Bike Ride - Summer 2002:
Bas St. Laurent & St. Johns River
Day Two

Roger Kenner
Montreal, Qc,
Canada 2002

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(See Copyright Notice on Menu Page)

Montreal to St. John, New Brunswick
Day Two: Montagny to La Pocatière
Tuesday, July 30, 2002

Getting Started in Montmagny

I had set my watch alarm was set for 05:30. When it went off and I looked out through the screen of the open tent door, I could see nothing at all. All was blanketed in thick fog and half light. I reset my watch alarm for 06:30 and fell back asleep. It started to rain during my additional hour's nap and so I had to close the tent flap. As I lay there listening to the patter of rain on the tent, I could sense it intensifying.

When my 06:30 alarm went off, I called Sheryl on my cell. She was already up and was getting ready to leave the house at 07:00. The rain lulled me into such a state of relaxation that I rolled over and went back to sleep once again, this time until 07:30.

Only then did the urgency of my task force me to get up. Packing up my gear in the rain was not something I looked forward to. Luckily, though, the nearby picnic table had a covering wooden roof. A family, gathered there for breakfast around one end of the table, watched with extreme interest as I packed up my wet gear, doing my best to keep dry what was still dry. I rolled up my sopping wet tent and gave it its regular place within my waterproof covering. This would prove to be a grave mistake.

By 08:30 I was riding on out of the campground along the wet, gravel roads, porting my yellow rain poncho. Upon reaching the main road, I turned right, towards town, so as to stop in at the McDonald' for a 'big breakfast': Eggs, pancakes [without syrup], hash browns, toast, bacon and coffee. I had tested my blood sugar that morning and had come in at 3.8, so I felt permitted to cheat on breakfast.

It was 09:15 before I started heading back out of town. I took a side trip to the overlook below the falls to stop for fifteen minutes, in order to get one of the photo shots I had missed the day before.

Setting out

By 09:30 I was definitely on my way, riding east out of Montmagny along Route 132. I was still within the range of La Route Verte, and so had a well groomed shoulder alongside the highway on which to ride.

Vignette: The Lowlands from Montmagny to L'Islet (Adapted from Ecotours)
Between Quebec City and L'Islet-sur-Mer, the Saint Lawrence widens from a width of 1 kilometre to 22 kilometres. The section called the 'Fluvial Estuary', still made up of fresh waster, extends from Quebec City to the eastern tip of the Ile d'Orleans. Beyond that is the section called the 'Upper Estuary'. The first portion of the Upper Estuary, as far downriver as Saint-Roch-des-Aulnaies, is where the freshwater of the Great Lakes mixes with the saltwater of the Atlantic. This area of brackish water provides a unique habitat for species such as the Atlantic sturgeon, Atlantic tomcod and rainbow smelt.

Cap St. Ignace

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002 Trip: July 30: Day 2: ~10:00)
Cap St. Ignace: Main Street & Church

I reached the next town along the road, Cap St. Ignace, at 10:00. As usual, I left the main road in order to get a better look at the old town. All along the old road were quaint, old houses, but I contented myself with two pictures: One of an old, traditional Quebec stone house called Manoir Gamache, built in 1744, and the other a house gaily painted red and blue and sporting old fashioned tin siding. The modest, but majestic house, beckoned at the end of the road. I stopped in briefly at the town’s tourist information centre to get as much information on Cap St. Ignace as I could. I was on my way at 10:25

Vignette: Cap-Saint-Ignace, pop. 3 162
This municipality is characterized by an omnipresent and charming countryside. Gently rocked by the rise and fall of the St. Lawrence tides, this old parish dates back over 330 years and is known for its rich architecture and fertile farmland. A foot trail leads the way to Petit-Cap, a small rocky island that inspired the name of the parish and where the first buildings went up. Heritage-theme itineraries bring visitors to various parts of the village where they can discover the social, religious and commercial activities of the community. The church, built in 1891, is an architectural treasure trove and home to a threekeyboard Casavant organ. For nature lovers, the rest area enables bird watchers to observe snow geese in the spring and fall. From early August to early October, the Route des pommes offers 7 km of lovely countryside and enchanting orchards to go apple picking. In early September, the "Fetes de la Saint-Hubert" celebrate the patron saint of hunters. The Centre Art-Terroir, a hub of tourist activities, is a busy showcase for artwork, handicrafts and agri-food products. "Les visites du Cap-Saint-Ignace" propose tours in motorized vehicles in summer and B-12 snowmobiles in winter. Tourist guide services are available on site. (Quebec Tourist Guide: 2002)


Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002 Trip: July 30: Day 2: ~10:00)
Cap St. Ignace: Historic House Cap St. Ignace: Cute-old House
[View Un-retourched Original]  


Once out along Route 132 again, I noted that the road was running along the top of a ridge, with the river below cut off by a high cliff. I had a great view out over Ile au Grues (Crane Island). It was hazy out over the water and I was unable to see to the far shore. Although it would remain overcast, the rain had thankfully stopped soon after I had left Montmagny.

Ten minutes down the road from Cap St. Ignace, at 10:35, the road had dropped down from the ridge and brought me down along the riverside (seaside?) at a small hamlet called Anse à Gilles. There was a string of old fashioned tourist cabins along the seaside, while farms occupied the low cliff above, to my right. It was there that I encountered the first outcropping of Appalachian Rocks, signs of the mountains yet to come, as the northern end of the great mountain chain loses itself in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002 Trip: July 30: Day 2: ~10:20)
Near l'Anse à Gilles: First Appalachian Outcrops


Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002 Trip: July 30: Day 2: ~10:35)
Route 132: Inland Farm on Hill


A further ten minutes along the road saw me having to don and then doff my rain gear, as a short bout of rain caught me, but then soon stopped again.

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002 Trip: July 30: Day 2: ~11:10)
Ville de L'Islet-sur-mer


11:10 brought me to the very touristy town of l'Islet-sur-mer (now, following the recent municipal mergers, part of a larger amalgamated town simply called: l'Islet.)

On both our 1994 and 1998 trips through this region, there was an antique store located in a garage, out behind a house. It was significant because on each of the trips, it marked the very last antique store we could manage, before closing time.

I was at the centre of town, by the magnificent old church, at 11:20. I took the time to take some photos and to visit the interior of the church. From the waterfront facing the church, I had a great view out over the vast salt marshes, both up and down the Gulf.

Vignette: L'Islet, pop. 1 806
Musee maritime du Quebec:
I Steeped in maritime history, L'Islet-sur-Mer has been rightfully called the homeland of seafarers. Since the 18th Century, it has provided the merchant marine with close to 200 captains and pilots in addition to countless sailors and workers in associated trades. The most famous of them all was Captain Joseph-Elzear Bernier, a navigator and great explorer, who travelled the world's seasuntil he was 83 years old. He also ensured Canadian sovereignty in the Arctic. Whether visitors are experts or novices, the Musee maritime du Quebec proposes four exhibits that will bring them back in time, amongst the oceans and trials and tribulations of sailors. Find out what life was like aboard the Ernest Lapointe icebreaker and unravel the mysteries of the Bras d'Or 400, learn the secrets of traditional boat building and experience the joys of the sea at the Hydro-Quebec interpretation park. The hydrofoil and the boatworks are open to visitors until September 3. (Quebec Tourist Guide: 2002)

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002 Trip: July 30: Day 2: ~11:10)
L'Islet-sur-mer: Main Street - Appoaching Church



Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002 Trip: July 30: Day 2: ~11:15)
L'Islet-sur-mer: Famous Church


Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002 Trip: July 30: Day 2: ~11:15)
L'Islet-sur-mer: Famous Church - Interior


Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002 Trip: July 30: Day 2: ~11:15)
L'Islet-sur-mer: View of Riverfront


Right next door to the church was the Maritime Museum, an attraction I simply could not pass up. I walked around outside the museum, where I could take pictures of the ships for free. I was surprised to find the historic navy hydrofoil Bras d'Or on exhibit. I remembered this ship from when I first arrived in Canada, back when it was a sign of pride for our navy’s cutting-edge, independent research. The Bras d'Or was in service from 1968 until 1972, when it was finally found that the waves of the open ocean were too much for even its giant 'wings'. Having just come off a hydrofoil, I was sensitive to such things, and was amazed at how big these bow-planes were.

