Bike Ride - Spring 2005:
Montreal to Lac-Saint-Jean by Train
& Return to Montreal via the Mauricie


Roger Kenner
Montreal, Qc,
Canada 2008

[Day 1, Part 1] [Return to Menu] [Day 2]
(See Copyright Notice on Menu Page)

Lac Saint-Jean Bike Ride - Spring 2005:
Day 1, Part 2: Rivière à Pierre to Jonquière by Train
Friday, May 20, 2005


Picture Key
Original Photos
Period Documents
My photos, other times
Other, modern sources
[Read More] about the Picture Key.
Period Document Composite
Trip Plan: Day 1: May 20
[See Planning Documents for Full View]

 

North from Rivière à Pierre

Leaving Riviere a Pierre, we continued to move up the Batiscan River canyon. Alas, the river was on the other side of the train and I could only catch momentary flashes of the white water and of the old, stone bridge pilings of a former railway trestle. (It was much too crowded now to take pictures out the far side.) I briefly talked up a couple in the aisle across from me. I had gotten them in a photo as they were loading their gear and they asked me to send it to them. I gave them the web address of my pages and told them it would be posted in a year or so.

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Pentax on 050520)
North of Rivière à Pierre: The River Batiscan

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Pentax on 050520)
North of Rivière à Pierre: Hills & The River Batiscan

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Pentax on 050520)
North of Rivière à Pierre: Lonely Cottages

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Pentax on 050520)
North of Rivière à Pierre: Into the Hills

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Pentax on 050520)
North of Rivière … Pierre

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Pentax on 050520)
North of Rivière à Pierre: Some Snow Remains

 

We began stopping at all sorts of little cabins in the woods along the way.
14:00 - We stopped at Linton.
15:00 - We stopped at Lac Edouard.

At each stop, one or more of the families would get off and would unload their own gear from the baggage car. Sometimes the stop would be at a small, lakeside settlement - a cluster of houses - and people would be on hand to greet those descending. At one stop a man even came up driving an ATV and pulling a trailer. Other stops would be deserted. At one point, we stopped in front of a house in the woods with a carefully fenced and groomed front yard. The walkway led from the front door, through the yard, and right up to the makeshift platform by the tracks. There was no other sign of road or avenue of communication. It was door-to-door service!

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Pentax on 050520)
Cottages on an Unknown Lake

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Pentax on 050520)
Club Triton Station

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Pentax on 050520)
Rails along an Unknown Lake

 

As the train rambled through the woods, along its tight right-of-way, I noticed how slow we were often going. The tracks twisted and curved, the steel wheels often squealing on the sharp curves. Sometimes it felt like one could go outside and walk faster than the train was advancing. I could see posted speed limits along the way, setting the limit at often 25 or 30 miles per hour.

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Pentax on 050520)
Camp Caribou

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Pentax on 050520)
Rails along an Unknown Lake

 

Club Sommet

At 15:30 we stopped at a settlement called Summit, where lots of people got off. I began to notice that the train was once again emptying. After we had crossed the summit, I began to see isolated patches of snow nestled beneath the trees, deep in the woods. The trees bore only the barest of green buds. It was like going back in time by a month. At 15:50 we are at Kisiwanka and on our descent.

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Pentax on 050520)
Club Sommet

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Pentax on 050520)
Club Sommet

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Pentax on 050520)
Teamster at Club Sommet

 

At 15:50 we stopped at Kisiwamba. I began to notice that we were on the descent. We were rolling faster, and I could feel the tug of the brakes from time to time.

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Pentax on 050520)
Cottages along Unknown Lake

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Pentax on 050520)
Cottages along Unknown Lake

 

At 16:15, we came upon a freight train waiting on the track ahead. Our shorter train pulled off onto the siding and then we stopped. A few minutes later, the freight train slowly began moving. As it moved, the cars began gradually to gain momemtum and to go faster bit-by-bit. It was a long train, probably the reason it was we who pulled off onto the siding.

