueberry Fields along Route 373 [2005]


We stopped at some more flea markets. I bought some books. Sheryl bought some glassware. I managed, at long last, to find a cast aluminium pan, just like the one my mother had (Something for which I had been searching for some time!).

Dolbeau: Couche Tard: gas 30-May
Dolbeau: Sh glassware 30-May
Books 30-May

We picked up Route 168 once more in Dolbeau/Mistassini and headed on out to begin descending the other side of the lake. Just outside of Dolbeau, I had to stop for some impressive waterfalls. Only a few minutes later, then, we came upon even more spectacular falls in Mistassini. I had to drive back through the city streets until I could get a good picture of them. I would discover that there were lots of big rivers emptying into Lac Saint-Jean.

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Pentax in May, 2002)
Dolbeau Falls Panorama
[Panorama 1] [Panorama 2] [Panorama 3]
[Panorama 4] [Panorama 5] [Panorama 6]


Click to Enlarge(Portrait-Mer)
Lac Saint-Jean Watersheds
Map of Lac-Saint-Jean River Watersheds, taken from web source


Click to Enlarge (Taken with Pentax in May, 2002)
Sheryl at Mistassini Falls


A short ways out of Dolbeau/Mistassini, we encountered yet another old flea market.

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Nikon on 050523)
South of Dolbeau-Mistassini: Old Flea Market


We stopped for lunch, near Ste. Jeanne d'Arc, at a nice roadside halte by a river bridge. (The river, I would learn, was the Petit Peribonka. The bridge was the one carrying Route 169 across the river. When biking in 2005 [in the opposite direction], I would not follow the road across that bridge, but would continue on the eastern side. I must have passed within meters of the very same park.

After buying eats in St. Felicien, stop by roadsite halte at river crossing. very nice. Cheese, lunchmeat, cucumber, peas, and then dates and cashews.
Click to Enlarge (Taken with Pentax in May, 2002)
Roadside Halte near Sainte-Jeanne d'Arc


Click to Enlarge (Taken with Pentax in May, 2002)
White Water under the Bridge


We soon came out at the delightful little port of Peribonka. It is nice to see the lake again, if only briefly. After a short photo stop, we followed the road a long way up the broad River Peribonka, until we finally crossed just below a dam. We continued on out of sight of the lake once more.

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Pentax in May, 2002)


Click to Enlarge (Taken with Nikon on 050522)
Peribonka: Boardwalk [2005 View]


Click to Enlarge (Taken with Pentax in May, 2002)
Lake view from Peribonka


We came out upon the lake again at St. Henri de Taillon, where we were treated to a great view. Here the Veloroute rejoins the road, after going through the nearby park (I came away from this trip with the realisation that while the Veloroute looked nice enough around Roberval, most of its extent was just paved shoulder along highway).

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Pentax in May, 2002)
Lake view from St Henri de Taillon


Click to Enlarge (Taken with Nikon on 050522)
Lake View from Taillon [2005 View]
[Composite 1] [Composite 2]


I left the main road to delve into the large town of Alma, where we stopped at several flea markets. I was blown away by the magnificent spectacle of the "Petit Décharge". Sheryl humoured me and stayed in the car as I made a quick walkabout to get photos of the rapids. Although we passed signs for a dam, we did not go to see it.

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Pentax in May, 2002)
Alma: Petit Décharge


Click to Enlarge (Taken with Pentax in May, 2002)
Alma: Petit Décharge


Click to Enlarge (Taken with Pentax in May, 2002)
Alma: Petit Décharge


Click to Enlarge (Taken with Pentax in May, 2002)
Alma: Petit Décharge


Click to Enlarge (Taken with Pentax in May, 2002)
Alma: Petit Décharge


Click to Enlarge (Taken with Nikon on 050521)
Alma: the Petit Décharge: Flow past Downtown [2005]


We backtracked to take Hwy 172 from Alma to Chicoutimi. It was sad to say goodbye to the lake. For a long distance, the road was straight and fairly boring. On our way into Chicoutimi, we made a sanity stop for Sheryl (18:00), stopping in at the Dollarama in a big, suburban shopping centre.

Chicoutimi: Dollar-rama: Sheryl bottles & cans 30-May)
Click to Enlarge (Ministry of Transport)
Around Chicoutimi
Map of Chicoutime Region
[See Full Map (Pdf)]


Dumas 99
Chicoutimi Aerial
Aerial View of Chicoutimi


Chicoutimi was an impressive town, set on the hillsides around Saguenay River. We drove through the town and were lucky enough to find lodging at the Motel au Parasol, where we got a great room overlooking the town and river below.

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Pentax in May, 2002)


Dumas 99
Chicoutimi Aerial-Close
Close-up of Chicoutimi waterfront park, taken from aerial image.