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002 Trip: July 30: Day 2: ~11:30)
Maritime Museum: HMCS Bras d'Or


Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002 Trip: July 30: Day 2: ~11:30)
Maritime Museum: Icebreaker Ernest Lapointe
  [View Un-retourched Original]


They also had on exhibit the Ernest Lapointe, a St. Lawrence icebreaker of long career. To go inside the ships required payment, but I felt no such need. I did visit the museum bookstore, where I bought a book on the history of St. Lawrence navigation.

When I called Sheryl at 12:00, I was just finishing up at the museum. She was at exit 278 on Hwy 20, between Montreal and Quebec City, having left at 07:30. She had spent quite some time at the 'antique row' along the highway near Drummondville.

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002 Trip: July 30: Day 2: ~12:10)
Route 132: Garden and Cross on Rock


At 12:05, I left l'Islet-sur-mer. Out along the highway east of town, I passed this beautiful garden laid out around the rocky pedestal of a giant roadside cross. (When I am out on the road alone on my bicycle, I never pass a roadside cross without crossing myself: Invoking Father, Son, and Holy Ghost in thanks and plea for protection!).

l'Islet had marked the end of the paved shoulder of La Route Verte, from which I had benefited since starting out from Levis. I was now back into the real world of riding just inside the painted white line, right at the edge of the pavement. To keep from being run off the road, I was forced to stake a position at least a foot to the left of the white line, forcing the passing cars and to go out around me or to wait until they had the opportunity to do so. If I rode too close to the edge, trucks would think they could pass me in the face of oncoming traffic, just barely missing me in the process.

I crossed over La Rivière Tortue (Tortoise River) at 12:20 and soon thereafter came upon the falls at La Rivière Trois Saumons (Three Salmon River)

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002 Trip: July 30: Day 2: ~12:20)
Route 132: Rivière Tortue - Looking towards St. Lawrence


Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002 Trip: July 30: Day 2: ~12:30)
Route 132: Falls at Trois Saumons River



Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002 Trip: July 30: Day 2: ~13:15)
Ville de Saint-Jean-Port-Joli
V[View Un-retourched Original]


I crossed into the boundary of the ultra-touristy town of St-Jean-Port-Joli. I found a very picturesque halte by the river, where I stopped for lunch from 12:40 to 13:10. It was an open air halte with a parking lot and a few picnic tables. Quite a number of cars were stopped, and tourists came and went. I was an object of interest as I unpacked the tiny cooler from my bike and broke out my lunch of cheese and salami and grapes. I enjoyed relaxing and looking out on the still fog-bound estuary as I ate.

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002 Trip: July 30: Day 2: ~12:40)
Riverview at Halte of Point Joli River


Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002 Trip: July 30: Day 2: ~12:40)
Distant Lighthouse in the Haze (Binoculars)


Continuing eastward after my lunch stop, I began to encounter the built-up area of St-Jean-Port-Joli around 13:15. The town is little more than a narrow commercial strip stretched along several miles of Route 132. At 13:35, I passed by another old antique emporium where Sheryl and I had stopped both in 1994 and in 1998. Across the road was the old shack of an antique store which we had visited, in trepidation, in 1994. It was now closed and the building condemned.

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002 Trip: July 30: Day 2: ~13:35)
St Jean Port Joli: Antique Store Old Car on Display


Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002 Trip: July 30: Day 2: ~13:35)
St Jean Port Joli: Antique Store (Condemned!)


Eventually I reached the centre of the St-Jean-Port-Joli agglomeration, where the tourist information centre sported a scale model of the whole resort town, stretched out along the highway.

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002 Trip: July 30: Day 2: ~13:45)
St Jean Port Joli: Approaching Town Centre