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Pentax on 050520)
Stopping for Freight by an Unknown Lake

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Pentax on 050520)
Oncoming Freight at ??

 

Once the freight train was passed, we began rolling. There was no feeling of acceleration. We just gently began rolling, slowly at first and then faster and faster. The tracks on the descent were straighter, with fewer curves, and we were able to move more quickly.

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Pentax on 050520)
Cottages along an Unknown Lake

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Pentax on 050520)
Muskeg of the Canadian Shield

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Pentax on 050520)
Sparse Forests near the Summit

 

Lac Bouchette

All around was still empty forest, but I could sense that it was not as empty as it had been heretofore. Soon there was a road running alongside the tracks. We came into Lac Bouchette at 16:40 - about 50 minutes behind schedule. There was no real station. The stopped train straddled the main road, blocking traffic (I would be passing by this way in a week's time). I looked out the window at the cars stopped in both directions.

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Pentax on 050520)
Lac Bouchette: Station Stop

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Nikon on 050525)
Lac Bouchette: Train Station (Six Days Later)

 

Descent to Lac Saint-Jean

As we pulled out of Lac Bouchette, I tried my best to catch glimpses of where I would be staying within a week's time, but I could not find it.

I asked the conductor for another coffee and was surprised when he gave it to me for free. Things were winding down now. The train was about a empty as it had been on the way up to the mountains.

As the train wound to and fro down the valley, I kept my eye out for the first glimpse of Lac Saint Jean. I was not disappointed. All of a sudden, as we were descending a canyon, I caught my first view of the vast expanse of grey water under the grey sky. At first, I could see the entire expanse of the flat valley that surrounded the lake. Far off in the distance, set in deep purple, were the mountains to the east. Quickly rising behind me as we descenced was the sheer wall of the mountains to the west. Out over the lake, I could make out the unmistakable pattern of rain falling from the clouds.

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Nikon on 050525)
Crossing Route 155, Just Past Lac-Bouchette

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Nikon on 050525)
Another Route 155 Crossing

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Pentax on 050520)
Lac-St-Jean View

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Nikon on 050525)
Descent: Third Crossing of Route 155

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Nikon on 050525)
Final Route 155 Crossing on Descent

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Pentax on 050520)
Chambord: Crossing the Highway on Approach

 

We came into Chambord at 17:15, still quite hight above the lake. Although I already had a booking in Chambord for several days hence, I realized that I could simply have booked passage to this point and begun from there. I was to learn that this was how most doing the tour du lac proceeded. I had set my sights on Jonquière because it was the end of the line. Still, had I stopped at Chambord, I would never have seen the Sagunuay Gorge.

Lunch on Train: Submarine:
Click to Enlarge (Taken with Pentax on 050520)
Chambord Station

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Nikon on 050524)
Chambord Station a Week Later

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Pentax on 050520)
Chambord: Looking back from the Train

 

The train was rolling much faster as we descended from Chambord. Soon the tracks led right alongside the lake, just behind a long, dense series of beachfront campgrounds, trailer parks, and tourist camps. The bike trail ran right alongside the tracks.

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Pentax on 050520)
After Chambord: Lac-St-Jean View

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Pentax on 050520)
After Chambord: Lac-St-Jean View Lac-St-Jean Shoreline: View of end of Lake

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Pentax on 050520)
Lac-St-Jean Shoreline: Motel along Highway Lac-St-Jean Shoreline: Town of Desbiens

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Pentax on 050520)
Lac-St-Jean Shoreline: Right along Shore

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Pentax on 050520)
Lac-St-Jean Shoreline: Bike Trail alongside Rails

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Pentax on 050520)
Lac-St-Jean from Train

 

At a certain point, the lake began to curve away to the east and the tracks left the lake to take out through the green farmers' fields. We came to Herbertville station, where we made a brief stop.

The train entered a narrow canyon, a rock-cutaway which it shared with the new autoroute, as it began a precipitous descent to Jonquiere. I noticed outside, to my dismay, that it had begun to rain heavily.