Click to Enlarge(Period Document)
Chicoutimi Motel


Motel au Parasol in Chicoutimi. Nice upper room overlooking river
Click to Enlarge (Taken with Pentax in May, 2002)
Chicoutimi: View from Motel


We drove back down into town and walked about the waterfront park and the downtown, shopping until 21:00.

Chicoutimi: Coffee 30-May
Chicoutimi: Librarie Regionale: books 30-May
Chicoutimi: Librarie Les Bouqinistes 30-May)

None of the restaurants around downtown appealed to us, so we drove "blind" for a newer part of town and finally came upon the tried and true Cage aux Sports, where we ate supper. It was a big one and very crowded! After supper, I found my way back to the motel with no trouble and we retired for the evening.

Supper: Cage aux Sports in Chicoutimi: chicken caesar salad (r) and oriental caesar salad (s)
Click to Enlarge (Taken with Pentax in May, 2002)
Chicoutimi: By the Fountain


Click to Enlarge (Taken with Pentax in May, 2002)
Chicoutimi: By the Fountain


Day 3: Friday, May 31

We had breakfast at the motel restaurant...

Chicoutimi: Bfast: Hotel le Parasol: Cheese Omelettes (x2) - w brown toast & coffee

And then headed down along same road that passed by the motel, until we came to La Baie des Ha!Ha!, where we were treated to an impressive view of the Saguenay Fjord. It was cold and windy and big waves were coming off the water towards the beach. A big aluminium plant was located to the righ of the bay.

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Pentax in May, 2002)
Fjord view from Baie des Ha!Ha!


Click to Enlarge (Taken with Pentax in May, 2002)
Ocean Port at Baie des Ha!Ha!


We looked briefly in a second-hand store and then left the town, to drive on around the bay. We came upon a park with a giant pyramid made up of yield signs. After a short photo stop, we drove on along the bay. The extent of our drive as a stop at a glass blowing place, whence I could look back across the bay at the town we had left earlier. Sheryl talked up the glass-blower.

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Pentax in May, 2002)
Parc des Ha!Ha!


Click to Enlarge (Taken with Pentax in May, 2002)
Shoreline of Baie des Ha!Ha!


Click to Enlarge (Taken with Pentax in May, 2002)
Looking Across Bay to Town


Rather than backtrack to Chicoutimi to catch the main highway to Quebec City, I decide to follow the nearby Route 381 down through the mountains towards Baie Saint-Paul. This turns out to be quite a highway! I feel like I've never climbed higher in Quebec. We stopped at the lookout, where we had great view. Near the crest, the trees were only just budding. We could see snow on the hillsides and then beneath the trees along road. We passed by the Parc Grand Jardin. We passed by a long stretch of forest hit by forest fire. Finally, high in the fog, we began a precipitous descent to sea level. Down, down, down we went, until I did not think we could go any lower.

Click to Enlarge (Ministry of Transport)
Map of Route 381 from Chicoutimi to Baie Saint-Paul


Click to Enlarge (Taken with Pentax in May, 2002)
View from Rte 381 Lookout


Click to Enlarge (Taken with Pentax in May, 2002)
View from Rte 381 Lookout


Click to Enlarge (Taken with Pentax in May, 2002)
View from Rte 381 Lookout


We came out to the main road along The North Shore just east of Baie Saint-Paul, so we drove along the town's trendy street just for old time's sake. We were lucky to find a rare parking spot, so we stopped and walked around a bit. Sheryl went into some stores. We made lunch from a baguette and some almond butter we bought at a fancy bakery.

Baie St. Paul: Boulangerie Charlexoix: Lunch: buy baguette in Baie St. Paul and eat it with almond butter and rest of spreads from cooler
Click to Enlarge(Period Document)
Baie Saint-Paul Bakery


We made a brief stop at the lookout at the top of the valley, as we headed out of town. Then it was an hour's solid driving on into Ste. Anne de Beaupré. As we had nearly passed through the town, suddenly Sheryl spied an antique store on the far side. I went down the road until I could turn around and then came back to the store. Sheryl bought two footed cups at this store.

Click to Enlarge(Period Document)
Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré: Antique Cups


After Sheryl was done, we continued. Soon I was onto Hwy 40. Caught in the Quebec City rush-hour traffic, I tried a little detour and it worked! Past Quebec City, the traffic was rolling freely.

We stopped at Cap de la Madeleine for gas and supper at a`family restaurant across the street. Once we caught the again after an hour or so, we made it home around 22:00.
Cap Madeleine: Supper: Pizza 67 in Cap Madeleine onion soup (x2) Tournedos (r) and fish (s)
Cap Madeleine: Irving: gas 31-May
Cap Madeleine: Coffee 31-May

Prepared by Roger Kenner
July, 2008. lite-version: October, 2008