Vignette: Saint-Jean-Port-Joli, pop. 3,397
A required stop on any tourist itinerary. Saint-Jean-Port-Joli is a distinctly unique component of Quebec's cultural landscape. Its most illustrious denizens - the Bourgault family sculptors (Medard, Andre, Jean-Julien) and Philippe-Aubert de Gaspe, the seigneur of Saint-Jean-Port-Joli, French Canada's first novelist and author of the famous Les Anciens Canadiens - are owed much for the town's acclaim. An authentic wood sculpting mecca, Saint-Jean-Port-Joli will welcome L'international de la sculpture de Saint-Jean-Port-Joli from June 22 to July 1. During the event, you can admire works by artists from Canada, other parts of America and Europe and visit the sculpture park near the marina in the center of town, an evolving exhibit now showing 21 original works from the last three editions of the festival. Philippe Aubert de Gaspe's residence burned to the ground in 1909, but you can still see the bread oven (1764) that survived the fire by looking to your left as you enter Saint-Jean-Port-Joli. Across Route 132, a stairway leads up a promontory, where the view of the river is magnificent. In 1698, Jacques Chouinard and his wife, Louise Jean, were owners of a land grant ceded by Charles-Aubert de Chesnay. It's a village to discover slowly as you wander through the boutiques, workshops, galleries and museums or enjoy a cruise. Each has its own way of showing the special place of honor afforded sculpting, miniature boat building, fabric weaving and other handicrafts. Fascinating finds, both big and small, await those with the patience to seek them out. Here's a hint: take a peak inside the church (1779). Its interior decor is the work of numerous reputed artists, including the Baillarge brothers and the Bourgault. Note the 22-character nativity scene in the vestry, a collective work made of solid basswood by some 17 local sculptors. In Saint-Jean -Port -Joli, even the food and lodgings are like works of art - you'll have no trouble finding fine restaurants and cozy inns. With its summer theater, Saint-Jean -Port-Joli is a popular attraction for play lovers. La Roche a VeilIon, located in a pastoral setting, presents Quebec plays. In August and September, one can also attend the "Chants de marins" songfest. In addition, from August 29 to September 1, Saint-Jean-Port-Joli will celebrate its 325 anniversary. (Quebec Tourist Guide: 2002)

By 13:50, as I was riding on my way out of town, I passed yet another big antique emporium, where Sheryl and I had stopped in times before. This one was in a large barn. Nearby had been the antique store near an old aviation museum (gone even in 1998), where Sheryl had begun her footed-cup collection with the purchase of several from the old timer running the place.

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002 Trip: July 30: Day 2: ~13:55)
St Jean Port Joli: Antique Barn


A big, black cloud passed overhead as I road, and it suddenly got very windy. I thought intense rain was imminent, but luckily the cloud passed on and I was soon back out into the sun.

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002 Trip: July 30: Day 2: ~14:30)
Route 132: Impressive Clouds Looking Inland


Now east of St-Jean-Port-Joli, I was riding along a wide, flat and mostly green plain, high enough above the river to have a panoramic view. Far off to the right could be seen the purple masses of distant mountains.

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002 Trip: July 30: Day 2: ~14:00)
Route 132: View out over River
Curious Dual Shades in Water


Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002 Trip: July 30: Day 2: ~14:30)
Route 132: Looking Out over St. Lawrence Estuary Route 132: Looking Inland towards Nearby Hwy 20



Out in the midst of this farming wilderness, I passed the sign welcoming me to the next town: St-Roch-des-Aulnaies.

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002 Trip: July 30: Day 2: ~14:30)
Ville de St. Roch des Aulnaies


Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002 Trip: July 30: Day 2: ~14:30)
Route 132: Wildflowers

I came to a beautiful roadside garden, with flowers planted in amongst the rocks. Although the farmers’ fields I was passed represented dull and boring monoculture, whenever I would cross a creek or irrigation ditch, I could see the original native plants stretching off into the distance, awash with the bright colours of the wildflowers.

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002 Trip: July 30: Day 2: ~14:30)
Route 132: Impressive Roadside Garden


Soon I came to the small town of St. Roch, situated on a point and offering a wide vista of the shoreline ahead. I could begin to see, off in the distance, a whole series of small, isolated rocky hills. These would become a prominent part of the next day's geography. The late afternoon lighting allowed me to take a spectacular photo of the church at the centre of town.

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002 Trip: July 30: Day 2: ~14:45)
St. Roch des Aulnaies: Impressive Church


It was at 15:00 that I reached the historic Seigneurie of Des Aulnaies. I knew this rustic location from having seen it quickly in passing during earlier drives, but had never taken the time to stop. As one approaches the site, the road drops down into a narrow valley in order to cross over the river. What caught my attention first, from the bridge, was a small set of rapids joining the main stream from the side. The scene was very picturesque, but the lighting made a photo impossible.