Jonquière

When we arrived at Jonquire at 18:15, thing happened quite quickly. The terminus was also a bus station. There was only one track for the train, and the buses pulling in angled to the other side of the platform. Thankfully, there was a roof.

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Pentax on 050520)
Arrival at Jonquière Station

 

I was quickly off the train, and retrieved by 'box' from the beggage car. As soon as I had pulled my bike out of the box, they asked if they could have it back. Then the train rolled off down the single track and the small crowd evaporated. I was left alone, with a few boys playing some kind of game and amusedly watching as I slowly re-assembled my gear and changed travelling modes.

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Pentax on 050520)
Arrival at Jonquière Station: The Train Pulls Away

 

The bike had to be re-assembled: The pedals put back on and the handle bars straightened. Then my makeshift bag, made up of my bike paniers wrapped in my waterproof tarp and cinched up with bungies, had to be taken apart. I hung my paniers and wrapped everything up in the rain tarp. I changed into my rain gear: canvas shoes and yellow rain poncho, packing my good shoes in plastic bags and sealing them into the paniers. By 18:45, I was all set to go.

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Pentax on 050520)
Jonquière Station: Mode Change: Bicycle Assembly

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Pentax on 050520)
Jonquière Station: Mode Change Completed

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Pentax on 050520)
Gare de Jonquière

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Pentax on 050520)
Gare de Jonquière

 

Where was the B&B? It was supposed to be right along the river, but the street upon which it lay did not come as far east as where I stood. Consulting the town map posted just outside the train station, I finally saw that I had to ride west along the main street for a few blocks, before cutting down to the river. I got to the B&B at 19:00.

Cartotek Map
Jonquiere Map
Street map of Jonquière

 

Qtourist Guide 2004-2005
Jonquiere B&B

 

Lodging in Jonquiere:
Gite du Marquis
2317, rue Vailloncourt
418-547-5101
re:  Yvon Bilodeau  ($50 cash)
[See Original Document]

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Pentax on 050520)
Jonquière: B&B

 

A certain 'Huguette' greeted me. Though she kept referrring, it seemed strategically, to mon mari, I never saw anyone else there. She seemed all alone. The B&B was in a nice house, overlooking the small river that runs through the old section of Jonquiere. It was set in a quiet, older residential neighbourhood, just a few blocks from the centre of town.

B&B in Jonquière: Gite du Marquis
Click to Enlarge (Taken with Pentax on 050520)
Jonquière: Bike Trail along Rails Jonquière: Rails cross the River

 

Once checked in, and though it was still drizzling, I headed back on out for a quick ride through town. I found that there was a bike trail that led through the city park alongside the river, starting just in front of the B&B, until it came to an end at a dam. Below the dam, the countryside dropped quickly into a steep, hidden gorge. Off in the distance, through the rain, I could see the steam rising from multiple stacks at a massive pulp & paper mill. On my way along the trail, I had passed beneath the rail trestle upon which I had come into town. I rode back up to the main street, a bare block away, and found myself once more before the train/bus station. I rode around a bit, scoping out the restaurant scene, and found that the nearby Mike's was about the best I could hope for. I stopped at Mike's at 20:00. I treated myself to a big salad and a pizza, along with a couple of beers. I was seated up on the terrace, where I could look out the window and keep an eye on my bike. The restaurant was quite lively and crowded.

Supper: Mikes in Jonquière

Once I was done eating, I rode directly back along riverfront bike trail to the B&B. Before stopping in, though, I rode up and around the corner to the IGA I had passed on the way in and I bought some supplies. Once back, Huguette helped me stow the bike in her garage and then I retired upstairs to my room, where I had a long call to with my sweetie, Sheryl, on the cell. Then I crashed immediately.

IGA: Supplies:
Click to Enlarge (Dumas '99, page 55)
Jonquière Aerial
Aerial View of Jonquière

 

(B&B Website: 2005)
Gite du Marquis: Jonquière

 

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