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The Metro at Longueuil, Route 132 along the River, and the Highway 20 freeway to Quebec City were my only experiences with the Lower South Shore until 3/4 of the way through the 1970s. I remember Bernie, Donald and I taking the Metro to Longueuil and standing at the Taschereau/Bridge interchange with Route 132 while trying to hitchhike to Quebec City. I remember visiting the Longueuil terminus with Steven and Loretta and crowd, and going with Steven to retrieve his car.
I first came to Boucherville around the year 1977 or 1978, when my sister-in-law's family moved there from St. Leonard. On the first drives out there, I faithfully followed the direction given me: Through the Lafontaine Tunnel, exit at Boulevard Mortagne, and take this through suburbia to Boulevard Montarville, where I would turn left. I soon discovered the back way in, however, where Boulevard Montarville intersected the Route 132 freeway. This was the second Boucherville exit along that highway. Soon, I was more often crossing first the Jacques Cartier and later the Champlain Bridges, and approaching on Route 132 along the South Shore. Returning I used to take first the Jacques Cartier and then later the Victoria Bridges. I remember on one occasion making a wrong turn at the Jacques Cartier bridge approach and finding myself down along the river on a gravel road. This must have been the road to the marina.
I remember while driving along the river on Route 132 passing the huge Weston Bakery and Pratt & Whitney plants.
My first drive to the streets of Longeuil were on a field trip from Concordia, driving a whole crew of us in my Volkswagen to visit Barney Smythe's Cybervox plant. Later, I returned to pick order and then pick up blue folders from DF for the Language Lab Colloquium.
My first real knowlege of Longueuil came when I began working for Collège Edouard-Montpetit in 1980. At first, I would come across the Jacques-Cartier Bridge and drive through the old part of town along St. Charles West until I came to Chemin Chambly, where the college was located. This always took some time, for there would be lots of traffic and stop lights. I even had occasion to come once or twice by bus (in those days on Montreal city buses). Eventually, I found the back way, coming in and out along Roland-Therrien, which met Route 132 at the river. Once I found this way, I totally ceased to drive through town.
When I stopped teaching at the college, I also stopped driving into Longueuil.
Sometime in the early 1980s, I got a contract to deliver a workshop at a school commission in Varennes. I remember it seemed so far and so alien. I recall the main road into town was bounded by the railroad tracks on the right. The school commission offices were just a few blocks into town.
In the Summer of 1987, my friend Steven abandoned his apartment in Montreal and turned up in the South Shore town of Verchères. Over that Summer, I made many drives out to Verchères to see him, often taking my young daughter Tannissa along with me. Steven's apartment was on the western outskirts of town. We used to drive into the centre of town, where he was friendly with the owner's of a tavern that sat, perched on the bluff, overlooking the shoreline. Below the tavern was a huge open and grassy expanse down which I used to chase Tannissa. Steven's acquaintance, Steve Pringle, was living in an old house just off the town square. Eventually, Lelana also showed up out in Verchères.
I used to drive along the Route 132 freeway, past Boucherville and the factories of Varennes, to the point where is would disolve into its former two-laned status for the last few miles. Sometimes I would drop off Heidi at her sister's and then would proceed on out. At other times, I would go while she was at work.
At the end of that Summer, Steven ended up moving back into town, to LaSalle, and so I ceased driving out to Verchères. The quaint, little town had always impressed me though. Also impressive was the near mansion I had visited, which had been for sale for only $29,000.
On one of our early drives, I believe even as early as 1994, I drove Sheryl down along the South Shore, towards Sorel or Quebec City, and we stopped at the town square in Verchères, where they were having an old-time auction out of the back of a semi-truck.
The drive downriver to Sorel, and then across by ferry and back up the other side, was one that I have made several times over the years. It makes for a good day's outing. I probably first made the drive sometime in the late 1970s. Certainly I did it a few times in the 1980s. I recall, once, crossing in the winter and standing on the bow of the ferry as it broke through the ice of the St. Lawrence.
I took Sheryl on a ferry outing to Sorel in the early years, and we spend an hour or more walking around the streets nearby, as we waited for the next crossing. We came back another time and discovered an used bookstore right along the main street, near the bridge, where the owner had piles of old, dusty books everywhere, stacked up from floor to ceiling.
When Sheryl's friends Madelene and José came up from Florida, I led them on the typical outing, driving downriver along Route 132, crossing at Sorel, eating at the far side, and then driving home. We followed, along the South Shore, pretty much the same route I would cycle.
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