I rode up to the top of the hill and parked my bike near the parking lot, hoping to get some sort of vista that would make a good photo. Alas, it was not possible to get near anything without paying the admission fee. Atop the hill sits the old seigneurial manor house. The fee allows one access to the house, the grounds, and the old, restored mill. All is carefully screened to prevent those outside from seeing anything. Although it was late in the afternoon, the parking lot was full and the whole area was thick with tourists.

I rode back down the hill and stopped in at the restaurant/gift shop. I found there a most interesting book which contained many descriptive vignettes about the route I was taking. I hesitated, as the thin little booklet was quite pricey, but finally decided it was worth it.

Before leaving, I called in to Sheryl. She was in Berthier-sur-mer, at the garden that I had passed earlier.

Altogether, I stayed at the Seigneurie for half an hour. It was 15:30 as I set out down the road once more. The road climbed back up out of the small valley and led once again across the plain amidst the farmland.

Not too far past St. Roch, the highway crossed over to the inland side of the Hwy 20 Autoroute and then climbed up to the top of a small ridge. As I followed along the ridge, I had frequent views out over Hwy 20, with its traffic speeding, and out to the river beyond. I passed close by one of the first of the small, rocky hills I had seen earlier.

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002 Trip: July 30: Day 2: ~14:45)
Looking back on St. Roch des Aulnaies


Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002 Trip: July 30: Day 2: ~14:45)
Distant Hills around La Pocatière


Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002 Trip: July 30: Day 2: ~16:00)
Near La Pocatière: 'Monadnock'


Vignette: La Pocatiere: Monadnocks and Falcons (Adapted from Ecotours)
As one approaches La Pocatière, one comes to a series of hills that seem to rise from the cultivated fields. These isolated hills are called monadnocks and are made of hard quartzite rock that has resisted the forces of erosion that leveled the surrounding land. Rarely more than 80 metres high, they are distributed in more or less parallel lines. and are covered in part by scrubby conifers, mainly spruce and pine, forming a different type of habitat from that found in the lowlands. The peregrine falcon is one species that appreciates this particular habitat, whence it can feed off the abundance of prey in the surrounding lowlands. The falcons were re-introduced into this area by the Canadian Wildlife Service in the 1970s and 1980s. The use of DDT and other pesticides had led to their disappearance from southern Quebec during the 1960s. The program can be deemed successful, for the presence of nesting pairs has now been confirmed.

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002 Trip: July 30: Day 2: ~16:00)
Near La Pocatière: Looking down on Hwy 20


La Pocatière

As I neared La Pocatière, I passed a small B&B set among the farms lining the ridge. While it did not look particularly interesting, it did set my mind thinking about that evening's lodging. At the St-Roch/La Pocatière boundary, I had crossed into the Bas St. Laurent tourist region, so I took out that region's guide and looked into what was available. The nearest campground was 14km further along. Should we camp or should we stay at a B&B? There were a couple more B&B's listed in La Pocatière, and I was sure there would be some motels.

Route 132 comes upon La Pocatière in a rather strange fashion. The road was running just to the south of, and a bit below, the crest of the ridge (The crest cutting off, now, any view of the river or highway below.) Up ahead I could see the ridge rose much higher and at the foot of the small hill were the first buildings and businesses of the upcoming town.

When I reached that point, I saw that the road split in a 'Y'. The left-hand, northerly branch, that of Route 132, cut through the ridge in a stark cutaway and descended sharply to the river valley below. The other angle continued on along the inside of the ridge, and was lined with houses and businesses.

As I was pondering which branch to take, I came upon a vast warehouse of brand new, shiny subway cars. I remembered, then, that Bombardier had a large manufacturing plant at La Pocatière. I stopped to explore and take some photos.

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002 Trip: July 30: Day 2: ~16:30)
La Pocatière: Subway Cars at Bombardier Plant


Unsure of where the other road might lead, I decided I had best stay with Route 132, and so rode through the cutaway and raced down the hill towards the river valley. Riding along the base of the ridge, I could not help but notice the castle-like appearance of the huge CEGEP building atop the ridge to my right.

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002 Trip: July 30: Day 2: ~16:30)
La Pocatière: College on the Hill


Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002 Trip: July 30: Day 2: ~16:30)
La Pocatière: View down the Hill


I eventually arrived at a crossroads where there were a number of small shopping centres with the usual roadside businesses: McDonald's and Burger King. I could see ahead that this couple of blocks of roadside suburbia was all that I would find of La Pocatière down in the valley. The sign for the town pointed straight up the hill.

I realized then that I might not have made the right choice earlier. All the energy I had released in racing down the hill would now have to be repaid. If I hoped to find any lodging in the town of La Pocatière, I would first have to reach the town! I started slogging up the steep hill. As I climbed the ridge, I began to pass side streets lined with houses. The hill only got steeper.

Soon I was coming up right next to the massive CEGEP castle so prominently visible from below. In the last couple of blocks I had to give up. The hill was just too steep. I dismounted and pushed my bike up to the top.

As I was walking, I noticed a sign in the window of the CEGEP indicating that they had rooms to let and so I decided this would be worth checking out.

At the top of the hill, I could see how the town was arranged. There was a crossroads. To the right lay the entrance to the CEGEP grounds. To the left, the main street of the older, trendy downtown section of town descended a bit. Directly in front was large, modern church. The road I had climbed the hill on made an 'S' curve, before descending the other side of the ridge. Down below (but not nearly as far down as I had climbed) was the newer section of town, with several large stores amidst giant parking lots. Most of the town of La Pocatière was spread out in the small valley on the south side of the ridge.

I parked my bike by the CEGEP’s residence entrance, which was right on the corner, and followed the signs downstairs to look into lodging. I met a gentleman who was just closing up the office. Yes, they rented rooms for the night. The rate was $29 for two. But they were closing now (16:30) and I would have to come back when the evening security guard re-opened the office at 17:00. There was no way I could coax him into taking care of me before he left. He was off now, and that was that.

The deal seemed too good to be true, and it was the hour when I normally get very anxious about the night's lodging, so it was only with half interest that I took a short ride down the main street to check it out. Although not as steep as the big hill I had just climbed, the main street had a noticeable descent to it, so I did not want to go too far. I rode down the six or seven blocks it took to reach the end of the commercial section, then I turned around and climbed back up the hill.

It was the kind of quaint, trendy street one would expect to find in a college town. I passed several pubs, with raised terraces full of people. One, called the Pub Azimuth, seemed like it would be a good place to eat.

I was back at the college dorm at 16:45 and waited until the young security guard came at 17:00. When he was a bit late, I got even more nervous, fearing the previous official had just given me the brush off. Perhaps no one was coming to open the office?

When someone finally arrived, I took the room sight unseen. I had forgotten my last CEGEP dormitory experience, in Ste. Foy a few years earlier.

There was one long hallway, with quite a number of young people hanging out in their rooms with the doors open. Many of the residents were anglophone students enrolled in the local summer French programme. I would get a kick out of talking to some of them later, for they were convinced I was a native. There seemed to be some permanent residents, including one young kid who barely looked 17 and who lived with his 'wife'.

The rooms were unbelievably tiny, perhaps six feet wide by ten feet deep. The one assigned to me was unbearably hot, and the main window did not open, except for a small ventilator pane. The saving grace was that the corridor was on the main floor, so I could wheel my heavily loaded bike right into the room.

When I complained about the size of the room, I must have touched a nerve in the young security guard, for he gave me three keys instead of the usual two. One was for the front door, one for the room, and one for the worker's kitchenette, to which most residents did not have access. This latter room turned out to be very quiet, much cooler, and had a marvelous view out over the river valley below through giant plate glass windows.

The hazy weather of earlier had cleared. I had a marvelous view out over the whole St. Lawrence and could see the opposite side quite clearly. Examination with my field glasses showed that I was opposite the big mountain between Baie St. Paul and La Malbaie. (I would later learn that this mountain, as well as the semi-circular valley in which Baie St. Paul and La Malbaie sit, is the remnant of an ancient meteor strike.)

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002 Trip: July 30: Day 2: ~17:00/July 31: Day 3: ~08:00)
La Pocatière lowlands from High Cegep Window
Evening ViewMorning View


La Pocatière: A Fiery Meteorite (Adapted from Ecotours)
Looking across to the North Shore from La Pocatiere, one notices a strange configuration to the contours of the land: The even elevation of the Laurentians is interrupted by two dips where rivers flow into the St. Lawrence, one at Baie-Saint-Paul to the west and the other at La Malbaie, 50 kilometres to the east. Seen from the air the river valleys continue inland and almost meet, forming a broad semi-circular valley. The prominent peak of Mont des Eboulements, rising over 750 metres, forms the centre. These contours represent the cross section profile of the northern half of a massive eroded meteorite crater, the Charievoix Crater. The southern half of the crater was removed by the geological processes tlat created the St.Lawrence River.
About 350 million years ago. a fiery 2-kilometre-wide meteorite travelling at 20 kilometres per second slammed into this part of the Canadian Shield. The force melted hundreds of cubic kilometers of rock, threw much of it into the air and created a hole 5 kilometres deep. There is now a mountain in the centre because the walls and floor of the hole were so weakened during impact that they immediately collapsed. The sides dropped down with such energy to form the valley that the centre area was forced upwards as a mountain, much as water behaves when hit by a raindrop. Where water quickly finds its level again, the rock of the crater was frozen in time in this rebound state as the rock quickly cooled.
The impact of this meteorite would have filled the atmosphere with dust for several months, much the same way as with the now buried Chicxulub crater (180 kilometres in diameter), which is believed to have led to the mass extinction of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. More than two dozen ancient meteorite sites have been found in Canada, the youngest having been formed less than a million years ago.

I had left my cell phone on after the 15:00 call, and so Sheryl was able to reach me around 17:30 as I was musing over the view. She was in St-Jean-Port-Joli, about twenty minutes back down the road for her. I gave her directions to the CEGEP and then walked out to meet her at the top of the hill.

Sheryl’s Day: Montreal to La Pocatière: 249 miles on the odometer
Sheryl was already up and about when I called home at 06:30, getting ready to leave the house for 07:00. It was 07:30 when she finally got on her way. She headed out for Quebec City along Hwy 20, stopping at the ‘antique row’ fronting the highway near Drummondville, where she stayed until about 11:00 When I called her at 12:00, she was just passing exit 27, just west of Quebec City. As I had instructed, she got off Hwy 20 east of Quebec City and continued along Route 132, following in my footsteps. As she passed through the small towns, she stopped in at various marches aux puces. When I called at 15:00, she was at the Jardin de Mikami in Berther-sur-mer, a fantastic garden overlooking the river. In St-Jean-Port-Joli , She stopped into a place called Sculptures en Jardin, where there was a beautiful garden with statues for sale, New Age music and a view of the water. She had stopped in at the Seigneurie Des Aulnaies when I called her at 17:30.

Evening in La Pocatière

Soon, I saw her coming up the hill and waved her into the CEGEP’s parking lot. She took the tiny room in stride, balancing as I had done the inconvenience against the $29 price. Our thin foam mattress, we discovered, lay on a hard plywood base. There was only one bathroom/shower complex on the floor, and it was unisex. We were unsure how that would work.

I took Sheryl for a walk down main street and we stopped at the Pub Azimuth, which still looked like a hot spot, for dinner. We got a great seat on the terrace, but service was slow as there was only one old guy serving the whole restaurant. Sheryl ordered ribs and I had a pizza.

After our walkabout, we wandered back up to the college. It was still relatively early, and there was no question of our sitting in the tiny room. The private overlook of the worker's kitchen did not interest Sheryl as a place to spend the evening. We retrieved the car from the parking lot and drove down to the shopping centre at the base of the hill, one block away. There we spent about half an hour shopping (cum sightseeing) in the huge, modern Metro grocery store. I bought some fresh luncheon stuff for my bicycle's mini-cooler: baba-genoush, water, and ice.

We ended our evening out at the Dunkin' Donuts across the street, where Sheryl had her regular, cappuccino. I just had a regular coffee.

We drove back up to the college dorm and returned to our tiny room. We decided to shower together in the unisex shower complex. We encountered several others wrapped only in towels, but they hardly gave us any notice.

It was a rough night sleeping on the plywood base on our 36-inch wide (at best) mattress.

On to Day 3

Prepared by Roger Kenner
September 2002; October 2004; lite-version: January, 2005